Kraków is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Krakow was the home to the Kings and Queens of Poland past. Krakow is one of Europes oldest and most beautiful cities. Some of its major sights are located in the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town. Wawel Cathedral and the Royal Castle, St. Mary’s Basilica, and the largest medieval market square in Europe are all worth seeing. We are going to explore how to get to Auschwitz from Krakow. Krakow is also the closest major city transport hub for day trips to Auschwitz.
Auschwitz – Birkenau is a destination that will rock you to the core. So much history, sadness and crazy ideology all converge in this one location. In 1940, on the outskirts of Oswiecim Poland, a prison camp was established. The continued mass detainment of the Jews and Poles meant that a bigger solution was required. On June 14, 1940, the first prisoners arrived. By 1942 Auschwitz had turned from a prison camp into a death camp, a systemic killing machine controlled by the Third Reich. For over a million people the Auschwitz arrivals platform was the end of the line for them, as they were marched straight to the gas chamber.
Today trips to Auschwitz come in two parts. First to Auschwitz (or Auschwitz 1 as it was called). This is where you will enter under the famous gates with the sign above that says Arbeit Macht Frei. Auschwitz 1 is where the first prisoners were held and the majority of the buildings are still intact for you to tour through. It is home to the infamous block 11 where the Nazi’s carried out all types of heinous inhume experiments on the inmates.
Outside Cellblock 11 is the shooting wall where those being held were marched outside and shot in the back of the head. It is here that the Nazis first tested Zyklon B on small batches of prisoners before expanding the gas chambers to an industrial level. It is here with an overload of information through words and images that you fully realise the horror of this place. To this day I still remember thinking ‘this is the saddest place I have ever been’ as I walked around with tears rolling down my cheeks.
To get to Birkenau (or Auschwitz 2 as it called) requires you to catch a bus a short distance. There are buses waiting outside Auschwitz 1 to take people across to Auschwitz 2.
Auschwitz 2 is where the killing happened on an industrial scale. This is where the gas chambers were erected, this is where over a million people were put to death. Birkenau was the largest prisoner camp in the Third Reich. There were over 300 barracks onsite to house the inmates and at times over 100,000 people lived in them. Auschwitz two was 200 hectares in size and today contains the destroyed remains of the gas chambers and crematorium.
There are a few original and reconstructed barracks for you to look through. These give you a feel of what the prisoner’s accommodation was like. It is amazing how many people they could squeeze into such small areas. You can walk the length of the train platform where people from all over Europe arrived from on a one-way ticket. What struck us about Birkenau was how peaceful it felt. It had wide open spaces and luscious green grass, that masks the fact that you are walking where the ashes of a million people lie.
Auschwitz Poland is as confronting as a punch in the face. It shows what one crazy ideology can do. Its lessons are still relevant today when we see what is happening in the world. A world where dictators are still persecuting people, where citizens are not safe because of race and religion. The lessons have not been learnt. Auschwitz is a great reminder that power needs to be checked, that all governments need to be accountable and that human life is precious.
Facts about Auschwitz
- 1.1 million people died during the four and a half years of Auschwitz’s existence
- 144 people were known to have escaped from Auschwitz
- Auschwitz’s camp commandant Rudolf Hess, was arrested in 1946, convicted of murder and hanged at the camp.
- Of a total of about 7,000 staff at Auschwitz, only 750 were ever punished.
- The company that created Zyklon B, the gas that was used to kill millions of Jews in the Holocaust, still exists as a pest control company.
- Bayer, famous for producing aspirin, bought prisoners from Auschwitz to use as research subjects for testing new drugs.
- Of those 6 million Jewish people killed in the Holocaust, one in six was killed at Auschwitz.
Let’s talk about How to get to Auschwitz from Krakow
The AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU STATE MUSEUM is located in the old world city of Oswiecim, about 66 kilometres west of Krakow. The entry at the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate is located about 2,5 kilometres from the city centre of Oswiecim. Krakow is the nearest major airport to Auschwitz. This means you will still need to find a transport option to Krakow. Let’s explore the different options for trips to Auschwitz.
