Prague to Auschwitz - Planning a Day Trip
Updated: May 6
5:20 am – Tuesday, April 4, 2023 (from my trip notes)
From the warm comfort of my bed at the Hotel Metamorphis I pulled back the sheets to an early alarm and fumbled in the dark for the clothes I had set out the night before. I put in my contacts, got dressed, and attempted to make a cup of dark roast espresso in a pod-type coffee machine using a penlight, so I wouldn’t wake my sleeping family.
Our hotel (which we love and highly recommend) is in the Old Town section of Prague, in the Czech Republic. We are visiting my eldest daughter, who is spending this semester studying in Prague (and her weekends traveling Europe).
Today, she had class from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, and my wife and younger daughter wanted to sleep in and visit the Easter Market in Old Town Square. I am headed to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial.
What Is in My Backpack?
Last night, I filled my backpack with what I might need for a fifteen-hour day trip on a cold rainy day in Poland: windproof travel umbrella, an extra sweatshirt, rain jacket, cell phone charging cord, Anker portable charger, sunglasses, two bottles of water, two energy bars, two pens, a notebook, medication, hand sanitizer, a money clip, 4000 Czech Korunas (about $200 depending on the exchange rate), two credit cards, and my cell phone, drivers' license, and passport.
Booking My Trip from Prague to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial
I remember booking my trip to Auschwitz two months earlier. I searched for tours out of Prague and struggled to find any – at least those less than $1,000. I preferred a tour between $500-$700.
I found one on Viator for under $600 using this link: Private Tour from Prague to Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. Included in my tour package were transportation and entrance fees. Not included were food, snacks, and drinks.
Recommended Service Provider: Czech Airport Transportation
My driver, Radek Kudrna, owner of Czech Airport Transportation, picked me up at 6:00 am sharp in front of Hotel Metamorphis. I enjoyed Radek's company; a conversationalist, he spoke excellent English, and served as my driver from Prague, to Auschwitz, and back.
Radek employs several drivers, owns a fleet of cars and vans, and concerns himself with supplying high quality customer experiences. Radek's service was included as part of my trip package, and I sincerely enjoyed our time together.
Travel Tip - How to Shop for a Tour Experience to Auschwitz
Auschwitz concentration camp was a complex of forty camps, most of which no longer exist. The most common packages offer tours to two sites: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
Depending on the tour company you use, the experience may be labeled Auschwitz-Birkenau (which is how the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial refers to itself). Let me explain the nuances of the nomenclature.
Naming Conventions: Auschwitz, Auschwitz-Birkenau,
Auschwitz I, & Auschwitz II-Birkenau
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial is the only death camp on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the camp complex is often simply referred to as Auschwitz. The original camp served as the administrative headquarters (among other chilling purposes) and is sometimes called Auschwitz I.
The site that people most associate with the trains, cattle cars, selection process, wooden barracks, gas chambers, and crematorium is Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is also referred to as Auschwitz II-Birkenau. If you only have a day, I recommend that you tour both sites in the same trip; always read the tour description to ensure you are going to both sites.
I recommend that you book your trip as far in advance as possible, as the museum limits its daily number of visitors.
I Chose Viator for My Tour
There are not a lot of Auschwitz tour options out of Prague; I booked mine through Viator and for five reasons:
1) Viator is owned by TripAdvisor, which is another site I prefer to use for travel; 2) Viator offers a service that specializes in destination and niche tour experiences; 3) Viator came in at the price point I desired; 4) Viator allows you to book the tour and pay later; 5) Viator allows you to cancel your booking, without penalty, within 24 hours of the tour.
As I mentioned earlier, the tour I purchased came in under $600. Tour costs are always subject to change, so double-check pricing before you book. The name of the tour and the link: Private Tour from Prague to Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial.
Travel Perk - I had to cancel and rebook a Paris day trip to Normandy that I ordered on Viator; the process is hassle-free and easy to navigate.
In my next post, I'll write about the travel experience to Oswiecim, Poland, where the Auschwitz concentration camp is located.