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Booking days out in Krakow

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Croydon
posts: 28
reviews: 1
Booking days out in Krakow

Hi everyone.

I’m in my 70s and travelling solo from Warsaw to Krakow next month where I shall spend four full days. I have refined my list of must-see things down to:

Auschwitz (of course!)

Wieliczka Salt Mine*

A City Tour by ‘golf cart’!, and

Zakopane (an early-start, single-day trip!)

*First of all, by the way, I have made a ‘diary’ note to visit Auschwitz on the first day, followed by the Salt Mine trip that evening, based on several comments here that the combination is quite practicable. Agree? If so, I shall then have a spare, full day at the weekend.

Whilst I’m happy to be advised of ‘better’ choices, my main reason to post is to seek the best means of booking these individual tours and with whom.

I’m staying at what I’m sure is a most dependable hotel, but suspicions linger that some staff anywhere may be tipped (literally) to recommend certain services, so I’d like your impartial suggestions instead please of local, small-group tour-operators.

My own research has thrown up the following, all of which seem good choices and I am leaning towards “escape2poland” with whom I have already booked the train down to Krakow.

“www.escape2poland”
“www.krakow.pl”
“www.seekrakow”
“cracow.travel”

My priorities, like yours no doubt, are reliability, reasonable English by the guide/s and ditto with price though I don’t want cheap for the sake of it! Comfortable travel would be nice too!

Many thanks in advance.

London
posts: 97
reviews: 25
31. Re: Booking days out in Krakow

HI Michael

The Schindler Factory Museum is really fantastic. Very innovative and creative way of exhibiting - and focusing on the whole Krakow experience of the war and then with an emphasis on the Jewish story.

it's a great option for the afternoon/early evening, as it's open until 8pm. If you're heading back to the old town, you can catch the 3 or 19 tram from the Ghetto Martyr's square - about 3 mins walk from the Factory.

Croydon
posts: 28
reviews: 1
32. Re: Booking days out in Krakow

Hi Dritan:

Many thanks for another useful tip, almost confirming what Andy had posted. Always good to have a second opinion! I’m looking forward to seeing the Schindler’s Museum with even more anticipation.

As you’ll see from my revised ‘programme’ above, I had already put the two sights in the order you suggest, but it’s good to have the extra reason for doing so with the knowledge of the Sch. Museum’s late closing hour.

But while Andy recommended the train back, you go with the tram. Oh, decisions, decisions!! I like both modes. I shall have to check out a decent map to compare the alternatives. Or maybe just follow the 24-year-old blonde also making her way back from the Salt Mine! :-)

Manchester, United...
posts: 163
reviews: 2
33. Re: Booking days out in Krakow

Michael - you could do both! What I did was get the train to the Salt Mines, then on the way back I got off at Zablocie and went to the Schindler factory, then I walked backed to the centre (which is maybe 2-3km) under the railway underpass and via the Ghetto Heroes square, across the bridge to Kazimierz and back to the centre. You could do similar except get the tram back from the square - which is certainly worth seeing while you're in the area.

Croydon
posts: 28
reviews: 1
34. Re: Booking days out in Krakow

Thanks for your on-going interest Andy.

I think that’s a good idea. It’s quite difficult to absorb or picture such suggestions you and Dritan make when one hasn’t been to the locations about which you – and others – are both so familiar! I’m keeping all these notes you’ve all kindly made which I shall consolidate shortly before I leave. Once there, they will begin to make more sense I know!

Stafford, United...
posts: 214
reviews: 6
35. Re: Booking days out in Krakow

Great read this thread, Thanks all. Like most visitors to Krakow we would like to visit Auschwitz. My concern is that I really don't want to be herded round quickly in a group, especially as I do like to take thoughtful photo's. This can take me a while.

So, are the camps well enough signed for us to see around them if we go independently, especially as someone else said just how large they are. I wouldn't want to miss important bits due to not having a guide.

Or could we get there before 10 and get a private guide so we could go at our own pace?

Thanks in advance

Croydon
posts: 28
reviews: 1
36. Re: Booking days out in Krakow

Glad you enjoyed reading this thread so far, kyoto49 – my first! :-) It had been such a joy to find so much helpful guidance and interest.

Having now returned myself from Poland, I can act more in that capacity maybe.

