Pamukkale, a word that means cotton castle, is a very unique place in the world since it features travertines, a special form of limestone deposited by mineral springs. These petrified formations have the appearance of ice, often confusing those who look at the photos thinking that it must be a really cold destination.

The site of Pamukkale is also famous for its hot springs where people have bathed ever since Hellenistic times, making it a must-see in any Turkey Itinerary. Have you ever imagined that a place like this even existed?

The travertines are located in the town of Pamukkale, easily accessible by bus from Selçuk (3 hours) and Fethiye (4 hours) although most buses will drop you off at Denizli from which you must take a short ride on a mini van to reach Pamukkale itself.

The hike to the top is an easy one that takes you about 20 minutes depending on the traffic of people walking up and down. You have to remove your shoes when you enter to the travertine area (to better preserve it) so be sure to carry a bag with you.

I suggest you to skip the travertines at the beginning and the ones at the top since those are the most crowded ones and instead relax at the ones in the middle.

From the top, you can either hike back down, continue to the left in order to get an amazing view of Pamukkale and the pristine untouched travertines, continue to the right to access the hot springs (additional entrance fee of 30TL) or go further up towards the Heriapolis.

In any case, you better exit through the second entrance and take a mini van to the nearby Karahayit. What’s in Karahayit? Well, wouldn’t you like to know?

The reason why you mostly won’t see any Turkish at Pamukkale? It’s because they are all busy having fun in the nearby Karahayit, a town located 10 minutes away from Pamukkale.

Karahayit is easily reachable by mini vans that leave Pamukkale’s bus station every 30 minutes, passing through the second entrance to the Heriapolis on the way to Karahayit.

Karahayit’s travertines are basically the small budget friendly version of the Pamukkale’s travertines. And by small budget friendly I mean that they are totally free of charge.

The best part? They also have a hot spring area which is also free of entrance and that the local people adore. Be careful, the water is really hot!!!

In addition to that, Karahayit also offers an area for mud bath (also free) and fish foot massage (1 TL for 5 minutes) where little fish eat the dead tissue of your feet.

Personally, I would suggest you to spend the early morning of the day in Pamukkale in order to avoid the crowds and the spend the rest of your day relaxing away at Karahayit.

After the day is over (and after a couple of showers), it’s time to come back to Pamukkale for the night in order to watch the sunset and take the night bus to Cappadocia.

Have a wonderful time in Pamukkale, everybody!
by RAPHAEL ALEXANDER ZOREN

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