Going to the Wieliczka Salt Mines is a must-do during a holiday in Poland, but if you haven't decided yet or don't know why they cause such a stir among travellers, I suggest you take note of these reasons why it's worth visiting them. So don't forget to book a trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mines from Krakow to see this iconic site - you'll be amazed when you see it in person!
It is the second most visited attraction in Poland
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Kraków, in fact it is the second most visited in the whole country after the Main Market Square in the Old Town of Kraków. Here's why:
- Ever since the salt mines were first visited in the 15th century, this place has not ceased to amaze tourists of different generations. Some of the most illustrious visitors who had the opportunity to explore them in their time were the astronomer Nicolas Copernicus, the composer Frédéric Chopin and the writer Goethe.
- With a depth of more than 100 metres, the Wieliczka Salt Mines are home to unusual places - everything is carved out of blocks of salt! Prayer chapels, chambers, sculptures, reliefs... you can even see amazing rock formations such as stalagmites and stalactites and even a beautiful illuminated underground lake. If you want to see a small preview of what awaits you during your visit, don't miss the post What to see in the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
One of the oldest salt mines in Europe
When you book your tour to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, you will be visiting one of the oldest salt mines in the world, which has been producing table salt since the 13th century:
- They were once known as Magnum Sal (Great Salt) and played an important role in the Polish economy as the main salt mine in the country. They belonged to King Casimir the Great but are now owned by the state.
- However, the oldest salt mines in Poland are the Bochnia Salt Mines, which date back to the 12th century and are located in the south-east of the country. Like the Wieliczka Salt Mines, they are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be visited, although they are a little smaller and less popular than the Kraków Salt Mines, which are particularly noteworthy for their artistic dimension.
The deepest visitable salt mine in Poland
The Wieliczka Salt Mine tour takes you more than 100 metres down through 3.5 kilometres of labyrinthine galleries, shafts and chambers with underground lakes. The maximum depth of the monument is 327 metres. Other interesting facts are:
- In total there are more than 2,000 chambers spread over 9 levels but only 1% of the total surface of the mines is visited.
- The tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mine begins after descending 64 metres down a steep, seemingly endless flight of wooden stairs, at the Danilowicza Shaft in particular.
- Upon arrival at the starting point, the guide will begin to tell you about the origins and history of this unique mine as the group makes their way down through labyrinthine galleries to a depth of 135 metres. Along the way you will see impressive chapels and chambers carved out of salt as well as spectacular sculptures, rock formations and underground lakes.
A guided tour will make your experience even better
While planning your trip to Kraków, you have probably seen a lot of amazing pictures of the interior of the Wieliczka Salt Mines. Who could imagine that under the surface of the earth there is such a place full of galleries, chambers, lakes, chapels, statues and legends?
You feel like grabbing a torch and a hat to go into the depths of the mine and explore it at your own leisure like Indiana Jones. However, given the characteristics of this place, and for conservation and safety reasons, you will always be accompanied by a professional guide during your tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mines, which is an essential requirement when booking a tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
- While this may sound like a bit of a spoilsport for those travellers who were hoping to be able to explore the salt mines on their own, in reality a guided tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mines has a positive side, as the guides know many interesting facts and stories about the mines that will leave you speechless. The experience will be even more fun if that's possible!
- It's also worth remembering that the Wieliczka Salt Mine tour takes place in what is often referred to as a "salt labyrinth", so walking through the depths of the earth with a guide who knows the way back and knows about safety and first aid is always reassuring if you start to feel claustrophobic in some of the more enclosed sections. Don't you think?
The Wieliczka Salt Mines are very close to Krakow and tickets are easy to obtain
This iconic monument is located just 14 kilometres from Krakow, making it a must-see during a trip to the Polish city. To get there, there are several transport options, which I will tell you about in the post How to get to the Wieliczka Salt Mines from Krakow.
