There’s more to Zakopane than just Morskie Oko! Check out our 10 Favorite things to do in Zakopane, Poland. And be sure to scroll through all the pictures to see Lake Morskie Oko during the winter and summer, as it is two completely different experiences!
You might have seen pictures of this famed lake on the Internet, and they look so unreal, like they belonged on the front of a puzzle box, but they are more than real, and totally worth the visit, not matter the time of year. The lake is located in the middle of a few of the Tatra Mountains, which are part of the larger Carpathian Mountain Range. This week (summer 2015) I hiked to Morskie Oko for the second time. Every day of the year the lake can look different, as the climate and seasons in the mountains change. My first time hiking was in the winter, when we finally reached the lake it was completely frozen over and surrounded by snow (see those pictures here or scroll down to see more recent pictures of this year’s winter hike) but it was nice because there was really no one else hiking. Summer is a different story, as Polish students are done with school, and travelers are flocking to Krakow, the hike to Morskie Oko is crowded, but again, more than worth it. For information about Zakopane click here.
To begin a hike or horse-carriage ride to Morskie Oko, you must first get to Zakopane. Travel by car directly to Morskie Oko, and pay 20zl to park your car at the beginning of the hike for all day. The parking lot is located in the Tatra National Park and directions can be found using any GPS. Or take a bus. Buses leave every 10-20 minutes from the main station in Krakow, Dworzec Glowny. Go to the cash desk and buy a ticket, or just find a bus with Zakopane on the front and pay the driver. Tickets always cost 15zl each way. You can also book online through Polski Bus, very comfortable and with WiFi, but next to impossible to book last-minute. We went with the company Szwagropol on the way there, very comfortable, strong Wifi, and then the city bus, PKS, on the way home, no Wifi. Note: None of the buses will have bathrooms, so go before you leave.
The bus ride takes around 2 hours, you will get off at the last stop, the main bus station in Zakopane. When you get off the bus, walk out of the station and to your left, and you will see lines of vans parked on the side. All of them should have people saying “Morskie Oko! Morskie Oko!”, ask how much, and as long as it is 10zl or less, get on!
[To get back to Krakow, just do everything in the opposite direction. My suggestion is to just buy your bus tickets exactly when you need them. No need to purchase in advance. Buses run every 15 minutes at the least. And remember you can always head into the town of Zakopane when you get back from your hike, the main strip is just a 5 minute walk from the bus station.]
So whether you go by car or bus, you will eventually reach the beginning of the hike. Pay a 5zl entry fee, less for students, and then decide whether you will hike or ride to the top. The hike takes about 2 hours, a little more there than back because it is uphill. The terrain is easy, its mostly paved unless you take the short cut through the stairways, and there are free bathrooms and signs pointing you in the right direction along the way. (Be careful during winter, especially if there was heavy snowfall as spots can be icy!) Bring some food or drinks, and stop at any of the picnicing spots along the way as well, and at the end reward yourself with a beer and some pierogi at the restaurant at the top. You also have the option to ride a horse and carriage up, not sure the exact price, but it doesn’t take you all the way, you will still have about a 20 minute walk at the end, where the horses are not allowed to enter.
The Lake and the Journey
There isn’t much to say about Morskie Oko, the pictures speak for themselves!
A quick break for pictures from the winter, and then you can go back to looking at a summertime Morskie Oko…
Okay back to summertime pictures….
Don’t forget if you have any questions, comments, or want us to make you a custom made list or itinerary, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org