Thermal Spa Resorts in Turkey

Turkey is volcanic, with lots of natural hot springs.The Ministry of Tourism lists 17 thermal spa resorts and mud baths in Turkey, of which these are my favorites because there’s lots to see and do nearby:

Pamukkale (Denizli)

People come to look at the beautiful travertines and swim in the naturally warm water (33 to 56°C, 91 to 133°F). Most don’t care that it’s also good for you. Lots of modern hotels with thermal pools at Karahayıt, a few kilometers to the west. More…

Termal (Yalova)

A pleasant hour’s ferry cruise south of Istanbul across the Sea of Marmara, then a short taxi ride gets you to this resort. It was popular in Roman times, rebuilt by the Ottoman sultans, favored by Kemal Atatürk, and still going strong. Lots of indoor pools (55 to 60°C, 133 to 140°F).

Çekirge (Bursa)

An hour’s bus ride south of Yalova gets you to Bursa, of which Çekirge is an extension. Lots of hotels, all with mineral baths (47 to 78°C, 117 to 172°F). This is where King Idris of Libya was taking the waters when Moammar Khaddafi staged a coup and threw him out. So if you’re a king, think twice about coming here. Everyone else: have fun! Lots to see and do—and eat—in BursaMore…

Kangal (Sivas)

540 km (336 miles) east of Ankara and 12 km NE of Kangal, this is the weird one. Called Balıklı Çermik (Hot Spring with Fish) in Turkish, you bathe in a pool of 35° C (95°F) water laden with bicarbonate, calcium and magnesium while little fish nibble you! Psoriasis? They nibble the scaly skin right off! The amazing medieval mosque and hospital of Divriği are 110 to the east, a worthwhile excursion.

Sultaniye (Köyceğiz)

75 km (47 miles) east of Marmaris is Köyceğiz, a quiet town on the shores of placid Köycegiz Lake. You can reach the Sultaniye baths (25 to 43°C, 77 to 109°F) by boat or car. Mud baths are the favorite here. The tourist town of Dalyan and the ruins of Caunos are at the southern end of the lake along the Dalyan River. More…

Ayder (Black Sea Coast)

Combine your hot-springs bathing with a visit to this invigorating alpine town nestled in evergreen forests on Turkey’s eastern Black Sea coastHikes in the mountains are a good way to work off all the pastry made by local chefs. More…

—Tom Brosnahan


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