Unfortunately, a place like this needs no introduction. What decades ago was a torture camp is today a historical museum that seeks to explain to new generations the errors of the past, preventing the memory of the victims from being lost.
When we talk about Auschwitz we refer to not one but three different camps: an administrative centre (Auschwitz I), an extermination camp (Auschwitz-Birkenau) and a labour camp (Auschwitz III). They are about an hour and a quarter from Kraków and there are different excursions to visit them from Kraków.
All inclusive at the best price
This is the most complete option you will find if you want to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps accompanied by an expert guide. It also includes return transport from Krakow at the best price I have found on the internet.
Visiting Auschwitz is something you will probably do only once in your life and having an expert guide is essential: he or she will give you the most relevant details of this harsh moment in history, but also help you understand what life was like in the concentration camps, how the hard work took place there and, above all, you will listen to everything with the utmost respect.
With this option of excursion to Auschwitz from Krakow, transport to and from the camp is also included so that you don't have to worry about anything and the guide will give you the tour in English, which is essential to understand all the details. Early risers can choose to do the tour at 6.30am and then have more time during the day to explore Krakow. There is also the option of doing it at 9 am.
Why I like this option: of all the ways to visit Auschwitz, this is the most complete and the most comfortable, with the lowest price and with the guide in English.
Recommended if... you want to visit Auschwitz with a specialised guide to get the most out of the experience.
Two of Kraków's best day trips at the best prices
Save by booking Kraków's two best sightseeing tours|description=Perfecto si tienes pensado hacer las dos visitas más demandadas de Cracovia y quieres ahorrar al contratar ambas experiencias juntas.
If you want to make the most of your time, this is the best option as it combines the tour of the Auschwitz concentration camps with an excursion to the Wieliczka Salt Mines, the two most popular and relevant visits you can make during your trip to Krakow.
You will spend a full day on both excursions. You will be accompanied by an expert English-speaking guide at all times and the price includes the services of the guide, entrance fees to both monuments and return transfers. The first stop will be Auschwitz where the guided tour will last approximately three hours. Then, during the afternoon, you will visit the famous Wieliczka Salt Mines.
Why I like this option: These are the two most demanded experiences by travellers and with this combination you have the opportunity to do both visits in one day, saving time and money.
Recommended if... you are thinking of doing both excursions and you want to save money by booking both guided tours.
In summary, we compare the three options
All inclusive at the best price
The best price on the market if you want to visit Auschwitz with a specialised guide to get the most out of the experience.
Save when you book the two best tours from Krakow
Perfect if you plan to do the two most popular tours in Krakow and want to save money by booking both experiences together.
How much it costs to visit Auschwitz: entrance fees and guided tours
If you're wondering how much it costs to visit Auschwitz, you should know that prices can vary depending on which option you choose: a standard ticket without guide or audio guide costs €10 per adult at the ticket office, while if you join an organised tour with guide and transport from Krakow in English you will pay €25 at Hellotickets.
For me, this is the most convenient option, as for the small difference in price you can get to the gate of the concentration camp by private bus and after the visit you will be dropped off back in the centre of Krakow, without worrying about waiting times and most importantly, accompanied by an expert guide. Here is an article with all the information about tickets to Auschwitz.
Buy a combined ticket or tour to Auschwitz and the Salt Mines
The Salt Mine tours from Krakow are, along with the Auschwitz tour, the most popular attractions in the country. If you know that you don't want to leave Krakow without visiting both, there is a very convenient option, which is to buy the Auschwitz and Salt Mines tour together.
With this option you will save money and time, as you won't have to queue at either site and you will be accompanied at all times by a guide who will explain everything you see, both in the concentration camp and in the salt mines.
How to get to Auschwitz
It is most convenient to get to Auschwitz concentration camp on a guided tour from Krakow, so you don't have to worry about finding your own method of transport. The tours usually use a private bus or minivan to take you to and from Auschwitz-Birkenau from the centre of Krakow.
But if you prefer, you can also go by train, bus or even by car, if you have decided to rent a car during your trip. Full details on each option can be found here: how to get to Auschwitz from Krakow.
Auschwitz opening hours
The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is open every day of the week, every day of the year (except Christmas, New Year's Day and Easter Sunday).
Duration of tours and visits to Auschwitz
Depending on the option you choose (if you take a guided tour or if you go on your own) you will need more or less time, but you should expect to need between half a day and a full day to organise the return trip from Krakow and the tour inside the complex.
For example, the excursion to Auschwitz from Krakow offered by Hellotickets in English takes about 7 hours and you can choose to do it early in the morning or leave later, the latter option being at noon. 6 or 7 hours later you will be back at your hotel. About 6 or 7 hours later you will be back at your hotel.
If you opt for the combined visit to Auschtwitz and the Salt Mines, the excursion time is inevitably longer, but it will allow you to do both visits in one day. Expect the total duration to be between 11 and 12 hours.
See my article on Auschwitz tour duration and Auschwitz tours to help you organise your day.
What to see in Auschwitz
During your visit to Auschwitz you will see:
- Iron Gate of Auschwitz I: On this gate you can read in German the macabre phrase "Work will set you free".
- Auschwitz I: The visit begins at this concentration camp built in 1940 by the Nazi regime to house between 15,000 and 20,000 prisoners.
- Auschwitz II: Auschwitz II Birkenause was built later, raising the number of prisoners to 90,000. The latter is where the gas chambers were located, which were destroyed at the end of the war by Nazi officials in an attempt to hide their crimes.
- Auschwitz Birkenauwatchtowers.
- Documentary: 15 minutes long, it is shown in the visitor centre and will give you a contextual orientation to the history associated with the site.
- Firing Wall.
- Main building leading to the gas chambers.
- Barbed wire fences.
If you want to know more about what to expect on your visit, here is my article on what to see in Auschwitz.
Practical tips for your visit to Auschwitz
In any other excursion, the recommendations that can be given before leaving are usually more practical: what to take in your backpack, what kind of shoes you need, where to eat, where to take the best photos... In this case, however, I think the first recommendation should be of an emotional nature. I'll leave you here a step ahead, but you can also consult this article with 10 tips for visiting Auschwitz from Krakow.
The emotional part
Many people question a visit to the Auschwitz camps as morbid. However, if done with due respect, it is a valuable history lesson in preserving the memory and remembrance of the victims.
By this I want you to bear in mind that Auschwitz is not an amusement park or a place to take pictures; always try to conduct yourself with the utmost respect. Also, the Auschwitz tour may be difficult for the more sensitive and is not recommended for children.
The printed guidebook, which you can buy at the entrance in different languages for less than 3 euros, is essential for orientation during your visit. As for how to get there, if you don't have a private transfer, you can take a train from Krakow's main train station, which takes about two and a half hours.