One of my favourite little trips in Turkey was to Pamukkale. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Turkey, and something like two million travellers, both domestic and international, visit Pamukkale in a typical year (although this year, of course, has not been a typical year for Turkey).
The main thing to see is the travertines, a surreal, white landscape made up of limestone that has been deposited there by the hot springs and built up over thousands of years.
It is best enjoyed in the morning before the tour buses arrive from the coast. You can stop off for a dip in any one of the warm pools on the way up.
Pamukkale is built on the site of an ancient Roman spa town of Hierapolis, which is incredibly well preserved.
You can bathe in a pool where Cleopatra is said to have bathed. The water is rich in minerals and said to make bathers ‘ten years younger’.
Well it’s a nice pool anyway and comes complete with submerged bits of the old city. I did feel really good after.
I also visited a hamman (turkish bath) that is also said to make users ten years younger, so I’m not sure whether I’ve now knocked twenty years off or whether the two run concurrently.
I spent two days in Pamukkale, which is probably enough. It is possible to do it as a day trip from the coastal resorts, or even a day trip from Istanbul, but spending two days is better.
I bought a tour for my second day, mainly because the guy seemed nice and I thought it would be an easy way to see everything. In truth, there isn’t a lot else to see.
If you really want to find more things to do, there are the Kaklik caves.
Also there is this waterfall and fish farm, about 28 kilometres up in the hills above Pamukkale, near Sakizcilar. Personally I found the drive up there through traditional Turkish villages more interesting than the waterfall.
The rest of the day was made up of the Roman ruins (if you’re that interested in Roman ruins nearby Selcuk has much more to see, so you’re better off going there) and a trip to a precious stone factory (aka a shop).
If I were doing this trip again I would spend both days at the travertines; they were an amazing spectacle. Just beware of predatory tour guides.