Wieliczka Salt Mine
Just outside Kraków, some 9 miles (14km) southeast of the city centre, Wieliczka is famous for its ultra-deep Salt Mine, which has been in continuous operation for 700 years. It's an eerie world of pits and chambers and everything has been carved by hand from salt blocks. The Wieliczka Salt Mine was included on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1978. The mine is renowned for the preservative qualities of its micro climate, as well as for its health-giving properties. An underground sanatorium has been established at a depth of 440 feet (135m), where chronic allergic diseases are treated by overnight stays.
The mine has a labyrinth of tunnels, about 190 miles (300km) distributed over nine levels, the deepest being 1,075 ft (327m) underground. A section of the mine, some 22 chambers connected by galleries, is open to the public as a museum, and it's a fascinating trip. You visit three upper levels of the mine, from 210 ft (64m) to 445 ft (135m) below the ground, walking through an eerie world of pits and chambers, all hewn by hand from solid salt. Some have been made into chapels, with altarpieces and figures, others are adorned with statues and monuments - all carved out of salt - and there are even underground lakes. The showpiece is the ornamented Chapel of St Kinga (Kaplica Św Kingi),where every single element, from chandeliers to altarpieces, is of salt. It took over 30 years (1895-1927) for one man and then his brother to complete this underground temple, and about 20,000 tonnes of rock salt had to be removed. Occasional Masses and concerts are held here. Other highlights are the salt lake in the Eram Barącz Chamber, whose water contains 320g of salt per litre, and the 120 ft (36m) high Stanisław Staszic Chamber with its panoramic lift.
Minibuses to Wieliczka depart Kraków every 10 minutes from the northern end of ul Starowiślna, near the main post office, and drop passengers off at the bottom of the road leading up to the salt mine entrance. Trains between Kraków and Wieliczka leave every 45 minutes throughout the day, but the train station in Wieliczka is over a kilometre from the mine.
To avoid the tremendously long queues at Wieliczka itself, especially in season, buy your ticket in advance before setting out. Visitors are guided in groups and the tour takes about two hours. You walk about about 1.25 miles (2km) and the mine temperature is cool so dress appropriately.
Tours & Tickets
Visit two of the most popular places in Poland with this Krakow Super Saver that combines two best-selling tours over two days at a discounted price! On Day 1, ... Read more
Leave Krakow behind and spend a fascinating morning or afternoon touring the legendary Wieliczka Salt Mine, one of the oldest salt mines in Europe. Along with ... Read more
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)
Visit Wieliczka Salt Mine with a private guide on a half-day trip from Krakow! Taking place at a time of your choice, the 4-hour trip includes round-trip ... Read more
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)