Best things to do in Pamukkale Turkey

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Pamukkale is one of the most beautiful places you can visit in Turkey. Its stunning travertine terraces and views from the top of Hierapolis are an unforgettable experience. Yet, the place is becoming very touristy and often full of people, which can worsen the visit. But don’t worry.

This article will give you ideas for the best things to do in Pamukkale, and you’ll also get tips on how to make the most out of your visit and avoid crowds. So keep reading.

What Is Pamukkale Known For?

Pamukkale (in the Turkish language) means ‘’cotton castle’’. It’s an area of beautiful travertine terraces close to Denizli city in Turkey. It’s one of the top Turkish landmarks everyone should visit.

These terraces were formed by the water from hot springs falling over the edge of cliffs. This water contains dissolved calcium bicarbonate that deposited on these cliffs and formed the white terraces you can see today.

These white travertine pools made Pamukkale a famous traveler’s destination in Turkey. Today, you can walk through the travertines, visit its town, and enjoy the hot springs with breathtaking mountain views.

Where Is Pamukkale Located?

Pamukkale is located in western Turkey, close to the city called Denizli. It’s 575 km from Istanbul, 243 km from Izmir, 242 km from Antalya, and 482 km from the capital Ankara.

So as you can see, for instance, if you’re enjoying a beach vacation in southern Turkey, Antalya, you could make a day trip to Pamukkale. But if you’re in Istanbul, you might need 2 to 3 days to visit this place.

➡ A typical thing to do is to visit Pamukkale on a day trip from Antalya. I recommend this guided tour to Pamukkale from Antalya.

How To Get To Pamukkale Turkey

You can get to Pamukkale either by bus or car.

If you take a bus to Pamukkale from any other major Turkish city, you must change buses in Denizli. Denizli is a big city close to Pamukkale, and buses run regularly throughout the day to its beautiful travertine terraces.

You can also rent a car by clicking this link and get to Pamukkale by car. It’ll be a quicker and more convenient option.

PRO TIP: Rent a car here for 3 days and pick it up in Denizli. Then drive to Pamukkale and also visit Salda Lake & Kaklik Cave.

👉 READ ALSO: Turkey Itinerary For 10 Days

19 Best Things To Do In Pamukkale Turkey

There are several great attractions in Pamukkale for every type of traveler. I’ve made a list of the best activities out of my experience visiting this beautiful place in Turkey. So check them out to get the most out of your stay.

Here is a quick list of the top activities in Pamukkale:

  1. Visit Travertines Of Pamukkale
  2. Enjoy Cleopatra Hot Springs
  3. Walk Around Hierapolis
  4. Explore Pamukkale Theatre – Hierapolis
  5. See Ancient Temple Of Apollon
  6. Visit Archaeological Museum
  7. Go Inside Pamukkale’s Mosque
  8. Watch A Beautiful Sunset
  9. Go Paragliding
  10. Enjoy Hot Air Balloon Ride
  11. Fly Over Pamukkale In A Gyrocopter
  12. Experience Turkish Sema Ceremony
  13. Have Fun In Aquapark
  14. Have A Picnic In A Natural Park
  15. Immerse Yourself In Turkish Tea/Coffee Culture
  16. Try Traditional Bread In Local Bakery
  17. Eat Delicious Turkish Food
  18. Explore Kaklik Cave
  19. Go On A Day Trip To Lake Salda

Map Of The Places To Visit In Pamukkale

Here is a map of all the best things to do and places to visit in Pamukkale. Save the map for your visit; it’ll help you with directions.

1. Visit Travertines Of Pamukkale

Travertines of Pamukkale are the main reason people visit this place. These beautiful white terraces in the middle of the land are something super unique.

You’ll pay an entrance fee when you enter from the town (no prior reservation is needed). Then you can walk through these terraces barefoot until you reach the top (Hierapolis and hot springs).

You can also bathe in the travertine pools. There is no time limit, and you can spend as much time as you want inside the travertines of Pamukkale.

