Europe Turkey

Pamukkale: The Cotton Castle

Pamukkale Hot Springs, Turkey

Turkey is home to an array of unique and otherworldly landscapes and Pamukkale is no exception. If you’ve ever wondered what a sweltering hot snow desert may look like, well look no further than Pamukkale. While it may translate to “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, from a distance it looks more like a mountain of snow rising in the middle of nowhere surrounded by the green countryside. It’s a spectacular sight and one of the most unique natural wonders you’re likely to lay eyes on. Pamukkale is also home to the ancient city of Hierapolis, which is located at the top of the travertines. This combination of unique, natural and manmade wonders have made it a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Pamukkale Hot Springs, TurkeyPamukkale Hot Springs, Turkey

How it Got its Looks

The constant flow of warm water down the hillside from the hot springs above leave white calcium deposits, which harden over time to create those brilliant white travertines. The large pools of chalky blue water formed in terraces are made from the hot water bubbling up through the limestone, which dissolves calcium into the water and creates that chalky appearance. So grab your selfie stick and bathe like the Romans and Cleopatra once did in these warm mineral rich waters.

Before entering make sure to toss your shoes at the entrance or carry them in a bag as no footwear is permitted. This helps to prevent eroding and maintain that brilliant white colour. While the travertine may look rough, it’s actually quite gentle to walk on barefoot and not nearly as slippery as it may look.

Pamukkale Hot Springs, TurkeyPamukkale Hot Springs at sunset, Turkey

Everything is Better at Sunset

Pamukkale is the most visited attraction in all of Turkey with over two million visitors annually, so you can imagine just how crowded it can get. For this reason we chose to enter after 5pm, once all the tour groups had vacated the premises (note: it closes at 9pm during the summer and 5pm in winter). Not only will you get photobombed way less, but if you’re traveling during the heat of the summer like we did, then you’ll also find it much cooler and less heat stroke inducing.

Pamukkale Hot Springs at sunset, TurkeyPamukkale Hot Springs at sunset, TurkeyPamukkale Hot Springs at sunset, Turkey

It’s Not What You Expect

Tourists are now restricted to certain walking paths and basins for swimming, with those famous cliff side travertines that you’ve likely seen on Google now off limits. At the time of my visit these basins were also completely dry, however the slightly less epic hillside basins are still open to tourists and full of water. It’s always best to search #pamukkale on Instagram and read up-to-date reviews on Tripadvisor to find out the current conditions of the travertines.

Pamukkale Hot Springs at sunset, TurkeyPamukkale Hot Springs at sunset, Turkey

Getting There

The majority of tourists travel to Pamukkale on a day tour, generally from the popular resort destinations along the coast such as Bodrum and Fethiye, which are a 3-4 hour bus ride away. If you choose to fly, Denizli Cardak airport is an hour’s drive from Pamukkale and has direct flights to and from Istanbul. Personally, I took the overnight bus from Cappadocia and arrived in Pamukkale at sunrise.

Pamukkale Hot Springs at sunset, Turkey

If you’re like me and love the look of snow but hate the cold, then you’ll love Pamukkale!

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Leave a comment, they make me smile

  • Reply
    Elle Kirsten
    January 5, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Absolutely love this post! I also visited Pamukkale recently, but sadly as I was on a tour form Kusadasi I missed out on the epic sunset! Thanks so much for sharing. I cannot wait to read more from you 🙂

    x Elle Kirsten

    • Reply
      One World Just Go
      January 5, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it Elle, and thanks for all the support!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2016 at 5:46 am

    It’s my dream to visit it ! 🙂

    Hope u enjoyed !

    Kenza from

    • Reply
      One World Just Go
      January 14, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      Well hopefully one day you make it there soon 😉

  • Reply
    Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki
    January 12, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    This place is gorgeous! Those sunset pictures, amazing girl I love your photography!

    • Reply
      One World Just Go
      January 14, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Thank you, it’s pretty easy to take amazing photos when you’re in Turkey!

  • Reply
    January 15, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Love your post..Cappadocia has been on my list like forever and can’t wait to check it out!!! Look foams to all your future posts and travels.

    • Reply
      One World Just Go
      February 3, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      Fingers crossed you make it there one day soon, thanks Farzana 🙂

  • Reply
    January 24, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    This place reminds me of the salt flats in Bolivia, another place I would love to visit — something about those white stretches of nature are so beautiful!

    • Reply
      One World Just Go
      January 24, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      Me too Edna, can’t wait to see the salt flats one day 🙂

  • Reply
    Sinan Yasin Babayiğit
    November 22, 2016 at 5:12 am

    Oh.. I can’t believe someone actually praises the town I was living at! Too bad I had to move away from that place, not that far thought. To be honest, I’m actually touched by your comments about Turkey and specially about Pamukkale and am really proud of myself now. I wish I knew you before you even get here, so I could be your translator while your visit for Pamukkale, obviously without charging you. I just love that stuff, I was doing that all the time when I was living there, also keeps my language skills sharp, such as English and Japanese. Thank you for beautiful work! I wish you best luck further on.
    – Sinan Yasin Babayiğit

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