5 Nights Exploring the Ephesus Region: Day 6 Pamukkale and Hieropolis

Our last morning of vacation, we did the travertines of Pamukkale and the ruins of Hieropolis. The travertines are these white slopes of rock with pools as you go down the mountain. There used to be a ton of these pools, but there are not as many now and people are restricted to one path. It is a combo ticket to do the ruins and the pools, which is awkward as we wanted hiking stuff for the ruins and much less coverage for the pools!

There are three entrances–the downhill one near the town, which requires walking up the hill (not recommended), and then the two uphill ones. One is much more northern than the other one. We were trying to figure out how to get to the top, but end at the bottom. Luckily, our hotel drove us in their shuttle to one of the uphill parking lots (South Gate) to drop us off. We started with the ruins at Hieropolis, and ended with the pools/travertines.

If you are short on time, or not inclined to walk the whole way (the distances are long), you can rent a golf cart by the hour to take you around. This won’t hit all the sites, but gives you an overview. We contemplated it, but ended up not doing it though the kids really wanted to. Friends did, though, and enjoyed it.

We got dropped off at the southern Otopark, worked our way around the sites with the hearts, then went to a cafe and saw Cleopatra’s pool, and ended at the tree symbol to start the travertines.

It was really hot and not much shade. Mid August is not the time to do Pamukkale! There were a lot of tour groups, so we had to avoid them too. We started at the gymnasium, headed up to the amphitheater, then farther uphill went to the tomb and church (Martyrion) of the Apostle Phillip. We headed back downhill to the Agora and Baths.

It was a lot of walking and hot and I started to get a migraine (which is not uncommon for me). Kids and I headed off to find a cafe and ice cream while DH and his folks finished the ruins. Near Cleopatra’s Bath is a collection of buildings. You can enter the bath area for free, but to swim costs additional money. We found a small coffee and ice cream stand and got some (expensive!) ice cream and found a shady picnic table for a rest. It was super chaotic in the pool area with long lines for bathrooms and people everywhere.

There is a museum next door, but we did not do it. Our final destination was to the travertines. There was another cafe over there which would have been a lot less hectic! At the travertines, you take off your shoes and carry them (unless you are just wading at the top). We brought a bag to carry our shoes in. A backpack would work really well too. The walking can be slippery and you want to be able to get your legs wet. You can also splash/wade as desired.

I had dressed DD is shorts and DS in his swim trunks for quicker drying if he fell in. I was also in shorts. My mother-in-law did capris and the men had pants that they rolled up. If you have zip off pants, that would work well! The water would get up to my knees or just below, so shorter kids will get a bit wet! And of course they might sit down or fall in. I was actually shocked that neither of mine did!

As you work your way down the mountain, you have various pools to walk through or next to. You could do it with minimal water as well. There is also a running water channel that was fun to stick your feet into.

About the Travertines:

Somewhere deep in the earth beneath Pamukkale and the ancient Roman city of Hierapolis lies a vast source of water heated by volcanic lava. The water dissolves pure white calcium, becomes saturated with it, and carries it to the earth’s surface, where it bursts forth and runs down a steep hillside. Cooling in the open air, the calcium precipitates from the water, adheres to the soil, and forms white calcium “cascades” frozen in stone called travertines. The water has been bursting forth at Hierapolis/Pamukkale for more than two millennia. The Romans built the spa city of Hierapolis so citizens could come and enjoy the health benefits of the hot mineral water. The beauty of the travertines was just a bonus.


At the base of the hill, we dried off a bit and got our shoes back on to walk into town. You could start the bottom and work your way up, but I don’t recommend it as you could end up doing all the ruins wet if you fall in to the water! Plus walking up hill is a lot harder.

In town, we got lunch nearby and then walked back to our hotel to depart. They had very kindly held our bags and let us use the restroom to change the kids. From there it was 5.5 hours back to Ankara. We ate dinner at CKR Dünya Köfte just north of Afyonkarahisar. It was quite yummy and an easy stop. It was also connected to a gas station, which made it easy.

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