PRO TIP: Enter the travertine pools early in the morning, right after opening. You’ll have them to yourself and avoid tourist crowds.

best things to do in Pamukkale Turkey travertine pools cotton castle

2. Enjoy Cleopatra Hot Springs

Once you pass through the terraces, you’ll reach the top of the cliff. There is a spa facility with hot springs. You can bathe in the Cleopatra hot springs, another popular thing to do in Pamukkale.

There is an extra fee to enter these hot springs (you can pay on the spot). I think it’s not worth it as it’s usually very crowded. I didn’t bathe in the hot springs. I only saw them from outside and walked around a bit. Due to so many crowds, it wouldn’t be an enjoyable experience. But you can definitely try.

Cleopatra hot springs

3. Walk Around Hierapolis

If you keep walking further up, you’ll enter an area of Hierapolis with many ruins, a theatre, and other temples.

Hierapolis is an ancient city that lies above the travertines of Pamukkale. It was an essential cultural and religious center for ancient civilizations living in southwestern Turkey. All the settlements and ruins you’ll find there date back to the Iron Age.

It contains many ruins, a stunning theatre, and a well-preserved Temple of Apollon. I highly recommend walking around and exploring its ruins. You can learn about the history of this place and admire breathtaking views of the nearby Camlaralti mountains.


4. Explore Pamukkale Theatre – Hierapolis

One of the most impressive constructions I have seen in Pamukkale and the entire world is the Pamukkale Hierapolis Theatre.

It was built in the 2nd century AD under the Roman Emperor Hadrian. And today, it’s one of the best-preserved theatres in the world.

You can walk around without paying extra. I recommend sitting inside and reflecting on the place, as it’s amazing.

Hierapolis Theatre Pamukkale
Hierapolis Theatre Pamukkale

5. See Ancient Temple Of Apollon

If you keep walking further up, you can see many other ruins from the ancient city of Hierapolis. One of the well-preserved structures is the Temple of Apollon.

This temple was built for the god Apollo, as he was one of the most important gods serving local people. So to honor him, they made a temple in this ancient city above Pamukkale.

Temple of Apollon
Temple of Apollon

6. Visit Archaeological Museum

Pamukkale’s archaeological museum is another place you can’t miss during your visit. You’ll see many artifacts that have been preserved from Hierapolis, its temples, and the theatre.

You’ll learn even more about the history of the place, culture, and rituals the ancient civilizations used to perform here.

The archaeological museum, including the entire Hierapolis, is included in the entrance fee you pay when you enter the travertine terraces.

7. Go Inside Pamukkale’s Mosque

Pamukkale has 2 mosques, one in the city center and the other just outside the Hierapolis. If that interests you, you’ve never visited a mosque or experienced the prayers, check it out.

FUN FACT: Mosque in the Turkish language translates to ‘Cami.’ So if you ever see the word ‘Cami,’ you’ll know what it means.

Mosque Cami Turkey

8. Watch A Beautiful Sunset

While I’m a huge believer that Pamukkale’s travertine terraces are best enjoyed early in the morning, before the crowds come, watching the sunset from these pools is also amazing.

So if you don’t mind too many people and prefer enjoying the sunset over Pamukkale, enter the travertine pools in the evening.

The best spot to watch the sunset is from the top right side, where the gardens are. Sitting in the park above the travertine pools and watching a sunset is a beautiful experience.

PRO TIP: Type into Google ‘Pamukkale Sunset Spot,’ which will direct you there.

best things to do in Pamukkale Turkey watch sunset

9. Go Paragliding

What can be a better experience than seeing the cotton castle from above in the air? Go paragliding here to get the best views and photos of these travertine pools. To have even nicer views, watch the sunset and the pools from above later in the evening.

Book this paragliding experience in Pamukkale. Click this link to secure your spot and get the best views of the travertine pools.

10. Enjoy Hot Air Balloon Ride

If you’re scared of paragliding, another great alternative is to enjoy a ride on this hot air balloon. It’s a more calming experience than paragliding and will give you more time to enjoy the views as the ride is much more slowly.

Book this sunset hot air balloon experience to get the most beautiful views of travertine terraces and the sunset setting behind the mountains.

