For many travellers, Auschwitz is one of the main reasons to visit Kraków. The museum saw over 2 million people in 2019. The site of the former concentration camp lies just outside Oświęcim, nearly 70km from Kraków itself. Here are full details on how to reach Auschwitz-Birkenau from the centre of the city.
Auschwitz-Birkenau – image © Ayesha Cantrell
Located just outside the town of Oświęcim (pronounced Ow-svitch), the infamous Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau are visited annually by over 2 million people and are, for many, one of the key reasons for coming to Kraków. See our comprehensive walkthrough for an idea of what the experience is like. Oświęcim itself is roughly 70km from the centre of Kraków and below you will find directions for how to reach it via all the main forms of transport, as well as details of costs and timings.
General Information For Entry To Auschwitz-Birkenau
Entry times are as follows:
- January: 8am-3pm
- February: 8am-4pm
- March: 8am-5pm
- April-May: 8am-6pm
- June-August: 8am-7pm
- September: 8am-6pm
- October: 8am-5pm
- November: 8am-3pm
- December: 8am-2pm
Once inside the site, you can stay and up to 90 minutes beyond the entry times.
Auschwitz-Birkenau is closed on January 1, December 25, and Easter Sunday.
Entry to Auschwitz-Birkenau is free and can be booked in advance, however there are restrictions to entry during the high season (April-October), and a guide may be required. Information is subject to change, so check the official site for the latest information.
The Birkenau site is just over 3km from Auschwitz. It’s an easy walk but there’s a free shuttle from April to October. Full details on the official site.
How to Get From Kraków To Auschwitz-Birkenau As Part Of A Tour
The best way to get to Auschwitz-Birkenau is as part of an organised tour. Every aspect will be organised for you, including a hotel pickup, if your specific tour includes the option. And, once you arrive, a guide will give expert knowledge of the camps.
On the other hand, getting there by public transport can be a bit of a fuss, and is only recommended if you’re on a strict budget.
Get Your Guide offer a comprehensive range of different tours, costing approximately 133zł (25€ / £30 / $30) for a full 8-hour daytrip. Tours typically include free cancellation, pickup and return via coach, skip-the-line ticket, and full access to Auschwitz-Birkenau with an authorized guide (and a range of languages available). However, many variations exist to match exactly what you’re looking for, including half-day and combined tours, and private transfer without the guided tour.
- Directions: Pickup will depend on which tour you book but all will drop you off directly outside the main entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where you will be met by your tour guide.
- Times: Regular pickup times from 8am, 75-minute journey each way.
- Prices: Prices will depend on which tour you book.
How to Get From Kraków To Auschwitz-Birkenau By Bus
If you want more flexibility, you can take the bus to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Be sure to pre-book a time slot at Auschwitz-Birkenau via the official website before paying for transport.
If you want to book a bus ticket in advance, use the official MDA bus planner. It’s a bit clunky, so choose MDA IN CRACOW on the homepage. Then make sure FROM CRACOW is selected on the next screen. Paste in OŚWIĘCIM – the site only accepts Polish place names with Polish accents, so typing OSWIECIM won’t work – then select from the pop-up menu. Choose the date and time, you intend to travel and hit SEARCH. You’ll get departure and arrival times, duration of journey, price, and current availability. You can scroll left and right with the arrow keys and get more information about each journey. It’s also possible to book online. Make sure your journey includes the stop Oświęcim Muzeum, as this is closest to the main site.
You can also book a return journey from the same stop by following the instructions above and selecting TO CRACOW instead. Paste in OŚWIĘCIM and when you want to travel. It will give you routes back to Kraków MDA.
You can also buy tickets in person at the Kraków Dworzec MDA (bus station) ticket booths. Make sure your bus goes via the Muzeum Auschwitz stop, otherwise you’ll have a 2km walk from Oświęcim itself.
