I planned a three day trip to Warsaw, the capital of Poland. I had always wanted to visit Auschwitz so I decided to look into taking a day trip from Warsaw since I would already be in Poland. I looked at day trips through travel companies but decided that it would be a lot cheaper to take the train and figure out the transportation ourselves. Looking back, I wish I had taken the day trip because the train tickets were much more expensive than I saw online. Maybe had I bought them in advance it would have saved a ton of money, but we were unsure of the timing of everything so decided to get the tickets at the train station. Anyways, I am glad that we took the day trip to the concentration camps. It was one of the most memorable and emotional days of my life.
Hotel: Senator Warsaw Apartments
The apartment was lovely! Very inexpensive for the quality and location. It is only a couple miles from the city center, which is a quick bus ride or $4 cab ride.
Palace of Culture and Science- This is one of the most recognizable buildings in Warsaw. It can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. It houses over 3,000 rooms and has 4 theaters, 2 museums, 2 public libraries, and is the Warsaw tourist information point. This is also the location of the Central train station and the main bus station. The Palace is the tallest building in Poland that is 237m tall and 44 floors high. We payed to take the elevator to the 30th floor to have a panorama view of the city.
Across from the Palace is a great area for shopping.
On our first night we ate at one of Warsaw’s Beer Halls. I very much enjoyed the food and highly recommend this restaurant. There are three in the city.
At night, we had a reservation for a Room Escape. This was the first time I had tried this, but it appears as if there is at least one in every popular city. Warsaw has two locations with 6 different rooms. We attempted the Indiana Jones room and escaped before the hour ran up. This was such a great team-building activity and we all really enjoyed ourselves. It is also a great night activity since most of the attractions close around 5 or 6 P.M. If you are unfamiliar with what a Room Escape is, it is a real-time adventure game which requires participants to think fast, be creative and observant but most of all to work as a team. The main quest in the game is to escape the trap by solving puzzles and riddles testing your brains and intelligence.
This was our day to Auschwitz. If you plan on taking your own transportation you will need to take the train from Warsaw Central to Krakow Glony. The EIC and EIP trains are the quickest. Then you will need to buy a bus ticket from the bus station (located right outside of the train station) to Auschwitz (drops off right outside of the camp). There is also another train that will take you there, but we thought the bus was the best option. The total journey time is 4-5 hours.
Here was our time line:
7:50-10:07 (2h 17m) EIP Train from Warsaw to Krakow
11:10-12:33 (1h 23 m) bus from Krakow to Auschwitz (Oswiecim)
1:00-4:30 Auschwitz & Birkenau guided English tour
5:32-6:55 (1h 23m) bus from Auschwitz to Krakow
8:01-10:19 (2h 18m) EIP train from Krakow to Warsaw
Total Price: $80 per person (would have been about half the price had we bought in advance)
Ticket to Auschwitz: http://auschwitz.org/en/visiting/ $10 per person
I only do guided tours if it is something I am truly interested in and don’t think I will get the same experience by reading the signs myself. I highly recommend a tour guide. The website offers tours in Polish, German, and English. The guide was very knowledgeable and kept the group moving at a good pace so that we could see the main areas in the 3.5 hour time. There were about 20 people in the group, which was a good size. We spent about 1.5 hours in Auschwitz 1 and then took the free shuttle over to Auschwitz 2, where our guide continued the tour for the remaining hour.
Royal Castle- In 1944, the Castle was blown up by the German army and then Poland decided to rebuild it in 1971. In 1984 it was opened to the public. We decided to do a self- guided tour. With the price of entry, you get to see the apartments, a painting collection, the royal library, the castle cellars, and the tin-roofed palace.
The castle is located in Old Town, which is where we explored afterwards. Next to the castle is St. Anne’s Church, which you can pay to go up to a look-out point. You will also run into several cathedrals, statues, souvenir shops, and fantastic restaurants on your walk toward the Barbican and curtain walls.
After walking around Old Town, we took the metro to Warsaw’s Uprising Museum. This was a very interactive museum that gave the history on the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. If you like World War II history, this is a museum you won’t want to miss. It is huge!
Fun Fact: On August 1st at 5 P.M., alarm sirens sounds and the street traffic stops. The “W” hour was a code name for the time of launching the Warsaw Uprising. August 1st is the anniversary of the first day of the armed action against the German occupants.
If you have more time in Warsaw, here are other sights I recommend looking into that we didn’t get to do:
Fryderyk Chopin Museum- Modern, multimedia, interactive and full of Chopin-related feats. Here you can see the last composer’s piano, his candy box, death mask, hand cast, and more.
Royal Residencies and Wilanow Palace- This is the summer residence of the last king of Poland. The park is comprised of three gardens.
Copernicus Science Center- Delve into nature’s mysteries and conduct experiments on your own
National Museum in Warsaw- One of the oldest museums in Poland with over 800,000 exhibits of both Polish and foreign art
Multimedia Fountain Park- In the evening, it captivates with performances of colors and shapes
National Stadium in Warsaw