Imagine a natural spa with sparkling white terraces, warm, mineral-rich pools, petrified waterfalls, and a landscape that looks oddly similar to the moon. It sounds like a scene from a sci-fi movie. But that’s exactly what Pamukkale is like. A day in this marvelous place will leave you gasping at how amazing it is.
Pamukkale, the ‘Cotton Castle’ of Turkey
Pamukkale aptly named ‘Cotton Castle’ in southwest Turkey is a place unlike any other you have ever or will ever visit. Cascading white terraces formed over millennia and pure uncontaminated hot springs that rejuvenate you.
The hot springs in Pamukkale have been used over 2000 years by people who come from far and wide for its healing properties. Just a stone’s throw away, you’ll find the ancient ruins of a Roman city, Hierapolis. This city was famous during its time as a healing center and for its numerous Roman baths.
What to do
Once you visit Pamukkale, you’ll never look at hot springs the same way ever again. A few hours in the hot springs and you’ll realize why this place has been a popular haunt for over 2000 years. Dip your feet, float, and swim around the hot springs. You can relax and let your worries melt away while zoning out in the pools. These spas are extremely pure so they’ll purify your body and make you feel rejuvenated. It also makes for a great photo op.
If you want a little it of an adrenaline rush after your relaxing dip in the pools, paragliding is the best way to go. Paragliding over Pamukkale is extremely popular and there is usually a long queue. But if you get there early, you’ll be blessed with a bird’s eye view of white terrace field and bright blue and yellow hot springs as you fly over the area. Besides paragliding, there are also hot balloon rides for those who prefer to have a more solid footing.
A short walk away from the beautiful Pamukkale is the ancient Roman city of Hierapolis. At one point time, this city was the center of art and philosophy. It was also a famous healing center with people from all over the ancient world coming to the city to get healed in one of the many natural hot springs.
Walk around the ancient city and explore the impressive city ruins. The ruins of the Byzantine Gate, Temple of Apollo, Agora or marketplace, necropolis, and the museum are all worth visiting. If you are looking for a viewing deck, a small trek to the amphitheater will reward you with amazing views. Then, make your way to the Cleopatra Pool, a large clear pool where Cleopatra was said to have swum in and take a dip yourself.
How to get there
The closest city to Pamukkale is Denizli. Turkish Airlines and Pegasus both fly to Denizli’s Cardak airport from Istanbul. It takes around 40 minutes by car or minibus to get from Denizli to Pamukkale.
Tips while visiting Pamukkale
- Remember to take your shoes off while walking around the hot springs. Shoes are not allowed in the travertines. Bring a bag along to store your shoes.
- The entrance fee includes access to Pamukkale and Hierapolis but not the thermal springs at the top of the site. You have to pay separately to get access to it.
- To avoid crowds, go to the hot springs early in the morning or late afternoon. The crowd usually comes in the afternoon.
- Don’t forget to use sunglasses and sunscreen. The sun rays will get reflected back from the white travertines and cause a similar effect to snow blindness.