I shared some of your concerns and interests, but I imagine from a considerably more ‘senior’ viewpoint! I didn’t pay for a (printed) guide so I can’t say for certain but I’m sure if you armed yourself with one, you could find your way round everything you wanted to see quite satisfactorily. Or obtain (or even download) one well in advance for familiarisation and planning.

My recollection is that the camp is NOT cluttered with signposts but those there are are rightly discreet. I found signage in Poland generally very poor. Some folk on this thread, as you will have seen, recommended being a free soul or, as you suggest, paying for a private guide, if you’re happy to part with that sort of money! You would have the total freedom you think you might require.

However from a photographer’s point of view – and I may be more of a ‘snapper’ than you but, like you, I like to spend some time seeking out the best and/or most original vantage point from which to take and frame my pix and it is true that a) I occasionally missed out on what the guide was telling the group and b) did become so preoccupied that, twice, I lost audio contact with her, though not for so long that I was not able to catch up with her. (The audio guides are transmitter- and receiver-based to avoid anyone shouting out!) I see my diary notes that “My only real criticism was that [the guide] didn’t have much patience for lingering photographers! Twice I lost audio contact with her!” All this, of course, was more likely in the enclosed buildings rather than the wide open spaces – of Birkenau especially.

The first part of the guided tour in Auschwitz I Museum covers the ‘recreated’, two-floor buildings and we had to wait on several occasions for the building to empty of preceding group/s in order to make room for us. And when I went in early May, it was already so crowded that the introductory guide, with her assembly-indicator-placard “ENGLISH”, announced “As there are so many of you, we are going to divide you into three groups of 40...” You may have read here that most days, the groups average about 15-20. So in that sense, you might consider that we were “herded round quickly in a group” though it really wasn’t that bad. I don’t remember not having enough time to see the exhibits, though I did miss out on many, many ceiling-high, photographic displays with their textual annotations and diagrams which I would like to have spent reading more at my leisure.

Again, my diary records “My enduring impression of the place is that it was overbooked. Twice we had long waits before our turn to get into one of the museum buildings. And i felt it was all a tad rushed sometimes. And one doesn‘t have time to linger and sop it all up.” Goodness knows how bad it can get in the higher season.

However, to summarise, I would still prefer to follow a guide and listen to all of her (I only saw female ones) historical and factual commentary. However, if I attach the significance which I think you implied to your hobby of photography, you might be a good candidate for booking your own private guide who, once informed by you, would allow you all the time you need to get the pix you aim for. She could also tailor-make an ad-hoc tour to satisfy you and your partner’s particular wishes.

On the other hand, if cost is critical, and as others have pointed out in earlier posts, once you have completed the official tours (in two sections to include a short bus drive to Auschwitz II or Birkenau), you are free to return independently to any part of the tour you covered to explore further at your own pace. This means not booking a mobile guide from Kraków who will be expecting you back at a particular departure time.

If you go out by bus, there are plenty of buses back (from outside Auschwitz I so get the shuttle-bus back first) but at quite long intervals of about 45 minutes. For that reason alone, you’d be well-advised to buy a return ticket in advance at Kraków’s bus station as ticket-holders are allowed to board first, which I learnt very nearly to my cost.

I hope that long-winded response is of some help to you. Have a wonderful trip.

Stafford, United...
posts: 214
reviews: 6
37. Re: Booking days out in Krakow

Thanks Michael, really informative and plenty of food for thought in your post. It never occurred to me that we could do a tour and then go in again for a slower look on her own. Also helpful tips about the buses.

I don't like the big group thing, so am still tempted by the private guide idea, need to see the cost first though!. Otherwise I think we'll head out early and try and get the first tour, at least then we won't be waiting for other groups, and then re-visit areas of special interest to us again after the guide has finished.

Thanks again for the post, really helpful.

Nowy Sacz, Poland
Destination Expert
for Poland
posts: 4,024
reviews: 42
38. Re: Booking days out in Krakow

Three options:

1) arrive early or late - joining a tour is mandatory only 10:00 - 15:00

2) Pay 40zl each for a tour in your laguage (nmay have to wait) or 25 zl for a tour in Polish

3) Pay 250zl total for a personal guide for up to 10 people.

Re 2 and 3, once you've taken the tour, you're free to stay on and re-visit at your leisure

39. Re: Booking days out in Krakow

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