Cappadocia: Balloons and Best Viewpoints
Planning a trip to the heart of Turkey is easy! We have already been there, so we will tell you how to go to Cappadocia on your own! The main “chip” of this place is balloons, the photos of which have long ago exploded the Internet. This article will give you some great tips and our personal secrets for your holidays in Cappadocia.
When are the balloons flying?
Cappadocia is only the historical name of the area, you will not find such a name on the map. It is located in Central Anatolia, focus on the village of Goreme, which is the tourist center of Cappadocia, and it is worth a stop there. The nature there is amazing! The fabulous plains, colorful mountains, hotels in caves, and most importantly – balloons.
Balloons are launched every day throughout the year, except on days with adverse weather conditions. It is more comfortable to go to rest in Cappadocia during the warm season. The ideal month is probably September or August. In the spring, more precipitation is more likely to cancel flights. Although, it is in the spring that the flight festival takes place. They also fly in the winter, but that’s a trip for the amateur.
Hot air ballooning
Flying in a hot air balloon watching the sunrise will make you experience incomparable emotions! Imagine the breathtaking view of the hills and valleys of Turkey from above.
How much is a hot air balloon flight? The price for a flight varies from 180 to 250 euros per person. The price usually includes breakfast and transfer, as well as a personal certificate. It is necessary to book the flight in advance, you will find many offices where you can do this in Göreme. Here’s a tip: the evening before the flight, many firms reduce prices (only in high season recommend not to pull, because there may be no seats left).
Everything goes as follows: they pick you up from the hotel and take you to the place of takeoff. There is a table set for breakfast and an inflatable balloon waiting there. After breakfast, you board the gondola and slowly climb up. All this happens before sunrise, sunrise is usually met already in the sky. Although some deliberately take off later. The flight lasts for an hour and a half. The gondola has an average of 20 people. The flight is operated by a professional, so it is absolutely safe.
How many balloons in Cappadocia? This question worries a lot of people. Only the companies that organize the flights are about 20, and the balloons themselves are not less than a couple of hundred. We went in September, and I counted more than a hundred in the air. There is even a ban on having more than 200 baskets in the air at one time, as it is not safe.
Where’s the best place to watch and take pictures? The balls go up every day at sunrise, so you need to get up early and make it to one of the lookout points, which we’ll tell you more about in a moment.
Sunset point observation deck over the city.
The main observation point is in the southeast of the town and is called the Sunset point. Most people go there because there is so much space. Not only the sunrise and the flight of balloons, but also the sunset can be seen there. The main minus is that they take money to enter, but the “checkpoint” can be bypassed by detours. To do this you have to turn left before the “tribute” point and go through the Arif cave hotel. As long as this loophole works.
The lower observation points of Göreme
There are also a few observation points that are lower and farther away, but they are less crowded. To get there you have to get up early, but the view will not leave anyone indifferent! You have to walk down the main street and turn left at the edge of town (after Sun Rise Hotel, before you get to Ciner). From there, you can improvise – beautiful views await you on every hill.
From your hotel terrace
This option will suit those whose hotel has a nice terrace and is really well located. A good location is close to the balls. The building itself must be high, not less than three floors. But there are not many such hotels. On Bookings almost every hotel in Cappadocia posts great photos from its terrace, but they are far from reality. The low buildings in the center are not much to see. You can see the balloons, of course, but your photos don’t compare with the observation pictures.
There are a few important things to keep in mind to make sure everything goes perfectly:
- The temperature in the morning can be low for lightweight summer dresses, so stock up on warm clothes. So it’s better to dress in layers so you won’t be cold at the lookouts and hot upstairs (if you’re flying).
- It is better to observe from different points. Keep in mind that you don’t have much time. If you rent a car or a tour, you can visit several observation points in an hour. But it is better not to run, and to visit each location on different days.
- Be sure to check with the reception in the evening if the flight was canceled for the morning due to weather conditions. Once we went up to the observation deck at 5 am for nothing (as well as half of the city), but there were no flights, although the weather was normal.
- For the same reason, don’t come to Cappadocia for 1-2 days! Suddenly you will get caught in bad weather. So a minimum of 3-4 days. Better leave yourself a day to spare.
- Take your return plane ticket for the evening. So you can admire the balloons or even fly on the day of departure in the morning.
- Book a balloon flight in the evening, when companies give discounts.
Where to stay in Cappadocia?
It is better to choose a hotel in the center of Göreme; if you take one on the outskirts, you will be far away from everything – from stores, cafes, lookouts and stops. Of course, choose a hotel with a terrace and a nice view! The higher the terrace, the better, you can enjoy both a great view of the city and the fabulous scenery.
The most luxurious option where to stay is a “cave” hotel. Such hotel is fully or partially located in the caves or adjacent to them. And it means stone walls, bizarrely shaped rooms, and interesting design. The choice of cave hotels is quite large, from simple to luxurious – with a garden, swimming pool, restaurant. The word “cave” is sure to be in the name – so it is easier to search on housing reservation sites.
Most hotels provide only breakfast, but for lunch and dinner you can choose any institution to your liking – cafes and restaurants in the center abound. Ask locals for recommendations. We recommend Fat boys and Point View. The specialties are mainly meat: kebab, meat on a pan. Of desserts – traditional (divine) baklava and apple tea.
