We had the privilege of traveling to Krakow, Poland for a friend’s wedding in August 2018. We were excited because Marvin had not seen his friend in about 10 years even though they still kept in touch, and we got a chance to explore in and some popular destinations around Krakow. For more on posts on Poland, check those out here!
On our last day in Krakow, we decided to visit Lake Morskie Oko, which is an all day trip. This lake is located in the Tatra National Park and is right on the southern border of Poland which shares the mountains with Slovakia.
Lake Morskie Oko is the largest lake in the Tatra Mountains and gives stunning views. We will take you on a step-by-step tour of getting there and to arriving back in Krakow. 🙂
Taking a Bus to Zakopane
The buses are great options for getting around. Go to the central bus station in Krakow. Find a bus that is displaying Zakopane. They have a bus probably about every 30 minutes. You can purchase a bus ticket from the ticket office, or you can just buy it from the driver as you get on. It’s always good to keep cash on you.
Surprisingly, taking a train is not recommended, according to two local Uber drivers we talked to. It takes longer than the bus and doesn’t have AC. The bus was very comfortable, and some have free WiFi. But there was not a toilet, so use the bathroom before you get on. Another option is to take a FlixBus. We would have done this but those tickets were already booked when we were planning to purchase.
Zakopane is a cute town in the very south of Poland, right at the base of the Tatra Mountains. It’s a popular tourist destination and common place for skiing in the winter. It takes anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 hours to get there from Krakow depending on traffic. Unfortunately for us, it took 3.5 hours on the way there due to construction and traffic, but on the return is wasn’t as long. We took the bus from Krakow at 8:30AM. Our bus ticket was 20 złoty (about $5-$6) each way per person.
Mini Bus to Lake Morskie Oko
Once you arrive at the Zakopane bus station, there are loads of mini buses waiting to take you to Morskie Oko. Hop on one, and the driver has you pay once you arrive to the National Park. It took about 20 minutes to get there I believe and the tickets about 15 złoty (~$4).
Once you arrive, there are a couple of food stands and portable bathrooms. Find the stand to pay an entrance fee of 5 złoty (~$1.50) and walk through to start your journey.
The walk to get to the lake is longer than we expected! It takes about 2 hours from the entrance to get to the lake. The path is paved and easy to walk on though, it’s just mostly uphill on the way. Bring plenty of water! Many people had snacks or stuff for a picnic to stop along the way. There is an information center on the way, more portable toilets, a few eating joints almost at the top, and finally a beautiful lodge/restaurant at the very top.
There is an option to take a horse-drawn carriage on the way up and on the way back. It doesn’t take you all the way to the lake, but most of it. We did this when we came back down after seeing the lake.
The hike is long, but it’s so rewarding when you finally get there!
Walk Around the Lake
Morskie Oko means “Eye of the Sea” and is 4576 feet (1395 meters) above sea level. It was formed from the process of the last ice age. There are a few hikes you can do around and even up the mountain to see another lake on the other side. Some of the hikes require experience, which was not in our skill level probably! We did do the walk around the entire lake. This was great, because each view was different from each angle. It probably took an hour because we stopped to take pictures.
Going Back to Krakow
Getting back to Krakow, is pretty much the same steps as getting there. A carriage ride if you choose, a mini bus back to Zakopane, and a bus back to Krakow. We arrived back about 9:30pm. If you have the time in Poland, it would be a great idea to stay the night in Zakopane and have some time there. I wish we had more time for that myself.
How Much We Spent
For the whole day trip, we only spent about $60 on all the bus tickets, carriage ride, park entrance and food. This is one advantage of traveling to Poland, the exchange rate makes it a cheap destination!
We were in some ways prepared for this day trip, and other ways not at all! A few weeks ago we decided to purchase a tripod for our picture taking. This is helping us with night-time shots, and when we want a nice quality photo together…so we love that we got it! We were not so prepared in our hiking shoes though. Marvin had flip flops on! But he beasted the hike, no problems…it helped that he could get his feet wet for the lake too. I had covered shoes, but not really hiking ones. But we made do with what we had!
Comment below and let us know what you think of Poland’s Lake Morskie Oko!