Home » How to Visit Pamukkale in Turkey – A Detailed Guide

How to Visit Pamukkale in Turkey – A Detailed Guide

Visiting Pamukkale was one of the places I was most exciting about going to when planning my trip to Turkey. If you’re looking for a spectacular natural wonder and something a bit unusual to see whilst on your trip to Turkey, then Pamukkale is really a must see attraction. In fact, despite not being that well known outside of Turkey, it actually receives the most visitors out of any tourist site in the country – more than 2 million a year!

It had been high on my bucket list, so having recently spent two weeks travelling through Turkey, I made sure to spend 2 days at Pamukkale.

In this post I’ve detailed how to visit Pamukkale, covering how to get there, where to stay, getting around the area and all of my top tips for visiting Pamukkale without the crowds. So read on and starting planning your trip to Pamukkale.

How to visit Pamukkale – Essential things to know

visiting Pamukkale, Turkey
The terraced pools of Pamukkale, Turkey

What is Pamukkale?

Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, literally looks like.. well, a cotton castle. Formed by a carbonate mineral left by the flowing water, Pamukkale is a series of white travertine terraced pools nestled into the hillside. People don’t seem to be completely certain as to how Pamukkale was actually created however.

At the top of Pamukkale is the incredible ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis, chosen to sit atop the “cotton castle” with an abundance of hot springs.

Today, Pamukkale is an UNESCO World Heritage site and you can visit both here and Hierapolis for one ticket price.

Bathing in the terraced pools of Pamukkale, Turkey.
Bathing in the terraced pools of Pamukkale, Turkey

Where is Pamukkale?

Pamukkale is located in South West Turkey, approximately 20km from the major town of Denizli.

Visiting Hierapolis in Turkey
Standing at the edge of Hierapolis amphitheatre

How to get to Pamukkale?

The main point of arrival is Denizli, which has connections from across Turkey via bus, train and plane. If you arrive by bus or train, you will need to head to the lower level of the Denizli bus station (the two are across the road from each other), and look for the dolmuş shuttle at peron (gate) 76. It’s only about another 30 minute drive to Pamukkale from Denizli and costs 3.50 TL. You must tell the driver and he will stop near your hotel in town as there is no bus stop in the town of Pamukkale.

visiting pamukkale
A doggie enjoying the terraced pools

How to get around Pamukkale

Luckily, Pamukkale is a really small town and you can easily get around on foot.

Entrance fee to Pamukkale

A ticket costs 25TL which gives you entry to both Hierapolis and Pamukkale. These tickets permit you to stay all day. It’s important to know that to swim in the Cleopatra Pools at Hierapolis, it costs an extra 32TL.

If you have a monthly Turkish Museum Pass, then Pamukkale is included and you can even skip the queue!

Pamukkale opening times

In the summer season (April to October), Pamukkale opens at 6am and closes at midnight. In the winter season, it opens at 6am and closes at 6.30pm.

When is the best time of year to visit Pamukkale?

Generally, the better time to visit would be the summer months so you can immerse yourself in the pools and explore in your swimwear. The best time to visit in the summer would be April to June when the heat is less intense, and the crowds are calmer.

Visiting Pamukkale on a day trip

How long does it take to visit Pamukkale?

You can easily spend a full day at Pamukkale and Hierapolis. You’ll probably find that you won’t spend more than an hour exploring the terraces at Pamukkale, just because there’s only a certain number and as it gets busier, it does get more unbearable. You can easily spend a fair few hours walking around Hierapolis and, if you pay the extra cost, enjoying the hot springs (Cleopatra pools) at the top.

As mentioned, it is very common to visit as a day trip, on either an organised tour from a seaside resort like Bodrum or with a company like GetYourGuide. You can book tours through the link below, which also gives you an indication of how many options there are!

Staying overnight in Pamukkale

Where are the best places to stay in Pamukkale?

