The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp attracts millions of travellers every year who, during their visit to Poland, want to come here to learn more about this part of history. The complex consisted of several camps (mainly three), two of which are visited today.
It is located in the town of Oświęcim and is easiest to reach from Krakow, either by public transport if you want to buy tickets to Auschwitz on your own or on an excursion to Auschwitz from Krakow, where you will be taken there by private bus. See below for more details.
Get to Auschwitz on a tour from Krakow
The town of Oświęcim is 70 kilometres from Kraków, so a visit to Auschwitz is easier if you're staying in Kraków for a few days. The most convenient way to visit Auschwitz is on a guided tour that takes you from the city to the extermination camp and back to the city centre after the tour.
In addition to being accompanied at all times by an expert guide who will help you contextualise the history and details you will see in Auschwitz, the transfer will be much more comfortable, as it takes about an hour to get there by private bus. You won't have to worry about trains, transfers or timetables.
Get to Auschwitz by bus from Kraków
If you prefer to buy your own tickets and visit at your own pace, you can also get there by public bus, as there are several bus lines that run from the centre of Kraków.
For just over 5€ and in an hour you will have arrived at Oświęcim, where you can choose between stopping at the Museum or at the Concentration Camp directly (there are also buses that connect the two points, in case you decide to visit the museum first and then visit the extermination camp).
Frequency and timetables
The frequency of bus departures is quite acceptable, especially every morning, so you should have no problem finding a bus to take you to the camp. I recommend that you check the official Krakow public transport website to make sure which lines and timetables are most convenient for you.
The first bus leaves shortly after 6am and the service is non-stop all day until 18:45pm, when the last bus leaves for the return journey.
Of course, Google Maps will also help you choose the most convenient line and route to take from your accommodation.
How to get to Auschwitz by train
Although travelling by train is usually the most comfortable option, in this case you'll have to change trains from Krakow, which will extend your journey time to almost two hours.
Frequency is not bad, with two to three trains per hour every day, and the price is very affordable (like everything else in Poland): a ticket will cost you €3.5.
Note that when you arrive in Oświęcim, the train stop is not exactly next to the concentration camp, but two kilometres from the entrance. If it's a nice day, you can walk there, but if you prefer to save your strength for the visit, I recommend taking a taxi or shuttle bus.
Get to Auschwitz by car
If you've opted to rent a car to get the most out of a tour of Poland, you can get to Auschwitz by car. Personally, this is not the option I recommend the most, as in general, in Poland it is very easy, comfortable and cheap to get around by public transport (there are very good train and bus services).
If you still decide to drive there, you should know that the roads are in perfect condition and the journey takes little more than an hour. Parking is not difficult either, and the best way to get there is to follow this Google Maps itinerary.