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. It is not well-known like some lakes around the world, which are eye-catchers on Instagram or Pinterest. I got to know this place from an article from the Wall Street Journal. Having searched its related information on the internet, I added Morskie Oko to my Krakow trip without hesitation.
I will share some basic information about the lake and things to do in the area:
- 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
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 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.
Walking around the lake
Our family visited the lake in 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 waterfalls on the way. The water Falls flows over the walkway and enter directly into the lake. You need to take precautions of the slippery stones at these places. Standing at the bottom of the waterfalls, 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.
Hiking up to Czarny Staw (Black Pond in English)
There is another lake Czarny Staw (Black Pond in English) just up the Valley. 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 are quite steep. You need to wear proper hiking shoes. From the top, we could 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. We followed the same way back to the lakeside.
Other hiking routes
This area is an underrated destination. Most of the tourists were 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.
Have a rest at the lakeside restaurant
We left our hotel near Zakopane in the morning at around 9:00. After hiking, our family was hungry and tired. So we had a rest at the lakeside restaurant. The inside of the restaurant has a nostalgic style of decoration. 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.
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. At the time of writing, the parking fee was 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 take local buses from Zakopane. And, the buses also stop in front of the parking lot.
It cost us around 50 Euros to rent a car for the period of our stay. The price included all mandatory insurances.
From the parking lot, you can decide whether you have to 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 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.
Join a tour from Krakow or Zakopane
- From Krakow: Morskie Oko Lake Tour in the Tatra Mountains
- From Krakow: Morskie Oko and Zakopane Day Trip
- 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.