From the moment I first made an Instagram account, I saw endless photos from the picturesque balloon-filled sky at sunrise in Cappadocia, Turkey. A few years passed and finally, I had the time to visit Turkey and see the place for myself. I knew nothing about Istanbul, but decided to spend a few days there to begin with as I had heard such good things about the city and I wasn’t disappointed.


The Blue Mosque, which was built between 1609 and 1616, is one of the most well-known buildings in Istanbul. If you plan to take some pictures in here, try to visit at sunrise before the crowds of tourists start arriving. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the mosque all to yourself.


The Blue Mosque is just as magnificent from the inside as it is from the outside. As the sunlight hits the rooftop, the mosque glistens and lights up the gardens below.


Cappadocia was the place I was most excited to go to on my Turkey trip. Upon arriving, I took a taxi to Pasabag, which is home to some of the most striking fairy-chimneys in Cappadocia. Wandering through the small streets really felt like you had been whisked back in time.


The world-famous Cappadocia balloon rides start early every morning. As the sun peaked over the horizon, the whole scene was lit up and the sky was filled with one hundred balloons. This was a truly magical morning.


Cappadocia has a number of viewpoints to watch the hot air balloons float above the rising sun, and it just so happened that my hotel had one of the best viewpoints around.


The Open Air Museum is a highlight of any trip to Cappadocia. It’s comprised of groups of churches and monasteries built into the beautiful rock formations that make Cappadocia so well-known. After an afternoon wandering through the museum, I came across this local man who was sat in a daydream outside one of the church entrances.


Chaos is the only word that describes the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and the lamp shops that are scattered through the place really steal the show.


Getting lost in a city is one of my favorite ways to explore. It’s great to see real people living their lives when experiencing a new place, and not just the tourist attractions most visitors flock to.


Unsure as to where to watch the sunset from, I decided to climb up to the top of Uçhisar Castle in Cappadocia, with unparalleled views across the vast terrain below.


When hot-air ballooning first came to Cappadocia, there were a handful of balloons taking to the sky each morning. As tourism grew, however, the number of balloons grew, until the government put a cap of 100 balloons per sunrise. Witnessing this in person was breathtaking.

All photos are the author’s.