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If you’re looking for an unforgettable day trip from Krakow, consider visiting Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp that was used by the Nazis during World War II. Today, the camp is a memorial to those who died there and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Poland. And, if you’re interested in visiting but don’t know where to start, keep reading! In this post, I’ll be detailing my experience and everything to know about how to easily day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow.

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A picture of the infamous gate that reads, "Arbeit Macht Frei," which translates to "work sets you free" in German. On your day trip from Krakow to Auschwitz, you'll pass through the gate in the beginning of the tour.

🕊 Short on Time? Here’s the Best Auschwitz Tour from Krakow

Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau & Salt Mine Tour – This highly-rated tour has been taken by more than 5,050+ guests (including me!) & takes you to two of the most famous landmarks in Poland.

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Is It Worth It to Day Trip to Auschwitz From Krakow (2024)

From my incredibly biased standpoint, I found it was well worth the time and money to day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow. Not only is the day trip comparatively cheap for everything that you get to see but also you have the rare opportunity to connect with one of the darkest chapters of history.

We often grow up learning and reading about these abominable acts but never truly get the chance to understand everything surrounding these crimes on a deeper level. However, with Auschwitz, we get a tiny glimpse into what it meant to be a Jewish person during World War II.

A picture of the big grassy field that is in Auschwitz I camp, before you pass through the infamous gate. You will see this on your day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow during the tour.
The view before officially entering Auschwitz I Camp

Of course, I can also acknowledge that for many, it’s likely a harrowing experience walking through the camp and imagining the atrocities that were committed in Auschwitz. As a result, you may have hesitations about voluntarily putting yourself in a position to feel these emotions.

Even so, I believe it’s imperative to remember that Auschwitz is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Poland for a reason — it’s an incredibly significant piece of history that must be remembered and studied.

And no matter how disturbing and uncomfortable it may be to confront this horrifying chapter of history, we owe it to all the victims to remember the past and prevent something like this from ever happening again. Because as George Santayana so eloquently says, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

🕊 NOTE: Visiting Auschwitz is not recommended for children younger than 14. Thus, if you are traveling with little ones, I recommend visiting when they are a little older.

A picture of the two wired fences that enclose Auschwitz I camp. You will walk along the fence on your day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow.
A picture of the double-wired fence that encloses Auschwitz I camp.

How to Get From Krakow to Auschwitz

For some quick background knowledge, Auschwitz is located in the Polish city of Oświęcim. The concentration camp is called Auschwitz because that was the German name for the city.

Auschwitz is located about 65 km from Krakow, which is approximately an hour and 15 minutes away by car. Thus, the two cities are fairly close to each other. As such, there are a couple of convenient ways of traveling between them.

By Tour

Aside from driving yourself there, the easiest option for a day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow is going with a tour group.

What happens with a tour is that you show up at a pre-determined meeting point in Krakow early in the morning. From Krakow, you’ll take a mini coach bus directly to Oświęcim and maybe an additional stop, such as Wieliczka, depending on which tour you take.

The main square in Krakow

Once you arrive at Auschwitz, your driver will guide your group to the entrance to Auschwitz, give you your tickets, and introduce you to your guide-educator. Then, you’ll spend 2 hours walking around Auschwitz I camp with your certified guide educator. Once you’re done with Auschwitz I camp, you’ll get back on the coach and head to Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp.

Again, your driver will walk you over to the entrance of Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp from the parking lot. You’ll then spend about an hour walking through Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp with your guide-educator. Finally, you’ll meet back at the bus at the end of the tour, and you’ll take the bus back to Krakow. The drive back to Krakow is about 1.25 – 1.5 hours one-way.

Best Auschwitz Tour From Krakow

Now that you know what going on an official tour looks like, you might be wondering which tour you pick. After all, there are 250+ tour packages to select from — talk about choice overload…

To make things easier here is the first tour I highly recommend. It takes you directly to Auschwitz from Krakow and includes everything you need to have a stress-free experience.

A picture of the infamous gate that reads, "Arbeit Macht Frei," which translates to "work sets you free" in German. On your day trip from Krakow to Auschwitz, you'll pass through the gate in the beginning of the tour.

