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Turkey is packed with natural and human-made wonders, but perhaps two of the most iconic are Pamukkale and Cappadocia. Both are completely natural and very well preserved, but entirely different deals. Not to mention the fact that they’re also quite far away from one another!
Despite that fact, this doesn’t stop countless visitors from trying to cram both sites into their Turkish vacation, and who can blame them? The stunningly beautiful white limestone formations with shimmering blue water atop often stare back at you from tourist websites and magazines, and that’s not even taking into account the ancient Greek ruins of Hierapolis.
Get To Know Pamukkale
The name ‘Pamukkale’ means ‘cotton castle’ because that’s essentially what it looks like. The thermal spring water still flows through the area, which is renowned for its healing properties and the strange yet rather beautiful formations that have been formed over millennia.
The water slowly works its way down the clifftop, cascading over the terraces and into a huge pool at the bottom. It’s a stunning sight during the summer and at sunset? Wow!
Pamukkale is also the site of a Greek/Roman ancient city called Hierapolis, which is huge and has also left behind countless ruins to explore.
Now Let’s Talk About Cappadocia!
Pamukkale is located in Denizli, which is towards the west of the country; however, Pamukkale is more central and inland. There is a fair distance between Cappadocia and Pamukkale, but it’s certainly worth the journey.
You will undoubtedly have seen Cappadocia online and probably even on the TV (or, on Chasing the Donkey!). If you’ve seen hot air balloons rising over an extraordinary looking landscape, that’s Cappadocia!
The area is famous for what is known as ‘fairy chimneys,’ but these are fundamentally natural rock formations over the entire area shamed like cones. Cappadocia is located in Goreme, and the famous spot you see on TV is called Monk’s Valley.
Hot air ballooning isn’t the only activity around this area, as it’s also famous for the cave houses which date back to the Bronze Age. The earliest Christians often used these houses as a place of refuge, and there are many churches carved into the caves and rocks. These days, you can stay in a cave hotel and enjoy the stunning sights, go hiking, enjoy Turkish food and entertainment, and basically stare in awe at the amazing landscape.
How Far Is Pamukkale To Cappadocia?
Pamukkale is located close to Denizli in the west, whilst Cappadocia is central, a short distance from the city of Nevsehir. The road distance between the two is 530km, which will take you around 8 hours to drive. If you choose to take the bus, you’re looking at more like 10 hours or possibly more.
There are no direct public transport links between these two sites, so you will need to swap trains, buses, or flights if you want to avoid driving yourself.
To help you figure out the best way, let’s look at a few options on how you can get from Pamukkale to Cappadocia and back again.
Pamukkale To Cappadocia By Car
You can quite easily drive from Pamukkale to Cappadocia, but it will take you between 8-9 hours, depending upon traffic. You may experience some traffic around the city of Konya, and at any point of the year, Cappadocia is a possible traffic-heavy spot.
As already mentioned, the distance is 530km. The journey will take you through Isparta, the city of Konya (possibly worth a stop off for some delicious food) and towards Nevsehir, before taking the short distance to Goreme, which is about 10 minutes away. The road between Nevsehir and Goreme isn’t a dual carriageway, so this is where you’re likely to hit traffic at certain times.
Cappadocia itself doesn’t really have a peak season and a low season, as this is a year-round deal. During the wintertime, people flock for the snow, and New Year is also a hectic time. However, just as many people (possibly a few more) visit during the summer for the better weather. On the other hand, Pamukkale is more of a summer attraction, despite the fact it is open all year round. This is probably because of its relative proximity to some of the main tourist resorts (a few hours’ drive away) and the fact that paddling around in water is always better when the weather is warm!
If you want to drive, be aware that you will drive on the right side of the road, and you will need your international driving license to hand. The roads both there and back are quite modern and easy to traverse; however, do be aware that driving in Turkey can sometimes be perilous!
Excursions to Pamukkale & Cappadocia
Many companies offer excursions to Pamukkale and Cappadocia individually, but you will struggle to find a company that offers both in one trip, as they’re so far apart. If you do want to organize trips, rather than drive or find your way yourself, you could book two separate excursions, taking you to either attraction whenever you want to go.
Viator and Get Your Guide are two reputable companies offering excursions online, but you will find countless more. If you are staying in a large city such as Izmir or Istanbul, also check tour operators on the High Street, as you might be able to find a better deal.
Car Rental From Pamukkale To Cappadocia
If you want to drive, but you need to hire a car, the good news is that renting a car in Turkey is easy. Depending upon where you are staying, you will be able to hire a car from your location, usually in large cities, towns, and resorts. You can also hire a car directly from the airport when you land, whether that is Istanbul or Izmir, for example.
Turkey is home to some of the largest car hire companies, such as Sixt, Enterprise, Avis, etc., and you will be able to find good deals. To hire a car, you will need a valid credit card for deposit, and you will need to show your international driving license, as well as your regular version. Also, be sure to get adequate insurance when hiring a car, as the distance between Pamukkale and Cappadocia (and back again) is quite long, and you want to have peace of mind just in case anything was to happen.
By Bus From Pamukkale To Cappadocia
There are a few large long-distance bus companies in Turkey that you can use to get you from Pamukkale to Cappadocia and back again; however, none offers a direct service. That means you’ll need to swap buses, possibly twice. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem however as buses are very frequent.
Your options are to book with Pamukkale (this is the name of the bus service), Kamil Koc, or Metro. The first two are the main providers you will find, and you can either go to the bus station in Denizli or Nevsehir to ask when the next bus is, or you can look online and find real-time information.
Traveling from Pamukkale, you will need to go to Denizli Otogar (bus station) and take the bus either directly to Nevsehir or to Konya. A direct bus to Nevsehir (rare but possible) will mean you need to take either a taxi or a local bus (dolmus) to Goreme, which should take no more than 10 minutes. If you need to change buses in Konya, this isn’t a major issue as there are very regular buses from Konya to Nevsehir, and the journey is around 2.5 hours.
Obviously, if you were coming back the opposite way, you would go to Nevsehir otogar and reverse the journey. In total, the bus journey is around 10 hours, but if you have to change at Konya, you may find an hour or two added on.
Prices vary, but the journey should cost you no more than around 150 Lira. The bus from Nevsehir to Goreme will be a small minibus, so do be aware that this can be quite crowded! The good news is they’re very regular, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long for another one, but perhaps a taxi would be an easier option here. The cost of a taxi varies, but around the 50 lira mark will probably get you there.
By Air From Cappadocia To Pamukkale
The usual way to get from Pamukkale to Cappadocia and back again is by road; however, if you really wanted to cut down on a little time, you could fly. This would mean traveling from Pamukkale (Denizli) to Izmir Airport, which will take you around 3 hours, and then flying indirectly to Konya with Pegasus Airlines. This takes 3 hours and 45 minutes and has a layover in Istanbul. You would then need to get the bus to Nevsehir and the smaller bus or taxi to Goreme.
Flying is a lot of hassle for very little time saved, but if you really do detest long bus or car journeys, it is an option for you to look into.
Visiting both Pamukkale and Cappadocia in the space of one break is something few people manage to do, but it will make your time extra-special. These are two of the most famous and amazing sights in the whole country, and you’re blessed if you get to see even one.
The distance between the two might be relatively long, but there is a lot to see on the way, and if you can stop off to sample some delicious Turkish cuisine, you’ll have a truly authentic experience.