In this practical guide you will find all the best tips to plan your trip from Krakow to Auschwitz and visit the concentration camp on a day trip, on your own or with the most reliable local tour.
The information you find in this guide have been personally verified and are kept constantly updated.
What you will find in this guide:
- How far is Auschwitz from Krakow?
- How long does it take from Krakow to Auschwitz?
- How to go from Krakow to Auschwitz by Bus
- How to go from Krakow to Auschwitz by Train
- How to go from Krakow to Auschwitz by Car
- Is it worth booking a Guided Tour from Krakow to Auschwitz?
- Things to know before you go from Krakow to Auschwitz
How far is Auschwitz from Krakow?
The Auschwitz Concentration Camp is located in the town of Oświęcim, located about 60 km west of Krakow.
Auschwitz is located in a rather remote area, surrounded by forests. But by the time of WWII it was an important railway junction, which helped install the Concentration Camp Auschwitz I just outside the city center of Oswiecim, whose name had been changed to Auschwitz during the Nazi occupation years.
Auschwitz Concentration Camp is located approximately 2.5 km from the city center and Oświęcim station.
How far is Birkenau from Auschwitz?
The Birkenau extermination camp is located in the countryside about 3 km from the main Auschwitz I camp. During visiting hours there are free buses running between the two camps.
How long does it take from Krakow to Auschwitz?
The journey from Krakow to Auschwitz takes between 1.5 and 3 hours.
The fastest way is to go with a guided tour, which includes round-trip transport by private bus and allows you to optimize time and comfort.
The train is a cheap but not very comfortable option. Depending on the type of train, the journey lasts from 1 hour and 40 minutes to over 3 hours. And from Oswiecim Railway Station to the main gate of the Auschwitz Camp it takes at least half an hour walk, or you can take a local bus, but they are not very frequent.
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How to go from Krakow to Auschwitz by Bus
If you want to go from Krakow to Auschwitz on your own, one of the most common solutions is to take one of the public buses that take you directly to the Auschwitz Camp from Krakow city center.
It is a cheap and rather reliable solution, but remember to be well informed about the timetables because they change quite frequently and, especially in winter, you could risk missing the last bus back to Krakow.
Buses to Auschwitz leave from Dworzec MDA (formerly RDA Regional Bus Station), located at ul. Bosacka 18.
It can be reached from Galeria Krakowska, the shopping center located in the center, next to the Central Railway Station.
You can also go through the station, go along the platform and go down into the underpass where the train ticket offices are located. From here you have to go right, in the opposite direction to the underground entrance to the shopping center. At the exit of the underpass you will find the Bus Station, right on the left. Go inside and look for the ticket office, ask for a ticket to Oświęcim or explain your intentions to reach the Auschwitz Museum.
The return ticket costs 28 zł (approximately € 7) per person.
The journey from Krakow to Auschwitz by bus takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.
I recommend that you go in the morning, the buses are more frequent (about one every half hour) and so you will be sure to arrive in time for your visit (there may often be delays due to road works).
Get off at the “Auschwitz Muzeum” stop. This is the same stop for the bus you will take back to Krakow. On the way back, the bus frequency is roughly one every hour, and the last one leaves around 6.15pm. In summer, buses are more frequent.
There are several companies that operate public buses between Krakow and Auschwitz, the cost of the ticket is more or less the same.
Be careful: when you ask for the ticket from Krakow to Auschwitz, it is better to specify that you want to go to the Auschwitz Museum (the Concentration Camp), otherwise you risk ending up at the Oswiecim Lodowisko Bus Station, which is over 5 km away from the Camp of Concentration.
How to go from Krakow to Auschwitz by Train
Going from Krakow to Auschwitz by train is a rather cheap solution, but perhaps not the fastest and most comfortable.
From Krakow Central Station (Krakow Glowny) you can take a regional train to Oświęcim. There is one every hour or two (depending on the day of the week and the season), and the journey lasts from 1 hour and 40 minutes up to over 2.5 hours (depending on the type of train).
It may be a good idea to inquire in advance at the train station ticket office about available options. Please note that many conductors do not speak English.
The cost of the one-way ticket varies between 9 and 25 zł, depending on the type of train. Normally the basic train fare from Krakow to Auschwitz is 15.60 zł (approx. € 3.60) one way.
