Meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, Pamukkale is a natural site containing hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. Together with the ancient city of Hierapolis, Pamukkale is recognized as a World Heritage Site.
Pamukkale is located about 3 hours bus ride from Kuşadası; and there are many bus companies that will take you directly to the travertines. Some of them may also take you to Denizli, from where you can take a dolmuş that takes 20-30 minutes and costs TL 3.
The other option is to take one of the many tour buses from Kuşadası or Selçuk, costs about €45 that includes return transport, entrance fees (TL 20), lunch and tour guide. I decided to take one of these tours through my hotel in Kuşadası.
Tel: +90 537 822 71 64
| Tour operators to Pamukkale
Shop around in Kuşadası or Selçuk from many of the tour operators for a cheaper price tag on all of the above. Some tour companies charge as low as TL 45 for a round trip including lunch and transportation. But this may not include the TL 20 entrance fee.
The tour bus picked me sharp at 8am, and after picking up some other passengers, we stopped by in a restaurant offering open buffet between Denizli and Pamukkale, around noon for lunch. A hearty meal and a stop at the base of the travertines, which offers spectacular views of the cotton mountain, we reached the entrance of the travertines.
As you enter the gates, you have to walk about 100 meters to enter the stone “gate” of Hierapolis, where you can see the few remains of this Roman town.
Walk a bit more and you will be greeted by the gorgeous white travertines of Pamukkale. The entrance to the travertines is all the way on the right-side (if you’re facing the travertines) from where you are allowed to set foot and walk along the water-filled terraces. Make sure to remove your shoes before entering.
| Pamukkale Tips:
If you are apprehensive about leaving your shoes in the open (along with hundreds of others), then bring a bag to keep your shoes in while you walk on the cotton terraces. Note that wearing shoes and walking there is strictly prohibited; and you will be screamed upon by the security guards there.
The silt in the water tables makes them very slippery so be careful to step foot in the water-filled terraces. Sit in the water stream flowing down to the lake below and soak yourself in the warm, natural waters of Hierapolis. This is the same water that the Romans used to bath in.
On the other side of the travertines is the ‘Sacred pool’ inside a hotel, that has changing rooms, showers, cafe and sitting area. It costs an extra TL 32 to dip in the pool, which is not worth at all. The water is not warm enough and the pool is filled with fallen columns of the Roman city. However attractive the pool may seem like, it’s the same as any other swimming pool, minus the chlorine.
Most of the bus tour companies will take you only to these travertines and drive you back, but some of the sights not to be missed around Pamukkale are:
- The great (12,000-seat) Roman amphitheater of Hierapolis lies just above the travertines.
- Another lesser known site, but one that holds a considerable significance Biblically is Laodikya, just 10 km (10 minutes on a local dolmuş) from Pamukkale on the Denizli road. It’s mentioned in the Bible as one of the 7 Churches of the Revelations and even though it hasn’t been reconstructed as much as the more famous sites like Ephesus, is a great place to experience the Roman history without the crowds. Although the size of the ruins (TL 5, 8:30-5 Tue-Sun) indicate a city of large size, there’s not much left to see.
- Karahayit, the red spring is also 5 minutes from Pamukkale, not even nearly as big as the calcium outcrop, but worth a look or if you want to try their mud baths.
- Kaklık Mağarası are like a small version of Pamukkale, but in a cave, underground and are about 30 minutes from Pamukkale. Admission TL 3.
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult. The exchange rate at the time of publishing is assumed to be USD 1 = TRY 1.80.
|Tour to Pamukkale||€45 or $62||Includes transportation, entrance fees of TL 20, lunch and tour guide|
|Souvenirs||TL 3 or $1.70||Fridge magnet|
|Coffee at Hierapolis Cafe||TL 5 or $2.80|
|Toilets||TL 2 or $1.10|
|Total Costs||$67.60||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$2,044.30||Per person|
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Visiting Efes & towns of Selçuk & Şirince.
Visiting cotton travertines and Hierapolis.
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Traveling from Kuşadası to Bodrum & spending day there.