The first time I came across a picture of Pamukkale was when I was in college. I remember staring at this picture for a long time because I had never seen anything like it.

There were enormous white formations and blue thermal pools with people in them – wow! I instantly fell in love with Pamukkale at first sight. Little did I know that I was looking at pictures of a city that has been a ‘spa town’ even in ancient times!

Me inside one of the Travertine Thermal Pools in Pamukkale
Me inside one of the Travertine Thermal Pools in Pamukkale

Years after that, the images of Pamukkale [and Cappadocia] teased my senses and became a part of my wish list. I knew I was going to visit this place and sit on one of those thermal pools for sure.

So one special summer, I finally decided to travel to Turkey on my own to fulfill my wishes. Of course, Pamukkale and Cappadocia were a part of my epic 10 day Turkish itinerary.

Introducing Pamukkale in Turkey – the land of Thermal Pools

View of Pamukkale's Travertine Terraces Thermal Pools in Turkey
View of Pamukkale’s Travertine Terraces Thermal Pools in Turkey – Mid-day Crowd

Pamukkale means, “cotton castle” in Turkish and it’s a natural site that’s located near Denizli in Turkey.

This town is famous for its hot springs and massive white limestone terraces (travertine). Btw, travertine is a form of limestone deposit that is formed from mineral springs.

Just like a Cotton Castle - Travertine Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey
Just like a Cotton Castle – Travertine Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale is also the site of the holy ancient city – Hierapolis which lies just above the travertines. However, these well-preserved ruins of Hierapolis hardly ever receive the limelight.

Pamukkale’s thermal pools and natural travertines often overshadow them. After all, Pamukkale has received its popularity due to millions of photos of people bathing in calcium pools. 

Guess what – Pamukkale has been a ‘spa town’ since the Romans arrived in the ancient city of Hierapolis.

Related Post: A Spectacular Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Pamukkale was the first place that I visited in Turkey even before Istanbul. I arrived in Turkey from India and directly went from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to Sabiha Gokcen Airport to eventually reach Pamukkale.

Planning a last-minute trip to Pamukkale? I’ve got you covered with my recommendations to help you book quickly.

Pamukkale Activities to Book

Pamukkale Hotel Recomendations

Pamukkale Travel Video

Too lazy to read the entire post? Here’s a quick one-minute video about Pamukkale which will give you a glimpse. Of course, the post has more information and pictures but I recommend you watch this video if you get a chance.

Pamukkale Thermal Pools [+ Hierapolis] in Turkey

How to Reach Pamukkale from Istanbul or Cappadocia

Playing in real life Cotton Castle - Travertine Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey
Playing in real life Cotton Castle – Travertine Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey

Reaching Pamukkale from Istanbul was so much easier than I thought it would be. For this journey, I caught a shuttle from Istanbul Atatürk Airport (the international airport) to Sabiha Gokcen Airport (the domestic airport) from where I flew to Denizli.

Denizli is the closest town to Pamukkale which has an airport. It’s around 18-20 KMs away from Pamukkale village.

From Denizli Airport, there are many shuttles and mini buses that one can catch to reach Pamukkale and they even operate in the middle of the night.

Please note – these shuttles operate based on the flight landing timings. If there is no flight that’s landing in Denizli at night, then you may not find a shuttle. Click here to prebook your shuttle from Denizli Airport to Pamukkale Village.

You can also reach Pamukkale on a bus from Istanbul or Cappadocia. My next stop in Turkey after Pamukkale was Cappadocia, for which I traveled on an overnight bus from Denizli to Goreme.

If you’re traveling to Pamukkale, keep in mind that you can fly directly to the nearby town Denizli or you can even take an overnight bus. – Istanbul to Pamukkale / Pamukkale to Istanbul / Cappadocia to Pamukkale

Pamukkale Map

In order to help get a general idea about Pamukkale, I have created a map for you. If you’d like to save this map for later, then you may want to pin it on your Travel Board on Pinterest.

Map of Pamukkale, Turkey - Map
Map of Pamukkale, Turkey – Map

Pamukkale Weather and Best Time to Visit

White Travertine Thermal Pools with Blue Water - Pamukkale, Turkey
White Travertine Thermal Pools with Blue Water – Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale is a yearlong travel destination but summertime is obviously better. During the summer months, the temperature stays between 20 – 35 degrees Celsius.

