Everything you need to know before visiting Auschwitz

Well hello to you my reader chums! Visiting Auschwitz is one of the things many people do on their trip to Krakow. It's an excursion that although it is incredibly harrowing and heartbreaking to see, offers a lot of insight into that awful time in history - and taught me a lot on my visit.

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Everything you need to know before visiting Auschwitz

I'm a huge history nerd and as I've read a lot of novels based around Auschwitz that I made sure to add it onto my itinerary during my Krakow trip. If you're visiting Auschwitz for the first time and have all the questions surrounding the excursion, here's everything you need to know.

What is Auschwitz?

In a nutshell, the Auschwitz concentration camp is a complex of over 40 camps operated by Nazi Germany in Poland during the war. The main two camps are Auschwitz I and Auschwitz Birkenau, also known as the death camp. Millions of Jews were brought here during the war, were tortured, and sadly, lost their lives. It's one of the most heartbreaking parts of history.

How to you get to Auschwitz?

Auschwitz is located around an hour and a half drive out of the city of Krakow so the total time to get there and back will be 3 hours - and that's why I would recommend dedicating a whole day to visit. There are a few ways to get to Auschwitz, either by bus, train or car:

Bus: This is the route I took and the cheapest and easiest way to get to Auschwitz. It costs about 10-12 PLN for a one-way ticket which both ways works out to be a few pounds. You can get the bus from Bosacka Street which is the main bus station near the train station, in the Old Town. When you get to the bus station, you'll want to head for the bus that says Auschwitz/Oswiecim. They come every hour pretty much and the one I got on was at 6.25am so I arrived at the camps for 8am. The bus will pull up like 5 minutes from the ticket entrance.

Everything you need to know before visiting Auschwitz

Train: Although not a direct route to Auschwitz, it's another way to get there if you don't fancy hopping on a bus. The train station is located in the Old Town and you'll want to head on the train that goes to Oswiecim. The trains are every 1 to 2 hours and take about an hour and 40 minutes to get there. Once you arrive, the walk is around 2km to the camps - and the train ticket is 9PLN.

Car: Another direct way is simply by car. If you're hiring a car whilst you're visiting Krakow then you can drive to the camps as there is parking on-site - and it saves you trialing out the public transport.

How to you get between the two camps?

This was something I wasn't too sure about until I arrived at Auschwitz. But one of the people working there told me a free shuttle is available to travel between the two camps and you can get picked up from the bus station at the main camp and it'll take you directly to the entrance of Auschwitz Birkenau. The shuttles were around every half hour and the drive is about 10 minutes between the two. When you're at the bus stop, keep your eye out for the yellow bus as that's the shuttle.

How much does it cost to visit Auschwitz?

Entrance to the Auschwitz camps is free if you're an individual visitor (walking around the camps on your own) but with a guide, it's around 60/70 PLN. If you don't use a guide like me, it's basically a free excursion but paying for the guide will help give you more of a full insight of the camps.

Everything you need to know before visiting Auschwitz

How do I get my tickets?

Auschwitz offers a limited amount of tickets to each time slot in the day. It opens as early as 7.30am and that's when the individual visitors can enter the camps until about 9, where the tour groups will filter in. Whether you'd like to be an individual visitor or book a tour, you will need to reserve a ticket slot on the website. The tours are offered in a variety of different languages and you can pick a time which will suit you best. The camps are generally open till 7pm - and I found going as an individual visitor from 8am that there were no crowds and I could walk around, and take as much time as I needed.

As tickets are limited to Auschwitz, I would highly recommend booking them in advance as you won't want to miss out on visiting during your trip.

How long does it take to visit the camps?

This is subjective as it really depends on how much you want to learn and if you're in a tour group or not. In total, it took me around 5 hours to see the camps. In the first camp, there was so much to learn and see that I spent a while absorbing information. And in the second camp, it's a lot bigger in terms of size so naturally, you'll find yourself there for a while walking around. If you go with a group, it'll depend on how long the tour guide take to teach you about the history of Auschwitz. I would say between 3-5 hours to get the full experience of Auschwitz and Auschwitz Birkenau.

What can I bring in the camps?

Auschwitz has a pretty strict policy about what you're allowed to bring into the camps. Only small bags are permitted and food/drink shouldn't be consumed as you walk around. There is a cafe upon arrival where you can purchase food or drink before you begin your tour.

What tips do you have about visiting the camps?

Auschwitz is my most harrowing and heartbreaking experience to date and I think it's important for people to realise, that despite it essentially being a tourist attraction, it is a place where millions of people were tortured and killed - and victims of the Holocaust. When visiting, be respectful of where you are and mindful of the photos you're taking and of what people are around you are doing. Wear comfortable shoes and really take the time to absorb what you see  - as it's an intense experience. I left Auschwitz feeling a lot of hard emotion as it's not an easy thing to see and read about.

I hope you enjoyed this post. When are you planning to visit Krakow?

Thank you for reading <3

55 comments

  1. Great post! This is an interesting insight into this historic place, thank you for sharing Della z

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  2. I loved reading this post. You have some great tips on how to get to and from the camps. I've always wanted to visit Auschwitz, but I've yet to tick Poland off my bucket list, but maybe in the future. I did visit Dachau in Germany which was gut wrenching. What stuck with me was how they packed 36 people into one tiny room in the most horrendous conditions. It must have been awful :(

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    1. Thank you!! That sounds truly heartbreaking xx

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  3. These are really great tips. We both have Krakow on our list. We're not sure if we could handle Auschwitz though.

