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Travel Guide: Cappadocia and its hot air balloons

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Here are our tips to prepare a dream trip through the lunar panoramas and hot air balloons of Cappadocia!

Turkey is one of my favourite nomadic countries, as much for its history, its gastronomy and its unusual landscapes.

Indeed, when I saw the hot air balloons take off at sunrise over the Cappadocia valley, it was an unforgettable experience. It was mystical!

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Cappadocia region and Göreme National Park

This site is a UNESCO World Heritage site; the rock formations are unique to the Cappadocia region. Volcanic activity has shaped the landscape through erosion and carvings dating back to the 4th century.

Indeed, the inhabitants took advantage of the stones’ malleability to build entire cities.

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Göreme Open Air Museum

The vast complex includes several churches and monasteries carved into the walls of the Cappadocia valley. The architecture is unique.

Inside, you can admire paintings (frescoes) of the Byzantine art.

Musée à air ouverte

Underground cities

The region’s first civilizations built these cities for agricultural purposes and to store their harvest. Then, during the rise of Christianity, people took refuge there to protect themselves from persecution and pagan invasions.

There are about 200 cities that lie below the Cappadocia valley, but only about 30 have been discovered and excavated. These cities are now tourist attractions.

Derinkuyu
Derinkuyu

Here are the most interesting ones:

  • Kaymakli
  • Derinkuyu
  • Mazi
  • Ozkonak
  • Tatlarin
Derinkuyu

Trails in the region

Another popular activity in the area is hiking and horseback riding through the various valleys. The landscapes are beautiful.

  • The red valley.
  • The valley of the roses.
  • The Meskindir valley.
  • The valley of love.
  • The valley of the pigeons.
  • The Ihlara Valley.
Paysage lunaire
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Hot air balloons in Cappadocia

Cappadocia attracts thousands of tourists because of its hot air balloons. This destination is popular not only for flying, but simply for watching hundreds of them take off with the rising sun.

It was a magical moment that I will never forget and one of my best travel experiences.

You have to wake up very early to see them. The flight coincides with the sunrise, so in the middle of summer, you should plan to set the alarm well before 5:15 am!

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Hot air balloon ride

The flight takes about 1 hour and costs between $200 and $400. The difference in price is often related to the number of people allowed in the gondola.

This activity is very popular, especially during the high season. It is therefore necessary to book your spot well in advance.

Take-offs depend on the wind; they will not be able to take off if the wind is too strong.

Décollage
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The best views

The perspectives on the ground are all sublime. I advise you to wake up again in the early hours to experience this from another angle, even if you have taken a balloon ride.

In fact, I preferred the panoramas from the ground since I could admire the show without being crammed into the gondola. Also, it’s hard to take a picture of yourself unless you like self-portraits better.

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Finally, if time permits, try several different viewpoints!

Photographer’s tip: The best place for photos is at Sunset Viewpoint. Since the sun is behind us, we avoid photos against the light, while the light on the valley will be perfect.

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Hotel terraces are only accessible to guests. During breakfast, you will be able to contemplate the hot air balloons in a magnificent setting. Then you can get back into bed right away!

The best hotel terraces are :

  • Maya Cave Hotel
  • Sultan Cave Suites
  • Mithra Cave Hotel
  • Koza Cave Hotel
  • Design Cave Suites Cappadocia
  • Maccan Cave Hotel

Planning

The best time to visit

Spring (between March and May) and autumn (between September and November) are the best times to visit the region.

The busy summer season and very hot temperatures can be unpleasant.

In winter, hot air balloons can still take off. However, cancellations will be more frequent as the chances of stronger winds are greater.

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How to get there and get around

Turkish Airlines offers direct flights between Montreal and Istanbul. The round-trip fare is 80,000 Aeroplan points in economy class and 140,000 Aeroplan points in business class plus $138 in taxes.

The Cappadocia region is also very accessible with Aeroplan points. However, the rates are usually very low when paying in cash. Therefore, it is not advisable to use the points on the internal flight.

For example, an Aeroplan award ticket costs 7,500 points and $44 in taxes for a one-way trip on Turkish Airlines.

Points Aeroplan

The same ticket (date and time) is priced at $36 (295 Turkish Lira). This fare also includes one piece of checked luggage up to 15 kg.

Billet payé en argent

The airports that serve the Cappadocia region are:

  • Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR)
  • Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV)

Also check with your hotel to see if the transfer is included from the airport. Otherwise, there are companies that offer shared taxis.

Randonnée

Buses also run between the major cities and Göreme. They are very comfortable and it is possible to make the trip at night.

Since the public transport system in the region is not very developed, you will have to rely on car rental, taxis or organized tours.

Minibuses are available between the different towns in Cappadocia, but the tourist sites are not necessarily close to them.

For example, the underground city of Derinkuyu is a 1-hour drive from Göreme.

Where to base yourself to visit Cappadocia

Cappadocia is a region in Turkey, not a city. The tourist attractions are centralized around Göreme as well as the vast majority of restaurants and tourist agencies.

Among the various towns in the region, it is an excellent base for exploring.

The other cities in the area are:

  • Ürgüp
  • Uçhisar
  • Ortahisar
  • Avanos

Suggested favourite restaurants: Seyyahhan, Fatboys, Uranos Cave, Bizim Ev Avanos and Sedef

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Tips and tricks for the Cappadocia region

  • A visa is required for Canadians (online application).
  • To fully enjoy the region, plan at least 3 days.
  • Enjoy the hammams, which are Turkish baths.

To follow my adventures on my Instagram account @wanderingaline, it’s this way!

Feel free to check out my other articles!

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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