Wondering what the best way to get from Istanbul to Pamukkale (or Pamukkale to Istanbul) is? This guide will show you how to travel by plane, car, bus and tour to reach this iconic Turkish destination.
After spending 6 weeks in Turkey myself, I can recommend starting your journey in the bustling cultural capital of Istanbul. Then, you can make your way to Pamukkale for a night or two to wade through the famous thermal pools. To round out your idyllic Turkey itinerary, make a stop in Cappadocia, before returning to Istanbul.
The Istanbul Pamukkale (or Pamukkale Istanbul) route is a frequented tourist trail for a reason (with the addition of Cappadocia). There is just so much beauty and history packed into these Turkish locales.
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How to get to Pamukkale from Istanbul is pretty straightforward, with flying from Istanbul to Pamukkale being the most popular, with driving as the second-best option to reach Pamukkale in Turkey.
If you are reading this to find out the best way to get from Pamukkale to Istanbul, you can simply reverse all my recommendations by plane, car and bus below.
More Turkey Travel Guides
10 Day Turkey Itinerary
Pamukkale Travel Guide: Where to Stay + What to Do
Cappadocia Travel Guide: Where to Stay + What to Do
Best Areas to Stay in Istanbul
Visiting the Ancient City of Ephesus
Istanbul to Pamukkale Map
If you are planning a trip from Istanbul to Pamukkale, the map below should help you. I’ve indicated all of the main airports and bus stations in both Istanbul and Pamukkale to help you choose the best way how to go from Pamukkale to Istanbul.
As you can see on the map, due to the size of Turkey, you can expect your trip to take at least 4 hours (if travelling by plane) from your Istanbul hotel to your Pamukkale hotel and up to 14 hours (by bus) to reach your destination.
The Best Way to Get from
Istanbul to Pamukkale
If you are looking for the fastest way how to get to Pamukkale Turkey from Istanbul, an Istanbul to Pamukkale flight is your best bet. Of course, if you are heading in the opposite direction, a flight from Pamukkale to Istanbul is just as easy.
Istanbul to Pamukkale Flight
Normally, the option of flying comes with a heftier price tag than a car or bus, but in this case, a flight from Istanbul to Pamukkale is very economical. Istanbul to Pamukkale flight price starts at $20USD!
Turkish Airlines and Pegasus (the low-budget Turkish airline) both fly direct multiple times a day from Istanbul (both IST and SAW) to the Denizli Airport. The Denizli Airport is approximately a 20-minute drive from the town of Pamukkale, so you will need to book a shuttle or grab a taxi on arrival.
Flights from Istanbul to Pamukkale clock in at roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes, plus the 45-minute transfer to the Istanbul airport and the 1-hour transfer from the Denizli Airport to the town of Pamukkale.
Airports in Istanbul
How many airports in Istanbul, you may ask? There are three airports in Istanbul:
- Istanbul International Airport (IST) otherwise known as New Istanbul Airport is where most international flights will enter Turkey.
- Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) is used mainly for domestic flights and some closer international flights.
- Istanbul Ataturk Airport (ISL/LTBA) takes mostly freight and cargo trips and is Istanbul’s oldest airport
The nearest airport to Istanbul differs depending on where you are staying in Istanbul. From the city centre, a private transfer to either IST or SAW takes approximately 40-50 minutes, so transfer time shouldn’t necessarily factor into your Istanbul to Pamukkale flight itinerary.
How to Get to Istanbul Airport (IST) from City Centre
After enjoying the beautiful melting pot of Istanbul, it’s time to make your way to the Istanbul Airport. Generally speaking, hopping in an Istanbul airport taxi is a good idea, but not so true in Istanbul.
Airport Istanbul Transfer
It’s common to get stuck in a taxi fraud situation, so I recommend booking yourself a private airport Istanbul transfer from your city centre hotel to the airport. It’s a surprisingly economical option, and the driver helps you with your bags and takes you directly to your gate at the Istanbul airport departures.
