As we wanted to save our forces for the long individual visit of Birkenau first and then (after 15 h) for Auschwitz we made an arrangement with City Taxi Krakow; also for our transfers to the Krakow airport. I had already used this taxi company for the VT meet of 2010.
The taxi picked us up at our hotel at 12.15 h, we arrived at KL Birkenau at 13.30 h (it's about 70 Km of a rather slow road). At 15 h the taxi drove us to KL Auschwitz I to start our individual visit till about 17 h. We got back at our hotel at 18.30 h.
For this 140 Km drive plus waiting, a total time of 6 hours, we paid 380 PLN = 100 €.
We had asked a price a week before our trip by e-mail at the manager of City Taxi who understands English: email@example.com
I don't dare imagine what would be the cost in Belgium or France for such trip.
I would like to add that for this trip and our transfers the driver from City Taxi (the same for each trip) was always exactly on time as requested. His English was limited but we didn't need a guide but a safe and reliable driver, what he was.
The town of Oświęcim lies on the intersection of road 44 and road 933 and is at the northern extremity of road 948 if you are driving there. Oświęcim's old town is located east of the River Soła, with the Main Market Square (Rynek Główny) at its centre. The bus and railway station is across the river, in the north west of the town, with the main museum in the west of the town. The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is in the village of Brzezinka, to the west of the railway station. The chemical works are located in the east of the town. I saw there was a huge Carrefour supermarket within walking distance to the station too.
The main bus station of the town is in ulica Chemików in the east of town and local bus services are operated by PKS Oświęcim.
The PKP railway services from ulica Powstańców Śląskich are available to Kraków, Katowice and Czechowice-Dziedzice and internationally to Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Bohumin and Prague.
The trains take about 90 to 110 minutes to Krakow depending on what train you take and the return ticket is very cheap at under €10. A return ticket to Bohumin from Krakow costs around €20.
I never went to the camps so far, either in 2005
or in 2010 as the first visit to Krakow I was with my
daughter and it was a very cold wet snowy February
when we stayed a week to visit my father who was
having hip replacement surgery and had to stay a month.
Ironically I hurt my leg and had to stay in bed after
visiting the hospital a few days.
Then at the VTmeet was on a very short shoestring and
thought it better to come back and see the trips I missed with
Anyway I took the same route that Eichman had sent about half a million
Hungarian Jews from Budapest to their deaths to the concentration camps.
So pulling into the last stop before Krakow, an hour and a half away,
I could feel a cold chill running down my spine..
As it turned out he was great, pointing out the main sights as we left Krakow, letting me practice my Polish on him, stopping off a couple of times en route at interesting little places, then droppping me off at the main entrance to Auschwitz 1, giving me a guide pamphlet then leaving me to make my own way around.
We arranged that he would pick me up in about 2 hrs, but no rush, and take me to Birkenau. I had spent slightly less than the planned 2 hrs but he was there waiting and so off again the mile or so to Birkenau, once again giving me some useful local info such as the fact that the Germans named the camp because of the Birch trees.
As before, he dropped me off and left me to do things in my own time, which he estimated would be about an hour.
It was well over that hour that I exited, sickened and saddened, impressed deeply.
I was glad to escape the place and there he was, parked-up and waiting. Asking him if he was OK to stop off for late a lunch on the way back, resulted in an excellent little restaurant and having eaten he gave me the option of taking me back into town or dropping me at my hotel.
Yep, nice guy and well worth the money when you consider that we set off about 10.30 and got back to the city after 5 pm - I think he was definitely doing this a bit under the board but hey, why not, we all have to make our crust!
Thinking back on it as I update this (Aug 2009) I personally think that using a local guide who just drops you off is the way to make your pilgrimage. This isn't something to do as a "guided tour" nor something to share with a bus load of others.
From Krakow train station, buy a ticket for a coach to this site (1.5 hours ride).
It cost 7PLZ in Apr 2005.
The trains do not take you right to the museum (Auschwitz I), unlike the coach, which stops right in front of the gates.
But be warned, the route the bus takes is very winding, and made me feel unwell. I only improved once we reached our destination, and after I walked in the fresh air for a while.
On the way back we (7 of us) took a taxi from Birkenau, & he took a different route! Driving quite fast even he took 1 hour, charging 225PLZ or 36 EUR in all.
Go to main train station and behind it is the bus station. Ask the lady at the ticket counter what time the bus comes and what track to go to Auschwitz. Then take the steps or elevator down one level and look for the track. You will be under ground sort of, almost like in a lower level parking garage as u wait for your bus. Then you pay the busdriver inside the bus. Round trip was 9 zl or about $ 2.87.
I went to Krakow for a weekend with friends. The hellish events of Auschwitz are already well documented by many people far more articulate than I am so I'll add nothing to them. Some of us in the group asked at our hotel about getting to Auschwitz to take a look. The girl in the hotel tried to sell us a trip that seemed expensive in comparison to the price of a lot of things in Poland. We decide to go the train / bus station (they are together side by side). Getting from there to / from Auschwitz by bus was inexpensive and easy. Trains also run.
