I’ve been lounging around in Cluj-Napoca for a couple of weeks and haven’t done any photographic excursions. The city as far as I can tell didn’t seem all that photogenic but overall very fun and great to stay in. I’ve gotten to know the people at my hostel very well and made a few friends, so it didn’t matter that I wasn’t out taking photos and exploring the area. However, one day, I got the itch to go out an explore so I went around asking people where I should go for a little one day adventure.
That’s how I’ve come to know about Salina Turda.
What is Salina Turda?
Salina Turda is a theme park but not just an ordinary one. It’s located deep down into the earth laid over an ancient salt mine. Outside, the theme park would be as dull and boring as any theme park of its size is. However, the salt mine dates back to the 17th century. The exploitation and mining operations in the area date all the way back to the Roman times. A theme park with a whole Ferris Wheel in a Subterranean cave? How cool is that?
Where Is Salina Turda?
Home to the myth of Dracula and Vampires and buried in the Transylvanian countryside on the outskirts of a small town called Turda. It’s just a two-hour bus ride from Cluj-Napoca, Romania’s second largest city. Deep inside the mine, one would feel eerily in the home of Vlad the Impaler and his evil minions. But one should not delve into unease because Salina Turda is a family friendly place.
When to Go to Salina Turda?
Every year, thousands of tourists visit the mine for its unique and futuristic theme park and breathe its air for halotherapy that’s some of the purest and cleanest on earth. Families and kids flock to the mine’s theme park, which features a subterranean lake and an island with glowing lights that looks like it was plucked out of a Star Wars movie. So the best time to go would be, any time of the year. Yes, it’s underground, so it’s protected from the outside elements and has its natural climate – subterranean climate.
History of Salina Turda
The area has been in use since the time of the Romans. The salt mine itself has been expanded and mined since the 17th century. Salina Turda continued to serve various purposes after the mining activities ceased in 1932. The mine served as a bomb shelter in World War II and further served as cheese storage center. Roughly three billion tons of salt have been excavated through its decades of operations, producing an amazing alien like a structured cavern that looks like something taken straight from an H. R. Giger sketchbook.
Things to Do in Salina Turda
Deep down around 400 feet underground lays a salt lake, responsible for most of the mines salt content and home to the huge alien-like amusement park. Visitors can tour the lake boat for a 10 RON/LEI – $2.50.
There’s a large chamber housing a Ferris wheel, a bowling alley, a mini-golf course, and pool tables. This cave is rumored to be the where the Batcave will be filmed for next Batman movie.
In 1992 the city’s officials decided to turn the old salt mine into a viable tourist destination that would feature a museum for adults and an amusement theme park for kids. The transformation was relatively easy because the mine has been operating with electricity since 1910.
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The theme park became an enormous success and had already been visited by more than 2.5 million people after its launch. Now ranked among one of the world’s most exceptional destinations, Salina Turda, is becoming more of a household name.
Visitors are transported aboard elevator shafts that had been used to bring excavated salt to the surface over 100 years ago. Visitors can also walk up and down its very narrow stairs made of wooden planks if they choose. There are four mines and a Crivac room which was used to lift salt rocks to the surface.
The Losif Room has a very unusual shape that causes echoes. A conical shaped chamber, Terezia Mine, houses the lighted UFO structures. Rudolf mine has the panoramic elevators where visitors can view the whole mine. The Gizela mine has a spa room.
Should You Check Out Salina Turda?
Salina Turda is worth a visit if you’re ever in the Cluj-Napoca area. It can get crowded in there during high season and you may want to visit in the shoulder seasons. It’s a place that’s getting more and more popular because the word got out that, it’s freakin’ cool! Around three hours is all you probably need inside the salt-mine and theme park. A day is all you need if you also want to explore the little town, Turda, surrounding the theme park. Turda, the city, is pretty suburban and may not be as exciting but it does offer you a glimpse of the ordinary lives of Romanians.
HOW TO VISIT THE SALINA TURDA?
- You can get to the mines by bus (8 RON each way) from Cluj-Napoca
- You can catch the bus on the corner of Strada Decebal and Strada Lasilor near the cinema or in front of the opera house
- There are two entrances to the park. One is at Salinelor Aleea Durgaului N0.7. Look for the star icon on the map below for details
- Entrance fee is 20 RON – $5
- The park closes at 5 pm
- It can get cold in the mines so bring layers of clothing
A DAY IN – BUDGET BREAKDOWN:
- Transportation to and from the mine – $4.06
- Entrance to the Park/Mine – $5
- Lunch at a cheap restaurant in Turda – $2.70
- Cooked own dinner back in Cluj – $1.50
- Cooked own breakfast – $0 (hostel provided free breakfast)
- Hostel in Cluj (Enjoy Hostel) – $14
- TOTAL – $27.46