Pamukkale Türkiye, all you need to knowPublished 26/10/2023
Pamukkale Türkiye, all you need to knowPublished 26/10/2023
If you’re planning a trip to Türkiye, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across Pamukkale as a hotspot to visit. Or you’ve seen the beautiful photos passing by on Instagram. Pamukkale is a beautiful natural area in Türkiye, known worldwide for its breathtaking white limestone terraces and hot springs. But it is so much more than those pictures you see passing by, and I found it really hard to find all the necessary information on my visit. So, here you can read everything you need to know about Pamukkale, Türkiye.
Cotton castle, Pamukkale terraces
The most striking feature of Pamukkale is the series of white terraces with bright blue pools. This is also where the name Pamukkale comes from, which literally translates to “cotton castle”. These terraces were formed by the deposition of calcium carbonate created by the mineral-rich warm water flowing from the springs. As the water flows down, these terraces are formed and give Pamukkale its unique appearance.
In these limestone terraces, that mineral-rich water remains, forming the hot springs whose temperature can range from 35 to 100 degrees Celsius. The water is rich in minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, and is often praised for its supposed healing properties. Visitors can swim in some of the springs and enjoy the therapeutic effect of the warm water.
You have probably seen these baths in photos and they are Pamukkale’s hotspot. In reality, only a few of these baths remain. The rest are empty limestone on a mountain. Absolutely no less impressive! But so don’t expect a gigantic area of baths where there is enough space for everyone to delightfully bathe endlessly. In low season there might be a bit more time for that, but in high season it gets crowded quickly and there is little room to really enjoy the baths in a relaxed way.
Cleopatra pools or “Pamukkale antique pools”
Another source of heat can be found in the form of a pool, and that is Cleopatra’s. There are several legends surrounding the pool; it is said to have been a gift from Marc Anthony. According to this legend, swimming in the water would ensure a happy love life.
According to another legend, it was a gift from Cleopatra herself to the city, just which story you want to believe. The pool contains the same water, so it also contains minerals with healing powers. After an earthquake, some structures around the pool collapsed and fell into the water, which you can now swim around. This is also said to bring luck again, as the pool miraculously remained undamaged during the earthquake.
Fortunately, the baths are not the only thing Pamukkale has to offer. As I mentioned, it is located on a mountain and so you can enjoy stunning views. Thereby, on top of Pamukkale mountain is the ancient city of Hierapolis, which was once a thriving Roman and Byzantine city. Today, remnants of ancient Hierapolis can still be seen, including well-preserved theatres, temples, necropolises and other historical sites. It is definitely worth exploring the remains of Hierapolis while you are in Pamukkale.
The baths are really only a small part of the whole area. Although we had hours of fun taking photos in the baths, you can also spend hours walking around the ancient Roman city. So make sure you take enough time for this too, because it’s really worth it! I definitely found Hierapolis as impressive as Acropolis in Athens.
UNESCO World heritage
Pamukkale and Hierapolis are both on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for their extraordinary natural and historical significance. It really is worth a visit for culture lovers and nature lovers alike.
Location & how to get to Pamukkale
Pamukkale is located in the southwest of Türkiye, in Denizli. Denizli is a small village that lies at the foot of Pamukkale and frankly doesn’t have much more to offer than hotels and restaurants aimed at tourists coming to Pamukkale. Still, I definitely recommend booking a hotel here and taking your time to Pamukkale from there.
Buses in Türkiye are really fine and Denizli is easily accessible from any major city in Türkiye. There are also tours to Pamukkale, also from any major city. I wouldn’t opt for this myself so soon, as most buses leave sometime during the night. Only from Ankara is Pamukkale reasonably close, but from Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya or Bodrum it is about a 4-9 hour drive.
We arrived at the entrance at 7am and by then there were quite a few tour buses. So calculate how early you leave then. Night buses are not my favourite. Hotels in Denizli are dirt cheap. We had a 3-bed room for €45 for 1 night and that included breakfast and a swimming pool. And also in early August. So in low season, it’s even much cheaper. Little reason not to just spend 2 or 3 days there.
Pamukkale’s entrance prices are unfortunately not very cheap anymore, thanks to recent inflation. In November 2023, the price is 700 TL, converted to around €25. In spring, it was still 400 TL, so it’s hard to say how prices will change in the near future.
You can buy tickets online or at the venue itself. This is Türkiye’s official website, where you can buy all tickets for museums and the like across the country.
The Cleopatra baths cost extra. Expect another €5 or so extra.
Best traveltime Pamukkale
The best travel time for Pamukkale is definitely the off-season. Located inland, it quickly gets a few degrees warmer than on the coast. In summer, it quickly reaches 40 degrees. Really not recommended. At 7 o’clock in the morning, it is still doable, but at 11 o’clock you are burning alive. This is really not a nice temperature for sightseeing and as the baths are hot, there is no cooling.
Is Pamukkale worth visiting in the summer? Absolutely. If you depend on the summer season, I really wouldn’t skip it because it’s hot. So I was there myself in August, in the middle of a massive heat wave, and that day it was about 42 degrees. Certainly not a temperature to keep walking around all day, so we were there from 7 to 12, and after that, we were really worn out. But then when you go back to your hotel with a pool, it’s totally fine. I’m incredibly glad I went! Despite the temperature.
Visitor information Pamukkale
- Wearing shoes is prohibited on the limestone terraces to prevent damage, but you can walk barefoot.
- You’re not allowed in just anywhere on the terraces! There are security guards walking around, so if it’s not entirely clear to you, just ask. There are 2 places where you can enter the baths. The limestone parts are actually all off-limits, so stick to that too.
- The Cleopatra baths cost extra and are therefore not included in your entrance ticket. It’s not possible to buy this at the entrance already, so whatever it says, it does not include the Cleopatra baths.
- There are lockers at the Cleopatra baths. You can use these even if you don’t go into the baths. Useful for the photographers among us, who want to put their cameras aside for a while after a shoot at the hot springs.
- There are several access points and parking spaces available for visitors. I recommend using the main entrance for the shortest route to the terraces.
- Want to take photos? Then come early. Really early. The tour buses also arrive around opening time, so it is busy right away. However, they often do a tour of Hierapolis before heading to the hot springs. So you have about half an hour to an hour before it gets crowded.
- In the morning at sunrise, you can take a balloon ride to admire the area from above. From Pamukkale itself, of course, this also gives a beautiful view. So sunrise in Pamukkale is definitely recommended. Not such an early riser? Then go for sunset. Chances are that many people will have left by then and it will be quieter. And a bit cooler, should you go in high season.
- There are a few restaurants where you can buy food & drinks. Don’t expect too much, it’s mainly some sandwiches, snacks and burgers.