- For tickets, you can buy them at the ticket booths for the Polish and English tours, but if you want to do the tour in a different language (Spanish, German, Italian, Russian or French) you'll have to buy them online and in advance, as tours in other languages are limited but in high demand.
- Another option is to book your place on an organised tour to the Wieliczka Salt Mines from Krakow to simplify the whole process of finding transport, buying tickets and arranging for a guide - these tours have everything taken care of so you don't have to worry about anything, just enjoying yourself!
You can combine visits to the Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz
As two of Poland's most popular attractions, there are options that combine a guided tour of both sites on the same day, so you can get the most out of your trip to Krakow if you're only spending a short time in the city.
In this case, the package usually costs around 100 euros and includes skip-the-line tickets to both attractions, the two guided tours as well as a return transfer between the city, the Salt Mines and Auschwitz, saving you both time and money! If you want to know more about this tour, don't miss the post Excursions to Auschwithz and Wieliczka Salt Mines from Krakow.
You can see them in one morning and continue your tour of Krakow afterwards
Another reason to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines is that the tour lasts about two hours (but can be extended to 3 hours if you include a visit to the underground exhibition at the Krakow Salt Mine Museum). Recommendations:
- You won't regret it: the tour is very exciting after all you don't always get the chance to enter a real active mine as peculiar and artistic as the Polish one. During the tour you will have a great time going through the various underground galleries and although the activity takes place in the bowels of the Earth, it does not take too long. On the contrary, you'll see amazing things and you'll want to stay a little longer!
- Considering the length of the visit, if you would like to add this experience to your holiday in Krakow my advice is to go early in the morning to the Wieliczka Salt Mines. This will give you the rest of the day to do other interesting things in Krakow.
- Check the opening hours of the monument in the post Wieliczka Salt Mines Opening Hours to plan your visit and remember to take a look at the article What to see and what to do in Krakow to discover other fantastic places in this magnificent city.
- Oh, and remember to take your camera battery fully charged to take the best pictures of the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
You will visit St. Kinga, which is considered to be the "Sistine Chapel of salt"
Just to have the opportunity to admire with your own eyes the extraordinary Chapel of St. Kinga is worth the trip from Krakow and to descend to a depth of more than 100 m. It is a fascinating place where you will feel a unique atmosphere as soon as you enter! Not for nothing is it considered to be the "Sistine Chapel of salt". Take a look at some facts:
- Inside the Wieliczka Salt Mines the miners created around 40 places of worship to pray during the day, but the Chapel of St. Kinga will exceed all your expectations. In my opinion it is the jewel of this beautiful monument.
- It took almost 70 years to complete its construction, as the work was very laborious, and it is striking how much effort was put into its decoration, down to the smallest detail.
- From the biblical reliefs that serve as altarpieces and the enormous chandeliers to the salt statues in honour of Saint Kinga, the Virgin of Lourdes and Pope John Paul II, among others.
This is a very family friendly tour
At first glance it may not seem like it, because it is not an open-air tour, but the Wieliczka Salt Mines is a great tour to do with the kids. In fact, kids of any age can take part, although if you go with a baby it is more practical to take a baby carrier rather than a pushchair, as once the tour starts there is nowhere to leave them and there are lots of steps along the way.
Admission is free for children up to 4 years old and children will have a great time walking through the underground galleries and discovering everything that these mines contain: from tools used by the miners in their daily work to legends and underground lakes. In the post Visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mines with children you will find more information on how to visit this monument with your family.
Almost 2 million people a year can't be wrong!
It is no coincidence that in 1978 the Wieliczka Salt Mines were chosen by UNESCO as one of the first World Heritage Sites in the world. Nor that they are one of the most visited tourist attractions in Poland (almost 2 million visitors a year, no less), which is a sign that it is a truly amazing monument that you must see on your tour of Krakow without fail.
When you get there you will see that everything you heard about them is true. I don't know anyone who has ever regretted escaping here and taking time out of their trip to Krakow - everyone loves it!