The temperature can drop to 8 degrees Celsius or even lower in the winter months. I did visit Pamukkale on a hot summer afternoon but I’m curious to visit it in colder weather.

Related Post: 10 Beautiful Spots in Cappadocia that are Instagram Worthy

Things to do in Pamukkale

There are just a few things to do in Pamukkale and they’re all at exactly the same place. This is the reason why most of the people prefer visiting Pamukkale on a day trip. I was an exception because I stayed here overnight.

1) See Pamukkale’s White and Blue Travertine Pools

Blue Water and White Travertine - Pamukkale Thermal Pools
Blue Water and White Travertine – Pamukkale Thermal Pools

Miles and miles of white calcium cliffs with multi-level pools as if Mother Nature had created them for her children to bathe in! Pamukkale’s thermal pools and travertines are surely a bizarre sight.

If you are in Pamukkale, then for sure your main purpose is to visit this spot.

Walking on Travertine Terraces - Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey
Walking on Travertine Terraces – Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey

The most obvious thing to do in Pamukkale is check out the travertines that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The access to both the travertines and Hierapolis is through the same gate and the ticket price includes both.

Travertines Opening Times

The travertine pools are open every day at all hours but certain areas are closed. However, the main entry to the entire complex opens from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a lunch break from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Admission Ticket Cost

It costs 50 TL to enter the travertine terraces and the ruins. The time that I visited Pamukkale, the entry to this complex was 35 TL. This ticket allows single entry.

Plan your visit in such a way that you can include either early morning to avoid the crowds OR late evening for the sunset.

For more information about Pamukkale’s travertine thermal pools, click here.

2) Visit Hierapolis – a beautifully preserved ancient Roman site

Hierapolis – a beautifully preserved ancient Roman site - Pamukkale, Turkey
Hierapolis with the amphitheatre in the distance – a beautifully preserved ancient Roman site

As mentioned in Pamukkale’s introduction, Hierapolis is an ancient city located on the top of the travertine pools. Some of the structures here are around 2200 years old and are still standing with their unique story to tell.

The entry to Hierapolis is included in your ticket for the travertine terraces. While the travertine pools are a natural wonder, the adjoining Hierapolis ruins are a historical gem.

Ancient Roman city - Hierapolis - Pamukkale, Turkey
Ancient Roman city – Hierapolis – Pamukkale, Turkey by LoggaWiggler [CC0] via Pixabay

A visit to this ancient village will inspire you to imagine how it would have been when it was occupied in the early years. It surely would have looked so much different without any tourists but buzzing with the life of the local people.

It is believed that the people of Pergamum built Hierapolis. There is a mix of Roman, Pagan, Jewish, and early Christian influences. Click here to get more information about Hierapolis.

Related Post: Sleeping in a Cave in Cappadocia, Turkey – Ottoman Cave Suites

3) See the Ancient Amphitheatre

Ancient Amphitheatre in Pamukkale, Turkey
Ancient Amphitheatre in Pamukkale, Turkey by Seveda [CC0] via Pixabay

Remember the scene from the Game of Thrones where Khaleesi arrives in the dragon pit with her dragons? Well, the amphitheatre in Hierapolis looks like that.

This ancient amphitheater is a part of Hierapolis ruins and the sheer magnitude of its size will simply amaze you. It is on top of a hill, so be prepared to climb (a little) for a good view. From the distance, it doesn’t look very appealing but is magnificent when you’re closer.

Please note that the last entry to this pool closes at 6:15 pm. For more information about this beautifully [preserved ancient amphitheatre, click here.

4) Swim in the Cleopatra Pools

Cleopatra Pools in Pamukkale, Turkey
Cleopatra Pools in Pamukkale, Turkey

As you cross all the travertines and reach the top, you will reach Cleopatra Pools. It is believed that Cleopatra swam here as a part of her daily beauty regime because the water is mineral-rich.

If you’re in the mood for a swim, the Cleopatra Pools are better as compared to the travertines.

The mineral-rich swimming pool is large and has many shady areas where one can sit.

A swim here with Roman ruins costs around 30 TL and is not included in the ticket price. In this price, you also get your own locker and towel.

This area also has a restaurant, toilets, a bar, and souvenir shops so you can come here to cool off after you’re done enjoying the travertines.

