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Top things to see and do in Pamukkale, Turkey

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Pamukkale is a natural site in the province of Denizli in southwestern Turkey. It's very famous for the beautiful natural pools and Roman ruins.

If you are planning to visit this natural site, then this will be the perfect guide for you! I will explain what’s around, how to explore the Cotton Castle and Hierapolis, where to stay, where to eat, and how to travel in and out of Pamukkale.

Pamukkale, which means ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, is famous for the carbonate minerals left by the flowing water and is famous around the world for their magical healing properties.

How to reach Pamukkale?

The best way to reach Pamukkale is by air. The nearest airport is Denizli Cardak Airport (DNZ), which is 72 kilometres southwest of Pamukkale. Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines offer flights between Istanbul and Denizli Airport. Turkish Airlines operates from both Istanbul International Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW). Pegasus Airlines has services from Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Denizli Airport.

You can prebook an airport shuttle service to Pamukkale, which costs €10 or 200 TL per person. They offer hotel pick-up and drop-off services. We booked our airport return shuttle with our hotel, and to our surprise, we got Limuzin for €5, or 100TL per person.

How long should you spend in Pamukkale?

One day is enough to explore Pamukkale. Apart from the cotton castle and Hierapolis, you can also indulge in activities like a hot air balloon ride and paragliding. A hot air balloon flight takes 35–45 minutes over the white "cotton castle." It’s mesmerising to watch the sun rise over the valleys, and later enjoyed the Champagne toast upon landing. It costs around €100 per person.

Hot air balloon arial view
Hot air balloon, Pamukkale

After the hot air balloon ride, we enjoyed our Turkish breakfast and headed to explore Pamukkale. There are three important attractions; the hot spring pool, also called travertines, Hierapolis ancient site and Antique Pool / Cleopatra’s Pool.

Pamukkale Entrance and Opening Hours

There are two entrance gates to the natural site of Pamukkale. North gate gives entry directly to Hierapolis ancient city ruins and the South gate is the quickest and easiest route to reach the Pamukkale travertines; the hot spring pools. It costs 200 TL for Hierapolis Archaeological Site, Travertines and Museum Ticket.

The opening hours of Pamukkale are:

From April 1 till October 1 (summer) – Open from 06:30 to 20:00

From October 1 till April 1 (winter) – Open from 08:00 to 18:00

Cotton Castle: Hot Water of Pamukkale

The hot waters of Pamukkale were always said to have magical healing powers. Because of this, Pamukkale has been a spa resort since ancient times. It is said that the famous, and most beautiful queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, bathed in the healing pools. Currently, most of the pools are dried, and only a few pools are filled with water and accessible to visitors. These dazzling white pools were created by calcium deposits. To reach these pools you’ll have to walk barefoot all the way from the bottom entrance, the south gate.

Ruins of Hierapolis Ancient City

Apart from the hot water, the pools of Pamukkale are surrounded by beautiful ruins and the historical sites of the Romans. It is located just above the pool and the easiest way to reach there is by the north gate. Hierapolis was transformed into a spa in the 2nd century BC. In 17 AD, a major earthquake left the city completely in ruins. The Romans rebuilt it and added a big amphitheatre. The amphitheatre is the main attraction of Hierapolis. You need to take a short hike to enjoy the beauty of this huge theatre.

Pamukkale Antique Pool

There is another pool near the ruins. It is an antique pool or Cleopatra pool. If you want to bathe in the pool, you need to pay an extra 130 TL. It’s a very narrow hot spring pool with healing properties, but in my opinion, it’s not worth paying an extra 130 TL! However, you can visit and enjoy the ambience even if you do not enter the pool.

Hierapolis Museum

The entry to the small museum is included in the entry ticket. It has a collection of antiquities from Hierapolis. The coins, sculptures, and jewellery are included in the museum collections.

Where to Stay near Pamukkale?

Pamukkale is a very small village and you have many hotels nearby. We stayed at Ozbay Hotel, which is very close to Hierapolis and Pamukkale Cotton Castle. The rooms are big and clean and value for money. The hotel offers some good breakfast options and some good restaurants are located nearby.

We hope you enjoyed reading it and the article was helpful. Enjoy your journey to the beautiful village of Pamukkale, Turkey.


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