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 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

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

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

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

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

Overall rating
4.5 / 5
based on 32,784 reviews

Fantastic tour provided by Evelina at Royal Cracow

I can say it was a powerful and moving experience to see these sites firsthand. If you’re visiting Krakow, you must go. Evelina (Royal Cracow Tours) provided a superb tour of Auchswitz and Birkenau. She was extremely knowledgeable of both camps and provided a thorough description of each area visited. She was absolutely marvelous in fielding a myriad of difficult questions from our small group. I’m not sure if there’s to request her by name but if you have an option, pick her. You will glad you did. I opted to have hotel pickup and lunch included in my package and it was well worth it. The Mercedes van was brand new and comfortable. The lunch provided included two sandwiches, fresh fruit (apple and banana) as well a cookie and a bottle of water. The lunch was better than anything at the food stalls and I didn’t have to wait in line for it:). Both sites were very crowded and sometimes hard to maneuver through the sea of people there. Wear comfy shoes - lots of walking.

Efficiently and venue appropriately carried out by professional team.

Transport was exactly as detailed and on time throughout the day. Very comfortable bus journey, even on an exceptionally hot day. Guide and driver were very professional and did not chatter to each other when driver was driving. Driver exceedingly courteous to other road users! Handover to other Guide was excellent - Eve waited with us until other Guide arrived - at no point were we left wondering where to go or what to do which made us feel very safe,! Very helpful having all stages of the visit explained on bus before entering venue. Guide at the venue was excellent - right amount of information and detail delivered in venue appropriate manner. It was a pleasure being with this team. Highly recommended. Thank you!

Auschwitz is a hard, but must see site and the Salt Mines are amazing!

This is a great tour at both venues. It is a long day, but worth it and we scheduled to do both in a day from Krakow. Our driver's personality left a bit to be desired and didn't really seem to like what he was doing. Fortunately, he wasn't our tour guide at the venues. The guides we had were great at both places. There was a bit too much time in Wieliczka for lunch and waiting for our appointed tour at the mines for some reason we didn't quite understand, but wondered the small town and found some ice cream to pass the time.

Auschwitz-Birkenau & Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour Reviewed by

Very well organised, great value for money!

Obviously the subject matter of this tour is horrific and it is difficult to contextualise what these people suffered. None the less I strongly believe it must be experienced and these people never forgotten. To that end the tour we booked was fantastic. The driver and the tour guides were great and the whole experience was easy and convenient. The salt mines is an absolute must as well and genuinely stunned me, in a very different way to Auschwitz.

Knowledgeable, polite, great customer service

Christopher, our driver, was thoughtful and focused on getting us there safely and back. Even tho he had to wait on people a couple of times, he did it with grace and a smile. He took good care of us. Filip, our guide at the site, was a remarkable young man. Very knowledgeable and sincere and clearly moved by the death camps, he made it come alive for us. We saw it all and stayed on schedule. Highly recommend this trip.

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