Turkey’s Cappadocia Is Brimming With Hot Air Balloons And Fairy Towers
True bucket list destination alert: Cappadocia, Turkey. Imagine a stark, desert landscape with colorful hot air balloons dotting the horizon.
The Cappadocia region (also spelled Kapadokya) is one of the most beautiful places you’ll find in Turkey — and maybe the entire world. It’s an utterly romantic destination, whether you’re looking for a hot air balloon ride or just a wander through the ancient rock formations as you watch the balloons from below.
Cappadocia’s scenery is otherworldly, almost like some sort of fantasy movie set. But it’s really a mix of natural wonder and creative architecture to fit the landscape, the famous fairy chimneys jutting out from the desert rock.
The must-dos are the Göreme Open-Air Museum’s rock-cut churches (a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for amazingly preserved religious frescos) and the underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı. But what really draws people here is the hot air ballooning over all the sights.
The main town in Cappadocia is Goreme. This is where you’ll find the scenes like you often see on Instagram, with balloons filling the air over the rocky landscape. By foot, travelers can follow a network of hiking trails through the bizarre rocks. But beware: The weather here is extreme, so you’ll need plenty of water to explore the moonlike paths.
If you’re tempted to soar through the sky, Cappadocia is the place to check “hot air balloon ride” off your bucket list. Balloon tours leave from Goreme constantly and you can find a range of prices to suit your budget. You can get a place on a balloon for around $150 and if you want a once-in-a-lifetime deal, a private hot air balloon flight will cost you closer to $1,000.
For the full, luxurious Cappadocia hotel experience, book a room in a cave hotel. From fairly basic to incredibly over the top, these below-ground accommodations have patios up top where you can watch the colorful balloons float by. And if you’re feeling extra indulgent, you can find a cave hotel with a pool so you can some floating of your own on the ground. Also worth a soak? The Turkish baths, where you can spend hours relaxing in the hammam, getting massages or scrubs.
When you’re looking for more quirky than luxe, try Love Valley. It’s a stretch of trail where the rock formations resemble a certain part of male anatomy, making the walk both a great example of the pink rock landscape and a bit of a dirty joke.
From Istanbul, you can get to Cappadocia by bus or car (close to 9 hours) or plane (1.5 hours to Kayseri). Make sure to bring your best flowy hippie outfit for that killer photo shoot you know you want to have as the balloons fly overhead.