Are the salt mines of Wieliczka in Krakow worth visiting?
The Mines of Wieliczka Sale, located about 15 km from the center of Krakow, can be reached by car, scheduled coaches and tours organized with transfer such as those of Getyourguide.
Types of mine visits:
Getyourguide offers two types of organized guide packages.
The first, as already mentioned, also consists of transport from the hotel to the mine while the second offers only the organized tour of the Mine with meeting nearby.
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From the official mine website, you can also buy the ticket for individual visit and mining route.
On the mining trail, you will be given the workers' clothes of the miners to recreate the traditions and life of the miners of the mine.
Activities in Salt and Spa Mines:
The salt mine, used until 1996 for extraction, is also a spa/medical center with Spa.
The microclimate inside the mine offers respiratory benefits for everyone, but especially for those suffering from allergies and/or respiratory diseases.
The resort, 135 meters underground, offers different types of treatments including healthy sleep, day stay or 21-day spa care and the Day for Health.
On the official website, there are price lists, general indications for health treatments and lung rehabilitation. Site⏩
Wieliczka Salt Mine Cosmetic Treatments:
Unfortunately, at the moment there is no section on the site for the sale of their cosmetics products, but you can find them inside the souvenir shops located in the mine and at the airport. Prices for the various products vary but are between 5 and 30 euros depending on the product.
The products present are:
Body and Face care spray with brine: Refreshes, stimulates biochemical skin processes and cares for your skin. It contains brine and hyaluronic acid.
Hypoallergenic liquid soap with brine: Exceptionally delicate, smoothing and skin caring. It contains brine and hyaluronic acid.
Body peeling with brine: A mixture of salt, sugar and Wieliczka brine. Excellent for smoothing your skin, delicately exfoliates dead skin cells leaving your skin smooth, clean and beautiful.
Regenerating cream with brine: An easy-to-use skin moisturising and nourishing cream. It contains brine, Shea butter, hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.
Special warming emulsion with brine: Stimulates microcirculation, leaves a pleasantly warming sensation. It contains brine, arnica extract and rosemary oil.
Special cooling emulsion with brine: Used for treating swellings, removes fatigue and relaxes. It contains brine, marigold and chestnut tree extract.
Purchased and personally used for more than a month for the face. I immediately found visual improvements on the skin, which is generally tending to redness and imperfections, as well as improving its compactness.
Stories, legends, and traditions of miners:
During your visit to the mine, you will be told different traditions and stories including:
- The mine has ancient origins, but the extraction in large production began after the arrival of the sovereign's wife, called Kunegunga. The daughter of the Hungarian King Bela IV, who brought salt to Poland that had no salt before (or rather it was not extracted, but imported according to the tour guide).
- The horses were born in the mine and lived there to die without seeing the sunlight. They had a dedicated section for them and were used to move shovels and wagons for transport in the mine and move elevators to bring salt out.
- All the miners attended mass before they started work. Those who did not participate were turned away from others, as they claimed it was bad.
- There were figures in charge of detonating the gas that formed inside the mine and that could blow up the entire quarry.
- Pope Giovanni Paolo II has visited the mine several times, and in the Mass room there is a statue of him made of salt.
- Inside the mine, there are several statues created by the miners that are not white. The salt, when extracted, is not completely clean, but contains sand and other minerals. So, all the statues are dark.
- The floors are also made of salt and in some corridors are worked like tiles.
- There are two brine lakes, not natural, but highly deadly. In fact, given the large percentage of salt in the brine, it would be deadly for anyone who ended up in it.
- Every Sunday you can go down to the mass room to attend the function for free. There is an elevator to get off directly.
- Underground there is also a restaurant and a ballroom. Online you can book the menu and choose the time of arrival during the visit. Several centers and presentations are organized in the ballroom.
- You all come in together and you go out together during the visit. (explanations below)
Tips for visiting salt mines:
As already mentioned in the post on my trip to Krakow, inside the mine the temperatures are constantly between 14° and 16° all year round.
So: in summer you will be cold and warm in winter.
It's not necessary to wear ankle boots or hiking shoes, but it is advisable to use comfortable sneakers.
You'll have to descend 800 steps up a narrow wooden staircase with some speed as you climb up the elevator.
Visit times are about 2/3 hours (if no one gets lost...) and as personal advice bring some water because the microclimate dries your throat a little.
I visited the mine on December 9, 2019, with the Getyourguide package. So I reached the mine on the bus and then went to the meeting point at the bus stop.
I had time to visit the adjacent park, before entering about 30 minutes late.
As mentioned above, you go down to the mine all together and you go out together.
So due to the distraction of a tour participant, who forgot the camera on a bus (drive with the pick-up in getyourguide hotel), we had to wait for the organizers on site to contact the driver to bring back the camera to the ill-cased.
Before you go down you will be given headphones and radio, to get the most out of the driving.
We walked through several corridors and halls, some decorated with statues, others with utensils used by miners.
Walking through the corridors we found ourselves on several occasions between groups of doors. In order not to create drafts that could cause damage, you must close the door before opening the next one.
The tunnels dug are supported by wood. Wood is the only material that tolerates the salinity and temperature conditions of the quarry. In some places, you can see wood that has petrified the salt walls.
There are food outlets, public services, the restaurant, and the ballroom.
During the tour, the guide will give you several breaks in the refreshment points before continuing.
Statistically, during the last break many people get lost (or shopping) and here it creates a further waste of time.
Yes, because the last stop is just before the exit for the elevator and as long as not everybody is there, it will not be possible to return to the surface.
On my flight home, I heard other people complaining about the problem, having to wait for everyone before they could get out. In my case, we had to wait 4 people for about 20 minutes.
Among the possible souvenirs present, there are also a salt bag and salt chocolate, as well as small items, jewelry, and salt lamps.
I have tasted different types of salt chocolate in Europe, but I have to say that here it is very salty.
Is it worth visiting the mines?
You will discover several stories (which I did not tell so as not to make you lose interest in the visit) and you will see the majesty of the work of the salt by the miners.
However, I recommend that you also take a look at the Spa part and the experience of sleeping one night in the mine. It's a great experience.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm going to come back in the future to take advantage of the Spa and stock up on their Facial Spray.
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