Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow is one of the most popular places to visit in Poland yet I can’t explain why it took me almost 37 years of my life to get there (especially that I’m a frequent visitor to Krakow). But I finally had a chance to visit Wieliczka Salt Mine and all I can say is this place definitely is incredible and lives up to its hype.
If you are planning a trip to Krakow be sure to add Wieliczka Salt Mine to your Poland itinerary. This is such an easy half-day trip from Krakow and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
In today’s article, I will share with you all your need to know about visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland.
Table of contents
Where exactly is Wieliczka Salt Mine?
The town of Wieliczka, where the famous salt mine can be found, is located in the southern part of Poland, around 15 km from the center of Krakow. The proximity to this popular Polish destination makes Wieliczka w perfect day trip from Krakow.
Why is it worth visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine?
Wieliczka Salt Mine is among the oldest operating salt mines in the world – salt was excavated here continuously from the 13th century until 2007. There are nine levels, the lowest one at 327 meters below the ground, and the total length of underground corridors is around 250 km (however you will see only around 3 km of corridors during your visit).
In 1978 Wieliczka Salt Mine was included in the first UNESCO World Heritage List (later the salt mine in nearby Bochnia was added to this inscription).
Besides the historical aspect, Wieliczka Salt Mine is a truly beautiful place, with numerous chambers, chapels, and underground lakes.
How to get to Wieliczka Salt Mine
Getting to Wieliczka Salt Mine from Krakow (as that’s where most likely you will be coming from) is actually super easy. You can use public transport – both trains and buses stop near the salt mine entrance.
Frequent trains run between Krakow main train station and Wieliczka Rynek-Kopalnia station. The journey takes around 25 minutes, the ticket costs 4,50 PLN (around 1€). From Wieliczka Rynek-Kopalnia station it’s a short walk of around 5 minutes to get to the salt mine.
Alternatively, you can take bus number 274 or 304 to the bus stop “Wieliczka Kopalnia Soli” (it’s around the corner from the salt mine). You can check the schedule and stops here.
The starting point of the Wieliczka Salt Mine excursion is at Daniłowicz Shaft located at 10 Daniłowicza street – click here for the exact location.
There are also highly rated and affordable tours available if you don’t want to deal with public transport. You can even combine visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine with a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Here are some of the best Krakow to Wieliczka Salt Mine tours:
- From Krakow: Wieliczka Salt Mine Half-Day Trip with Pickup
- From Krakow: Wieliczka Salt Mine Half-Day Trip
- From Kraków: Auschwitz-Birkenau & Salt Mine in 1 Day
Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine
The salt mine is open between 9 am and 5 pm (the hours can be different in the off-season, check current opening time here).
You visit the place with the tour guide and the excursion should take around 2-3 hours. You will cover a distance of around 3,5 km on levels 1-3, which includes around 800 stairs (380 of them at the beginning of the tour).
The tours are available in Polish, English, German, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish – if you wish to join the tour in languages other than Polish and English you have to book the ticket online in advance.
During the tour, you will see numerous beautiful chambers and chapels with salt sculptures or carvings as well as old tools and past ways of salt excavation. You might also lick the salty walls if you want to make sure this really is salt you can see around.
The most spectacular place is St. Kinga’s Chapel – a large room where everything is made of salt: floor, chandeliers, and all the art you can see around. It is a working chapel hence you can attend a mass or a concert here – apparently it is an unforgettable experience since the acoustic is phenomenal there.
Once you are done with the tour you might also visit Cracow Saltworks Museum (it’s included in the ticket but the visit there isn’t obligatory).
Besides the standard tourist route, there is also a more extreme, mining route available. Unfortunately, during my visit to Wieliczka Salt Mine, it was temporarily closed. That’s too bad as I heard nothing but good things about it. You might want to consider taking this route as well when you visit Wieliczka.
Other attractions you might want to try when visiting Wieliczka include the Graduation Tower (with its healing powers) or the underground hotel where you can stay overnight.
You can find all the details at the website of the Salt Mine in Wieliczka.
Wieliczka Salt Mine tickets
You can buy tickets online in advance on this website or in the ticket office once you arrive at the salt mine. If you would like to go on a tour in languages other than Polish and English, the online ticket is your only option.
I bought my ticket online and then I was really disappointed that I still had to wait in line to exchange it for the regular paper ticket (and that line was a mess with people cutting in since many of the visitors didn’t know the online ticket is not enough).
Still, I think buying the ticket online is a good option as you can choose the time of the tour and you don’t need to wait too long in case there are no places on the tours leaving shortly after your arrival.
My experience visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine
Wieliczka Salt Mine is a popular place for a reason – it is really beautiful and interesting and I really wish I had visited it sooner. But while I really enjoyed the place the tour wasn’t perfect.
In my group of 15 people, the majority were kids and the tour guide adapted the story to them which wasn’t always interesting to adults (there could be different tours for children to solve this).
I also didn’t see a passion in the tour guide. He was knowledgeable and so on but you could clearly see it was his job and nothing more. When I visited the mine in Walbrzych in the previous year I had a much better experience mostly thanks to the guide and I kept comparing these two mines during my trip to Wieliczka.
I get it that Wieliczka is a highly popular place and the guides are probably bored with saying the same things and answering the same questions over and over again but still a bit more enthusiasm when guiding a group wouldn’t hurt, especially when the tickets to the salt mine aren’t very cheap.
And then there is this whole weird situation with online tickets that had to be exchanged for regular ones – such a waste of time.
But overall I believe this really is one of the biggest attractions in Poland that everyone should visit. If you are in Krakow don’t miss your chance and visit Wieliczka salt mine too, I’m sure you will be impressed with its grandness and beauty!
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