World's Best Spots for Hot-Air Ballooning

By Rachael Funk

A vacation is exactly the right time to indulge in extravagance. If you’re staying close to sea and land and fighting sightseeing crowds while you travel, you’re missing the best views! As you’re sampling new foods, meeting new people, and learning new customs, take to the sky and treat yourself to a breathtaking panorama of the places you can’t always reach by car or on foot. Here are some of the world’s most beautiful places for a ride in a hot air balloon!

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Cappadocia, Turkey

Drink in the other-worldly beauty of Cappadocia from the air! Famous for the regions “fairy chimneys,” honeycombed topography, and towering rock formations, Cappadocia is a breathtaking display of nature’s majesty. Soar over the hills and valleys for a glimpse at the awe-inspiring city sprawling below you.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Fly over rivers, lakes, mountains, and valleys in one of New Zealand’s most popular eco-travel destinations. Queenstown and the Southern Lakes region will stun you with the local flora and fauna, unspoiled national parks, and glassy fiords. Watch seals and dolphins cut through the water as you sail high above, enjoying the panorama of an incredible place.

Cairns and Port Douglas, Australia

Soak in unforgettable views of the Great Barrier Reef, Atherton Tablelands, and the Daintree Rainforest in one magical adventure. North Queensland boasts some of the country’s most stunning natural attractions and a hot air balloon ride in this area will afford you the opportunity to see it all! Australia’s highland region is full of wildlife and waterfalls and is nothing short of a traveler’s dream.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

National parks are the world’s gift to the world. Meticulously protected from human interruption, you can observe Serengeti National Park as you glide over it and take in West Africa’s landscape. See hippos, lions, and more from a unique point of view. If you time your journey correctly, you might even be able to watch the seasonal migrations from the air!

Champagne, France

A region world-famous for its namesake, Champagne is a feast for all your senses. Float over the clean lines of the area’s many vineyards and charming villages. Before you explore the Reims Cathedral, explore the champagne cellars, or tour Epernay, take a trip directly up to soak in the grandeur of France’s countryside.

Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Unequivocally a fascinating place to examine from all angles, Costa Rica offers a richly biodiverse region to explore. Skim the tops of the trees in the rain forest, watch monkey swing from branch to branch, and when the weather is right, drift over the clouds for a rarely seen view of the Arenal Volcano’s summit.

Gstaad, Switzerland

Bundle up for a tour of the snow-covered alps and the Swiss chalets below. Every January, Switzerland hosts the International Hot Air Balloon Festival of Château-d'Oex. The nine day festival draws participants from several countries and launches nearly a hundred hot air balloons into the crisp air. There are shows, children’s events, and, of course, a grand balloon release.

Hokkaido, Japan

Leave early to watch the sun rise over the Tokachi Mountains as the city of Furano awakens below you. Fall in love with the snow-capped Mt. Taisetsu which protects native fauna and about 240 species of alpine plants. Study the grandeur of Japan’s largest protected area, which feels close enough to almost touch.

Alberta, Canada

Take to the sky in Canada, where you can see a network of hiking trails stretching through parks as you waft toward the Canadian Rockies. Delight in the sights of Canada’s pristine nature from a new vantage point. With hundreds of lakes and miles of green space, this is an excellent way to enjoy a dreamy morning.

Istria, Croatia

Grapevines, olive groves, and rolling hills as far as the eye can see make Istria an alluring spot to make an ascension, to say the least! The peninsula borders Italy and Slovenia and creates a picturesque scene for anyone brave enough for lift-off. If you want to be really extravagant, you could pack some of the region’s famous wine and some chocolate truffles for a multi-sensory sojourn.

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