ADMISSION: Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial is free of charge if you go on your own. Groups are required to hire a tour guide, with prices starting at about $10, depending on the length of the tour. Extensive study tours cost more and fill two full days. Guides that speak English, German and Italian are in good supply.
WHERE: Auschwitz-Birkenau is in Oswiecim, Poland, which has several small hotels that offer tourist-class rooms for $65-$80 per night. Most visitors make day trips to the memorial from Krakow, where tourist hotel rooms cost $90 and up.
GUIDED TOURS: Bus tours make the 45-mile trip between Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau with tickets costing about $40 slightly more if tickets are purchased at hotels. Buses pick up passengers at selected hotels or at designated meeting points around Krakow between 9-9:30 a.m. daily. Tickets and tour options can be booked directly at www.auschwitztour.com. The bus tours from Krakow take about six hours and do not include time or provisions for any meals, so packing a lunch or snack is advisable. More adventurous travelers can catch a local train between Krakow and Oswiecim for less than $10 round trip.
HOURS: The museum and grounds open at 8 a.m. with closing times ranging from 3 p.m. December-February to as late as 7 p.m. June-August. The memorial is closed New Year's Day, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.
NEED TO KNOW: Photography is not allowed inside buildings, which is unfortunate because most of the detailed exhibits are indoors. Frustrated visitors stealthfully snap pictures when guides are not looking.