Basically the bus and train station in Krakow are side by side. If you go there take your pick from the buses or trains that run to Oswiecim as suits your schedule best. I can't remember exactly as it was 2005 was something like 1/10 of the price of the trip that the people in the hotel tried to sell. When you get to Oswiecim it's a short trip by taxi to the camp, again it cost next to nothing.
Getting back to Krakow was just as easy. Either take the train or the bus from the bus stop outside the train station. Take whatever suits you best. Bus times are listed at the bus stop, train times are listed on the wall at the train station.
from krakow you can take a bus directly to auschwitz from the krakow bus station. the bus station is located next to the krakow train station. the 30 mile ride takes approximately 1 1/2 hours because the bus makes numerous stops along the way. they do offer an express bus so check their schedule for times. the express bus will take about 30 minutes off the trip. there also is bus service between auschwitz and birkenau or you can take a cab for about 5 euro. the train is a little faster but you will need to take a bus or cab from the oswiecim train station to the camp.
The journey is 75km from Krakow and there are plenty of buses leving the bus shelter, some take you directly to the Auschwitz museum whilst others drop you near the station so be sure to take one that goes direct to the museum. You can take a train to Oswiecen but there again you need to get a cab or bus to the museum. Also bear in mind that the trains only run up to a certain time, the 2nd to last was departing at 5.30pm & the last was a 2 hour wait. The bus should take 1.5 hours but our bus took much longer so it is a fair old journey along some winding roads. I suggest getting the early bus the cost is roughly 10PLN.
It is a 3km journey between the 2 camps, many prisoners died making their journey. If you chose to walk between the 2 you are able to see the ramps where the SS carried out selections. The route used to be populated with German factories, workshops and warehouses.
There is also a shuttle bus once an hour during April 15 to October 31st or alternatively there are always several taxis to take you between the two, just be sure to have an idea of how much a taxi ride should be first otherwise you may feel out of pocket.
The train ride that felt like forever...eternal. Slow and crumbling tracks, coupled with blazing heat. No English spoken by anyone. Frightening! I'd also do it again in a heartbeat, odd to say that I guess.
After my experience of getting to Oswiecim by my own I am certanly sure, bus is the most sensible way to get there. I recommend to take the most early bus you are able to catch (mine was at 8.40). Also, mind, the final destination on time table must be mentioned like 'Auschwitz Museum'. Tickets are bargain and could be purchased from driver. Also. try to come to bus earler, coz when I was there at 8.25, there was a lot of people, though, to Auschwitz got only about 10 of crowed bus. As for bus back - I was sent to the place where I left bus from Krakow, and noticed on lamppost a timetable on white board...Well, bus came right at time mentioned on board, before that there gathered quite a lot of turists, so better come earler!
I looked at the various options of getting from Krakow out to Oswiecim and back.
By bus leaving from the main bus station: the buses run roughly every half hour and deliver you pretty much to the main entrance to Auschwitz 1. The journey time is about 1 and a half hours but I didn't really fancy this, not being a great lover of bus journeys.
By train: trains run from the main station roughly every hour, depositing you at the Oswiecim Station, from where you can either walk or get a local bus. The train journey being about an hour I made this my first option and duly arrived at the station. Working out the train times was easy, buying a ticket wasn't - there only seemed to be 2 ticket windows open, both with a scrummage of people around them and no sign of anything as simple as an automatic ticket machine.
As I vacillated a guy approached me and asked where I was going, and on telling him Auschwitz he offered to take me there, run me around and generally act as my guide for the day. Obviously I'm always a bit dubious about these sort of touts and so asked him for a price - 250 Zloty, was his offer. Did a bit of Hmmmming, told him it was a bit more that I wanted to pay and so he lowered his price to 249.95, special price!!! He asked where I was from, then produced a sort of mini-portfolio of thankyou notes from previous customers and produced one testimony from a couple from Aberdeen - ach well if Aberdonians were willing to pay the man then he must be good value and as he explained I don't have to pay until we get back and so if I'm not happy.........
Oswiecim can be accessed from Krakow by train or by bus.
The bus trip lasts less than an hour and, as far as I remember, is slightly cheaper than the train trip. I recommend it.
After arriving in Oswiecim, a short walk (not more than 10 minutes) will take you to the camp. Clear signs indicate the way.
After visiting Auschwitz I, a bus will take you to Birkenau. The price is included in the tour.
Hahahah ;) This connection was kinda atractive for me, it was about 2-3 kilometres route, but funny ;) From Auswitz to Birkenau there are buses (dont know if you need to pay for that drive), but anyway we made such way:
When entrancing bus (it was full of tourists), driver asked if we are in english speaking group - we said "yes" (as we speak english:) and we were allowed for free. Maybe this bus was rented by any of touristic groups, but we simply confused driver that we are in that group as well :) In the same way we came back to Auswitz.
Attention! To get transportation back to Krakow you always need at first to come back to Auswitz (Oswiecim) from Birkenau.