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Market Square

Oświęcim is a town in Małopolskie Province in southern Poland, 60 km west of Kraków. It's better known by its German name of Auschwitz, and from 1940 to 1945 over a million people, mostly Jews, were slain in the nearby camps. The two principal camps have been preserved as museums and are the main reason to visit. Most visitors come on day-trips to the camps and don't go into town, so the separate Auschwitz-Birkenau page describes the camps and the practicalities of visiting. The present page describes Oświęcim town, in case you want to stay over: there are several other attractions here which are overshadowed by the infamous surroundings.


Oświęcim lies at the western edge of Małopolskie Province. The Soła river flows through town centre to join the Vistula, which nowadays marks the boundary with Silesia Province. When Poland was partitioned in the 18th century, Oświęcim along with Kraków was seized by Austria, while Silesia became part of Prussia. The area was industrial, based on coal and chemicals, with a substantial German-speaking population. The majority of townsfolk were Jewish, and they called it Oshpitzim (Yiddish: אָשפּיצין‎). In 1918 the area became part of newly-independent Poland, but in 1939 the Nazis annexed it into the Gau of Upper Silesia (a "Gau" being a province ruled by a Gauleiter). They sought to make it a "second Ruhr", an industrial heartland further from the reach of Allied bombing, and to rid it of any unwanted inhabitants. The camps were built and began the industrial genocide of Jews and others not just from Germany, but from anywhere in Europe within Nazi control.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Kraków (KRK IATA) 55 km east is the obvious airport, but you might use Katowice (KTM IATA) 70 km east.

By train[edit]

Trains from Kraków run more or less hourly and take a little more than one hour. Most are direct, regional trains. As of 2022, there are still construction works on the tracks to Oświęcim, so it is possible a replacement bus service is organized for the last part of the journey from Kraków.

Direct trains from Katowice run every 2 or 3 hours and take 50 min.

1 Oświęcim railway station is 2 km west of town centre. It's within one km of both Auschwitz camps: this is not a coincidence. There's a restaurant opposite, and buses and taxis waiting to meet the tourist trade.

By bus[edit]

Buses run at least every 30 min from Kraków, taking 90 min. By car, Highway 44 passes through Oświęcim en route between Kraków and Katowice; don't be on A4 which passes far to the north.

Get around[edit]

Map of Oświęcim

The sights of Oświecim town are close together and easily reached on foot. Take a bus (several lines) or taxi to the camps as these are 2 km from town and from each other, there's a lot of walking once you reach them, and you'll run out of time if not of energy.

A free bus runs between Auschwitz I and II: see Auschwitz#Getaround.


  • See Auschwitz for details of the two extermination camps on the west edge of town. 1 Auschwitz I is 1 km south of the railway station, 2 Auschwitz II or Birkenau is 2 km southwest of the station. There's nothing to see at Auschwitz III or Monowitz.
  • The town's own sights and facilities are clustered around the attractive 3 Main Market Square (Rynek Główny). Many of its buildings including Town Hall were rebuilt in the 19th century after a couple of disastrous fires, so there's a pleasing unity of style.
Oświęcim Castle
  • 4 Oświęcim Castle, Zamkowa 1 (by river bridge in town centre), +48 33 842 44 27. Oct-May M-Th 10:00-16:00, F Su 11:00-15:00; Jun-Sept Tu-F 10:00-18:00, Sa Su 11:00-18:00. 13th C Gothic defence tower with 16th and 20th C extensions, near the river - too near, as many of the fortifications have been washed away. With small museum, and you can climb to the top of the tower. Adult 12 zł. Regular ticket to the tower 8 zł. Oświęcim Castle (Q9386704) on Wikidata Oświęcim Castle on Wikipedia
  • 5 Jewish Museum and Synagogue (Auschwitz Jewish Center), Plac Księdza Jana Skarbka 5 (next to castle), +48 33 844 70 02, . Apr-Sept Su-F 10:00-18:00, Oct-Mar Su-F 10:00-17:00. Museum about the former Jewish population of Oświęcim. Includes the Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot synagogue. 10 zł. Auschwitz Jewish Center (Q9186556) on Wikidata Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim on Wikipedia
  • 6 The Jewish cemetery, dating back to the 18th century, is a bosky place at the corner of Dąbrowskiego and Brzegi.


  • Ice hockey: TH Unia Oświęcim play in Polska Hokej Liga the top tier. Their home rink is 500 m east of town centre.
  • 1 Park Family Fun is an amusement park on Zaborska, 500 m southeast of town centre. It's open M-F 12:00-20:00 Sa Su 09:00-20:00.
  • There are two other amusement / theme parks 10 km east near the village of Zator: 2 Energylandia and 3 Zatorland (Apr-Oct).



  • Cheap eating places surround the market place. These include 1 Cafe Bergson, 2 Cafe Bistro Kołaczek, 3 Antalya, 4 Itamae Sushi and 5 Da Grasso.
  • There's another little cluster of fast-food places by the roundabout 300 m northeast of the railway station.
  • 6 Rapsodia Cafe, Śniadeckiego 22B (next to OCK culture centre), +48 33 842 28 69. Daily 11:00-22:00. Good Italian style pizzas, ice-cream, reasonable prices.
  • 7 Restauracja Skorpion, Powstańców Śląskich 29 (Opposite railway station), +48 33 843 25 47. Daily 11:00-20:00. Inexpensive traditional food, safe choice when waiting for a train.


  • 1 Pub Arkada (on Dąbrowskiego). Has a micro-brewery.
  • 2 Pub Vinyl, Rynek Główny 9..


  • 1 International Youth Meeting Centre (Międzynarodowy Dom Spotkań Młodzieży), Legionów 11, +48 33 843 21 07. Hostel and cultural centre for groups. B&B adult single 130 zł, double 180 zł.
  • 2 Hampton by Hilton, Bulwary 2, +48 33 444 90 00. Clean comfy hotel by river bridge in town centre. B&B double 250 zł.
  • 3 Hotel Galicja, Dąbrowskiego 119, +48 33 843 61 15. Mid-range hotel with spa, often used by tour groups. Clean and comfy with good Italian restaurant. B&B double 200 zł.
  • 4 Hotel Dąbrowski, Dąbrowskiego 139, +48 33 841 14 82. Decent mid-range hotel, good restaurant. B&B double 250 zł.
  • 5 Hotel Olecki, Leszczyńskiej 16 (next to Auschwitz I), +48 33 847 50 00. Small simple hotel. B&B double 200 zł.

Go next[edit]

  • Kraków is an hour from Oświęcim by bus or train.
  • A slow route through the hills to Krakow or Zakopane leads to Wadowice, birthplace of Pope John-Paul II, and Kalwaria Zebrzydowska a pilgrimage centre.

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