Pamukkale also known as the Turkish Cotton Castle is one of the worlds most unique natural landmarks. Bright white travertines with hot water cascading from all sides, it is a must visit destination in Turkey.
Many visitors come to visit Pamukkale as part of their day trip but its surrounding areas have plenty more to offer. We have put together some of the top landmarks and things you have to do when you are in Pamukkale.
Here are some of the top things to do in Pamukkale.
Visit the Pamukkale Travertines
We have to start off the list with the UNESCO site that is the Pamukkale Travertines. After all, this is the main attraction in the area and one that cannot be missed. Pamukkale also known as the Cotton Castle is one of the wonders of the world. We are not exaggerating when we say this landmark is like something you have never seen before.
These bright white calcite cliffs were created by calcium deposits from the hot springs and gradually created the Pamukkale terraces. Water is cascading from all sides, what you will notice along with the bright white cliff is that the water is a welcoming turquoise blue colour it takes this colour as it is rich in potassium bicarbonate, calcium sulfate, magnesium. The water is considered to have healing properties and was used by the Romans for many years to bathe away their pains.
Set around the green fields overlooking the charming town of Pamukkale. You can actually take a dip in the warm water overlooking the stunning landscape. We have put together a detailed guide on visiting Pamukkale. Click here to read the Pamukkale Guide.
Top tip: Best way to explore Pamukkale Travertines is barefoot from the base of the mountain. This entrance is also known as the South Entrance which is just by the Pamukkale Natural Park. It does require you to climb the mountain for 10 – 15 minutes but the path is along the travertines with water flowing from all sides is once in a lifetime experience. This way you will avoid the crowds at the top and give yourself a nice foot massage on the natural formation along the way.
Climb up to the Theatre of Hierapolis
The Roman amphitheatre is located just 10- 15 minutes walk uphill from the Pamukkale travertines. Despite being rebuilt in the 206 A.D, the theatre is very well preserved. The theatre retains a lot of the original details, the panels on the stage still hold some of the original carvings and you are also able to see the area that was reserved for the VIPs. As soon as you enter the theatre the first thing you will notice how grand the theatre actually is, with a capacity of over 12,000 it was the perfect venue for entertainment.
As it is located over a hill it offers spectacular views, especially around the sunset time. You will notice not a lot of tourist come all the way to this hidden gem but we promise the 10 – 15 minutes climb up will be well worth it.
Tip: The amphitheatre is located uphill and the facilities near the theatre are limited so go prepared.
Explore the Ancient City of Hierapolis
Pamukkale has a lot more to offer than just Travertines, what many visitors fail to realise is that Pamukkale Travertines were actually a part of the ancient city of Hierapolis. Located just a few steps from the Travertines, this ancient city was founded around 190 BC. The city of Hierapolis was one of kind and very popular in its time. It was known for its healing baths, fertile land along with a grand amphitheatre. Sadly during an earthquake in the 60 AD, the majority of the city got destroyed but it was rebuilt in 1334, however, the city was left abandoned.
Sadly, not much as survived but you can still walk through the colonnaded street which was once the heart of Hierapolis. Along this street, you can spot some of the remains of the market and the royal place along with the public latrine. Although not a lot has been left behind just walking through the ancient main street is a magical experience. Along with the colonnaded street what remains today is a Byzantine church, Necropolis and some castle ruins.
Relax in the hot springs of Cleopatra’s pool
Pamukkale’s Antique Pool also known as Cleopatra’s pool gives you a chance to leisurely soak in the hot spring water just like the Romans did. The popularity behind the Antique Pool is due to its natural hot calcium mineral water. The temperature of the water is constant at an enjoyable 36°C.
You will notice the Pamukkale antique pool is unlike any other thermal spring pool you may have visited. This one of a kind is not only surrounded by various trees and bushes but you will be paddling amongst the fallen columns and marble blocks. These remains are from a nearby Temple of Apollo and resulted in the pools due to an earthquake.
Tip: Entry to the antique pool costs extra, it is not included in your Pamukkale entry tickets. There are lockers and changing rooms inside but you can only enter the antique pool with your ticket once you are allowed to stay for 2 hours, however, it is rarely checked upon.
Visit the Pamukkale Natural Park and take a dip in the swimming Pools
The view from the top of the Pamukkale travertines is spectacular. Once you are at the top you will also notice some swimming pools and a boating pond at the bottom, this is the Pamukkale Natural Park located in the town of Pamukkale. If you have a couple of hours to spare it is worth having a wander through the park and looking at the Pamukkale from a different angle.
In the warmer months, the park is an ideal spot for picnics, boating and the swimming pools are also open during the summer for you to enjoy.
Ride the Cable Car
Pamukkale is located just outside the town of Denizli, there is a good chance you will be passing through the town of Denizli to arrive at Pamukkale. Denizli Teleferik i.e Denizli Cable Car is a site that is overlooked by many but it is Pamukkale’s hidden gem. The Denizli cable car will uplift you to an altitude of 1400, the scenic journey to the top will take approximately 8 – 10 minutes. The views on offer at the top are mind-blowing. As soon as you get off the cable car at the top, the first thing that you will notice is how peaceful it is. You will find a viewing deck and a cafe offering stunning views of the city.
If you are looking to explore further just outside the cable car there is a shuttle bus stop which takes you further into the mountains to a park called Bagbasi Plateau. The journey is around 5 minutes. At the top, you will find small shops, cafe and restaurant and a play area. There are even bungalows and tents which you can rent overnight.
Tip: Visit around the sunset, grab yourself a coffee and soak in the peaceful atmosphere.
Visit Other Ancient City: Laodicea
Located to the south of Pamukkale is the ancient city of Laodicea. This 5 sq km ancient city was once a bustling Roman city of industry, trade and medicine. Unfortunately, during an earthquake in 60 A.C the city was destroyed. The most fascinating thing about this ancient city is that it is yet to be fully uncovered only a fraction of this ancient city has been restored. There are constant restoration works taking place because of this, new parts of the city are being uncovered regularly and will look different every year.
Despite the fact that only a fraction has been uncovered there is a lot to see at Laodicea currently. The main entrance which is lined with a column of pillars is known as Syria Street. You will also find 2 open-air theatres, a grand stadium at the edge of the city, bathhouses, various temples and churches. One of the stand out temples which will catch your eye straight away is Temple A, it hosts large pillar columns with a stunning view of the mountains in the background.
Laodicea does not typically feature in the Pamukkale itinerary so there is a good chance you will get to the impressive ancient city all to yourself and explore at your pace.
Take a trip out to Lake Salda – 5th cleanest lake in the world
Photo by Salda Golu
One place very few people are aware of is the Lake Salda (Salda Gölü). This slice of heaven has been coined as the Maldives of Turkey. Lake Salda is around 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from Pamukkale, so it is best to make this stop as a day trip to allow you to make the most of this stunning lake. Lake Salda is Turkey’s clearest and deepest tectonic lakes. Just like the Maldives the water is turquoise blue with a white sandy beach.
There is plenty to do at Lake Salda from diving, swimming in the clear turquoise water. The is a large area surrounding this unique lake which is great for long walks or a bike ride. The water at this lake is considered to be rich in minerals due to the magnesium, soda and other minerals because of this you will notice some visitors having a mud bath. There are also camping areas in the Salda Forest Beach along with hotels if you can’t get enough of this natural beauty and want to stay another night.
If you are staying in Pamukkale for a few days Lake Salda should be a must on your list. The journey out there will definitely be worth it.