Discover the underground world of the Wieliczka Salt Mine with a knowledgeable guide and explore the mine's tunnels, chambers, great halls, and walkways built to view the mine's underground lakes. Visit the Chapel of the Blessed Kinga, devoted to Polish saints. It houses an exhibition on Poland's salt mining history, as well as carvings made from salt.
Situated near Krakow in southern Poland, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a 700-year-old complex and is one of the world’s oldest continually operating mines and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here is an ultimate travel guide that will provide you with all the practical information and what to expect from your visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine in a Nutshell
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is open all year round except for some religious holidays. The popular Tourist Route is open daily from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm during the high season
and 8 am to 5 pm during the low season.
How to get there?
By Bus: Take the bus line 304 and board at the Dworzec Główny Zachod stop near Galeria Krakowska.
By Suburban Train: Board at the Krakow Glowny Station and get down at the Wieliczka Rynek Kopalnia station.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine tickets for the Tourist Route cost 100 PLN.
Children below 4 years of age can enter the mines for free.
Best Time to Visit:
During the off-season (November to March) as it is less crowded.
Wieliczka Salt Mine Tickets
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Why Visit Wieliczka Salt Mine?
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a historical place where salt mining began during the 13th century. You will learn how the mine was discovered and will get to witness a region filled with statues, chapels, and altars that have been intricately carved by salt miners, a fine example of creativity and beauty.
Ever since the 19th century, the salt mine has always been a popular tourist attraction, since the Russians opened the first tourist route where the miners acted as tour guides. Also, the mines were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. With nine levels to the mine, and a depth of 327 meters, visitors are allowed to see just 2% of the mine’s network of tunnels.
The Salt mines offer a unique experience to each of its visitors. A few visit to admire the stunning carvings and underground ponds, while others visit to understand the history and soak in its surreal environment. There are few who may be interested in learning about the geological features of the mine and what the daily life of a mineworker looked like.
With the help of a tour guide, you will not get lost amidst the maze of salt tunnels and will get a better insight into the significance of the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
What To Expect Inside The Wieliczka Salt Mine
#1 Salt Labyrinth
Deep underground at the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a salt labyrinth that is truly a maze. If you aren’t very sure of the way down there, you may get lost with all the crosscuts, drifts and ramps. But visitors can access only just 2% of the underground workings. Earlier, the corridors were dug low and eventually when the miner had better experience and knowledge to assess the extent of the deposit, it got wider and more orderly. There is a complex and multi-level salt labyrinth and tourists can only tour the mine with a professional guide who is well-versed with the underground passages.
#2 Crystal Grottoes
The Crystal Grottoes are a natural object of the Wieliczka Salt Mine deposit and are an extremely fragile and unique place to discover. Made during the second half of the 19th century, this discovery of this place was quite accidental. The crystals inside the caves are formed from the result of secondary crystallisation of salt and are said to be much younger than the Wieliczka deposit. These caves are an inanimate nature reserve that has a Lower Crystal Cave and an Upper Crystal Cave. The access to these caves are restricted and can be explored only for scientific purposes or for teaching.
#3 Pithead Waiting Room (Miner’s locker room)
While using the Miners’ Route, there are various places on the surface that are not accessible to visitors. without which the mine wouldn’t be able to operate. It includes a waiting room in the pithead building where the miners can change their outfit before and after work. Their clothes are hung on hooks and pulled up to the ceiling to a height of 6 mts. This highly spacious room allows a briefing to be arranged at the bottom while the clothes are all up in the air.
#4 Chapel of St Kinga
By taking the tourist Route, you will discover the history of the chapel, a vast chamber that houses the ornamented Chapel of St Kinga. The elements present in there, right from chandeliers to altarpieces and other unusual works of art are made from rock salt. It took more than 30 years for a group of artists to complete this underground temple, with more than 20,000 tonnes of rock salt having to be removed.
#5 Salt Chambers
The Wieliczka Salt Mine has specific microclimatic conditions where allergy-related diseases are cured. With the aim to study the biological particles in the air in relation to location and time, 20 measurements were taken in 2012-2016, in four chambers. The micro-organisms in the air of these salt chambers seem to be related to the biological material carried in by patients and staff.
Fascinating Facts About This UNESCO World Heritage Site
It is not just the age of the mine that is historically fascinating, but the evolution of how it began and where it is now. The salt mines were in operation from the 13th century, up until 1996, an era when salt was better than a Gold Mine. The mine consists of ramparts, art, sculptures, multiple chapels, a museum, and even a lake. Since it has been mined for centuries, there are a lot of residual tunnels from where visitors get to walk through and what makes up all these iconic attractions.
