Sky-high mountains, numerous lakes and vast forests; Tatra National Park is home to many stunning nature areas, various wildlife and more than 275 km. of marked trails. One of the most popular trails leads to the beautiful mountain lake, Morskie Oko (‘Eye of the Sea’), at an altitude of almost 1400 m.
On one glorious day during my travels in Poland, my new friend Bethann from Australia, who I had met on the hostel in Krakow, and I decided to go to the national park and hike to Morskie Oko.
We caught a bus from the main bus station in Krakow and headed to Zakopane, where we caught a minibus to the beginning of the hike at the entrance to Tatra National Park. Zakopane is a small, yet widely known town, which we found out when we met a guy at the tourist office that Bethann had befriended in Krakow. He was on his way to hike to Slovakia! How cool is that!? We would’ve loved to join him, but we had our own goal for the day, and after shopping for a few necessary things (chocolate is necessary, right?), we caught the bus and headed to the national park!
When we got to the national park, we paid the entrance fee of just 5 PLN and started the 9 km. hike to the lake! The hike was quite easy despite being uphill the entire time on the way to the lake. To our surprise, most of the trail was on an asphalt road thus making it feel a little less adventurous than when hiking on an actual mountain, as cars and horse carriages occasionally whizzed past us. But the scenery during the trail was breathtaking and unlike anything that I ever thought Poland could be.
Many Danes tend to think of Poland as country with just big run-down cities and no nature to offer, none of which is true in any way, and many don’t even realize that these beautiful mountain parks actually exist within the borders of Poland. I knew that Poland was beautiful, but I had no idea how far that beauty actually went. Now I know.
Walking uphill for 9 km. was tiring and hard for the legs, but Bethanns good spirit kept my mood high and before we knew it, we were there, standing at the end of the trail, looking out to the most beautiful lake that I’ve ever seen. Morskie Oko really is true to its reputation; with its magnificent turquoise colour, the mountains with colourful vegetation surrounding it and the numerous waterfalls falling silently into the lake, the place deserves every bit of praise it gets, especially for still looking clean and unspoilt despite the large number of tourists visiting the lake every day.
There is a 2,5 km. trail that goes around the lake, where it’s possible to get up close to the many waterfalls and enjoy the view of the lake from different angles. We decided to do this, before walking the 9 km. back to the entrance, where a bus was waiting to take us back to Zakopane.
Although there were many tourists at the lake, it didn’t take away the beauty of it and we still felt like we were hundreds of miles from civilisation. But walking around the lake is highly recommended, as almost no one does this and you’ll be able to enjoy the view of the lake and the mountains by yourself – and there are some great spots for a picnic, which Bethann and I took advantage of!
The picturesque lake of Morskie Oko is a true tourist-magnet (and with good reason) and we met loads of tourists from all over the world on the trail. Normally, I would hate to go hiking anywhere near other tourists, but Morskie Oko was an exception as I had heard from others how beautiful it is. And boy, were they right!
There are also many other trails in the area that I would love to do, so I know that I’ll be back someday! Tatra National Park is without a doubt a place worth exploring and in my opinion, the fairly easy hike to Morskie Oko is a perfect starting point!