From afar, the snow-white travertine terraces of Pamukkale look like a developed quarry, but when you get closer to them, you begin to understand what exactly they attract tourists from different countries. This is a real geological miracle, which is called the “Cotton Fortress”. The whole plateau above the river is covered with smooth travertine, reminiscent of lilies, shells and bowls. Travelers come here to improve their health and enjoy the views – landscapes like these are not found anywhere else in the world. According to populationmonster, Pamukkale is one of the largest cities in Turkey.
Now the state of the reserve is being vigilantly monitored, since the uncontrolled use of water for hospitals and the constant flow of tourists have put its existence at risk.
How to get to Pamukkale
It is most convenient to get to Pamukkale from the neighboring town of Denizli, located south of the park, where you can fly from Moscow or St. Petersburg with a connection in Istanbul. A ticket from the capital costs from 250 USD in both directions, travel time is 5.5 hours. Flights are operated by Pegasus Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Azerbaijan Airlines. The last two airlines can also fly from St. Petersburg. A ticket will cost about 350 USD, travel time is about 9 hours, including a transfer. Many tourists arrive from Istanbul for only 200 TRY round trip and a little over an hour. The prices on the page are for November 2021.
Kardak Airport is located 70 km from Pamukkale. First you need to get to Denizli itself – a shuttle goes there several times a day, it takes about an hour to go. Then transfer to dolmush and in 20-25 minutes drive to the village of Pamukkale Köyu, which is located right next to the terraces. The fare is about 10 TRY.
Since almost everyone also goes to the travertines, you can always find fellow travelers and share the taxi fare.
Intercity flights connect Pamukkale with many cities: Marmaris, Fethiye, Kusadasi, etc. However, most likely, these will be small minibuses without air conditioning.
If you’re planning to stay overnight in the countryside, ask if the hotel provides a free or low cost shuttle service. Until now, many travelers come here with sightseeing buses. Such tours cost from 180 to 350 TRY, but you need to carefully read the conditions and clarify what exactly is included in the price. Usually, on the way, the group is taken to shops and factories, where everything is more expensive than usual.
On the territory of the natural park and Hieropolis, you can only move on foot. All buses and cars remain in parking lots near the ruins. It is convenient to drive around the village and to the main attractions by dolmush (from 5 TRY) or a taxi. In summer, dolmushes run until 23:00, and in winter they stop moving much earlier. Taxi drivers offer their services at every turn, but you should always agree on the price in advance and clarify whether this is the fare for one person or all passengers. The trip is usually paid for in cash.
Even those who travel by car should take as few things as possible, because walking will take quite a long time. But you need to take care of the water.
Travelers who travel by rented car will find it especially convenient: the tracks here are good, but you need to be careful on the mountain road directly near the resort.
Communication and Wi-Fi
There are several mobile operators in Turkey, the most popular being Turkcell, Avia and Vodafone. For a trip to Pamukkale, it is better to choose the first one, as it picks up a signal even in the most remote regions. SIM cards cost from 50 TRY and, as a rule, include a service package that includes calls, SMS, and mobile Internet.
Those who travel to the country for more than a month need to register a phone by paying a fee.
Most hotels and boarding houses in Pamukkale offer guests free Wi-Fi, which is often found in cafes. True, the signal is unstable, and to connect you will need to enter a password. There are no Internet sources on the territory of the natural park.
Treatment in Pamukkale
Healing procedures are mainly associated with local thermal waters and are carried out in the hotels of Pamukkale and Karahayit, located above the terraces. In total, the resort has 17 types of mineral waters, among which the most famous is “kyrmyzy su” or red water, which is rich in iron, flows down from a hot rock (+55 ° C) and forms a pond below, where you can swim for free.
If the lower village is mainly visited by foreign guests, then in the upper village most of the tourists are Turks. There are more strict morals, they do not sell alcohol and sunbathing in public places is not welcome.
The resort treats rheumatism, rickets, various skin diseases, such as eczema and psoriasis, supports the digestive and cardiovascular systems. In addition, mineral waters help fight stress and relieve fatigue.
It is forbidden to plunge into the famous white pools, moreover, such baths will not bring much benefit. Now tourists are allowed only to two bowls, and you need to walk along specially marked paths. The rules were introduced to preserve the reserve.
The main procedures include bathing in thermal water and drinking it. You can dive into the ponds for free, but for those who want to do it under the supervision of a doctor, it is better to go to the pools at the hotels. There, one procedure costs from 45 TRY. For guests, access to the pools is often included in the price. Almost all spas offer additional treatments: massages, mud baths, electrotherapy, paraffin, etc. Prices depend on the category of the hotel and vary greatly.
