If you are wondering where can I hike in Zakopane, pick Morskie Oko hike hands down. Morskie Oko hiking trail is one of Poland’s most beautiful paths – thanks to its spectacular location near Zakopane Poland, a former tiny mountain village, which is now one of the best ski resorts and heaven for hikers in Poland.
Located amidst the intriguing Polish Tatra Mountains, doing the Morskie Oko hike is one of the best experiences about being here – the best way to get into the heart of this gorgeous slice of nature, into the rugged landscapes filled with surprises, including Morskie Oko Lake, waterfalls, and viewpoints offering dramatic, sweeping views of the post-card perfect panoramas.
In this post, you will discover why Morskie Oko is one of the best hikes from Zakopane, Poland, how to plan this epic trip, the routes to follow, the things to pack, and a few exclusive travel tips.
Get ready to be dazzled by the spectacle of nature through this Morskie Oko hike guide for a mountain holiday in Zakopane Poland.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU HIKE MORSKIE OKO
Where is Morskie Oko Poland?
Morskie Oko is a part of the Tatra National Park in Southern Poland, located at an altitude of 1395m above sea level in the upper regions of Rybi Potok or the Fish Brook Valley, one of the many stunning panoramas within the park.
Its name translates to the Eye of the Sea in English. The lake, originally called Rybie Jezioro, or Fish Lake, got its name due to the lake’s high amount of fishes.
Morskie is the largest and fourth deepest lake in the Tatra Mountains, home to many such glacial wonders.
Why should you hike Morskie Oko in Zakopane?
One of the best things about visiting Zakopane in summer is this opportunity to plan this one-day hike to Morskie Oko Lake and Czarny Staw pod if you are willing for another adventure.
It is also easily accessible from Krakow, one of the most famous destinations.
If you wonder why to visit Morskie Oko, it’s about the sweeping views of the landscapes during your Morskie Oko trek that you will encounter.
Situated at the Tatra mountains center, Morskie Oko is surrounded on all the sides by spectacular forested mountains, dominated by snow-capped Mieguszowiecki Summits and pine groves. Thanks to the crystal clear water, you can see its depths on a clear, sunny day.
Plus, unlike other hiking trails in Zakopane, hiking to Morskie Oko is easy. The trail length is not long, nor is the terrain tough, so you don’t need any trekking experience, which is one of the top reasons it is so famous.
This well-marked trail is ideal for everyone, including people with kids. Also, you can avail of Horse-drawn carriages along the route if you find it difficult.
If you are a seasoned hiker, you can take up a multiple-day trek further to the magnificent Rysy mountain, the highest peak in the Polish Tatras.
On the way to Morskie Oko, you will witness the incredible views of Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza waterfalls, one of the top attractions in the National Park.
How long is Morskie Oko hike?
Morskie Oko hiking distance is about 8 km one way. You can reach the Morskie Oko Lake on foot.
The distance to reach the mouth of Morskie Oko and go around the lake would be around 17km (return trip)
If you want to include Czarny Staw pod Rysami that would be an additional 2km distance to a round trip.
This hiking trail in Morskie Oko takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to complete depending on your fitness levels and pace.
How do you get to Morskie Oko?
This part will answer how to get to the start of the Morskie Oko hike. Zakopane, a pretty ski resort town at the Tatras foot, is the place you should reach to plan a hike to Morskie Oko.
If you arrive from Krakow, there are plenty of regular buses from Krakow to Zakopane that takes about 2.5 hours.
If you rely on public transport alone, the shuttle buses are available from Zakopane, taking you to the hiking point entrance.
The bus starts at the main bus terminal of Zakopane and ends at the trail entrance at Palenica Białczańska, which is about 25 km from Zakopane.
The first bus(the bus boards are in English) is around half past six in the morning. It takes about 30+ to even 45 minutes(during the rush hours), and costs around USD 3. You have to buy the ticket on the bus itself, paying in local PLN (Polish Zloty).
If you drive a car, you can arrive at the parking lot in Palenica Białczańska directly from Zakopane.
What is the best time to plan this trip?
The best time to visit Morskie Oko depends on your preferences. Although you can hike Morskie Oko Poland all year long, summer is the most popular season obviously as it is the best time – clear skies and sunny weather that will enable you to enjoy the fantastic views.
