This post contains affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through one of these links, we get a small commission on the sale. You will never pay extra for an affiliate product.
The Auschwitz – Birkenau Memorial and Museum is one of the main reasons a lot of people visit Poland. They use Krakow as a hub to make a trip to the concentration camp and museum. We did the trip and I can only say that it was a very heavy day that left us feeling a little lost and meaningless. We all know the historical facts, but going to the actual place of horror is quite different. I recommend going to Auschwitz, even if you’re on a tight budget. We didn’t reserve our visit, but since it can get busy during high season, it might be a good idea to get a reservation. Don’t feel like visiting on your own? You can always join a group to explore Europe without skipping Auschwitz. This Eastern Europe G Adventures tour includes extra time to visit the Memorial while seeing the beauty of Eastern Europe as well.
Connecting with Krakow
You can travel to the town of Oswiecim by guided tour, by bus or by train. We don’t recommend the guided tours since they’re expensive. But if you’re looking for a tour, you can buy there in every hotel, hostel or guesthouse in Krakow. Both other options are independent trips that are cheaper and more flexible. Krakow and Oswiecim are 66 kilometers apart and can be reached fairly quickly.
A train for Oswiecim leaves the Krakow station every other hour. The train ride takes forever but it only sets you back around 10 Zloty which is less than 2,5 Euro. When you arrive in the Oswiecim station, step outside and take a right turn. Follow the signs “Museum” for about 2 kilometers to get to the main entrance of Auschwitz. You can check the train timetable on the Polish Rail Website. The stations you need are Krakow Glowny and Oswiecim.
We decided to take a bus back to Krakow since the train took more than 2 hours to get us there. The bus costs 15 Zloty or 3,6 Euro and it takes you to the Krakow train station in about an hour. These buses leave from the bus terminal next to the Krakow train station and drop you at the main entrance of Auschwitz. You can check the bus timetable here.
Auschwitz I is the former Polish Army base that was converted into a place of horror by the German. This is the location where you will probably start your tour. Admission is free of charge. Between certain hours in high season, you’re obliged to hire a guide. If you’re on a budget, visit Auschwitz I after 15h when a guide is no longer required to visit the site. Minimum time needed for Auschwitz I is 2 to 3 hours, but you could easily spend more time. There is so much to see and learn, I could have spent all day in the musea. Check opening hours for Auschwitz
|Guide:||40 Zloty or 10 Euro|
|Guide required:||April – October between 10h – 15h|
Auschwitz II Birkenau
Birkenau is the actual concentration camp where the train filled with people used to arrive. The railroad runs deep into the camp and every possibility to escape was reduced to zero. Images of people arriving are spread around the camp and there are information boards everywhere. Some of the barracks have been reconstructed as they were back then. You can actually go inside and imagine the harsh reality. Most structures are gone and only the bottom of the walls still exist. The ones you can enter are more than enough. In Birkenau, can are really submerged into the living conditions of the victims and it is very overwhelming. Check opening hours for Birkenau