a VirtualTourist member asked on Apr 25, 2016
I will be in Krakow next month and want to visit the Auschwitz complex. I read that you must go around with a local guide or get there early or late. I'm not sure about this and would be grateful for any advice on what are the options to see the camp on my own. I would like to wander around both Auschwitz and Birkenau at my own pace.
Also, is it better to go there from Krakow by bus or train? I have no desire to go with a tour group from Krakow.
Hi. The museum is open between 8.00 am to 6.00 pm during May. As you say at Auschwitz I you have to be on a tour between 10.00 am and 3.00 pm. Outside these hours you can go around on your own. You do not need to go on a tour at Auschwitz Birkenau and can visit the whole camp on your own.
To support the above answer. Yes you do need to join a guide-led tour between 10 am and 3 pm for Auschwitz during the season. But if you aim to arrive, by bus or train, before 10 am then you can visit Auschwitz at your own pace.
There's no real need for a guide if arriving early since everything is very well signed but be prepared to both shocked and saddened. Then Birkenau - which defies belief. You can visit that without a guided tour at any time but visit the main camp first. Do it first thing in the morning rather than try to do it after 3pm - it'll take you the rest of your afternoon/evening to recover.
Thank you for the explanation. OK, I will get there before 10 am and explore the camp on my own.
2 questions - is it better to go there by bus or train? Which is faster and which gets me closer to the camp?
Should I start my tour at the museum or go there at the end? I will go to Auschwitz before Birkenau.
You may find this website handy for transport by bus. You can also go by train but the bus will take you right to the camp. Both take about 90 minutes. I would visit Birkenau first as it is spread out and then make your way back to Auschwitz I for 3 pm. There are places to purchase food at Auschwitz I but there was nothing at Birkenau, last time I visited so best take a drink.
I am still a bit confused. Do I need to make a reservation to visit the camp in advance? The website mentions reservations are recommended to limit the number of visitors. I just want to show up (uncertain which day it will be - depending on the weather).
Provided you are outside the guided tour requirement then you can just show up - although the earlier you get there would probably be best.