Pamukkale – a spa resort with 2,200 years of history
Want to see the famous snow-white terraces with blue water? Our comprehensive guide to Pamukkale will help you make your dream come true. Learn the best way to get there, what to see and how to prepare.
What is Pamukkale
Pamukkale is the oldest spa resort. Imagine, it is about 2200 years old! The ancient Greeks and Romans came to the waters to improve their health. Now people come here mainly for the juicy photos for “Instagram”.
Pamukkale is translated from Turkish as “Cotton Castle”, because the white profusions of the mineral resemble small boxes of cotton. To some, it reminds snow. However, from a distance Pamukkale looks like a mountain covered with pigeon droppings. All in all, not so presentable. But the impression changes as soon as you step on the travertine.
Travertine is a rock formed by calcium carbonate minerals. According to Wikipedia, it goes like this: mineral water flows down the slope and through a chemical reaction precipitates calcium carbonate as a gel, which then solidifies and forms travertine. The water also fills the pools, at the bottom of which also lies gel, not clay, as tourists think.
If the walls of Pamukkale resemble boxes of cotton, its floor is dead coral with hard protrusions. They flow cool water, and it is so nice to step on them barefoot. You get a full-fledged foot massage. I have very sensitive feet and I was afraid that the way to Pamukkale would be like going to Calvary. But climbing the travertine was very pleasant! It hurts only where the grooves of the mineral are too wide, and where the travertine has turned grey.
Cotton boxes of travertine on the slopes of Pamukkale. The pools are shallow, at most the water is just above the knee, so no one swims. But we climbed into the pool and soaked in soft gel – in the heat it is extremely pleasant! This is what the travertine looks like under your feet. The ledges pleasantly massage the feet.
Pamukkale used to be all dazzling white, but over time the travertine has turned gray. In fact, it was almost the first site in Turkey where mass tourism began, and the Turks appreciate it. They decided to restore the color of the travertine and left only a small part available for tourists.
Now you can go up the mountain and down it along a path along several water pools called Traverten Yolu. All other slopes of the mountain are off-limits. You can only look at other parts of the mountain from wooden platforms – that’s how the Turks fight to keep the stone white.
In this picture you can clearly see that some of the mineral has turned gray. And this photo clearly shows the chain of travertine pools along which tourists walk.
When is the best time to go
Pamukkale has a sharply continental climate, meaning unusually hot summers and cold winters. I do not advise to come here in July and August, because under such a scorching sun, even a healthy person would not feel comfortable! In addition, in the cool water travertine not immediately notice that the skin began to burn.
We were in Pamukkale at the end of May, and even then the temperature was off the scale: +36°C and not a single cloud! On the travertines the heat was not so noticeable because of the pleasant breeze and cool water, but the neighboring ruins of Hierapolis were not so sweet.
Pamukkale is one of the favorite places of our compatriots and Chinese tourists, so in the summer there are a lot of people. There are even lines for photos!
There are a lot of tourists in Pamukkale, even during the lockdown! More than anywhere else in Turkey. The largest concentration of tourists is at the upper pools.
How much does the ticket cost
Admission to the travertines of Pamukkale, the ruins of Hierapolis and the archaeological museum costs 110 liras. There is a complex ticket for 130 liras, which also includes the ancient city of Laodicea. It is advantageous because a separate ticket to Laodicea costs 45 liras.
The entrance to the complex where Cleopatra’s pool is located is free. But to swim in the pool costs 100 lira for an adult and 50 lira for children! A safe deposit box for your belongings costs 5 lira.
From March 1 to May 31 the Pamukkale side ticket office is open from 8:00 to 18:00. The same schedule is at Cleopatra Pool. There is also an upper entrance, through Hierapolis, but I don’t know the schedule.
The lower thermal water pools are open from 10 to 19, but they were not open during the lockdown.
The Archaeological Museum is open until 5pm.
Fabulous! These are the kind of interesting influxes in Pamukkale, like the caves.
Where to stay in Pamukkale
In Pamukkale we chose the awesome White Heaven Hotel. It is so cozy that we didn’t want to leave the room. The rooms at the hotel are huge – about 50 square meters. The terraces are also incredibly large. The rooms are very cozy, with Turkish fixtures and ethnic flair. The beds are comfortable! There is a fairly large pool on the grounds. Breakfasts are included. The hotel is located near the entrance to the travertines.
