Short Guide

In Cracow's proximate vicinity, 14 km south-east from the city center near Route 4 (E22), lies a well known country wide and abroad, city of Wieliczka with population of 20 thousand. The city is famous for having the oldest operational salt mine in Europe which has been working for over 700 years.

This mine, a centuries old tourist attraction, cannot be compared to anything else in the world. The mine has been visited from its beginning by the famous and the mighty of this world. Kopernik, Goethe, Humboldt, Paderewski, Mendelejew, Baden Powell, Karol Wojtyla - who later became Pope John Paul II, ordinary people and crowned heads of state, all have visited this remarkable site.

Since 1978, the mine is on UNESCO's list of World Class Landmarks of Cultural and Natural Heritage - where it was listed among the top twelve attractions in the world.

The tourist route open to sightseers is only a small fraction of the entire mine. The mine includes 7.5 million square meters of post-excavation space on nine levels, each between 64 and 327 meters. The tourist route extends to level three only - to the depth of 135 meters. During the three hours tour, visitors travel underground approximately 3.5 km, along passages totaling more then 320 km. During this time they will visit 30 of the more than 2148 chambers.

The most popular attractions are the enormous excavation chambers, the tallest being 36 meters high, and two others reaching 30 meters each. The tour includes a visit to four chapels, the oldest more than 300 years old and youngest over 100 years old. They are richly decorated with salt and wooden sculptures. The oldest salt sculptures date from the end of the 17th century.

The largest of the chapels - Saint Kinga - is located 101 meters below the surface, it is over 50 meters long, 15 meters wide, 12 meters high, and has the volume of 10,000 square meters. It is entirely made out of salt, richly furnished with sculptures, bas-reliefs, and large chandeliers made from salt crystals.

The three underground salt lakes are a real attraction, the deepest reaching seven meters. Signs of ancient mine works, wooden structures, machines and equipment hundreds of years old, may all be noticed throughout the tour. All this is located within the underground scenery, remarkably rich in geological specimens which illustrate the complicated structure of this deposit. In many places, this beauty is most tangible.

An hour and a half into the tour, it is time to take a break in the "Warszawa" chamber which often serves as a sport, ball, theatre and even an opera hall!

The second part of the tour covers 10 chambers representing an underground exhibition of Cracow's Salt Mine Museum . The collection includes antique tools, machinery and equipment, lighting equipment, as well as an exposition of surface archaeological excavations and interesting geological specimens. The collection includes antique tools, machinery and equipment, lighting equipment, as well as an exposition of surface archaeological excavations and interesting geological specimens. The exhibition also includes painting portraying the work of miners in the old days, old models of buildings and mining structures, and a miniature model of Wieliczka 350 years ago as well as the cross section of the old mine. No description, no matter how detailed, will convey the charm of this mine and its underground attractions. An additional advantage of the mine is its underground microclimate which is especially beneficial for asthma sufferers. Sanatorium stays have even been organized here periodically.

For all those interested in the mine the visiting hours are:

  • from 1st April to 31 October - 07:30 a.m. - 07:30 p.m.
  • from 2nd November to 31 March - 08:00 a.m. - 05:00 p.m.
  • The mine is closed on: 1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st November, and 24th, 25th, and 31st December.

An English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Ukrainian or Italian speaking guide may be hired.

For more detailed information and guide reservations, please contact the Wieliczka Salt Mine, Department of Tourist Services, ul. Daniłowicza 10, phone + 48 12 278 73 02, +48 12 278 73 66 fax: +48 12 278 73 33.

In 1996 the rock salt exploitation in the Wieliczka Salt Mine was stopped. At present salt is only produced from brine (saline water) in Modern Saline Water Utilisation Plant. On the market are: iodic salt, "Salvita" salt, dietetic salt for people with high blood pressure, salt tablets, "Kinga" bath salt, "Regis" foot salt, and feed supplements for animals - "Wisole".