- Directions: Buses start from the Kraków Dworzec MDA coach station, located behind the main Kraków Główny train station. You can reach it by going through the Galeria Krakowska shopping mall and following the signs to the bus station. Buses and platforms are displayed on the electronic signs – look for the time your bus is due to leave and the name OŚWIĘCIM. You can check with the driver that you’re on the right bus and when to get off. Get off at the Muzeum Auschwitz stop, which is actually in the main car park of Auschwitz-Birkenau. You will catch the bus back from the same stop.
- Times: Buses run every 20-40 minutes, depending on time of day, and typically take 90 minutes each way.
- Prices: Expect to pay 12.5-18zł each way.
How to Get From Kraków To Auschwitz-Birkenau By Shuttle
Easier than the bus, though more expensive, you can pre-book a shuttle bus from Kraków bus station directly to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
- Directions: Shuttle buses leave from the upper level of the Kraków Dworzec MDA bus station on Bosacka, which you can find behind the main Kraków Główny train station. You can reach it by going through the Galeria Krakowska shopping mall and following the signs to the bus station, stops G1-6, depending on time of travel. You’ll be dropped off and picked up on Stanisławy Leszczyńskiej, right across from the Museum entrance.
- Times: There are 13 shuttles daily, from 6.20am to 4.15pm. The journey takes 90 minutes each way.
- Prices: Tickets are 4€ (20zł) each way.
How to Get From Kraków To Auschwitz-Birkenau By Taxi
If public transport doesn’t work with your timetable, consider getting a taxi from Kraków to Auschwitz-Birkenau. It will cost a lot more but removes a lot of the bother of making your own way there. Uber is available but there are plenty of local firms that are very reliable. Ask your hotel for help in booking and see if you can agree a cheaper price for the return journey.
- Directions: You can organise your cab to pick you up and take you door to door. There is also a taxi rank outside the museum entrance, for when you return, though this will probably cost more than booking in advance.
- Times: The fastest route takes 70 minutes from Kraków Old Town to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
- Prices: Expect to pay 175-200zł (35-40€) each way, though prices are higher before 6am.
How to Get From Kraków To Auschwitz-Birkenau By Train
Travelling by train is possible, though it is the least convenient route. You can get from Kraków Glówny in the centre of the city to Oświęcim’s main train stations, about 2km from the camps. There are no buses, so you’ll either have to make the 25-minute walk or take a taxi. Use the Polrail service for times and prices, and choose Krakow to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) from the pop-down menus.
- Directions: Trains depart from the main Kraków Glówny train station, which you can access through the Galeria Krakowska shopping mall, just north of the Old Town. Trains and platforms are clearly marked on electronic timetables around the station. Get off at the main Oświęcim train station. There is a taxi stand and bus stop directly outside. Take any bus that stops at Muzeum I. The journey is about 12 minutes. Otherwise, it is a 25-minute walk. Turn right and walk along Wyzwolenia, parallel to the train tracks. Take the first left at the roundabout onto Stanisławy Leszczyńskiej. Follow the road for 1km until you reach the Społem bus stop. The car park and entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau are on the left.
- Times: Most trains run hourly and take just under 2 hours to reach Oświęcim. However, there is a 70-minute train leaving at 6.44am which arrives just before 8am, when Auschwitz-Birkenau opens.
- Prices: Expect to pay about 36zł (8€) each way for the faster trains. The bus from Oświęcim is about 3zł each way. Expect to play about 15zł for the taxi between Oświęcim and the camps.
How to Get From Kraków To Auschwitz-Birkenau By Car
Auschwitz-Birkenau is just under 70km from the centre of Kraków and will take just over an hour via the A4. Note, however, that you’ll need to play a toll, paid for electronically in advance.
- Directions: The route roughly involves joining the A4 motorway to the north of Kraków, following it west to the Balin junction, and then following signs south to Oświęcim on the DW933. Use your vehicle’s navigation system for the most current information.
- Times: The fastest route, via the A4 motorway, takes 70 minutes from Kraków Old Town to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
- Prices: There’s a 24zł (6€) toll if you take the A4 motorway. Parking is free for visitors to the camps, though you may be required to take a paid guided tour during peak season. See the official site for full details.