Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow
Wieliczka caters to about 1 000 000 tourists a year (thats a VERY large amount) - during the summer months they average about 6000 tourists a day... by my rough calculations that equates to about 75-100 people per tour. Way too many for my liking!
Unique Suggestions: Go in Winter - we were there in January, and our tour group consisted of 11 people... very pleasant!
Fun Alternatives: hmmm..... well, the other popular destination is Auschwitz. Not fun at all i'm afraid.
a truely amazing tour that you can do yourself.
2.5 zlty each way on the lux bus which leave from outside a corner shop at the corner of stradomska and sw. gertrudy.
50 zlty entrance fee
10 zlty photo pass
cheaper than doing an orgonised tour which will cost around 120 zlty each.
I've been to some fairly boring and tacky places, in my time, and this is certainly in the Top Ten! To make matters worse, I was so bored I kind of slumped over a lump of salt in the Mine and ruined a very expensive jacket! It er kind of disintergrated a few days later.....I wouldn't want to put this salt on my chips!
Fun Alternatives: Watching paint dry!
Wieliczka Salt Mines sold me on the fact it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hey, that should mean something right?
The Salt Mines was the most expensive fare that I have ever had to pay my entire trip - a whopping 40 zloty. (Plus extra if you want a camera pass )
Then, my tour was available only in Polish so I had to buy an English guide bk for 3 zloty. More money down the drain. @_@
A guided tour of 20-30 people takes you down 300m underground to huge caverns of rooms made entirely out of salt, e.g chapel, dining room, etc. Salt water pools and history lessons awaits. You get a 20 mins break in the middle at a waiting room with souvenir counters waiting to milk your money. There is no where to run.
There are many mini buses lined along the kerb outside the Krakow bus station. They would usually have the destination indicated on the front, just approach the driver and confirm. You can always pay him upfront.
I paid less than 10 zloty one way (damn....my memory escapes me for the exact amt....)
The mini bus will drop you off right outside the salt mines entrance/exit.
This bit is tricky. There is no "terminal or bus stop" with any signs that indicate buses going back to Krakow. Asking around the souvenir stands, people told me to wait at where I was dropped off and a mini-bus headed to the Wieliczka Bus Termina in town will come by shortly. But they seem unsure, but on good faith I waited around for 30 mins and one did come by eventually. It went to the bus terminal in town, picked up a few more passengers and then, fortunately, was on its way back to Krakow.
Unique Suggestions: Take it with a pinch of salt.
A sense of humor, natural curiosity and lotsa patience. You are stuck hundreds of meters underground for 2 hours or more, you are herded along with others in your group, and there really isn't any other distraction. No point regretting your decision to be there. Enjoy it for the salty lessons imparted by the guide, and may as well buy some salt souvenirs.
Fun Alternatives: Should had gone to Czestochowa to see the Black Madonna instead.
You could choose to do this as Czestochowa is an easy day trip from Krakow.
It's one of the major attractions in the Krakow area, but I didn't think it was all that worth it afterall. Yes, it's cool to go waaaay down in the mines and walk along corridors and up and down stairs and see where they've mined salt for many centuries, and then to see these rooms where everything down to the chandelier is made completely of salt...but I would still give it thumbs down overall...which is a risky thing to say here, then again, I'm that rebel who didn't think too much of Sagrada Familia in BCN either............:-( Such blasphemy! ;-P
Unique Suggestions: What else, take pictures!
This was kind of interesting but was also a tourist trap because you are kept from leaving the mines until the end of the 2-hour tour. They make you walk down like 30 stories to these old salt mines and tunnels for a guided 2 hour tour! It was very long and boring. Then they let you take a break for 20 minutes in this area with some crappy souvenir stands and some vending machines. And of course everyone is starving and thirsty because they've been walking in these caves and up and down stairs for 2 hours.
Unique Suggestions: Well an English tour would have helped me since I don't speak Polish. I would also ask if it was possible to take some kind of half hour tour (there is an elevator).
Oh ... and buy some salt ... it's good
But don't lick the walls or statues ... they seemed to have been rounded by 1000's of people licking the salt.
Fun Alternatives: Auschwitz was much further by bus but a trip I'll never forget.
Wieliczka. Dear God. I don't know how many of you are familiar with Rock City in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (If you're not, feel free to check out my brilliant pages on the subject.) At any rate, Rock City is completely infested with gnomes. It's a beautiful naturally-formed cavern filled with goofy little ceramic gnomes.
Well, Wieliczka is the Polish version of Rock City. It's the world's oldest operating salt mine, which is interesting in and of itself, and holds several chapels mined directly out of salt so that the miners could pray without having to leave the mine. That's all very interesting
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that Wieliczka is filled to the brim with Salty dwarves. And it's tacky as sin. And filled with tourists. And generally unfathomably goofy. I'd give it a skip, if I were you. Go to Rock City instead.