7 unmissable hot air balloon rides

Travel Tips

Peaceful yet full of adventure, experiencing a view by hot air balloon has to be the most scenic way to take it all in. Next time you take a trip, consider jumping in a basket and gazing at the horizon from hundreds of feet up. Whether you’re a rookie or regularly take to the skies, a trip in a balloon is an experience that's sure to make unforgettable memories.

From soaring over green pastures to drifting across the Arctic, we found seven of the best locations to go up, up, and away.

Cappadocia, Turkey

See Cappadocia's famous fairy chimneys from the sky

See Cappadocia's famous fairy chimneys from the sky

Famous for its hoodoos—also known as fairy chimneys—Cappadocia’s natural wonders draw visitors from around the world. These tall, thin spires of rock were formed over millions of years by lava flows, and seeing them from above is incredible. On any given day, countless hot air balloons drift over the horizon in a kaleidoscope of colors.

While May to September is peak season, rides are offered throughout the year, weather permitting. Stay in the heart of Cappadocia, in one of the cave rooms at the Mithra Cave Hotel. Wake up early to catch a balloon ride and enjoy the view of the region’s peaks and valleys as the sun rises.

Loire Valley, France

Bask in the beauty of the Loire Valley by hot air balloon

Bask in the beauty of the Loire Valley by hot air balloon

Offering a quintessentially French outlook by balloon, the Loire Valley has vineyards, rivers, and forests you can coast over in a matter of minutes. Try one of the most popular rides, which soars over the grand Château Chenonceau. Peek over the wicker basket at the grounds below. If you visit between April and October, this castle will be open to visit on land, too.

Depending on weather conditions, departures typically start early in the morning or mid-afternoon. When you’re back on steady ground, rest your head at the luxurious Le Pavillon Des Lys, which is only a five-minute walk from the Château d’Amboise.

Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

Balloon expeditions give you a once-in-a-lifetime view of the Canadian Arctic

Balloon expeditions give you a once-in-a-lifetime view of the Canadian Arctic

The Canadian Arctic, particularly Iqaluit, is a coveted destination for hot air balloon enthusiasts. These awe-inspiring expeditions give you a once in a lifetime chance to fly between northern communities or even across the ice caps, from Nunavut’s Baffin Island to Greenland.

Brace yourself for the elements. Ballooning here takes place in the winter, so you can enjoy the natural ice in all its wonder. When the day is over, warm up at The Frobisher Inn. With a fitness center and kitchenettes in some rooms, it’s conveniently located in the center of town.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Get a bird’s eye view of the Serengeti by balloon

Get a bird’s eye view of the Serengeti by balloon

The Serengeti National Park is renown for its landscape and array of wildlife, from elephants to lions, and more. Get unbeatable bird’s eye views of Tanzania by taking a trip in a hot air balloon.

Tours are available all year round, but can vary by location. The cruising altitude will change depending on the season and weather conditions, so no two rides are the same. With a decor based on Masaai ceremonies, Asanja Africa offers tented accommodations in the south-central region of the park.

Bagan, Myanmar

Check out Bagan’s sights from the sky

Check out Bagan’s sights from the sky

Home to thousands of historic monuments, stupas, and pagodas, Bagan is one of Myanmar’s most visited cities. Take to the sky in a basket and revel in the sheer volume of the iconic architecture around you.

The ballooning season runs from October to mid-March, when the winds are calm and the air is cool. The most favorable conditions are between December and February, when you’re bound to spot many other visitors enjoying the scenery. Come back down to earth at the Bagan View Hotel, where you’ll get a great outlook of balloons floating across the sky.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

More than 500 balloons take off during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

More than 500 balloons take off during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Balloon enthusiasts regularly travel to Albuquerque in the first week of October for the city’s annual International Balloon Fiesta. More than 500 colorful blimps take flight during the festival, which also includes a laser light show, flying competition, and fireworks. If you plan on heading to the festival, don’t miss out – make sure you book a ride in advance.

If you want something a little more exclusive, book a private ride with champagne for views of New Mexico’s stunning high-desert landscape. At the end of a long day, kick back at El Vado Motel, a retro location that’s been fully refurbished to offer all the modern amenities you’ll need.

Muelle, San Carlos, Costa Rica

Muelle and its active volcano are best viewed from 1,000 feet above ground

Muelle and its active volcano are best viewed from 1,000 feet above ground

Drift above the rainforests and—if you’re lucky—catch a glimpse of monkeys racing through canopies by taking a flight from Muelle. Best viewed from 1,000 feet in the sky, the natural beauty of northern Costa Rica offers an array of sights including the National Park and active Arenal volcano.

For a more hands-on experience, you can learn how to prepare the balloon for flight in Muelle. You’ll even be able to choose where to land, all under the supervision of a pilot. Afterwards, relax at the Tilajari Hotel Resort, which is surrounded by rainforest and tropical gardens.

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