Pamukkale is a natural wonder and a town in western Turkey known for its mineral-rich thermal waters that flow down the white terraces on the nearby hillside.
It is one of the most popular places to visit in Turkey and here’s a complete guide with information for visitors, including opening hours, facts, history as well as ticket info.
|Ticket Type||Adults & Children|
|Hierapolis Antique Pool||$9|
The Pamukkale travertine pools and the archeological site of Hierapolis are open 24/7, seven days a week. However, some facilities within the sites have limited hours.
Hierapolis Archeology Museum
Opening hours: 9am – 12:30 and 1:30pm – 7pm (closed on Mondays)
Hierapolis Antique Pool
Opening hours: April – October 8am – 9pm
Antique Pool Spa
Opening hours: 9am – 7pm (last entry is at 6:15pm)
Opening hours: 24/7.
History & more information
The white cliffs of Pamukkale were created by calcium deposits from the nearby hot springs, and over time, the collection of white travertines began to look like an impressive white fortress and thus the nickname “cotton castle” was given to the mountain.
The staggering cliff faces don’t just look spectacular, they also hold multiple pools of mineral water. This natural wonder attract some 2.5 million tourists every year.
Hundreds of years ago, the Greeks and Romans discovered the medicinal properties of the mineral spring water and since then, people traveled from far and wide to bathe in the waters, believing in the mineral pool’s curative properties.
Today, most visitors arrive at the bottom of the mountain and look up in awe at the staggering cliff edges before taking off their shoes (barefoot is mandatory) and beginning the climb upwards to the mountain top.
As you walk, make sure you stop to admire the panoramic views and dangle your feet in the mineral pools as you go.
While visiting Pamukkale and its travertines, make sure you swing by Hierapolis; a Roman spa town sitting on the travertine mountain’s summit. The town is home to ancient ruins, grand monuments, and a hot spring pool where you can bathe in the warm waters.
Even Cleopatra herself came here for the beneficial effects of the thermal baths. The Antique Pool is even named after her and according to the legend, it was given to her by the Roman politician Marcus Antonius.
Points of Interest
Impressive mountain home to dazzling white cliff edges and pools of turquoise mineral water. The Travertine pools are definitely one of the most iconic sights in Pamukkale, and also what has made the site famous worldwide.
Cleopatra’s Thermal Pool
A thermal pool built during the Roman era and a popular bathing place (the waters are always with 36 – 57 ⁰C). The water is home to the remains of Roman ruins including half-submerged columns and fallen marble that fell during an earthquake.
In fact, Cleopatra’s Pool is probably the only pool in the world where you can swim among columns from classical antiquity.
Hierapolis City Ruins
The remains of a Roman spa town founded in 190 BC. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site together with Pamukkale, and shouldn’t be missed if you have an interest in history and culture.
A mighty Roman theater perched high above the other Hierapolis ruins. Built during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Septimus Severus, the theatre is incredibly well preserved and retains much of its original detail including the imperial VIP boxes.
Museum dedicated to the ancient town and located inside the Roman bathhouse.
11th-century castle found on the road leading to Pamukkale town.
How to get to Pamukkale
There are three different entrances to Pamukkale Hierapolis, Pamukkale town entrance, North entrance, and the South entrance. These three entrances give visitors access to the Pamukkale travertine thermal pools and the Hierapolis ancient city.
The nearest airport to Pamukkale is Denizli-Cardak Airport which is a four-hour car ride away. The flight from Istanbul Airport to Denizli is just 1 hour and 15 min and departs early in the morning.
There’s a train station in Denizli. From here, take one of the regular minibusses to Pamukkale (the ride should take roughly 20-minutes).
If you arrive by car and park at either the North or South entrances, you’ll have to pay a fee of 5 Turkish Lira ($1)
Best time to visit
To enjoy the Pamukkale pools without large crowds, arrive a day early and spend the night in Pamukkale village. The next day, rise early and head to the pools, formations, and ancient sites early in the morning.
The majority of visitors travel come from the coast and won’t arrive until the early afternoon. Whatsmore, the winter season (November – March) is far quieter than summer.
The best time to visit Pamukkale is ideally in May and June as well as September to get the best weather and the least amount of tourists.
Facts about Pamukkale
- This surreal landscape is made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins that were created by calcite-laden waters derived from seventeen hot springs.
- Pamukkale is more than 100 meters in height and can be seen from the closest town, Denizli, which is located around 20 kilometers away.
- Pamukkale is called the ‘cotton castle’ by literal translation in Turkish.
- Pamukkale has over 2 million visitors per year and it is also Turkey’s most single visited attraction.
- In 1988 Pamukkale together with Hierapolis, was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The mineral-rich Pamukkale hot spring waters are high in calcium, magnesium sulfate, and bicarbonate. Water temperature is 36 to 38 degrees Celsius with a pH of 6 and a total mineral content of 2,430 mg/lt.
- In the area, there are 17 hot water springs in which the temperature ranges from 35 °C (95 °F) to 100 °C (212 °F).
- The hot spring terraces hold gallons of mineral-rich turquoise water. This natural phenomenon is a breathtaking sight, but also highly sensitive to any disturbances. For this reason, visitors must take off their shoes and walk among the terraces barefoot on a special path.
- Severe earthquakes destroyed the town in 133BC, and again in 60AD.
- Pamukkale has been a spa town since the Romans claimed the city of Hierapolis.
FAQ’s (Things to know before you go)
How much is the entrance to Pamukkale?
The entrance fee is around $9.
Is Pamukkale natural?
The travertine pools are completely natural and have been shaped for millennia after calcium carbonate is organically deposited by the water, which eventually crystallizes and becomes travertine.
How long does it take to see Pamukkale?
If you just wish to see the travertine pools, allow yourself 45-minutes to 1-hour. If you’d like to take a dip, allow 2-hours.
Can you swim in Pamukkale?
Yes. Some of the natural pools will be too warm for some, but most can be swum in.
Can you swim in the Pamukkale pools in winter?
As the pools are fairly warm all year round, swimming in winter is a good way to warm up.
Are there any hotels nearby?
There are numerous small hotels in the town of Pamukkale along with shops and restaurants. Head further north to Karahayit and you’ll find larger resort hotels.
How far is Pamukkale from Denizli City?
Pamukkale is just 17.5km from Denizli City and can be accessed by bus easily.
Do I have to take my shoes off?
Yes, visitors must walk the terraces barefoot to prevent eroding or staining of the delicate calcite deposits. It’s advisable that you bring a bag to store your shoes.
Do I need swimwear?
Yes, bring your swimwear to take a dip in the antique pool found at the top of the terracing.
Do you have more questions before visiting Pamukkale in Turkey? Leave a comment below!