Check Rates and Availability for this highly-rated Auschwitz tour from Krakow

⭐ RATING: 4.6 out of 5 stars — taken by 2250+ guests! | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 7.5 – 8 hours

The Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau Tour with Pickup and Lunch Option includes:

  • Pick up from your housing accommodations in Krakow
  • Transportation to and from Auschwitz in a bus
  • Entrance passes to Auschwitz I camp
  • Transportation to Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp
  • Entrance pass to Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp
  • Tour of both camps with a licensed guide-educator

This is one of the highest-rated tours that has been taken by more than 2250 people. It’s also one of the most affordable tours available from Krakow to Auschwitz and the guides are fantastic. They’ll inform you every step of the way and answer any questions you might have.

I suggest taking a tour for anyone who doesn’t want to navigate the Polish transportation network and for anyone who simply wants to day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow without having to worry about anything… other than showing up at the meeting point in the morning 🙂

“It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it. The transport schedule was discussed and everything was very clear. The trip to the city was calm. When we got there, they separated us in groups, everything was well organised. The guide was exceptional telling the whole story.”

– Tour Guest (See More Reviews)

✅ Check rates and availability for this highly-rated tour to Auschwitz from Krakow

Auschwitz & Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour

The second tour I can confidently recommend and personally took is this tour to both Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

The largest church within the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Check Rates and Availability for this amazing tour of Auschwitz & Wieliczka

⭐ RATING: 4.7 out of 5 Stars – taken by 5,050+ guests! | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 11 hours

The Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau & Salt Mine Guided Tour in 1 Day! includes:

  • Pick up from your hotel in Krakow (or nearby housing accommodations)
  • Transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle
  • Entrance passes to Auschwitz I camp
  • Transportation to Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp
  • Entrance pass to Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp
  • 3.5-hour tour of both Auschwitz camps with a licensed guide-educator
  • Entrance pass for Wieliczka Salt Mine
  • 2-hour guided tour of the Salt Mine

This is one of the most popular tours that has been taken by more than 5,050 people. It includes everything in the only Auschwitz tour I recommended above as well as visiting the largest Salt Mine in Poland, Wieliczka!

I cannot recommend this tour enough as you learn so much in a comparatively short period. Plus, there’s no stress involved — you just show up and are guided everywhere. This tour is worth every penny and one of the best ways to make the most of your visit to Poland!

“Magdalena was an amazing host for the day. It was extremely well organised, with enough breaks and we never felt rushed. Both guides in at both sites were also amazing and so knowledgeable. Great to be able to see both sites in the same day! Long day but worth it.”

– lydia r. (See More Reviews)

✅ Check rates & availability for this amazing tour to Auschwitz and Wieliczka from Krakow

A picture of some of the blocks that make up Auschwitz I camp. You won't enter all the blocks on your tour.
Some of the blocks that make up Auschwitz I camp.

Can You Go to Auschwitz Without Tour?

Although I wouldn’t recommend going without a tour, it’s definitely possible to independently visit Auschwitz. Just keep in mind that you’ll miss a lot of the hidden stories a guide educator would share.

As a result, you may not fully understand everything you’re looking at, which might take away from the experience. This’s at least how I would’ve felt without my incredibly knowledgeable guide educator. But if you want to explore the sites at your own pace, below are details on how to visit Auschwitz without a car or tour group.

By Train

The main way of visiting Auschwitz without a tour group or car is via the local train network. You can take the train from the main station in Krakow directly to the Oswiecim railway station. Depending on your departure time, it takes about anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours, one-way. Train tickets cost about $5 USD one-way and can be purchased on the Polish Trains website.

Once at the train station in Oswiecim, you can take a short bus ride (three stops) from Dworzec PKP to Oświęcim – Szajny. Then, you’ll have a 4-minute walk before arriving at Auschwitz I camp. Alternatively, if you don’t mind getting a few extra steps in, it’s a 25-minute walk from the train station to Auschwitz.

All in all, taking the train is a great option if you’re looking to save a few dollars money and are comfortable navigating the Polish transit network. I would also recommend this for anyone coming from Krakow who is looking to stay in Oswiecim for a night or two.

A picture of the Krakow main train station.
Taken from Krakow main train station.

When to Visit Auschwitz

The best time to visit Auschwitz is during April – October. This is when the weather is at its best and it’s easiest to walk around. For example, the average high and low in April are 57°F and 37°F, respectively. Meanwhile, the average high and low in October are 56°F and 39°F. Therefore, you can expect relatively pleasant weather between those months.

