Bucket List: Salina Turda Underground Amusement Park in Romania

Bucket List: Salina Turda Underground Amusement Park in Romania

Close your eyes and imagine a gaping volume of emptiness and darkness deep underground. Now imagine a string of neon lights descending in a geometric spiral down this vast space. Follow the lights until you reach the bottom where you’ll find a lake and what looks like a small city glowing with patterns of more neon lights. Except upon closer examination, it’s not a city, but a small amusement park sitting in a lake deep within an abandoned salt mine.

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Just 30 minutes outside of the city of Cluj-Napoca in Romania is a little town called Salina and home to the world’s most surreal amusement park inside a salt mine. It’s an attraction that is part art and part place of recreation. Years before visiting Romania and long before photographs of places like this started popping up on Instagram, I came across a photograph of Salina Turda with little description. I added it to my Bucket List and promptly forgot about it.

When I finally came to this part of the world to follow in the footsteps of Vlad the Impaler, I resolved to make it to the Salina Turda. With two new friends in tow, a blue-haired English girl who sounded very much like she was from Game of Thrones and a guy who looked so much like Roger Federer that I only called him Roger during the two weeks we hung out, we took a bus from Cluj-Napoca and followed bad directions across a field to the back entrance of the Salina Turda.

From the outside, the futuristic building and entrance way looked completely out of place in this rural village. We paid the fee, which in 2020 is, currently 40 lei or around $9 and began our journey into the mine.

History Of The Turda Salt Mine

Evidence of this salt mine being used dates back to 11th century Transylvania, but was possibly used even during Roman times. It’s one of the oldest salt mines in the world and between 1075 and 1843, the mine was explored and excavated for its salt contents until salt mining moved to other locations that were easier to extract from.

The mine, with its constant temperature between 11-13 degrees Celsius, ever present salt aerosol particles in the air, and a virtually zero concentration of allergens, is regarded as a place with strong medicinal properties.

After mining activities were abandoned after the 1840s, the space was used to store cheese for a while and as a bomb shelter, until it opened up for tourism at the end of the 20th century. In 1992, the salt mine opened up to visitors with an amusement park built right onto the lake at the bottom of the Terezia Mine.

Staring Down Into Wonder

When you descend into the mine, you first walk through a low tunnel system leading to the top of the Terezia Mine, a 120 meter deep conical opening underground. Looking down, the opening is light by a string of neon lights layered in a staggered spiral down to the lake bed. It’s stunningly gorgeous and allows you to really take in the expanse of the space.

From here, you take an elevator down 368 feet into the Rudolf Mine, where most of the amusement park attractions are located. Partway down, the view opens up to give you your first glimpse of the whole place. You can also choose to walk down the stairs if you want a bit of exercise. We did a mix of both.

At the first stop near the top of the 42 meter deep Rudolf Mine is a long walkway lit again by the same long neon lights along the whole path.

Continue down and you enter the main space where you’ll find a plethora of things to do from mini golf and table tennis to bowling and riding a 20 meter tall ferris wheel. There’s a 180 seat amphitheater for shows and concerts and even areas for badminton, football, and handball practice. It’s so surreal to find all this deep underground in such a gorgeous space.

The Rudolf Mine connects to the Terezia Mine that you initially glimpse from above where you can walk around the wooden platform around the neon light art structures and even rent a small boat to row around. We opted to do this and left the rowing mostly to Rosie, our Queen of the North.

I highly recommend a visit to this place if you’re anywhere near Cluj. If you aren’t exploring Romania, you could even take an 8 hour overnight bus from Budapest for a long day trip, that’s completely worth it. Take your time exploring the place and take lots of photographs. The lighting is perfect for that, and even a band photo if that’s what you’re into.

How To Get To Salina Turda

To get here, you can take the FANY minibus from Cluj to Turda that takes about 30 minutes. The bus stop is at the corner of Piata Mihai Viteazu and Podul Traian.

From Turda, you can take the 17 bus to the mine, or just follow Google Maps and get lost in a wet field like we did.

It’s fairly easy to do. You can also just take a taxi from Turda for a few dollars, but be sure to negotiate. Enjoy and put this thing on your Bucket List.

Updated on October 24, 2023

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