Morskie Oko is near the border between Poland and Slovakia. In the Tatra mountains, the blue-green alpine lake is at the bottom of the valley on the Polish side. It is not well-known like some lakes around the world which are eye-catchers in Instagram or Pinterest. I got to know this place from an article of the Wall Street Journal. Having searched its related information on the internet, I added Morskie Oko to my Krakow trip without hesitation.
Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea)
Morskie Oko is a name given by tourists. The lake sits at 1395 meters above sea level and has a maximum of 51 meters deep. It is formed during the sculpting processes of the last ice age. Glaciers sliding down from above slowly carved the basin, which gradually filled with water and fine particles of glacier-ground rock. Over the years the particles washed away, and the lake boasts clear water with visibility of up to 15 metres.
Our family visited the lake in the mid-May. There was still snow on the mountain around the lake. To walk around the lake, it takes around one hour. Big stones around the lake form the walkway. You can find picturesque spots nearly everywhere without tourists interruptions.
There are several Falls on the way. The Falls flows over the walkway and enter directly into the lake. You need to take precautions of the slippery stones at these places. However, stand at the bottom of the Falls you have the perfect spot to picture the Falls. In the early spring, when the snow melts, there are more waterfalls around the lakes. In Winter the lake can be frozen and is a big attraction as well.
Czarny Staw (Black Pond in English)
There is another lake Czarny Staw (Black Pond in English) just up the Valley. The starting point to that lake is also at the lakeside. A sign indicated the starting point. According to the sigh, it takes 30 minutes to walk up to the lake. The stairs are quite steep. You need to wear proper hiking shoes. From the top, you can see the whole Morskie Oko. It’s a breathtaking view! The water from Czarny Staw also flows into the Morskie Oko and forms other falls. You have to follow the same way back to the lakeside.
This area is definitely an underrated destination. Most of the tourists are local residents. There are several hiking routes in the area. From the lake, you can hike to Rysi Peak, the highest mountain in Poland. It takes about 3 hours and 50 minutes to reach the peak. The whole area is also the protected Tatra National Park.
The lakeside restaurant
We left my hotel near Zakopane in the morning at around 10:00. After hiking, our family had a rest at the lakeside restaurant. The inside of the restaurant is decorated in a nostalgic style. On the wall, there is information about the first conqueror of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary’s visit on 21.06.2004 to this area. The restaurant offers some basic local foods. No one there speaks single English. But don’t worry, there is an English menu available for you. The weather was perfect, sometimes sunshine and other times cloudy. So I had the chance to make some wonderful pictures. You can see more from my Instagram account. It is a perfect adventure hiking destination from Zakopane and Krakow.
Related post: Top 9 Things to Do in Zakopane
Where to stay
How to get there
The best way is to drive there by car. There’s a big car parking at the entrance of the national park. The parking fee is 25zl per day for a usual private car. If the parking lot is full, then you have to park along the street. Someone will direct you there and charge the same fee. There is no free parking with walking distance. Alternatively, you can local buses from Zakopane and buses also stop in front of the parking lot.
The car rental is very cheap if you book one from a local company. We paid something like 50 Euro for 4 days including all mandatory insurances. To book a car, please check here.
From the parking lot, you can decide whether you will hike or ride a horse-carriage to the lake. The hike takes about 2 hours, a little longer than back to the parking lot because the route is uphill. The horse-carriage takes about one hour, but it doesn’t take you all the way to the lake. You still need to walk about 20 minutes to the lakeside. I paid the ride 50zl the way up and 30zl the way back. There is no discount for kids.
- Carry some cash and coins with you. You need to pay cash for the toilets at the rest area and the entrance fee to the national park which is 5zl per person and half price for the kids when we visited there. You also pay cash for a horse-carriage ride and for the foods in the restaurant.
- Carry some water with you.
- Wear proper hiking shoes.
- If you want to hike to Czarny Staw (Black Pond) as well, I suggest taking the horse-carriage up to save your energies for the hiking.
- If you walk to the lake there are free toilets along the route.