Visiting Pamukkale, Turkey – Essential tips

visiting pamukkale

Visiting Pamukkale

I found out that Pamukkale is Turkey’s most visited attraction whilst doing my pre-trip research.. and boy, were they right!

It’s always a safe bet to arrive early to most tourist attractions but I feel a lot of my success this day was down to luck. However, I would love to share all the things I learnt about my visit so you can have a super successful visit to Pamukkale too!

What is Pamukkale?

visiting 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 terraced pools resting into the hillside. Although it seems people don’t seem to be completely certain as to how it was created. 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.

Where is Pamukkale?

Located in South West Turkey, approximately 20km from the major town of Denizli.

visiting pamukkale

How do I get there?

You can arrive in Denizli by bus, train and plane. If you arrive by bus or train, you 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 dolmus shuttle at peron (gate) 76. It’s only about a 30 minute drive to Pamukkale and you just hail for your hotel when you arrive in the town – there’s no bus station the other end.

visiting pamukkale

Where to stay?

There are a number of hotels in Pamukkale, none of which are super exciting or fantastic really. The town really exists purely because of tourism and this means there’s no character to the place and it’s a bit of a run down, quiet place.

I chose to stay at the Melrose House Hotel which made a perfect base with plenty of kittens and a lovely swimming pool.

visiting pamukkale

visiting pamukkale

How much is entry?

A ticket costs 25TL which gives you entry to both Hierapolis and Pamukkale. To swim in the Cleopatra pools is an extra 32TL.

My top tips for a visit to Pamukkale..

1. Arrive early

It’s fairly useful advice for any tourist attraction but it’s VITAL for visiting Pamukkale. The crowds descending on the pools in their masses and it completely changed the experience.

I arrived at about 8.30am and enjoyed about 40 mins of the pools to myself and a handful of others.

visiting pamukkale

2. Enter through the lower gate

Enter through the gate nearest to the town and the Gendarma (police station). It’s pedestrian only and means you come in right by the pools. It extends your time without crowds significantly as the 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.

visiting pamukkale

3. Bring a waterproof bag and wear swimwear

I was surprised to find that much of the white chalky surface was wet. There were few places to put my bag down to keep it dry. You will also definitely find yourself in your swimwear all day long, in fact, people even seemed to walk around the ruins in their swimwear – quite the sight!

Also, you will be walking barefoot, but it’s surprisingly grippy!

visiting pamukkale

4. Plan to go up for the day

Once you’ve enjoyed the pools and spent your time frolicking in them, definitely make sure you climb all the way to the top as there is so much more to do.

Hierapolis is the most incredible Ancient Greek city, sprawling out above the Pamukkale pools. As another UNESCO World Heritage site and somewhat similar to Ephesus, I do feel that Hierapolis sits in its shadow. It would also be fair to say that the pools draw the crowds and the ruins are more of a sideshow – but I thought they were fantastic.

visiting pamukkale

visiting pamukkale

The amphitheatre was incredible and the views with the mountains behind were amazing!

Together with the ruins, you can swim in the hot springs (the Cleopatra Pools) and enjoy the sun loungers and cafes at the top – easily lose a full day up there.

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

visiting pamukkale

5. Take a picnic

Assuming you do chose to spend the day up there, the only food options are the tackier cafes by the Cleopatra pools. It didn’t look wildly appetising and I was grateful for the pre-prepared baguettes I had!

Interestingly though, there are ATMs up there!

visiting pamukkale

Visiting Pamukkale

So these are my top tips for visiting Pamukkale, this incredible (and popular) destination!

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!

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

If you’re considering a longer Turkey adventure, you might find my itinerary here useful, as well as my guides to Bodrum, Ephesus, sailing the famous Turquoise Coast, Istanbul and Cappadocia here.

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

visiting pamukkale

 

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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. 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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