Turkey: 50 Hours in Pamukkale | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Jan 5, 2016

Turkey: 50 Hours in Pamukkale

In the southwest of Turkey lies a dramatic landscape of white travertine terraces overrunning with calcite-laden waters. It is called the Cotton Castle, or Pamukkale in Turkish. The surreal attraction, along with the ancient spa city of Hierapolis on top of the white mountain, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most visited tourist destination in Turkey. 

A day trip in Pamukkale is possible, but since I promised Ed that this trip would be a relaxed one, no full-packed itinerary and no rush, I booked a two nights stay in Pamukkale town. So, we had a total of 50 hours to spare and I felt it was just right.    

two days in Pamukkale
Sweet 50-hour Escape in Pamukkale

Day 1 - 7:00 AM - Check-in at Melrose Viewpoint Hotel
While searching for an accommodation in Pamukkale, Melrose Viewpoint Hotel is the most charming I have seen. It's a turquoise blue holiday house situated 700m away from the town's main attraction. It has an outdoor pool, a garden, a sun terrace, and a glass-clad restaurant with a good view of the gleaming cotton castle! 

The hotel looks sparkling clean. The service is good, however doors are only opened at 7:30 am, so we had to wait for a few minutes in the garden terrace before we could check-in. The daily breakfast has no variety. Same morning meal for three days, but I have to say, their sausage menemen is delicious. I wouldn't mind having it everyday!  

Melrose Viewpoint Hotel in Pamukkale
Melrose Viewpoint Hotel in Pamukkale
Melrose Viewpoint Hotel room
our room at the ground floor
breakfast at Melrose Viewpoint Hotel restaurant
breakfast at Melrose Viewpoint Hotel restaurant
Melrose Viewpoint Hotel outdoor pool
the outdoor pool - Isn't Melrose Viewpoint captivating?

Day 1 - 1:00 PM - Ed went Paragliding
Our trip to Pamukkale should have been filled with relaxation, not action. But then, my thrill-seeker husband saw a paragliding video weeks before our flight, so my little R&R plan was abruptly changed. He signed up for paragliding on our first day and he had the time of his life. Check out his experience here: Paragliding in Pamukkale
paragling in Pamukkale
paragling in Pamukkale
Ed paragliding in Pamukkale
Ed having the time of his life 

Day 1 - 3:00 PM - Late Lunch at Lamuko's Lokanta
One of the things I noticed when we were in Pamukkale is the huge number of Asian travelers in the area - most look like Koreans, others seem Japanese to me, while a few are Filipinos. I guess this is probably the reason why there are lots of Asian restaurants in the small Turkish town.

On our first day, we had our lunch at Lamuko's Lokanta - a highly rated eatery serving well-loved Japanese and Turkish cuisines. I had a delicious Oyako-don from the Oriental menu while my husband who had fallen madly in love with Turkish food had Sac Kebab. 

The food is excellent, but what made our dining experience at Lamuko's Lokanta memorable was meeting Nendou, the friendly house dog who never failed to brighten our days in Pamukkale. He usually sits in the restaurant entrance and he would wag his tail whenever we pass by.

Oyako-don at Lamuko's Lokanta
Oyako-don - a bowl of piping hot rice topped with chicken and egg - Price: 18 TL
Sac Kebab at Lamuko's Lokanta
Sac Kebab - a hearty beef Turkish dish - Price: 22 TL
Ed and Nendou at Lamuko's Lokanta
Ed and Nendou - sorry for this blurry photo, I really need to hone my camera skills :)

Day 1 - 5 PM - Quality Time at Pamukkale Natural Park
We spent the rest of the afternoon at Pamukkale Natural Park. It is a lovely attraction situated at the foot of the travertine terraces, just before the Cotton Castle lower entrance gate. 

Pamukkale Natural Park has a green lawn, a picturesque lake with ducks waiting to be fed and pedalos for rent. Beside the lake is a charming cafe with al fresco dining where we had a mouth-watering kunafa and aromatic Turkish coffee. It also has private swimming pools. Entrance is free, unless you want to swim in the pool or rent a pedalo.   

