Tatra mountains are located in the southern Poland, right on the border with Slovakia. They are the highest (and most spectacular) mountains in Poland - the tallest peak Rysy reaches 2499 metres. But it's the Slovaks who have the highest part - mount Gerlach in Slovakia reaches 2653 metres!
Anyway, those mountains are equally amazing in both countries and are protected as National Park .
The main tourist resort in Polish Tatra mountains is Zakopane - look how close to Cracow it's located . It's extremely popular tourist destination in Poland - this town has 33 thousand residents and about 3 million visitors each year!
As it can get very crowded, we decided to stay in the most quiet area we could find there – Toporowa Cyrhla .
It's one of Zakopane districts located on 1000 metres, away from town's hustle and bustle, which makes it great starting point for hiking trips. And the landscapes in Cyrhla are definitely nicer than in Zakopane centre.
We stayed at Toporowa Cyrhla Apartments and liked it a lot! The apartments are nice and clean, kitchen is well-equipped, but most importantly, this accomodation is located close to hiking trails. If you're looking for peace and quiet, this one would be just for you.
You can book your stay here:
On the first day we went for a short walk – red trail leading from Toporowa Cyrhla. We got to Psia Trawka (Dog’s Grass) - 1185 metres and then returned along red and black trail in Dolina Suchej Wody (Dry Water Valley). It's great option for families with children or hikers who want to warm up before bigger challenge.
In the afternoon we decided to visit water park Bukovina in Bukowina Tatrzanska (few kilometres from Zakopane). I really liked the outdoor hot geothermal pools, slides and, of course, brilliant views of Tatras visible from the pools. And the entrance fee is rather cheap comparing to other places like this.
On the next day we did a really good hiking – we walked about 30 kilometres! It was challenging experience, but totally worth it - fantastic landscapes of Tatra National Park reward every effort!
As the day before, we started our trip from Toporowa Cyrhla following red trail. We passed Psia Trawka and headed to Morskie Oko (Sea Eye) – the biggest (and arguably the most beautiful) Tatra lake located on 1395 metres.
At some point of our walk the trail got to asphalt road leading to Morskie Oko. This is my least favorite trail in Tatra National Park.
Since this lake is very popular spot in Tatra mountains, there are always crowds of people and carriages pulled by exhausted horses. I truly dislike this asphalt road and wonder why we chose to go there - it's not very comfortable for me to hike on 'artificial' paths. I'm all for dirt trails !
Besides, there have been cases when a poor horse died while pulling the carriage because of heat and effort. So, here's what I think: if a person has legs and can walk, but doesn't like hiking, there's plenty of beaches for him to lie on .
Fortunately, on the way to Morskie Oko there are steep forest shortcuts which make the hike a bit shorter. They're less crowded and more demanding - perfect to diversify the trip.
When we got to Morskie Oko lake we'd already been rather tired as our hike lasted over 5 hours. There was no table available in the mountain hut, so we had a quick snack on a rock close to the lake and went back using the same trail which we had hiked along before.
The views on Morskie Oko are truly breathtaking - this postglacial lake is surrounded by majestic peaks , which makes you appreciate the wonders Mother Nature gives us.
But, unfortunately, it's not easy for us to contemplate the nature while being in the middle of a noisy crowd, so we didn't stay there long.
The following day was the most interesting one. We left our car at parking lot in Palenica Białczańska (984 metres) and started hiking along red trail. When we got to Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza we took green trail leading to Dolina Pięciu Stawów mountain hut (Five Lakes Valley) on 1672 metres.
Mountain hut in Five Lakes Valley is amazing place with great atmosphere. You get to meet there lots of interesting people and there's added bonus in the form of delicious tomato soup . But most importantly, the shelter is located just over a lake - such an awe-inspiring view!
If it had not been so cold, I would have sat there until the end of the day!
I highly recommend hiking to Five Lakes Valley - it's relatively easy to get to and sooo beautiful! And the mountain hut there isn't that crowded - no cable car or asphalt road and relatively high altitude make this place more adequate to relax in peace and admire stunning views.
When we left the mountain hut, we kept hiking along blue trail to Zawrat Pass (2158 metres).
It was the middle of June, but it was so cold and windy that, unfortunately, we did not stay there long. It felt like in the middle of autumn there, while in the valley there was already summer!
Tatra mountains may not be very high, but the climate is rather harsh and weather can be very surprising . It's necessary to take additional fleece jumper and waterproof overcoat, even if it seems like a nice sunny day.
On the last day we had a relatively short and easy walk. We hiked to Nosal peak - 1206 metres. It's an interesting trail - it leads to surprisingly high mount taking into consideration the town's proximity. It's perfect for families with children or tired hikers, who still want to enjoy amazing nature of Tatra mountains, but are too tired for longer hikes .