11. Fly Over Pamukkale In A Gyrocopter

For extra adrenaline, you can also ride this gyrocopter above Pamukkale. While you might not enjoy the thrill of being outside (as with paragliding), you’ll get to see more of the entire area. So it just depends on your preferences and what you choose to do.

Whether it’s paragliding, a gyrocopter, or a hot air balloon, these three experiences certainly offer the best views of Pamukkale.

Book this gyrocopter experience and get the best views of Pamukkale and its surroundings. Click this link to get a spot.

12. Experience Turkish Sema Ceremony

Visit the home of the dervishes in Pamukkale, learn about their spiritual beliefs, and life. Dervishes are religious mendicants who choose to live in material poverty and live a highly spiritual life. They’re mainly part of Persian and Turkish culture.

Watch their traditional whirling ceremony and experience the Sema ceremony. It’s the best cultural experience you can get in Pamukkale. I highly recommend seeing it.

Book this Sema ceremony and watch the traditional whirling dance in Pamukkale. Secure your spot by clicking this link.

things to do in Pamukkale Turkish dervish dancing Sema ceremony

13. Have Fun In Aquapark

Pamukkale has its own Aquapark, the best attraction for families with kids. It has many waterslides, fun areas, small pools for kids, and whirlpools. So if you visit Pamukkale with children, this Aquapark will surely be the best thing you can do.

You can get tickets to the Aquapark on the spot.

14. Have A Picnic In A Natural Park

Another amazing thing is to enjoy views of the travertine terraces from the Natural Park nearby. I recommend buying some Turkish bread, cheese, salami, and local sweets such as Baklava and having a picnic with views Pamukkale’s cotton castle.

Pamukkale natural park picnic

15. Immerse Yourself In Turkish Tea/Coffee Culture

Turkish hospitality is something you have to experience everywhere you go in Turkey. So after you visit the travertine pools, I highly recommend visiting a local café for an unforgettable Turkish tea or coffee experience.

Sit on a traditional Turkish sofa with carpets, and chat with Turkish people while sipping delicious tea and coffee. Try it with the colorful chocolate they serve alongside these drinks.

PRO TIP: I recommend having Turkish tea/coffee with colorful chocolate in Osmanli Cafe & Restaurant.

Turkish tea coffee culture

16. Try Traditional Bread In Local Bakery

One thing I love to do when I come to a new place is to try something in a local bakery. I don’t know how about you, but it always connects me to the place and the country I’m currently visiting. Bakeries are very traditional, and trying local bread and its variations is a unique cultural experience.

I loved the bakery in Pamukkale and highly recommend you visit it. It’s close to the main bus stop. Buy some local Turkish bread for your picnic later.

Turkish bread bakery

17. Eat Delicious Turkish Food

Of course, you must eat some delicious food while in Pamukkale. Since it’s a very touristy place, I wanted to include this section as I want you to have a great experience everywhere you go. Many of the local restaurants were touristy with less touch of local culture.

So if you want to eat good food in Pamukkale, these are the restaurants you should go to:

  • Hiera Coffee & Tea House
  • Tikir Pide
  • Seven Spices Indian
  • GÜLSÜM BACININ YERİfor traditional Turkish Gozleme

PRO TIP: If you don’t know what to eat in Turkey, check this article for some food ideas.

18. Explore Kaklik Cave

Kaklik Cave is located 44 km away from Pamukkale, about a 40-minute drive. It’s a beautiful place to visit as a half-day trip from Pamukkale.

It’s also called the Pamukkale Cave, as you’ll also see beautiful travertine pools inside a cave, which is a unique experience. You can walk around and through the cave on a wooden walkway.

Outside the cave is a hot spring with mineral water, so try it out. You can also swim in a pool – its mineral water has many healing benefits for your body.

Rent a car here to drive from Pamukkale and visit Kaklik Cave.

19. Go On A Day Trip To Lake Salda

Salda Lake is the 5th cleanest lake worldwide, full of minerals. Its turquoise waters and white sand will make you feel like you’re in Indonesia. Indeed, people often refer to this lake as the Turkish Maldives.

Lake Salda is a breathtaking place because of its colors and the surrounding scenery with mountains. So take some time to drive here from Pamukkale and swim in one of the cleanest lakes in the world.

