Wieliczka Salt Mine (it's pronounced Veil-ich-ska - I had to work surprisingly hard for a couple of hours to get that right!) is about a 20 minute drive from Krakow and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site for more than 30 years.
But a little over 3 hours is all you need to get up close and personal condiment-wise.
|Old miners steps about 100m below the surface|
In between, we walked the rock salt corridors, gaping at each new cavern, wondering at the bravery of those that worked here and breathing in the salty air. Rubbing my fingers along the walls gave me a quite literal taste of the origins of the condiment that will eventually end up on the dinner table.
|Wood (rather than metal) is used everywhere to support the corridors and caverns providing a safe place or all comers|
|Copernicus preserved - in salt - for all eternity|
|This underground lake is overseen by the Treasure Keeper from his alcove. Smile at him and you will be lucky, so the saying goes. (Do you think it's a bit like going to a singles bar?)|
My recommendation would be to join a group tour (I was with Cracow Tours) which means avoiding all the hassle of getting yourself there and back and queue-ing up in between. My group didn't allow time for anything other than the mine tour but you can go on your own and join a group there if you prefer to allow a little more time for other exploration.
And last but not least, you'll be pleased to know that the return to the surface is via a fast mining lift, with 8 of your fellow men, women and children, which takes no more than a few minutes, feeling the cool salty air in your hair and on your face as you ascend back to the main entrance building.
And it's just as well. 380 steps upwards might have proved a few steps too far!
Other posts in the Krakow series:
It Starts With The Locals
The Dark Side
A Monstrous Vision
Eat, Sleep And Be Merry