If you're deciding between pampering yourself at the spa or enjoying the great outdoors on your next vacation, let us save you a Google search: Pamukkale in Turkey has it all. The name is Turkish for Cotton Castle — and once you take one look at it, you'll see why. Tiers of white, fluffy-looking cliffs jut out of a hillside, revealing natural hot springs that surprisingly look as blue as ice.
Intrigued? Here's what you need to know about this little piece of paradise:
Located in the southwestern part of Turkey, Pamukkale attracts visitors from all over the world who come to visit its thermal pools — , in fact. It is the country's most-visited destination (so yes, expect a crowd — though less so ).
As you might expect, the cliffs don't actually feel like soft cotton, despite the name (but wouldn't that be a sight to behold?). They are actually formed from the hot, calcium-laden waters, which leave behind a hard, brilliant white calcium as they cool.
In addition to being incredibly striking, folklore says that terraced pools can cure a number of ailments — and also have beautifying properties. A tells the tale of an ugly girl who no one would marry (ah, how quaint). She threw herself into the natural pool, but did not die. Instead, the water made her beautiful enough to catch the eye of a lord.
The cascading water also empties into a pool where you can swim amongst ancient Roman columns leftover from the second century dynasty of King Pergamon. Legend has it that Cleopatra herself bathed in these springs.
Many visitors hike through the pools when they visit, and take in a once-in-a-lifetime view of the city of Denizli nestled 650 feet below.
And you won't need a jacket! The breathtaking hot-water springs range from 95 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (ahhhhh), so Pamukkale welcomes visitors in need of a good soak year-round.
And the people of Turkey are quite proud of Pamukkale — many often refer to it as the 8th wonder of the world. Plus, Pamukkale was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Not too shabby for a hot bath.