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 mistakes of the past, preventing the memory of the victims from being lost.
When we speak of Auschwitz we refer to not one but three different camps: an administrative center (Auschwitz I), an extermination camp (Auschwitz-Birkenau) and a labor camp (Auschwitz III). They are about an hour and a quarter from Krakow and there are different options to visit them. I have analyzed them all for you to make it easier to choose yours.
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 round-trip transportation from Krakow, at the best price I have found on the internet.
The three concentration camps of Auschwitz Birkenau are part of a very large complex, full of historical details worth stopping by. Visiting Auschwitz is something you will probably do only once in your life and having an expert guide for me is essential: they will let you know the most relevant details of this hard moment in history, but also, they will help you understand what life was like in the concentration camps, how the hard working days were developed there and above all, you will listen to everything with the utmost respect.
With this option, transportation to and from Krakow is also included, so that you do not have to worry about anything when organizing your day visiting Auschwitz and the guide will give you the tour in English, which is essential to understand all the details. Early risers can choose to take the tour at 6:30 am 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, having the lowest price and having the guide in English.
Recommended if... you want to visit Auschwitz with a specialized guide to get the most out of the experience.
Visit Auschwitz at your own pace with a printed guidebook
If you don't like guided tours, you can always tour the Auschwitz concentration camps on your own, following a printed guide or an audio guide. This option includes transportation from Krakow and entrance to the camp, but you will not have a specialized guide.
There are two ways to visit the Auschwitz camps: individually or with a guided tour. A self-guided tour of Auschwitz with transfer from Krakow allows you to go at your own pace without the need to follow a guided group. This option costs $ 22 and includes transfer to the camps and a printed guidebook to help you find your way around during your visit.
When you make your reservation, you will receive a confirmation email with the meeting point to board the bus that will take you to Auschwitz. Once you arrive at the camps, you will have plenty of time to visit them at your own pace (about three and a half hours) and then the driver will take you back to Krakow. Here's a tip! When choosing a date, if possible, avoid weekends and holidays to avoid crowds.
Why I like this option: this option allows you to forget about the organization of your visit to Auschwitz, since it includes transportation from Krakow and the entrance to the camp, but gives you the freedom to visit it at your own pace, visiting the parts you find most interesting. It is also a good option for the most sensitive visitors, because they will avoid listening to the most painful details narrated in the guided tours.
Recommended if... you don't like guided tours but want to visit the Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camps at your own pace, deciding where and how much to stop.
Two of the best one-day visits to Krakow at the best prices
Save by booking the two best tours of Krakow|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 Auschwitz concentration camps tour 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 at all times by an expert English-speaking guide and the price includes the services of the guide, entrance fees to both monuments and transfers to and from your hotel in Krakow and between the different points of interest. Food and drink are not included so you can carry a picnic in your backpack or buy some food in between the two tours.
The first stop will be Auschwitz where the guided tour will last about three hours. Then during the afternoon you will visit the famous salt mines of Wieliczka, which is ideal to relax a bit after the experience in the concentration camps.
Why I like this option: if you are planning a trip to Krakow, you will have read that the guided tour of Auschwitz and the visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines are the two most demanded experiences by travelers. With this combination you have the opportunity to do both visits in one day, saving time and money and freeing up the rest of your trip to explore the city at your leisure.
Recommended if... you are thinking of doing both tours and want to save money by hiring both guided tours.
In summary, we compare the three options
Visit Auschwitz at your own pace with a printed guidebook
The best option if you don't like guided tours but want to visit Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camps at your own pace, deciding where and how much to stop.
Save by booking the two best tours from Krakow
Perfect if you plan to do the two most in-demand tours of Krakow and want to save by booking both experiences together.
How much does it cost to visit Auschwitz: entrance fees and guided tours
If you are wondering how much it costs to visit Auschwitz, you should know that prices may vary depending on which option you choose: a standard ticket without guide and audio guide costs 10€ at the box office per adult, while if you join an organized tour with guide and transportation from Krakow in English you will pay 25€ at Hellotickets.
For me, this is the most convenient option, since for the little 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 center of Krakow, without worrying about waiting times and most importantly, accompanied by an expert guide. Here is an article with all the information about the entrance tickets to Auschwitz.
Buy the combined ticket or tour to Auschwitz and the salt mines
The excursions to the Salt Mines from Krakow are, together with the visit to Auschwitz, the most popular attractions in the country. If you are sure that you do not want to leave Krakow without visiting both, there is a very convenient option, which is to buy the excursion to Auschwitz and Salt Mines together.
With this option you will save money and time, since you will not have to queue at either of the two sites 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 mines.
How to get to Auschwitz
It is most practical to get to Auschwitz concentration camp on a guided tour from Krakow, so you don't have to worry about finding a method of transportation on your own. Excursions usually use a private bus or minivan to take you to and from Auschwitz-Birkenau from the center of Krakow.
But if you prefer, you can also go by train, by bus or even by car, if you have decided to rent a car during your trip. I leave you all the details about each option 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 estimate that you will need between half a day and a full day to organize the round 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. 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. Please estimate the total duration to be between 11 and 12 hours.
See my article on Auschwitz Tour Duration and Auschwitz tours to better organize your day.
What you will see in Auschwitz
During your visit to Auschwitz you will see its two main camps: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II. The visit begins with the first one, built in 1940 by the Nazi regime to house between 15,000 and 20,000 prisoners. Later Auschwitz II Birkenau was built, increasing the number of prisoners to 90000. In 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.
The first thing you will see upon arrival is a 15-minute documentary in the visitor center that will orient you contextually through the history associated with the site. Between the scenes, you will see the moments when, in 1945, the camp was liberated by the Soviet army.
Next you will pass through the iron gate of Auschwitz I on which you can read in German the macabre phrase "Work will set you free". From this point on, the tour continues through the various prisoner barracks, which have been converted into a museum. You will also see the firing wall, the watchtowers of Auschwitz Birkenau, the main building leading to the gas chambers, the chimneys or the barbed wire. If you want to know more details about what to expect from your visit, I leave you my article about 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 the backpack, what kind of shoes is necessary, where to eat, where to take the best pictures... In this case however I think that the first recommendation should be of an emotional nature. I leave you here a forward, but you can consult this article with 10 tips to visit Auschwitz from Krakow.
The most emotional part
There are many who question the visit to the Auschwitz camps because they consider it morbid. However, if done with due respect, it is a very valuable history lesson to preserve the memory and remembrance of the victims.
By this I want you to keep 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 tour of Auschwitz can be hard for the most sensitive and is not recommended for children.
The printed guidebook that you can buy at the entrance in different languages for less than 3 euros is essential to orient you during your visit. As for how to get there, if you do not have a private transfer hired, you can take a train from the main station in Krakow that takes about two and a half hours.
Frequently asked questions
How much time do I need to visit Auschwitz?
Normally the day with guided tour and transfer from Krakow usually lasts from half a day to a full day.
Is it possible to take pictures in Auschwitz?
Yes, in general there are no restrictions (except at some specific point) but it is always recommended to do so with respect for what this place represents.
Can I visit Auschwitz on my own?
Yes, you can buy only the entrance ticket and you can even hire only the transfer from Krakow city and then visit Auschwitz on your own.
Can I visit Auschwitz with children?
It is not the most advisable, since the visit focuses on a very hard historical period and the details can be very unpleasant for the little ones.