But the main value of the hotel is the global host and very friendly staff. They are willing to do anything to make you feel comfortable! We had our room changed because the noise from the neighboring air conditioners was disturbing our sleep. If you are a light sleeper, choose a room on the second floor overlooking the road.
The hotel is a 4*. We stayed there during the lockdown for ridiculous money – 5000 rubles for three nights! During peacetime it costs 4000-8000 rubles per night, depending on the room. Check with Hotellook.
You can get a room in our hotel White Heaven.
Where to eat
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the village! We ate at Cafe Gurme, practically on the way up the hill and across from the police station, right on the main road. We found the prices to be lower than other places. It was tasty and fast, and the owners give you magnets. The approximate coordinates of the cafe are 37.917654, 29.122391.
Excursions to Pamukkale from resorts
If you came to Turkey on a trip, it is more advantageous to go to Pamukkale for 1-2 days with a tour. Group bus tours are organized in almost any resort, and they cost 35-45 €. Individual tours are much less, such trips cost 250 €.
We recommend buying Pamukkale tours on our favorite trip service Tripster, rather than from a tour operator or street travel agencies. This service is proven by us. You do not buy a pig in a poke, because on Tripster you will read tourist reviews, find out the exact program, and contact the guide directly.
See what excursions there are in Pamukkale:
What else to see in Pamukkale
After Pamukkale, do not be lazy to see the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, which is mentioned in the Bible. There are well preserved amphitheater, agora and the northern necropolis. Some of the sarcophagi stand directly on the travertine! Hierapolis is on top of a mountain. The city area is large, so stock up on water, bring hats, and wear sneakers. Read more about Hierapolis.
Cleopatra Pool is a super hyped place. For 100 lira you can bathe in crystal clear mineral water. It is said to rejuvenate, but we did not observe any miraculous metamorphosis. Behind the pool there is a drinking spring.
If you came on your own and you are interested in antiquity, I advise you to visit the ancient city of Laodicea. It is remarkable for its many white columns, a large basilica with mosaics and the main Syrian street. It is interesting that the city is under active restoration. The entrance costs 45 liras. Read more about Laodicea.
Nearby is a curious cave Kaklik (Kaklik) – the underground Pamukkale, as it is nicknamed by tourists. This is a very strong word, but it really has travertine terraces, waterfall and an amazing blue water – like in the pool Cleopatra, only steeper. The cave smells strongly of hydrogen sulfide, and the floor is waterlogged, so you can’t go everywhere. It is free. It’s not worth going especially, but if it’s on the way, you can.
The red-brown travertines of Karahayit are in the neighboring village, in the free park Kirmizi Su. From the mini-geyser the water spurts with a temperature of about +67 ° C! Honestly, the travertine looks better in the photo than in reality, and I would not waste time on the trip. In general, I was attracted here by the multicolored geyser in the center of the village, which in the photo looks like a geyser Fly in the U.S.. Alas, it has turned white and the water is blocked off.
After Pamukkale, don’t miss the ancient Hierapolis – one of the largest necropolises is preserved there. Some of the tombs stand directly on white travertine!
This is a must know.
You will have to walk barefoot . It is forbidden to enter the travertine with shoes, the guards are strictly enforcing this. If you came from the lower entrance, put your shoes in a bag and take them with you – you will need them at the ruins and the Cleopatra Pool. If you came from the upper entrance and plan to go back up, you can leave them on the wooden floor at the entrance to the travertines. Well, if you came in from the top and only want to go down, you need to take your shoes with you.
It can be painful . I don’t want to scare anyone, but it does hurt in places. I was afraid that I would not be able to climb up, but in fact it is even nice to walk on travertine! There are a few sore spots, but bearable – you can do it. Just try to step where the mineral grooves are as close together as possible.
It can be slippery . Where there is mineral sediment (in the thermals, on their edges), you can slip and fall .
You won’t see much . Most of Pamukkale stands waterless. But this wave is enough to impress, swim and take beautiful photos.
You can get burned. The sun is merciless, it is easy to burn and not notice it. Take a hat, a sun cape, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Infrastructure . Toilets and cafes are only upstairs. Prices are inflated.
Best light for photos . At 16:00-16:30 there was perfect light for photos. Early in the morning there is no point in coming because the sun rises from behind the mountain and the travertines are in shadow, in addition, the rocks and water will be cold. At sunset the same thing – the sun goes down behind the mountain.
