Visiting Auschwitz concentration camp is often one of the main reasons people decide to travel to Krakow. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, over one million people would visit Auschwitz every year. The former complex of concentration and extermination camps was built by the Nazis during World War II. Its grounds have been turned into the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum as a reminder of the horrors that happened during that time and the victims of the Holocaust. Today, you can walk around the Auschwitz camp and see the ruins of the gas chambers and prison blocks during one of the Auschwitz Tour. V

If you’d like to visit Auschwitz Birkenau on your next trip to Poland, you are probably wondering how to get there and where to stay. We’ve prepared this post to give you a quick overview of what to expect and help plan your Auschwitz Birkenau Tour.

Where in Poland is Auschwitz? Which Polish city is closest to Auschwitz?

The Auschwitz Birkenau Museum is located in the town of Oświęcim in southern Poland. In case you ever wondered about the name of this former concentration camp, Auschwitz is the German name for Oświęcim. The town is located around 60 km (38 miles) from Krakow which is home to the closest airport, John Paul II Kraków-Balice International Airport.

Auschwitz Tour concentration camp – where to stay to visit?

Unless your trip to Poland is very short and you plan on visiting only the Auschwitz Museum, it’s best to stay in Krakow. Oświęcim is a small town; although you can find hotels there, your options are much more limited. If you’re coming for a few days and would like to see other sites, Krakow is definitely more recommended. The accommodation options in Krakow are much more varied, so you’re more likely to find one that fits your needs and budget. Staying in Krakow will also allow you to see other popular attractions in this part of Poland. For example, there is plenty to do around the Krakow Old Town and you can easily take day trips to other places like the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Since the Auschwitz memorial is visited by so many tourists every year, it is also easy to reach from Krakow.

When booking accommodation in Krakow, focus on the city center as that’s where most of the city’s highlights are located. A centrally located hotel also means that you can get to other places without much fuss, especially when using public transport. To soak in the charming atmosphere in Krakow and have easy access to its highlights, we recommend finding accommodation in or near the Old Town.

How to get from Krakow to Auschwitz

If you’re travelling on a budget, you can get to Auschwitz by public transport – either from the main bus station or the train station. Those who decide on going from Krakow to Auschwitz by bus or train can expect the trip to take on average between 1 hour to 2 hours and 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the train can take longer due to necessary changes en route. You can find out more details about the public transportation to Auschwitz and its costs here.

Although taking a bus or train is the most affordable option to get to Auschwitz from Krakow, it can be challenging for someone who doesn’t know the language. Not to mention that figuring out the timetables and stations can be confusing and time-consuming. If you’re looking for more convenient ways, there are many organized Auschwitz tours you can book. Some of them come with a hotel pick-up and drop-off, so you don’t have to worry about getting anywhere. In addition, most of them will include museum entrance tickets and a guided tour of Auschwitz Birkenau camp, so you don’t have to worry about that either.

Auschwitz Tours – which one to choose?

If you’re considering booking an organized tour of Auschwitz, there are a few variations you can choose from. Which one is best for you depends on your budget, the amount of time you have, and how you like to do things. If you don’t mind joining a group of other tourists, there is a classic Auschwitz tour, which includes transport and a guided tour of the Auschwitz II Birkenau Camps. Those who don’t have a lot of time in Krakow but don’t want to miss anything can decide on a day trip to both Auschwitz and Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for private tours, you can opt for this Auschwitz and Birkenau Private Tour, which will provide you with a private transfer and tour guide just for you and your travel companions. Finally, if you’re looking for more flexibility and would like to visit Auschwitz on your own without a tour guide, you can book only a transfer or a both-way transfer with 4 hours waiting on you in Oswiecim.

If you’d like to know more information about Auschwitz, read our guide on how to prepare for your visit.