There are many hotels in Pamukkale, none of which are super exciting or fantastic really. The town seems to exist purely because of tourism and this means there’s little character to the streets. It’s a bit of a quiet and slightly run-down town.

I chose to stay at the Melrose House Hotel which was a perfect base with plenty of kittens and a lovely swimming pool. You can check rates for this great hotel here. I would say this was a great mid-range option.

There aren’t too many luxury hotel options in Pamukkale, but the best hotels are these two:

how to visit Pamukkale
The hotel’s pool
staying overnight in Pamukkale
Enjoying some downtime after a day exploring Pamukkale

Top tips for a day or overnight visit to Pamukkale

Arrive early

It’s fairly useful advice for any tourist attraction but it is vital to arrive early when visiting Pamukkale. If you’re staying overnight in the town, obviously this will be easier but you could also take the first dolmuş of the day from Denizli.

Mass tour groups from the seaside resorts start descending in the pools by about 9.30/10am. They arrive in their masses and I found it to completely change the experience.

Although the doors opened earlier, I arrived at about 8.30am. I had no queue at the gate and was one of the first people there. I enjoyed about 40 mins having the pools to myself and a handful of others.

how to visit Pamukkale.
Enjoying Pamukkale

Enter through the lower gate

Try to arrive at the ticket gate nearest to the town and the Gendarma (police station).

It’s pedestrian only and means you come in right by the pools at Pamukkale. It extends your time without crowds significantly as the tour buses arrive at the top by the upper gate. They slowly come down the path by the pools from the top but stop to take so many photos on the way down that it bides you some time at the lower pools for sure.

how to visit Pamukkale
The pools’ water at Pamukkale

Bring a waterproof bag and wear swimwear

I was surprised to find that much of the white chalky surface was wet. There are few places to put bags and belongings down where they will stay dry.

You will also definitely find yourself in your swimwear all day long. We noticed that many people even seemed to stay in their swimwear whilst walking round the Hierapolis ruins which really seems quite odd.

You will definitely be barefoot inside, so make sure you have a bag to put your shoes in so you hands can be free.

day visit to Pamukkale
Enjoying a stream at Pamukkale

Don’t skip Hierapolis

Some people come purely for the pools and don’t even visit the ruins at the top. I thought they were absolutely incredible. As you can see too, the views with the mountains behind are amazing!

Just by the ruins complex of Hierapolis, you can enjoy a lazy swim in the hot springs (the Cleopatra Pools). Here there are sun loungers and a cafe, so as I said before, you can easily spend the full day here.

The Romans once bathed in these pools, and it is quite the surreal experience to swim amongst submerged columns.

the amphitheatre at Hierapolis
Standing at the edge of the amphitheatre at Hierapolis
Hierapolis
Incredible views
The Cleopatra pools at Pamukkale
The Cleopatra pools at Pamukkale

Take a picnic

Assuming you do choose to spend the day at Pamukkale and Hierapolis, it would be a good idea to bring a picnic.

The only food options are the poor quality cafes by the Cleopatra pools. Interestingly though, there are ATMs up by the cafe.

Pamukkale terraced pools
Enjoying the pools without any crowds

So here is my guide and top tips for visiting Pamukkale and Hierapolis.

Have you been to Pamukkale and Hierapolis? Do you have any other tips for visitors to this amazing place? I’d love to hear if so – drop a comment below!

As you can see, whether you visit as a day tripper or stay overnight in the town of Pamukkale, arriving earlier to the lower gate will offer you a much more successful and enjoyable visit. The two sites are absolutely worth a visit on any trip to Turkey and I would highly recommend including them.

If you’re considering a longer trip, you might find my two-week Turkey itinerary here useful, as well as my guides to Bodrum,  PamukkaleEphesus, sailing the famous Turquoise CoastIstanbul and Cappadocia here.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, feel free to share using the below links!

Wanna see more? Check my Instagram here, my Facebook here or my Twitter here!

