Working on a trip to Germany for June '22 and def want to see Auschwitz. Thinking of flying in to Dresden as it seems closer but how do I get to Krakow? This is the first time my daughter and I are traveling by ourselves internationally so any help would be appreciated. We are trying to figure it all out--flights, traveling, lodging. We have about 2 weeks to vacation
We flew from Newark/EWR to Berlin and stayed there several days. It is a fascinating place to visit and explore with so much history from WWII and the Communist rule. Why don’t you include Berlin on your itinerary and fly to Krakow from there? Then we flew to Krakow and stayed four nights. One day we took a small guided tour to Auschwitz. We had been to Germany on three other trips but had missed Berlin. Then we flew to Italy and spent several weeks there.
The easiest way to get to Krakow is to fly. A train takes about 7 hours. Fly into a city in Germany where you can get a good direct flight into Krakow. For example, Munich to Krakow round trip right now is about $200.00.
That's way too far for a day trip, you'll need the best part of a day just to get there by land, it takes another day to see the death camp complex (made up of over 40 extermination sup-camps). It's definitely a traumatic experience to visit, most need a day or two to recover.
The only way would be to fly in or bus to Krakow or Katowice in Poland, say for a few days in order to see it and recover afterwards, if it is really important for you, it would be quite the detour however.
What is your full plan? Dresden airport is a rather small airport so you will have a limited amount of flights to choose from. And flying to Dresden because it is closer to Krakow does not make sense, if you want to go to Krakow the best option is usually to fly to Krakow. Dresden to Krakow is 6:30 by train, flying will not save time since you would first have to get to an airport with flights to Krakow.
We found that it was troublesome to add a few days in Poland to a mainly Germany trip. So we put it off for a mostly-Poland trip a couple of years later. I even found Dresden was not well-connected to Czech Republic!
I don't mean to sound annoying, but your first sentence rings a little oddly to me. (I've been to Auschwitz.) Certainly the Nazis operated Auschwitz, and it's an incredibly important place to see. But it has little to do, geographically, with "a trip to Germany for June '22." I will add that many people report here that they couldn't do very much after a half-day at Auschwitz because it was so shattering. Even independently, a long-advance internet admission ticket is necessary. Private or public local transportation is time-consuming but necessary. We hired a car service from our Krakow hotel.
I wonder if you should do some more research on European travel. Our host has lots of free resources under the blue menu at top left. And any of his books (in the Library, too) have good pointers for a first international trip.
There are plenty of, plenty-horrible, concentration camps in Germany (and Austria) that you can visit more easily. For example, Buchenwald is a very simple journey from Weimar. There are also deportation and less execution-oriented sites, in multiple countries. BTW, your daughter might want to watch (it's not intended to be frightening ... ) the film "The Nasty Girl" - Das schreckliche Mädchen (1990) if she can find it. I mention that because most in-Germany camps have large "Education" buildings associated with them.
I even found Dresden was not well-connected to Czech Republic!
I'm not sure how you define "well-connected", but Dresden is a stop on the Berlin-Prague rail line. So there are frequent direct trains from Dresden to Prague.
For more advice on the Germany part of your trip, it would help if you gave us some more information on what you are interested in. You mention Dresden which is a great place to visit, but I am sure that's not all you want to see?
You could fly open-jaw, into some town in Germany and out of Krakow. I agree that you need one whole travel day plus at least two days in Krakow/ Auschwitz. I think it's an extremely important place to see, but keep in mind that it is going to make a big impression, especially if you start out your trip or end your trip on that note. I'd try to add at least one or two more days after that to process those impressions. If I may ask, how old is your daughter?
To be quite honest, I find that package quite a lot to fit into two weeks. I am not a great fan of packing several countries into one short vacation anyway, and this is really more than just a short excursion. In case you find that your two weeks of vacation won't work out for that after all, you might also consider the following idea: Make that two separate trips, one for Poland and one for Germany, and save one of them for your next vacation. Depending on where you want to go in Germany, you could include a place like Dachau, Buchenwald, or Bergen-Belsen which will leave quite enough of an impression for a first time visit to a concentration camp. Dachau is within easy reach of Munich, and Bergen-Belsen can be accessed basically from anywhere in Northern Germany. If your daughter has read the diary of Anne Frank, she might connect to Bergen-Belsen.
