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Auschwitz - Birkenau Tour Questions

Greetings all,

One of the stops i will be taking is in Krakow this fall and want to make Auschwitz/Birkenau as a day or most of a day trip.

Questions for for those of you that have taken a tour bus to Auschwitz/Birkenau in the last couple years are:

  1. Which tour company did you use and were you happy with the tour they provided.

  2. Was there enough information (signs) in english to be able to walk through the camps w/o a tour guide?

  3. Did you think that the tour lasted long enough to see what you wanted to see?

Mucho thanks for any replies.

Happy trails.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ george,

THanks for the link, but been there done that.

wanted to get peoples comments that have been there.

still looking for input.

happy trails.

Posted by
252 posts

Hi Ray,

I am not a fan of tours...But I do make some exceptions. Auschwitz-Birkenau was one of them.
I usually like to do things at my own pace...which is FAST. In this case, I needed a guide to slow me down...and I wanted to hear some ''personal'' story and get as much as I could out of this visit...or should I say experience.

I visited both places and I think it is worth to go to both. They are super close to one another...and very different.

Kept the ticket as a souvenir...It has a mention of this website : crakowtours.pl

Yes, the tour was just long enough.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions by PM.

Bon voyage!

Posted by
2081 posts

@ Val,

thank you for the reply and your answers do help.

The reason for the tour is that i try not to drive since i hate driving and i really enjoy their great train system in Europe. I was going to take the Train/bus route but thought about doing the tour since i hope it will be more direct and more informative. . I had planed on using 1 full day for for the tour anyway, i just wanted to make sure if i needed more time, i would do the train/bus route and get their early enough to spend more time there.

just an fyi, i do walk fast, but thats about it on my trips. I try to plan down time everyday to digest and reflect on the days events so my days arent full from dawn to dusk. I found that slowing down allows me to recharge my batteries so that when i go home, i dont need another vacation - although ive thought about that too.

My first job out of school i was working 70~80 hour weeks and it took its toll on me so i choose to slow down. After all its up to you to say STOP.

also, thank you for the web site. I didnt see that one yet and will check it out tomorrow.

Happy trails.

Posted by
767 posts

Hi Ray,
We booked a private tour through a travel agent. I was extremely happy with it. I don't remember the name of the tour company and the travel agent won't tell me. If you want the name of the travel agent I can tell you but I think it's shady they won't tell me the tour company (and gasp, allowing people to book on their own).

One of the best things about the private tour is that we didn't have to wait in the long lines when we got there. Our driver (associated with the tour) walked in and found our tour guide who had the tickets. We started at Auschwitz and then they drove us to Birkenau.

There were more signs at Auschwitz (although not a ton) but I don't remember any at Birkenau. I am sure you could download a walking tour though. I think Rick has a mini one in his guide book.

It did last long enough and she would have shown us more if we asked.

I saw a lot of other private tour groups and all of the tour guides seemed young, entusiastic, passionate about what they were doing. I found this to be true in Poland in general in people in the tourist industry (maybe I am biased because I am Polish) So you would probably have good luck no matter what tour you booked with. I definitely would not just sign up for a tour at the camp. There were at least 15-20 people and it didn't look like fun.

I usually can't pay attention during tours but I am happy I did this one.

Posted by
767 posts

I misused the word "fun". I meant it looked like it took them a lot longer to move around from spot to spot, harder for a lot of people to see, harder to connect with the tour guide, a lot more cramped at certain portions of the tour. And I distinctly remember thinking "I am so glad I am in a smaller group". I just thought I would share that observation because it looks like that is the type of information Ray is looking for. And I also was NOT saying the tour guides were are a lesser quality. They are all well studied and passionate.

There are zero "fun" about the camp so I really apologize if anyone was offended by that. I just meant that this was a situation where being a larger group seemed particularly more cumbersome. There is a lot of ground to cover and you are limited by your slowest person.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ George/Kristen,

I understand what info was conveyed and didnt pay that much attention to the "fun".

in any case, i appreciate all that have replied.

My goal is to see it. I want to make the best of my time there and since i fly solo, i notice in some place i am discriminated against as in "groups" only or things like that. I dont mind joining a group, but wanted to see how the peoples experience was and if they would do the same again.

One other point is that i hate driving, so an option is using a tour as my own chauffeur. They will charge more, but if i can get what i want in the end, its worth it. Im looking at different options right now how to get there and back and what tour to take. If i could go there and read all i want thats great, but i found that many times, things of interest arent in print and will have to come from someones mouth.

happy trails

Posted by
11613 posts

I took the bus from Krakow to Auschwitz-Birkenau last year, went on the tour with the official guide (you can't visit Auschwitz on your own). I felt it was a little rushed because of so many tour groups going through. Our guide told us that some additional barracks are being prepared to hold exhibits, so there should be less crowding in the future. At Birkenau you can walk through on your own.

Posted by
2 posts

Hi,
I am from Poland so I will give you advice.
You can visit Auschwitz - Birkenau Museum on your own. Winter: from 8am to 17.00 free of charge and during summer from 8am to 10am and from 15.00 to 19.00. First regular tour starts at 10.30am (winter) and 9.30am (summer). IMO the best way to visit A&B is rent a private tour (driver & vehicle for your disposal) and rent also private guide. I think it is worth that money. Regular tour will take 2h in Auschwitz and 1h in Birkenau. If you want safe your money are you ready to lose your time in public transport. Travel by train takes 2h or more and public bus 1,5h by car only 1h. I know one company . If you have some question just ask. Greetings from Krakow.