I visited Romania back in April and wanted to share one of the most awe-inspiring places I've ever had the opportunity to experience. Salina Turda is both a natural and a man-made wonder: an amusement park and spa deep inside the earth in the caverns of a salt mine. If this place isn't near the top of your travel to-do list, you might want to reconsider.
Being inside these underground chambers was absolutely breathtaking and yet at the same time quite spooky and quiet, as very few people were visiting. It reminded me of how it feels to walk into a dark and ancient cathedral where people are praying - like you should be as silent and reverent as possible and definitely not knock something over. In these caverns, the only thing you'd probably be knocking over is yourself, as there were places where peoples' shoes had worn the salt on the ground smooth til it had the consistency of ice.
This place is truly a photographer's and videographer's paradise. They let us bring our tripods in to photograph, which is usually so rare in parks and museums. The entire cavern is lit up by artfully placed hanging lights and spaceship shaped platforms and kiosks. Inside Salina Turda on the main floor are games and rides, including a bowling alley which really breaks that whole church vibe going on in all the other areas.
Below is the salt growing on the walls of the cavern. Yes, it tastes salty.
In the lowest cavern accessible to us was a large lake with an island created by several illuminated science fiction-y structures. It reminded me of a Bond villian's secret lair so we descended to ride the boats.
Salina Turda is in the town of Turda near Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania. It is usually open everyday from 9:00 - 18:00 and currently costs 30 ($7.75/€6,50) lei for adults and 15 lei for children and seniors. I almost never rent a car, but this was one of those exceptions to ensure nothing kept me from the caves. It was a lot easier to get to Salina Turda from Cluj with a rental than to take public transportation, but I've heard there's a bus. Whatever it takes to visit this place is definitely worth it because this will be an experience you'll keep with you forever.