The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (2023)

Tourists come from all over the world to visit Poland’s cute old towns, eat the pierogi, and drink their cheap vodka. If their visits take them to the southern part of the country, there’s the solemn visit to Auschwitz.

There’s a lot of information scattered out there on how to tour Auschwitz that left me terribly confused. Most people will be staying in Krakow and will be going on a day trip to Auschwitz from there. Almost all of these people will be visiting through a tour group, and few ever think of going on a self-guided tour of Auschwitz.

These tours are offered from almost every hotels and hostels for roughly $32.30 or 120 zl. These tours are the simplest to arrange and will even pick you up from your accommodation. Alternatively, people sometimes save a bit of money by finding tours around town for roughly $21.52 or 80 zl. You will have to meet the tour at their office for this cheaper option.

You can save even more money by signing up for a guided tour straight through the museum website. Of all the guided tours, this is the cheapest option at $12.10 or 45 zl plus transportation. This will usually require a few days of advance booking (or a couple weeks if you are an English speaker). You can show up the museum and hope there’s a slot open, but that’s highly inadvisable as you might be waiting for hours for a tour in your language.

If you decide to forsake all of these guided tour options and tour Auschwitz on your own, you can go on the tour for as low as $7.50 or 28 zl. Why do so few people do this? Well as I discovered (the hard way), hotels prefer you take the tours through them for that lovely commission and what information that is out there is often unreliable.

But before we discuss how, I’d like to discuss why.

Why Go to Auschwitz?

One afternoon, I was sitting in a hostel in Krakow, talking to a New Zealander about visiting the camp. He expressed that he wasn’t going to go, saying that “it’s not really my thing.”

Well I certainly hope concentration camps aren’t anyone’s “thing”.

But a surprising amount of people debate if it’s worth visiting the camp. I even met an observant Jew who said when he first got to Krakow, he didn’t think he needed to go. He had learned more than enough during his childhood studies and didn’t think a visit would add anymore to his understanding

(Video) AUSCHWITZ: The Complete DISTURBING Tour | WARNING: Actual footage

This person ended up visiting and now advocates the same thing as me, that if you are in southern Poland, you should absolutely go.

1.3 million people died in Auschwitz alone. There has been no site in the history of the world, where so much human death and suffering have occurred in such a small area and for so long. Walking through Auschwitz will impress upon you the gravity of these death camps more than any textbook ever will.

Walking through the camp and seeing the sheer size, seeing the industrialization of murder, seeing the graves where countless thousands were haphazardly buried, will make this register deep down to your very bones.

Perhaps it’s because we forget that the holocaust is not as distant as we think. This all occurred over 70 years ago. It’s easy to forget that there are people alive who have witnessed one of the most horrific moments in human history.

So it’s worth the visit for the reminder. To remember and honor all those lost lives and so we never repeat the mistakes of the past.

I’ll get off the soapbox now.

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (1)

Entrance to Auschwitz I

Why Go on a Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz Instead of Going With a Tour Group (apart from cost)

Auschwitz is an emotional experience but also an informative one. Tour groups will certainly be knowledgeable when they take you around the sites. However, many tour groups will only go through the main area of both camps, skipping some of the items on the side.

(Video) (HD) Narrated Tour of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II Birkenau

Other common reports are that the tours may feel rushed. There are countless tours going through the camps, and they keep a tight schedule. I saw countless visitors linger behind their group, trying to further understand a particular exhibit that wasn’t given its due.

By going alone you are free to explore the camps at your own pace, which is advantageous in such an emotional visit. You can linger longer on exhibits that interest you or feel more impactful. There were times when it becomes so emotional that you may simply wish to sit and think.

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (2)

Stone memorials in various languages

How to Go on a Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz

Auschwitz actually consists of two different camps: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II – Birkenau. Auschwitz I is much smaller and functions more of a museum. To walk through Auschwitz I, you must be in a guided tour if you arrive between 10 A.M. – 4 P.M. Auschwitz II – Birkenau is much, much larger and is oriented more as a memorial. You can walk through Auschwitz II – Birkenau at any time of the day.

Almost all tours will start at Auschwitz I and then take you over to Auschwitz II – Birkenau, which is roughly a five minute drive away. If you are independently touring, you can catch a free shuttle between the two parks. To return from Auschwitz II – Birkenau, simply catch the shuttle back to Auschwitz I and then catch a bus back to Krakow.

So to tour both camps, you simply have to arrive before 10 A.M. or after 4 P.M. The nicest part is, admission is free! If you are staying in Krakow and would like to tour in the morning, the bus takes roughly 2 hours to get there, you must find a bus leaving no later than 7:30 A.M.

Bus tickets can be bought at the bus itself and schedules can be found on this site: There are trains available but they drop you off further from the camp and take longer, so this is not recommended. At the time of writing this post during the summer of 2017, useful departure times in the morning are: 6:20 A.M, 7:10 A.M, 7:50 A.M, 8:05 A.M, 8:15 AM and 8:30 AM. These are of course subject to change so check before you go.

