The Salt Mine of Wieliczka comprises of 300 km of underground tunnels, 2 km of which are open to visitors. It is Poland's oldest industrial plant still operating today, after 700 years, and is on UNESCO's World Heritage list.
In the middle ages, the salt from Wieliczka made up one third of the total income of the Crown. Three of the upper levels of the mine are open to tourists, located at a depth of 64-135 metres below ground. The 3-hour tour takes you through a labyrinth of tunnels, pits and chambers, some of which have been made into chapels adorned with figures, alterpieces, statues and monuments, all carved from rock salt. There are even underground lakes. The most impressive sight along the way is the St. Kinga Chapel, an underground 50m long temple where everything, including chandeliers, stairs, banisters and alterpieces, is made of salt. Masses, concerts and even weddings are held in this amazing underground church which took over 30 years to complete, from 1895-1927. It is said that Tolkien himself visited the mines, which later inspired some of the scenes in The Lord of the Rings.
Wieliczka is located just outside the administrative district of Krakow (about 15 km away) and is well connected by trains, buses and Lux minibuses (tickets are bought from the drivers) leaving regularly from the main train station. Visits to the salt mines are available by guided tour and cost around 90 PLN. From June onwards, there are regular tours in English, however, outside of the tourist season, you are advised to book an English-speaking guide in advance. Alternatively, there are English-language guidebooks available from the ticket office.
02.11. - 31.03.: 8.00 - 17.00,
01.04. - 31.10.: 7.30 - 19.30