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  4. Great tips! I visited Auschwitz a couple of years ago (I went on a group tour with my school) and it was a really tough experience, I still can't fully process some of what I saw and learnt. Thanks for sharing, I'm sure people hoping to visit in the future will find this super helpful x

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  5. I want to visit Auschwitz one day even though I know it will be a harrowing experince.
    The information on how to get to there and the tips are helpful.

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  6. Great post. I'd love to visit one day but I'm not sure how I would deal with it. I always get quite upset when watching anything about it on TV, the thought of what happened there is just painful and terrifying.

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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    1. Thank you! It's definitely something you need to mentally prepare for xx

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  7. I am feeling a little emotional reading this as Auschwitz is a place at the top of my 'need to visit' places. I have read many books and survivor stories, historical accounts, and fictional tellings and feel like to step into the place would bring the weight and reality of the history down on me in a way that I would carry with me for a long time.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and for following your own advice and being respectful of the place!

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  8. When planning trips I always like to look into different ways to get there and if there is parking available. Thanks for including that!

    Thank you for also including a reminder to be respectful, although it’s a tourist attraction, it’s still a historic place with lots of emotion involved. Great informative post.

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  9. The nomad in me absolutely adored this post. There’s so much I want to see and explore in the world. Can’t wait for Covid to be fully over so we can all get to travelling again.

    Great post !

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  10. Thanks for your insights, I don't think I could visit there knowing the history it would be too heart-breaking. But the keen historian in me would want to visit. I know a few people who have gone and it changed their perspective on life.

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    1. That's fair enough, it is a hard place to visit xx

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  11. Great tips! I'd love to visit and learn more about the history behind the camp while seeing it in person one day.

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  12. No sooner plan to visit Krakow. However, you mentioned each detail so carefully which helps anyone to consider them during their tour.

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  13. I loved reading about your trip to Auschwitz. I had the same kind of experience when I went to Vietnam, especially in the Cu Chi Tunnels. As you say, it's a tourist attraction so something feels strange about wandering around after everything that's occurred, however I also feel that it's so important to be aware of it and to learn the history. Auschwitz is definitely on my list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing the really informative details!

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    1. Thank you! I didn't visit the Chi Chi Tunnels in Vietnam but wish I had the chance to xx

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  14. Great post. Thank you for sharing. My husband has been. We hope to take our boys sometime.

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  15. The places with historical significance add another dimension to travelling experience for sure. Great insight and love reading your travel content. Xx
    Isa A. Blogger
    https://www.lifestyleprism.com/

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  16. Thank you for letting me know about this place. I was not aware of it. I remember learning in school the history of what happened and its must be so interesting getting to visit in person.

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  17. This is such a helpful post. This has been top of my must see places for years and I hope that one day soon I can pay a visit.

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  18. Auschwitz is a place I'd like to visit one day. My sister has been and told me how harrowing it is, it's not a tourist destination, it's a place for reflection!
    Lovely post, love this new theme of posts from you

    Rosie

    https://www.loverosiee.co.uk

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    1. I hope you can visit one day! Your sister hit the nail on the head there - thank you so much xx

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  19. It almost feels wrong to say that this is somewhere I am very keen to visit but I have a huge love of history and this is such a significant and heartbreaking time in our history.

    This is a brilliant guide and will come in very handy, thank you for sharing x x

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  20. Haven't heard much of this place, but great tips! Thank you also for the last note - bringing out the importance of being mindful and respectful when visiting this.

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  21. This is on my list to visit. I have read a lot of books about it and studied during school. I know it would be a harrowing experience. Thank you for all the tips, will keep them in mind when planning x

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  22. I always love to visit historic place. It's great to add another lovely place to my list for future references :D Thanks for sharing about Auschwitz, Della x

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  23. Great post. Somewhere I'd definitely like to visit if I ever can but I can imagine it's a very humbling and heartbreaking experience to be in the same place that all that devastating history happened x

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  24. Useful info you shared in this post Della! I would love to visit Krakow and if I do so I have to visit Auschwitz. Even in the thought of what has happened there I feel a pain in my heart. I don't know how it will be like to actually be there. Your post was great ��
    Thank you!

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    1. Thank you so much - I hope you can visit soon xx

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  25. I can imagine that this day out was filled with lots of emotions, but I would love to visit one day. I think it's horrible what happened, but nice that you can pay your respect and learn more about the history. Thank you for this detailed post! Em x

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  26. As much as I would love to go to Auschwitz, I really don't know if my emotions could take it. It breaks my heart thinking about all those people who were there. But I would love to, just to go and take a moment think of them, wish them well, wherever they are and take a moment to really soak in historical significance. Thank you for sharing all about the experience and giving pointers.

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  27. I have wanted to visit Auschwitz for as long as I can remember. I loved how informative your post was, it answered a lot of questions I had. Hopefully, now I will be able to visit one day soon.

    Sarah | www.aspoonfulofvanilla.co.uk

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  28. This is very cool! I didn't even know such a place existed. Definitely going to put this on my travel list once borders open again. Thanks for your detailed directions too :)

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  29. I loved reading your answers, Della! Incredible that you visited Auschwitz and learned so much history about the camps. Glad you got to experience this xx

    Lynn | https://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com

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  30. I'm a history nerd myself so visiting here would be cool so I can learn more. I may have a heavy heart when it comes to this place with all the heartbreaking things that occured, but sadly, that's history. Great post! xx
    TheQuietGirl | www.quietgirlblog.com

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  31. These are some great tips you have shared. Definitely helpful for people who are looking to visit. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren - bournemouthgirl

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