Zakrzowek: Former Limestone Quarry Turned Lake
This is my absolute favorite place to swim in the summer, but you must understand that as of 2023, this is a more dynamic situation. The city has expanded zakrzowek to include completely regulated areas that feature some really nice pools. The pools use the same water as the lake, but vary in depths, making it accessible now even to children. The problem is that the rules at the pools and deck areas are changing pretty often.
UPDATE: We figured out how to get to the “swim at your own risk” beach area where there is NO line to get in. You just keep walking past the entrance to the pool areas (ie. stay on the main road) and follow the signs to the Sports Recreation Complex area. Once there you will find a beach with plenty of room to lay your towel, set up your tent, or even pump up your paddle board. If you were never planning on swimming, this is your better option. Or if you are a strong swimmer and wanted to just use the lake the whole time anyway (like me) then this is the perfect area for you as well.
In June I was able to go swimming of the side decks into the large lake multiple times without having to wait, and was even allowed to drink beer while I sat there. Now, in July, entrance remains free, but they are actually starting to count how many people are going in and out and so peak hours are proving to be a multiple-hour wait just to get access to the pools. [My opinion: start charging entrance fees and also imposing 2-3 hour limits on the people inside.]
How to avoid waiting for hours at zakrzowek to get in? Ideally- what you would do, is take the tram to the stop NORYMBERSKA (tram 18 is easiest for tourists); then follow Google Maps to the point Baseny na Zakrzowku before 10am, that way you are in the first 1000 people that go to enjoy the lake for the day. It’s my understanding you can’t get in before 10am, but if you plan your trip so that you are arriving right at 10am, it should be perfect.
So- Go on a weekday and go early. If you have to go on a weekend, make sure you are there a little before 10am to be part of the first people in line, and you should get in just fine.
There are technically beaches that you can still access that are not part of the pools and deck system, and are always open, we’re just not exactly sure how you get to them. So if you’re feeling adventurous- see if you can figure out how to get to the beaches.
Here are some frequently asked questions about zakrzowek:
Is zakrzowek free? As of July 2023 it continues to remain free.
Are there bathrooms at zakrzowek? Yes- at the top of the quarry before the entrances there are changing rooms and bathrooms, also free.
Are there lifeguards at zakrzowek? Yes, but only for the pool areas. If you are in the lakes, you are swimming at your own risk.
Can you jump off of cliffs at zakrzowek like I’ve seen online? There are cliffs people jump off in the wild unregulated area. We do not recommend doing this. People die every year jumping off these cliffs, and people have already died this year doing it.
Is there food available at zakrzowek? Yes, but it’s up top. You’ve got several areas with food trucks, coffee trucks, ice cream trolleys, etc… at the top of the lake before the entrance. If you get off at the tram stop Norymberska, you’ve also got a Kaufland (as long as its not Sunday) which is a massive grocery store you can buy stuff from.
Can you drink alcohol at zakrzowek? Not officially. So if you’re going to do it, be smart and put it in a a different container. There are police patrolling the area every half hour or so, and they will write tickets on the spot for drinking in public, which is illegal in Krakow.
Is zakrzowek good for kids? If you can get there before a line forms- absolutely. Some of the pools are so shallow, they are really designed for very small children. Floaties are allowed as well. So get your kid their only little tube and let them splash around!
Do I really have to wait in line for 3 hours to get in to zakrzowek? Sometimes. That is why, for now, with the current regulations (July 2023) we highly recommend that you go as early as possible if you want to avoid waiting. If the line is up to the bathhouse area, it’s at least an hour to hour and a half wait from there.
Below you will see our article about zakrzowek from 2015 before the major renovations occurred. Which talks a little about the history of the place; as well as the other offerings besides just the pools!
Is it really illegal?
So for a few years now I have heard things about Zakrzowek, about it being dangerous, about it being illegal. I went this winter and it provided beautiful walking trails and view of the distant city, you can easily spot the Main Square attractions from atop the cliffs. But I had no idea how to get to the swimming part (nor did I want to because it was so cold), but if you had to jump from where I was, I could see how people die here, leaving the place with such a bad reputation. Update: The city of Krakow is looking into buying Zakrzowek, which would mean heavier regulations that would increase safety.
But the heat wave that has recently spread across Europe, gave me inspiration last night, around 8pm, to see if I could figure out how to get to some cold water to take a dip in. And it turns out, that Zakrzowek may not be illegal anymore. Or at least parts of it aren’t.
Once a limestone quarry, in fact one where Pope John Paul II worked as a young lad during the German-Occupation of Poland, Zakrzowek is now a bonified lake, and has always been an attractive spot for Krakowians wanting to cool off in the heat, drink some beers, cliff-dive or even rock climb. There is even a scuba-diving training school located there now. And from what we found last night, there is a locked gate to a legal swimming area. Pay 100zl on a weekend, and you can have a key to the gate all summer long! (Which is what makes me think that the part we swam in last night is completely legal, I mean you buy a key to it from an office, soooo…) Of course the more elevated and rockier entrances to the water are also available, just keep walking and you will find where people dive off cliffs to get into the water (although you have to be able to jump in from a lower point as well or how else would they get out).
Arriving to the area, you will enter at the Malopolska sign for the park area, and walk along a paved path, there will eventually be two forks. If you go to the right, you will follow some paths up into some great viewpoints, towards the left is the view of half of the quarry/lake, and towards the right (climb upwards) you can see views of the entire city (even the mounds off in the distance like little ant-hills).
If you go to the left at the fork, you will have to just explore your possibilities. We took the first turn we could last night, and like I said, ended up at a locked gate. Fortunately, someone with a key came shortly behind us and let us in, but we plan on buying a key for us and our guests this weekend for sure! This seemed the best place for us to stay, first because it wasn’t dangerous at all (there were children and families swimming and playing everywhere), and secondly because you could just walk right in to the water, no jumping from a cliff involved. From what I could gather, it seemed like you would just keep walking around the lake further to find the other beaches, some high up, some right at water level. We only had a couple of hours of light left so we didn’t go all the way around.
[To actually get to Zakrzowek, just Google Map the name and you’ll see it on a map. Park on the side of the lake where there is a Tesco nearby. There is a free parking lot, just at the entrance, with the sign that states you are at the Zakrzowek park. And if you are not traveling by car, you can easily bike there from wherever you are in Krakow, again just grab a map, or put “Zakrzowek” in as your destination to Jakdo Jade and it will tell you the easiest way to arrive]
So I have to say, I LOVE ZAKRZOWEK!!!!! Maybe it is just the heat that is getting to me, but I want to go swimming there everyday! Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Bagry, but I just really love how you are swimming in such crystal-blue water, completed surrounded by cliffs, it was just beautiful! And the water was so refreshing, not too cold, and warmer the further you went in.
My advice, give yourself enough time to explore the area, and really find a good place to put your stuff and safely enter the water. Also, wear appropriate shoes, even water shoes, because it is rocky, and sometimes you are going up and down hill on dirt pathways, so you need some traction in your shoes to help. And remember, the path we followed yesterday was super simple, no climbing over fences or anything like that, and I was even in flip-flops, so DON’T follow a path that makes you feel uncomfortable or seems dangerous. There are easier ways to get to the water, I promise. And of course, don’t forget your bathing suit!!!
The Swimming Areas
The Other Side and City Views
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