Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
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Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau: Tours & Tickets

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5 historical facts about Auschwitz-Birkenau

With the world distracted by war, the Nazis brutally reshaped the demographics of Europe in the south of Poland. The harrowing truth wasn't revealed until far too late, but here are a few of the many things you'll learn on your tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is just one camp in a complex

Auschwitz-Birkenau is just one camp in a complex

Auschwitz-Birkenau – or Auschwitz II – was used as a death camp from 1942, primarily for Jews. Auschwitz I had already been holding Polish political prisoners for two years.

It wasn't all run by the state

It wasn't all run by the state

There was a third camp too. Monowitz – or Auschwitz III – was set up to provide slave labor for IG Farben. The Allies dissolved the chemical company the war.

1.1 million were killed

1.1 million were killed

90% were Jews, but thousands of Poles, Romani, Soviets, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals also died at Auschwitz. As did prisoners from other nationalities.

The world had no idea

The world had no idea

Not even most Germans knew what was happening at the camps. Arrivals were met with the slogan "Work sets you free." In hindsight it's hard to say how convincing that actually was.

The camp commander went into hiding

The camp commander went into hiding

Disguised as a farmer in Gottrupel, Rudolf Höss evaded capture for a year after the war. In spite of his expressed remorsed, he was hung outside the camp's crematorium in 1947.

Our insider tips

What are the opening times?

The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum is open daily from 8am except for January 1st, December 25th, and Easter Sunday. It closes at 3pm from December to February, 4pm in March and November, 5pm in April and October, 6pm in May and September, and 7pm from June to August. The site can be accessed for free but it is advisable to take a tour. If you decide to do so, book your tickets in advance. The best ones fill up very quickly!

How to get there from Krakow?

The easiest way is simply to book an all-in-one tour that leaves from the city. Alternatively, inexpensive buses frequently leave from the basement floor of Krakow's main bus station. You can also take a train to the nearby town of Oświęcim.

When to visit?

Krakow is a wonderful city with a great deal of attraction to please tourists. Though Auschwitz may be an essential part of your trip, it can be emotionally overwhelming. We recommend that you leave it till last.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Open daily.
    Hours vary based on time of year:
    7:30 AM-2:00 PM, December
    7:30 AM-3:00 PM, January, November
    7:30 AM-4:00 PM, February
    7:30 AM-5:00 PM, March, October
    7:30 AM-6:00 PM, April, May, September
    7:30 AM-7:00 PM, June, July, August
    Holiday hours may vary
  • Is it expensive?
    Basic entrance is free, but it is highly recommended take a tour which will have a cost depending on which one you choose.
  • Will I need a guide?
    It's not required but highly recommended. Best to book in advance online!
  • How to get there
    There are direct buses from Krakow. Alternatively, take the train to Oświęcim and then hop on local bus to the site.
  • Additional information
    Not recommended for children under 14.

What people are saying about Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau

Overall rating
4.5 / 5
based on 50,354 reviews

Would highly recommend this minivan trip to Auschwitz. We had chosen to be picked up at 11am but were contacted the evening before by our driver to say he would collect us at 8am instead, which wasn't a problem for us. We were collected from our apartment on time, the driver spoke great English and wore a mask. The minivan was modern and clean. We collected another family then set off to Auschwitz. It was a pleasant drive and everyone wore masks. Upon arrival at Auschwitz our driver took us through the entry point where we were handed over to a museum guide. She was fabulous, had lots of knowledge and was very respectful. The pace was ideal for us, we didn't feel rushed. We had a 10min break to eat the lunch we had brought with us then went back to our driver who took us to Auschwitz 2 where the same museum guide was waiting for us. After being shown around here our driver was waiting outside for us and took us back to Krakow.

Overall it was a good thing to have a guide, who provided information that one wouldn't have otherwise. I did feel, however, that the tour was rather rushed at times, though I appreciate that there is a lot to get through in a relatively short space of time.

Traveling to the camp and return was very comfortable. The guide was excellent and extremely knowledgeable. The experience is heartbreaking when you see what the nazis did without a second thought, but I'm glad that I went so that I can tell others about it.

From Krakow: Guided Tour Auschwitz-Birkenau Reviewed by

We had the best time. Alicja was an amazing guide and we even booked her for another day around Krakow and the Salt Mines. Everything was organised brilliantly and anything we wanted Alicja made sure that it happened. Couldn’t fault the experience!

From Kraków: Auschwitz and Birkenau Private Tour Reviewed by

It was on time and comfortable. The driver was extremely friendly and spoke great English. He got us there safely and gave us enough time to visit both camps. It was quick and enjoyable and still allow me enough time to see the city during the day.