Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
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Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau: Tours & Tickets

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5 historical facts about Auschwitz-Birkenau

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 is just one camp in a complex

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.

It wasn't all run by the state

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.

1.1 million were killed

90% were Jews, but thousands of Poles, Romani, Soviets, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals also died at Auschwitz. As did prisoners from other nationalities.

The world had no idea

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.

The camp commander went into hiding

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.

Our insider tips

What are the opening times?

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!

How to get there from Krakow?

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.

When to visit?

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.

Good to know

  • 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

Very good guides, especially the driver and the Auschwitz guide

Everything was on time. The driver and semi guide- Michael was very responsible, responsive and nice! The Auschwitz tour was pretty good and we got to enough details but the Auschwitz-Birkenau tour was too short in my opinion. The salt mines were so so, you can’t hear clearly and the guide wasn’t so clear (at least for me, English is NOT my first language), but this is how the mine works. It’s not the company’s fault. All in all it was really nice and worth it!

A Long pending Wish Fulfilled. Very Reflective Insightful experience

I am so glad I decided to take this tour instead of a cab or doing on my own! For a newcomer to the city/country, doing it on one's own can have several unforeseen hassles but the tour has already taken care of the smallest logistic details for you to the T. For instance, I didn't know that individuals can't even get tickets till after 1pm at Auschwitz - and we on the tour, just walked in with audio devices in the morning, with a very knowledgable and communicative guide. The tour is heavy and went on for about 11 hours in all - but we were never tired, short breaks, lovely outlets for meals, No lack of privacy despite being in a group. By afternoon, we were done and on our way to the Salt mines, which are a TOTAL discovery altogether! For a traveller with huge dependence of devices, this tour has an added benefit to beat all others: A Merc Bus with double USB ports on each seat!! My Goodness!! I cannot begin to express how useful that was! A safe place to keep your books/bag/jumpers!

Amazing service and eye opening experience.

The driver was great. Unfortunately I don’t know his name but right from the start I informed him that my boyfriend has IBS and asked if that was alright if he needed to stop could he accommodate. The driver couldn’t have been nicer and informed me that there were some gas stations on the way if we needed. The tour itself was very emotional and the tour guides were very informative.

Great experience, even with a small baby with us

Marek was an excellent Van driver and gave us all the tips for our best experience. We did it on our own pace because we were with our 9months baby and i was a little bit afraid because of that. But it went all well and doing it without a guide, in our pace was the best solution for us. I recommend to take baby troller and some babywearing once it is not possible to come in the Museum buildings with the troller.

A really insightful and important tour - would recommend

This was a really insightful and well organised tour. Our tour guide was very friendly, knowledgeable and sensitive to the subject matter. Would definitely recommend.

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