Top choice in Pamukkale

The World Heritage–listed saucer-shaped travertines (or terraces) of Pamukkale wind sideways down the powder-white mountain above the village, providing a stunning contrast to the clear blue sky and green plains below. To protect the unique calcite surface that overruns with warm, mineral-rich waters, guards oblige you to go barefoot (or in socks or shower shoes), so if you're planning to walk down to the village via the travertines, be prepared to carry your shoes with you.

Although the ridges look rough, in reality the constant water flow keeps the ground mostly smooth, even gooey in places, and the risk of slipping is greater than that of cutting your feet. To walk straight down without stopping takes about 30 minutes. The constant downward motion can be hard on the knees.

Although the terrace pools are not particularly deep, you can get fully submerged in the thermal water. There is a gushing channel of warm water at the top of the path down through the travertines, where representatives of many nations sit and give their legs a good soak. If you do not have a bathing suit or shorts, or otherwise do not wish to get too wet, note that although there are usually many dry sections leading down, the amount of pools (up to calf-height) you have to wade through depends on the time of year. Also note that midday to 4pm means crowds and sharp sunlight reflecting off the dazzling white surface; early morning or sunset is better.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Pamukkale attractions

1. Hierapolis Archaeology Museum

0.05 MILES

Housed in former Roman baths, this excellent museum exhibits spectacular sarcophagi from nearby archaeological site Laodicea and elsewhere; small finds…

2. Byzantine Church

0.11 MILES

Hierapolis' scant Byzantine church ruins are a bit of a jumble and difficult to decipher. They're behind the museum.

3. Temple of Apollo

0.17 MILES

The foundations of the Temple of Apollo at Hierapolis remain today. Once the heart of the city, this was where people came to consult the temple's oracle…

4. Gymnasium

0.22 MILES

Only a few Doric columns remain from Hierapolis' 1st-century gymnasium, which was one of the social hubs of the ancient city. An earthquake in the 7th…

5. Hierapolis

0.27 MILES

This ancient spa city's location atop Pamukkale's tourist-magnet travertines is quite spectacular. Founded as a curative centre around 190 BC by Eumenes…

6. Byzantine Gate

0.34 MILES

The first monument you come to if you enter Hierapolis at the south gate is this 5th-century travertine block and marble gate.

7. South Gate

0.38 MILES

This entrance gate to Hierapolis is about 2.5km up the hill from Pamukkale village.

8. Roman Theatre

0.39 MILES

The Roman theatre is the highlight of Hierapolis, dramatically sitting uphill from the site and overlooking the ruins and mountains beyond. The stage area…