Be ready for morning pickup at your Krakow hotel, and drive about 1.5 hours to reach the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial, where more than an estimated 1 million Jews and other targeted populations were murdered during World War II. The former Nazi concentration and extermination camp is now preserved as a memento of Europe's darkest chapter.
Skip the entrance lines with a timed ticket, and connect with an English-speaking guide for a tour of the camp including prisoner barracks, the unloading ramp, and ruins of a gas chamber and crematorium. Spend 2 hours at Auschwitz I, the former SS administrative center, and 1 hour at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, where most of the murders took place. After this sobering visit, take a 1-hour break for reflection and lunch (own expense).
In the afternoon, explore the mesmerizing underground world of the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Be prepared for a steep climb down several hundred steps as you descend into the tunnels and caverns of one of the world’s oldest salt mines. Admire sculptures carved out of salt rock and see mysterious saline lakes during a 3-hour guided visit. Return to the surface via an elevator, and relax on the return drive to your Krakow hotel in the evening.