Pamukkale – Turkey (2022)
Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish, where “pamuk” means cotton and “kale” means castle.
All about Pamukkale tour – Turkey (2022)
This splendidly beautiful place is considered the eighth wonder of the world. Accordingly, in 1988 it was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
All of you may have heard about the place where, at first glance, it seems that the snow lies. But people walk there in bathing suits, take pictures and do not get cold.
How do you ask? Let’s start with the basics.
From a distance, Pamukkale really looks like a snow-white fortress, but in fact it is not snow, but limestone, which has unique healing properties.
Such a wonderful landscape was formed by mineral deposits of thermal springs, which are rich in the area.
Not surprisingly, the hotels where you will stay when you buy a two-day tour have thermal pools, the water which comes directly from these springs.
Also on the territory of Pamukkale is the famous Cleopatra Pool, tickets to which are purchased on site.
This ancient pool is filled with warm mineral water.
As you have realized the water in the pool is rich in minerals and it tastes like Borjomi and if you dare to get into the water you will get the unique feeling of being covered in small bubbles like you are enjoying a champagne bath.
According to legend whoever visits the pool will become 10 years younger, but in fact you will still get soft skin and a great mood!
Those interested in history can visit the museum or go to the amphitheater, which is also located near the travertine. You are GUARANTEED a huge number of souvenirs, impressions, emotions!
This tour is worth the price of admission, but those who take the two-day tour will be able to admire the view of the evening charming Pamukkale and even get there!
Do not miss your opportunity to see this marvelous “castle” with your own eyes!
How to get from Marmaris to Pamukkale?
The beach of Marmaris is one of the busiest beaches in Turkey in summer, along with other beaches such as Fethiye and Bodrum.
Marmaris is in the Mugla region of Turkey and it is about 210 km from Pamukkale. The drive from Marmaris to Pamukkale takes about 3 to 4 hours.
Marmaris is at the best distance from Pamukkale, the closest. You can buy a day tour, leave in the morning and return to Marmaris by nightfall.
The bus service in Turkey is the most popular and developed. You can choose from several companies to choose the most attractive to you, you can get to Pamukkale via Denizli.
As you probably already know most buses go to Denizli bus station which is about 20 minutes drive from Pamukkale. From there you can take a shuttle or cab to get to Pamukkale.
The most popular bus company in Turkey.
So Pamukkale Tourism, a popular bus company, has most of the buses in southwest Turkey with wireless internet and LCD screen for each passenger on the Marmaris route.
The ticket price is about 27 Turkish Liras. You can find more information about Pamukkale Tourism on this page.
Metro Tourism is another of the most popular bus companies in Turkey with 2 buses running daily between Marmaris and Denizli.
Cotton Castle Turkey – About Pamukkale
Pamukkale is one of the greatest natural and historical treasures of Turkey. If you are fascinated by the sight of geological natural wonders, Pamukkale will surely impress you. Here are some facts about Pamukkale that you should know before you go here:
This fantastic landscape of mineral forests, fossil waterfalls, and a series of terraced pools was created by swirling waters from seventeen hot springs.
The magnificent white travertine (a type of limestone) resembles a mountain of snow from afar. Travertine terraces form pools of hot water that cascades over the cliffs.
Ancient Spa City
Pamukkale has been a Spa since the Romans built the Spa City of Hierapolis near the sacred warm water stream. The old Pool is still there, framed by marble columns from the Roman Temple of Apollo. You too can swim in it, as the Romans did in ancient times.
The mineral rich waters of Pamukkale hot spring contain large amounts of calcium, magnesium sulfate and bicarbonate. The water temperature is 36 – 38 degrees Celsius with a pH of 6. And the total mineral salt content is 2,430 mg/lt.
The water is said to help normalize blood pressure, dissolve kidney stones, help recover from a stroke, treat rheumatism, nervous and physical exhaustion, eye and skin diseases, digestive diseases and various chronic illnesses.
Ancient City – Hieropolis
Forming a unified historical, natural and cultural complex together with the travertine terraces, Ancient Hierapolis is a World Heritage Site and is listed by the UNESCO Committee of the international United Nations.
Climbing up to the top row, you can enjoy a mesmerizing panorama of the picturesque surroundings. The Roman architects showed remarkable skill in executing the artistic decoration of the stage with rich decorations.
And opposite to the theatrical stage, the special place for dignitaries and representatives of the authorities was arranged. The niches were decorated with statues.
