One of the highlights of Turkey will definitely be Pamukkale, especially if you plan your visit right. Pamukkale is one of the most visited sights in Turkey, so you won’t have the famous travertine pools to yourself, but there are some steps you can take to have the most comfortable visit. In my blogpost I will explain exactly how I visited Pamukkale and nearby Hierapolis, to give you an example of how you can have an enjoyable visit too! The Cotton Castle should not be missed out on!
Pamukkale is located somewhat far away from other tourist highlights, but highly worth a visit. We visited Pamukkale from Selcuk, which was about a three hours drive. It is worth it to find a hotel closer to Pamukkale, to decrease your transfer time. The entrance fee to Pamukkale is ever changing, due to the cost of inflation in Turkey, but to us it was about € 10 per person. Your ticket gives you access to the travertine pools as well as the ancient city of Hierapolis. If you want to you can do a full day trip to Pamukkale, as you can also take time to go swimming in the ancient pool as well as visit the Pamukkale Archeological museum. I would recommend to plan your day according to the weather, we visited during summertime and it can get scorching hot during the day! There are some expensive options for food inside Pamukkale, so if you cannot plan otherwise it is possible to have lunch or dinner here.
We visited Hierapolis at around 3PM, when the worst heat had passed. Hierapolis is the ancient Roman city that started as a thermal spa city. Hierapolis was founded about 200 years B.C. The theatre of Hierapolis is one of the best preserved spots in the old town and is highly worth a visit. I also found the public toilets a very interesting spot, toilet manners definitely changed over time… We were lucky to visit with our very knowledgable guide, which added a lot of value to our experience. To explore Hierapolis we hired a golf cart, so we could visit as efficient as possible and to have a shade option. You can hire golf carts on arrival, depending on availability. We were in a group and were able to split costs to about € 6,5 per person. I highly recommend visiting Hierapolis before the travertine pools, so you can cool off in the pools afterwards.
The travertine pools are formed because of hot water springs. These springs release calc to its surroundings, creating these white terraces filled with water. The travertine pools are absolutely stunning and we spent two hours before sunset in the pools. If you are keen to take pictures at the pools, the hours before sunset are the best time because the light is very soft and you can witness a beautiful sunset. The sun rises behind the travertine pools, creating very harsh shadows just after sunrise, making sunset a better time to visit. The Pamukkale pools are one of the most visited tourist attractions in Turkey, making them a busy spot all day long. However, if you are patient, you should be able to have a pool to yourself later during the day. Not all travertine pools are open to the public, as the pools sometimes need to “heal” from all the tourists visiting. Don’t expect to have a significant part of the pools to yourself, because you will be disappointed. Another thing to be aware of is that the pools are lukewarm, not jacuzzi warm. You are not allowed to enter the pool area with shoes, you should walk barefoot, which can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable.
One of the most overlooked areas of Pamukkale is the Ancient Pool, that is located near Hierapolis. On the bottom of this pool you can see columns, creating a very interesting sight. The legend is that Marc Anthony gave this pool to Cleopatra as a gift. Definitely make sure to reserve some time for this pool, it is the perfect way to cool down during the day. You need to pay extra to be allowed to use this pool, I think about € 10 per person. There are changing rooms, toilets and lockers at this pool, which you can also use for your visit to the travertine pools.