These one way tickets costs 14 zl or $3.75. So that’ll make 28 zl or $7.50 for a round trip. That’s the only required expense for the day.

(Video) Visiting AUSCHWITZ with NO GUIDE / was it worth it?

The museum does offer a pamphlet with a map and a lot of relevant information for 15 zl or $4.05. While this is not required, I highly recommend it as it gives you a good map so you don’t miss anything, and some extra information. With the free entry fee, it seems worthwhile to give back to the museum.

That’s all there is to it. I’ve included a few pictures so you can see what’s in store. Auschwitz is definitely a potent and unforgettable experience.

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (3)

450 were crammed into each barracks

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (4)

I’ve never seen so many names…

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (5)

Some of the shoes of the victims

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (6)

(Video) Visiting Auschwitz Birkenau

Execution wall

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (7)

Gas chamber in Auschwitz I

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (8)

The fences at Auschwitz I were electrocuted and people committed suicide on these fences

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (9)
Ruins of crematorium III

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (10)

The Nazis initiallytook pictures of all their victims

The Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz that No One Tells You About - (11)

(Video) A Plunge into the Myth of Normal with Dr. Gabor Mate and Roshi Joan Halifax



Can you do a self guided tour of auschwitz? ›

Visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum and explore at your own pace on a self-guided tour. Enjoy the confidence of a pre-booked ticket and transfer from Krakow. Leave Krakow for a confrontational day of reflection with a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.

Which auschwitz tour is best? ›

Our most recommended Auschwitz Tours
  • Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau Tour with Pickup & Lunch Option. ...
  • From Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau Tour with Transportation. ...
  • Krakow: Auschwitz Guided Tour with Optional Lunch and Pickup. ...
  • From Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau Tour with Pick-up Options. ...
  • Auschwitz-Birkenau Skip-the-Line Guided Tour.

What is auschwitz tour? ›

Auschwitz Tours 2023

The Auschwitz concentration camp in southern Poland is one of the historically significant landmarks in the world. During your tour, you get to explore the camps where more than one million people, mostly Jews, were killed during the Holocaust.

Do you need a tour guide for auschwitz? ›

Individual visitors may tour the Memorial independently or in organised groups with a guide-educator. Entrance to the Museum, to both Auschwitz I and Birkenau parts, is possible only with a personalized entry pass booked in advance. Reservations can be made at or on the spot at the cashier.

Are you allowed to wear shorts in Auschwitz? ›

Is there a dress code when visiting Auschwitz? There is no dress policy for visitors. It's recommended that you wear comfortable footwear as a tour to Auschwitz requires a lpt of walking.

Can you take a backpack into Auschwitz? ›

The maximum size of backpacks or handbags brought into the Museum does not exceed dimensions: 30x20x10 cm. Visitors may leave their luggage in paid luggage storage.

What city should I stay in to visit Auschwitz? ›

Auschwitz Tour concentration camp – where to stay to visit? Unless your trip to Poland is very short and you plan on visiting only the Auschwitz Museum, it's best to stay in Krakow. Oświęcim is a small town; although you can find hotels there, your options are much more limited.

What city is best for a day trip to Auschwitz? ›

Many people, visiting Karkow and many parts of Poland, want to visit Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration Camp. The Auschwitz Memorial lies much closer to Kraków than it does to any other major city in Poland. This makes Krakow, one of the best Polish cities, an ideal base to take a tour of Auschwitz from Krakow.

Is Auschwitz a dark tourism? ›

Auschwitz is generally considered to be the darkest of dark tourism sites in the world (Stone, 2006).

What does auschwitz mean in English? ›

Auschwitz in British English

(German ˈauʃvɪts ) noun. a Nazi concentration camp situated in German-occupied Poland during World War II. KITCHEN UTENSILS.

How many days in Krakow is enough? ›

While 2 days in Krakow is plenty of time to explore the main areas and historic sites within the city itself, planning a 3 days in Krakow itinerary is ideal if you really want to include a day trip to the harrowing Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

What shoes to wear to Auschwitz? ›

Boots / sensible walking shoes and a spare pair of socks in case of rain - Please be aware that it can get very muddy and wet so please wear shoes / boots which will withstand this. The ground, especially at Auschwitz-Birkenau, is very uneven.

Do they have lockers at Auschwitz? ›

Luggage lockers are used by visitors to Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim to store their luggage.

Can you wear shorts to camp? ›

Packing jeans may seem like a good idea, but you will need a pair of bottoms that will keep you comfortable during a walk through nature. Quick-drying pants and shorts will be one of the best clothing options you can pack for a camping trip when you are planning on exploring the space around you.

What is the best area to stay in Krakow? ›

The old town is the most popular area to stay in Krakow, simply because it is close to almost everything and a beautiful place to start and end your days. However, you can also stay in Kazimierz or a less touristic neighborhood.

