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I visited Wieliczka Salt Mine as part of my trip to Krakow. I remember going there once before as a kid when I was still at school but I could not remember much about the place itself. Plus, I thought it will also be fun for Chris to discover a little bit more about my country’s history and heritage. Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most visited places in Poland, for a reason. In this post, you will find out everything you need to know about Wieliczka Salt Mine to make sure your visit as easy and enjoyable as possible.
How to get there
We drove to Wieliczka Salt mine from Krakow. It took us around 40 mins to get there. You can also get there very easily by public transport. If you decide to drive, there are lots of parking spaces right by the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The parking charges are per hour stay. They will charge you before you leave, so you don’t need to stress about your ticket running out during your tour. Another very popular options are organised tours from Krakow. To be sure that the tour you are booking is legit, use Viator.com
Wieliczka Salt Mine Tickets
If you are not part of an organised tour, getting tickets can be a bit challenging. We got there just after 10 am and the queues to the ticket office were horrendous. There was a separate ticket office for polish speaking tourists and a different one for foreign speakers. All the tickets were sold for specific hourly slots. I will recommend that if you want to start exploring first thing in the morning you need to be there super early or book your tickets online (minimum 3 days earlier). The foreign language tours are normally less frequent than Polish tours. English speaking tours starting every half hour, which I guess is not too bad. The ticket prices vary, depending on the season and tour language. For the English speaking tour, we paid 90 PLN per person. I also had to buy a permit to take pictures or videos during the tour. It was only 10 PLN. I bought the permit as I did not want to risk not having any photos to share with you guys, but to be honest, I wish I had bothered as no-one even checked it. In fact, there was only a few of us that had one, yet everyone was taking pictures.
Wieliczka Salt Mine tour
There are two different routes you can take. The tourist route is the standard one and also the most popular one. That’s the route we took during our visit. The are 3 other routes available: Miners route, Pilgrim route and the Secret route.
At the beginning of our tour, we were given a headset with radios so we were able to listen to our tour guide. To start our exploring we had to walk down 1000’s of stairs. Ok, maybe not a 1000 but 350 – to go 93 metes underground. This was only a small part of the actual mines. We learnt from our tour guide that the entire Wieliczka salt mine is spread across 9 levels in totals, 327 meters underground. Our tour lasted about 2.5 hours covering around 3 km of corridors which covered only 1% of the mine. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. The average temperature in the mines is around 16 degree Celsius, so don’t forget to take a jumper.
Our tourist tour covered 20 chambers. Each one, representing a different part of the Wieliczka Salt Mines history. Each Station we visited was discussed in detail by our tour guide. This is also a fun way for kids to learn history and interesting facts. The other fun thing was that you could lick the walls in every chamber.
After our guided tour was over, we had time to explore the rest of the mine by ourselves. As part of our ticket, we were able to access the Ballroom, 3D cinema and Museum. The museum itself is an additional 2 hours of exploring. There was also a souvenir shop, cafe and restaurant serving traditional Polish food.
To be honest with you, our guided tour was a bit exhausting so we decided to skip the cinema and museum part. Gives us an incentive to come back again.
Interactive screens showing information about different minerals
Interesting facts about Wieliczka Salt mine
Wieliczka Salt is part of a complex that includes a Hotel & SPA and Graduation Tower. Both of them are at additional cost to the Wieliczka Salt Mine ticket. You do not need to pre-book tickets to the Graduation Tower. All treatments and accommodation in the health centre need to be pre-booked in advance.
For a fee of 6000 PLN, you can get married in the Wieliczka Salt Mines. The ceremony needs to be in the evening after the mine is closed to tourists. Pretty cool way to get married if you ask me 😉 You can also rent out the ballroom for other private events such as business meetings or parties.
The chandeliers inside the Wieliczka Salt mines are made out of salt. They looked absolutely incredible in real life.
In 2017 the Wieliczka Salt Mine was visited by over 1.7 million tourists, which so far, was a record-breaking year for this UNESCO landmark
You can do the Mystery of Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour which takes you off-track of the normal tourist route. The tour lasts around 4 hours and is the most difficult of all the tours on offer. You will be given a helmet, headlight and health & Safety brief like a proper miner. The tour takes you through unique, dark corridors that are not open to the rest of the public. This tour needs to be booked at least 2 weeks in advance.
In 1996 Wieliczka Salt Mines officially closed its doors, but due to the constant flooding the water needed to be removed leaving Wieliczka Salt Mines with 35 tonnes of salt per day. This might sound like a crazy amount of salt, but is not as much if you compare it with other salt mines in Europe that produce nearly 50 tonnes of salt a day!
If you want to check the opening times or book tickets, visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines Website