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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