In contrast, during November – March, average temperatures tend to drop into the 20s and 30s°F. And in my opinion, those temperatures aren’t exactly enticing for walking around outside…🥶

In terms of what time of the day to visit, I recommend visiting early in the morning if you have control over it. All the tours with the schools tend to happen in the early afternoon until the evening.

A picture of block 15 in Auschwitz I camp. During your day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow, you'll can see all the brick blocks that make up the camp.
Block 15 of Auschwitz I camp

Daily Opening Hours

Auschwitz is open to visitors every day except for January 1, December 25, Easter Sunday, and a few select dates when there are official state visits or ceremonies. You can see these dates here, as they are posted ahead of time. Here are the exact opening times based on month:

  • 7:30 AM – 2:00 PM (December)
  • 7:30 AM – 3:00 PM (January & November)
  • 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM (February)
  • 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM (March & October)
  • 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM (April, May, & September)
  • 7:30 AM – 7:00 PM (June, July, & August)

Visitors can begin walking through Auschwitz at 7:30 AM and are allowed to remain on the premises for 90 minutes after the final admission at closing time. This means if you are visiting during April and are admitted at 5:00 PM, you can stay on the grounds until 6:30 PM.

🕊 NOTE: Remember to make a reservation for your visit if you are not going with a guided tour! You will not have guaranteed admission if you just show up!

A picture of more blocks that make up Auschwitz I camp.
More blocks that make up Auschwitz I camp.

How Long Do You Need for Auschwitz?

Truthfully, if you opt to do a tour, you will likely be running on their schedule and won’t have much of a say in how much time you spend at each camp.

However, if you opt to visit Auschwitz on your own, I recommend giving yourself at least 3.5 – 4.5 hours. This will give you time to thoroughly walk around Auschwitz I camp as well as the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp. There’s a lot of ground to cover, and you’ll find tons of informational signs worth reading.

But if you’re in a major rush, don’t bother reading the signs, and don’t take a guided tour, you can likely get through both camps in about 2.5 hours. Just beware that the two camps are about a 5-minute drive away or a 30-minute walk from one another.

Important Info to Know

Now that you know how to get to Auschwitz from Krakow and the details for planning your visit, here is some additional essential information.

A picture of the two fences that enclose Auschwitz I camp with a watch tower in the distance
Taken from Auschwitz I camp

Auschwitz Tour Hours

As mentioned previously, you can tour the grounds without a guide-educator. You just have to do so during the designated times that the Museum allows individuals to roam without a guide-educator. Click for more information on the designated times.

Alternatively, if you’re traveling by yourself or in a group with fewer than 10 people, you can opt to take a tour with a guide-educator. Tours depart from Auschwitz I camp nearly every 15 minutes, but only for a select language. As such, you’ll want to reserve your spot as early as possible if you’re not doing a day trip with a company. Space is limited and they do run out!!

How Long Does it Take to Tour Auschwitz?

The tours last about 3.5 hours and cost 85 pln (about $19 USD) for adults, or 75 pln ($16.50 USD) for students up to 26 with a valid ID, people aged 75+, and those who have a disabled person ID.

Regardless of if you choose to visit Auschwitz independently or with a guide-educator, you must obtain an entry pass! It’s in your best interest to do so in advance since there are a limited number of passes available for each time slot. Also, you must bring your ID with you and the name on your entrance ticket must match your ID.

A picture of the double wired fence near the main gate.
Taken at Auschwitz I camp.

Entry Fee to Auschwitz

Depending on what you choose to do, the cost to visit Auschwitz varies. Here is a quick breakdown!

  • Arrive independently and see Auschwitz without a guide:
    FREE, but you still must obtain an entry pass
  • Arrive independently + tour Auschwitz with a guide educator:
    The cost of getting to Auschwitz on your own + $16.50 – $19 USD for a guide educator
  • Day Trip Auschwitz from Krakow with tour group:
    $20 – $100 USD. Again, I paid $70 for my tour package and it was worth every single penny. I would happily take it again if I were visiting Poland with friends who had never seen Auschwitz. And a bonus is that the exact tour I took is now much cheaper — yay for you!

Can I Wear Shorts to Auschwitz?

Visitors are free to wear what they would like as long as it’s respectful. Thus, you are technically allowed to wear shorts, but I would avoid short shorts. I would also avoid any sleeveless shirts as that’s frowned upon as well.