You will get off at Oświęcim Station, which is almost 2km from the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. In summer it is about a 30-minute walk, in winter it is better to take the local bus to “Muzeum” at a cost of 2.7 zł.
How to go from Krakow to Auschwitz by Car
A day trip by car from Krakow to Auschwitz might be a good choice if you have enough time to spend and want to take a look at the surroundings.
You could rent a car, car rental prices in Krakow are inexpensive. In the vicinity of the Auschwitz Museum there are several parking lots. The price is around 8zł per day, less than 2€.
However, consider that there are traffic restrictions in the city center of Krakow, which is why many families opt for a private transfer, with a driver who will pick you up, take you to your destination, wait for you during the tour and then take you back to the your hotel in Krakow. Prices are very affordable if you book a licensed, certified and reliable driver. Prices are around € 100 per car.
The fastest way to get from Krakow to Auschwitz is the A4 motorway, however if you want to have a look around you should opt for one of the many secondary roads, such as the 780.
Is it worth booking a Guided Tour from Krakow to Auschwitz?
Auschwitz is one of those places that definitely deserve to be visited with a guide. Official guides allow you to better understand what you see, to give voice to what would otherwise be just ruins.
With its tragic history, Auschwitz has a lot to tell its visitors. It is a visit that only makes sense if made to learn more about its atrocious past. I have visited this place many times, both with and without a guide, and I can assure you that they are two completely different experiences.
The visit without a guide can leave you all the time you want to visit, to contemplate what happened, but it assumes that you already have an excellent knowledge of the place and its history. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to make the most of the visit.
I recommend the visit with the guide to everyone, it is an absolutely intimate and touching experience, which anyone should do at least once in their life. Especially if it is your first visit to Auschwitz.
There are excellent guided tours from Krakow, organized by licensed and certified local guides, which allow you to visit both Auschwitz and Birkenau in a day and learn a lot about the history of the place and the stories of the prisoners.
Guided tours are inexpensive and include comfortable round-trip transportation, which optimizes your time and saves you the hassle of planning your visit.
The number of people visiting Auschwitz has grown tremendously in recent years, and this has led to regulations, so today anyone who wants to visit Auschwitz needs to book a timed ticket online (with or without a guide) far in advance.
These restrictions do not apply to tours organized by local guides, who take care of booking for you, even with little advance notice.
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Things to know before you go from Krakow to Auschwitz
When planning your visit to Auschwitz you must take into account that, according to the new regulations of the Auschwitz Museum, it is mandatory to book and pay for the visit in advance.
The reservation must be made on the official website of the Auschwitz Museum and is valid for both the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and the Birkenau Extermination Camp.
During peak periods, such as June to September or December to February, it may be necessary to book well in advance. Even if you want to visit the camp on your own, without a guide, you will still need to book your ticket in advance.
If you decide to join one of the pre-arranged Auschwitz tours from Krakow, you won’t have to worry about a thing, as your guide will book for you. This is a good choice even when the availability on the official website is over.
I don’t recommend going without a reservation, as admission in these cases is at the discretion of the museum management. However, to have a chance you should go early in the morning and ask for the possibility of being included in one of the day tours.
If you go on your own I recommend that you check the bus or train timetables in advance. Once it happened that some friends of mine got stuck there after they missed the last bus of the evening because the schedules were suddenly changed due to some road works. They were lucky because it was summer, in winter with a temperature of a few degrees below zero it would not have been pleasant.
For those with limited time there are guided tours from Krakow that allow you to visit Auschwitz – Birkenau and the Wieliczka Salt Mines on the same day. I advise you to dedicate at least one day each, but if you really can’t, this could be a good solution.
Useful Tips for Your Trip
Check out our Auschwitz Visit Guide for facts and useful information about the Auschwitz, Birkenau and Monowitz Concentration Camps.
To better understand the history of those tragic times you should also visit the Podgorze district in Krakow, where the infamous Krakow Ghetto was located. Also very interesting is the visit to Schindler’s Factory, which today is the most complete museum on the Nazi occupation of Southern Poland.
Many people choose to visit Auschwitz on a day trip from Krakow, so here you can find the best useful tips to better plan your trip to Krakow and the wonderful region of Southern Poland: