We will be finishing the London "leg" of our trip and proceeding to Cologne, Salzburg,Rothenburg, then Munich. Which would be the handiest to depart from to get to Auschwitz? Also, should we fly or "train"? Some of the airline layovers are turning out to be so long! Also, if rail, please, please recommend a pass for this collection of cities. I've looked on R.S.'s site and tried to decide. Thanks so much!
You can fly Airberlin (www.airberlin.com)from Munich to Krakow round trip for about 180 Euros. It looks like a long, slow train ride is the other option. Rail in Poland is not like the DL.
Auschwitz (Krakow) is some distance from your other destinations, so a flight or a long train ride will be necessary. Auschwitz is outside the city so be sure to check the Guidebook for details on the transportation options.
Is there a particular reason you chose Auschwitz? As you'll be in Munich, you could also visit Dachau, which is a very easy trip from the city. You can either visit the camp on your own, or take one of the day tours (see Radius Tours website). Although it's not as large as Auschwitz, it was one of the first camps and used as a model for the others.
I took the train from Krakow to Berlin (connecting to Bavaria) during one long slow day. All said it was 14 hours on the train. It can definitely be done and it wasn't unpleasant but it did take a whole day. Also, the bar car was dropped off part way through the trip and we had no dinner. Definitely an adventure... My travel partner and I got the Germany-Poland Saver Pass and the guy selling it to us remarked how few of these they sell. We took a tour to Auschwitz and found it pretty wrenching as you would expect.
Thanks, all! I think we are going to settle on a sleeper train. Don't want to take up the biggest part of two days traveling from any of our locations to Krakow, altho flying wouldn't be awful, it would take quite a bit of time away from our trip. On the plus side, once we are there, Krakow looks like a lovely and unusual city to visit to cheer up the Auschwitz part.
Give yourself plenty of time in Krakow. Great great city. Make sure you have time to see it and really hang out in the square and wander. I love Krakow.
Once you are in Poland:
I stayed at the Globtroter Guest House in Krakow about a year and a half ago, and they offered a good price for a tour to Auschwitz. I can't remember the exact amount, but it was affordable. Basically one of their employees took us in the hotel's minibus to Auschwitz and somehow purchased our tickets in record time despite a long line. He didn't go on the tour with us but made sure we knew where to find him when we were done. We took as much time as we needed/wanted and had easy transport to and from Auschwitz, which would have been a long mass transit trip in comparison.
I'd consider staying there when you go to Poland--its in a fabulous location and very affordable.
I don't recall paying anything at Auschwitz? I do recall that we arrived and had no Polish money and couldn't use the restrooms until we found some. Thought it would be in poor taste to complain that we'd been in a car for 6 hours and really had to go.
Admission is free, but there is a fee for the guide:
Ditto kg's recommendation for the Globtroter in Krakow. We also arranged a tour of Auschwitz through them and it was reasonably priced and hassle free. Beginning last fall, you can't wander around the camps on your own; they will put you in a group with a guide, but the group was small and the guide was excellent.
I would probably want a guided tour, regardless - I am a history buff.