One of the most requested questions I get is how do you travel from Krakow to Auschwitz when traveling to visit the Auschwitz Concentration Camps. In terms of getting to Auschwitz there are quite a few options on how to get there from train, to bus, personal transportation, or organized tours.
For more general travel advice to Auschwitz be sure to check out my Visitor’s Guide to Auschwitz.
Distance to Auschwitz
Oświęcim (the Polish name of the city) is located about 68 Kilometers west of the center of Krakow. The town of Oświęcim has a long history prior to being known as the location of the Nazi Concentration camp. The camps are located about 2km outside of the city center of Oświęcim.
Additionally Auschwitz is about 4hrs from Warsaw (over 300km). To go by public transportation. You need to first travel to Krakow and then take either the bus or train to Auschwitz. The train takes about 2.5-4 hrs to go from Warsaw to Krakow. Check the schedule here. Train’s from Warsaw to Krakow run regularly (generally at least every hour). The faster service is via the Express Intercity Premium trains (2.5 hrs).
Getting to Auschwitz by Bus
Unless you have your own personal transportation, the recommended way to get to Auschwitz from Krakow is by bus. Traveling by bus takes about 1.5 – 2hrs depending on number of stops, traffic, etc.
The bus and the train station are located next to each other in Krakow however the train station is located 2KM away from the Camps / Museum while the bus generally drops you off at the main entrance of Auschwitz I.
You can purchase tickets for buses at the bus station. There are both mini-buses as well as full sized buses that go between. The schedules tend change regularly. You can get the most up-to-date schedule from tourist information center in the Cloth Hall in the Market Square.
The bus is about 10 – 15 zł. You are generally better off buy a one way ticket as there are several companies that serve this route and you might get stuck waiting if you have a ticket for a different bus company.
Be sure to arrive to the bus early as they do tend to fill up and you wouldn’t want to be standing for the entire time.
Note that you will need to return to Auschwitz I to catch buses back towards Krakow as no buses leave from Auschwitz II. Be sure to factor this into your time.
For the larger buses PkSIS buses you can get the schedule here. For the smaller buses and mini-buses you can buy at the station or check for the schedule at the tourist info center.
Getting to Auschwitz by personal Transportation
Having your own vehicle certainly gives you the most freedom and options in terms of getting to and from Oświęcim (Auschwitz). By car you can generally get to Auschwitz from Krakow in about 1hr via highway A4. Take the for DW933 towards Balin / Oświęcim.
Getting to Auschwitz by Train
This is my least recommended option for getting between Krakow and Oświęcim. The train is comfortable although slow but more importantly the train station in Oświęcim is located about 2KM from the main camp. This will require you then to have to find transportation or walk between the train station and the camps (and then walk back). To check the train schedule be sure to go here.
The train station in Krakow is located near the bus station so if there is too long of a time between buses you can use this potentially as an alternative. However I found that it is a good alternative if you are having issues getting back to Krakow as the trains (especially in the off season) tend to run later.
Transportation between Auschwitz I and II
Getting between the camps is really easy as well. There is a free shuttle bus that brings visitors between the two camps. The buses run approximately every half-hour.
You can walk the distance yourself if you choose to, which can be rather relaxing. Although given that you will be doing a lot of walking on this day you might be better served taking the shuttle.
Other Transportation Options
If you are not planning to do Auschwitz independently than you might want to consider doing a package tour. In terms of effort this is probably the easiest as the package tours will provide transportation and other logistics.
If you go with a packaged tour be sure to ask a lot of questions, particularly about how much time you will spend each of the camps. Some of the tours spend a sadly short period of time which can make your visit feel too rushed. I needed the time to move slowly and reflect my first trip there.
You can book a tour at the camp if you travel to Auschwitz independently however. Be sure to do this online ahead of time however given how busy Auschwitz is these days. I wrote a lot of travel advice on doing this on another post.