Hi, Can anyone tell me the best way to get do a reasonable day or half day trip to the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps from Krakow? We won't have a car.Thanks.
Bus. The terminal is right by the main train station. Buses leave something like hourly, if I remember correctly.
I took the bus mentioned in the previous post, I think the earliest one is at about 8:30am. You will be placed in a guided tour group according to language if you don't arrange for a private guide. If you decide to go to Birkenau, there is a shuttle from the Auschwitz site; at Birkenau you will not be in a guided tour group, you can visit on your own.
Make a note of the return schedule for the bus. I spent most of a day there.
We started on the DIY route as well, but the connections/logistics were a bit off-putting (is that a word?). Many operators throughout town offered tours. We ended up taking an organized tour door to door which our hotel arranged. They made the call, we chose the day and time, and it was done. The tour included transportation, guided tour through Auschwitz, transportation to and from Birkenau (where we were on our own) and back to the hotel. I'm thinking the price was comparable with other offers we saw. We never take tours like this, but I started to resent the time it was taking me to DIY and were very glad for our decision. In fact, we signed up for another tour to the Salt mines the next day. Value for dollar is important to us, and the time and energy saved made it an even better deal in our eyes. This was done by the Hotel Wielopole, which I recommend for many reasons, including location, comfort, friendliness of staff, and huge and bountiful breakfast. Coffee (and cookies) in the lobby almost all day did play into my assessment as well!
It is super easy peasy, catch a bus from the main terminal bus station, very inexpensive, I think 10plz one way. get there a bit early, as in peak season they fill up. You get dropped off in the parking lot, look for buses that say Auschwitz or Oświęcim in Polish. The ride is about 1 hr 15mins to 1 hr 30 mins, get the bus schedule from the TI office. If you go peak season, April-Oct, you will need a guided tour, it is a cost. If you get there before 10am or after 3pm, there is no charge. We have an awesome guide book and did not need the tour, if you want a tour, make sure you look at the website for info when English tours are, they fill up fast, or other languages if you need. Either way, make a reservation up to 2 months in advance on the website for the self guided or tour option and skip the queques. The buses pick up at different times on the way back, so bring your schedule with you and get there early to catch to bus you want, no need to buy a round trip ticket.
HTH, easy to do to on your own if you prefer that, but there are LOADS of tours if you prefer as well.
We walked down to the Radisson hotel one afternoon and spoke with their driver, who informed us that he was available for private bookings (on his day off I assume). We hired him for the following day (for around $100) and spent a relaxing day exploring both the camps and the surrounding countryside. Even did a side trip thru Ojcow park just outside Krakow which we liked so much we later returned on our own for some day hikes.
I now wish we had done it as Denny suggests - really nice to be able to proceed at your own pace with a private car & driver. Can probably also arrange the timing to avoid the worst of the crowds.
Has anyone used Krakow Shuttle for tours?
We just got back. You now cannot see Auschwitz without being part of a tour. In Krakow, there are multiple travel/tour companies you can sign up with, and they'll provide transportation.
Not quite true Geochuck, if you get to Auschwitz before 10:00 or after 15:00 you can still enter the museum without having to join the large guided groups.
There are 1 or 2 companies that specialise in this sort of trip,
There is definitely some misguided information here. In the off-season you can go without a tour guide at all time.
DO NOT TAKE THE TRAIN. It will drop you off a mile away from the camp, and can take up to an hour longer than the bus.
This is the info I have compiled about getting to and touring Ausch.
(Note: 4zl=1Euro, prices I write are for normal tickets, sometimes there is a student discount)
You have serveral options with how to do Aushwitz. (In Polish Oświęcim, remember this when buying a bus ticket)
There are multiple tour companies around the city that will take you there and arrange your tour, usually for around 150zl per person, you meet your guide near the Main Square usually, and the entire tour takes 7-9hours, including transport.
You can also arrange for your own transportation; leaving from the main bus station** (Dworzec Glowny) and arriving just next to the camp for 24zl round trip, a 1.5-2 hour journey each way. (There is also a train that will take you there, but it is not reccommended as it takes much longer, runs less frequent, and drops you off a mile away from the camp). Doing this you can then choose wether to have a guide from Auscwitz give you a tour, 40zl per person (3.5 hours) OR if you go very early in the morning (before 9:45am) or after 15:00 (3pm) you are allowed to tour the site on your own for free (donations obviuosly welocmed).
No matter what option you choose, YOU MUST RESERVE A SPOT ahead of time, even if you are going to go late/early for free. To reserve your spot go to Auschwitz’s website, click reservation, choose for individuals, and then pick your date. Finally choose the time you would like to arrive, if you are going with a guide, you will choose an option with the languge that you want and titled “General Tour 3,5 hours“. If you wish to enter for free, and tour the facility on your own, choose the option “Tour for individuals without an educator“.
The following is my opinion and guests feedback about these options:
Personally, I suggest going on your own after 3pm, for a few reasons actually. First, after 3pm a lot of tourists have already headed back to the city so you will have a less crowded visit, which is always better. Secondly, going with a guide means you must go at their pace, some guests have said they felt rushed by their guide, and that once you leave the 1st camp to go to the 2nd, you aren’t allowed to go back to the 1st, even if it is still open (as there is limited entries to the areas, so you only get one). Some guests have said that they felt like you never have time to really explore on your own, reflect about what happened there, or even have a moment to yourself away from the group.
Of course there are definite upsides to going with a guide, since they will be able to provide invaluable information, and answer any questions you may have.
With all of that being said though, Rick Steve’s travel guide has a great chapter on the camp, and provides a narrative for a self-guided tour
**The main bus station Dworzec Glowny is attached to the large mall, Galeria Krakowska. To get there you can get off any tram going to Dworzec Glowny of some sort (Tunel, Wschod, Zachod) and follow the signs to the station. Some people find the bus, and buy a ticket from the driver, but I usually suggest following the signs to the station, going to the cash desk, and getting your ticket from there. The cash desk will speak English. It is possible to buy your ticket in advance, just pop into the station when you first arrive to Krakow. But during the busy months, there are buses running back and forth about every 20 minutes or more, so you should have no problem getting a bus right before you need to leave. Most guests usually only buy one-way to Oswieciem, and then when they get to Oswieciem they buy their return ticket.
The direct train will take 1 hour 45 minutes, about the same as the bus, and there are plenty that get you there before the 10:00 am cut off time for joining group tours.
The many tour companies take between 6 and 7 hours, not upto 9 as previously stated, though if you want to spend longer you can always book a private trip and stay as long as you wish.
Please be aware that Auschwitz 1 has instituted an online reservation system for all entries to the museum. We are presently in Krackow and got on line tonight to get info. Even for the visits with NO guide, you must still secure an entry time. Generally, there are many slots at 0800 hours and after 1600. However, times in between these are divided up by language and a set number of slots. If you want a guided tour, suggest you book at least 3 days in advance or take a tour.
Additionally, the Schindler Museum exhibits have also instituted an assigned billet time. Please get online for both of these 3-4 days minimum before you want to visit.