The Wieliczka Salt Mine is Poland’s oldest business venture and is featured on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. The salt found in the mine was formed over thousands of years ago. Visitors to the mine can choose from several different tours depending on the amount of time they want to spend at the Wieliczka Salt Mine and what they would like to do and see while there.
Tourist Route – This is a guided tour of the mine and the chapel dedicated to Princess Kinga. There are 20 chambers to visit during the tour, which takes about three hours if you include time to visit the Krakow Saltworks Museum. Because it can get quite cold underground, you should bring a warm jacket with you. At the end of the tour an elevator will take you back up to the surface; however, during the tour there will be about 800 steps to climb or descend.
Miners’ Route – This guided tour allows visitors to feel as if they are actual workers in the mine and gives them a real sense of how the mine actually worked. You will wear hard hats and overalls because the tour guide will assign every person a mining profession when they arrive in the oldest mine shaft, the Regis. This tour is an interactive tour and is designed for visitors over ten years of age. It takes about three hours to complete the entire tour, which does not connect with the Tourist Route or any of the chambers on that tour. Waterproof footwear is recommended for this tour.
Pilgrim Route – This tour is guided by a priest that will celebrate Mass at the end of the tour. The entire tour takes about two and one-half hours and includes the magnificent Chapel of St. Kinga where you will see beautiful altars, a carved pulpit and a salt statue of John Paul II. Along the way, you will view chambers and galleries filled with religious items. The route has been blessed by His Eminence Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. The mine is accessed by stairs but an elevator will bring you back to the surface at the end of the tour. You are then invited to visit the Krakow Saltworks Museum and see “The Sacred in the Salt Heritage” exhibit.
A visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mine is something you will remember for a long time. It is an attraction you will not want to miss when visiting Poland.