Rent a car here to drive from Pamukkale and visit Lake Salda.

best things to do in Pamukkale Turkey Salda Lake

This is my list of top activities in Pamukkale. So choose your favorite attractions, book them, and maximize your time.

To help you plan your stay in Pamukkale for every season, I’ve also divided this list into things you can do at night, in the wintertime, and in the summertime. We’ll also see what free things in Pamukkale throughout the year. So keep reading below.

👉 READ ALSO: Is Turkey Worth Visiting? 12 Best Things To Do

Things To Do In Pamukkale At Night

Out of my list above, things that you can do at night in Pamukkale are:

  • experience Sema ceremony
  • go clubbing (Marina Club or Hades Club)
  • eat delicious Turkish food
  • experience Turkish tea culture

If you’re looking for things to do at night, I recommend first enjoying Turkish dinner in a local restaurant (I suggest Hiera Coffee & Tea house). You can also experience Turkish tea culture in my favorite cafe and restaurant ”Osmanli”.

After, book this unforgettable Sema ceremony and learn about Dervishes. Eventually, you can go clubbing in Pamukkale at night. I recommend Marina Club or Hades Club.

Things To Do In Pamukkale In Winter

You can do all the activities I suggested above in winter, too. Pamukkale is open in winter, and you can visit it. Prepare for lower temperatures as they drop to 5°C. So the weather is a bit cold and rainy. It can also snow in Pamukkale in winter.

The travertine pools are open from 6:30 am until 6:00 pm during the wintertime. The water will be freezing, so prepare for it by bringing extra shoes to walk through the travertine pools.

Winter is a nice time in Pamukkale as you can enjoy the unique scenery, and there are fewer people than during the summertime.

Things To Do In Pamukkale In Summer

You can do everything I suggested in my list above in Pamukkale in the summer. So choose what you like the most and enjoy it to the fullest. Don’t miss out on visiting Salda Lake, as it’s one of the most unique places you can visit in the summertime.

Free Things To Do In Pamukkale

There are also a couple of free things you can experience in Pamukkale. These include:

  • have a picnic in a natural park
  • walk around Pamukkale’s town
  • visit local bakery
  • go inside a mosque
  • watch sunset

👉 READ ALSO: Istanbul Itinerary For 3 Days

Practical Tips For Visiting Pamukkale

Now that you know what to do in Pamukkale, I’d like to give you some practical tips for your visit. These include the best time to come to Pamukkale, the best hotels to book, how long you should stay, and my suggested itinerary for your visit to Pamukkale. So check these out below.

Best Time To Visit Pamukkale

The best time to visit Pamukkale is in April, May, September, and October. These months are much less crowded than the summertime. So you’ll enjoy the travertine pools more, especially if you go early in the morning.

The weather is mild, so you don’t have to suffer walking around in the heat.

How To Get Around Pamukkale

The best way to get around Pamukkale is on foot. The town, travertine pools, and Hierapolis ancient city are walkable; you can allocate one day to see all the sights.

If you want to visit sights around Pamukkale, like Kaklik Cave and Salda Lake, the best way to get around is by car.

➡ If you want to rent a car, I highly recommend Discover Cars. Get the best car rental deals by clicking this link.

Where To Stay In Pamukkale: My Top Hotel Picks

Pamukkale is a tiny town in the southwestern part of Turkey. Yet, there are many accommodation options. I spent 2 nights in Pamukkale and researched some of the best hotels. Check out my top 4 below:

🔅 Bellamaritimo Hotelbest budget-friendly hotelbook here

🔅 Venus Hotel best mid-range hotelbook here

🔅 Hotel Sahinhotel with best views of travertine poolsbook here

🔅 Spa Hotel Colossae Thermalbest luxury hotelbook here

How Long Should You Spend In Pamukkale?

I recommend spending 2 full days in Pamukkale and arriving a day before your itinerary. This way, you’ll have time to enjoy all the activities and attractions the place offers. And on the second day, you’ll enjoy stunning sights in its surroundings, such as Kaklik Cave and Salda Lake.

Suggested Itinerary For Pamukkale

Here is a suggested 2-day itinerary for your visit to Pamukkale from my experience.

