Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a UNESCO World Heritage site located around 14km southeast of Kraków and is one of Poland’s most popular attractions, welcoming tourists since 1722.

Wieliczka Salt Mine is a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels, shafts and chambers, underground saline lakes, chapels with altarpieces, majestic timber constructions and unique statues sculpted in rock salt. The size of the mine is staggering, it reaches a depth of 327m and extends via horizontal passages and chambers for over 287 km distributed over nine levels. Only a small part of the mine is open to the public.

The highlight of the mine is a vast chamber housing the ornamented Chapel of St Kinga. Everything that you will see within the chamber is made from salt including altarpieces and chandeliers. It took over 30 years for three sculptors to complete this underground temple, and about 20,000 tonnes of rock salt had to be removed. The rock salt in the mine resembles unpolished granite and its natural colour is grey, not white as many people might expect.

The older sculptures have been supplemented with new carvings made by contemporary artists.

Historically, Wieliczka Salt Mine was a working mine; however due to falling salt prices and flooding, commercial salt mining was discontinued. The mine has produced salt since the 13th century and was one of the world’s oldest operating salt mines.

Other highlights are the salt lake in the Erazm Barącz Chamber, whose water is denser than the Dead Sea, and the awe-inspiring 36m-high Stanisław Staszic Chamber.

If you’re worried about the air quality down there, great news: the mine’s special microclimate actually has a beneficial effect on asthma sufferers and those with allergies!

One of the best ways to see Wieliczka Salt Mine is to take a guided tour. This is the tour which we recommend – Wieliczka Salt Mine: Round Trip from Krakow + Guided Tour.

Besides the salt mine, the picturesque town of Wieliczka has a number of other worthwhile attractions such as the Kraków Saltworks Castle, which is home to the Saltworks Museum, the beautiful classicist Church of St. Clement, the 18th century Przychocki Palace, the Sztygarówka (Foreman’s House), St. Sebastian’s church, and the Franciscan Monastery.