When researching my trip to Zakopane, I came across stunning photos of the Lake Morskie Oko. Being a great lover of mountains, walking, and stunning views, I knew I really wanted to give the whole thing a go. However, there were very few posts in English about Lake Morskie Oko and nothing regarding how to get there. But with much dedication, I worked how to get there and had an amazing day.
HOW TO GET THERE
-To get to Morskie Oko, you must first get to Polana Palenica, the entrance to the Tatra National Park which is where the start of the hike is located.
-The easiest way is to drive yourself, this at first was the only route I knew of initially, meaning I was worried about having to pay out a lot of money for a taxi.
–However, I discovered that at Zakopane bus station (next to the train station) there are multiple mini-buses that take you to Morse Oko – all labelled Morskie Oko on the front.
-Simply get on any of these buses and pay no more than 10zl and enjoy the 30-minute journey to the national park.
-The same can be said for returning back, just hop on a minibus that says Zakopane on the front.
The hike itself takes around two and a half hours, however, give or take 20 minutes depending on your speed. It took me just over two hours. In terms of the difficulty, it is pretty easy, with the whole route being a tarmac road, providing you with a stable and wide path. However, if walking is not your thing, you can take a horse-drawn sleigh up the mountains instead. I personally opted for this on the way back down as firstly I wanted to admire the views in my own time and experience the hike…as a hike. Secondly although a bit controversial I didn’t like the idea of these horses dragging up 8 people and a heavy sleigh uphill – it was hard enough for me as it was! Whereas going down, gravity was on their side and as I said before it was a sled so the horses were basically just steering rather than pulling. Plus it was a great reward for the walking I had already done.
In terms of the path, its simply stunning. It was a cloudy day, so initially the path was very foggy and cloudy and the best sights were frozen waterfalls and rivers. But as I got higher and higher I began to emerge from the clouds and got to see the Tatras at their best, with their peaks raised above the clouds in the blue sky. It was also just so so magical when I had these views to myself at various points of the hike. Being winter, it isn’t that busy and thus at many stages, I found myself walking alone until I caught up with somebody again or vice versa. Which is why although this hike is more popular in the summer with Morskie Oko looking its best and with better weather for hiking, the experience you’ll get in the winter is like no other. Also just going to state the obvious – it all looks very different in both seasons – either lots of greenery and sun or lots of snow and frost.
LAKE MORSKIE OKO
This is where it was actually a little anti-climactic if I am to be totally honest. As aforementioned the beautiful photography of the lake in the summer is to die for, and of course, in the winter, it looks completely different. You won’t be able to see it’s stunning turquoise colour, or the clarity of the water, instead it will be frozen over. However, that still does not mean the lake was not beautiful. The sight of this magnificent frozen lake at the base of some of the Tatra’s highest peaks was rewarding after the hike. For those who enjoy adventure, you could even walk across the frozen lake with ease, something I was a little too anxious to do. Sitting in the mountain lodge sipping my Polish hot chocolate (yes much emphasis on Polish as their way of making it is 100x better) was such a pleasant experience. Tucked up in the warm after a tiring hike. I know I’ve said this hike is relatively easy compared to most, but when you’ve just recovered from a chest infection and flu, and are wearing heavy snow boots and are hiking in the cold, it is a little bit tougher than it sounds – but still doable!
After this, I went around taking photos of families who all wanted to be in their pictures, spoke to some friendly Americans who were enjoying a road trip around Central and Eastern Europe and read a lot about the National Park and the mountains whenever I found any information. After all this, I realised just how much I enjoyed doing things like this and how I also really want to return in the summer one day to do it all again.
Thanks for reading, I really enjoyed writing this recalling all the fun I had. If you’re ever in Zakopane or the South of Poland I’d really recommend you visit the Tatra National Park, it’s worth the ridiculously cheap entry fee of 5zl (£1) and I doubt you won’t have a good time here. I inserted my vlog below for those of you who want to see the hike in action. Would you ever visit this region of Poland? Have you ever been on a hike that has really impressed you? Is there any lesser known National Parks in Europe that you reccomend?