It’s been years since I decided that I want to get here, but because Turda was too close to me, I never made plans to go just to see the salt mine. For years I’ve been seeing it in other people’s photos and videos, it was time to see it with my own eyes. The former mine went through an expensive makeover: 5,8 million dollars were invested here, of which 63% were funds from the European Union and the rest were covered by local authorities. And you can tell: it’s a place that attracts tourists from all over the world.
There are actually three mines here: Rudolf, Terezia and Ghizela, I had no idea which was which. We just entered and walked where the arrows tooks us. We found ourselves in front of a staircase called Rich people’s staircase, from where we took the panoramic elevator towards a huge room, the main room of the salt mine. The elevator has an unusual V-shape and has a wide glass wall which allows you to see the entire mine from above, while descending. The main room looks great and whoever had the idea of creating stars and flowers from neon lights was very inspired; a classic light installation would have been too… ordinary. This way, the salt mine is spectacular.
There are minigolf courses, two minibowling alleys, an amphiteatre with 180 seats, a carousel (which, unfortunately, was not functional when we got there, it would have been an awesome ride), table tennis, pool tables and a playground.
The idea of installing bowling alleys is very bad, in my opinion. As soon as I got out of the elevator, I heard strong crackling noises, which were amplified by the echo in the mine. That is not something you want to experience, 100 meters underground: strange, loud noises. You really don’t want that.
Kids with respiratory problems come here with their parents. The salty air in the mine is good for the respiratory tract, but in order for the treatment to be effective, they have to breathe this air a few good hours a day. This is how the need for playgrounds or activity spots appeared, children get bored fast and you gotta keep them busy. I remember the playground in Praid Salt Mine, which was the only salt mine I had visited before Turda. Praid is located in Harghita County, close to Sovata – a tourist resort.
There is also an underground lake, as strange as that may sound. You can sail in a small boat, 112 meters underground – this is an adventure I chose not to experience, because although I like new experiences, my claustrophobia might kick in if I decide to „go on the water” so far from the surface. In Turda Salt Mine you don’t feel crowded, except for the narrow, seemingly neverending stairs that you can take instead of the elevator. You don’t really get the feeling of a closed space; the salt mine could be your local supermarket, with less lighting, because they both lack the windows.
Another mine has been transformed into a treatment area. We did not have access to it, you can enter after paying for a subscription and we were just visiting.
Getting to Turda Salt Mine
In order to raech the salt mine, you have to take a very bad road. Turda is home to big logistics centers (for Kaufland and Penny) and if you count the tourists that come to this salt mine, it should be enough to invest some money in repairing the road. We heard people speaking English, Hungarian, German, Russian when we visited. We got here pretty early, at 10 AM on a Monday. The parking in front of the salt mine was already full, but fortunately, we did not wait in line to buy tickets. When we left, though, there was a line so my advice is to get there as early as possible. The salt mine opens at 9 AM.
Parking fee is 5 lei/day for either a car or a motorcycle. I don’t know exactely where you pay for parking, since it was full and we had to choose another one, 100 meters away, where the tarriff is cheaper, only 2 lei/hour. We stayed less than two hours so we paid 4 lei instead of 5.
How much is the entrance fee at Turda Salt Mine?
There are enough employees and lines are moving pretty fast: you pay, you get your ticket, you go through the turnstiles and you have to take a long corridor towards the entry. The corridor is air conditioned, so you can get used to the temperature underground. You go down some stairs and you are there. The temperature is around 10-14° Celsius (50-54° Fahrenheit), I highly recommend you take a thick coat with you, long pants, whatever it takes to keep yourself warm. Tickets cost 30 lei for adults and 15 lei for children. They are not super cheap, but you don’t go there every day – for that, there is a subscription.
Adults: 30 lei / person; Children, students: 15 lei / person; Pensioners: 15 lei / person.
What can you do in the salt mine?
You can take lots of photos, first of all. Once you get tired of taking selfies and photographing the walls covered in salt that shines like ice, you can take the elevator up and down, you can climb the stairs (be careful, there is one staircase for going up and one for going down!) or play all the mini-sports available: miniature golf, bowling, ride the carousel (assuming it works), sail the tiny boat on the underground lake etc. The last two activities are charged extra: 5 lei for the carousel ride and 10 lei for boating. You can also buy things from the round souvenir kiosk. There is no bar or restaurant, you are not allowed to eat or drink anything (wouldn’t it be fun to bring an outside tomato and salt it by rubbing it against the walls?) so in case you get thirsty, you have to exit the premises.
I only bought a large sachet filled with salt (around a kilogram), and I want to believe that the salt in it is from that very mine and not imported from China or some other place! It cost me 10 lei. When I was a kid, my mom would place a warm sachet with salt on my throat or chest, when I had a sore throat or colds. I actually wanted to create a sachet just like that and as I was trying to figure out what type of salt to use, I found this one at the salt mine souvenir shop. So I bought it, and I felt smart for not spending money on magnets or other decorative items that I would not use in any way. I have a house full of silly things like magnets, I do not need another thing to store.
Outside, in the parking lot, the situation is different. There are dozens of wooden kiosks that sell food, drinks, souvenirs, even blocks of salt from the mine (3 lei a piece), anything you might want to eat, from soups to shawarma and ice cream or slushies, you can buy it there.