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Top sights in Krakow
With the world distracted by war, the Nazis brutally reshaped the demographics of Europe in the south of Poland. The harrowing truth wasn't revealed until far too late, but here are a few of the many things you'll learn on your tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Auschwitz-Birkenau – or Auschwitz II – was used as a death camp from 1942, primarily for Jews. Auschwitz I had already been holding Polish political prisoners for two years.
There was a third camp too. Monowitz – or Auschwitz III – was set up to provide slave labor for IG Farben. The Allies dissolved the chemical company the war.
90% were Jews, but thousands of Poles, Romani, Soviets, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals also died at Auschwitz. As did prisoners from other nationalities.
Not even most Germans knew what was happening at the camps. Arrivals were met with the slogan "Work sets you free." In hindsight it's hard to say how convincing that actually was.
Disguised as a farmer in Gottrupel, Rudolf Höss evaded capture for a year after the war. In spite of his expressed remorsed, he was hung outside the camp's crematorium in 1947.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum is open daily from 8am except for January 1st, December 25th, and Easter Sunday. It closes at 3pm from December to February, 4pm in March and November, 5pm in April and October, 6pm in May and September, and 7pm from June to August. The site can be accessed for free but it is advisable to take a tour. If you decide to do so, book your tickets in advance. The best ones fill up very quickly!
The easiest way is simply to book an all-in-one tour that leaves from the city. Alternatively, inexpensive buses frequently leave from the basement floor of Krakow's main bus station. You can also take a train to the nearby town of Oświęcim.
Krakow is a wonderful city with a great deal of attraction to please tourists. Though Auschwitz may be an essential part of your trip, it can be emotionally overwhelming. We recommend that you leave it till last.
- When should I visit?
8:00 AM - 3:00 PM December through February
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM March, November
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM April, October
8:00 AM - 6:00 PM May, September
8:00 AM - 7:00 PM June, July, August
- Is it expensive?
- Basic entrance is free, but it is highly recommended take a tour which will have a cost depending on which one you choose.
- Will I need a guide?
- It's not required but highly recommended. Best to book in advance online!
- How to get there
- There are direct buses from Krakow. Alternatively, take the train to Oświęcim and then hop on local bus to the site.
- Additional information
- Not recommended for children under 14.
What people are saying about Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
You may be able to visit Auschwitz cheaper, as entrance to both sites is actually free. Auschwitz ii, you just walk through the entrance, no ticket required. A ticket is required for Auschwitz i, you can get them from the official Auschwitz website for free, but you can only enter at certain times of the day. Using this tour took out all the hassle of sorting tickets and travel to and from Auschwitz. We watched an informative video on the bus, and got free 25pln (£5.50 ish) guide book included within the cost. We didn't mind not having a tour guide as the booklet you receive has more than enough information in it. Also, the guy on the bus sorts everything out for you, tells you best bits to visit on each site and tells you where to be and where to go for tickets. Highly recommend if you want a stress free day visiting Auschwitz.
As a young group of girls, we were staying in the centre of krakow and wanted to experience this important history. Booking through this website was very easy and there were many different tours to choose from to suit our needs. There were regular emails to remind us about the tour we had chosen and meeting points were updated when needed, these were very easy to find with them being central and pick up buses were clearly identifiable and on time. The bus journey was around 1h 10 mins from the old town and the tour lasted around 2 hours at auschwitz and 50 mins at birkenau (there was a short bus ride between). Our tour guide was engaging and very knowledgeable and made our trip memorable.
Arrived at the pickup point in good time. The tour guide was already there checking names. No sign of the bus as it was stuck in traffic. It finally arrived 30 minutes late. After that the trip ran very well. The organisation was good and the group guide who took us round Auschwitz was brilliant. The transport was adequate and we were told all the information needed to enter the site. Bearing in mind that the museum is free to enter, the tour was probably a bit pricey but we enjoyed it all the same. Would recommend the visit to everyone. Would also recommend shopping around for a better tour company who can stick to timetables.
This was the best way to visit Auschwitz - our guide was informative, respectful and the tour was the perfect length. It would have been difficult to properly understand the significance of a lot of areas of the museum without a guide and it was nice to be in a group for the sadder moments. My tour did change times so I would recommend leaving the whole day free just in case - but they gave good notice and everything ran on time. Auschwitz is a can't miss experience and as a solo traveller I would 100% recommend this tour as the best way to visit.
Our guide Filip was very passionate about Auschwitz and really set the mood for our visit to Auschwitz. He spoke with a lot of emotion and it left everyone on the tour feeling a great sense of sorrow for the people who had been sent there many years ago. We also visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and having visited Auschwitz gave us a better appreciation for what Anne Frank had gone through. The salt mine was a good experience. I would recommend this tour