Wieliczka Salt Mine

Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 12:01 PM
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Wieliczka Salt Mine

We'll be visiting Krakow in late September and have limited time before moving on to Budapest. I definitely want to visit Auschwitz, and I'm considering a tour that would allow visits to both Auschwitz and Wieliczka in the same day. With that said, two years ago we toured the salt mines in Hallstatt, Austria. Is the Wieliczka experience very similar to that of Hallstatt? If so, I would be inclined to skip it and focus on Auschwitz.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 12:37 PM
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Wieliczka is very different - whole rooms with chandeliers, etc have been sculpted out of the salt - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Anyway I loved it.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 12:48 PM
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I don't know what the Hallstatt experience is like, but a Wielicza visit lasts about two and half hours.

Doing both Wieliczka and Auschwitz the same day means giving the same importance to a death camp where a million people were exterminated and a hole in the ground with a few cute exhibits.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 12:54 PM
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Wieliczka is just a short train ride from Krakow - if you will be in Krakow more than a day do it separately and yes dwell on Auschwitz and especially Birkenau where the death camp was with the original rail siding where detainees were separated into those fit for work and those set right to the gas chambers, remains still there.

I tend to agree with cdnyul and I also suggest going on your own - by bus or train and setting your own pace - not a place to be herded around in a group IME.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 03:11 PM
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I visited both Auschwitz and Wieliczka on the same day. It never would have occurred to me that I was somehow diminishing the importance of Auschwitz by doing so. I took as much time at Auschwitz as I felt I needed; I did not cut my time there just to see Wieliczka (which I decided to do only after I got back to Krakow). For me at least, there was only so much I could take of Auschwitz before I was saturated with it.

I did both on my own: I took an early mini-bus to Oświęcim (Polish name for Auschwitz) from the Krakow train station, then back mid to late afternoon, then on to Wieliczka by bus. A paid tour for both would certainly be more simple and save some time in between by not needing to stop in Krakow in between.

I will say: it was a VERY long day, and it wiped my feet out, because you do a ton of walking at Auschwitz, too. The Wieliczka salt mine underground artwork and salt statues are amazing and unique, but there is a lot of effort (and walking!) involved in seeing them; they are not all together. I loved the city of Krakow itself, and I would say definitely give yourself some time to enjoy it, at least for a few hours. Don't rush through Krakow just to see Wieliczka, if that's your choice.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 03:20 PM
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We visited Wieliczka a few years ago when friends asked us to join them. Originally we had planned to not go as we too had been to Hallstatt and figured it would be more of the same. All I can say is Wow, it was an amazing visit.

Tho we did not go the same day, we toured Auschwitz & Birkenau, I agree with Andrew and don't see how visiting both in the same day would diminish the importance of Auschwitz but that's my opinion only.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 04:26 PM
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When I was there a couple of years ago the ONLY way you could see Auschwitz was with a tour - there was no option of 'spending as much time as you like'. You could go by public transportation or you could take a bus tour from Krakow, but in both cases once you got there you had to go with an official guide. And while I normally despise tours this was one case where it was a good idea as they do a good job of explaining things.

I had originally signed up for a tour which did both Auschwitz and the Salt Mine on the same day, but ended up doing them on two separate days. But there certainly were plenty of options of tours doing them on the same day. The amount of time you spend AT each of them is going to be the same regardless (unless things have changed - I also think I read somewhere that the mandatory tour of Auschwitz was only during high season, perhaps other times you might be free to go through it on your own).

In any event, here's my trip report which describes the tours. http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ith-photos.cfm
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 04:52 PM
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Auschwitz opens at 07:30, if you arrive after 10:00 you must must join a guided group.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 04:56 PM
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When I visited Auschwitz in 2012 - and I think this is still true - you could enter the camp before 10AM or after 4PM (between April and October) without a guide and stay until closing if you wanted to. Outside of April-October the restriction is not in place. (Nor is it in place for Birkenau year round.)

I entered the camp before 10AM without a guide and explored entirely on my own (in September). Not to say you shouldn't take a guided tour if you want to. You can just show up at the camp on your own and join a tour group, but I guess you may have to wait for an opening on a tour at busy times. Obviously, taking a tour that leaves from Krakow would be easier for many.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 05:10 PM
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Thank you for the information. We rarely partake in guided tours. However, due to the knowledge to be gained in regards to Auschwitz and as a matter of logistics, we're leaning towards a private tour or tour with a small group. The tour would be on our last day in Krakow. I figure we will be emotionally and physically spent for the overnight train to Budapest.
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Old Apr 4th, 2017, 08:28 PM
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The salt mine can only be entered with a guided group - THEIR guide, not someone from Krakow. Do it on your own - by bus or by train.

I took the train, this is how it went: Paid a pittance (pennies) for a return ticket, took the train (a slow local that stops in a bunch of suburbs first), after maybe 15 or 20 minutes got off in Wieliczka, walked a few hundred yards to the mine, stood in the one-and-only line for a ticket, told the agent which language group I wanted to be with, and went to stand in line by the relevant flag (English might be UK or US, not sure, I took French).

Soon a guide comes and takes a group inside and down down down (no weak knees - it's about 500 stair steps to begin with; later you come back up by elevator).

That's it - no need for a "tour" from Krakow.
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Old Oct 9th, 2017, 10:11 AM
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Circling back around on this. We did both Auschwitz and the salt mine in one day. Our private driver picked us up at our hotel at 9:30 a.m. and dropped us off at the train station at 7:30 p.m. We joined guided tours at both Auschwitz and the salt mine with our driver having taken care of the details in advance. For us, this wasn't too much to do in one day. With that said, we didn't love the salt mine.
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Old Oct 9th, 2017, 10:44 AM
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My feet were DEAD after doing both in one day - but I had already been walking for days all over Gdansk, Torun, and Wroclaw, so they were a little sore to begin with. Otherwise, I would have been able to handle it.

It's not that I didn't enjoy the sale mine - it's that it seemed a lot of effort for what it was.
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