Tourists here are going to make you lose faith in humanity a little bit, or at least want to punch someone in the jaw. Here’s all the tips on how to get to Auschwitz, how to arrange a tour, how much it will cost, and how not to be a blemish on society.
No trip to Krakow, or Poland as a whole really, is complete without a trip to the most harrowing concentration camps of them all. Auschwitz is undoubtedly the highlight (if you can use that word to describe it, since our trip we’ve been constantly at odds with descriptive words and their positive connotations) of our trip to Poland as a whole, but there’s plenty people don’t know about it. For instance, entry is completely free. That is, if you’re happy to wander around unguided.
But between 10am and 4pm in high season, April 1 to October 31, you can only enter if you’re on a guided tour. They leave every 15 or 30 minutes, and you can buy tickets very easily from the kiosk out the front.
We chose to take a guided tour, but I can definitely see the virtues of going without. In fact, if I was to do it again I would wander through without a guide – there are plenty of hugely informative signs and info boards dotted throughout, and I found that most of the time I was trying to listen and read things at the same time (not conducive to taking absolutely anything in).
The Auschwitz II-Birkenau site is open for visitors without a guide, but most tours end there so you can have a look around at your leisure.
Beware, you will encounter people you want to punch in the teeth, e.g. the woman who waits for the guide to turn her back so she can photograph the collection of human hair, ignoring the unignorable giant “no photos” sign, or the lads taking selfies infront of buildings where thousands of people were gassed.
Do us all a favour and just put your phones down; we all know what this place looks like, and you telling us your stories afterwards is enough for us to know you’ve been there.
Tours are 45 zloty for non-Polish (about 10 euro) and take about three hours.
Get there: A slew of buses from Krakow leave very frequently, and cost about 13 zloty (3 euro). There’s also a bunch of family-owned minibuses. Take note of the return times from your driver.