Disclaimer: This visit to Pamukkale, Turkey was entirely paid for by myself and there was no involvement from the tourism board or any local companies. This is an independent guide.

visiting Pamukkale in a day
Views over Hierapolis

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22 Comments

  1. umiko buhl
    September 26, 2017 / 1:29 am

    Wow! This is so cool. I hope to be able to visit one day.

  2. Danik
    September 26, 2017 / 10:47 am

    Also loved reading this post on Turkey and I have to admit, its going on my list of things to do there. It looks so beautiful and I am now curious about the place. Fantastic write up and again, loving the photos 🙂

  3. Jithin
    September 26, 2017 / 4:07 pm

    Pamukkale is definitely a great place to visit. The cotton castle looks unique and beautiful. Will definitely visit this place next time in Turkey. The pictures are amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Jas
    September 26, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    Cotton castle is just THE dreamiest name ever. The place doesn’t even look real! Definitely some great tips you’ve provided and I’m for sure adding this to my bucket list. Thank you for introducing me to this beautiful place!

  5. March 7, 2018 / 1:16 pm

    Wow! I’ve never heard of this destination before. It looks like such an amazing place to visit ❤

  6. Lyosha
    March 7, 2018 / 2:56 pm

    The place is indeed dreamy. I has stolen my heart away several years back when I visited it. Thanks for reminder, it brought my memories back!

  7. Sue Tanya Mchorgh
    March 7, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    I would love to visit PAMUKKALE. I have never heard of it before but all your pictures look amazing. This is definitely on my list.

    • claire_stokes@msn.com
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 1:53 pm

      Hi Sue, it’s a little under the radar and a very special spot!

  8. Angela Ricardo Bethea
    March 8, 2018 / 6:24 am

    It seems that really had a fun and great time there. That place is a must visit. Such a beautiful place and scenery. Your photos make me wanted to visit that.

    • claire_stokes@msn.com
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 1:51 pm

      Definitely visit when you can! 🙂 X

  9. Esme Sy
    March 8, 2018 / 8:33 am

    I can’t believe there’s a place like this, I’ve never seen something so fictional and real at the same time. Thank you for sharing this place, you have beautiful pictures and I hope I can visit Pamukkale soon!

    • claire_stokes@msn.com
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 1:51 pm

      Hi Esme,

      I hope you can too, it was amazing! 🙂

  10. Elizabeth O
    March 8, 2018 / 12:02 pm

    Pamukkale looks like something you see in a movie. I can’t believe it’s real. What an absolutely stunning place with amazing views!

    • claire_stokes@msn.com
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 1:47 pm

      I know, and it was so surreal to explore too! 🙂

  11. Shubhada Bhide
    March 9, 2018 / 2:52 am

    OMG!! This place is dreamy. How did you find that beautiful place? It seems that you really enjoy every minute of your time there. I am so jealous.

    • claire_stokes@msn.com
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 1:47 pm

      I think I found it on Google but I also had never heard of it before! So glad I did though 🙂

  12. March 9, 2018 / 4:01 am

    Seriously, some of your photos looked like you were literally in heaven! That ampitheater was equally amazing! Needless to say, I’m sure you had an amazing time with these breathtaking views!Happy International Women’s Day!

    • claire_stokes@msn.com
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 1:46 pm

      I know, such a heavenly destination! I had no idea what to expect really but it blew me away!

  13. Journa Ramirez
    March 9, 2018 / 1:48 pm

    I’m always up for an adventure and that place looks so great. Wish my family and I could go there soon!

    • claire_stokes@msn.com
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 1:45 pm

      This is an amazing place for an adventure! 🙂

  14. March 14, 2018 / 6:22 pm

    I love how you have that selfie-stick taking those gorgeous shots! The constant photos make me look forward to more photos! It definitely makes me want to visit that place~

    • claire_stokes@msn.com
      Author
      March 19, 2018 / 1:24 pm

      Haha, thanks Tiffany 🙂

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