Exploring Pamukkale Hot Springs in Turkey
When planning our trip to Turkey, there are a few key places we wanted to tick off the bucket list. One of those places is of course Pamukkale. Pamukkale translates to “Cotton Castle” in Turkish which is attributed to the white fluffy mountain on which the town of Hierapolis once sat. They are some of the most beautiful hot springs in the world and many tourists visit this part of Turkey each year to relax in a calcium-rich mud bath!
Where is Pamukkale
Pamukkale is located in southwestern Turkey in the province of Denizli and easily accessible by car as it is only a 3-hour drive from Izmir.
How to get to Pamukkale
Car: We were staying in the coastal town of Kusadasi so decided to travel to Pamukkale by car. The drive is between 3 – 4 hours each way. The drive was pretty easy (especially with the help of Google Maps (click here for info on using Google Maps offline).
Plane: If you’re not staying in Izmir or one of the close by coastal towns, then you will most likely take a flight from Istanbul to the nearest airport which is Denizli. Turkish Airlines operate a few flights per day to this destination, but you will then need to take a shuttle service to get to Pamukkale which will be an additional hour and also an additional cost on top of your flight price.
Bus: If there are a few of you, I would recommend hiring a car as the cost split between you will work out pretty reasonable and you have the flexibility of being able to come and go as you please. However, if you want to take a bus, most bus services from all major Turkish cities should stop at Denizli and then you will need to take a minibus the rest of the way to get you to Pamukkale which is around 20km.
Train: If you’re thinking of taking public transport, the train seems to be more efficient than the bus with a number of daily services from Izmir. The train is a quicker option than the bus, but keep in mind you will still need to take the minibus the rest of the way to Pamukkale.
Pamukkale is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most photographed feature is, of course, the white travertines (the terraced pools). The pools are formed from the calcium carbonate deposits that flow from the hot springs and harden over time.
There are 17 hot water springs in the area and the temperatures range between 35 – 100 degrees Celsius.
Tourists are not allowed to wear shoes on the unique calcite surface so either bring a backpack or carry a plastic bag to put your shoes in. We spent a couple of hours walking around and enjoying the landscapes. Just be careful as the ridges can be quite slippery and it is easy to slip over.
Which entrance to start at?
We started at the bottom entrance. The Travertines are quieter and there seem to be fewer tourists. Also, the rocks at the bottom seem to be much whiter so it is good for photos!
Starting at the bottom entrance does mean you walk uphill to get to the top. But it worked for us!
When to visit
As you probably guessed, Pamukkale’s peak season is the summer months which is June – August and this is when you will find it the busiest. Just because it is the peak season doesn’t mean it is the best time to visit. Temperatures are around 40°C so it is insanely hot. We visited in Aril and the temperature was much more comfortable, still warm but not scorching.
Tips for visiting Pamukkale
Arrive early! If there is only one thing you take from this post, it is to get there early. From around 11.30 onwards you will notice busloads of tourists arrive which makes the experience less than ideal. The walkways are quite narrow and it becomes overcrowded. If you’re there early then you may be lucky enough to get some spots to yourself. We travelled in April and it seemed to work for us. I suspect during the summertime the place will be pretty busy most times of the day!
Wear sunscreen, hat and sunglasses: I know this seems obvious but the sun is quite harsh in Turkey so you should make sure your skin is protected. Because of the bright white walls and ground, the sun reflects pretty badly. Sunnies and a hat are also a must!
Wear your bathing suit: If you’re planning on having a swim (which I would recommend!) then wear your bathing suit as there aren’t too many places you can get changed.
Snacks & Water: Given how big of a day you will have, I would recommend packing some snacks with you to help get you through. There are some touristy shops around where you can buy some food and drinks, but if you have a small backpack you can take some snacks with you. This should be obvious but remember water! It is super hot here and you get dehydrated quickly so it is a must that you take some fresh water with you.
Pack light: Because you will be walking around, you don’t want to be taking unnecessary things. Instead of taking a beach towel, why not opt for a travel towel or a Turkish towel instead – they take up a lot less room and dry much quicker!
If you want to have a swim in a ‘normal’ pool then at the top you will find Antique Pool. You can pay a small fee to be able to swim here if you like.
Renting a car in Turkey
We absolutely recommend renting a car in Turkey to get around. Click here for to view our preferred website which will get you the cheapest price out there.
Do you have travel insurance?
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If you’re looking for alternative accommodation to either save some money or share with friends or family, click here for information on Air B&B ($50 discount on your first booking), hotel price comparison websites etc.