Getting from Krakow to the salt mines of Wieliczka + what to do and see?

Written by Sam Van den Haute aka CheckOutSam

There's a lot to see in Krakow and its surroundings, but the Wieliczka salt mines are undoubtedly one of the highlights for every visitor. These world famous salt mines have always played a very important role for the entire country. They are located only half an hour away from the stunning city center.
Nowadays, the salt mines of Krakow have been opened to the public and it has become a spectacular tourist attraction. Let's descend from Krakow to the salt mines and take a look at the history, but also at the beautiful sights that you can visit underground.

Sam Van den Haute CheckoutSam

Hi, I'm Sam, the blogger behind CheckOutSam!

Sam Van den Haute has been a full-time world traveler for ten years and has therefore gained a lot of travel and lifestyle inspiration on all continents. Do you still have questions after reading this blog? Ask them in the comments section or send me a message at [email protected] and I'll be happy to help you wherever I can!

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krakow to salt mines

From Krakow it’s only a short bus ride away to the salt mines of Wieliczka!

Krakow to the salt mines of Wieliczka

Wieliczka is located about twelve miles or twenty kilometers from Krakow. It’s very easy getting from Krakow to the salt mines

Getting from Krakow to Wieliczka with a tour

Because it is such a big tourist attraction, many companies arrange fully organized Wieliczka tours. You’ll pay around £25 – $35 or €30 per person for transportation from Krakow to the salt mines and back, access to Wieliczka and a guide that will show you the way and give you information about everything that you want to know.
If you want to combine your visit to Wieliczka with another day trip (for example: Auschwitz), then you’ll pay around £60 – $77 – €68 for an organized day tour.

There are plenty tours and options available. Here are a few examples:


Getting from Krakow to the salt mines with public transport

Of course, it can also be done cheaper if you don’t mind taking the public transportation system. Near the Old Town of Krakow there are some buses (shuttle vans and buses) that drop you within walking distance of the most famous salt mines of Poland.
You can also take comfortable trains from Krakow Glowny (the main train station) to the train station of Wieliczka.

I myself took bus number 304 which departed from the Bagatella theater, near the old town. You need to get out at  the “Kopalnia Soli” stop. The journey takes a little longer than twenty minutes, depending on traffic.
For a retuurn ticket, I paid 7.6 Zloty .

I recommend to leave as early as possible. It’s quite common that you have to wait for an hour or more if you go after a certain time. Waiting an hour in line, and then also having to wait another thirty minutes to an hour to enter the salt caves (only a certain amount of people is to descend every time) isn’t exactly fun… So try to leave early in the morning or buy skip-the-line passes.

salt mines poland wieliczka

About three-hundred feet below the surface you can watch impressive statues and get to know more about the salt mines.

The famous salt mines of Krakow, Poland

There are a few options to plan your Wieliczka Salt Mine tour.
Most people will go for the classic Tourist Route. During this underground visit, you’ll visit the famous Chapel of St. Kinga, but also the underground Krakow Salt Museum. You explore the corridors of this underground labyrinth and learn something about the rich and important history and traditions.
If you would like it to be a tad more adventurous, the Miner’s Route is exactly what you are looking for. You’ll get to dress up as authentic miners and under the guidance of a foreman you’ll get to experience how these men used to work (and live!) here.
Another options, is the Mysteries of the Wieliczka Mine Route and this is for the real daredevils. This route is even more adventurous (it even gets a bit physical!) if compared to the previous tours and you spend about four hours in the deepest parts of the salt mines of Krakow.
If this seems a bit too heavy for you, you can also choose for the God Bless Pilgrims’ Route where you learn more about the sacred aspects of the mine.

krakow salt mine

The biggest adventurers among us can even sail through the salt mine with an underground boat.

Booking Wieliczka tickets online is cheaper

The admission ticket (including English speaking guide) cost me 89 Zloty + 5 Zloty to be allowed to take pictures. In pounds, dollars and euro’s that’s about £20.5 – $26.5 – €23.50. I was a bit shocked by the price, because for Poland this really is a lot of money! 
Strangely enough, buying a ticket for Wieliczka online is a lot cheaper (starting from £15 – $19 – €17). I therefore recommend booking your entrance tickets online and in advance; This way you don’t have to wait a single minute in line and you also get a discount.

Opening hours Wieliczka

You can visit the salt mines of Krakow every day of the week:

  • From 1 April to 31 October from 9 am to 6 pm
    From 2 November to 31 March from 9: 30h to 15h
    The salt mines of Krakow are closed on public holidays (1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 November, 24 and 25 December).

Taking pictures in the salt mines of Krakow

If you plan to take pictures with a DSLR camera, I recommend that also take your tripod. It’s not explicitly mentioned anywhere if it’s allowed or not, but I took mine along and no one ever asked anything about it.
There is virtually no light in the salt mines of Krakow so you need a very slow shutter speed to make good quality pictures. Even if you crank up the ISO values and/or let a lot of light in through changing the f-stop, it’ll still be difficult to snap pics without blurring them a bit.

A flash on your camera doesn’t give very good results either, because the light is spread out very unevenly on the slippery and wet surface of this underground wonderland.

wieliczka tickets online

During your tour you’ll see quite some nice structures in this labyrinth of underground corridors.