Pamukkale Natural Park
Pamukkale Natural Park
ducks at Pamukkale Natural Park
ducks at the lake - We fed them with bread which we bought at the cafe for 1 TL
stunning scenery at Pamukkale Natural Park
stunning scenery
cafe at Pamukkale Natural Park
time for Kafe Kahvesi

Day 1 - 8:00 PM - Dinner at White House Restaurant and Cafe
Currently ranked #1 in Tripadvisor's list of restaurant in Pamukkale, White House Restaurant and Cafe is a dining place I had to try. It is a humble family-run restaurant that serves European and Turkish dishes in massive portions at a very good price. 

Ed had the well-recommended Lamb Chops paired with a glass of red wine. I asked for a rib and the meat was tender, perfectly grilled, no aftertaste! I had juicy Grilled Wings and a cup of apple tea which I totally grew fond of. Both meals were served with fries, rice and a house salad, and for all these, we only paid 53 TL!  

Lamb Chops at White House Restaurant and Cafe
Lamb Chops at White House Restaurant and Cafe
Lady at White House Restaurant and Cafe
definitely an excellent dinner at White House  

Day 2 - 9:00 AM - The Cotton Castle
On our second day in Pamukkale, right after another hearty breakfast at Melrose Viewpoint Hotel, Ed and I went to see the Cotton Castle - the main reason why we were there. Pamukkale is known for its natural thermal pools, hence we packed our swimwear and brought an extra plastic bag for our shoes as footwear is prohibited in the travertines.

It was an autumn day, sunny but the wind was chilly, so you can imagine the torture of going barefoot on cold limestone. I wonder how will it be during winter! Ed and I hurriedly walked tiptoe from one thermal basin to another to warm our cold feet. Nevertheless, it was a little sacrifice worth making. Pamukkale is beautiful, so unique, so out-of-this-world!     

Pamukkale Hierapolis entrance ticket
Pamukkale Hierapolis entrance ticket: 25 TL each
Pamukkale Cotton Castle
White as snow!
Ed in Pamukkale
Ed seeking for warmth in a shallow thermal pool
Lady in Pamukkale
Brrrrr! It's not as cold as ice, but still made my feet a little numb.
the calcite-laden waters of Pamukkale
the calcite-laden waters of Pamukkale
Lady at the Cotton Castle Pamukkale
Cotton Castle! Yay!

When we got to the top, we saw how Pamukkale has gotten so touristy. We were expecting to see more turquoise water pools, but what we saw were thermal pools that have dried up, and travertine terraces that have lost its brilliant snow-white glimmer. Sad, really sad.  

Tourists in Pamukkale
Pamukkale is Turkey's most visited attraction! Fact!
Pamukkale travertine terraces
no longer as white as snow :(
Pamukkale dry thermal basins
The Sad Truth: some of the thermal basins have dried up! 

Day 2 - 11:00 AM - Exploring the Hierapolis
Above the stunning geological site is the ancient city of Hierapolis. It is a Roman spa city built at the end of the 2nd century BC. Some parts have been well-preserved. Some are now in ruins. Some are still waiting to be excavated. 

The Hierapolis is a huge archaeological site, hence we devoted two full hours for exploration but it was not enough. I think we only saw half of it. We took the uphill pathway to the grandiosely restored  Roman Theatre. I spent almost thirty minutes resting on its colossal steps while the husband looked into the passageways.     

ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis
ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis
ancient columns in Hierapolis
a peek at the centuries old columns 
Roman Theatre in Hierapolis
the grand Roman Theatre of Hierapolis

Then, we walked along the main street towards the Frontinus Gate. We passed by the Nymphaeum - a monument dedicated to the nymphs that supplied water to the ancient city. We saw the ruins of The Temple of Apollo, the Plutonium, and several Roman Baths. 

We walked aimlessly until we reached the Necropolis - a large burial site located outside the ancient settlement. Hierapolis is known to be a sacred city where old and sick people used to come for healing, and those who died were buried at the Necropolis. 

