After a month spent living in Istanbul, I took a ten-day holiday from work in order to explore more of the exquisite landscapes that make up Türkiye. We started with a few days in the fairytale that is Cappadocia, watching the balloons rise at sunrise and hiking through fascinating rock formations, before flying down to Antalya for a 24-hour exploration of the city, featuring a beautiful sunset and yummy vegan food. From Antalya, we took a four-hour bus along the Turquoise Coast to Kaş, perhaps one of the most idyllic spots on our trip around the country. Kaş is a true holiday down, with a laidback vibe, pretty little streets and beautiful coastal spots to explore. It's also the gateway port to visit Kastellorizo, a Greek island just out in the bay. From Kaş we made our way back up the coast northward to Selçuk, which is the city where the famous Ephesus ruins are located.
Our final stop on this incredible trip around Türkiye was to Pamukkale. It's very likely you will have seen the pools of Pamukkale on Instagram, their beautiful bright blue waters a sharp contrast against the pure white mineral deposits. Truth be told, we were a little hesitant about visiting Pamukkale, having read many mixed reviews online and expecting it to be very touristy; we were concerned perhaps we had saved the worst for last.
To our joy and pleasant surprise however, we found Pamukkale to be not at all what we expected based on social media and frankly that made us love it even more. We thoroughly enjoyed our day spent exploring Pamukkale which includes not only the famous pools but also the sprawling Hierapolis, a ruined Roman city dating back to 190 BC!
Where to Stay in Pamukkale
Pamukkale town is quite small so anywhere you stay will be in walking distance of the pools and ruins. We stayed at Hotel Pamukkale, a lovely family-run place just five minutes from the north gate. There's a pool and breakfast, but the best part was the kind service we received from the owners, particularly when my headphones went missing into the laundry basket and were hand-delivered from the laundrette half an hour's drive away!
How to Visit Pamukkale
There are two gates: the south gate, a ten-minute drive from town, opens at 6am in the summer and 7:30am in the winter months. The north gate, a five-minute walk from town, opens at 8am always. If you visit in the summer months, I recommend driving or taking a taxi up to the south gate to get into the pools early and to get golden hour. In the winter months, entering from the north gate is fine.
The pools are right next to the north gate, so take into account walking time from the south gate.
We were the first in line, arriving to the north gate on a warm October morning at 7:30am. Entrance to Pamukkale is currently 200 lira per person which we paid and then gingerly padded barefoot across the expansive mineral deposits and pools that make Pamukkale so famous. Going barefoot is required so as to protect the mineral deposits from harsh shoe bottoms.
While in Pamukkale, you must also make time to visit the Hierapolis, included in the ticket price. These exceptionally well-preserved ruins document a bustling city of thousands of years ago, including one of the best amphitheatres I've ever seen.