An hour flight from Istanbul and another hour from the airport Pamukkale is an old Byzantine ruin mostly known for its natural hot springs and the pure white limestone pools it creates.

This UNESCO World Heritage site is worth the trip if only to be able to see the springs and the landscape it creates for yourself It is wonderful beautiful and the fact that you can walk and swim in the pools is a treat.


I entered through the South Entrance and if you have a choice, I’d recommend that entrance. The South gate puts you at the top of the hill so there is minimal walking uphill to see any of the sites. The only major site that is an uphill walk is the theater but outside of that, it’s either downhill or even . I couldn’t find it but I believe there is another entrance at the bottom of the hill which means your day will start with you walking up the hill to get to the sites.


The cost was 200 lira and you can pay by cash or card at the ticket office. I was given the option of buying a combo ticket for 250 lira but I don’t know what that was combined with. I asked if that site was located at the Pamukkale site and she said no so I declined. If you’re staying here for any length of time, maybe you’ll be interested in going since there really isn’t much else to do here.


As you enter, you’ll have the option of hiring a driver for the day. There are a row of golf carts available for hire and if you don’t want to or can’t walk to the site, the cart is the way to go. The ground is also fairly uneven off the main path so that’s another reason to consider the cart. Since I had the whole day to walk around (and feel young at heart), I walked around the site all day but I certainly felt my legs burning by the end of the day.


The site is fairly large but certainly manageable in a few hours. The 2 main attractions are the travertines and the theater. Some notes about the travertines.

It is very slippery at the top. You’ll soon realize you want to walk as much on the white limestone as possible to avoid slipping. There are signs posed to be careful but it is slippery, especially the top where you’ll first enter the area.

Each of the pools isn’t very deep. I’d say they’re probably a foot deep at its deepest spot. I didn’t go all the way in since I was there during the winter and didn’t want to risk getting my jeans wet for the entire day. You can lay down in them as long as you do it in the designated areas. There are multiple signs posted where you cannot enter but of course, there were a few people who thought the rules don’t apply to them and went in anyways. They were quickly yelled at by the officers who were watching.

I would also say that in some regard I’m shocked that the government still allows tourists to walk along the travertines. The pictures don’t show exactly how much of a drop off there is and it’s basically a vertical drop off. It won’t take long before someone gets hurt or worse) while trying to take the perfect selfie or misses a step and falls. Maybe I’m just being a prude.

If you want to go swimming, there is an actual pool where you can do that. It’s fed by the spring water and if you didn’t bring you swim suit with you, you can purchase them at the store on site as well. The cost was 130 lira I think for an adult. These pools re deeper so you can even do laps in them if you want but it looked like most people there were content to just sit under the waterfalls and relax. There are lockers there to store your belongings as well as changing areas. It’s also located next to the food court so you can eat a decent lunch there as well.

Day Trip from Istanbul

To be completely honest, I think Pamukkale can be done as a day trip from Istanbul. You’ll want to organize it through a tour so you can maximize your time but I don’t think staying the night is really all that necessary. I think the only thing you’ll miss out on is the hot air balloon ride since those start at dawn. But if you take the first flight out from Istanbul and the last flight back, you should have more than enough time to see and do everything. I would recommend organizing it through a tour just so that it would be one less thing to worry about. Having someone there to pick you up and drop you off as well as take you directly to Pamukkale is going to be a great time saver. I haven’t looked into it but I’d be shocked if there isn’t some sort of organized tour you could do.

Turkish airlines fly these domestic routes at a somewhat frequent consistency and the prices are usually really cheap. I think my flight from Istanbul to Denizli was around $50 one way in economy but I also booked the most convenient time so it may not have been the cheapest option, I honestly don’t remember. But the point is these domestic flights are easy and doable.

Final Thoughts

Pamukkale is a remote site and not the easiest of places to get to. You could do overnight buses if you want or you can take the hour flight from Istanbul if desired. That said, it’s well worth the trip. I wouldn’t advise spending more than 1 full day at the site or in the town (1 day 2 nights is enough) but it is a nice change of pace especially if you’re used to the hurry up culture. The site is incredible and there’s enough to do to hold your attention but not too much that you can’t finish it in a day. If you have time, I’d recommend going just for a chance to take it all in.  

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