Visiting the cotton castle in Pamukkale
What would be the first thought that would come to your mind when you see a white colored hill? Yeah! Obviously snow. That’s what it always is right? What if I tell you about a white colored hill in Turkey which is not made of snow but of mineral-rich content. Yes, you read that right. Pamukkale is a small town in Turkey which is popular for the mineral rich hill. It is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There are thermal waters flowing along the hill where one can swim & improve their skin texture. This doesn’t happen in just one swim, but well one can definitely try.
Ever since I found about the cotton castle in Turkey, I wanted to go there to see this natural & marvelous creation. Soon after, it was going to be true. I had literally added this place in my list of places & I couldn’t be any happier to have done that.
So the story goes like, I & my friend, we decided to stay in this city and explore the very reason why we were here at the first place. We arrived in the evening and decided to take that day off as we both needed some rest from our long journeys. The next morning we headed straight to the cotton castle as soon as it opened its gates for people. Very soon, we realized that we were quite early in the premises. Taking that as an advantage we managed to capture great pictures with just handful of people. After being quite satisfied with just the thought of being there, we did the next best thing: Observing our surroundings, other humans from the top of the hill.
Initially, we thought that it was just this castle which was the main attraction, but soon were taken aback when we found out that there was a roman theater & Cleopatra’s pool right on the top of this castle. Hence, obviously we went ahead to explore those amazing spots. The weather was just too hot & yet we could see pre-wedding shoots happening all over the place. As soon as the day started moving forward the crowd started coming in & soon it was impossible to walk in there.
Our hotel manager had recommended us to wait till the sun sets, as it was one of the most beautiful sunsets according to him. Initially we were reluctant to do that but soon decided that we should. We literally slept for half the day in the premises, waiting for the sunset. It was literally one of the craziest memories in Turkey: Sleeping at literally random places. Soon after, the sun started setting & started throwing all those crazy & beautiful shades of colors as if it were just in the mood to paint. Well, it was one of the best advises that we had received because the sunset was absolutely surreal. It was peaceful. This place was just the best.
THINGS TO DO IN PAMUKKALE:
1) Walk on the white hill:
One of the major reasons why people visit Pamukkale is to marvel at this natural formation i.e the white hill. This hill is also called as the cotton-castle as it appears to be made of cotton. It is made up of residual minerals which kept on getting deposited over a long period of time, forming a hill.
Once you enter the premises, you’ll have to take your shoes off & walk bare-foot. So make sure that you carry some extra bag to keep your shoes in it. You’ll find small thermal waters everywhere to just dip in your feet. Also, you’ll find beautiful view of the entire village from this hill.
2) Explore hierapolis:
Once you climb up the white hill, which is almost 15-20 minutes climb, You’ll come across normal land which has plenty of cafes & restaurants. A little more upward will lead you to this ancient roman theater. This theater is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Basically once you are in Pamukkale, you’ll be surrounded by the world heritage sites everywhere. The entrance to this roman theater is free of charge.
3) Bathe in Cleopatra’s antique pool:
Located on the top of this hill, is an antique pool with thermal waters. This place is open for public to swim. It’s being said that, Cleopatra herself use to swim in this ancient pool plenty of years ago. On payment of a certain fee (mentioned below) you can just enjoy the thermal waters amidst the greenery. Generally the temperature is warm & these pools are open only during summers. There are showers and changing rooms here, as well as lockers to store your belongings. Other than that they don’t provide anything.
If you do not wish to swim, you can just enter the premises to take a look around. There are plenty of cafes & souvenirs shops to sit and chill.
The entrance ticket is 35 Turkish Lira TRY (about 9 Euros or 10 US Dollars) for adults. It’s free for children under 18. You will have to pay a parking fee if you come by car and park at the North or South entrances. However, I don’t recommend cars as it’s quite walkable. If you wish to visit the Hierapolis Antique pool as well, you have to pay a separate entrance fee, just to swim.
To swim in the antique pool, you pay a ticket fee of 32 Turkish Lira YTL (about 8 Euros or 0r 9 US Dollars) for adults. Kids till the age of 6 are for free and above till 12 pay the price of 12 Turkish Lira TYL.
From April 15 till October 2 – Open from 08:00 to 21:00 every day.
From October 3 till April 14 – Open from 08:30 to 17:00 every day.
The pool is only open in the summer April 15 till October 3 from 08:00 – 21:00 every day.
HOW TO REACH PAMUKKALE:
Therefore, it is well-connected by air, train, roads and buses.
BY AIR: If you plan on arriving by flight then the nearest airport would be the Denizli Airport. This airport is 65-70 kms i.e 1 hour away (approx). From the airport there are shuttle services available to Denizli & Pamukkale.
BY TRAIN: If you plan to go by train then Denizli Gar will be the main railway station where you will arrive. From there you need to take a mini-bus to arrive at this hill. It’s pretty near, just 20 minutes by bus.
BY ROAD: The nearest bus station to reach Pamukkale is in Denizli. There are several mini-buses which will take you right till the entrance of Pamukkale. You can book your tickets online on Kamil Koc or simply buy a ticket one or two days before your travel. However, during festivals & weekends it’s advisable to book it in advance.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST:
ACCOMMODATION: Depending upon the season & your budget, the accommodation starts from $10-$15 in hotels. Apparently there are no hostels in this town but some hotels do provide dorms for solo travelers. However, if you plan to live in luxury the cost will definitely be 5-6 times higher than that of hostels. Hence choose your accommodation wisely. To make choosing your stay simpler, scroll down to read Where to Stay part.
FOOD: Eating outside is literally the best option. Although the restaurants are a little too pricey, you won’t be here for more than a day. The cost anywhere from 5$ and upwards. Make sure to eat in the village and not inside Pamukkale because prices are a bit to higher inside. You will find several restaurants in the village specializing in cuisines from all parts of the world.
TRANSPORTATION: You will literally spend zero on transport within this town, unless you take a private tour. All the places are very near to each other. You can walk down to all of the places.
ACTIVITIES: Entrance is required to be paid for some places as mentioned earlier. Apart from the hill, there’s nothing else to do. You are bound to spend around $15-$30 depending upon what you choose to do.
WHERE TO STAY:
If you arrive early in the morning then I wouldn’t recommend you to stay in Pamukkale as it can be seen in just half a day. In this way you can actually end up saving on accommodation by leaving for your next destination on an overnight bus. However, if you arrive late in the afternoon, then staying at these places would be a great choice. I stayed in this hotel.
If you wish to check out some options, then you can do so here: Accommodation options in this city.
I instantly fell in love with Pamukkale as soon as I set foot in this city. It’s one of the unique places in the world. Also, make sure to wait in the premises to witness the surreal sunset from the top. It’s one of the best places for sunsets.
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