Travelers who go to the resort for treatment are increasingly staying in Karahayit, and for those who are more interested in sights, Pamukkale is suitable. Both there and there there are hotels and boarding houses for every taste and budget, but in the upper village the prices are slightly lower. For example, a modest double room there will cost 70 TRY, and downstairs – 85 TRY per day. Good 3* hotels will cost 230-280 TRY per night. And for a “five-star” you will have to pay from 370 to 700 TRY per day for two.
It is better to book a hotel in advance, you should definitely check the availability of thermal pools and wellness treatments, as well as free parking, if necessary.
What to bring
The most obvious souvenir from Pamukkale is a bottle of thermal water. Local merchants sell them for 2-5 TRY, but some travelers pour water from the springs for free.
Looking at the snow-white travertine, you want to take a piece with you. This cannot be done, firstly, because the places are under protection due to the threat of extinction, and secondly, because it is forbidden to export stones from Turkey, even just those found on the beach.
In the villages near the resort there are many souvenir shops selling mostly the same type of products. But you can also buy those Turkish goods that are highly valued all over the world: carpets, copper, leather, jewelry and hookahs, they are called “nargile” here. In general, prices in Pamukkale are higher than in other resorts.
What is definitely worth buying in these parts is cotton. Not far from the terraces is the city of Buldan, where the textile industry has developed since ancient times. It is because of this that white stone bowls are called “Cotton Fortress”, as if they guard the approaches to the fields. It is best to buy the finest cotton products in Buldan itself, but a lot is also brought to tourist shops near the main attractions.
Cuisine and restaurants in Pamukkale
There are no cafes and restaurants in the territory of travertines and in Hierapolis, but there are several places where you can eat near the Cleopatra Pool. And in both villages near the resort there are also establishments for every taste: from expensive restaurants to street fast food. True, compared to other cities in Turkey, the taste of food and service can be a bit disappointing. Better service – in a cafe at hotels.
From local dishes, you can try various types of lamb, manti, dumplings and “kefte” – special cutlets. They offer fresh or stewed vegetables as a side dish, and halva and baklava as a dessert.
The easiest and cheapest way to eat is at the kebabchi or denerdzhi kiosks. Both there and there they serve lamb, in the first in the form of kebab, and in the second – with bread or a side dish. Such a snack will cost about 7 TRY. In small “locanta” restaurants, designed mainly for locals, you can dine for 25-40 TRY, and in expensive restaurants – from 55 TRY per person.
Those who want to save money should go to the Karahaita cafe, the prices there are much lower. In general, everything is quite expensive in the Pamukkale area.
Entertainment and attractions
The main thing that attracts tourists to Pamukkale is the travertines, a natural park, part of which is open to the public and operates around the clock. During the day, the entrance is paid. Next to the terraces, forming a single complex with them, is the ancient city of Hierapolis. Two entrances lead to the territory – the South and North gates. Near each there are ticket offices and tourist centers, but it is more convenient to enter through the northern entrance: it is much closer to go.
Those wishing to visit Karahayit also need to keep the ticket, otherwise you will have to pay for the entrance a second time.
On the way to the terraces, you can visit the Archaeological Museum or go to the tourist information center, where maps of the park and the village are given free of charge. In addition, there are operating thermal baths nearby.
In ancient Hierapolis, excavations are still being carried out, but even now the abundance of monuments is amazing. Here, the temple of Apollo and Pluto, the nymphaeum or fountain house, the Roman theater and city walls, a kilometer-long columned street, a basilica, a necropolis and the tomb of Flavius Zeuxis are of interest. Many of the objects are perfectly preserved, for example, the theater is famous for the fact that not only the rows for the audience and the stage, but also many bas-reliefs remained in it. In addition, in the very center of the ancient city there is a spring of mineral waters. The city itself appeared here in the 2nd century BC. e. thanks to this source.
The real place of pilgrimage for tourists is the Cleopatra Pool. This is an artificial pond with warm mineral water, where guests are allowed to swim. According to legend, Cleopatra loved to take baths here and came out of them rested and refreshed.
Not far from Pamukkale there are two more historical cities – the ancient Laodicea, which, although it is a rather dull ruin, still deserves attention, and the old, well-restored kervansaray (a place to sleep for animals and people leading nomadic trade) in Akhan.
3 things to do in Pamukkale
- See magnificent white travertine terraces and learn how this mineral is formed.
- Wander through the ruins of Hieropolis.
- Take a healing bath and drink mineral water or even stay for a couple of weeks for treatment.
Since Pamukkale lies in the mountains far enough from the sea, the climate here is harsher than in the southern cities. In the summer months, it is very stuffy and dry here, and the temperature is higher than that of the sea. In winter it is fresh, it rains, snow is rare and melts immediately. In the spring, there is usually little rainfall, but there are almost always clouds hanging, and in the fall, the wind blows and there are often fogs. It is better to come here for treatment from May to October, excluding July and August due to the intense heat.