The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the oldest and largest salt mines on the planet and one of Krakow's most famous tourist attractions. Since they were first visited in the 15th century, the so-called "subway salt cathedral of Poland" has never ceased to amaze visitors from all over the world.
Would you like to explore the Wieliczka Salt Mines at your own pace? Read on, I'll tell you how you can do it!
1. Buy tickets online
Considering that this is one of the most popular tourist attractions near Krakow, I think that buying tickets online to the Wieliczka Salt Mine is the best way to ensure access on the day you want and avoid the endless queues at the ticket office.
Also, by buying your tickets online you will make sure the activity is led by an English-speaking guide.
Since all visits to the Wieliczka Salt Mines must be done inside with a guide, in order not to complicate your search for transportation, tickets, languages, and so on I recommend you to simplify things and book a guided tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mines where everything is already organized so you don't have to worry about anything, just enjoy.
In the post Day Trips to the Salt Mines from Krakow you will find several interesting proposals that you should check if you want to buy tickets online. Remember that after the online booking you will have to contact the supplier to confirm the starting time of the tour in the language you have chosen.
2. Buy tickets at the monument's ticket office
If you are planning a trip to Krakow and would like to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines on your own, the first thing I recommend you do is check opening hours to plan your visit and then get tickets.
To visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines on your own you can get tickets at the ticket offices of the monument for the Polish and English tours, but if you want to do this tour in a different language, then you will have to purchase them online at their website and in advance of your travel date as tours in other languages are scarce but in high demand.
Once you have your tickets, you will be assigned to a group with which you will tour the mines with a guide, and although for conservation and safety reasons you will not be able to visit them completely on your own in explorer mode, the experience is also very exciting and you will have a great time during the tour.
3. What is the visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines like?
The Wieliczka Salt Mines is a mind-blowing place. Who could imagine that the bowels of the Earth harbored such a place?
Just looking at the pictures of its interior makes you want to go to explore the depths of the mine like Indiana Jones, but those of you who wish to go into the Wieliczka Salt Mines to explore them at your own pace should know that during the route you will always be accompanied by a professional guide of the monument itself for conservation and safety reasons.
This may sound like a bit of a spoilsport, but nothing could be further from the truth. The guides know many stories and curiosities about the mines that make the visit even more fun.
In addition, we must take into account that the tourist route runs 442 feet deep through 2 miles of labyrinthine galleries and chambers with subway lakes, so moving in the darkness in the depths of the earth with a guide who knows how to find the way back and has first aid and safety knowledge always gives more peace of mind.
In case you feel claustrophobic on a section of the route that is a bit more enclosed, they have a protocol to accompany you and help you. So don't worry, everything will be perfect and it will be an unforgettable experience!
4. What will you see at the Wieliczka Salt Mines?
Along the way, you will see breathtaking sites that will exceed all your expectations. The visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines begins at the Danilowicza Well and from there you will descend from the first level to the third level through different galleries that lead to chambers such as Copernicus (one of the first visitors to the mines), St. Barbara (patron saint of miners), Kazimierz (an important Polish king), Weimar (with a small illuminated lake) or the Chapel of the Cross, among many others.
Of all of them, the Chapel of St. Kinga is, in my opinion, the jewel of the mines of Wieliczka. Just to contemplate this chamber is worth the visit. It is a very special place more than 328 feet underground decorated with beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, statues, and reliefs about the life of Christ. It is a place where you can feel a unique atmosphere! It really catches your attention.
If you want to know more about the chambers of the Wieliczka Salt Mines and what you can see during the tour, don't miss the post What to see in the Salt Mines.
5. What is the best time to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines?
In my opinion, the best time to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines is early morning. That way you will have the rest of the day to make other plans in Krakow that you still have pending.
In this sense, I recommend reading the post What to see and do in Krakow where you will find some ideas to make the most of a getaway to this Polish city.
6. How long does it take to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines?
Whether you go on your own to the Wieliczka Salt Mines or on an organized tour, the sightseeing walk inside the monument takes about 2 hours and can be extended to 3 hours if you add a visit to the subway exhibition at the Krakow Salt Mine Museum.
Perhaps some people may find it a long visit but, to tell the truth, it is not an activity that becomes too heavy because the way is fascinating and you have a great time during the tour. After all, you don't always have the chance to enter a real mine as artistic as this one, which is still active and is also one of the oldest and largest in the world.
If you are organizing a trip to Krakow, in the article How long are the tours of the Salt Mines I explain in detail how much time you will need to see the monument so you can better plan the activities of the rest of the day.
7. How to get to the Wieliczka Salt Mines?
This will be a question of great interest to you if you plan to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines on your own.
The monument is located only 9 miles from Krakow so it won't take you long to get there. Depending on the means of transport you choose, it will take about 30 minutes at the most.
Being such a touristic place, the Wieliczka Salt Mines are very well connected to Krakow and there are multiple transportation options to get there on your own.
In the post How to get to Wieliczka Salt Mines from Krakow I tell you all the alternatives at your fingertips, although as I said before, if you do not want to complicate looking for transportation and tickets, calculating routes and transfers, looking at stops, parking and so on, my advice is to simplify things and book your place in an organized tour to the Salt Mines of Wieliczka where you are picked up at the hotel or at a meeting point in the city in a private vehicle to set course to the monument. It's that easy!
8. Other tips to go to the Wieliczka Salt Mines
If you are planning to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines on your own, in addition to opening hours, booking tickets, or the best way to get there there are other questions to know to enjoy the experience to the fullest.
In the post Tips for visiting the salt mines from Krakow you will find some very useful advice that will surely help you. Don't forget to check it out!