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Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

Cambridge, United...
3 posts
Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

I visited Auschwitz 3 years ago on one of the organised guided tours. I was thoroughly dissapointed and most upset by the way it was carried out (and i think you will find all tours will be pretty much the same ) . We were hurried around the camp like a herd of sheep by the guide, no time was given to read the information boards or look thoroughly at the exhibits. The second camp - Birkenau we were only given enough time to look at the first row of wooden barracks then told to get back on the bus. Birkenau is a huge camp and having polish in my family who fled to England after the war, it was important to me to have time to look at my own pace and reflect , but none of this happened.

So in June i am returning again to visit the camp . I had been previously aware from other peoples postings , that it was better to travel to the camp and go round it on your own, which is what i intended to do. But i have just found out that from 1st May 2010, you cannot enter the camp unless it is with a guide between the hours of 9am - 3pm. If you go after 3pm then you can go on your own, but it closes at 6pm, and this would never be enough time to see the camps.

Can any body help me or offer me any advise as to how i can go and visit the camps on my own (spouse also). Could i hire my own guide to get me in and then tell him to let me wonder and explore on my own from there. Does anyone know a guide that would help us ?

Krakow, Poland
Destination Expert
for Krakow
Level Contributor
3,368 posts
9 reviews
1. Re: Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

The Museum website says that the restrictions apply for entry between 10am and 3pm and apply to Auschwitz I only. If you get there first thing, you can go at your own pace, without a guide. Alternatively, you could visit Auschwitz II - Birkenau first and plan to get to Auschwitz I by 3pm.

Krakow, Poland
Level Contributor
2,336 posts
65 reviews
2. Re: Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

Just get there early, once you're inside you can walk around at your own pace. Birkenau is always free entry, donations gladly received in the collection box though, and you don't have to take a guide, so visit at 1.00pm for example then get to Auschwitz I for 3.00pm

Edited: 3:00 am, April 29, 2010
Lyon
5 posts
3. Re: Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

What company did you go with back then?

When I went to Auschwitz I also took the organised trip. I went with SeeKrakow company and ot was really good. We spent about 2,5 hours in the first camp and about 40 minutes in the second one. I had time to look at everything. And there was, of course, a guide (I mean a human) but we also got a head-phones so even if we stayed somewhere a little longer we still could hear everything that he was saying. That was really thoughtfull.

Melbourne
Level Contributor
21 posts
40 reviews
4. Re: Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

My partner and I did it on our own in April last year as we felt that we could do it at our own pace and the cost wasn't worth it.

We took a bus from the main station in Krakow going to Oscwicim for a fraction of the cost of the tour price and the driver gave us a timetime when we got there of the buses returning so we could come back in our own time. When I say bus, it's really just a mini van.

The buses between Auschwitz and Birkenau are free also.

To go into Auschwitz without a guide do as everyone else suggested and arrive before the tours do.

Cambridge, United...
3 posts
5. Re: Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

I can't remember which tour operator i went with , but we booked it at the tourist office. All i do remember is that our guide was like a programmed robot that went at one speed -( to fast ) and we couldnt ask any questions.

Glad you had a nice experience.

Cambridge, United...
3 posts
6. Re: Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

Thanks for the information , i shall plan the day as you suggest and go to Birkenau first ,then on to the museum for 3pm.

As you are a Krakow expert, can you tell me if all or part of the Oskar Schindler factory is open when i vistit on 1st June .

Krakow, Poland
Level Contributor
2,336 posts
65 reviews
7. Re: Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

There's nothing much open yet, we were promised 'Spring 2010' but it doesn't look likely.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
234 posts
155 reviews
8. Re: Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

We will be in Auschwitz on June 17th. It's our first time --

Just want to clarify - is the camp open or closed to the public next month??

Also, would you guys recommend a guided or just do it our own? We are budget travelers and we are devoting one day for this place.

Thanks!

Edited: 2:48 am, May 03, 2010
Krakow, Poland
Level Contributor
2,336 posts
65 reviews
9. Re: Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

The camp is always open to the public. I think it only closes 2 days per year, apart from maybe during official visits or functions.

But if you want to visit between 10.00am and 3.00pm then you will have to join 1 of the official tour groups, in the language of your choice.

If you're on a tight budget then the train or minibus is the best choice for you and get there early or late to avoid the 38zl (per person) for the guide.

Edited: 6:38 am, May 03, 2010
UK
Level Contributor
142 posts
3 reviews
10. Re: Auschwitz-Organised tour ? or Going alone ?

Ive just returned from poland today and visited aushwitz on 6th May.

Have to say I would def recommend a guide,

Seeing the place is one thing and an experience but the guide gives you so much more and you can ask questions and advice from them also.

The guide went at a good pace for us in both camps and our at the second camp he finished miles away from the main gate and said thats the end of the tour - so we just explored the second camp ourselves for an hour or so just taking it all in.

So i had no problems being hurried back to a bus so def take a driver or pick up or go on your own.

A big group tour will no boubt herd you like sheep and try to make the trip quick and not personal.

Def recommend a guide for both camps for the money you pay its nothing and worth so much more than they charge