Pamukkale’s petrified waterfalls are stunning. The formations of one of Turkey’s most popular tourist attractions are as bizarre as beautiful. It’s funny as I’d describe another region of Turkey, Cappadocia, the same way although it is totally different from Pamukkale!
Pamukkale and the ruins of Hierapolis can be visited in one day. If you choose to fly to Denizli (1 hour), Pamukkale can become a day trip destination from Istanbul (see tours here for example)*. I would highly recommend adding one day to enjoy the beautiful sunset and to catch a van (dolmus) to spend the next day visiting the nearby Aphrodisias.
This is the translation of an article I wrote after my visit in October 2010.
Climbing Pamukkale’s travertines
The sources flow down from the top of the cliffs (200m high). Saturated with minerals and carbon dioxide gas, they create a natural reaction, leaving a white layer on the rocks and transforming the scenery into an unreal looking place.
To regulate the pollution on this Unesco World Heritage site and keep its unique whiteness, the climb to discover the pools and the waterfalls must be done bare feet. It added a lot of fun to the small adventure as the water was sometimes hot and sometimes cold!
Pamukkale is a very touristy place. If you are in the area for the weekend and able to spend a night there, it is very enjoyable at sunset. The tourist buses are gone, and the colours get even better.
A Spa Resort since the 2nd century BC
2,200 years ago, they built the spa resort Hierapolis at the top of the cliff. It is still possible today to enjoy the benefits of the thermal pools. I had no need to get younger and no pain to treat back in 2010 (I may think differently if I go back now!), so I did not try it.
Instead, I explored the ruins of Hierapolis as an appetiser before going to Aphrodisias the next day.
Where is Pamukkale?
It takes 50 minutes to drive to Pamukkale from Denizli, in the Aegean region in the South of Turkey. Denizli is about 600 km south of Istanbul. We travelled there by bus, which is ideal if you are on a budget and have time as it took us about 12 hours.
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