According to the official website, visitors are expected to “behave with due solemnity and respect.” Essentially, use common sense. Don’t wear anything crude that has profanity, is excessively revealing, or has the possibility of being offensive.

🕊 NOTE: Large bags and luggage bags are not allowed. There is a bag security check, so you will want to leave that behind in your housing accommodations or car.

A picture of people tour Auschwitz I camp. During your day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow, you'll go on a tour with a guide educator.
More blocks in Auschwitz I camp.

Can You Take a Camera to Auschwitz?

Visitors are allowed to bring a camera and take pictures and videos without flash as long as the media is not utilized for commercial purposes. Additionally, no tripods or drones are allowed, and all visitors will have to pass through a security check before being allowed onto the premises.

It’s important to note that there are a couple of rooms (Block 4, room 5, and underground Block 11), where no pictures and videos are allowed to be taken. This is due to the nature of what is on display and out of respect for the victims. Thus, please pay attention to the surrounding signs and be respectful of what is and is not allowed. I saw way too many people ignoring signs and it was quite disheartening.

🕊 NOTE: For more information on the rules and expectations of visitors while visiting Auschwitz, please refer to the official Visit Auschwitz page.

A picture of the destroyed crematorium that was utilized at Auschwitz II camp. If you day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow, you'll get to see parts of the original gas chambers.
A destroyed crematorium in Auschwitz II Birkenau camp

How Long Was Elie in Auschwitz?

For those familiar with Elie Wiesel, one of the most prominent survivors of the Holocaust, he was in the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp for three weeks. Both he and his father were moved and forced to work in a Buna, or a synthetic rubber factory in Auschwitz III. Eventually, they were both transported to Buchenwald, near Weimar, Germany.

This is where Elie was freed from in 1945 when the Allied Troops liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp. He was 16 at the time and went on to become one of the most prolific writers on the Holocaust, writing over 40 books. You can read more about Elie Wiesel’s story here.

In addition, if you can, I highly recommend reading Wiesel’s first and most famous piece of literature, Night, before visiting Auschwitz. It’s an autobiographical account of everything he endured as a teenager in the Nazi concentration camps. And while it’ll break your heart to read, learning about Wiesel’s story gives you a deeper understanding of everything that you’ll see at Auschwitz.

Personally, I remember reading his poignant story when I was in 8th grade, and to this day, it remains one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read.

Picture of a picture taken inside Auschwitz I camp. These are the lines that were formed when Jews were initially brought to Auschwitz. Their fate was decided by a single man waving his finger in a direction.
Picture of a picture taken inside Auschwitz I camp. These are the lines that were formed when Jews were initially brought to Auschwitz. Their fate was decided by a single man waving his finger in a direction.

Where to Stay in Oświęcim

Although this post details everything you need to know about taking a day trip from Krakow to Auschwitz, you might consider staying a night or two in the area.

The reason is that if you’re into history and want to take your time walking through the various sites and appreciating the historical significance of the area, it’s worth spending an extra day in the area. Not only that but there are also a few other must-visit places in the area. For example, the Zamek Museum contains lots of Jewish artifacts that provide further insight into the tragedies that happened nearby.

Plus, a little bonus is that Poland is one of the cheapest countries in Europe. So, if you want to stay at a luxurious hotel that would normally be out of your budget, this is the place to do it!

A picture of some trees and historic buildings taken in Krakow, Poland

Thus, if you’re interested in exploring this area at your own pace and what lies beyond Auschwitz, here are my top recommendations on where to stay in the Oświęcim area.

Cheap Hotel

📍 7th Room Guest House | ⭐ Rating: 9.7 / 10

Location: This excellently rated 3-star hotel is located 2 minutes away by car and 16 minutes by foot from the Auschwitz I camp. There are also many cafes, restaurants, bars, and hiking trails in the nearby area.

Amenities: Outdoor gardens, free on-site private parking, well-equipped communal kitchen, wifi, and private airport shuttle (not included in price)

Why it’s worth staying here: If you are looking for a budget stay (~$30 USD/night) this is the best place to stay. The staff is super friendly and helpful, and the rooms are clean and equipped with everything you need for a comfortable stay. Overall, excellent value for the price you pay!