It was a long, tiring walk, but it was surely informative and very much amusing!    

Lady and Ed in Hierapolis
High Five Jump at the main street
ancient ruins of Hierapolis Pamukkale
more ancient ruins
Gate of Hierapolis Pamukkale
What's beyond the Frontinus Gate?
Hierapolis Pamukkale
the road to the Necropolis

Day 2 - 1:00 PM - Lunch in Hierapolis 
Food was the only thing I despised during our day at the Hierapolis. There are few stalls selling snacks around the area. We found a proper restaurant in the Antique Pool, but the pizza and the kofte weren't tasty. And sad to say, compared to all the food that we had in Turkey, it's also expensive. If only we knew, we could have brought food from a local restaurant outside instead!    

Pizza at Hierapolis restaurant
Mini Pizza: 12 TL
Kofte at Hierapolis restaurant
Kofte Ekmek: 13 TL

Day 2 - 3:00 PM - Swimming in Cleopatra's Pool
The most touristy thing that we have done in Pamukkale was taking a dip in the Antique Pool. It costed us additional 32 TL each. Yep, it's more expensive than the ticket to the archaeological site! Sounds unreasonable, yet we took the plunge for a once in a lifetime experience. 

Why is it so pricey? Well, the Antique Pool holds a great history. In fact, you'll be literally swimming with antiquities. It is a thermal pool with ancient relics that are believed to have fallen from the Temple of Apollo during an earthquake. It is famously called Cleopatra's Pool as many believe the Egyptian Queen swam in the mineral-rich waters centuries ago.

The pool looks enchanting. The warm mystical water is said to cure ailments like skin problems. I couldn't vouch for its healing powers, but I can say it's absolutely relaxing. The ancient columns are fascinating, but mind you, some are slippery! Overall, it's a good experience, a memory for keeps.         

The Antique Pool of Pamukkale
The Antique Pool of Pamukkale
Lady at the Antique Pool of Pamukkale
Cleopatra was here, and so shall I! :)

Day 2 - 5:00 PM - Sunset at the Travertines
We wanted to cap off our day with a good view of the sunset, hence we looked for a quiet place to sit back and relax. We scouted the area and found a perfect spot near the south gate. It is so perfect that two prenuptial photoshoots were ongoing when we arrived. 

We watched the golden sun sink slowly into the horizon. It cast a magical glow over the gleaming limestone terraces, and for the nth time, we were bewildered by Pamukkale's natural beauty. Witnessing the sunset is an amazing perk for those who are spending the night in Pamukkale. If we were there on day trip, we would have missed it!    

golden glow of the sunset in Pamukkale
golden glow of the sunset in Pamukkale
waiting for sunset in Pamukkale
in a vantage point, waiting for the sun to fully set
Sunset in Pamukkale

Day 2 - 7:00 PM - Dinner at Kayas Restaurant
After a long day at the Pamukkale Hierapolis complex, we stopped by another top rated restaurant before heading back to the hotel. Kayas Restaurant and Bar is good place to grab authentic Turkish food in Pamukkale.

The ambiance is very chill. Service is a little slow though. Prices are okay, I mean definitely okay compared to what we had for lunch in Hierapolis. I got a Mixed Pide enough for two people to share for only 12 TL! Ed had a beautifully presented Grilled Meatballs for 17 TL and a glass of wine for 12 TL.      

Mixed Pide at Kayas Restaurant
Mixed Pide - Turkish Pizza with cheese and meat 
Grilled meatballs at Kayas Restaurant
Grilled Meatballs and Pamukkale Wine

Day 3 - 9 AM - So long, Pamukkale!
The morning after, it was time to bid goodbye. Our bus to Selcuk left Pamukkale at 9:15 in the morning. I glanced out the window and saw the Cotton Castle shimmering in daylight for the last time. I couldn't help but wish it would possess that natural glimmer forever.       

Pamukkale Bus bound to Selcuk
Pamukkale Bus bound to Selcuk

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