Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Us Poland Looks Like This?
Poland is a remarkable place. Forming a link between East and West, it’s a cheap and welcoming destination that has been slowly but surely finding its feet in the European holiday market.
It’s full of captivating culture and sobering history. At it’s core is friendly hospitality serving up hearty home-cooked comfort foods and ever-flowing vodka. So with that in mind, you can understand why we were surprised to discover a curious contrast hidden in the country’s deep south.
Poland has been hiding a lake so beautiful that you’ll understand why they have kept it a secret. It’s the pride and joy of Poland’s natural landscape, but remains relatively unknown to non-European travellers.
Close to the Slovakian border are the Tatra Mountains and their beating heart is the humbling ski-village of Zakopane. It has been rightly nicknamed the “Winter Capital of Poland”. The town is swamped in the winter months with snow-goers who flock to its nearby slopes. In the summer, it’s a haven for hikers, bikers and the nature-lovers.
From the centre of the village regular shuttle buses ($3AUD) run to the main lake car park. From there, enjoy a two-hour up-hill stroll through mountains and pine forest, or take a horse-drawn cart if you prefer.
When you make the very last corner, you’ll be surprised by what you see.
Morskie Oko (translated in English to “Sea Eye”) is the largest lake in the Tatra Mountains, encased on all sides by imposing vertical rock faces. And it is exquisite. Home to an abundance of trout, the waters are crystal clear and perfectly still. Swimming is welcomed but only for the brave as the lake is often ice-cold.
On the edge of the lake sits a historically protected chalet. The wooden hut offers uninterrupted views of the lake and acts as base camp for hikers.
While you’re in the national park, you can also explore many other stunning areas with waterfalls, lakes and mountains. It’s all pretty blissful. The best part is this: Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains are a cheap and regular two-hour by bus ride from Krakow, making it totally accessible for travellers. Visit for either for a quick day-trip or a short break away to get your nature fix.
Who knew, huh?
(All images: author’s own, except for lead image)