The descent…

After you’ve waited in line (or not, if you bought a skip-the-line ticket) you can finally descend!

Ten floors, twenty floors, fifty floors, … It takes more than eighty floors until you’ve finally fully descended into the salt mines of Wieliczka. At that moment you are about 360 feet below the surface and you find yourself in one of the largest salt mines in the world.
The complete mine stretches out over hundreds of miles, but only 1% of this can be visited.

The guide will lead you through the many corridors, while he or she will give you some more information about the salt mines of Krakow. Salt used to be a very expensive spice. Many hundreds of years ago it was even used as a currency. You might say that this salt mine was in fact more of a gold mine!

There were a lot of people and horses working here every day and the salt was mined until about a century ago. Because there were so many people working in these underground corridors, an underground society actually was formed and therefore you also see a lot of strange looking constructions that you would never expect to see here.

Statues made out of salt (and it actually looks as if they are made out of marble!) for example. But the most impressive buildings of these underground societies are without a doubt the many chapels and of course the impressive salt cathedral of Krakow.

underground salt cathedral wieliczka

The beautiful cathedral of Wieliczka!

The underground salt cathedral of Krakow

Wow! Wonderful! Amazing!”– Almost everyone -myself included- had been looking forward to this monument the most. From the balcony you get a breathtaking view of the salt cathedral of Wieliczka which is made entirely out of salt. To make it a bit more spectacular you get to listen to a bit of enticing music and an impressive light spectacle before you eventually descend into this very unique church.

The huge chandeliers hanging above this underground House of God are gorgeous, and even these are made from salt crystals! Unbelievable that you can make such stunning works of art from salt. It doesn’t even look like salt anymore, more something like granite or marble. But the guide assured us: If you would lick these walls, chandeliers or artworks you would know for sure that this all is salt. –Licking, by the way, is not allowed-.

Your guide will definitely also show you some of the artworks that are on the left and right hand side of the church. On the left I can see “The Last Supper”, a beautiful painting that was carved into the salty wall. Gorgeous and very detailed!

Of course all guides know that this is the ultimate highlight for every visitor and thus they make sure that you have more than enough time to ask questions or fill your memory cards with heaps of pictures.

wieliczka salt cathedral krakow last supper

The last supper carved into the walls of the cathedral of Wieliczka.

After a tour of nearly two hours you return to an authentic elevator which brings you back to the surface, about a three-hundred feet higher.
The temperature difference with the underground mines and the cold outside air is enormous and so I would recommend to take your gloves and jacket with you if you’re visiting during winter!
As I returned to bus number 304, I see that it was definitely worth coming early. Hordes of tourists line up in the freezing temperatures just to catch a glimpse of the amazing structures that can be found beneath.

A brief history of the Wieliczka salt mines

Since 1978, the salt mines of Krakow have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, which immediately proves its touristic and economic value to Poland. These salt caves in Krakow, however, were formed a long time before they were discovered and used by men. More than six million years ago!

Only between the tenth and twelfth century people started to settle in this underground environment. In the twelfth century, a Benedictine monastery was allowed to extract salt from the Wieliczka salt mine, but of course this was then only done on a very small scale.

It wasn’t until the thirteenth century that the first mines were constructed and with the centuries these would further expanded. At the end of the Middle Ages, 350 people worked in the salt mines of Poland and in total they produced 8,000 tons of salt every year!
In 1996, 30 years after the museum was opened, it was decided to completely stop the production of salt.

salt mines to krakow

Once there were even horses working underground! They had to pull all the heavy carts.

Seven fun facts about the Wieliczka salt mines

  1. The guest book for visitors was introduced already in 1774! A while ago, the Salt Mine of Krakow was visited by a number of American senators including Richard M. Burr.
  2. In 1838 you could also take underground salt baths which were said to have healing powers.
  3. In 2005, the amount of 1 million visitors from 140 different countries was exceeded. Today, almost 40 million visitors have already visited this underground world!
  4. You can regularly attend musical concerts in the salt mine!
  5. In addition to the world-famous underground cathedral, the crystal cave is also a famous and impressive construction. This area was only discovered at the end of the nineteenth century and is since then protected as an inanimate nature reserve. Unfortunately, you can’t visit this beautiful natural phenomenon.
  6. The Stanislaw Staszic Room is the largest excavation site that is accessible to tourists. It has a height of about 100 feet and holds a world record for being the place where the first underground balloon flight has taken place! Furthermore, they have also done bungee jumping at this location.
  7. The mine has nine levels and reaches an ultimate depth of 1073 feet or 327 meters. The Eiffel Tower would only barely fit in with about nine feet or three meters of spare room.
salt mines krakow poland

Feel free to lick the walls or the ceiling. They are indeed incredibly salty!

Krakow salt mines tours and tickets

Do you want to descend to the Wieliczka salt mines? Below are some tours that start from Krakow. Do you only want to buy an admission ticket? Then do so online (click here) and in advance to skip lines and get a better price.


Tour packages Poland

Does a visit from Krakow to the Salt Mines look like a dream to you? Well… First you must go and visit Poland! And there’s plenty to see in this magnificent country too. Perhaps you are interested in one of these tour packages to Poland? :

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  1. Meryl van der Merwe says:

    We are going to Krakow in a few months time so this post has been very useful. What time of the year were you there?

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