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Featuring chalky white travertine terraces brimming with light blue water, Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey looks like the surface of another planet. The thermal pools at Pamukkale, which translates to “cotton castle” in Turkish, lead up to the ancient ruins of Hierapolis, a Roman spa town with gates, a theater, a temple, and a necropolis that you can visit. Wading through the thermal pools and exploring the ruins—both of which have been granted UNESCO World Heritage status—are the most popular things to do in Pamukkale, but you can also soak in the Antique Pool (also known as Cleopatra Pool), visit the Hierapolis Archaeological Museum, and soar over the area in a hot air balloon.
Pamukkale can be visited year-round, but the best time is in the spring or fall months (April–May and September–October) when the weather is warm and mild and the crowds are manageable. The sun can be intense in the summer months, but walking through Pamukkale’s thermal pools this time of year is a refreshing experience. Come winter, the same experience will warm you up in the chilly air.
Located 11 miles (17 kilometers) north of Denizli, Pamukkale can be reached by rental car, minibus (dolmus), or taxi. Once in Pamukkale, you can navigate the small town on foot or by minibus. Guided tours from Istanbul and Cappadocia are also available.
Make sure to walk through the travertines to get to Hierapolis, which is quite an extensive site and worth spending even more time in than the actual pools of Pamukkale. It’s possible to spend only a day in Pamukkale and see everything, though if you stay overnight, you can enter the site in the morning when it opens and beat the crowds that come to visit.
Yes, Pamukkale is worth visiting. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the white travertine thermal pools are unusual and beautiful. The adjacent site of Hierapolis only adds to the experience, with extensive ruins of the ancient city located just at the top of the hill....More
Yes, one day is plenty of time to visit Pamukkale. It is even possible to visit both Pamukkale and the ruins of Hierapolis in the course of a few hours. However, spending the night can give you more flexibility with your visit....More
Pamukkale is famous for its travertine pools and the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Hierapolis, founded in the second century BC to take advantage of the calcite-rich thermal waters nearby. Today, you can still wade around the travertine terraces, whose waters are said to have healing properties....More
No, you cannot wear shoes in the travertine pools at Pamukkale—you have to carry your shoes and walk barefoot through the water so you don’t damage the structures. At the top of the hill, you can put your shoes back on to explore the ancient ruins of Hierapolis....More
Yes, you can swim at Pamukkale, though many of the travertine pools are only wading-deep and not swimming-deep. If you want to take a dip, head to the nearby Cleopatra Pool, which also has thermal waters and is designed for swimming....More
The closest city to Pamukkale is Denizli. Denizili is home to the Denizli Çardak Airport, and you can travel between the two destinations by bus, minibus, or taxi. Denizli itself is a contemporary Turkish city, and most visitors will visit only en route to the Pamukkale and Hierapolis sites....More