I have been to Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, and Auschwitz. I can say that each is different, but there is something even more powerful about Auschwitz. It is a powerful testament to human frailty--that each of us could, if careless, succumb to the creep of evil as the perpetrators did--and to human capacity for evil. We were there with a group of high schoolers on a Holocaust-heavy trip. We had already spent time in Berlin and Warsaw as well as the Schindler factory in Krakow, and the time in the parking lot at Birkenau--the questions they asked and the subdued conversation there--is a standout memory from that trip. Our tour followed it up with a long bus ride to Prague, during which kids were quiet. They needed that reflection time, as did the adults. Whether you visit Auschwitz or opt for another camp, make sure you give yourself that time and space to just be still.
I would definitely recommend Munich or Berlin over Dresden in terms of Dresden simply because of the likelihood of better connections and because both offer much more than Dresden (that isn't to shortchange Dresden at all).
there is something even more powerful about Auschwitz
Oh, no doubt about that. My advice was solely with regard to the OP's time frame and the options that might be feasible within two weeks of vacation, especially with the necessity of "time and space to just be still".
@Anita, are you still around?
Thank you all so much for your thoughts and experiences. My daughter is 19 but I’m sure it’ll be emotional going there. I’m just not sure if it’s feasible in our time frame as we also want to see Germany. Thank you all for your responses
If you are in Berlin, then consider a visit to Ravensbrück which is nearby. As women, this place may affect you more emotionally than visiting Sachsenhausen, or Bergen-Belsen as this was a Concentration Camp created mainly for women. The female guards for Auschwitz did their training there, Siemens built a factory nearby to use their labor, and the Nazis used the women for horrid experiments. There were women there from all over Europe and the exhibits reflect this, with each country having created its own. The aura here is simply different than the other places I have visited.
Hello Anita, good to see you're still around. Maybe you would like to tell us what you are interested in in Germany. That would give us a better idea of what is important to you and make it easier to help you find a good solution.
We're pretty much interested in seeing as much as we can. I know 2 weeks isn't long so we will need to figure out the most important sites to see. We will want to go back to Germany at some point down the road, but try to get as much in as we can in our time frame. Maybe do around Berlin and skip Dresden ( the only reason I was saying Dresden as I thought it would be closer to get to Auschwitz from there) not taking into account how to get there.
Come to Hamburg! But hey, I am also a Berlin fan. Neither is very stereotypically German--for that you need Bavaria or the Rhein--but Germany's two biggest cities contrast well with the American picture of Germany and have a lot to offer.
If you decide to go Hamburg, which I also heartily recommend, and want to see a camp memorial, one is nearby at Neuengamme, accessible on the S-Bahn.
We're pretty much interested in seeing as much as we can. I know 2
weeks isn't long so we will need to figure out the most important
sites to see.
The question is what's important to you. If you want to see the standard American tourist sites, well, that's easy. Go to Heidelberg, Rothenburg odT, Munich, Neuschwanstein, Rhine valley, and you've checked all the points on your list.
Usually, at this point, I would recommend diving into a good guide book, but unfortunately, most guide books focus very much on these all-too-predictable sites. North of that, apparently, there is no civilized life.
Maybe do around Berlin and skip Dresden
Berlin is a great choice. Make that five days maybe out of your two weeks, and you can get to see tons of amazing sights.
No need to skip Dresden. It's an absolutely worthwhile trip, and not that far from Berlin. There is also some amazing nature nearby, and some more towns worth visiting (Leipzig, Wittenberg, Erfurt, Weimar).
If you care to let us know what kinds of things the two of you are interested in, we could help find the destinations that will best fit your bill.
Neither is very stereotypically German
Allow me to disagree. :-) Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, or Cologne, to me, are a lot more "stereotypically German" than Munich or Neuschwanstein. It's just that guide books usually sell Bavaria to tourists as synonymous with "Germany".
(I think we mean the same thing, just looking at it from opposite directions. :-) )
"...as we also want to see Germany." As pointed out, you could see places which Americans overwhelmingly visit, ie Bavaria and the Middle Rhine.
Another option is to reject that approach and go to places visited primarily by German tourists or visitors. I've been to numerous places always in the summer where the only visitors /tourists to be seen were German.
Focus on Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Dresden, and other smaller cultural and historical places.
Anna, of course I meant what most Americans think of as "German"--I am well aware that I would need a passport to visit Munich ;)
Growing up people were always surprised that we didn't have mountains and that we instead had dikes where we were from.
Yeah... Can you believe that the first time I visited the United States, I had no idea what this "Octoberfest" was that they were constantly celebrating in some "German" place? :D
O.k., drifting off topic here...