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Arrive in Krakow by plane and seeing Auschwitz same day

Looking for recommendations... We will be arriving by plane from Budapest in Krakow at 10:30 and hope to visit Auschwitz the same day. I hope this is possible! The English tours have been booked. Now debating about hiring a tour guide or take the bus and do ourselves. It sounds like the tour guide/drivers don't have credentials to give a tour at Auschwitz so we would maybe be on our own anyway? We're thinking it's worth hiring a tour guide so we can be assured we get there and back. Plus we may have luggage if we can't leave it at our apartment in Krakow where we're staying before check-in. Maybe we need to plan to just be at Auschwitz at 3:00 or later and do self-guided? I'm assuming that could be with headphones, which might be a better fit for us and give us time to reflect and take our time.

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
897 posts

I don't know where you're flying from (intra-Europe? Straight overnight from US?) or if you've traveled to Europe before, but personally I don't plan anything timely or strenuous on the day I land. The jetlag is a beast and if your plane is delayed or customs take longer than thought to enter country, you may miss a timed tour all together.

Posted by
1078 posts

Auschwitz is to be experienced, not "seen." It takes time to get into the experience, and I doubt anyone would be able to feel the horror of Auschwitz jumping off a plane and rushing to the camp.
My opinion, others may disagree.

Posted by
2 posts

Sorry for not clarifying more. We will have already been in Eastern Europe for a week and will be flying just from Budapest that day, so like an hour direct flight. My concern in still doing it that day is a lot of tours/guides would leave earlier in the day which we can't do. We would be on the later end.

And when I mentioned headphones, what I was referring to was doing it on our own at our own pace. More time to reflect.

Posted by
4700 posts

I'm pretty sure you can just show up at Auschwitz and book the next English tour on the spot - though I suppose the next tour or two might be full if it's a busy day so you might have to wait. Not sure if they have changed the tour booking procedure since I visited a few years ago - maybe you can't just show up anymore and must book ahead of time? (When will you be going?) I would verify that you can't do that anymore if you think that's the case.

You could first visit Birkenau (free shuttle bus from the main camp, no guide required there) and come back to the main camp after 3 and do the rest self-guided if need be. But at that point, you need to worry about 1) not having enough time to see everything you want before the camp closes and 2) getting a bus back to Krakow. I'm guessing there are buses later - but dig up the schedules ahead of time to be sure.

If you can't find a guide that would pick you up at the airport and drive directly to Auschwitz, I suppose you could rent a car at the airport and drive there yourself, then drop the car off in Krakow at the end. Might still be a lot cheaper than hiring a guide, but it would save you time and get you to the camp earlier, perhaps, vs. going all the way into Krakow then getting a bus back to the camp.

Posted by
41 posts

Hi Lisa,

I agree with above advices - it's better not to rush to Auschwitz concentration camp right after you land in Cracow, even if it's just a flight from Budapest. If you can, enjoy your time in Cracow first, get some rest, and then reserve a day to visit Auschwitz.

This concentration camp is actually very big, and there's also an option to visit other nearby camp in Brzezinka (Birkenau). Besides, visiting Auschwitz is rather difficult experience, and the last thing we need is to hurry and feel tired after a flight.

It's also advisable to book tour guides/buy tickets online in advance - Auschwitz tends to get crowded, especially on weekends.

Anyway, you can check some tips on traveling in southern Poland here: