In April of 1940, Auschwitz was established as an extermination camp for Jews shipped in from all over Europe.
Arguably one of the most historically significant and poignant attractions in the world, for most visitors, it ends up being one of the most shocking and memorable experiences of their lives.
A variety of tours are offered, and most originate from the nearby city of Krakow.
The facility includes hundreds of buildings, watchtowers, and gas chambers, and fascinating first-hand accounts of soldiers and prisoners who stayed at the camp during World War II.
Below are 12 of the best tours of Auschwitz.
1. Auschwitz and Birkenau Tour with Licensed Guide
Auschwitz and Birkenau were ground zero for many atrocities committed during the Second World War, and previous visitors agree that they’re both heartbreaking and memorable places.
This full-day tour lasts between six and seven hours and includes the services of a licensed guide.
The tour includes stops at prisoner barracks, the gas chambers, crematoriums, and soldiers’ quarters, all of which contain informative signs so you’ll learn about the things you’re seeing.
Tours end at the memorial, where it’s common for visitors to relax and take a few moments to contemplate the magnitude of events that took place more than 80 years ago.
2. Guided Auschwitz and Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour from Krakow
Though pretty much everyone is relatively familiar with the basic history of Auschwitz, the salt mines at Wieliczka aren’t so well-known.
This 11-hour guided tour from Krakow is a bit on the long side, but it offers guests a look into the area’s macabre history that’s more in-depth than typically found on shorter tours.
You’ll see all the main attractions in the camp, as well as the underground labyrinth of salt mines, where forced laborers toiled in abominable conditions.
The tour includes both guided portions as well as free time for personal exploration and quiet contemplation.
Transportation, park entry fees, and headphones are included in the tour.
3. Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum & Camp Guided Tour
For some visitors, spending a full-day in Auschwitz and Birkenau is too much.
The site is brimming with horrors that can be overwhelming to many; for those, it’s wise to consider a brief half-day tour to start.
If, on the other hand, you’re ready for full immersion, this eight-hour tour might be a great fit.
You’ll get to see the camp’s main attractions, as well as learn about its status as the Third Reich’s largest extermination center that wasn’t liberated until January of 1945.
The tour includes round-trip transportation from Krakow, entrance fees, the services of a local professional guide, and the use of headsets while in the museum.
4. Self-Guided Tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau from Krakow
For quiet, reflective types, spending a full-day with a talkative guide may not be the best way to spend time at Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Self-guided tours are popular options for many travelers; though you may miss some unique insights, the facility is packed with exhibits, historical plaques, and first-hand accounts.
Due to their location, Auschwitz and Birkenau were primarily filled with Poles, but nearly one million Jews from all over the continent would eventually be sent there for work and extermination.
This seven-hour tour includes transportation to and from Krakow, an English-speaking driver, and all entrance fees.
Food and drinks are available, but they aren’t included in the cost of the tour.
5. Auschwitz-Birkenau Tour with 4 Guests
During much of World War II, Poland was occupied by Nazi troops; the city of Oświęcim was where they built the facilities to hasten their plan for genocide.
This small-group tour is limited to just four guests, so it’s perfect for those who’d rather get a more intimate experience than they would in larger groups.
Guests will get up-close-and-personal with the camp’s most heinous and historic attractions. Due to its small size, this tour is much more customizable than most others.
It’s open to those of most ages and levels of physical ability, but it’s not accessible for those who use a wheelchair.
6. Auschwitz-Birkenau Day Trip from Katowice
For those who want all the details of their trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau handled by professionals, this full-day tour would be a wise choice.
Transportation to and from Katowice is provided in a car, minivan, or bus, depending on the number of guests.
Guests will walk past the crowds with their skip-the-line tickets. Once on-site, they will have 3 ½ hours to explore with their English speaking guide.
Expect to be shocked, educated, and emotionally exhausted as you walk amongst the recreated ruins of the worst Nazi death camps of World War II before heading back to your hotel in Katowice.
7. One-Way Bus Direct between Auschwitz-Birkenau and Krakow
Round-trip transportation is a big selling point for many international travelers visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau, but for those who prefer to fly by the seat of their pants, one-way transfers are often the way to go.
The trip from Krakow to the camps takes about 1 ½ hours. Once on-location, guests will have the option of exploring the facilities on their own or hooking up with a guided group.
You’ll learn about the harsh and deadly lives the prisoners endured and see the camp’s facilities as well as the museum and memorial to the dead.
There are multiple departures daily, and return trips are available too.
8. Auschwitz Tour from Wroclaw
Wroclaw is a bit farther from the camps than Krakow, but it’s still a relatively easy day trip for those who’ve got an entire day to dedicate to one of the world’s most significant attractions.
Plan on being worn-out physically and emotionally after touring the camp and learning about the unspeakable atrocities committed.
For those traveling with kids, infant seats are available, but due to space restrictions, it’s not open to those using a wheelchair.
This tour is limited to eight guests, making it a good fit for families. From beginning to end, the day usually lasts between nine and ten hours.
9. Auschwitz-Birkenau from Krakow with Private Car
For history buffs and those whose lives were personally changed by the atrocities committed during the Second World War, Auschwitz and Birkenau are definitely must-visit attractions.
They’re the perfect places to get caught up on historical events, pay your respects to the fallen, and get shocking insight into the dark side of humanity.
This private car tour begins and ends in Krakow and includes entrance fees, round-trip transportation, and the services of a guide if that option is chosen at booking.
It’s typically a six or seven-hour day, which means guests are back in Krakow by late afternoon.
10. Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Tour from Krakow
Tours with options are big hits these days, especially with savvy travelers looking to stretch their travel dollars and spend their time seeing the things that interest them.
If you fall into this category, this memorial tour from Krakow is worth a look.
Guests will have the option of exploring the two sites on their own or signing up for a guide to show them around.
Whichever option is chosen, you’ll have ample time to see everything for which the camps are known.
Transportation via air-conditioned vehicle is included, but food, drinks, and tips are the responsibility of the participants.
11. Private Tour of Auschwitz from Prague
The distance from Prague to Auschwitz is nearly 280 miles, but there’s a doable day-trip tour option for those with boundless energy.
It’s about five hours of driving each way, but once at the camp, guests will have about four hours to explore on their own or hook-up with a professional guide if they choose that option.
Most guests agree that four hours is sufficient to see the camp’s sights, and hotel pickup and drop-off are included.
Though food and drinks aren’t included, there will be the opportunity to stop en route at restaurants and cafes in both Poland and the Czech Republic.
12. Auschwitz-Birkenau Guided Minivan Tour from Krakow
Auschwitz’s most revolting features include gas chambers, gallows, and barracks, where overworked inmates spent long nights fighting against hunger, frigid weather, and physical exhaustion.
Needless to say, the site tends to bring a host of emotions to the forefront. During the war years, it was where the lives of more than a million poor souls were taken.
These days, much of the facility has been constructed to near-original condition, and this guided minivan tour from Krakow allows guests a few hours to explore the grounds.
The tour also includes a side excursion to nearby Birkenau, where guests will have about 1 ½ hours before loading up and heading back to Krakow.
Round-trip transportation, entrance fees, and headsets are all included.