“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere” – Elie Wiesel
A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a city break weekend to Krakow which involved a visit to the infamous Auschwitz museum. Lately, we have been thinking about the trip and the long lasting impact it had on us. So this month, we wanted to share with you our tips for planning your own visit, how to book an Auschwitz tour from Krakow and our personal take-aways about this uniquely transformative travel experience.
Sometimes, it’s important we travel in order to appreciate the lives we live and learn about who we are. At Transform Me Travel, we are passionate advocates of this type of travel. We had always been keen to visit Auschwitz, a part of history we were taught about as children, but had seldom thought about as adults.
Our most important tip for visiting is to book Auschwitz tickets in advance. The museum has always seen huge numbers of visitors daily and whilst recent global events may have changed the process, advance booking is 100% recommended.
How Far is Krakow to Auschwitz?
Our main motivation for choosing a city break to Krakow was to visit the Auschwitz museum. The journey between Krakow and Auschwitz takes around 2 hours on the bus. You can choose to navigate the concentration camps alone with an Auschwitz-Birkenhau Self Guided Entry Ticket, which is advisable if you like to move at your own pace.
Personally, we highly recommend this tour from Get Your Guide. The guides at Auschwitz are so incredibly valuable and extremely passionate about what they do. Tours are conducted in a variety of languages so the time slot you get is largely dependent upon this.
Often, the tickets directly from the Auschwitz website get booked up quickly, so don’t be dismayed if the slot you want is gone from their online sale. Many more slots are often available with knowledgeable and passionate guides through other reputable sources and sites. These are the most popular Auschwitz tours to book online.
We advise you take the 2-hour bus journey to mentally prepare yourself for the most heart-rending museum you may ever experience.
Auschwitz: An Eye-Opening Experience
Many of us may have learnt something of the Holocaust at school – growing up in the South of England, my primary school class read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and were even fortunate enough to have an Auschwitz survivor visit. The memory has never left me.
Despite the profound effect this early experience had on me, there is nothing like stepping foot inside the camps where these horrendous acts took place to really make you understand the severity and scale of the Nazi’s crimes.
If we could urge you to take just one transformative tour, it’s an Auschwitz one. Read on to discover how to book an Auschwitz tour and see our favourite options.
How to Book an Auschwitz Tour
Booking your visit to Auschwitz is simple and hassle-free. Get Your Guide offer free cancellation up to 24 hours before your tour departure. Bookings are made online where you can choose the best tour for you and all tickets are electronic to save paper waste too.
Auschwitz Tours: The Most Valuable Travel Experience
The exhibitions are thought-provoking and very well laid out. They tell the harrowing story of the victims who suffered here and why they calmly and orderly brought their children to such a place. From the disturbing deaths that innocent people met on arrival, to the outrageous conditions that those who were kept as prisoners faced, the journey through Auschwitz is mind-altering.
You feel with every transformative step, deep in your hearts and through a chill in your bones, the sorrow and loss that was suffered here. After our excellent Auschwitz-Birkenhau Guided Tour, we were desperately grateful for being able to freely walk back out of the gates at the end of the day.
This tour includes Auschwitz 1 and Birkenhau, the larger camp. The exhibitions and photographs are honest and real. You will see human clothing, belongings and remains, including mass graves of prisoners.
Our Most Emotional Moment at Auschwitz Museum
In our personal experience, the most spine-chilling moment was walking into the gas chamber in Auschwitz 1. Our bodies were covered in a cold air and we were suffocated by the thought of the small children that lost their futures at the hands of such madness.
The museum also depicts the calculated and controlled behaviour of those in charge that made this scale of deaths possible, and the prejudice views that officers used to justify the crimes they carried out here. I feel very strongly that rather than just reading about the Holocaust in books alone, everyone should also visit this place, and encourage their children to do the same. No, it’s not nice. But it is vital in order to avoid such atrocity being repeated.
We were told first hand from our British grandparents that when word got out in Britain of what was happening in Oświęcim Poland in WW2, people struggled to believe it could be true. The horror seemed inconceivable, despite the other parts of war they had already been exposed to.
The last remaining Auschwitz survivors want their story re-told for generations because, they teach, the willingness to stay silent is the most dangerous thing of all.
Why Should I Visit Auschwitz?
Our visit to Auschwitz had a long lasting transformative experience on us. We couldn’t help but wonder how different events could have been if every single individual responsible for killing had just said a simple, high-integrity ‘no’. After all, we are all capable of saying ‘no’ when something doesn’t sit right with us. As hard as it can be to do so when others around you can’t find their voices, surely that is when a ‘no’ matters most.
We all know that money, religion and even war do not justify inhumane behaviour. We all know that individuals choose their own actions and many of us also believe in accountability for those actions too. If we all understood fully how vital it really was to always follow our moral compass, surely so many people who have suffered, and indeed continue to suffer around the world today, could be spared.
Auschwitz captures what happens when a combination of power and fear can manipulate what one human being is willing to do to another. The numbers speak for themselves.
We are so grateful we discovered how to book an Auschwitz-Birkenhau Full-Day Guided Experience and got to experience this infamous place for ourselves.
At Transform Me Travel, we feel strongly that respecting one another and all the things that make us different to one another is the only way to avoid such pain and suffering. If travel has taught us anything, it’s that unity is important. Peace is important. And kindness to every single person we share this planet with is important.
Every life is precious and the very strongly held belief that one life is more important than another created the largest grave in history. It is heart-breaking to accept that a similar notion continues to create graves today.
What To Expect At Auschwitz
Visiting the Auschwitz museum will open your mind and heart to the actions we are all capable of under certain conditions and the choices we must make every day to avoid such tragedy ever being repeated again. We feel passionately about the transformative power of this travel experience.
Take a moment now to really think about what happened; large-scale systematic murder, unthinkable torture and the wasted lives of innocent children. Consider the German families just like our own who lived on the camps with small children, the atrocious medical experiments that were carried out on twins and the sickeningly false promise of a new life for the Jewish people who were brought here.
More than 1.1 million lives were lost in this unimaginable place.
Book Auschwitz Tours for a Transformative Travel Experience
Our eyes were truly opened on our Krakow city break and visit to Auschwitz. For all its horror and pain, Auschwitz is now somewhere that birds and wildlife have begun to return to. There is an air of peace surrounding the mass graves at Birkenhau.
We have long believed in the power of travel to open the mind and heart. You will definitely learn more about history, geography and people by travelling than you ever will in a classroom or online. We want to say a huge dziękuję (pronounced jen-KOO-ya), which means thank you in Polish, to our wonderful Auschwitz tour guide – I hope we can all learn from the mistakes of our collective past and work every day on standing up for that which we believe in.
Do you feel passionately about transformative travel?
Or about encouraging others to visit Auschwitz-Birkenhau museum?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below – have you been? Are you planning to go? Do you have a personal family story involving the Holocaust you would be happy to share with others?