Morskie Oko is a glacier lake 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. I got to know this place in an article from the Wall Street Journal. After having thorough research on the internet and gathered some facts, our family voted for adding it to our Krakow trip itinerary.
I break down our travel experience into four sections:
- Get to know the birth of Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea)
- Walking around the lake
- Hiking up to Czarny Staw (Black Pond in English)
- Have a rest at the lakeside restaurant
Get to know the birth of 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 was the result of 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.
Walking around the lake
Our family visited the lake in mid-May. Snow on the mountain around the lake was still visible. It took us around one hour to have a round walk. The walkway was flat, and many places were big stones making the path easy accessible. We could find picturesque spots nearly everywhere without tourists interruptions.
On the way, we passed several waterfalls. At some places, the water Falls flew over the walkway and entered directly into the lake. We had to take precautions against the slippery stones at these places.
At the bottom of the waterfalls was the perfect spot to picture the Water 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.
Hiking up to Czarny Staw (Black Pond in English)
The lake Czarny Staw (Black Pond in English) is the upper lake. A sign at the lakeside indicates that the starting point to the Black Pond. To reach the upper lake, we had to climb up many stone stairs. The stairs were quite steep. Once on the top, we could see nearly the entire Morskie Oko. It was a breathtaking view! The water from Czarny Staw also flows into the Morskie Oko and forms other falls. We followed the same way back to the lakeside.
This area is an underrated destination. Most of the tourists were residents. From the lake, a hiking route to the Rysi Peak, the highest mountain in Poland. It would take about 3 hours and 50 minutes to reach the peak. The whole area is also the Tatra National Park natural protection area.
Have a rest at the lakeside restaurant
We left our hotel near Zakopane in the morning at around 8:00. After hiking, our family was hungry and tired. So we had a rest at the lakeside restaurant. The restaurant has a nostalgic style of decoration. From the information on the wall, we learned about the first conqueror of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary’s visit to the lake area visit on 21.06.2004.
No one from the restaurant spoke English. But we managed to buy some local foods since an English menu was available for the tourists.
The weather on that day was perfect, sometimes sunshine and other times cloudy. So I had the chance to take a few pictures under different light conditions.
How to get there
- From Zakopane, it is about 23km to the parking place at the Morskie Oko trailhead by car.
- Alternatively, you can take local buses from Zakopane. The buses also stop at Palenica Białczańska, the Morskie Oko trailhead.
- From there, you can either walk or take a horse-carriage ride to the lake. Walking to the lake takes about 2 hours. The horse-carriage takes about one hour, but it doesn’t take you to the lakeside. Everyone still needs to walk further 20 minutes to the lakeside.
- The easiest way is to join a tour from either Krakow or Zakopane.
- Carry some cash and coins. First, you need coins for using the toilets in the rest area. Then, you would pay in cash for the entrance fee of the national park. Afterwards, if you wish to take a horse-carriage ride, the owners accept cash only. And lastly, so did the restaurant.
- Wear proper hiking shoes, especially if you want to hike up to the upper lake.
- If you want to hike to Czarny Staw (Black Pond), I suggest taking the horse-carriage to save the two-hour walking.