Best Guide for Exploring Auschwitz with Kids and Teens

Auschwitz. It is a name that is synonymous with pain, suffering, horror, murder and the Holocaust. It is a name that can fill you with fear instantly, and there are not many people around the globe who don’t know its name. So, is visiting Auschwitz with kids and teens a good idea?

We took our two daughters to Auschwitz-Birkenau after they had asked to visit during our trip to Poland. Both have done lots of reading about WWII, and it was a place they remembered us visiting without them on a previous visit to Poland. It was a decision that took a lot of thought on our behalf and many more hours of talking with them.

teenages visiting Auschwitz with parents
Visiting Auschwitz with kids

In this post, we will cover the most frequently asked questions about Auschwitz that we had after we visited Auschwitz with kids and try to answer all you will need to know to support your kids at Auschwitz the best way possible.

Visiting Auschwitz with teens

If visiting Auschwitz with family is something you want to do you need to make sure you have an open conversation with your kids about the visit.

The more you talk about this dark tourism site, the more you will be able to gauge what information they can handle and what you may have to look out for. A visit to Auschwitz is an emotional experience for adults, let alone kids, teens or older children.

Cultural experiences for teenagers are important.

Resources for preparing for your visit to Auschwitz with teenagers

If you are visiting Auschwitz with teenagers, you may find doing some research before you go to be invaluable. We found that talking as a family with our daughters was a great way to prepare them a small amount. Below are some of the resources we used before we visited Auschwitz with kids.

Books on Auschwitz

Our daughters both found teenage-appropriate books in their school libraries. Some were stories from survivors of Auschwitz Death Camp and some general WWII books had references to what happened in the concentration camps during the war.

Some of the books were:

We found that nonfiction or based-on-people books on Auschwitz aimed at young adults were the best for the girls to read. They contained more information and much more emotion than a fictional book.

Documentaries on Auschwitz

We found many documentaries on Netflix, SBS, ABC, and other channels that were appropriate for them to watch, but we did watch them with the girls. We could answer questions and then talk about what we had seen.

These also gave them a stark look at the horror they would witness.

Some documentaries we watched were:

  • World War II in colour
  • The Hitler Youth

We decided not to watch movies like Schindler’s list or Boy in the Striped Pyjama’s with the girls before we left for the visit to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. They have both decided that they are not ready to watch them now.

Internet searches for Auschwitz

We found that we could easily research any of the information that we wanted on the Internet. However, we also found that there were many confronting and differing views on the subject. Some were not age-appropriate for our daughters, which at times led to heavy conversations.

If you are going to research on the internet, please make sure that you are visiting an accredited site that gives you the correct information for you to discuss with your teens before you visited Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Some sites we used were:

Visiting Auschwitz with kids

On both times we have made a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau there have not been a lot of more minor children at Auschwitz with family. There were a couple of very small children in prams and a couple in wraps on their parents, but at no time did we see small children wandering around the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

If you do need to take your younger children, there are not many places for them to wait if a building you want to visit is not appropriate for them to enter as well.

We found that even though it was located near a town, it was an extremely quiet place. You may have to rethink your visit to Auschwitz or maybe even visit on different days if you can and leave your little ones with another parent or family member while you go there.

I found myself completely absorbed in my emotions the first time we went, and I am glad I did not have my young children at Auschwitz with me at that time.

For young children who cannot comprehend what happened there, you may find that they are ok with a visit. There are rooms with shoes, luggage, pots and uniforms, but not many graphic scenes are depicted. If there are, you can quickly identify them and not enter the room with your children. Much of what is on display is people’s belongings, things that belonged to someone who had no idea what was going to happen and that is such a different level of emotion.

Dark tourism destinations can be a confronting

Making a booking to visit Auschwitz

You can book tickets to the Auschwitz Birkenau memorial site on the official website or book various day tours from places such as Krakow and Warsaw. There are so many Auschwitz tour packages available so take your time in selecting what is best for you.

Visiting Auschwitz with a guide

If it is your first visit to Auschwitz, a guide is a fantastic way to learn what actually took place at the concentration camp.

They are generally in groups of 20-30 people, and you are given a headset to wear, and the tour guide speaks into that as you walk through the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Auschwitz ticket prices with tour

3.5 hour guided tour for adults$23 USD€ 18.90
3.5 hour guided tour with concession$19.80€ 16.67

You can organise a guided tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau through the website, or if you need to visit Auschwitz from Krakow or another city, you can organise a day trip to Auschwitz that includes a guided tour.

Did we visit Auschwitz with kids on a tour?

We decided not to do this kind of tour with our daughters as visiting Auschwitz is such an emotional journey we were worried that at some point we would have to leave the tour and we did not want to distress or interrupt other people’s experience during the tour.

Auschwitz
Organised tours with teenagers at Auschwitz

Visiting Auschwitz without a guide

It concerned me that many people visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial without a guide, and many of the horrors here are lost to them. Some places in the camp need a person to explain to you why it is a significant place and what happened and without a guide at Auschwitz, that can be difficult.

A self-guided tour of Auschwitz we believe is a good option for families with older kids. It gives you the option to go at your child’s pace and you can control some of what they will see.

There are plenty of signs around the camp that will describe what happened in certain places and significant sights. They are very explanatory and are very well written.

In most of the buildings at this dark tourism site, there is a lot of information about what happened at the camp and in certain rooms.

Should I visit Auschwitz with kids?