What is the best way to visit Auschwitz from Krakow? ›

By Train. There are direct trains that connect Krakow to Oswiecim, the city that is located 2 km from the Auschwitz concentration camp. It takes 1.5 to 2.5 hours to get to Oswiecim from Krakow. You also have to factor in travel time to the Krakow train station and from the Oswiecim station to Auschwitz.

How long do you need to look around Auschwitz? ›

Plan a visit

In order to take in the grounds and exhibitions in a suitable way, visitors should set aside a minimum of about 90 minutes for the Auschwitz site and the same amount of time for Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

What town is Auschwitz closest to? ›

Two prominent cities in Southern Poland – Krakow and Katowice are the nearest ones around Auschwitz Museum. There are trains and public buses departing from both cities to Oswiecim. There are also numerous guided private tours, in different languages, departing from Krakow.

What was the town near Auschwitz concentration camp? ›

The Silesian town of Bedzin lies a mere twenty-five miles from Auschwitz; through the linked ghettos of Bedzin and its neighbouring town, some 85,000 Jews passed on their way to slave labour or the gas chambers. The principal civilian administrator of Bedzin, Udo Klausa, was a happily married family man.

What is the cheapest transport from Krakow to Auschwitz? ›

Take the bus to Auschwitz from Krakow

You can purchase bus tickets here. They were only 34.20 zl (~$6.75 USD) roundtrip and busses leave from the Krakow Main Bus Station (Bosacka 18, 31-505). The only catch is that you have to pre-book your time, so plan accordingly. The bus drops you off at Auschwitz I.

How do I get from Auschwitz to train station? ›

You can get from Kraków Glówny in the centre of the city to Oświęcim's main train stations, about 2km from the camps. There are no buses, so you'll either have to make the 25-minute walk or take a taxi. Use the Polrail service for times and prices, and choose Krakow to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) from the pop-down menus.

How far is Auschwitz from airport? ›

You will find Katowice Airport is only 66 kilometres from The Auschwitz Birkenau memorial site while Katowice city is only 39 kilometres from your arrival at Auschwitz. You will need to organize an airport transfer into Katowice and go to Auschwitz from there by organized tour, bus or train to Oswiecim.

How far is auschwitz from Chernobyl? ›

The distance between Chernobyl New Safe Confinement and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is 782 km. The road distance is 977.6 km.

What is auschwitz Night about? ›

Night tells the story of Eliezer Wiesel, a studious Orthodox Jewish teenager living in Hungary in the early 1940s who is sent to Auschwitz, a concentration camp. In Auschwitz, Eliezer struggles to maintain his faith, bearing witness as the other prisoners lose faith and humanity.

Why is Hiroshima dark tourism? ›

Burn victims lapped up the murky water into their paper-dry throats before succumbing to their painful deaths. It was a horrific day. The remains of that massacre have now become a tourist attraction. Known as dark tourism, it's a trend that brings war and history to the forefront of a tourist's mind.

What is the meaning of Achtung? ›

German interjection

: attention! : watch out!

What does Gestapo mean in English? ›

The Gestapo View This Term in the Glossary was the political police force of the Nazi state. The name Gestapo View This Term in the Glossary is an abbreviation for its official German name “Geheime Staatspolizei.” The direct English translation is “Secret State Police.”

What food is Krakow famous for? ›

Pierogi. You can't visit Poland without trying their arguably most famous dish. Pierogi, Polish dumplings, are a staple food for most Krakowians, and the go-to type is ruskie (Russian), which are stuffed with cheese and potato.

How much is an average meal in Krakow? ›

A meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs around 7 € per person. A three course meal at a mid-range restaurant can be around 14-18 €. Fast food is much cheaper. Krakow is famous for its zapiekanki.

Is Krakow or Warsaw nicer? ›

If you want to take good pictures: Krakow is a bit more beautiful than Warsaw. If you prefer to explore an old historic centre: Krakow. If you prefer to explore the only renovated historic centre: Warsaw. If you want to enjoy a traditional nightlife: Krakow.

Can you visit auschwitz in a wheelchair? ›

Design of the building including the entrance to the Museum, where each visit begins, includes all necessary architectural adjustments. There are levelling ramps and the halls are wide enough for those moving on wheelchairs. Museum Guard staff works there, ready to assist all those who need it.

Can I take my child to Auschwitz? ›

3. Tour of the Museum by persons under the age of 14 is not recommended. 5. Entry to the grounds of the former Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau camps is possible only with a valid Entry Pass.

Is Krakow disabled friendly? ›

Accessible Attractions

Despite its historic character, Krakow has a number of attractions accessible to disabled visitors. The city's centrepiece, the Main Square, is flat and mostly free of cobblestones and is within walking or rolling distance of the majority of the best sights.

Is Poland wheelchair friendly? ›

Warsaw, the capital of Poland, wins 2020 Access City Award, for making the city more accessible for citizens and travelers with disabilities.


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