If you go to Cappadocia on your own, you should take into account that there may be problems with heating, and sometimes in Göreme there are problems with hot water.
Leisure and excursions
About Cappadocia can be told forever. This area is a national park and there is no shortage of attractions for many kilometers around. Near Gereme there are several beautiful valleys and towns.
- The Valley of Love is a very interesting valley, which is famous for its tall stone sculptures, which resemble exactly the male organ of love.
- Pink Valley – it got its name because of the unusual color of the rocks. It looks especially spectacular at sunset.
- Pigeon valley – a romantic walk through this valley promises a lot of beautiful views, several pigeon-houses, observation sites. The trail begins in Goreme and ends in Uçhisar.
- Uçhisar is a town just a few kilometers away from Göreme. There is an old fortress, it stands on a hill, which overlooks the miles around.
- The underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are multistory ancient cities. Excavations are still going on here, and the cities are well preserved. If you don’t suffer from claustraphobia and are not afraid of caves, tunnels, and underground halls, then this is the place for you!
These are not all the attractions of Cappadocia, but only a small part of them. It is better to rent some kind of transportation. All the interesting places are very territorially scattered, you can not get around on foot, so take a driver’s license with you. In Goreme and neighboring towns there are rental shops for cars, ATVs, buggies and bikes.
We have not said a word about the road, because there is a separate detailed article about it: HOW TO DO IT ON YOURSELF IN CAPPADOCIA?
So, let’s summarize. Is it worth to go to Cappadocia? Definitely yes, we give high marks to this place. And the reviews of our friends who were there are also very positive. It is hard to imagine a person who would not like this amazing place.
Cappadocia Viewpoints: Watching the Sunset and Balloons
Cappadocia’s viewpoints are either natural plateaus on the elevated mountains or hotel rooftops. And while the second option is often only available to hotel guests, the sunset point at the top of the hill can be climbed by anyone.
The main sightseeing platform in Göreme, the center of Cappadocia, is situated in the southeastern part of the town and is conventionally divided into two parts: sunset point and sunrise point. As its name implies, on one side you can watch the sunset, on the other side the sunrise.
In addition to the natural beauty of sunrise, sunset and the view of the valleys, from this observation point you can see the balloons taking off in Cappadocia at sunrise and the neighboring towns of Uçhisar and Çavuşin.
See on the map:
How to see the dawn in Cappadocia
Meeting the dawn in Cappadocia and seeing balloons at dawn in Turkey is one of the most fascinating quests. But it is necessary to take into account the weather conditions – in the wind the balloons do not take off, and the exact forecast and permission to take off is given not even the day before, but the same morning.
If you want to try your luck and admire the most stunning view of the balloons in Cappadocia, here’s a plan of action.
- Determine the time of dawn? You can do it here – https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/@322954
- Calculate the time to get to Sunrise Point so that you’ll be there at least 15 minutes before sunrise. For example, if sunrise is “planned” for 5:15, and you need 15 minutes to get up to the hill, you should get out of the hotel at 4:45, i.e. up – 4:15-4:30, depending on the speed of your packing. Early? Yes, but it’s worth it.
- We set the alarm for a certain time, swear in the morning, but get ready and go.
- We find Sunrise point on google maps, go to it, and climb a small mountain, it takes 10 minutes at the most.
- The best balloon viewpoint in Cappadocia is at your service
Ballooning in Cappadocia
The price of a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia in 2019 starts from 150 euros per person. This price includes the transfer from the hotel, a light breakfast, the flight itself and the presentation of the certificate.
If you book through one of the many websites of companies that arrange balloon flights in Gerem, you may see a figure of x5 from the stated minimum when selecting the closest date. If you walk around the streets of Gereme in the evening and look in person at the offices of several companies – the price will be cheaper.
Such a cost of a balloon flight is due to the expensive costs of this type of entertainment – the cost of the balloon itself, the license to fly and the pilots’ salaries.
Book and pay for the flight in advance. If the weather is bad your flight will be postponed to the next day or you will get your money back. It is better to study the company’s conditions thoroughly and choose not a noname operator. Then the chances of getting your money back in case of force majeure are much higher.
Other sightseeing options in Cappadocia
- Chavushin Fortress. It offers a gorgeous view of the surrounding valleys, and the cave fortress itself is very interesting and worth seeing.
- The fortress in Uchisar with its rooms was dug out directly in the tuff mountain.
- Hotel terraces. Probably every hotel in Gorem, whether it is a cave hotel or an ordinary detached building, has a terrace so that the guests can enjoy the view of the mountains and valleys of Cappadocia.
Watch the sunset in Cappadocia
Everything happens on the same principle and in the same locations as the sunrise, only you choose the time of sunset accordingly and come to the observation deck 10-15 minutes before the sunset. Just keep in mind that at the most popular viewing platforms to look at the sunset a lot of people gather, and so to take a place with a good overview, you either have to try, or come even earlier.
Cappadocia Hotel Price Overview
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Prices for private rooms start at $22, a place in a shared room starts at $12