Only you know your child, what their level of comprehension is about visiting a concentration camp. While we can give you the best of what we did you need to keep in mind you need to do what is right for your family when visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Shoes from the prisoners at Auschwitz
The horrors of Auschwitz are on display everywhere

Tips for visiting Auschwitz with teens

We can think of many tips for visiting the Auschwitz Memorial and so many things you can do to prepare. Here are some of our top tips:

  • Talk about the visit to the concentration camp before and after you go. The more you talk, the more you can see how it is affecting them
  • Do some research before you go. This post is great, and we have another emotional piece that you can read here.
  • Take your time. Don’t plan to rush through, but do plan to leave if you need to as well
  • Organise dinner or lunch after your visit. We found this a great way to sit and talk about what they had seen after the visit. You may not eat much but it gives you a chance to talk.
  • Emotions are funny things. Let them express what they feel as much as they can

If you’re looking to visit Auschwitz from Krakow we have all the best options by bus, train, car and tour. Read our Krakow to Auschwitz article here.

General top tips for visiting Auschwitz

We found that our visit was highly emotional on both trips to Auschwitz and completely different.

The first time we went was just the two of us, and the second was with our daughters. While both of the visits to Auschwitz were different some things were the same.

  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before your allocated time, especially if you are driving to Auschwitz. This will give you time to park the car, get through security and find your guide if you are on a tour.
  • Make sure you have a form of identity for all people you have booked tickets for. The name on the booking must match the name on the ticket, and you need it for the kids as well.
  • Do not bring anything with you, such as pens, pencils, markers, or large bags. Your bag will be searched on arrival, and any inappropriate items will be removed.
  • There are places outside of both Auschwitz and Birkenau where you can purchase something to eat and drink, but not within the camp.
  • Parking at Auschwitz costs 6 euros, and parking at Birkenau costs 8 euros.

Should I visit Auschwitz with kids? – Our opinion

Our visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with teens is still something we talk about a lot and something that we are asked about a lot. We talked extensively with our daughters about what they would see and witness while we were there.

Mark and I had visited Auschwitz previously, and we were able to use some of that insight to help our daughters with what they would see. I believe this helped us immensely.

Ultimately, you know your children and your teens and only you can decide what they can handle. They will be in a place where millions were murdered, there are pictures, and there are sights that will stay with them.

How did our daughters feel after the visit to Auschwitz?

When I asked the girls what they felt, they said they felt heavy. Heavy hearts, heavy minds and heavy thoughts and I thought it was a very fitting way to explain how being in Auschwitz feels. The ideas that you are having make your whole body heavy.

How to visit Auschwitz with kids

There are so many options on how to visit Auschwitz, but it will depend on the amount of time you have and what you believe your kids can handle.

Organised tour to Auschwitz from Krakow

For some who are not confident driving in Poland, this will be the perfect way to get from Krakow to Auschwitz.

Self-driving from Krakow to Auschwitz

This may be the best way if you are confident about driving. This will give you the freedom that you and your children may need with a visit to Auschwitz.

Self-guided day trip from Krakow to Auschwitz

There are also tours to Auschwitz, where the company will guide you to the concentration camp, and from there, you will make your own way around the Auschwitz Memorial.

Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in the summer

The Auschwitz Concentration camp is a hot place in the summer. The brick buildings will hold a lot of the heat, and other parts are not shaded. It is kept as it was as much as possible, so these modifications would take some things away from how hard this environment would have been for the prisoners held there.

A visit out to Birkenau will be just as hot. There is no shade and minimal places to stop and rest, especially if you are on a tour.

Visiting Auschwitz in winter

The winter at Auschwitz will be just as extreme as the summer months. While there is heating in the buildings at Auschwitz, the camp at Birkenau is open to all elements. You need to ensure you have all the correct clothing to visit Auschwitz in winter.

There are so many things that you need to consider when you plan on visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp. We hope our trips to Auschwitz give you some idea of what to expect and some things to consider before you go.

Visiting Auschwitz from Krakow tips

If you are making a day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow, make sure you can easily reach your tour company’s pick-up point.

Where to stay when visiting Auschwitz

As we were self-driving, we found staying in the nearby town of Oswiecim much easier. We had a hotel room around a 7-minute drive to the camp.

There are plenty of places to stay in Osweim, whether it be a hotel, hostel, or apartment. Make sure you book what your family needs.

We hope this post from us here at Wyld Family Travel has given you some helpful information on what to expect when you are visiting Auschwitz with kids and teenagers. Visiting Auschwitz is a very emotional journey and one that many people find difficult to handle. With this post, we hope we have given you some of the tools you may need if you are visiting Auschwitz with your family.

Travel with teenagers and tweens. Travelling with older kids has just as many issues as travelling with younger kids. Choosing the best teenage vacation destinations can be so time-consuming. Use our Travel with Teenagers Destination Guides from all over the world for your next family vacation inspiration to make your family vacations with teens epic.

Need more guidance, travel with teens tips and family travel advice from an expert family travel blog? Use our tips, tricks and advice for teen travel page for detailed, first-hand family travel vacation inspiration.


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Rebecca Wyld

bec.wyld@wyldfamilytravel.com

Content Creator/SEO Editor

Co-founder and SEO editor here at Wyld Family Travel. Bec has travelled to over 45 countries across 3 continents and is a journey with kids advocate. When Bec is not planning travel, she creates content for our family travel blog or does local community service work. You can find all of Bec’s detailed travel guides here on Wyld Family Travel and on other popular websites such as Lonely Planet.