The Wieliczka Salt Mine consists of 20 chambers connected by about 3 km of tunnels that lie 135 m underground. It is one of the most popular attractions in the area and is an easy destination for a one day salt mine tour Krakow. That’s why on Saturday morning we gathered together with friends and set off to Wieliczka to discover the world of salt!
A little history
Production of salt by evaporation dates back to the 10th-12th century in Wieliczka. In the 13th century rock salt was discovered and the first shafts were drilled. The extraction of rock salt was completed there in 1964. Since then, the mine has grown into a huge complex of tunnels and chambers. We recommend following your guide scrupulously, otherwise you’ll pass many tempting corridors, and probably no one would like to get lost in the underground…
En route, we booked a guided tour through the website, as it can be really crowded. The guided tour starts by going down 350 stairs. You will feel a strong drop in temperature and notice that the walls seem to shine. This is the salt. We have to admit that we were tempted to lick it, but the thought of how many others before you have just done it definitely dissuaded us from doing so.
Our knowledgeable guide explained what we were seeing as we walked through each chamber and admired the mix of exhibits that either tell the story of a working mine or the legends surrounding it.
Methane builds up easily in the mine, and one exhibit depicts workers intentionally igniting methane to remove it. Later in the tour, you can see replicas of the horse-drawn winches used to bring salt to the surface.
The mine is so deep that it could fit the Eiffel Tower! It is an amazing creation of nature and man. And the highest chamber is 36 meters high. The Wieliczka Salt Mine has Europe’s only underground church with a unique statue of John Paul II and an elegant baptismal font. Along the way, you can also see salt lakes that are so salty that divers couldn’t use enough weight to go underwater. Our friends also got married there once! It was definitely not a classic ceremony.
At the end of the tour, you can check out the gift store in the impressive chamber and you’ll have a chance to buy salt, crystals and other souvenirs before heading back to the surface.
A different view of the miner’s world
The mine also offers other tours, depending on your interests. For example, there is the miner’s tour, which allows you to experience working in the mine alongside the mine foreman, who evaluates your performance while teaching you the rules. In addition to the chapel, there are many sculptures and religious objects on the tour. You can take the Pilgrims’ Route, which ends with a Mass celebrated in the chapel.
How to visit Salt Mines in Wieliczka?
The easiest way to organize a visit is to use the services of a guide. If you don’t want to go there on your own, we recommend the offer of the JTP group, which will provide you with comfortable transport, a guide and organized sightseeing. You can also buy a combined ticket and tour that includes the Salt Mine and Schindler’s Factory. This is a great combination for a day trip. You can buy the ticket directly from the Wieliczka Salt Mine website, but it does not include transportation from Krakow. If you want to take the miners or pilgrims tour, booking direct is the only way to do it.
Tips for visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mine
The temperature in the mines ranges from 14 to 16 degrees, so make sure you are dressed accordingly. There are 800 stairs and more than 2 km to walk. Wear comfortable shoes. Although the tunnels are not cramped, the initial descent is quite close and not the most suitable place for claustrophobic people. To take photos, you must purchase a permit. The tunnels are extensive, stick to your guide or risk getting lost.
More interesting tours from Krakow
Explore interesting directions for tours tailored to your stay in Krakow:
– City Sightseeing Krakow– There is a lot to see and do in Krakow. This itinerary covers many of the key attractions, focusing on the Old Town, a day trip to Auschwitz or the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the social realist Nowa Huta district, and the Kazimierz and Podgórze districts.
– Interesting things to do in Krakow – this page is full of suggestions of some important things to see and do in Krakow.
– Auschwitz-Birkenau – a day trip from Krakow
The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is not a typical tourist attraction. Nevertheless, its historical significance cannot be overestimated and a visit there will leave you with an unforgettable impression.
– Rafting on the Dunajec river – if you like to feel a dose of adrenaline, we recommend taking advantage of the organized trip to raft down the Dunajec river.