Istanbul Airport Shuttle Bus
You can definitely board the HAVAIST Istanbul airport shuttle from the Sultanahmet shuttle stop, but timetables are a bit convoluted. I’d recommend chatting with a HAVAIST employee around the Sultanahmet shuttle stop a day before you plan to take off from Istanbul. They should be able to tell you when to catch the shuttle bus to the international airport Turkey.
Payment can be made by credit card on the HAVAIST app or via the Istanbulkart pass and are 18TL (roughly $1.50USD).
How to Get to Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW)
from City Centre
Airport Transfer Istanbul to SAW
Similar to the best ways to get to IST, I’d recommend private airport transfers in Istanbul city centre to SAW. A Sabiha Gokcen Airport transfer Istanbul is still an economical way to get from A to B and is super reliable!
SAW Istanbul Airport Bus from Taksim Square
Reaching Sabiha Gokcen Airport via shuttle can be boarded via Taksim Square. If you are staying in Sultanahmet, grab a spot on the T1 tram and get off at the University stop (Fındıklı Mimar Sinan Üniversitesi).
From here, either grab a short taxi ride or walk 17 minutes to Taksim Square. Catch the 1.5-hour HAVABUS shuttle to SAW from here.
NOTE | There is currently no direct metro line running from the city centre to either IST or SAW airports.
How to Get From the Pamukkale Airport
(Denizli Airport) to the Hot Springs
It’s important to note that there is no airport in the town of Pamukkale. If you are flying into Pamukkale, you will land at the Denizli Airport (the Pamukkale airport code is DNZ).
It’s a simple, uncomplicated airport, where you can either rent a car or catch a shuttle, private transfer or taxi to Pamukkale. The distance from the Denizili airport to Pamukkale town is 69km, an hour’s drive.
Here are your options on how to get to Pamukkale from Denizli Airport:
Denizli Airport Car Rental
You can book your rental car through DiscoverCars and have it waiting for you when you arrive at the Denizli Airport. This is a great option if you plan to explore more of Turkey after your trip to Pamukkale.
Denizli Airport to Pamukkale Shuttle
You can book a shared or private Pamukkale airport transfer through the Denizli Airport. The transfer costs 10,00 € ($11.50USD) per person for a shared transfer.
Driving from Istanbul to Pamukkale: The Second Best Option
Driving in Turkey is one of the best ways to see the country. Rent yourself a car through DiscoverCars and have it waiting for you at the Istanbul airport when you arrive.
Driving from Istanbul to Pamukkale
How far is Pamukkale from Istanbul, you may ask? Well, the Istanbul to Pamukkale distance is approximately 615km from the airport to the Pamukkale thermal pools. It will take you roughly 7 hours to complete the drive via the O-5 highway if you don’t stop to admire the scenery, which you probably will.
The great thing about renting a car in Turkey is you avoid all the transfers and waiting around, plus you put flexibility and freedom into your schedule. Which is a great thing to have in Turkey, since there’s so much beauty here.
>>>> CHECK PRICES + AVAILABILITY OF RENTAL CARS IN TURKEY
Day Tour to Pamukkale from Istanbul
Day Trip to Pamukkale from Istanbul
If planning transportation and accommodation just sounds like a hassle to you, I’d recommend booking a day tour from Istanbul to Pamukkale. You can get private or group tours, for one full day or longer. Depends on how much time you have available.
Private Day Tour from Istanbul to Pamukkale (and Back)
If time is limited and you don’t want to give up your Istanbul hotel try this private day tour from Istanbul to Pamukkale that includes hotel pick up, flights and entrance fees.
What’s great about organized Pamukkale tours from Istanbul is you get a knowledgeable guide to tell you all about the history and culture of Pamukkale and the ancient ruins of Hierapolis. Do note though, this tour returns to Istanbul after a day in Pamukkale.
