Visiting Auschwitz with or without guide or tour? All info and tickets

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Visiting Auschwitz with or without guide or tour? All info and tickets

27 mei 2020 in Cracow0 reacties

Auschwitz concentration camp is one of the most impressive places to commemorate the horror of the Second World War. In this German camp, Poland was occupied by the Germans, more than a million prisoners died in gas chambers. After the war, the camp became a symbol for the war and the horrors of the Nazis. The place carries a lot of sad history and is an important monument that will make you quiet for a while.

Read all about concentration camp Auschwitz I and II + how to visit Auschwitz with or without a guide.

Our tip: Tours and tickets Auschwitz (with or without guide)

Would you like to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau? Book a guided tour for € 32 (incl. transport from Cracow), so you can learn a lot more about the history without being limited to visiting hours.

Check out the full offer below, order safely and quickly with GetYourGuide. No guide needed, you can also book transport from Cracow.


  1. The history of Auschwitz

1.1. The creation of the camp

After Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, the army base near the town of Oświęcim, about 70 kilometers from the city of Cracow, was converted into a camp to imprison Polish political prisoners. The Germans called the place Auschwitz.

In May 1940 the first 30 prisoners arrived from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and less than a year later there were up to 11 thousand prisoners. Before they entered the camp, they were registered, tattooed and shaved. Sometimes they were taken straight to the gas chambers.

1.2. The crematorium

In July 1940, the crematorium was added to Auschwitz, initially to cremate the prisoners who had been executed or who had died in some other way. The crematorium was used until July 1943.

1.3. An extra camp in Monowitz

In April 1941 the houses in Monowitz were destroyed to make way for a new labour camp where the prisoners from Auschwitz had to make synthetic rubber. Twice a day they had to walk 7 kilometers to and from Auschwitz. It was not until October 1942 that they build a camp around the factory where the prisoners could stay.

1.4. The first gas chamber

In September 1941 they experimented for the first time with the gas Zyklon B. Lagerführer Karl Fritzsch gassed a group of Soviet prisoners on the orders of Rudolf Höss. Soon the morgue was converted into a gas chamber where up to 800 people could enter at the same time.

At certain times of the day the main camp can only be visited with a guide. So be sure to check the times if you want to go without a guide. (See below)

1.5. Auschwitz II Birkenau

Because Auschwitz was overcrowded, a second facility was built in October 1941. Auschwitz II Birkenau was much larger than Auschwitz's first camp. When the Nazis had decided to exterminate the Jewish population, the camp was converted into a gruesome extermination camp.

From 1942, thousands of Jews, Roma, homosexuals, political prisoners and others were transported to Auschwitz II Birkenau. At least 1.1 million people lost their lives there. The gas chambers of Birkenau were opened in March 1942 and barely a year later 4 new gas chambers were built.

1.6. The destruction of Auschwitz Monowitz

In the second half of 1944 Auschwitz III Monowitz was bombed several times by the Allies. The SS finally evacuated the camp in January 1945. At that time 9,000 prisoners were sent on death march to the smaller camp Gliwice, others were transported to the camps of Buchenwald and Mauthausen.

1.7. The liberation by the Allies

in January 1945 the Allies came closer and closer. The SS finally decided on 27 January to evacuate the camps of Auschwitz. A large part of the prisoners were transported to other concentration camps, but around 58,000 prisoners were sent on death march.

The prisoners came from both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II Birkenau and from the various smaller camps in the area. Along the way thousands of prisoners were shot if they were too sick or tired to go any further. When the Allies were able to liberate the camp, they found another 7500 live prisoners in Auschwitz.

1.8. The museum today

In 1947 it was decided to turn the concentration camp into a museum and memorial to commemorate the horrors of Auschwitz. In 1979 Auschwitz was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Click here to reserve a ticket for Auschwitz

  1. Visiting Auschwitz

Auschwitz consists of several concentration and extermination camps built near the Polish town of Oświęcim. There are 3 large complexes:

  • The concentration camp Auschwitz I,
  • Auschwitz II Birkenau extermination camp
  • The Auschwitz III Monowitz work camp. The Monowitz camp no longer exists, but the other two complexes can still be visited.
At certain times of the day the main camp can only be visited with a guide. So be sure to check the times if you want to go without a guide. (See below)
  1. Concentration camp Auschwitz I

Auschwitz I is smaller than Auschwitz II and consists mainly of stone bunkers. The camp is one kilometer long and about 400 meters wide. Above the entrance gate of concentration camp Auschwitz I you can read the words "Arbeit macht frei". In about twenty barracks, where once the victims of the Nazi regime resided, are several exhibitions about the camp and how the prisoners lived there.

3.1. Block 5

In block 5 there are a lot of things on display that were found after the liberation. Such as glasses, shoes and tons of shaved hair.

3.2. Block 11

In Block 11 you can enter the tiny rooms where prisoners were murdered during the first tests with the new zyklon B gas that would later be used in the gas chambers.

3.3. Block 27

In Block 27 you can visit an exhibition about how the prisoners tried to make the best of their situation. You will find a room full of children's drawings. Along there is a gigantic book in which all the names of the identified victims are written down. Everywhere in the complex there are photographs of Auschwitz's victims.

