Everything you need to know about Pamukkale Turkey
Updated: Sep 16, 2022
Pamukkale, which means 'cotton castle' in Turkish, is a must-visit when you're in Turkey. Its white calcium travertines are one of the most photographed places in all of Turkey. But did you know that Pamukkale is more than just a spectacular landscape? It's home to thermal pools and an entire ancient city! The nice thing about visiting the Pamukkale site is that your entrance ticket includes access to both the thermal pools and the ancient city of Hierapolis. In this article, we'll highlight everything you need to know about Pamukkale, including the things to do as well as how to get there.
To get a taste of what it's like at Pamukkale, check out our video first!
Where is Pamukkale in Turkey?
Pamukkale is located in the province of Denizli in southwestern Turkey. It can easily be reached within a day by bus, tour, or car. The biggest city near the Cotton Castle is Denizli, which is about 30 minutes away. If you’re staying overnight in the area, we suggest staying in the town of Pamukkale itself, which is situated right beneath the thermal pools. Because Pamukkale is relatively close to multiple bigger cities, it's easy to do a day trip from Antalya, Marmaris, and Izmir.
Things to do in Pamukkale
1. The Thermal Pools
Pamukkale is called the Cotton Castle because of its one-of-a-kind thermal pools nestled within thick layers of white limestone. The mineral-rich pools have a range of temperatures. Some feel like a regular hot tub while others have a lukewarm or even cold feel to them. Make sure to take your shoes off when visiting the pools so as not to damage the limestone.
When we were there, we saw about 25 pools filled with blue water, 15 of which were accessible to swim in. However, there were hundreds of dried-up pools surrounding us as well. If you’re lucky enough to go to Pamukkale after heavy rain, you may see more filled pools than we did. We recommend visiting the thermal pools about 2 hours before sunset. That way, you will enjoy fewer crowds and you will also have the opportunity to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life from the natural pools.
2. The Ancient City (Hierapolis)
Hieropolis, or Holy City, is an ancient city behind the Thermal Pools of Pamukkale. It stretches for about 2.7 kilometers or 1.7 miles. The city is so large that it can even be seen from the city of Denizli, which is 20 kilometers or 12 miles away from the site. The Holy City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 and has since enjoyed more protection to keep its beauty and history intact. Give yourself at least a few hours to visit the ancient city since there is so much to explore here. You will come across a museum, ancient theatre, main streets, and many other Roman ruins.
You can also spend some time at the Cleopatra Pools during your time in Hierapolis. These green pools were artificially created, however the water does sit on top of ancient columns that fell from the city during an earthquake. That means you’re swimming amongst history when you jump in these pools.
3. BONUS: Kaklik Cave (hidden gem near Pamukkale!)
The Kaklik Cave is a 40-minute drive from the town of Pamukkale and can easily be reached by car. The cave is not well-known. In fact, when we were there we only saw one other car and a dog in the parking lot.
When you descend into the cave, you will find a spectacular underground Cotton Castle. Similar to the Thermal Pools of Pamukkale, this site has layer upon layer of limestone. However, here the limestone has cascading waterfalls all around it. The cave was formed about 2.5 million years ago and has a maximum depth of 14 meters. When you visit, make sure to take your shoes off since the waterfalls spill over the walkway.
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More Helpful Info About Pamukkale
If you still need more information about things to do when visiting Pamukkale, make sure to check out these other great articles below:
14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Pamukkale by PlanetWare
A Complete Guide To Backpacking Pamukkale, Turkey by Bucketlistly
Planning to visit more places in Turkey? Check out our Turkey travel guide and other helpful articles about Turkey: