Bochnia Salt Mine: Tour The Oldest Mine in Poland

Bochnia Salt Mine is the oldest mine in Poland and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Poland is a land of wonders, boasting a rich tapestry of historical treasures and natural marvels. Tucked away near the vibrant city of Krakow lies a hidden gem that has fascinated visitors since the 13th century – the Bochnia Salt Mine. Let’s delve into the depths of this remarkable destination, exploring its history, attractions, cultural significance, and why it’s a must-visit for any traveller. With us, you’ll have total confidence in picking the right tourist route and getting the most out of your experience.

Brief overview of Bochnia Salt Mine

The Bochnia Salt Mine, located in Lesser Poland, is one of the most ancient rock salt mines in the world, predating even the Asian escapades of Marco Polo. While it sits in the shadows of its much popular sister – the Wieliczka salt mine, it remains one of the biggest and oldest rock salt mines in the region. Its significance lies not only in its age but also in its almost 700 years of continuous operation, making it a testament to human ingenuity and resilience.

Importance and historical significance of salt mining in Bochnia

Salt has been dubbed “white gold” for its historical value and economic importance. In medieval times, salt was a precious commodity, vital for preserving food and as a form of currency. Polish salt mining industry has been a crucial factor in revitalising Poland’s feudal econonmy and it helped to fund many wondrous projects, such as Poland’s first university – the Jagiellonian University. Bochnia’s salt deposits played a crucial role in the region’s economy and development, shaping its history and culture.

History of Bochnia Royal Salt Mines

It is believed that salt from Bochnia had been extracted since the neolithic times by boiling off the natural salt water deposits found in the region. While salt was acquired from Bochnia since 3500 years ago, its historical records date back to 1136. The oldest documented mention of Bochnia salt production in the Bull of Gniezno, the papal document which established the first Polish independent Archbishopric in Gniezno.

Establishment of the salt mine

The official history of the Bochnia Salt Mine traces back to the year 1248, when Polish King Bolesław V the Chaste granted mining rights to the town of Bochnia. Extraction in the Bochnia salt mine began in 1251, after the two of the initial brine wells have been repurposed into rock salt mining tunnels. This marked the beginning of salt extraction in the area, laying the foundation for what would become one of Europe’s most renowned salt mines.

Evolution and development of the mine over the years

Over the centuries, the Bochnia Salt Mine underwent various changes in layout and mining techniques. As centuries came and went, technological advancements have been introduced, increasing output of the mine and safety of the miners. What started as rudimentary shafts dug by hand evolved into a sophisticated mining operation, with intricate networks of galleries stretching deep underground.

Visiting Bochnia Salt Mine: A Tour Guide

How to get to Bochnia Royal Salt Mine from Krakow

Bochnia Royal Salt Mine is located about 40 km from Cracow and can be easily accessed by car or public transportation. You can also use minibus shuttles or book your own private tour. If you’re struggling to pick the best way to take a trip to Bochnia, don’t fret! Here’s everything you need to know about how to reach Bochnia salt mine from Krakow.

Method of transportAdvantage (+)Disadvantage (-)
Public trainsCheap, very fast, and decently comfortable.You have to get to a train station first, losing you an extra bit of time. Spotty coverage, with as much as 50 minutes of waiting time between 2 trains.
Car rentalGreat comfort and total freedom of movement.Expensive. You have to drive yourself, which may be tiring.
Private minibusesVery cheap and fairly fast.Quality of service varies greatly. In many cases payment is cash only.
TaxisConvenient, private and fast.Very expensive.
Professional toursVery convenient, private (depending on chosen option), possibility of hotel pickup and a guided tour in the price.Expensive. Needs to be booked in advance.

Take a train from Krakow Train Station

Intercity, Polregio or KMŁ all offer connections from Krakow Main Station as well as many of the train station in the south-east park of the city. Check the timetables found all over the station to find out more detailed information.

The journey from Cracow Main Station to Bochnia city centre by train takes between 25-45 minutes. The one-way ticket will cost you between 8-11 zł.

Rent a car from the Balice airport or city center

Dozens of car rental companies are offering their services for a flat daily fee. It’s a fantastic option for those who would like that extra bit of freedom, or would like to explore multiple different tourist destinations around Krakow on their own schedule. Cheapest car rentals in Krakow start at around 40 zł per day, which doesn’t include any possible petrol costs (According to However, prices may vary significantly vary depending on the time of year (rentals are cheaper off-season), size and type of vehicle chosen, city parking included in cost, age of the driver, and more.

Check out the extensive offer of minibus shuttles

Dozens of small private-owned bus companies connect the city of Cracow with every major tourist destination, including the two mines of Bochnia and Wieliczka.

Catch a taxi

Taxis are a popular way of commuting to Bochnia for those who would like something a little more private, without compromising on speed. You can either call for a city taxi or book a car from a ride sharing app – Uber and Bolt are the most popular ones in Krakow.

A taxi from Central Krakow to Bochnia will take 45 minutes and cost between 110-180zł (According to  

Book a professional tour

If you don’t want to plan your tour of the Bochnia Salt mine, you can book a full tour of this underground tourist destination in a bundle with the transportation. Premium services that will drive you directly to the salt mine and the Saltworks Castle are available in Krakow. They also often offer bundle deals, so you could discover Cracow in a new light without spending more than a day. Our partner at KrakowDirect offers a range of private tours with an option to arrange a tailor made tour around any of the tourist destinations in Krakow and beyond. Arrange your perfect sightseeing session for a flat fee today!

Location and opening hours

The town of Bochnia’s just a short drive from Krakow, making it easily accessible for visitors. Bochnia salt mine expeditions embark on specific times, so it’s advisable to check the official website for up-to-date information.

Sutoris Mine Shaft is the oldest entrance to the Bochnia Salt Mine.
Sutoris Mineshaft – one of the entrances to the Bochnia Salt Mine. Source:

Ticket prices and guided tours

Entry to the Bochnia Salt Mine typically includes a guided tour of the underground chambers and access to museum exhibits. For English speaking tourists, the salt mine tour must be reserved in advance. A single ticket costs 95 PLN (80 PLN reduced) with an option to book an English tour guide service for 304 PLN.

Tips for visitors

  • Bring a jacket, even in the summer. In the deep underground, the temperature stays consistent at around 14-16°C. Sturdy hiking shoes would be recommended as well.
  • You have to have a tour guide. For safety reasons, you’re not allowed to traverse the Bochnia mines without a trained guide, so bear that in mind.
  • Certain items are considered dangerous. Due to a small risk of methane buildup in the galleries, lighters, flammable materials, or even certain flashlights may be forbidden underground.
  • There are restrictions regarding photography. In short, you must only take pictures of the tunnels and museum exhibits found inside them can be photographed or filmed. Unsolicited pictures of tourists of guides are prohibited. You may only use your images or photos in a commercial setting at the Museum’s discretion.

Tourist attractions at Bochnia Salt Mine

Once inside the mine, visitors can sightsee various underground chapels, galleries, and excavation sites. The Bochnia Salt Mine was established as a sister mine to the Wieliczka Salt Mine and together they form one of the most famous salt mining complexes in Europe

Underground chambers and salt deposits

One of the main draws of the Bochnia Salt Mine is its stunning underground chambers carved out of salt deposits. Visitors can explore a labyrinth of tunnels adorned with intricate salt sculptures and crystal formations, marvelling at the sheer beauty and craftsmanship of these underground wonders.

Wazyn Chamber

Ważyń Chamber is located around 250 m underground and complete with a small football field, a banquet hall and lodging. It’s this mine’s largest space, visited by thousands of tourists every year for the experience of living deep underground, as well as its health benefits.

St. Kinga Chapel

Just like its Wieliczka counterpart, the St. Kinga’s chapel in Bochnia is a small church hall carved in salt. It’s located directly above the Ważyn Chamber and it hosts a mass every year at Christmas Eve night.

Salt museum

For those interested in the history and science of salt mining, the Salt Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the industry’s evolution. Exhibits showcase ancient mining tools, geological formations, and interactive displays detailing the salt production process.

Underground ferry crossing

A unique experience awaits visitors at the Bochnia Mine – an underground ferry crossing across an underground lake. This surreal journey takes you through dimly lit passages, offering a glimpse into the challenges faced by miners navigating the labyrinthine depths of the mine.

Cultural events and activities at Bochnia Salt Mine

Concerts and performances

Throughout the year, the Bochnia Salt Mine plays host to a variety of cultural events, including concerts, theatrical performances, and art exhibitions. Imagine listening to classical music in the acoustically rich chambers of the mine or watching a captivating play amidst the salt-carved walls.

Workshops and demonstrations

For those eager to learn more about traditional crafts and skills, the mine organizes workshops and demonstrations led by skilled artisans. From salt sculpting to pottery making, these hands-on experiences offer a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship that has thrived in the region for centuries.

Special events and festivals

From religious celebrations to seasonal festivals, the Bochnia Salt Mine buzzes with activity throughout the year. Whether it’s Easter processions through the underground passages or Christmas markets in the cavernous chambers, there’s always something special happening beneath the surface.

Sustainability and conservation efforts at Bochnia Salt Mine

Environmental initiatives

In recent years, the Bochnia Salt Mine has implemented various environmental initiatives aimed at reducing its carbon footprint and preserving the surrounding ecosystem. From energy-efficient lighting to waste management practices, these efforts demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.

Preservation of historical sites 

The Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines are one of the oldest salt mines to remain intact to this day, which earned them a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. As custodians of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the management of the Bochnia Salt Mine is dedicated to preserving this historical monument for future generations. This includes ongoing conservation work to maintain the structural stability of the underground chambers and protect valuable artifacts.

Community engagement

The Bochnia Salt Mine actively engages with the local community, offering educational programs, cultural events, and employment opportunities. By fostering a sense of pride and ownership among residents, the mine ensures its continued relevance and significance in the region.

Importance of preserving and promoting cultural heritage sites like Bochnia Salt Mine

Cultural heritage sites like the Bochnia Salt Mine serve as windows into the past, connecting us to our shared history and identity. By preserving and promoting these sites, we not only safeguard our cultural legacy but also enrich the lives of future generations.


In conclusion, a visit to the Bochnia Salt Mine is a journey through time, offering a glimpse into the fascinating world of salt mining and the cultural heritage of Poland. Whether you’re drawn by the allure of underground wonders or the rich history of the region, this hidden treasure promises an unforgettable experience for all who venture beneath the surface.


Can I travel directly between Wieliczka and Bochnia?

Yes! The simplest way to move between the Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka and the current area of Bochnia Salt Mine Museum is using a minibus shuttle or taxi. Both locations have their transport hubs in close vicinity from the attractions, so it’s going to be easy to find both when you get there. It’s going to take approximately 35 mins.

What is the Bochnia Salt Mine?

The Bochnia Salt Mine is one of the oldest salt mines in Poland, dating back to the 13th century. It is located near the town of Bochnia, not far from Krakow.

How does Bochnia Salt Mine compare to Wieliczka Salt Mine?

While Wieliczka Salt Mine is more famous, the Bochnia Salt Mine is also a remarkable attraction with its own unique chambers and history. Both mines are part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.

What can visitors expect to see inside the mine?

Visitors to the Bochnia Salt Mine can explore excavated galleries, descend into the shafts, and admire underground chapels carved out of rock salt. The highlight is the Ważyń Chamber.

When was the Bochnia Salt Mine established?

The Bochnia Salt Mine was founded in 1248 and has a long history of salt mining. It is considered one of the oldest salt mines in the region.

How long does a typical mine tour last?

A mine tour in Bochnia Salt Mine usually takes 2 hours, during which visitors can learn about Polish salt mining history and explore the underground world. There is an option of purchasing an extended tour through the Krakow Saltworks Museum, which will prolong the tour to 3 hours.

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