Istanbul Pamukkale Bus
If you are looking for a more economical option, taking a bus from Istanbul to Pamukkale is the way to go. With multiple itinerary options daily leaving from the Istanbul Central Bus Station (Esenler Otogarı), a bus ticket starts at $21USD. If you sleep well on busses, you can even opt for the night bus leaving at 11pm and midnight. Bus ride durations range from 8-14 hours.
As a note, most bus rides take longer than mentioned on the ticket since they don’t account for restroom and food breaks.
I used the GetbyBus website to search and book by busses a few times during my six weeks spent in Turkey, and it worked quite smoothly. Make sure to search Istanbul to Denizli, since there are no national bus lines that go straight to the town of Pamukkale.
TIP | Make sure to note if the bus ticket needs to be printed or not. If it needs to be printed, they can usually do that at your hotel, or at the bus station for a fee.
Denizli Bus Station to Pamukkale (minibus)
If you decide to take the bus from anywhere else in Turkey, you will be dropped at the Denizli bus station (otigari). From here, find platform 76 and talk to the attendant about grabbing a seat on the next shuttle out of Denizli towards Pamukkale town centre. The shuttle usually leaves every 20-30 minutes, but will likely wait until it’s full before departing.
The Denizli Pamukkale bus costs 5TL ($0.70USD).
The driver will drop you in the city centre of Pamukkale. Most Pamukkale hotels can be reached within 5-15 minutes by foot.
Istanbul Pamukkale Train
The Istanbul to Pamukkale train departs from the Kadikoy neighbourhood (Pendik Station) on the Asian side of Istanbul and arrives in the city of Denizli via a transfer in the city of Eskişehir. The trip duration is approximately 11 hours.
Since you can make it from Istanbul to Pamukkale (Denizli) by flight in just over 1 hour flight time, and by bus in 8-12 hours, taking the high-speed train should be your last choice. You can check prices and availability here. Make sure to search and purchase tickets from İstanbul to Eskisehir and Eskişehir to Denizli separately otherwise it throws an error.
Where to Stay in Pamukkale
Are you wondering where to stay in Pamukkale? Since staying near the Pamukkale cotton castle for one night is all you need, I’d recommend staying in the town of Pamukkale instead of staying in Denizli and travelling to Pamukkale to see the hot springs. That way you can make your way to the entrance as early as possible to see the sunrise dawn over the Pamukkale thermal pools.
Hotels in Pamukkale Turkey offer everything from budget stays to high-end hotels with built-in natural thermal spas.
Pamukkale Whiteheaven Suite Hotel $$$
Pamukkale Whiteheaven Suite Hotel is an excellently rated hotel located a 5-minute walk from the Pamukkale hot springs town entrance. Offering a large outdoor pool, sun terrace and peaceful garden, this Pamukkale hotel offers the best experience in town. The hotel also offers a wellness centre, free parking, and an airport shuttle.
Pamukkale Termal Ece Otel $$
Why not indulge and stay at a Pamukkale hotel offering a thermal spa on site! The best way to relax and wind down. Situated in the small town of Karahayit outside of Pamukkale, you can grab a taxi and be at the Pamukkale entrance gate in 10 minutes flat. It also comes with 4 outdoor pools, a wellness centre, an airport shuttle and a restaurant.
Venus Suite Hotel $$
Venus Suite Hotel is a well-reviewed Pamukkale hotel located 12 minutes by foot from the main entrance to the Pamukkale thermal pools. Besides the spacious immaculate rooms, the hotel boasts, it also offers an outdoor pool, free parking, an onsite restaurant and an airport shuttle.
Bellamaritimo Hotel $
Bellamaritimo hotel offers a thermal water outdoor pool for enjoyment after the Pamukkale hot springs. Situated a quick 9-minute walk from the Pamukkale cotton castle entrance, it’s a great budget option for visiting this popular Turkey destination.