Known for their therapeutic properties since Roman times, the thermal waters at Pamukkale flow into white travertine formations that rise out of the surrounding plains. Nearby are the ruins of Hierapolis, an ancient city that grew up around the springs. The thermal pools and petrified waterfalls create an otherworldly landscape at Pamukkale, which means Cotton Palace.
Most visitors come to soak in the Pamukkale pools and then head uphill to the extensive Hierapolis ruins, which include an amphitheater, a basilica, and a large Roman bath. These two sites, which together form a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are often combined on full-day tours from Bodrum, Antalya, Izmir, and even Istanbul.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Pamukkale pools and Hierapolis are a must-visit for history buffs.
- Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, as you will have to remove them when you enter the site.
- Bring a bathing suit if you want to swim in the pools.
- Some of the pools are knee-deep, so make sure to wear pants or skirts that can be rolled up so they won’t get wet.
How to Get There
The pools at Pamukkale are walking distance from the town of Pamukkale, but most visitors will likely be coming from another city. From nearby Denizli or other regional centers, buses travel to Pamukkale, and taxis are also available. Most day tours include transportation to and from the site.
When to Get There
Pamukkale is open year-round, 24 hours a day. Summer is the most popular time to visit, despite the thermal waters and the heat from the sun reflecting off the white limestone. During the Turkish holidays, Pamukkale can be crowded with locals. Arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds during these times.
The Ruins at Hierapolis
The sprawling ancient city that overlooks the pools retains many recognizable structures. The Hellenistic-era settlement includes a large amphitheater, a monumental arch, thermal baths, a necropolis, and examples of early Christian structures. The theater is still used for performances. Though the site is protected, most structures are open to exploration.