We visited Krakow and Auschwitz last summer as part of our European adventure.
Find out what we got up to in Krakow here.
Auschwitz was one of the most interesting yet harrowing things I’ve ever experienced. And to be honest, words can’t truly describe the experience of visiting this camp. But I wanted to try and share with you what a tour of Auschwitz looks like, how to book tickets, and how to get to the museum from Krakow.
Why Visit Auschwitz?
Survivors of the concentration camp returned to Auschwitz after it’s liberation and agreed it should be turned into a Museum, so that the atrocities that occurred would never be forgotten – or repeated again. And whilst Auschwitz has become a bucket list location for many travellers, many visit just for the sake of saying they’ve been, instead of learning of it’s cruel history. It’s not a happy visit. It’s a brutal, eye-opening experience to the lengths humans will go to. In my opinion? It’s a necessary visit all should take, in order to never forget.
Tickets and Travel
You can book tickets for a tour of Auschwitz and Auschwitz Birkenau on the website. Tickets cost 60zl for the guided tour, and tours can be taken in a variety of languages.
To get to Auschwitz from Krakow, you can take a bus from the main bus terminal in the city. The journey takes approximately 2 hours, and costs 13PLN each way. So it’s a good option for if you’re on a budget. The bus drops you off at the main entrance to Auschwitz.
If you’ve booked a tour, I’d recommend you leave plenty of time before your tour start time to arrive at Auschwitz, as there are long queues. We arrived at 8.30 ready for the 9.30 tour and only just made it on time! Also be mindful there are restrictions of what you can take into the site, large bags must be stored at the locker facilities available, and please make sure you dress respectably and wear appropriate footwear!
There is also a free shuttle bus between Auschwitz and Birkenau between April and October.
For the tour of Auschwitz, you are given a headset which allows your tour guide to easily communicate information to the whole group, whilst still talking at a respectful level. It also makes it easier for the tour to continue moving around the various sites. Your guide will take you round many of the barracks in Auschwitz where prisoners were kept and worked. One barrack is now home to many of the possessions from those who lived and died at the camp including suitcases, glasses and over 40,000 pairs of shoes. The sight of these possessions is heart-wrenching, and reminds us of the human lives which were lost throughout WWII.
The heaviness that follows you as you walk around Auschwitz is nothing compared to that at Birkenau. Unlike the main Auschwitz camp, Birkenau is not so much a museum, but has been preserved in the exact state it was found after it’s liberation. Only a handful of the barracks remain, and few have been restored. Our guide gave us a brief introduction to the site, showing us the remains of the chambers, the final journey that millions of victims took, and the memorials installed by countries around the world. After this, our guide left us and we were free to walk around the site by ourselves so we could fully take it in.
The silence that exists here is astonishing. It’s true what they say-we didn’t hear any birds sing, we didn’t see any wildlife. The site remains untouched by animal activity, as if they can sense the atrocities that occurred here. It’s possible to enter some of the renovated barracks, and see where so many people spent their days cooped up inside in such a small space. Markings on the walls were stark reminders of these victims.
Our visit to Auschwitz affected me for days afterwards, the sense of heaviness difficult to shake.
But that very feeling, that stark revelation you bare witness to, is all the more reason to go. It’s not a bucket list trip. It’s not a place you should visit just for the sake of visiting. It’s our history. It’s a reminder of what humanity is capable of doing. And it’s a lesson that prevents us from repeating these atrocities again.
Stay safe, and travel always