Spring is the second-best season if you wish to avoid the crowds – Summer months receive thousands of visitors every day, so that you can choose the spring months for visibility and fewer crowds.
Autumn and winter months are very cold, and Morskie Oko in the winter may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Morskie Oko is one of the famous activities in Zakopane during the winter months too as Zakopane is one of the best places to visit in Poland during winter.
The entire panorama is blanketed with snow, and the stunning whitewashed views are something else. You have the option of taking sleighs instead of carriages if you are here in the winter months.
One of the beautiful things about hiking Morskie Oko during winter is that you will get to walk on the lake because it will be frozen! If you are lucky, you may even get to try skating on the lake.
So if you think of going during these months, it is best to check first online for details.
Morskie Oko Parking
The furthest you can reach Morskie Oko by car is Palenica Bialczanska, the Tatra National Park’s entry point and the last point where the end of the vehicles and the hike begins.
If you are looking for Morskie Oko parking spots, you can find the lot here in Palenica for paid parking. If you are going to opt for a bus, it will stop here.
Morskie Oko Tickets
You have to buy the entry tickets at the Tatra National Park entry ticket, which costs about 6 PLN.
Morskie Oko Map
Below is the Morskie Oko hiking trails map for an estimate of what to expect.
MORSKIE OKO HIKE ITINERARY
Morskie Oko Bus From Zakopane to Palenica Białczańska
Suppose you will use public transport, head to the main bus station in Zakopane early in the morning. Look for buses with the lake’s name, which is usually easy because the area will be crowded.
If you are on the early buses, you will reach the Tatra National Park entrance at Palenica Białczańska in about 30 minutes. Buy the entry ticket, and get set for your hike.
Hike to the Lake
Here you will find the horse-drawn carriages at the entry point for those wanting to take a ride. The carriage will drop you at Włosienica, the farthest point until it is allowed, from where you have to walk for over 15 minutes.
This trail’s unique thing is that you will hike on a hard asphalt road, which initially is flat, with a gradual inclination.
Some people find this hike on a well-built road monotonous, but I’d say it is all worth it for the spectacular views in the end.
About 45 minutes into the hike, you will arrive at Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza Waterfall. Here is the option of diverting to another trail(green) that leads to the Polish Five Lakes Valley.
After this, you will find a few shortcut paths amidst the forest trees, which you can switch to if you find this regular route boring or exhausting. It will save you some time too.
Around 2 hours (or more if you are doing it slowly or with pauses), you will pass by Wlosienica, from where the splendid landscapes begin, getting better as you begin to reach Morskie Oko Lake.
Before the lake, you will find the PTTTK Morkie Oko Mountain Hut, best for some rest before heading to soak in the blissful views of the lake.
Admire the spectacle of the lake with the backdrop of the Tatra mountains, mystically glowing, take your pictures and relax for a while.
Here, you have some options – Circle the lake path and/or head further to another beautiful spot Czarny Staw pod Rysami or the Black Pond.
I’d highly recommend doing both – Yes, it means an additional 1 to 1.5 hours of trek, but believe me, all the hard work is certainly worth it in the end.
Circle the Lake
The crowds thin up a bit as you continue along the trail that circles the lake. Enjoy different vistas of the panorama at many points on the way. It might take about 40 to 60 minutes.
Morskie Oko To Czarny Staw pod Rysami
Continue your hike to Czarny Staw pod next, located at 1,583 meters high. The second deepest in the Tatras and the fourth deepest lake in Poland, The Black Pond or The Czarny Staw Pod Rysami Lake, gets its name for its dark blue appearance due to its shade the mountains on the lake giving the color.
Unlike Morskie Oko’s path, this route to the Czarny Staw is challenging because it is very steep. Although the distance is short, you will have to go slow and carefully.
As you go higher and higher, right behind you would be incredible views of Morskie Oko below, and the views get more and more magical up further, which makes it worth all your effort.
You will also find this slice of paradise with fewer people, which means you can enjoy the crystal clear view of the lake set against the intriguing Mount Rysy better. The Czarny Staw also looks more beautiful than Morskie Oko.
There are a few points from where you can see both Czarny Staw pod Rysami and Morskie Oko simultaneously, which you should find because these are the best places for enjoying the fantastic 360-degree of the lakes and the mountains.
It takes an additional 60 minutes to complete this hike to Czarny Staw pod Rysami from Morskie Oko.