0. DAYRent a car in Denizli and drive to Pamukkale. Check in to your hotel, walk around the town, and have a nice dinner.

1. DAY – Visit Pamukkale’s travertine pools in the morning right after its opening. Walk around the pools until you reach Hierapolis. Then spend some time exploring the ancient city with its theatre, temples, and the archaeological museum.

After, walk back to the town, where you can have late lunch. In the afternoon, spend some time in the city and walk around. I highly recommend this paragliding experience or riding a hot air balloon to watch the sunset and the cotton castle from above. It’s one of the best experiences you can have in Pamukkale.

2. DAY – Use the second day to explore the beautiful surroundings of Pamukkale.

In the morning, drive to Salda Lake. Enjoy its incredible color and white sand beaches. Swim and relax.

After, check out the Kaklika Cave with its stunning travertine pools. Then swim in a nearby mineral pool, too. In the evening, drive back to Pamukkale (or directly to Denizli to return the car).

Pamukkale cotton castle travertine pools

👉 READ ALSO: 9 Best Cappadocia Tours From Istanbul

Top Guided Tours To Pamukkale

Check out the best guided tours below if you want to visit Pamukkale from other Turkish places such as Istanbul, Izmir, or Antalya. You can skip planning and book one of these guided tours, depending on your vacation place.

These are the top guided tours I recommend for Pamukkale:

🔅 Tour From Antalya: Book this guided tour to Pamukkale if you stay in Antalya.
🔅 Tour From Izmir: Book this guided tour of Pamukkale if you stay in Izmir.
🔅 Tour From Istanbul: Book this guided tour of Pamukkale if you stay in Istanbul.

BONUS: 27 Best Things To Do In Cappadocia: Ultimate Guide

If you plan to visit Pamukkale, I also highly recommend visiting Cappadocia. It’s a famous place in Turkey with colorful hot air balloons rising to the sky at sunrise. Cappadocia has a unique landscape that you can’t see anywhere else.

So you can plan an itinerary from Istanbul, via Pamukkale, to Cappadocia. Check out my full guide about Cappadocia and the best things you can do there.

Or join one of the best Cappadocia tours from Istanbul and skip the planning.

Get Customized Travel Itinerary

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I design customized travel itineraries. If you want a travel itinerary for Turkey based on your travel interests (and skip the planning), email me at

I’ll happily answer your questions and help you plan your stay in Turkey or elsewhere in Europe.

FAQs: 19 Best Activities In Pamukkale

I’ve also answered some of the frequently asked questions to help you get the most out of your visit to Pamukkale. So check them out below.

Is Pamukkale Turkey Worth Visiting?

Yes, Pamukkale in Turkey is well worth visiting. Its travertine pools are something unique that you barely find anywhere else (only a few places such as Italy or Slovakia).

For the best time, I recommend visiting Pamukkale early in the morning, right after its opening. You’ll avoid crowds of people and will have the place pretty much for yourself. It makes a lot of difference.

How Can I Spend A Day In Pamukkale?

Start your day in the morning, walk through its stunning travertine terraces, then see the hot springs and explore Hierapolis. Educate yourself in the archaeological museum before you come back to the town. Have a great Turkish lunch at Hiera Coffee & Tea House.

In the afternoon, I highly recommend going paragliding or riding a hot air balloon as it’ll give you another perspective of the pools, and you’ll honestly get the best views of the area.

Spend the evening in a local park having a picnic with the views of the travertine pools.

Is 1 Day Enough In Pamukkale?

Yes, one full day is enough for Pamukkale. You’ll see and do almost everything the place offers within a day.

The main attractions are its travertine pools and Hierapolis ancient city, which you can explore within half a day. Spend the other half of the day in the town and do adventure activities such as paragliding. Or go to the Aquapark if you are in Pamukkale with the kids.

Can You Swim In Pamukkale?

Yes, you can swim in Pamukkale. But I’d instead use the word ‘bathe.’ Most of Pamukkale’s travertine pools are shallow. They don’t have enough water to be able to swim. But you can bathe inside.

You can visit Pamukkale’s Aquapark if you want to swim.

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About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

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