More than 13.6 million years ago, salt deposits were formed. Slow precipitation of salt deposits took place due to the evaporation of water caused by the dry climate. This resulted in the erosion of the coastal parts of the basin as a more terrigenous material was supplied along with the seawater, resulting in excess gangue being deposited within the sea beds. An interesting discovery is to notice which chamber was carved in the lump deposit and which one in the bed.
Culture / Legend of the mine
In 1878, a Polish journalist and novelist Bloeslaw Prus described his visit to the salt mine in a three series arcticle – Kartki z podrozy Wieliczka (Travel Notes (Wieliczka), in Kurier Warszawski (The Warsaw Courier), 1878, nos. 36–38. In these, he described the powerful impressions of the salt mine with the description of the ancient Egyptian Labyrinth. The mines have then been used for a compilation of film music, in an Australian TV series as the Land of the Moloch and have since then appeared on multiple reality shows.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of Poland’s national historic monuments that offers numerous attractions like dozens of statues and four chapels that are carved out of rock salt. More than 1 million people visit the mine annually. A few prominent visitors of the attraction included U.S President Bill Clinton, Nicolaus Copernicus, Fryderyk Chopin, Jacob Bronowski, and many others.
Wieliczka Salt Mine: Reviews
We were in an English group. The tour lasted about 3hrs. The guide we had she was brilliant. She answers questions from the group. The reception from the whole staff is perfect from start to finish. Anyone who wants to do this tour. Please don't hesitate it is a great experience.
- Rabin, Headout, Mar 2022
It was really great, recommend to everyone. If you paid online, than you just need to wait at right gate (marked with language flag). Our guide was from museum and was really great, enjoyable and tell us everything you ask and need to know. If you wanna go, go with them and also you need to see what once was made with bare hands!
- Maja, Headout, Dec 2021
Read what others have to say about Wieliczka Salt Mine on Headout.
- The tour takes around 2-3 hours, but you may end up spending some time at the cafeteria or buying souvenirs. So, make sure you keep aside 4 hours to visit the salt mine.
- Wear comfortable footwear as there are a lot of stairs and uneven floors to navigate through.
- Make sure you carry a light jacket as the temperature in the mines will be close to 13-15 degrees Celsius.
- If you wish to grab a bite towards the end of the tour, check out the cafeteria inside the mine that offers a variety of Polish dishes.
- Within the mine, there are two restrooms. While you are midway through the tour, you can take a quick break. There are elevators available for those who are disabled. This facility is available only on the Tourist Route.
- The Salt Mine is large and has huge caverns. However, some people may not find it too comfortable being far beneath the earth and may feel claustrophobic. Make sure you take deep breaths.
Restaurants Around Wieliczka Salt Mine
A relaxed restaurant offering a great view of Danilowicz Shaft, with delicious service, excellent cocktails, and great cuisine. Enjoy the taste of great authentic Polish cuisine at a very convenient location, near the entry of Wieliczka Salt Mine. The airy ambiance and friendly interiors add to creating a perfect atmosphere for a romantic dinner with your dear one.
Known for being one of the longest operating restaurants in Wieliczka, this down-home restaurant with a terrace is a perfect spot to enjoy dishes inspired by Old Polish and Saltworks cuisine. The soups made out of traditional recipes and the hand-made dumplings are a definite highlight.
Situated in an interesting location, here is a place where tradition meets modernity. Get a taste of Polish dishes in a completely new edition, or take a taste of oriental cuisine, the choice is yours.
Situated near Wieliczka Salt Mine, the Sharma Indian restaurant is a place that will take you on a culinary journey through the best tastes derived from traditional Indian cuisine. With a huge variety of items to choose from, this restaurant is sure to satisfy every palette.
Wieliczka Salt Mine: FAQs
· Students and Senior Citizens: PLN 57
· Children: PLN 48
· Foreign language tours: PLN 93
· Foreign language tours for Students and Senior Citizens: PLN 84
· Foreign language tours for children: PLN 73
Since there are about 800 steps to get your way into the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the tour of the entire space will take about 2-3 hours.
The salt mine temperature stays around 16 C all year round, so it is usually warmer than the surface in the winters and cooler than the surface in the summers.
We recommend you do not carry anything inside as you have a lot of steps to take while you are in there. Maybe you can just carry a small backpack with your water bottle in it. Do check out the rules on the official website before your visit. If you don’t wish to carry your luggage with you, you can use the locker facility available.
The underground mines are not very constricting, although the stairway and the cage lifts could be slightly claustrophobic.