Enjoy the natural wonders of Pamukkale
Trips to Pamukkale in Turkey (pronounced Pah-Mook-Kah-Leh) are all about relaxation and surrounding yourself with the natural beauty of this glorious part of the country. This outdoor mineral bath spa is a popular hotspot for locals and visitors. It’s a pretty location, too; the calcium-laden water that trickles down the cliff-face leaves behind a snow-like deposit, which is known as the cotton castle. This flows into warm, shallow springs that are ready and waiting for you to enjoy.
Pamukkale in Turkey is a surreal place, where natural and manmade wonders blend together perfectly. When you get here, you’ll see the amazingly well-preserved ruins of the Greek-Roman city of Hierapolis, combined with the white water and hot springs of the spa. All the while, you’ll be surrounded by lush, green shrubbery.
If you’re not too sure about the milky-white mineral spa, head for the ancient ruins complex and you can bathe in the clear waters of the Pamukkale Antique Pool instead. This is known as Cleopatra’s Pool, as it’s believed to have once been favoured by Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. The delightfully sculpted, columned bath was said to be a gift from Mark Anthony, to Cleopatra. It collapsed as a result of an earthquake in the 7th century, but the ancient ruins can still be seen beneath the blue water.
Pamukkale is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts over two million visitors a year. This makes it the most visited attraction anywhere in Turkey, so our top tip is to get there early in the day to beat the crowds and the midday heat.
How to get there
The most convenient way to get to Pamukkale is to hire a car and drive yourself. The trip takes around three hours from Kusadasi, four hours from Antalya and Marmaris, and five hours from Bodrum. The drive is quite long, but the roads are wide and well made, and there are plenty of signposts. The roads tend to be pretty quiet, too, and you’ll pass through lots of beautiful countryside (especially if you take the country roads). Pack a picnic and break the drive up with a few stops along the way. Our top tip: make sure your hire car has a satnav, as not all of the road signs will be in English.
If you don’t want to hire a car, comfortable inter-city coaches are available from Kusadasi, Antalya, Marmaris and Bodrum; they run to Denizli, which is the closest city to Pamukkale. Turkey prides itself on its efficient public transport, and you’ll find the buses are fast, clean, and (thankfully) air-conditioned. Once you get there, you can take a 40-minute bus or minibus trip from Denizli bus station. The total journey doesn’t take too much longer than if you were to drive yourself.
If you’re staying in Istanbul, the journey to Pamukkale in Turkey is around eight hours by car, which is too long for a day trip. You’d be better off flying from Istanbul Airport to Denizli Airport.
Top tips for visiting Pamukkale
When you get there, the best approach to take is to walk up through the formations on the travertine path, starting from the south gate. Keep in mind that you’re not allowed to wear shoes or sandals here; this is to stop erosion and staining of the calcite deposits that help make this place so beautiful. As such, it’s important to make sure you have a bag for your footwear and anything else you need to bring along with you.
Don’t forget to bring your swimwear, as you’ll need it if you want to make the most of what Pamukkale has to offer. That way, you’ll be able to spend the day splashing around in the aquamarine pools and the antique pool. Make sure you bring plenty of sun cream and drinking water, too, especially if you’re visiting on a hot day.
There’s lots to see here, so it’s best to set aside a whole day for a trip to Pamukkale in Turkey.