The 7 best places to go on a hot air balloon ride  

written by Kate Gazzard April 17, 2024
Multicoloured hot air balloons floating over the city of Cappadocia in Turkey.

From the pink city of Jaipur to the far-flung Serengeti National Park, take your adventure to new heights in one of these iconic global destinations. 

Whether you were transfixed by Carl and Russel’s adventure to Paradise Falls in Pixar’s 2009 classic, UP, or you’ve always wanted to know what it would feel like to have your head literally above the clouds, hot air balloons have fascinated us for centuries. 

And while it makes sense to use a boat to island-hop your way across the Mediterranean or a bike to cycle the landscapes of France’s Loire Valley, some destinations are just better seen from the sky. Like the man-made remnants of an ancient civilisation in Egypt. Or New Zealand’s natural beauty. Or even the whimsical landscape of Turkey’s fairy city, Cappadocia

So, forget your budget and fear of heights (just me?) and take your adventure to a whole new level by embarking on a hot air balloon ride in one of these seven epic destinations around the world. 

Top trips with optional hot air balloon rides

1.      Luxor, Egypt 

A lone hot air balloon floating above the ancient Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt.
A lone hot air balloon admiring ancient temples in Egypt from above.

There are some sights you won’t ever forget, and watching the sun paint Luxor’s landscapes with a golden hue is sure to be one of them. Yes, you can explore the city’s temples and tombs while your feet are planted firmly on the ground, but where’s the fun in that? 

Setting off in a hot air balloon offers a unique perspective of this ancient city while promising mesmerising views of the Nile River, the Statue of Thebes and the iconic Valley of the Kings. History enthusiasts and adrenaline-seekers apply within. 

Book a hot air balloon ride as an optional activity on our Egypt trips.

2.      Jaipur, India 

Jaipur might seem like an odd inclusion to this list, but hot air ballooning over the city’s pink buildings is actually one of the most popular things to do when visiting. Upon further thought, it comes as no surprise. 

The city’s ‘pinkness’ is evident on the ground, but once you start slowly drifting upwards, you’ll be greeted with rows upon rows of pink everything for as far as the eye can see. Relax into your journey and compare the chaos of the streets, markets and palaces below you with the peace of floating in a sky awash with the colours of dawn. 

It doesn’t get much better than that, especially when Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort and Samode Palace creep into your vision, forcing you to take about 378 photos. That’s okay, though; you’ll want proof you did this. 

Elevate your experience with a hot air balloon ride on our trips in Rajasthan, India.

3.      Queenstown, New Zealand 

A lone, multicoloured hot air balloon floating over the landscape of Queenstown in New Zealand.
A hot air balloon floats over the gorgeous Queenstown scenery.

Compared to Queenstown’s other adrenaline-fuelled activities (high-speed boating, bungee jumping and sky diving just to name a few), hot-air ballooning might not seem all that hardcore. But this airborne activity mixes the exhilaration of being 900 metres in the sky with the serenity of the South Island’s scenery.

Watch as the sun peaks out from behind The Remarkables mountain range, see the hot air balloon’s reflection in Lake Wakatipu and spot filming locations from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as you gently float between the valleys of Queenstown and Arrowtown. 

Forget tobogganing down Bob’s Peak, a hot air balloon ride in New Zealand’s adventure capital might just be what your holiday needs. 

Related: the ultimate guide to exploring Arrowtown.

4.      Marrakech, Morocco 

A lone, multicoloured balloon floating across the Moroccon landscape just outside of Marrakech.
A hot air balloon seeking space from its brothers as it floats over the landscapes of Marrakech.

Marrakech may not instantly scream ‘once-in-a-lifetime-hot-air-ballooning-spot’, but taking a flight over some of Morocco’s most mesmerising landscapes is not to be missed. 

On a round trip from Marrakech, begin your gentle journey by marvelling at the bustling city sprawled in every direction before floating your way closer to the Atlas Mountains and the traditional Amazigh villages nestled at the foothills. 

With stunning views in every direction, get swept up in the magic of your surroundings and revel in the peace only intermittently disturbed by the blasts of the gas jets (which aren’t as irritating as they sound).

Don’t miss this optional activity in Marrakech, Morocco.

5.      Serengeti National Park, Kenya 

A striped hot air balloon taking off as giraffes and wildebeest congregate underneath in the Serengeti.
Animals and hot air balloons in Kenya.

Embarking on a traditional safari is great and all, but there’s something special about watching a herd of giraffes run across the acacia-strewn plains of the Serengeti from above that makes hot air ballooning in Kenya an activity for the bucket list. 

Serengeti or ‘Siringet’ in the language of the Maasai means ‘the place of endless plains’, and that’s exactly what you’ll be treated to on your hot air balloon adventure. Enjoy 360-degree views of the savanna and the animals that call it home, from lions lounging under the shade to hippos playfully splashing each other in the lakes. 

And while the national park’s inhabitants put on a show beneath you, the sky itself will compete for your attention as dramatic thunderstorms, dancing sunlight and gently drifting showers occur in the distance in what promises to be the most spectacular natural show you’ve ever seen. 

Soar across the Serengeti on a hot air balloon ride in Kenya.

6.      Monument Valley, United States 

A lone hot air balloon floating over some of Monument Valley's sandstone buttes on a clear, sunny day.
A multi-cloured hot air balloon stands out in between the tall sandstone buttes of Monument Valley.

On the Arizona-Utah border lies Monument Valley, a landscape characterised by its collection of sandstone buttes that rise out of the red, sandy desert to stand as tall as 300 metres. The result of erosion occurring over millions of years, these natural formations are nothing short of epic. Seriously. 

And while driving along Highway 163 to catch an eye full of these towering shapes might do the trick for many travellers, viewing them from above is guaranteed to take your trip from memorable to downright unforgettable. Think Casanova mixed with your favourite ol’ Western. 

7.      Cappadocia, Turkey 

Several hot air balloons fill the clear sky over the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia in Turkey.
The fairytale-like landscape of Cappadocia ft. 367 hot air balloons.

When you saw the title of this blog, did your mind go straight to the fairytale-like landscape of Cappadocia with its spiralling limestone chimneys and houses carved right out of the rock? If the answer is yes, who could blame you? Gracing TikTok reels and Instagram grids since the beginning of time (or at least social media), Cappadocia is arguably one of the world’s most iconic and instantly recognisable hot air balloon destinations. 

There’s a great reason for this. 

Cappadocia is beautiful when explored on two feet, but a hot air balloon ride across this ancient rock-strewn city could possibly be one of the most romantic, magical and unforgettable travel activities you’ll ever experience.

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia is so popular that roughly 500,000 people took to the sky to float over the city’s landscape last year. On any given day, you’ll share the sky with over 100 balloons, and while that might seem like a lot, it’s all part of the ethereal experience.  

A trip to Cappadocia isn’t complete without a hot air balloon ride.

Well, there you have it. Seven destinations promising extraordinary hot air ballooning experiences. All you have to do now is decide where you want to go. Easy, right?  

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