Hiking to Morskie Oko
Exploring the spectacularly beautiful and rugged mountain range of Tatras is an experience like no other! Whether you’re a local or a tourist, it is a must-see destination in Poland.
One of the most spectacular sights in Tatras is Morskie Oko. This stunning lake is breathtakingly beautiful and is a popular destination for hikers and nature-lovers alike. In this blog, we’ll be exploring how to get to there, what to expect along the way, and what to do when you arrive.
And of course, if you’re looking for more information – look no further. We have a full mobile app for you, featuring an audioguide to Morskie Oko! Available on Google Play and Apple Store in English, German, Polish, Ukrainian and Lithuanian!
Morskie Oko is an incredible lake situated in the Tatra Mountains near Zakopane, in the southern area of Poland. It’s a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers alike and is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Poland and the World.
The lake is found at an impressive altitude of 1,395 meters, and is one of the highest lakes in Poland. It’s encircled by vertical cliffs of the highest peaks in Poland, creating a truly admirable yet lengthy hike. The lake has a deep dark color, which makes it a sensational sight to behold.
Palenica Białczańska, your main starting point
If you’re looking to trek to Morskie Oko, the best way is to begin your hike at Palenica Białczańska. It is the most popular starting point, and at the same time, an incredibly large parking lot. It is situated at an altitude of approximately 1000 meters, close to Łysa Polana. Łysa Polana is a former border crossing between Poland and Slovakia.
If you’re arriving by car, make sure you book your parking spot in advance, or you won’t be allowed in. There are a few booking sites available, but only the one provided by TPN is considered official. Place reservation is mandatory, even for residents of the shelters up in the mountains. In high season, arrive early, the area can get quite crowded during high season.
Alternatively, you can take a minibus. They run throughout the day, departing to Palenica from the railway station in Zakopane. This is by far the cheapest and safest option to reach the trailhead.
When to go
When planning your hike to Morskie Oko, it’s important to consider the weather. You should aim for sunny or at least partially-clear skies in order to get the best views of the lake and the rugged peaks surrounding it. In winter, late autumn and early spring, the road leading to Morskie Oko can be covered with ice, making it a bit difficult to walk. You won’t need specialized equipment, though.
It’s also important to note that the area can get quite crowded during the summer months of July and August, especially on weekends. To avoid crowds, it’s best to go during the week and off the peak hours.
And remember, it’s forbidden to hike the trails in the National Park after dark, even if you’re staying in one of the mountain shelters.
What to expect along the way
From Palenica Białczańska, you’ll embark on a nine-kilometer hike to Morskie Oko. The climb is not too difficult, but it is long. The trail is mostly asphalt and is almost flat, with only 400 meters of altitude difference over the distance of 9 km. So it’s suitable for all levels of hikers.
There are no shops or restaurants along the way, so make sure you pack enough food and water. The only place to stop is the bar Polana Włosienica, which is located two kilometers before the end of the hike. And, of course, there is tea, food and sweets waiting for you at the shelter by the Morskie Oko Lake.
Mickewicz Waterfalls – the most beautiful stop on the way
One of the most beautiful stops along the way is the Mickewicz Waterfalls. These three waterfalls are named after Poland’s most famous poet, Adam Mickiewicz. If you’d like to learn more, explore our amazing mobile app. And the amazing audioguide to Morskie Oko, which you can find there.
From the Waterfalls, you can take a not-so-short detour to the Five Lakes Valley or quite short to the Roztoka shelter. Plan your detour carefully as it can take up some extra time and might disrupt your plans of getting to Morskie Oko. There are shelters at the end of both detours, serving food and drinks.
What to do in Morskie Oko
When you arrive at Morskie Oko, you’ll be greeted with stunning views of the towering peaks. Take some time to enjoy the views before you embark on your hike around the lake. The hike takes around an hour, and you’ll be rewarded with even more stunning views of Morskie Oko and the surrounding Tatra range. To find out more about the lake, and the peaks surrounding it, don’t forget to download our awesome App, including Audioguide to Morskie Oko.
If you’re feeling adventurous and have good shoes, you can climb to the Czarny Staw near Rysy. Remember, that it is 200 meters higher than Morskie Oko. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Morskie Oko lake and shelter, as well as the highest range of Tatras towering behind you.
When you’re done with your hike, make sure to stop by the Morskie Oko Shelter for some local delicacies. Don’t miss the special apple cake or the “szarlotka”, a local delicacy in the Morskie Oko shelter.
How long will it take to get to Morskie Oko and back?
In short, plan a minimum of six hours.
All in all, you should make sure to reserve at least six hours for the hike. The first leg of the journey is slightly more challenging as it is a 9-kilometer-long mild climb. You should make sure to allot between 2.5 and 3 hours for that section.
If you want to spend some time at Morskie Oko Lake, we recommend setting aside a minimum of two hours. You can take an hour to walk around the lake and take in the breathtaking views. And then spend another hour at the shelter restaurant to rest and have a meal. If you have time, you can also climb the beautiful Czarny Staw pod Rysami and add another two hours to your schedule.
On return, we will take the same route to go back to Palenica Białczańska, which should take us another two to two and a half hours.