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“Unique experience”

Cracow Saltworks Museum - Salt Mine Location
Ranked #2 of 16 things to do in Wieliczka
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: The Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka was the historical seat of the mine's management board between the 13th century and 1945. Currently is available to tourists and is the official seat of the Cracow Saltworks of Wieliczka. You can see also: - Tower: (14th century) the only facility of this type preserved in Medieval urban fortifications - Shaft: (13th century)the oldest mining shaft in Poland. - Saltworks kitchen (15th century): the walls of the first "mass catering facility" -an astounding collection of of salt cellars (16-20 century), approx. 400 in all The Wieliczka Saltworks Castle was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Admission 4/3zl, family ticket 10 zl, Saturday free. Guided tours in English 35 zl per person; must be booked at least 14 days in advance.
Level Contributor
127 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
“Unique experience”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 12, 2014

I am not sure what comes to your mind when someone proposes you to visit a salt mine. I too had visualized some image in my mind before I arrived at the Salt Works Museum. It was about an hour's drive by road, by the pick up cab arranged by my hotel where I booked this tour. It was very convenient, I got picked up right outside my hotel and was dropped at the entrance of the salt mine museum.

From the outside, it looked like a very ordinary building - nothing mine like. As I entered the building, I came across a structured front desk resembling a small subway station. You could buy the tour tickets choosing your preferred language, time, etc. The museum offers only guided tours. I had pre-booked mine in English and waited at the hardwood benches going through the literature about the mine.

I could see tourists from several different nationalities at the entrance lobby and guessed that it must be a popular place to see.

At the said hour, the gates opened for the tour batch that I was part of. We were greeted by our polish tour guide who spoke excellent, clear and fluent English. Off we went into the entrance and down below under the ground into the mine. I lost count of the number of stairs that I must have climbed down and started wondering whether I would need to come back up the same way; to which out tour guide re-assured us that we would get lifts to come back up.

We went through several alleys, walls of which were all made of salt. I had imagined to see a lot of white, but the walls in there were all dark, almost black. The air smelled of salt, but it was not pungent or stinking at all - rather quite pleasant. Out tour guide informed that it the salty air was in fact considered good for health and had the power to cure some respiratory disorders too.

We got to see several exhibits and working models demonstrating how the mine was operated in those times when there was no electricity. I learnt that it was pretty darn hard work to mine the salt and wondered what made those men take all the pain, Our tour guide told us that unlike today, salt then was considered more precious that gold or silver; that its preservative use made it a life saver. Men, horses, wood and rope were extensively used to ferry the heavy salt blocks up the mine.

Deep under the ground, inside the mine they have also built a beautiful cathedral, with statues all carved out of salt, even the crystals in the overhead chandeliers are made from salt. The staircase is made of salt. It really seemed unreal. And I was informed that some very special people can also rent the cathedral for their marriage ceremonies - how is that, a marriage in a salt mine, hundred metres below the ground. Pretty cool.

Throughput the tour what amazed me was the robust re-inforcements and neat structures that held this building safe. Our tour guide showed us the long metal pipes that have been almost injected into the walls to keep it from dis-integrating. I felt really safe and as I said before, the experience was nowhere close to what I had imagined a mine to be. It is well lit, clean, wide passages, extremely well maintained.

In one of the exhibit areas, our tour guide demonstrated how men used to burn out the otherwise toxic gases that could kill the mine workers. A working (not real) exhibit demonstrated how dangerous it was. It was pretty insightful.

The mine even has an underground restaurant, shops where you can buy souvenirs, salt items, snacks, water, soft drinks etc.

My journey back up was pretty interesting too. The lifts that ferry people up are not like your regular hotel or apartment lifts. They are the industrial type, somewhat primitive looking - all clickety clanky reminding me of those old style wooden roller coasters. But I must mention that they are really well maintained - not for a moment did I feel unsafe.

I came out of the building back into the clear blue sky and sunshine, having had what I would like to call as a very unique experience.

Visited October 2013
1 Thank SnoopyDelhi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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285 reviews from our community

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English first
Barry, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
167 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
“Ok to waste some time...”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 1, 2014

Was expecting this to be out in the middle of know where but it is in the middle of a small village 15-20 minutes from Krakow centre.

Tour took about 2 hours. You wear head sets so the guide doesn't have to shout.

You start by descending 400 winding stairs into the mine. It's all very sturdy wooden staircases and you get dizzy!

We had a very good guide called George - think the butler in a vampire movie.
There's not much you can say about a mine full of salt so it was about the types of salt, when it began and finished, who owned it, etc. There are dummies/manikins portraying working and various chapels that were built inside.

You can get food and drink inside at the cafe and buy salt related gifts.

Not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't something you must do if you go to Krakow apart from saying you went there.

Visited March 2014
Thank mjhaley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Presteigne, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
27 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 17, 2014

My husband and I visited in February. We were determined to make our own way there using public transport rather than paying overpriced tour companies. It took us about 45 minutes to get there using the bus from the bus station in the Galleria. Once off the bus there's about a 15 minute walk through a fairly small non descript town. The museum entrance is fairly well organised as you are told to stand in groups of English, French, German etc on paying your entrance fee. Guides hand out an audio box which you hang around your neck and then a one eared ear piece so that you can hear your guide. You cannot go around the mine on your own, you have to join a guided tour.
When the tour starts you have to walk down 53 flights of pine wooden steps. After the first 40 flights you start to get dizzy as you are constantly turning left.
About 70% of the walls of the mine are covered in chopped down tree trunks painted white. There are lots of statues carved in salt but none of them meant anything to me. At one point there were dwarfs cut out of salt, god knows what that was about!!!! Also dragons and more dwarves. Totally done for tourists, which was a bit insulting. Also the guide said that the lakes inside the mine were put there especially for tourists...why? I would rather see the mine in its natural state. The only thing that stopped me from getting totally bored was the Cathedral. It was impressive and without touristy embellishments thank goodness.
Be warned when you think the tours over! You have to walk miles through the bland restaurant to reach the never ending queue for the lifts.
I wouldn't have bothered going if I really knew what it was like. Everyone has different opinions so you have to decide for yourself. I just found it boring and touristy which I hate. I like seeing things in their raw state. I like facts and figures and this was severely lacking.

Visited February 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Southport, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“well worth it”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 5, 2013

We visited in November and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However, after comparing notes with our travelling companions, who went on the same day but with a different tour, we realised that our tour had been so much enhanced by our tour guide, Marek. He had an excellent command of English as well as a great sense of humour -- informative and highly enjoyable! It made the trip a fantastic experience, well worth the visit.

Visited November 2013
Thank pauline d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grafton, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
127 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
“Beyond all the reviews”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 29, 2013

This is a must see. The carvings are unbelievable. This is not really handicap accessible from what I saw. Hundreds and hundreds of steps. Worth every one and the sore legs the next day.

Visited October 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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