Most often treated as a day trip from the larger Turkish cities of Istanbul, Izmir, and Bodrum, Pamukkale is a miniscule town with one spectacular offering: the towering salt pools east of town. They are unmistakable upon arriving as they are essentially a mountain of their own to which every single person flocks. I had heard mixed reviews about this place, but after looking at the photos on other travelers’ phones I decided that it was worth one night…smart move by me.
Where to Stay in Pamukkale
I booked one night at Ozen Turku pension. It cost $20 and I had a private room, no breakfast included. The place was fine, got the job done. The town is tiny and this hostel is close to the four restaurants a few blocks away. If you’re backpacking through Turkey, definitely do not book more than one night in Pamukkale. Really, if you’re in a hurry you could do it all in one day and take a later bus to Izmir, Bodrum, or Antalya.
Visiting the Salt Pools of Pamukkale
The actual site is stunning. I entered around 2 PM and stayed until the entire facility closed at 6. It costs $11 to enter, which is steep, but walking across the salt as the water flows down it was really cool. Make sure to go during sunset as the views are unbelievable.
What really surprised me, and pushed this one day trip over the top, were all of the extra things you can see that remain hidden behind the salt pools. Some amazing ruins with incredible views of the surrounding mountains sit just behind the pools. Few tourists venture this way so you can have the ruins mostly to yourself. There are signs all over so I would suggest going alone and not booking a tour, which seemed like a waste of money. Some really incredible statues and a 2,000 year old amphitheater await. Finally, they have thermal baths at the top of the hill. It costs $8 to enter and you can stay all day if you like. I did it and it was worthwhile. They put ruins in the pool and yes, there’s a ton of tourists but it’s a nice way to relax after hiking around in the sun.
How to Get to Pamukkale from Ankara
A few important things to know about Pamukkale. Firstly, the way to get there is to take a bus to Denizli and then a minibus to Pamukkale. This is a simple process: go to any bus station and book a ticket to Denizli, it should cost around $6 for a four hour (actually six) from Ankara, Antalya, Izmir, or Istanbul. When you arrive at the Denizli bus station, a modern building, walk downstairs and ask around for the minibus to Pamukkale, it won’t cost more than $2 and takes 20 minutes. The small town services many guests and like most Turkish places, caters to tourists.
"Harvey Falcon" is the the senior adventure corespondant for Ski Bum Van Life. From Europe to Asia to South America and beyond Harvey offers an exciting take on adventure travel. Read all his stories here.