The Auschwitz museum is probably the most impressive reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust in World War II. Within driving distance of Krakow more than a million people, mostly Jews, were ruthlessly killed. Till this day, Auschwitz symbolizes the crimes of the Nazi regime. For many people from around the world, the Auschwitz museum is a major reason to visit Krakow.
Several camps in Auschwitz museum
The Auschwitz museum is located in the Polish town of Oswiecim, which during the occupation went by the German. Auschwitz is a collective term for several concentration and extermination camps that the Nazis built here from 1940 onwards. Auschwitz I was appointed first as a concentration camp. The entrance gate with the words “Arbeit macht frei” (work sets you free) is infamous all over the world. The stone barracks house many interesting exhibitions telling you the story of the camp and the faith of the prisoners. A few kilometers further lies Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau. This extermination camp was added a few years later. In this part of the camp, with its famous train track through the entrance, its wooden barracks and barbed wire, most victims found their dead.
Auschwitz museum, an important sight for everyone
Auschwitz museum has become an important monument for everyone. For people who want to know more about the Holocaust and the Second World War or for those commemorating the victims and the war. Krakow, with the nearby airport, is your best base for visiting the concentration camps. Therefore, many visitors combine the museum with a citytrip to Krakow. From the city centre you can reach Auschwitz in about 1.5 hours. You can choose for an organized tour, which will pick you up and return you to your hotel. It may also be worthwhile to go on your own, in order to get even more time to see Auschwitz.
Organized tour to the museum
By choosing an organized tour to the Auschwitz museum, you save yourself time and energy. A good option is to book a tour with www.getyourguide.com. You will be picked up by bus and taken back to your hotel afterwards. You can walk past the queue and have an English guide waiting for you at the museum. You also get to see a short documentary about the concentration camp on your way there. The whole tour costs € 32 per person (£ 28) and takes about 6 hours, including travel time. To get a better picture of the camps, the more extensive tour is highly recommended. It shows you around both Auschwitz and Birkenau and costs around € 34 per person (£ 29).
Visit Auschwitz by yourself
Auschwitz museum info
Address: ul. Wieźniów Oswiecimia 20, Oswiecim
Open: daily, from 8.00 (closing time varies depending on the season)
Prices: Admission free, introductory documentary 4 złoty, guided tour from 40 złoty (see website)
Going with tour guides is a great way to learn about Auschwitz, but it also means you’re on a tight schedule. Do you want more time to see the Auschwitz museum or decide yourself which exhibitions to visit? In that case you can visit the concentration camps by yourself. Access to Auschwitz is free and the camp is open all year. Do keep in mind though, the rules to visit the Auschwitz museum on your own have drastically changed since 2015. The amount of tickets available for every hour is now limited:
- Book your free ticket in advance via visit.auschwitz.org. Please note that it is strongly advised to register in advance in this way. If you don’t, you might have to wait or – more likely – will not be able to get in that day.
- From 1 April to 31 October, from 10:00 to 15:00, you can only visit Auschwitz 1 (the main camp) with a guide. When you want to explore the museum on your own, you must come before or after that time, or in any other month. Entrance fee is still free, you do pay a fee for the guide during these hours.
- A tour guide can be ordered in advance by visit.auschwitz.org. The 3.5-hour tour costs 40 zloty (€ 10) per person. Guides are available in English and German. For around 300 złoty (€ 75) you have yourself a private tour guide.
- Especially during the high season tickets sell out way in advance. However, even if there are no tickets available through the website of the museum, private companies in Krakow will likely have place for you, so it is usually still possible to book an organized tour.
The reception desk is at the entrance of Auschwitz I, where you will also find the main part of the museum.
Your own transport to Auschwitz museum
- At the regional bus station (Regionalny dworzec autobusowy), behind the central station, several busses per hour leave for Auschwitz. They drop you of in front of the Auschwitz museum. The ride will take you 1:40 hours and a return ticket costs about 28 zloty. The buses have a sign with says ‘Oswiecim’ or ‘Auschwitz’ and you can get in without a reservation. Buy bus tickets from the driver or at a ticket desk at the station.
- From the train station a train leaves for Oswiecim every hour. The train journey will take you a little longer and costs between 20 and 30 zloty. From station Oswiecim, you can take a taxi to the entrance of Auschwitz concentration camp. For more information check the website of the railways.
- A taxi to the camp costs around € 84 one way with.
- With your own car or a rental car, you can easily reach the museum. Parking costs are about 8 zloty per day. You pay a small amount of toll highway on the round trip.
It is highly recommended to go to both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz /Birkenau when visiting the Auschwitz museum. Many organized tours drive you to both camps. People who come on their own, can use one of the complimentary shuttle busses. They run every hour between the camps.
Tip! Auschwitz and Wieliczka salt mine
Do you want to visit both the concentration camp and the salt mine during your stay in Krakow? With a Supersaver ticket you’ll pay around € 80 (£ 70) for both visits. This tour makes it possible for you to visit both sites in one day (which is almost undoable by yourself). A great option when you have a short city break in Krakow. With the supersaver you can also choose to visit the mines and Auschwitz in two days.
– How to visit the Wieliczka salt mine
– This is how you travel from Katowice Airport to Krakow
– This is how you travel from Krakow Airport to the city centre
Last updated: August 1st 2017