Cracow tours and excursions
If you think walking tours are a bit on the slow side then the Cool Tour Company might be for you; their friendly guides organise bike tours of Cracow. They are ideal if you haven't got long in Cracow as you'll cover much more on two wheels than you will on foot.Tel: +48 12 430 2034.
Embrace communism for an afternoon with one of Crazy Guides' communist tours. These lively lads take punters around Nowa Huta (New Town) in an authentic, Soviet-era automobile and drop in at a commie restaurant and milk bar. This award-winning tour has been endorsed by Michael Palin himself, which means it's really good.Tel: +48 5000 91 200.
The Auschwitz concentration camp is located at Oswiecim, 60km (37 miles) west of Cracow, and is an essential day trip, as it brings home the horrors of Nazi rule and the Holocaust perhaps more than anywhere else in the world. Auschwitz was actually made of three camps (Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II in Birkenau and Auschwitz III in Monowitz) with 40 sub-camps. Today, the preserved buildings of the first camp house displays of photographs and personal articles (from hair to shoes, suitcases, pots and pans).
Many visitors never make the effort to go onto the second camp, Birkenau (Auschwitz II), but this is the extermination camp where 1.6 million people of 27 nationalities, including 1.1 million Jews, 150,000 Poles and 23,000 Roma, were murdered by the Nazis and their henchmen, many led straight from their freight trains into the gas chambers. It is at Birkenau that the sheer scale of the tragedy is most evident, although it has few of the visitor facilities of Auschwitz itself.
The Panstwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau (State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau), ulica Wiezniow Oswiecimia 20, is open daily and is free of charge. Many operators in Cracow offer coach tours, and there are also regular coach and rail services from the city. Bus travel is available between the camps.
UNESCO: YesWebsite: http://auschwitz.org
Located 14km (9 miles) southeast of Cracow, the ultra-deep Salt Mine (Kopalnia Soli) at Wieliczka is a unique underground town which dates from the late 13th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Among the chambers is the Chapel of St Antony, where the first Mass was held before the miners started work in 1698, and the 1896 Chapel of St Kinga, which is actually a fair-sized church and features sculptures and chandeliers carved from the salt.
The Muzeum Zup Krakowskich (Cracow Saltworks Museum), ulica Zamkowa 8, comprises exhibitions in over a dozen worked-out chambers. The temperature below is a constant 14°C (57°F) so warm clothing is advised.
Minibuses regularly depart from Cracow and drop passengers off at the bottom of the road leading up to the salt mine entrance. The train station in Wieliczka is over 1km (0.6 mile) from the mine.
UNESCO: YesWebsite: http://www.wieliczka-saltmine.com
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