Visiting Auschwitz with Kids
Being family travellers when we visited Auschwitz Poland our kids were 5 & 8 years old. At that age, we felt they were far too young to be exposed to this kind of Museum. I would suggest your children should be at least 10 years old minimum and have had some sort of education about what went on at Auschwitz Birkenau before taking them.
Krakow Auschwitz train
The trains depart Krakow Glowny station. Kraków Główny or the main station is the largest and the most centrally located railway station in Kraków. On an average day, some 660 trains run on its 12 tracks.The station is located on the edge of world famous Krakow Old Town.
- Krakow to Auschwitz trains runs daily. You will find them running every hour
- The train takes at best 1 hour and 40 minutes to arrive at Oswiecim station.
- Tram 19 connects through Krakow Glowny as an easy way to access the station for your Krakow Auschwitz train.
- Auschwitz is about a 25-minute walk or about 2 km from the train station
- The easiest way is to catch a local bus that drops off straight out front
We priced a ticket departing Krakow at 8.33 am. The price was 15 zloty or about 3.50€ on the outward journey. Returning departing Oswiecim at 5.12pm was the same price. So the Krakow Auschwitz train return day trip will cost around 7€ return for an adult in second class. You can Check Auschwitz Birkenau Train Timetable.
How to get to Auschwitz by bus from Krakow
For those wanting to take a bus to Auschwitz from Krakow, you will depart from MDA Bus Station in Krakow. The MDA Bus station is located at ul. Bosacka 18 in the centre of the city. The station has a total of 37 departure bays where passenger check-in takes place. You can buy tickets for the Krakow to Auschwitz bus from the ticket booths or check with the driver of the bus.
- The Lajkonik bus company that runs out of MDA station runs a Krakow to Auschwitz bus daily.
- The great thing about this Krakow bus to Auschwitz is it drops you right out front of the concentration camp.
- The bus cost 14 zloty (around 3.50€)
- This bus runs every hour starting 6.20am for the first departure and the last departure is 7.45 pm.
- The return journey also runs on the hour.
- The last departure back to Krakow being 7.45 pm.
- There are 13 stops on the bus Krakow to Auschwitz route.
- Travel time is around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- You can check the Lajkonik bus timetable here
How to get to Auschwitz from Krakow by car
For those wanting to drive to Auschwitz from Krakow, the Museum is located on the outskirts of the city of Oświęcim on national road 933. If you are looking for parking enter Stanisławy Leszczyńskiej Str. no. 11 into your GPS. The trip by car will take around 70 minutes and you will cover 68 kilometres mainly along the A4 motorway.
Organised Krakow Auschwitz tour
If public transport or the driving option don’t suit you an organised Auschwitz tour from Krakow is your best bet. There are many Auschwitz Krakow tours running daily. Some of the positives of going on an organized Auschwitz Krakow tour can be:
- You don’t have to get to Kraków Główny or MDA station
- You don’t have to take public transport to Auschwitz concentration camp
- You can usually organize a pickup and drop off at your accommodation
- You will have a guide that will keep you informed on the journey out to the Auschwitz site
- Entry tickets to the sights are usually included
- One price for everything
- An organized tour of the sights
- If you have children you may be able to take some extras for them and then have somewhere to keep the extra bags so you don’t have to carry them around.
Below we handpicked and researched three amazing Auschwitz Krakow tours for you to choose from. Book one of these Auschwitz trips today.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum & Camp Tour from Krakow
Visit the Auschwitz Museum, site of the largest Third Reich concentration camp. Learn how the complex functioned and see the barracks where prisoners were kept. Well-informed staff tell the story of this horrific place and will answer your questions.
- Visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, the largest of the Nazi concentration camps
- Explore one of the most horrifying places in the world
- Learn about the Holocaust from knowledgeable, English-speaking guides and staff
- Avoid the queues with a skip-the-line ticket on this Auschwitz Krakow tour
- Rated 4.7 out of 5 from 3224 reviews.
