Said to have been one of Cleopatra’s treasured retreats, the UNESCO-listed Hierapolis hot springs are a spectacular sight: The pools are bright white terraces filled with turquoise water that were formed by calcium that hardened over millennia and are surrounded by the ruins of the ancient city.
Romans built the city of Hierapolis on a plateau in the Lycus River Valley to be close to the curative thermal baths in the nearby hillsides. The pools are naturally occurring, except for Cleopatra’s Pool (also known as Antique Pool), which was supposedly a gift from Mark Anthony. A 7th-century earthquake toppled the adjacent Temple of Apollo, and its columns still sit in the water, where they fell.
You can visit the ruins of this ancient city, soak in the baths’ healing waters, and see the Hierapolis Archeology Museum, the Necropolis (cemetery), and the beautifully-preserved 20,000-seat amphitheater on a day trip from Izmir, Antalya, Kemer, or Belek. Many travelers also tack on trips to the nearby ancient cities of Colossae and Laodicea.
Things to Know Before You Go
There is a small entry fee for the hot springs, and it includes two hours in the pools and use of changing rooms. There is an additional fee to visit Cleopatra’s Pool.
You can rent lockers and purchase towels and swimsuits on site.
There is a cafeteria serving light snacks and drinks beside the pool.
The thermal pools area is quite large and can be fairly crowded and lively.
You can fill up your water bottle from a fountain connected to the source.
How to Get There
Hierapolis is located about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Izmir via E87 and Denizli Aydin Yolu/D320/E87; the drive takes about 3–3.5 hours. You can also reach the site by taking a train or bus (which is more frequent) from Izmir to Denizli, then take a taxi to Hierapolis, which is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) away; train rides take nearly 5 hours, and the bus takes about 3.5 hours.
When to Get There
Cleopatra's Pool is open from morning until evening, and the natural pools are open 24 hours a day. Try to avoid peak hours, from about 11am until 4pm. The thermal pools are hot enough to attract tourists all year round, even in winter. For the most pleasant weather, come late spring (April through mid-June) and early autumn (mid-September through October) as summer and winter temperatures can be extreme.
Hierapolis Archeology Museum
Housed in former Roman baths on the top of the Pamukkale mountains, this compact museum exhibits spectacular artifacts (some of which are 2,000 years old) that were found during the excavations of Hierapolis and nearby Laodicea. Among the treasures are elaborately carved sarcophagi, friezes, jewellery, statuary, and oil lamps.