Pamukkale and Hierapolis is one of the most visited sites in Turkey! With two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the area, it is no wonder this place is packed with tourists! That’s why I created a “Guide to Visiting Pamukkale” to help answer the questions I have asked myself before the trip!
How to get to Pamukkale?
Pamukkale is located in Denizli Province inland of southeastern Aegean Turkey. It is 620km from Istanbul, a lousy 13 hour bus ride. However with Pegasus Airline- 4 of us together with two 15kg checked-in luggage and two 20kg checked-in luggage, the total cost from Istanbul was only USD$109 to the closest airport: Denizli.
Denizli is the largest city near the township of Pamukkale. The airport itself is 45 minutes away from the city. It is 13TL per person from the airport to Denizli and then 4TL person to Pamukkale. You can catch the bus at gate 76 every 20 minutes in the bus station towards Pamukkale.
How much is it to visit Pamukkale?
The entrance fee for visiting Pamukklae and Hierapolis is 25TL per person (Oct 2015). If you would like to visit Cleopatra pools- which is a mineral hot spring, it is extra 32TL per person. The Cleopatra pools are separated from the Travertines of Pamukkale, as it is an enclosed pool with ancient ruins underneath. It is free to go in and watch people swimming. The cost of visiting Hierapolis Archaeology Museum on top of the hill is 5TL.
What to expect at Pamukkale and Hierapolis?
- The best times to visit Hierapolis and the Travertines of Pamukkale are spring and autumn as it is not too hot nor too wet.
- It is advisable to go early in the morning or in the late afternoon to enjoy the sunset and avoid the crowd.
- Do bring a pair of sunglasses as the reflections off the white travertines are equal to giving you snow blindness.
- Shoes are not allowed on the travertines, so bring a bag to put your shoes in.
- There are not many food options available in Hierapolis and Pamukkale. The café on top of the hill only sell snacks and ones inside Cleopatra pools are over-priced. We bought our own snacks while sitting under a shade enjoying the paronamic view of Pamukkale.
How long to spend at Hierapolis and Pamukkale?
- I think 4-6 hours is enough at Pamukkale if you visit Hierapolis Archaeology Museum as well. We spent around 3.5 hours in total. Originally I would like to stay till sunset, however the midday sun proven to be too much for us.
- There were also not much to do in Pamukkale itself with most of the restaurants and shops closed. Around 1.30 pm we had enough of the sun and was hungry, so we left the UNESCO site and headed into the actual town of Pamukkale.
- Had a late lunch at one of the few restaurants that’s opened in Pamukkale. The food wasn’t too bad and the owner was very friendly. He could mimic all the accents around the world! Including Australian, English, New Zealander, etc.
- We caught a bus back to Pamukkale with other tourists at around 3.30pm. Arrived back at Denizli around 4.00pm. Our shoes were covered with white calcifications, a local shoe shiner charged us 2TL for cleaning dad’s shoes. Then he did York and mine for free and even gifted us grapes!
Quick Facts about Hierapolis & Travertines of Pamukkale
- The travertines are terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water forming multiple calcium cliffs with bathing pools.
- Not all the travertines are filled with water. Without the water, the travertines just look like a white bowl. During noon, when the sun is directly on top, the travertines just looks like a patch of WHITE. It may be disappointing to not see a postcard view of the travertines. That’s why early in the morning and sunset is better, at least the sun’s at an angle so you can see the travertines better.
- People have bathed in its pool for thousands of years. Bring your swimwear and you can soak in the travertines for no extra charge as long as you have purchased your initial ticket into Hierapolis & Pamukkale.
- Some of the pools along the cliffs are actually artificial. This is because before the area was declared a World Heritage Site, motor bikes were allowed to go up and down the slopes with hotels building over the ruins of Hierapolis. The hotels and roads were demolished later on and replaced with artificial pools. Hence it is prohibited to wear shoes so the deposits can be protected and remains white.
- Travertines are around 2700m long, 600m wide and 160m high!
- The ancient city of Hierapolis was built on top of the travertines around end of 2nd century BC. The most impressive site is the Roman amphitheatre of Hierapolis (12,000 seats).
- There were several gates built around Hierapolis that leads into the Roman city.
Guide to visiting Pamukkale (Summary)
- Catch a bus or a plane from Istanbul to Denizli and stay over-night.
- Catch a bus at Gate 76 for 4TL in Denizli around 9.30 am the next day.
- Arrive at Hierapolis & Pamukkale around half an hour later.
- Entrance fee for Hierapolis & Pamukkale is 25TL per person. Starting from the lower entrance and make your way up the travertines and visit the ancient ruins of Hierapolis. You can also catch a taxi to the upper entrance and make your way down.
- Cleopatra pools- which is a mineral hot spring, it is extra 32TL per person.
- Catch the bus back to Denizli at the same place where you got off the bus in the morning.
Where to stay at Denizli?
We stayed at “Yildirim Hotel” for two nights. It is a small family run, budget hotel just behind the bus station. It was 41 Euros per night per room for double occupancy.
It is very clean and the complimentary breakfast was delicious (especially the freshly baked cakes). There’s a restaurant upstairs where a set dinner was only 15TL!
Full Itinerary: Turkey and Greece Itinerary in 17 Days
Chinese Version 中文版: 土耳其棉堡- 攻略 + 門票 + 住宿 + 交通 [懶人包]
A panoramic view of the Travertines of Pamukkale!