A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Pamukkale, Turkey
If you’re planning a trip to Turkey, you’ve surely seen photos of the white travertines in Pamukkale. The good news is that it’s possible to visit Pamukkale with a wheelchair. However, there are a number of “accessible” parts of Pamukkale that weren’t designed with the wheelchair user in mind. This post will cover everything you need to know as you prepare for your trip to Pamukkale.
Wheelchair accessible entrance at Pamukkale
The South Gate is the most accessible entrance at Pamukkale. The path leading from the South Gate offers both the shortest and most direct access to the highlights in Pamukkale.
Alternatively, there’s the North Gate, which requires a long journey along a cobblestone road, and the Pamukkale town entrance, which is entirely inaccessible.
From the South Gate, you’ll pass Cleopatra’s Pool and the museum before arriving at the main rest area in the park. This is where you’ll get your first glimpse of the travertines and town.
The street leading from the South Gate is cobblestone, which is a common theme throughout the park. The stones are even in size but have uneven surfaces.
However, there’s a smooth sidewalk that you’ll be able to cross over to. To give you a visual, take a look at the photo below:
Wheelchair accessible parts of Pamukkale
There are four wheelchair accessible areas in Pamukkale and one that is accessible with assistance:
- Travertine boardwalks
- Cleopatra’s Pool
- Theater (accessible with assistance)
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
The boardwalk above the travertines is a highlight of visiting Pamukkale.
The best part?
Most people stick to the area around the rest area where the public travertine pools are located. This means that the majority of the boardwalk is crowd-free.
From the resting area, the travertine boardwalk follows the curvature of the top of the mountain for nearly the entire length of the mountain.
The portion of the boardwalk most suitable for wheelchair users is to the left, when you’re at the resting area looking out at the travertines. The reason being is that this boardwalk is wider and more level with the ground.
The boardwalk to the right is also accessible, once you get there. However, in order to get to it, you’ll need to cross over some extra bumpy cobblestone between some ruins and the museum.
From there, the start of the boardwalk has about a two-foot drop-off on either side. There aren’t railings, so it will likely be something you’ll have to assess in the moment to see if you’re comfortable with it. The boardwalk on the right side also has some inclines.
Both sides of the boardwalk are wooden. The wood is manageable with a chair, although there will be some bumps along the way, thanks to mother nature’s wear.
Travel Tip: The boardwalk is quite narrow. Therefore, the smaller the chair you’re able to use, the easier time you’ll have.
If you encounter people along the way, they’ll likely need to step over into the grass for you. There are periodic places where a rounded platform juts out into the travertines, so this is a good opportunity for people to pass, if needed, and for you to turn around when you’re ready to head back.
Note: Going into the travertine pools themselves are not accessible.
The museum is by far the most accessible part of Pamukkale. It’s located near the rest area. Once you follow the cobblestone path to get to the museum, you’ll be greeted with smooth surfaces and ramps throughout the property.
If you’d like to save one Turkish Lira (about 20 U.S. cents), buy your museum ticket in conjunction with your general Pamukkale entrance ticket. Otherwise, if you’re unsure whether you’ll want to enter, you can purchase your ticket at the museum gate.
Keep in mind that only cash in Lira is accepted at the museum entrance. However, credit cards are accepted at the main entrance gate.
The area around Cleopatra’s Pool, which is a hot spring, is accessible. However, there are stairs leading down to the hot spring where people swim.
Nonetheless, Cleopatra’s Pool is an interesting place to visit since you’ll be able to circle the pool, admiring the Roman column ruins sitting at the bottom.
Travel Tip: Make sure to head to the far side of the thermal pools to see a tiny, but secluded, hot spring and ruins, which isn’t open for the public to swim in.
There are souvenir and restaurant stands along the perimeter of the pool. Nonetheless, be prepared for crowds; Cleopatra’s Pool is the second most popular place to visit in the park, after the travertines.
The Hierapolis refers to the large area of ruins around Pamukkale, which was formerly a Roman city. However, what we’re focusing on, for the sake of accessibility, is the road that leads from the main rest area above the travertines, heading towards the North Gate.
