Pamukkale is one of the most popular touristic destinations in Turkey. If you look up travel pictures from Turkey you will see tons of pictures of Pamukkale. It is known around the world for its hot springs and travertines, which are so unique. It’s really great when you find natural spots around the world that just aren’t comparable, and Pamukkale is one of them.
The only (big) problem with Pamukkale is that there are tons of tourists. So many, in fact, that it can make this magical experience seem a bit overwhelming. That’s why I’ve come up with a few ideas that will help you, at least to an extent, avoid those crazy crowds and get a bit more in tune with the culture around you.
What Happened to the Water?
There was barely any water at Pamukkale, and I was obviously a bit disappointed. I should blame all of those beautiful pictures of Pamukkale that you see on the internet with an abundance of water flowing from the travertines. My expectations were too high, and the research I had done previously just wasn’t enough. Apparently, during the summer months, a lot of the pools dry up more. If you want to see a Pamukkale with more water, you’ll want to travel there during the spring and autumn. There are way less tourists at that time of the year anyway.
Avoid Those Crowds
If you would like to live out your dream of visiting the serene and majestic Pamukkale that you see in the pictures, it is best to head there early in the morning or late in the evening. Don’t make the mistake that I did, and go in the afternoon, just in time to see 50 tourist buses pulling into the parking lot. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with tourists. I am one! It’s just a more peaceful experience when there are less people.
Try a Local Dish
We asked around, and the locals pointed us in the direction of a popular regional food called Tandir Kebab. This particular Kebab dish is lamb, and it must cook 5 hours before it is actually ready to be eaten!
Tip: Find out how much the prices are before you eat. Typically restaurants charge tourists a lot more money for the same dish.
The Baths the Tourists Don't Know About
Sure, the travertines in Pamukkale are beautiful and so interesting to see. But, if you want to take a dip in baths that are more peaceful, more local, and actually filled with water, then you’ll have to get off the beaten path a little.
I went over to the neighbouring village of Karahayit, where we stumbled upon the red baths. We only saw a few Turkish people there, and it was nice to be able to actually have the baths to yourself.
Stay with the Locals
There are so many touristic places to stay in Pamukkale, and quite frankly, a lot of them look a bit cheap. We decided to go for the more authentic experience, and rented a room from a local on airbnb.com. It was a great experience. Not only did we get a better feeling for the town, the Turkish guy we stayed with showed us around the city, told us more about his culture, and introduced us to some of his friends.
Take a Dip in Cleopatra's Bath
Some super touristy things are just great to do, and swimming in Cleopatra’s bath is one of them. They call it Cleopatra’s bath because she was said to have swum in these same waters many years ago (although someone negated this while we were there). Apart from the excitement of swimming in the same bath as Cleopatra, the water in Cleopatra’s Bath is suppose to have healing powers as well. My skin did feel smoother as I came out of the water…