In Bukowina Tatrzańska, access to the High Tatras opens up and it is here that the road leading to Morskie Oko begins. This mountain "sanctuary" is visited by almost a million tourists a year, placing Bukowina in the first row of the most visited places in Poland.
The largest lake in the Tatra Mountains, Morskie Oko is of postglacial origin and is situated at an altitude of 1395 metres above sea level in the High Tatras in the valley of the Rybiego Potok (which flows out of Morskie Oko). The lake is fed by two streams - Czarnostawienski and Mnichowy, and its depth varies, with the most frequent sources stating between 50.8 and 51.8 metres. It is worth knowing that the name of the lake comes from the German "Meerauge", meaning "Sea Eyes", and was given by German settlers from Spiš. Before that, the name "Biały Staw", given by the highlanders, was in use. Morskie Oko was also called Fish Lake, as it is one of the few naturally stocked Tatra lakes.
The rocky backdrop to the lake are the Tatra peaks: looking from the left (east) it is the Grań Żabich (Frog's Peak, Frog's Lower Peak, Frog's Higher Peak) and further to the south-east the Niżne Rysy and Rysy peaks. Towards the south: Żabi Koń, Żabia Turnia Mięguszowiecka, Wołowa Turnia and in south-west direction Mięguszowieckie Peaks (Czarny, Pośredni, Wielki), Cubryna, and Szpiglasowy Wierch. From the west: Miedziane and Opalone. The characteristic silhouette of Mnich and Poland's highest peak, Rysy, are also visible from the lake shores.
When planning a trip to Morskie Oko, remember that no bus with a Morskie Oko sign will take us to this lake. Nor will we get there by our own car, as this is the area of the Tatra National Park. The final stop for everyone is the large car park on Palenica Białczańska, where the trail to Morskie Oko begins. The car park is open 24 hours a day, but in the summer season it can be difficult to find a space from the early morning hours. Tickets for the car park can only be purchased online from the Tatra National Park website.
We can walk to Morskie Oko from the car park along the red asphalt road that winds between the mountains. The walk is 9 km (2:30 h). For less adventurous travellers, there are also mountain sledges from Palenica - the so-called "fasiagi" - which, for a "small" fee, take tourists to Włosienica (7 km). From there, we have to cover the last 1.5 km on foot. On the way to Morskie Oko, after about 50 min. walk, the first interesting object on the route is Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza - impressive water cascades formed on the rocky thresholds of the Roztoka stream. Originally they were called "Grzmoty" but on the occasion of bringing the ashes of our national bard to the country in 981 they changed their name. At Mickiewicz's Waterfalls we can turn to the Valley of Five Ponds and the Roztoka Hostel. Take the green trail to the left downhill - just 10 minutes.
Walking straight ahead along the asphalt road, we reach a large square (a remnant of a car park functioning until the 1980s) called Włosienica. This is where the horse-drawn carriage route ends and we still have 1.5 km left to Morskie Oko. As you can see, the whole route does not require any special skills and after almost 3 hours we can admire Morskie Oko from the terrace of the Stanisław Staszic PTTK Hostel. While already at Morskie Oko, it is worth taking a walk around the lake or a trip to the Black Pond above Rysy.
When planning your trip, remember that the road to the Morskie Oko Lake is not illuminated and tourist traffic may only continue until dusk. For tourists who stay above Morskie Oko until dusk, this means an unlit road and no return transport. Therefore, it is advisable to plan the schedule of the trip in such a way as to start the route as early as possible and get down in the area of Palenica Białczańska around noon.
Important information when planning a trip to Morskie Oko:
- Palenica Białczańska car park. Ticket reservation here.
- Entrance ticket to the Tatra National Park. Price list here.
- Current weather and TOPR announcements. Check here.
- Morskie Oko Shelter, accommodation booking and opening hours, here.
- Plenty of toilets on the trail
- The route to Morskie Oko is a full-day excursion. Route length: approx. 16 km, hike time (walking there and back): approx. 5h