✅ Check rates & availability for 7th Room Guest House in Oswiecim

Mid-Range Hotel

📍 Hampton by Hilton Oświęcim | ⭐ Rating: 9.3 / 10

Location: This superbly rated 3-star hotel is located right next to the main square in Oswiecim’s historic Old Town. Guests can also enjoy the Sola River, which is right across from the hotel. By car, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is only 7 minutes away and 20 minutes from Poland’s largest amusement park, Energylandia!

Amenities: Clean spacious rooms, each equipped with a desk, flat-screen TV, private bathroom, and complimentary toiletries. A complimentary breakfast with a large variety of food options is available in the morning. There’s also a bar as well as a fitness center.

Why it’s worth staying here: If you want to have a delightful stay right in the heart of Oswiecim without breaking your bank account (~$60 USD/night), this is the place to go. The hotel was recently renovated, so you can enjoy modern rooms. In addition, the complimentary breakfast is fantastic and the hotel staff is very attentive!

✅ Check rates & availability for Hampton by Hilton in Oświęcim

A picture of a tree in Krakow, Poland with primarily yellow and green leaves.

Luxury Hotel

📍Hotel Imperiale  | ⭐ Rating: 9.1 / 10

Location: This newer 4-star hotel is only a 2-minute walk away from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. Its close proximity makes it the perfect place to stay if you aren’t up for a day trip from Krakow or simply want extra time to explore. The surrounding area is also very serene!

Amenities: Each of the rooms is equipped with everything you could need: a tea and coffee maker, kitchen, refrigerator, desk, and a flat-screen TV. There’s an excellent on-site restaurant and terrace to enjoy. Guests also have access to a good fitness center and can pay for spa treatments and beauty services.

Why it’s worth staying here: This is one of the best luxury hotels in the area and costs ~$80/night. It’s perfect for couples and allows you to have a luxury stay without doing an immense amount of damage to your bank account like most other luxury hotels! Again, I highly recommend this hotel to those looking to be conveniently located next to Auschwitz!

✅ Check rates & availability for a luxury stay in Oświęcim at Hotel Imperiale

Or, feel free to explore housing options in Krakow. My friend and I stayed right next to Old Town and loved it as everything was within walking distance.

Visiting Auschwitz: FAQs

How Much Does It Cost to Go to Auschwitz From Krakow?

The cost of doing a day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow widely varies depending on your mode of transportation. For example, I paid about $70 USD for my day trip to Auschwitz. This is because I took a tour that also visited Wieliczka, along with Auschwitz. However, if you’re comfortable navigating the Polish public transportation network, and opt for something a little more bare-bones, you can pay as little as about $10 USD.

How Long Is an Auschwitz Tour From Krakow?

Tours to Auschwitz from Krakow can last anywhere from 7 to 11 hours, depending on the tour you select. Either way, it’s an all-day kind of affair and you’ll likely be exhausted — I know I was. Thus, I would plan on only having the energy to eat dinner when you get back to Krakow.

What Is the Distance from Auschwitz to Birkenau?

The distance from Auschwitz I camp to Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp is about 2.3km or 1.5 miles away from each other. This equates to approximately 28 minutes of walking or a 5-minute drive away.

Is There a Dress Code for Auschwitz?

There is no specific dress code that visitors must follow whilst visiting Auschwitz. The only thing is that visitors are expected to dress in a manner that is respectful and befitting for a place like Auschwitz.

Wrap-Up: Day Trip to Auschwitz From Krakow (2024)

The history behind the Auschwitz concentration camp is something that everyone should learn about as it’s one of the most horrific events in human history. And while it may be difficult to visit, it’s crucial to remember what happened and prevent anything like this from happening again.

Ultimately, Auschwitz is definitely worth visiting for anyone traveling to Poland, and with this guide in hand, I hope you can do so easily and confidently!

A picture taken low to the ground of the train tracks that lead into Auschwitz II Birkenau camp. This is one of the iconic sights you'll see on your day trip from Krakow to Auschwitz.
Train tracks that lead into Auschwitz II Birkenau camp.

Discover More About Poland

  • 🏔 Staying in Krakow? Another day trip to consider doing is to Zakopane, in Poland’s beautiful Tatra mountains! This mountain town is renowned for its skiing and warm geothermal waters!
  • 🧖‍♀️ Ready for the ultimate relaxation experience, check out Poland’s thermal waters in Chocholow, near Krakow.

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