One of the most visited places in Poland is Morskie Oko Lake. It is famous as it’s the largest lake in the Tatra Mountains and because of its extraordinary scenic surroundings. Located approximately 25 km (15.53 miles) from Zakopane, it attracts tourism all year long. It is easily accessible by car or by bus and requires about 8 km (4.97 miles) of hiking. It is a nice day trip with easy paths so no previous hiking experience is needed. Wear your sport shoes and go for it because this is really an experience you shouldn’t miss!
Morskie Oko Shelter: a hiker's oasis
Reaching Morskie Oko after the hike is as impressive as it can be. You will see the lake surrounded by mountains, creating a breathtaking landscape. On your left is an old wooden building built in 1908 that is the oldest remaining shelter in the Polish Tatras. Today, it functions as a restaurant and a hostel.
The hostel has 43 beds in three dormitories and is quite a popular choice among hikers. The beds are bunk beds, which maximizes space, but they are comfortable. Guests enjoy a common kitchen and a shower with 24-hour hot water available. There is luggage storage and a TV screen displaying the up-to-date weather forecast and weather conditions in the mountains. The hostel is fresh in the summer, warm in the winter, and has amazing views of the valley.
The shelter also serves as a restaurant welcoming hikers and offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you visit during winter, go inside to have a hot beverage to keep you warm. If you’re visiting in the summer, then an iced tea is the perfect option to feel refreshed!
Hiking trails in Morskie Oko
Morskie Oko is a natural wonder and a has been a source of inspiration for many famous artists and painters. Today, it is visited throughout the year by thousands of tourists who admire the mountain views and explore the trails.
Keep in mind of the constant changing weather during the day, so it is best to be prepared with warm and rainproof clothing and some food and water.
Morskie Oko offers a variety of hiking trails and one can enjoy a walk or a longer excursion to the mountain. The hike around the lake takes approximately 50 minutes. For more experienced hikers or nature lovers who want to take a longer trip, there is the blue trail that takes approximately 4 hours in total (2 hours into nature and 2 hours to return to the lake), leading to the shelter in the Valley of the Five Lakes. It takes a similar amount of time to follow the yellow trail to Szpiglasowa Pass.
If you want to reach the highest peak in the Polish Tatras (2.49 m/ 8198 ft), then you should choose the Morskie Oko Rysy trail. It is not very difficult, although it takes 4 hours to get to the peak and at the very end, you will need some remaining strength to use the chains to ascend.
Please remember that the weather in the mountains can change significantly during the day, and you should take warm and rainproof clothing and something to eat and drink.
Tips, directions and prices
In order to get to Morskie Oko, it is advisable to take the mini buses that run from Zakopane bus station (ticket price: 5 PLN / 1.25 USD). The journey lasts about half an hour and leaves you at Morskie Oko Park. It is recommended to go by bus as it is quite difficult to find a parking space in Palenica Białczańska and if you drive, you may be affected by huge traffic jams going in and out of the parking lots.
From Morskie Oko Park, you will have to walk an uphill on a scenic, forest road for 8 km (4.97 miles) before reaching the lake. It takes about 3 hours to reach the magnificent lake and admire the generosity of nature. The route is fairly easy but if you are not keen on hiking, there are horse-drawn carriages that can take you uphill in 30 minutes (cost: 50 PLN / 12.5 USD per person).
I recommend starting your excursion early in the morning as it gets really crowded during the day. In July and August, it is better to begin even before 8 am to appreciate some calmness on the trails. However, the landscape is spectacular during winter when the lake is frozen over and becomes a huge ice rink with snowy mountains surrounding it — a landscape that you’ll only find here.
An unmissable natural beauty
Morskie Oko Lake is one of the most popular excursion destinations among locals and foreigners that visit Poland. Situated only 25 km (15.53 miles) from Zakopane, it is easily accessible by car or local buses. The changing seasons reveal different aspects of the lake, so you can visit Morskie Oko Lake anytime of the year and still be blown away by its beauty.
It is a perfect excursion for nature lovers, hikers and active travelers. Spectacular mountain views and hiking trails stretch along the Tatra Mountains, making Morskie Oko one of the best natural attractions in Poland!
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