05) Check Out the Colorful Local Market

Local Market in Pamukkale, Turkey - I really enjoyed it
Local Market in Pamukkale, Turkey – I really enjoyed it
Colorful Local Market in Pamukkale, Turkey
Colorful Local Market in Pamukkale, Turkey

Just parallel to the travertine terraces on the other side of the street, there is a little market where you’ll find locals as well as tourists.

You can find many locally made knick-knacks, carpets, and a few restaurants that overlook the travertines.

The village of Pamukkale, Turkey and the local market
The village of Pamukkale, Turkey, and the local market

It’s a good idea to stop in this market to eat lunch. Moreover, if you want to buy typical Turkish handicrafts like hand-painted bowls, etc., this local market is perfect for finding a good bargain.

I was informed that they are made here and then sold all over the country and that’s why the prices are lower than most places.

Related Post: Why Cappadocia is the Most Magical Place on Earth

Where to Stay in Pamukkale

Right outside my hotel - Ozbay Hotel in Pamukkale, Turkey
Right outside my hotel – Ozbay Hotel in Pamukkale, Turkey

If you want to stay near the travertines in the village like I did, then I highly recommend my hotel. I stayed in a place called Ozbay Hotel, Pamukkale that was literally a minute away from the travertines.

Even though I booked a dorm bed, it was more like a private room because I was the only one. Nothing in this hotel looked like it was a hostel.

My dorm room was like a private double room at Ozbay Hotel, Pamukkale, Turkey
My dorm room was like a private double room at Ozbay Hotel, Pamukkale, Turkey

The hotel area is beautiful and I was delighted to find a charming little outdoor restaurant here. The interiors are very interesting and kind of reminded me of the Art Deco movement.

The breakfast was massive and it kept me full for most of the day. My breakfast at Ozbay Hotel included fresh fruits, eggs, salami, sausages, bread, cheese, and a few more things to put on the bread such as Turkish Nutella equivalent.

My breakfast at Ozbay Hotel, Pamukkale, Turkey
My breakfast at Ozbay Hotel, Pamukkale, Turkey

Ozbay Hotel appeared to be a family-run hotel and the owners were nice enough to let me stay there for a few more hours after my check-out time.

Should you visit the travertines in Pamukkale for just a day trip?

Pamukkale Travertenleri in Turkey - Early morning
Pamukkale Travertenleri in Turkey – Early morning

Most people visit Pamukkale on a day trip from Bodrum or Istanbul but I’d recommend you stay in the village for a night.

This way, you can get to enjoy the beauty of the travertine pools super early before they start getting crowded.

If you’re short on time and are looking for information, click here to check information about a day trip to Pamukkale from Bodrum or Istanbul.

Mid Day Crowd in Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey
Mid-Day Crowd in Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey

If you stay in the village, you can also watch the sunset from the pools and notice the change in color.

Practical Information + Tips for Visiting Pamukkale’s Thermal Pools

Visit Pamukkale before you visit Cappadocia. This is because Pamukkale’s travertine terraces are in a smaller area whereas Cappadocia’s moonscape stretches for literally 10 villages.

If Cappadocia was my first destination in Turkey, perhaps Pamukkale would not have impressed me as much.

Early Morning in Pamukkale, Turkey
Early Morning in Pamukkale, Turkey

It can get really sunny there and the sunlight gets reflected back thanks to all that water, so be prepared. Did you notice how I’m squinting in most of my pictures? Well, it’s because it gets really sunny so be sure to carry a hat, sunglasses and loads of sunscreen.

Carry a bathing suit and a sarong to fully utilize Pamukkale’s mineral-rich thermal pools. Wear sandals or shoes that you can easily remove because you can’t wear your shoes on the travertines.

I also thankfully carried a little bag for my shoes that came in handy. I wore flip-flops that were quite all right but it wasn’t comfortable to climb to see the amphitheater in them.

Trying to bathe in Pamukkale's Thermal Pools without taking off my clothes
Trying to bathe in Pamukkale’s Thermal Pools without taking off my clothes

Yes, you should dress sensibly when you’re traveling in Turkey but I saw a few travelers in Pamukkale that wore swimsuits in the pools but many others did not.

We hope this detailed post has answered every question that you have about visiting Pamukkale.

Feel free to let me know in the comments below if you need more information and we’ll be happy to help you out. if you like this travel guide for Pamukkale, be sure to share it with a friend who’s thinking of traveling to Turkey.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

Pin the below images to save the post on Pinterest:

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares