Spontaneous traveling? That is what love! We have been visiting Zakopane in Tatra Mountains and while spending a fun evening with a group of singing mountaineers, all of the sudden we decided to go to Morskie Oko Lake on the next day. And what more, to stay for the night in the mountain hut. Still singing with locals and drinking local spirits made of nuts (really tasty!), we googled the phone number and called the hut with a little hope they will have a place for us. What a nice surprise it was that they had the last free room available! We woke up on the next day with a bit of a headache after all these nuts spirits and with a strong feeling that it will be a great adventure :)
What is Morskie Oko?
Although I am Polish, I have nothing on my defense why I have not visited this place before. Shame on me! Morskie Oko Lake, located on the Polish side of the Tatra Mountains, is the biggest and fourth deepest lake. It lies at 1393 meters (4570 ft.) above the sea level and its name can be translated as “The Eye Of The Sea”. The name comes from the legend that Morskie Oko Lake was connected with the Baltic Sea with an underground tunnel. Of course this is not true as this tunnel would need to be 700 km long ;)
Why staying in a hut is way much better than just visiting Morskie Oko Lake?
But my biggest advise is – if you only can, stay for the night in the Mountain Hut Morskie Oko. I am not sure if I can promote enough how amazing this experience in Tatra Mountains is. The lake itself is beautiful but the calmness of the place after touristic hours makes the biggest difference. It is totally unique and you will have the lake only to yourself and few other chalet’s guests. You can watch how the water colors change once the sun goes down, have lonely walks around the lake or wake up early for the beautiful sunrise. It will be all magical and intimate.
Going to Morskie Oko Lake just to see it and staying there for the night are two totally different experiences. The place is not very known outside Poland but well known inside of the country. Therefore during the day Morskie Oko Lake can get very touristy and crowdy. Especially during weekends it can be really full. If you do not have the possibility to stay there for the night just try to come early in the morning (preferably before 10am) or in the afternoon (after 4pm). You will still enjoy the beauty of the place but with less people around.
About the Mountain Hut Morskie Oko
The hut is very simple but equipped with everything you need. They have private rooms and common rooms available in very affordable prices. The smallest available room has three single beds (but of course you can book the whole room for yourself only) and cost 159 PLN (approx. 40 EUR) per night per room. This is the one that we booked and the view from our windows was absolutely spectacular! Also, it is good to be aware that this is not a hotel but a simple mountain hut so the bathroom and toilet is common for the whole floor and you need to have your own towels.
What I also loved about the hut is the cuisine with typically polish food. Potato pancakes or fried goat cheese are so delicious, especially after a long hike! They also serve tasty breakfast in the morning (not included in the price of the room) and some beverages like beer or mulled wine. Unfortunately no regular wine is available so we brought with us our own one. The kitchen is open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. in high season and from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in low season.
Also, from 12pm till 5pm there is a little bar open when you can get drinks, fries, hot dogs or zapiekanka. You may not be familiar with the last one as it’s typically polish toasted baguette with mushrooms and cheese ;)
In the summer season you will find there also some stands located outside the hut and serving cold beer.
How to get there?
The way to the Morskie Oko lake is divided into parts:
- First you need to arrive to Palenica Bialczanska. Travelling from Zakopane you have two options: bus (ticket costs 2.5 EUR and you can buy from the driver) or a car (parking costs 25 PLN/6 EUR per day). The way from Zakopane to Palenica Bialczanska takes about 30 minutes but in the high season it may take you up to 2 hours due to the traffic. Also, it happens sometimes that there are no available parking slots available so you have to park your car earlier and ad some extra miles of walking.
- From Palenica Bialczanska you can enter the Tatra Mountains National Park. The fee is 5 PLN (1.20 EUR) per person for one day or 25 PLN (6 EUR) for 7 days. This is where you can start your hike to Morskie Oko which is 8 km long and takes about 2h 15 min. On the way you will pass beautiful waterfall called Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza (Mickiewicz’s Falls). If you do not feel like walking you can use horse carriage which cost 50 PLN (12 EUR) per person the way up, and 30 PLN (7 EUR) the way down. It is important to be aware that lately there was a huge discussion on how the horses are treated and the government introduced an additional control over horse transportation in Morskie Oko. It is always good to make your own research before and decide on your own if you are still willing to use it.
- Even if you decided to use horse carriage you will not avoid hiking. The carriages stop around 1,5 km from Morskie Oko Lake and the rest of the way you must walk anyway. No other transportation will be available what is important in terms of people with disabilities or if you are traveling with kids. This part of the hike is not very challenging but still, there is no other way to get there than walking.
Hiking in the Tatra Mountains
Once you arrive to your destination, Morskie Oko Lake, you can enjoy some other hike trails with different difficulty levels. We did the 1 hour hike to Czarny Staw which is rather an easy one. Half of the way leads you around the Morskie Oko Lake and is mostly flat, the other half leads up and is a bit more challenging. As a reward you will see Czerny Staw (Black Lake) and a spectacular view of Morskie Oko from above. There are more beautiful hike trails and all the hiking info with detailed tips you can find here.
Visiting Morskie Oko Lake you should remember that weather in the Tatra Mountains can change very quickly. Always check the weather forecast and prepare knowingly for even the easiest hikes.
Wishing you a beautiful journey to the Tatra Mountains mountains! Also, you can check another Polish gem in Sudety Mountains – Międzygórze.