Quicker than a Porsche, brighter than a Cartier - the Hot Air Balloon experience is truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Perhaps you've already ballooned, or maybe it's still on your bucket list. Just the idea of climbing inside a balloon basket and floating calmly across the skyline sounds cinematic. No longer simply the pastime of governmental spies, ballooning really is the way to see the world from a completely new perspective.
But where are the world's best hot air balloon rides?
Nile River Balloon Cruise, Egypt
Egypt's growing population and major tourist pull can mean it all gets a bit too much for the luxury traveler. But don't fear, here you can escape the noise and swarming streets to enjoy a tranquil flight showcasing the most stunning views of Egypt's rural landscapes and it's most famous ancient structures and monuments. If you get a chance to experience this hidden side of Egypt, you won't regret it.
This quintessentially British Balloon tour gives you the best views of the chocolate box villages and rolling hills that the area is famous for. Said to be one of the most traditional and scenic balloon tours that the United Kingdom has to offer, there is even a Royal Regatta held in July of every year which you can catch from the clouds.
Loire Valley, France
Best visited between May and the end of October, the Loire Valley offers some of the most glamorous balloon flights there are. Two-hundred miles southwest of France's capital, this extraordinarily beautiful valley stretches for over 160 miles and is home to striking architecture in every direction you look. Littered with over 800 stately manor houses and castles, Loire Valley is perfect for the stylish traveler.
Atacama Desert, Chile
With balloon rides provided by Eastern Safaris you can now officially fly over the breathtaking Atacama Desert, at sunrise or sunset. One of our favorite, most iconic flights - you are sure to make a statement as you watch unforgettable, ancient landscapes slowly reveal themselves beneath a cloudless sky.
Red Centre, Australia
Source: CC Wikicommons
If you want to see an iconic view of Australia's Red Centre, this is certainly the way to do it in style. This exclusive vantage point gives you a striking view of the sheer scale of this mammoth red desert. It's not uncommon to float past groups of kangaroos bouncing along the dusty ground or spot eagles swirling in the winds beside you as you pass ancient rock formations below. Booking this balloon trip would be a bold move guaranteed to make a statement on any first date!
If you are thinking of places to go by hot air balloon, look no further than the ballooning experience the ancient city of Bagan has to offer. A bold and iconic way to see the region, drift over thousands of pagodas, constructed mostly in the 13th century, nestled next to the Irrawaddy River. This pioneering hot air balloon experience allows those glamorous enough to afford it to see a unique side of this beautiful, mysterious country.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
One of the best hot air balloon rides around is said to be here at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Due to the moderate climate, balloon rides can be booked any time of the year, though many recommend reserving between March and May. During these times, premium travelers can spot the draw-dropping migrations that occur at this time of year - spotting 500,000 gazelle, 250,000 zebra and the odd lion, hippo or giraffe. A glamorous cross between an African safari and a balloon flight, watch the sunrise from this stunning vantage point and you won't regret it.
Combined with a glamorous bubbly breakfast pre-ride, this balloon tour is one of the most stunning ways in which to see Lithuania's iconic heritage from above. Watch as Vilnius's two rivers softly scar the landscape below, hugging the Old Town's Renaissance buildings and Gothic spires from cloud-view. Vilnius is one of the few current European cities that allow hot air balloons to fly directly over the top of them, a stylish travelling opportunity not to be missed.
Napa Valley, California
If you're a fan of fine wine, Napa Valley is the stylish balloon getaway that you've been waiting for. Offering up over 600 classical wineries, Napa Valley's ethereal vineyards are seemingly stitched together like a patchwork quilt. Float past the colorful fields below as you sip the fruits of their harvest from many, many meters above. Spring and Autumn come as highly recommended times of travel as this is when the San Francisco Bay fog finally dissipates and makes way for more pleasant, warmer weather.
On this beautiful balloon ride it's impossible not to feel kinship with the birds as you experience the same breathtaking views that they enjoy. Hidden in the central Anatolian region of Turkey, Cappadocia is easily mistaken for an otherworldly moonscape. Soar over luscious green vineyards, colorful rock formations and, in certain months, ethereal snow-touched mountains. The views of hand-dug village dwellings, enormous limestone chimneys and striking subterranean churches are guaranteed to take even the most glamorous travelers breath away. Late spring and early autumn are both ideal times to visit, when the crowds are smaller and the weather more mild.
Winter is when this small Swiss Alps village really comes alive. Famous for it's extreme winter sports, this magical frozen region is perfect for any mountain-loving Ballooner. Flying conditions are consistently superb, and the micro-climate really is exceptional, all reasons why Gstaad has to be one of the most stunning opportunities for balloon travel. Expect iconic views of mountains on a striking blue backdrop and to float past charming lines of Swiss chalets and villages. The small rooftops contrasting with the harsh peaks of the mountains guarantee the adventure won't soon be forgotten.
Muelle, San Carlos, Costa Rica
Eight degrees above the equator and sandwiched between two cooling coastlines, swoop above tropical forests and ethereal cloud clusters in Costa Rica. Balloon rides here have a particular reputation for being glamorous. Rumor has it that balloon pilots take their exclusive guests so close to the jungle canopy that the treetops can be touched and the climate means balloon rides can happen at any time of the year. Muelle, near the Arenal Volcano, is the chosen point of departure for these stylish balloon adventures, and sights include sugarcane fields, pineapple and orange plantations and the regions majestic rivers.
Masai Mara, Kenya
This stunning national reserve is Kenya's pride and joy for nature-lovers. Playing a major role in the annual great migration, glamorous hot air balloon travelers can watch this unfold from hundreds of feet above. One of the most expensive aerial experiences there is, you can watch over a million zebra, gazelle and wildebeest travel through the region in search of of renewed food supplies.
Rolling sand dunes? Check. Wandering camels? Check. Stunning green oasis? Check. Provided by Balloon Adventures Emirates, this once in a lifetime trip is the perfect statement gift for a friend or lover. A truly exclusive experience for only the most refined luxury traveler.
The North Pole
Thanks to Quark Expeditions, you can experience a stylish balloon ride like no other. Only for most exclusive travelers, Quark offers an unusual tethered hot air balloon ride. Highly dependent on weather conditions, they are the only company who offer an experience of this kind and the views to be seen really are otherworldly.
So what are you waiting for? If your priority is travelling in the most striking way possible, a balloon ride is really the ultimate vacation treat. Whether you want magnificent views of Europe or a majestic insight into nature, ballooning really does offer something for everyone. The only question is, where will you go?