Trip To The Most Beautiful Lake of Poland - Morskie Oko
The turquoise waters and the surrounding green mountains create a splendid and calm scene for nature lovers
Situated in the Tatra Mountain near Poland-Slovakia border, Morskie Oko is the most beautiful and largest lake of Poland. Surrounded by mountains at an elevation of 1395 meters from sea level this picturesque and stunningly beautiful turquoise lake is also known as ‘The eye of the sea’. A trip to Zakopake, the most popular tourist destination of south of Poland warrants a hike to this lake.
The view one can expect after two hours of hike
Best time to Visit: Though a hike to Morskie Oko can be done year-round, the summer months are the most suitable time to enjoy the beatify of this lake to the fullest. However, summer months also attract lots of and therefore is crowded.
How to go: The general concept for many who have not visited south of Poland before, is that the lake of Morskie Oko is one of the ‘places to visit’ in the mountain town of Zakopane. In reality, it is actually situated outside the town and involves around 2 hours (9 km) of hiking each way from the nearest car park of Palenica Bialczanska which is around 23 km by road from the town of Zakopane. The car park of Palenica Bialczanska is best reached by car, minibus or taxi. Among these three options, personal or hire car or minibus would be the most convenient considering taking a taxi will be expensive and there is no fixed price for this journey. For our trip to Morskie Oko, we took the local minibus that runs all day between the main train station of Zakopane to Palenica Bialczanska and costs around 10 PLN (around £2) and takes around 45 minutes each way. There is no fixed timetable for these minibuses to operates, all run by the principle of ‘we leave once the bus is full’. It’s easy to spot these minibuses in the main parking area of the train station. The buses are white in colour with ‘Mosrkie Oko’ sign at the front. Even if you miss these two, you won’t miss the local drivers yelling ‘Morskie Oko, Morskie Oko’. If you are planning to spend the entire day hiking around Mosrkie Oko, try to find out the approximate time of last bus leaving from the car park of Palenica Bialczanska to the town of Zakopane before leaving the car park on route to hiking.
The minibuses from Zakopane train station for Morskie Oko
The hiking: The hiking starts at the car park of Palenica Bialczanska. As Morskie Oko is located within the boundaries of Tatra National Park an entry fee is applicable for this hike. The ticket counter is located at the end of the car park/at the start of the hiking route. The entry fee is 5 PLN (around £1) for adult and 2.50 PLN (£0.5) for children over age of 7 years, retirees and disabled people. Entry for children under the age of 7 years old is free of charge. The hike to Morskie Oko from Palenica Bialczanska takes around 2 to 3 hours depending on individual’s fitness and ability to walk fast or slow. The hiking route to the lake is actually a tarmac road for cars used by the park officials and by the people running the restaurant by the edge of the lake. Therefore., the hiking is relatively easy for all age group and involves a gradual climb. There are few breakout areas along the route which offers hikers refreshment and much needed loo break.
The scenic hiking route to Morskie Oko
Instead of walking the other option to visit Morskie Oko is by horse carriage which runs from the car park of Palenica Bialczanska. The ride takes just over an hour to go up to the lake and around 30 to 40 minutes while coming back. Taking horse carriage still requires around 2 km of walking each way to the lake as the horse carriages are only allowed till the last breakout area of Włosienica from where the lake is around 20 minutes of walk. The price for horse carriage ride varies from season to season, going up to the lake or coming down and also on your bargaining skills! On average the price per person for going to the lake costs between 50 PLN to 70 PLN (£10 to £12) and 30PLN to 50 PLN (£6 to £10) for coming down.
The horse carriage is the alternative option to reach Morskie Oko
The first breakout area along the route comes after 2.6 km where an information centre is also located. Along the route at around 3 km comes the second breakout area next to a picturesque waterfall named Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza. A number of picnic benches are placed in this break out area for hikers to relax and enjoy nature while taking a well-deserved break. The breakout area near Włosienica is the biggest of all and houses a restaurant which serves hot food and drinks. Further 15 minutes of walk from Włosienica bring hikers to the shore of Morskie Oka. The lake is truly magical and stands up to its reputation. The turquoise waters and the surrounding green mountains create a splendid and calm scene for nature lovers. The beauty of the lake truly makes the hike worthwhile. Next to the lake, sits a restaurant which is popular among the hikers for its hot food and beer. As we had packed lunch with us, and the restaurant was brimming with hikers we decided to give it a miss.
The must have photo in front of Morskie Oko
Most of the hikers to Morskie Oko also hike to the nearby lake of Czarny Staw located at an elevation of 1577 meters. A hike of around 1.7 km on a cobbled-stone path along the shore of Morskie Oko leads to the lake of Czarny Staw under Rysy which takes around 30 minutes hike each way. After taking a well-deserved break and taking a number of pictures of Morskie Oko we started hiking towards Czarny Staw under Rysy when the heaven opened up unleashing heavy rain. So we decided to return back towards car park of Palenica Bialczanska. By the time we reached Włosienica we were completely drenched and cold, so we took the horse carriage down to the car park. It costed us more than the regular price thanks to the weather.
The cobbled-stone path to the lake of Czarny Staw under Rysy
Our overall experience of hiking to Morskie Oko was mixed considering the weather. The view and the natural beauty around the lake is indeed breath-taking, however the hiking route leading to the lake is crowded with huge number of hikers and horse carriages. However, this is expected especially during the summer months and considering Morksie Oko is the most popular and picturesque lake of Poland. If you can look beyond the busy routes, the eye of the sea does deserve a visit to revel in its beauty!