A very respectful and informative tour
Julian was great as our tour guide on 23rd Feb. Brought to life how catastrophic events were at the camps. Whole tour was very respectful and well organised. Thank you
Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum & Memorial Guided Tour by Minivan
Visit the largest former Nazi concentration camp on an 8-hour tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau, travelling by minivan from Krakow. Learn about the Nazi program of “Arbeit Macht Frei” and the genocide of World War II. See the gas chambers, barracks and more.
- Visit the largest former Nazi concentration camp on an 8-hour tour of Auschwitz
- Travel in a comfortable minivan from Krakow
- See the barracks where prisoners were kept and the gas chambers where they were sent to die
- Learn the terrible history of the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau
- Go the Birkenau camp to see where more than 125,000 prisoners of war were incarcerated
- Discover the true meaning of “Arbeit Macht Frei”
- Rated 4.6 out 5 from 2350 reviews
Picked up from the hotel, the driver was prompt, met with our guide who was so informative. Well worth a visit. 5 stars reviewed by
Auschwitz-Birkenau and Schindler’s Factory Tour from Krakow
Tour Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration camp that became a symbol of the Holocaust. Visit Oscar Schindler’s Factory also on this day trip.
- Duration 8 hours
- Visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial on a day trip from Krakow
- Watch an informative documentary film en route to the camps
- Experience Krakow during WWII at Oscar Schindler’s Factory Museum
- Rated 4.6 out of 5 based on 28 reviews
A very well explained and moving experience
The entire trip was very well done and both the tour guide Rychart and Micheal were outstanding. Every step of the tour was well explained and detailed description of Auschwitz-Birkenau was given. We will definitely use this company again.reviewed by
How to get to Krakow – How to get to Auschwitz
- Krakow is the second largest city in Poland. Population 766,583
- Krakow is the major airport near Auschwitz.
- Krakow airport is known as John Paul II International Airport Kraków–Balice. It is located 11.6km from the city centre
- Full-service carriers such as Finnair, LOT, British Airways fly into John Paul II International Airport Kraków–Balice.
- Budget airlines Ryanair, Easyjet, Germanwings and Vueling service Krakow Airport.
- You can check the prices of international flights to Krakow with CheapOair.
- Direct international trains from Berlina and Vienna service Krakow.
- Krakow international bus station is located 5.1km from the city centre. Direct buses for over 17 countries arrive here. book your bus today with GoEuro
- Krakow Airport is served by two regular bus lines: 208 and 252 and night line 902
- You can book an airport transfer with Suntransfers who we have personally used on many occasions.
- You can reserve a rental car and have it waiting for you at John Paul II International Airport Kraków–Balice
Getting around Krakow
- There is no underground transport system in Krakow.
- An integrated bus and tram system runs in Krakow from 05:00 – 23:00
- Check timetables and network maps online for Krakow at mpk.krakow.pl
- Tickets are the integrated bus and tram system are timed. This allows you the freedom to change between tram or bus lines within the allocated time of your tickets life.
- You can get 20min 40min,1-hour, 24-hour, 48-hour, 72-hour, and unlimited weekend family pass tickets
- You must stamp your ticket immediately on boarding the tram or bus in the small machines on-board
Where to stay in Krakow
- Krakow has accommodation options for every budget from Hostels, to apartments and hotels rooms.
- Hostels in Krakow can start from as little as 6€ Euro a night for a shared dorm room.
- You can search Airbnb for Krakow offerings. If you have never used Airbnb before get yourself $50 credit by signing and booking a stay right HERE
- Hotels in Krakow generally start from around $73.00 a night for a double room 3star and increase incrementally as the luxury rating rises towards the 5-star average price of $156.00.
- You can compare and book your stay on Agoda, Hotels.com, Hotels Combined and Priceline
We hope this has inspired you and informed you on how to get to Auschwitz from Krakow. Besides the amazing experience, you will have at Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration camp don’t forget to check out Krakow and its amazing sights.
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