Hot Air Balloon rides or chasing is one of the most popular things to do in Göreme and Cappadocia. Every nice morning you’ll see dozens of hot air balloons in the air at sunrise. (Sunset has a few and middle of the day has a couple). If going up into a hot air balloon isn’t your thing, watching them take off and chasing them to pretty viewpoints is equally popular!
Our first sunrise in Göreme, I went up to the roof of our hotel and watched the balloons. This was obviously the easiest option and allowed my kids and husband to sleep a bit more. But our hotel overlooked the city and not the valley area, so there were not as many balloons and the background wasn’t as picturesque.
For our second (and final) sunrise, I wanted to get up to a view point to see the balloons. In talking to Osman, the manager of our hotel, he suggested hiring a car and driver to take us to the take off point and then to 2 other viewing locations to chase the balloons. We decided this was the easiest option.
Luckily for us, sunrise in November was about 7:30, so we got picked up at 6:30. You need to get to the spot at least 45 minutes before sunrise to see the balloons prepare and launch as they are already in the air by sunrise. In the summer, sunrise can be 5:30 so that would make for a much earlier start!
Streams of cars and buses pulled into the launch site with us. Large tour groups and smaller groups and pairs made their way to their balloons while the viewers headed to little ridges and small hills nearby to watch the action. It was COLD and we were glad for our layers. It was still dark obviously, and watching the balloons start to light up as they filled with air and went from limp lumps on the ground to upright balloons was cool.
Slowly the balloons started to take off and some went right over us. After a decent number took off, we jumped back in the hired car and raced to the next view point. (along with everyone else!). While the spot was crowded, the viewpoint was along a cliff ridge looking out across a valley. So everyone still had a good view.
(Safety note for little kids–there is no railing or protection along some areas of the cliff ridge.)
The landscape of Göreme is so unique with its fairy chimneys and interesting rock outcroppings. It was so pretty watching the balloons!
After getting a lot of photos and watching for a while, we headed to the 2nd view point. This one wasn’t as good as the first and by the time we got there most of the balloons were landing. Next time I’d pick a different spot or just stay at the first view point.
We’d brought snacks along for us, but were still plenty hungry by the time the balloons landed about 9 am. We headed back to the hotel for breakfast. Then we packed, walked around town, and headed back to Ankara!
Timing: Depart hotel about 1 hour before sunrise. Sunrise in summer is 5:15am (June 21) or later and in the winter is 7:55 am (Dec 21) or earlier. Balloons are in the air about 20-30 minutes before sunrise and stay in the air about 2 hours.
Cost: We paid 250 tl in Nov 2019 for the car and driver for about 3 hours. That’s about $40. This is probably on the high end, but it was easy as our hotel manager arranged it for us. If your car can handle bumpy, dirt roads, and you are comfortable navigating around a lot of cars going to the same place, you could easily drive it yourself as well. Update March 2021: We did this again but self drove and it was very easy. I suggest checking out the view during the day to make sure you know where you are going.
Food and Drink: Bring your own! Eat some snacks and definitely bring snacks for the kids! You’ll eat breakfast afterwards most likely.
Bathrooms: These are just open fields and are filled with people. Plan on going before and after your chasing.
Balloon Launch: https://goo.gl/maps/wQwjL2mep5HcaLzM7 This one is approximate, but it is obvious in the morning as many cars and buses are turning into the area. Head north out of Göreme on Göreme Yolu and you’ll see the turn on the right.
Cliff Side Viewing Point: From balloon launch, turn right on Göreme Yolu and then take the next left. Navigate to this point. You end up taking a left up a dirt road. Follow the line of cars! You’ll be at the top of a mountain/cliff area, looking down into the valley.
There are many good viewing spots. Talk to the manager at your hotel for their favorites.