After a major restoration, the theater was restored to its original form as much as possible. In the evening the lighting is spectacular and the ancient theater, transforming in the rays of light, looks even more magnificent.
Also, be sure to visit the ruins of the largest temple in Hierapolis, built in honor of the Greek god Apollo.
Among the important historical sites is the Martyrius of the holy Christian martyr Philip, who was one of the twelve apostles of Christ.
Unfortunately, now you can only see the ruins of many of the buildings. After the great Thracian earthquake of 1354, Hierapolis had a long period of decline and oblivion.
The remains of marble and valuable stones in the form of slabs, columns and various parts of buildings were scattered in all directions as building material for new constructions, mainly in the nearby town of Laodicea (Denizli).
Thus, sadly, the formerly glorious and influential city of Hierapolis underwent an era of desolation. It finally lost its importance in the Byzantine period.
In one day you will not have time to see most of the most interesting sights of Hierapolis. Therefore, we recommend you to choose a two-day tour.
This will give you an additional opportunity to admire in the evening hours the delightful spectacle of the colorful ruins of the ancient city in the sunset, against the background of snow-white cascading pools of Pamukkale. You can take great pictures and selfies to remember.
Cleopatra Pool – The Sacred Pool
In the middle of its ruins, on the main street in the center of the ancient city, is Cleopatra’s Pool. Originally, it was naturally formed by springs of mineral water, which come to the surface in hot jets under pressure from the depths of the earth’s bowels. Therefore, this pool is of natural origin.
The natural composition of Cleopatra’s pool water has been famous for centuries for its healing and rejuvenating properties.
The therapeutic effect of this valuable water is provided by the increased concentration of active ions of mineral salts, which saturate the water in dissolved form.
And its relatively high temperature, up to 37 degrees Celsius, allows everyone to enjoy swimming in this pool, even in winter, which is especially pleasant. Keeping its heat, this healing water has a restorative effect on the entire body of bathers.
Warming the skin surface, warm water gently and relaxes your body, activating microcirculation in the capillaries of the circulatory system.
In this way it prepares the skin for the penetration into its deeper layers of beneficial minerals from the composition of this thermal water.
It is a true natural elixir of health and provides effective help in curing many diseases of varying severity.
Rhodon, calcium, magnesium, carbohydrate and other valuable minerals of this water help overcome obesity, chronic gastritis and bronchitis.
They also have a positive effect on skin diseases, organic lesions and musculoskeletal pain.
In addition, they help get rid of peripheral nervous system disorders and sleep.
Also, this mineral water acts as an excellent preventive measure. It helps to prevent dysfunctions of different organism systems. Cleopatra pool water is an excellent means of rehabilitation after operations on various organs.
Among other things, this unique water can fully restore the potential of the overall condition, which in the long run will be beneficial for your well-being and cheerful mood.
Separately need to dwell on the pleasant sensations that arise in the body of bathers while swimming in the Cleopatra pool. They can be compared to the effect of a bath filled with champagne. The tiniest gas bubbles stream all over your body, like hundreds of gentle kisses caressing your skin.
This unparalleled light massage is due to the carbonated composition of this thermal water. You will never forget the delightful sensations of bathing in this pool.
In addition to the inexpressible paradisiacal pleasure that you must experience, swimming in the Cleopatra pool is very interesting.
You will be able to admire the remains of ancient columns, as they are inside the pool, right in the water.
They are marble columns from the Roman period and have survived several major earthquakes quite well.
Protected World Heritage Site
Pamukkale and Hierapolis have been jointly proclaimed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
In order to protect this magnificent ancient treasure, the hotel buildings and the buildings around the thermal pool have been destroyed. The passage of private vehicles is forbidden.
Access to the terraces has been restricted in order to preserve the water level and maintain the color of the limestone, the structure of the terraces. Places where visitors can bathe in the hot springs are clearly delineated.
You can get in the morning from Istanbul within 1 hour and a quarter to Denizli.
Visitors should walk on the terraces barefoot (to prevent the thin deposits of calcite from collapsing or staining). So don’t forget to take a bag for your shoes and everything else.
Wear a bathing suit. This allows you to enjoy the warm, greenish-blue pools along the way, and later swim in the antique pool.
The high season in Pamukkale is June and August. To avoid the crowds of vacationers, it is best to visit Pamukkale later in the afternoon, closer to the evening.