Spend some time here, enjoying the bliss, recharge a bit, and we are done yet here because you still have to hike back!
But don’t worry, climbing down and heading back is a lot easier, especially if you take one of the shortcuts as you get past halfway. You will head to Palenica Białczańska in about 1 to 1.5 hours. Around sunset, you can head back to Zakopane by bus from here.
Further Hiking Options
You can add more hiking if you have more time on your hand and strength in your legs.
You can spend overnight in one of the mountain huts in the national park and tackle the other trails the next day, which is a more feasible option.
From Czarny Staw, you can hike to the highest peak Mount Rysy, located on the Poland – Slovakia border, which takes about 2+ hours one way.
Alternatively, you can plan an itinerary like this. Start with a hike to the Five Lakes Valley, head next to Morskie Oko, and later to Czarny Staw.
Spend overnight and cover Mount Rysy the next day. Both of them might be strenuous if you are not a regular trekker/active hiker, though.
SOME USEFUL TRAVEL TIPS
Here are more things that will help you prepare well for your trek to the lakes.
- Restrooms – There are mobile toilets available at different points in the trail. You can notice the signs that tell the details of the next bathroom stop. Regular bathrooms(paid and better) are at the end of the trail.
- Alternate route – If you don’t mind a rocky, uphill climb, there is a shortcut to the lake, which is off the nice asphalt road halfway through the hike. Amidst the trees, you can find rocky steps to bypass the road, which cuts the hike distance by a few kilometers.
- Parking lot tickets – The parking lot at the entrance in Palenica Bialczanska gets quickly filled up early in the morning during the peak months. There is a long queue of people waiting to park the car, so it is best to arrive before 7 AM if you are self-driving.
- You can buy the parking lot tickets online here in advance, including the entry ticket, and it allows you to book a slot – highly recommended for peak season hikes.
- Road traffic and bus ride – Some prefer to walk all the way from Zakopane to the entrance of the national park, which is insane for two reasons – it is an additional walk for up to 2 hours for no reason, and you will run out of energy to do the actual hike.
- Take the shuttle bus to the entry point from Zakopane or further. The worst case that could happen is the road getting jammed during the summer months as you approach the park, which can be avoided if you take the early morning buses(preferrable the first or the second bus).
- Restaurant options – There is a wooden hut restaurant – PTTK Morskie Oko Mountain Hut at the end of the trail with restrooms and a limited menu. But expect waiting period and long lines most of the time. Although you can finish the trip with a nice meal, in the end, it is best to carry some snacks to keep you energized all along the way.
- Horse carriage – If you are unable to hike for any reason, there is an option of renting horse-drawn carriages driven by Gorals – the local highlanders of the area.
- One way will cost you around 50 PLN per person one way, taking about 45 minutes. And the return trip costs about 30 PLN. These prices vary depending on the season and the weather. You should still have to walk for about 15 minutes to the mouth of the lake, even if you opt for this ride.
- The carriage will shorten your hike duration by 1 hour, but I would not recommend this unless it’s an absolute must as the horses are treated in bad ways, and also, the whole point of this trip is hiking, right?
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR HIKE
Carry a small day pack that’s not heavy for the Morskie Oko hike, which should include these things.
Cash – There are no ATMs available in and around the park. And they don’t accept cash for either the bus, entry or in the restaurants and shops. So it is best to carry sufficient money in cash with you.
Water – Needless to say, carry water bottles with you, better if it’s a reusable one. Until the end, you don’t find drinking water options.
Snacks – The same goes for snacks too. Carry some food with you, and have it on the way.
Good hiking shoes – A good hiking shoes that are comfortable for long-distance hiking, best if designed for an inclined hike, and walking on uneven, rough trails.
Face Mask – Currently, you have to wear a mask on the bus and in restaurants because of the pandemic.
Hand Sanitizer – Sanitizer to safeguard yourself, including napkins and tissues.
Suitable clothing – It is best to wear layers while hiking Morskie Oko as initially, you may feel chilly no matter the time of the year, but then all the hiking would leave you sweating. Plus, it gets unpredictable about rain, which can be any time of the year.
Sunscreen and hat – Team up your clothes with a sunglass, sunscreen, and a stylish hat.
That’s a comprehensive guide to hike Morskie Oko – a perfect day tour when you are in Zakopane. If you have any questions, do let me know in the comments below.
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