If you love ruins, this is a great option, since you’ll get to enjoy views of ruins lining the main road. Many are so close to the road that you’ll be able to admire their detail without having to veer off onto the dirt paths.
The downside to visiting the Hierapolis is that the road is cobblestone. On a scale of one to five, with one being manageable cobblestone and five being the bumpiest, the road through the Hierapolis is about a two.
If you’d like to avoid the cobblestone, and are able to get out of your chair and into a van, there’s a shuttle that runs between the center of the park and the North Gate. This shuttle is intended to get people to and from their cars, but would take you past the ruins.
A word of warning- the shuttle bus isn’t intended as a sightseeing excursion, as it’s to get people to their cars. However, between Turkish people being incredibly friendly and the power of a good tip, the probability is on your side.
The theater is at the bottom of this list because it’s somewhat accessible, although not intentionally designed as such (granted, most of Pamukkale isn’t). However, if you’re up for a bit of adventure, the theater may be a good fit for you.
A dirt, uphill path with plenty of loose and embedded rocks along the way makes for a bumpy journey. If you’re using a power chair, you can expect it to take around 10 – 15 minutes to reach the top from the base of the path (located behind Cleopatra’s Pool).
If you’re a manual wheelchair user, this would be a challenging climb. However, Pamukkale offers a shuttle service about every 15 minutes to the theater from the center of the park. Therefore, this is a good option if you can self-transfer into the shuttle.
The entrance to the theater itself is dirt with some loose stone and about a 2″ ledge to pass over.
Once inside, you’ll be able to soak in views of the theater immediately in front of the entry. The path isn’t conducive to wandering far from the entrance, but even so, you’ll have an amazing view and will be able to roll right up to the top seating area of the theater.
Although Pamukkale has a ways to go with creating a more comfortable experience for wheelchair users, the one area they’ve excelled in is their accessible restrooms.
Anywhere you see a restroom at Pamukkale you can be sure there will be an accessible option.
The restrooms are located throughout the park in the form of green, wooden boxes. They’re designed with women on one side, men on the other, and a single, accessible restroom between the two.
Despite having the exterior of an outhouse (they aren’t), all the restrooms we went to were well maintained and smelled lovely. Yes, we’re talking about public bathrooms here!
If you’re in the mood for a more traditional-appearing restroom, you’ll find it at Cleopatra’s Pool.
Now you know what you can do once you’re at Pamukkale, but you must be wondering how you’re going to get there.
Prometheus Tour is an agency that specializes in private, wheelchair accessible services. You can customize your trip entirely with them- whether you want an accessible van, a guide to accompany you, an airport transfer services, and/or support with booking accessible hotels.
The vans at Prometheus Tours accommodate two chairs and nine seats. The best part? They operate in many parts of Turkey, making it easy to book an entire accessible vacation with them.
Note: We’re not receiving any commission or benefits by recommending Prometheus Tours.
Is Pamukkale worth visiting?
It’s a question asked often these days, as mostly due to human activity, water no longer flows through the travertines like it used to.
No water = white (with a healthy dose of dirt) without the blue hues.
From a wheelchair user’s perspective, we think that whether or not visiting Pamukkale is worth it will vary greatly depending on the person. However, provided that you’re up for dealing with mediocre accessibility, we believe that Pamukkale is worth visiting.
For a deeper discussion on this topic, along with details on park entrance policies, weather, and other general tips, make sure to take visit our post on Pamukkale: What Influencers Don’t Tell You.
It’s undeniable- Pamukkale is the kind of place that evokes awe. Cobblestone, narrower than preferred boardwalks, and dry travertines aside, if you have your expectations set right, Pamukkale is downright stunning.
Have you traveled to Pamukkale as a wheelchair user? Are you planning a trip to Pamukkale and have questions? Leave your experience/questions in the comments section below.
P.S.- Will you be visiting Cappadocia? Don’t miss our post on 10 Amazing Accessible Things to do in Cappadocia.
Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.