Pamukkale Hot Springs & Hierapolis
Updated: Aug 7
Today we're spending a day of healing & relaxation. We're visiting the "Cotton Castle," a.k.a Pamukkale, bathing in Cleopatra's pool, daring to go near the gates of the underworld, and, touring in my opinion, one of the most epic looking ancient theaters in the world! Most people pass by, but I recommend staying overnight to detox and rejuvenate fully.
Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle" in Turkish, is mostly famous for it's cascading waterfalls made of travertines: carbonated minerals that have been left by the flowing water, forming pockets of healing water pools. The Romans built the spa city of Hierapolis (where I recommend spending the night) around this sacred warm-water spring.
Pamukkale has become a popular spot, thanks to Instagram. Beyond taking epic photos, there's so much to see and do in this area! I would highly recommend scheduling 4-6 hours to venture around; you won't regret it!
Before you go:
Wear comfy shoes, the area is vast, so there'll be a lot of walking involved.
Bring enough sun protection: hat, sunglasses & sunblock.
Golf carts are available for rental to tour the area.
Guided walks are also available for those wanting to know more about the area.
You can find lockers around Cleopatra's pool to bring a change of clothes and store your items in a safe place while bathing.
Pamukkale is very touristy; I recommend arriving early to avoid the crowds.
Outside food is allowed. You can bring some snacks and have a picnic there. Restaurants are also available all around, but the food is just ok and overpriced.
Things to do in Pamukkale:
The first thing you'll notice when you arrive at the main entrance are the shops, restaurants, information/layout maps, and restrooms that I suggest you use before continuing. You can find more restrooms near Cleopatra's pool, but that's a bit further away. In this area, you'll also be able to rent a golf cart/ hire a guide if the heat is too intense for you to walk. If you have not yet tried Dondurma "Turkish Ice Cream," grab one before the walk ahead. This ice cream is famous for its hard texture, resistance to melting, and playful vendors serving it.
Pamukkale Travertines-- Not to be missed, the landscape created by calcium deposits from the areas hot springs is merely breathtaking. It almost feels like a kingdom made of snow, yet surprisingly enough, the grounds are warm. No shoes allowed!! Nicknamed "cotton castle" due to its location (perched upon a cliff) and appearance, while standing there, you genuinely feel like you are on top of the world walking on clouds...
Walking and bathing in this area are allowed; however, the water is shallow, so not suitable for swimming. Floating around is highly encouraged.
Top Tip: Apply the calcium deposits from the bottom of the water to your skin as they're known for having healing powers.
The Hierapolis Archeology Museum
Once a Roman bath, now an exhibition hall devoted to Hierapolis city. This small museum features excavated tombs, statues, and a collection of artifacts.
Cleopatra's Pool "Antique Pool"
My favorite place to swim in Pamukkale!
A gift from Marc Anthony to Cleopatra, this pool has the original marble columns fallen from the nearby Apollo Theater during an earthquake, making this a sacred pool. There's a small fee for swimming but walking around the area is free. This hot spring pool is filled with mineral-rich waters that are said to heal illnesses, skin disorders, circulatory problems, and rheumatism. Showers, changing rooms, and lockers are available in this area. However, towels are not provided but sold at the nearby gift shop.
Hierapolis City Ruins--Necropolis
Historical sites with some of the best-preserved ancient ruins in Turkey.
Hands down my favorite theater in all of Europe!! So stunning and well preserved.
The Gates of the Underworld
What if I told you the gates of Hell " The Underworld" was real, would you venture out to find them? Just out of curiosity, to see the entrance that leads to destruction, would you seek to see it? Knowing that it may be toxic, unruly, and hauling.
Well, such gates do exist, they're in Pamukkale! Pamukkale is famous for almost everything but that. It's known for having mineral-rich thermal healing waters, a massive petrified waterfall, the most epic looking Greek theater that's still so well preserved, and an antique pool gifted by Anthony to Cleopatra. So you can see how the gates of hell can be overlooked by everything else in the area. Yet there they are, hidden behind fields of wild poppies blooming bright red, almost luring you in. The area is restricted to visitors due to a constant toxic smoke that emits from the soil to the surface.
Why I think you should spend the night in Pamukkale instead of just day tripping
If you missed hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Pamukkale is another excellent place to check that off your list. Of course, I prefer Cappadocia; the landscape is simply a fairytale-- a sight not to be missed! Besides hot air ballooning, Pamukkale is known as an ancient therapeutic thermal spa city. Most hotels in the area source their water from the natural healing springs. The perfect place to unwind after a full day of sight-seeing, crowd-free!
Check out my other blogs on Turkey:
"In and around Kusadasi" https://www.wheretonau.com/post/in-and-around-kusadasi
"3 days in Istanbul" https://www.wheretonau.com/post/3-days-in-istanbul