  1. Concentration camp Auschwitz II-Birkenau

The second camp is Auschwitz II, or Birkenau and can easily be reached with the free shuttle buses that run between the two camps. This extermination camp was built later than Auschwitz I and is much larger than the first complex.

In the middle is a grass field surrounded by barbed wire. Along you will see the train tracks that entered the camp through the entrance gate. There is a duplicate of a train wagon that used to transport the victims to the camp. At the back of the camp you can visit a number of graves, including Anne Frank's grave.

  1. When can I visit Auschwitz?

5.1. Opening hours

Auschwitz is open all year round, except on January 1st, Easter Sunday and December 25th.

  • In January and November Auschwitz opens at 07:30 and closes at 16:30.
  • In February Auschwitz closes at 17:30
  • In March and October Auschwitz closes at 18:30.
  • In April, May and September Auschwitz closes at 19:30.
  • In June, July and August Auschwitz doesn't close until 20:30.
  • In December you can only visit Auschwitz until 15:30

5.2. Visiting Auschwitz without a guide? Make sure to book your ticket

At certain hours you are not able to visit Auschwitz without a guide.

  • You cannot visit Auschwitz between 10:00 and 13:00 without a guide from 1 January to 30 March and in November.
  • In the period from 1 April to 31 October the same applies between 10:00 and 15:00.
  • In December you cannot visit Auschwitz without a guide between 10:00 and 12:00.
If you want to visit Auschwitz without a guide, you should arrive before or after those times and book a ticket in advance. If you don't, you will have to take a guide for your visit. It is advisable to book a guide for the full experience.
  1. Tickets to visit Auschwitz

6.1. Limited amount of free tickets

The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is normally free of charge, but there are some restrictions. There are only 25 free tickets (without guide) per quarter of an hour.

If you want one of these tickets, it is best to reserve it online in advance. You can order the tickets up to 3 months in advance whereby you will have to choose a time when you will be present.

6.2. A guided visit to Auschwitz

Along, You can also visit Auschwitz with a guide. We definitely recommend a guide because you will learn so much more about the history of this place. In Auschwitz Birkenau there are hardly any information boards, so a guide is definitely recommended. Tickets for a guided visit to Auschwitz can easily be booked online.

6.3. Visiting Auschwitz from Cracow

Are you staying in Cracow? Then read our blog article on how to visit Auschwitz from Cracow. The best way to visit Auschwitz from Cracow is with an organized tour from Cracow.

They will pick you up at your hotel whereby they will bring you the concentration camp for a guided tour. Tickets for a guided visit from Cracow can easily be booked online.

6.4. Combining Auschwitz with the salt mine

Some tours combine a visit to the concentration camp with the nearby Wieliczka salt mine.

  1. How to avoid the queues in Auschwitz?

In high season there can be quite long queues in front of the cash registers because only 25 people are allowed in every quarter of an hour. We therefore advise you to buy an entrance ticket in advance. You can opt for an individual visit or join a tour accompanied by a professional guide.

Our tip: with a guided tour you will not only learn more about the camps, but you are also able to skip queue.
  1. How to get from Auschwitz I to Auschwitz II-Birkenau?

The two camps are 3.5 kilometers away from each other. Between Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau a shuttle bus runs every 10 minutes between April and October and every half hour from November to March.

  1. How to get to Auschwitz?

9.1. With public transport

When you take public transport to Auschwitz-Birkenau from Cracow, you have the choice between bus or train.

  • You can take a bus from the regional bus station behind Cracow's central station to Oświęcim or Auschwitz. These buses depart several times an hour and take about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
  • You can also take the train to Auschwitz. In Cracow, take the train to Oświęcim. This train takes just a little longer than the bus and from Oświęcim station it is a 2 km walk to the entrance of Auschwitz.

9.2. Shuttle bus from Cracow

You can also book cheap tickets online for a shuttle bus that will take you directly from Cracow to the concentration camps.

9.2. By car

From Cracow it is about an hour and a half drive to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The address is Więźniów Oświęcimia 20, 32-603 Oświęcim, Poland (see location on the map).

  1. Practical info for your visit to Auschwitz

  • A visit to the concentration camp leaves a deep impression and leaves no one unmoved. It is not recommended to visit the place with children under the age of 14.
  • Wear good, comfortable and waterproof shoes that can get dirty. When it rains, the place can become quite muddy.
  • In sunny weather, make sure you put on sunscreen for the sun and wear a hat or cap if necessary. The facility is mostly in open air and there is not much shade.
  • Bring a bottle of water and something to eat. You can also buy something small at the entrance of Auschwitz.
  • Large bags are not allowed inside.
  • Book your tickets online for a visit to Auschwitz with a guide or your transport from Cracow to Auschwitz.
  1. What more to see in the area around Auschwitz

  • Visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine
  • Oskar Schindlers Enamel Factory
  • The pretty village of Tyniec and the famous monastery on the banks of the River Wisła
  • Visiting the old town of Cracow
  • A visit to Warsaw
  1. Filmpje: een eerste impressie van Auswitch

Wat mag je verwachten bij een bezoek aan Auswitch? In dit filmpje Kan je alvast een eerste impressie opdoen.

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