From Krakow, it is easy to travel to Aushwitz and Birkenau by car. We decided to visit to learn and show respect to the victims of the Holocaust. These concentration camps are an important and tragic part of history that hopefully will never be repeated. In fact, it is very different to actually be there to see the remnants rather than just reading about it. I felt sad and moved, and now as I write this post I am teary-eyed remembering the emotions. It’s very difficult to contemplate how many Jewish people took a one-way train to these places.
The buildings have been turned into museums, which are very well-presented. We learned a lot by seeing and reading. Also, walking around the grounds showed us the huge space covered by the camps. One of the most horrible things to see was the rubble of destroyed buildings, from when the Nazis tried to destroy evidence of what had taken place here. Needless to say, it is well worth visiting.
- “Arbeit Macht Frei” Sign Gate
- Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
- Gas chambers
- Train tracks and cars where the trains entered the camps
- Auschwitz II Historical Gate
- Memorial and Museum Auschwitz II-Birkenau
- Walk around the grounds to see the barbed wire fences, guard towers, remnants of buildings that the Nazis tried to destroy and hide
Before you go
- Entry to Auschwitz and Birkenau is free of charge, though you can choose to pay for a guide. Reserve a place in advance at the website
- Auschwitz II camp is known as Birkenau
- Be prepared to be contemplative and also probably sad as you learn more details about the terrible Holocaust history in these locations
- Photos are allowed in most places but not of the human remains, as that is considered disrespectful. There are signs to indicate this
- From Krakow, it is about an hour by car to Auschwitz
- We hired a car with a driver for the day to visit the salt mine, Auschwitz and Birkenau, then drop-off at the airport from AuschwitzKrawkow.com They were reliable and reasonably priced
- Auschwitz and Birkenau are several kilometres apart, so our car drove us between them
- Krakow is very near so we used that as our base and stayed at the Hotel Kazimierz I
Q: Do I need a tour guide?
A: No, it is not necessary as there are signs to read. However, for a more detailed history you may want to hire a guide.
Q: Do people speak English?
A: Yes, people speak English
Q: Is it walkable?
A: It is walkable around each place, but there is a lot of walking to see both sites. It’s better to take the shuttle or drive between the two camps.
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