Hierapolis: the underrated site behind Pamukkale, Turkey
Turkey Culture

Hierapolis: the underrated site behind Pamukkale, Turkey

When you find a list of top things to do in Turkey, Pamukkale is bound to be on there. But rarely does that list feature Hierapolis, the ancient city that has always been home to the travertines of Pamukkale. And trust us, visiting Hierapolis is well worth your time. So don’t visit Pamukkale without dedicating enough time to Hierapolis as well!

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis: life in the shadow of the world famous Pamukkale travertines

Many people visiting Pamukkale do not even bother to visit Hierapolis. The most obvious reason is that plenty of people visit Pamukkale with a tour bus. Those busses arrive by noon and leave a few hours later. This way, choices have to made due to a lack of time, and Hierapolis is the apparent loser. That’s a shame because if you do make an effort to take a trip to Pamukkale, you should make sure you have the time to explore Hierapolis too. If you have been to Pamukkale and you didn’t walk around Hierapolis, you may want to look away to avoid being too sorry for what you’ve missed out on. For those still in the process of planning their trip, here is why you need to include Hierapolis on your list.

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis has that ‘on-top-of-the-world’ feel

High up is the place for the best views, protection against sudden invasions, and a general feeling of ruling the world. And in Hierapolis, you get all that, and a view towards the famous Pamukkale travertines to dip your toes in.

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis has an amazingly well-preserved amphitheater

The theater at Hierapolis offers stunning views and is still in use nowadays. You may find the odd tourist performing an out-of-the-blue serenade during your visit, but attending a classic concert at this venue will no doubt be a real feast for your senses.

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis was way ahead of its time

Hierapolis was a spa city, first with a Hellenistic, and later a Roman style. Apart from the travertines, there are Roman baths to be found that are home to the Pamukkale museum. Quite a setting to admire those marvelous pieces in!

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis Pamukkale

The city also shows an ingenious system of canals to transport the thermal water to the villages below.

Hierapolis Pamukkale

Hierapolis is a continuous walk through ancient times & civilizations

In Hierapolis, you will be able to admire the Temple of Apollo, old churches, a vast necropolis, impressive gates, colonnaded streets, and plenty more. Immerse yourself, and when you need a little help in understanding what it is you are looking at, the information boards are there to keep you informed.

Hierapolis Pamukkale

The city is vast, green, and diverse. And, as you can see in the pictures, not overflooded with tourists.

Hierapolis has a sacred pool & Pamukkale as a neighbor

The sacred pool offers you a unique opportunity to swim in a protected site. The water of the pool is warmed by hot springs, making it a pleasant experience, even when you visit Pamukkale out of season. Inside the sacred pool are ancient marble columns that used to surround it during Roman times. After an earthquake, they fell into the water where they have been lying ever since.

Sacred pool Pamukkale

The surreal landscape of Pamukkale and the genuine feeling of wellbeing when you dip your feet into the hot water is an experience that should be part of your Turkey trip. Visiting the cotton castle is an even better experience if you grant it more time. This way, you will be able to avoid the day-trippers and truly experience the magic of this place.

Pamukkale travertines

Pamukkale travertines

Hierapolis combines history with delicious ice cream

Oh well, it doesn’t have to be all that serious all the time! After all, a holiday in Turkey is the perfect moment to taste Turkish ice cream. A delicacy with a unique texture that allows ice cream vendors to play tricks on their customers. Have some! Both as a culinary experience and to see how skilled the vendors are at juggling ice cream.

Ice cream vendor

Practical information

The best way to visit Pamukkale is to make sure you arrive the night before. Find yourself a nice hotel or pension and make sure you are at the entrance as soon as the site opens. This will give you a head start and the opportunity to visit the travertines without waiting in line. Trust us; the experience will be all the more intense. Stay another night after your visit so that you can walk around for as long as you like and go and admire the travertines at night. With a stay in the center of Pamukkale you will end up in a smaller hotel, but the reward lies in the proximity and the visibility of the travertines. These are our preferred places to stay in Pamukkale: Pinar Hotel and Venus Suite Hotel.

Have a look at the tips and tricks of other travelers to Hierapolis and Pamukkale. Doing a bit of reading up front is all part of the fun! These two comprehensive guides will tell you all you need to know about Hierapolis and its history:


The nearest airport is Denizli Çardak Airport which has easy connections with Istanbul airports if required. You’ll find cheap flight options here. Or you can use the search widget on the side to quickly find the most affordable and best flights available.


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All pictures © @Aegean.Images


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