Since I've moved to Poland, I've made the hike to Morskie Oko four times. Twice in September, once in October, and once in December. Morskie Oko is a Polish lake in the Tatra Mountains closest to the Polish town of Zakopane and translates from Polish to Eye of the Sea. It is in the Tatra National Park.
(If you're looking for directions to this place, scroll to the bottom of the post and look at the text in
Specifics aside, I had two visitors who wanted to experience the Polish mountains so off we went on a quest to find the turquoise sea! We took the 7:40 AM bus to Zakopane and arrived around 10:00 AM (taking yummy freshly baked goods for the trip!). Upon arrival, we hopped on over to the grocery store next to the bus station and stocked up on lunch for after the hike.
We went on over to the minibuses and got to the national park after about 30 minutes. Around 11:30ish we started our hike. The hike is estimated from anywhere between 2 - 3 hours. For us, it took 2 hours at a normal pace and very brief breaks. There is also the option of taking horse drawn carriages but I find them extremely pricey for what they are - I do know that on the way down, one-way, it was 30 zl (10 dollars)! That is a lot for here!!
Along the hike you can see multiple streams and waterfalls. You also see extremely green, luscious grass in the forests which gives it a very
Twilightesque feel to it. (yup, I just talked about Twilight). It is absolutely beautiful. Now October has been my favorite time for this hike so far because the mountains are snow capped then. In September, the weather is still warmish and the lake is still turquoise but in October, the snow caps make it all the more beautiful. In December, the snow along the hike is absolutely beautiful, but the lake is covered in snow and the turquoise water is completely hidden beneath a field of ice and looks just like a snowy field.
Now, when you get to the top - which indeed isn't hard and does not require any kind of special shoes - you find yourself in awe looking at a turquoise colored lake. Most tourists just sit on the rocks in front of it or go to the log cabin cafe and enjoy looking at the lake over lunch or tea. If you're adventurous, you can walk around the entire lake, dodging small waterfalls that lead into the lake and hop on uneven rocks.
If you're REALLY adventurous like we were, you can climb another 30 minutes of straight hiking up the side of the mountains and find yourself at another lake - Czarny Staw, or Black Pond. So, as we climbed and I went at my own slow pace in the back, we eventually found ourselves seeing Morskie Oko from the top of a cliff. It is obviously colder at the higher climate but the view of Morskie Oko is so much better from such a high view. Czarny Staw really isn't that exciting, well, maybe it is better to overlook that one too if you climb higher - but ain't nobody got time for that! :P
Afterwards, we walked back down, took the minibus to the center, and the boys ate some kielbasa. I then showed them the meat restaurant on the main street because, well, it is meat heaven!
To get to Morskie Oko from Krakow, you must take a bus to Zakopane. There are multiple companies, one that I took was 17 zl with the student discount and the other was 10.50 zl. At the bus station, walk to the main busy street outside the entrance, and get onto one of the minibuses that says "Morskie Oko" on the windshield. This will cost 10 zl each way. In the summer, they go much more often, but off season, they only go in the mornings. After the minibus, you'll be dropped off at the start of the national park.
If you're a student, you pay 2 zl to get into the national park and the normal ticket costs 5 zl.
Anyways, everyone should see this magical place once in their lifetime, so, take a hike my friends!