The first time we heard about this strange underground attraction was last year in Brasov. A rainy day had ruined our plans and the hotel staff suggested it as an alternative option, unfortunately on that occasion it was just a little too far out of range.
Since then, Salina Turda has been mentioned in passing by a number of people, each time sounding more and more intriguing and ever so slightly more unbelievable.
If this is the first you’ve heard of this old salt mine turned underground amusement park, then you’re probably experiencing the same sceptical thoughts we had prior to seeing it for ourselves.
Luckily on a recent trip to Cluj-Napoca we got the chance to visit the site for ourselves and see what it’s all about.
Whats Salina Turda really like?
Entering through the back entrance to the salt mine, we immediately noticed the difference in temperature. The baking heat of a Romanian summer was lost to the chilly, salty air of the mine in the space of just a few meters and a single doorway.
First tip: bring extra clothes.
The tunnel from the back entrance of the salt mine
A long walkway leads to the main opening of the mine but not before passing the Iosif Mine (Echoes Room) and Crivac Room, both of which are worth a quick visit on route to the main attraction.
You’ll probably know when you’ve reached the end of the tunnel by the crowds that form while queuing (pushing?) for the lift. And while this lift is meant to offer fantastic views of the mine below its probably not worth the wait if you can manage the stairs.
If you do opt for the stairs, head to the opposite side of the mine via the wooden walkway for even better views of below, just be prepared for a little scare. Kirsty is not a fan of heights and found the walkway a little worrying, she felt even worse after seeing it (of the lack of it) from below.
The raised walkways and stairs/lift at the far end
You don’t even miss out on the views while taking the stairs. Every level you descend allows you to see a little more of the strange goings on below. The ferris wheel obviously immediately grabs your attention while the bowling, mini golf and table tennis areas take a little bit more seeing to believe.
Don’t jump on the ferris wheel just yet, your first order of business should be going down another level to the Terezia mine. Here you’ll find and underground lake with a central island formed from salt deposits over the years. On this island, reached by a large wooden bridge, are a number of man made structures often mentioned as looking like UFO’s (or hedgehogs according to Kirsty).
Here you’ll find another opportunity to queue but this time it’s definitely a queue you should be joining.
Looking down on the Terezia Mine and the queue for boat hire
It costs ten lei (2 pounds) to rent a rowing boat (max 3 people) for 20 minutes. The waiting time is more than worth the chance to float around and stare in wonder at the mesmerising patterns on wet, salty walls. Naturally this sort of attraction is very popular, especially during weekends and holidays, but circling the lake gives you a chance to enjoy the views without the hussle and bussle of the crowds on foot.
The reverse of the last picture – Looking up from the boat
Back up on the main deck, the ferris wheel is also very reasonably priced at 5 lei (1 pound) per person. While it doesn’t offer views of anything you haven’t already seen, it’s another chance to have a little sit down and take in what is a stunning place the mine is (and wonder who’s idea it was to but a bloody ferris wheel in it).
The ferris wheel on the main floor below the raised walkways
While we didn’t feel the need to play table tennis, mini golf or go bowling while in a salt mine, it’s certainly not a bad idea to keep the kids entertained while the rest of us enjoy the surroundings.
Salina Turda is just as mad as it sounds but in some strange way it works and doesn’t disappoint. We expected a small mine, stuffed full of old attractions that had been sent there to die but, instead we found a place that is obviously considered a huge asset and well looked after.
You only really need a couple of hours (if the games don’t appeal) but that two hours is more than worth the journey and 20 lei (4 pounds) entrance fee.
We took a minibus labeled for Turda from Mihai Viteazu Square in Cluj , which at the time of writing departed every 30 minutes and cost 7 lei per person. Our driver was able to stop along the main road on the outskirts of Turda where the rear entrance to Salina Turda was signposted (700m).
For the return journey we simply returned to the drop off point and flagged down the next minibus that passed.