Despite going to the salt mine independently, visiting the mine MUST be under guided supervision. I left Krakow by train ($1 CAD) around 9:30am, and was in line for tickets at the salt mine by 9:55. Once you walk up to the main entry, to purchase tickets, stay to the right. There are a few signs directing people for foreign language tickets. I managed to get the last ticket ($32 CAD) to the 10:30 english tour (at approximately 10:27).
Be patient, as the tour guides can only take 40 people at a time and the bus groups (which came with one of the many over priced bus tours) feed in between the independent groups.
There are several flights of stairs (800+ steps) to descent (don't worry, there is a lift to go up), which take you to the first level of the mine. Despite leaving Krakow at 9:30am, I was at the bottom of the stairs by 10:55am.
The tour was quite interesting, and if you listen carefully to the guide, you won't miss a thing. Although our guide had a strong Polish accent, his english was exemplary. The tour lasted until approximately 3 hours so I would suggest bringing water. If you don't, there is a small store from which you can buy water and various other drinks or snacks.
Overall, there is no point in taking the tours from Krakow, because the train is cheap and quick.
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