Cappadocia Escapade: How I saw the Hot Air Balloons for Free | Turkey 5 comments

Hot air balloon Cappadocia, no money nada!

Nevşehir, a province located in central Turkey, is famous for its sightseeing activities. From its valleys with strange looking stone formations to cave hotels and open air museums, the region of Cappadocia houses some of the most interesting geological phenomenons.

Cappadocia geoformation

Look close and keep ya mind outta the gutter

Going to Cappadocia was a rather spontaneous choice on my part.

While in Antalya, my friend chatted me up with a list of famous Turkish cities. I wrote the suggestions down on a piece of napkin and set to travel without any prior knowledge of these places. Research is so important y’all! It wasn’t until I arrived in Nevşehir that I was informed that Cappadocia, being a region, was not city. In fact, there are no buses that goes to Cappadocia! Those who want to see the various stone valleys and hot air balloons usually head towards Göreme.

I was left stranded in the Nevşehir bus terminal before understanding that I had to take a shuttle towards town, where my couchsurfing host was waiting. (Note that no one knew how to speak English here)

My host lived in Ürgüp, a small town around 15 minutes away by car from the tourist district of Göreme. He drove myself and several other surfers around during my 4 day stay, which was fantastic!

Despite the beauty of these different valleys, my #1 priority was to see the hot air balloons that occupied the Cappadocian sky. In fact, this was the sole reason that pushed me to come to Nevşehir, which was way out of my other destinations along the Mediterranean coast.

Nevertheless, prices of hot air balloons, for a budget traveler like me, is really quite high. Instead of looking for coupons and discount codes online, I decided to ask my couchsurfing host to help me find a way to see the balloons for free.

5 am



At 4am in the morning, my host woke me up and told me that a shuttle was here to pick me up along with other passengers for the balloon ride.

Disoriented and still half asleep, I grabbed my ipad and dragged my ass towards the van. (Note: Please, for the love of god, wear a few sweaters. Even the mid-August sun was no match against the temperature drop in the mountain ranges).

Two hours later, we arrived alongside a few other loaded shuttles as the pumping of balloons started. With a cup of tea in hand, I headed up a hill to get a better view.

It is impossible to describe this in words.


5:30 am

Amid the sunrise, a hundred or so balloons started rising up around me. The rays of newly emerged sunshine bounced off all these different, magnificent colors, projecting a layer of orange on miles and miles of endless hills.

cappadocia sunrise

(I wanna add more pictures, but my shitty phone quality really doesn’t do this justice) 

I met some people who thought the rides were over hyped due to how crowded the balloons were. I can understand, as each balloon was flooded with dozens of tourists hoping to squeeze into a spot along the side of the basket to get a view of the mountain ranges.

But I was by myself, drunk in awe. Surrounded by the floating objects amid the rising sun, I felt incredibly small,

yet, at peace.

So I ran around the hills like a madman, with my shitty Samsung 3 in hand, for the first time regretting not investing in a decent camera. I even dropped a few tears along the way :’)

But since traveling with me is never a smooth line process, I completely forgot about the shuttle that brought me to this place. After the balloons slowly glided away, I decided to check on them buses.

Long and behold, they were gone. I was stranded yet again, in the middle of nowhere. This time for real. At 7 in the morning, I had to hitchhike my way back from the mountains.

7:00 am

Since it was hard to find a ride back to town, I had to hitch a ride to Zelve Open Air Museum. Then, I waited at the gates until someone came along for their morning shift. A minibus was nice enough to ship me back to the city.

bike ride around cappadocia


The rest of the days in Cappadocia were the usual unexpected. My friend’s friend owned a bike tour company. These were four-wheeler bikes that you take out for a day around the mountains and catch the sunset at Rose Valley, which, apparently is the best valley for sunsets.


For my lady friends out there, remember to hide yo face hide yo hair. Combined with speed and the natural sandy environment, my hair was more crazy than a mucky lion mane. I ended up chopping my locks after some months cause I could barely brush my fingers through my non-dread dreads.





Total Cost

I stayed in Göreme / Ürgüp for three days. Since my host provided transportation, I spent nada on accommodation and public transit.

  • My bus from Alanya to Nevşehir was a 9 hour long nightmare around 65 lira (US $17).
  • The rest of the cost was food and entrance fees. This amounted to around 30 lira (US $8) for fees to the various museums and 50 lira for outings to different restaurants (US $13).

All in all, it was around US $50 for my 4 day stay here.

If you have other questions, feel free to shoot me a message!

Happy Travels xx

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