5 reasons to visit lake Morske Oko – the third biggest natural lake in Slovakia
One of my very favorite places in Eastern Slovakia is the natural lake Morske oko situated 73 km from my home town Snina and 95 km from Kosice by car. Morske oko Slovakia is the destination we would visit the most when I was a kid. I still remember as if it was yesterday all the times we walked there with the whole family. My grandparent is originally from Remetske Hamre, a close-by village, so on Sundays we would drive there to visit the rest of his family and then enjoy the beauty of the Morske oko lake. Lovely memories, indeed!
But first, let me tell you the most important facts about Morske oko.
14 things you need to know about Morske oko
- The literal translation of the Slovak name Morské oko is the Sea Eye. A story says that the color of the lake surface reminds us of the sea, hence the name.
- Morske oko is the third biggest natural lake in Slovakia, after the Velke Hincovo pleso and Strbske pleso, both located in the High Tatras mountains.
- Morske oko is located at the 618 metres above sea level in the Vihorlat Protected Landscape Area (middle part of the Vihorlat Mountains) in the Kosice region in Eastern Slovakia.
- The formation of the Morske oko dates back to the last years of the volcanic activity in the Vihorlat mountains. The lake is the biggest enclosed volcanic area in Slovakia.
- Sometimes it is also called Velke Vihorlatske jazero – Big Vihorlat lake.
- The way we see the lake now is from the 1970’s when a barrier was built.
- Due to the barrier, the lake got bigger from the original 7 hectares to 13.8 hectares.
- It’s 750 m long and 312 m wide.
- The maximum depth is 25.1 metres.
- The river taking water out of the lake is called Okna.
- There’s 6 regular springs bringing water into Morske oko, plus some occasional ones.
- The lake is a Natural Nature Reserve NNR since 1984 with the highest 5th level of protection.
- There is also Male Morske oko (Small Sea Eye) located approx. a 30 minute walk uphill. Just follow the yellow sign to get there.
- There’s another lake with the same name of Morske oko but it’s located in the High Tatras in Poland. The Morske oko this article is about is in the Vihorlat Mountains in Slovakia.
5 reasons to visit lake Morske Oko Slovakia
1. Primeval Beech Forests UNESCO
The reason I have to mention the first is the area around the lake. Morske oko is surrounded by Primeval beech forests of the Carpathians. The forest is mostly formed by the beech trees, some of which are older than 240 years! Thanks to the uniqueness of the untouched forest and undisturbed ecological processes, these Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians were proclaimed to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 28 in 2007. You can see many small beeches growing all around the forest without any human help.
TIP: Check more photos from the Primeval beech forests of the Carpathians in my other article.
2. It’s very peaceful
If you need to calm down, get some fresh air and forget about the busy world out there, Morske oko is the perfect spot for that. No matter how angry/sad/upset I go to Morske oko, I always leave happy. The peaceful forest calms me down. There’s no one shouting, running or doing other disturbing activities which is what I love about this place the most. I always become more connected to myself while there. And you will be, too.
3. Easy hike around the lake
It’s possible to hike around the whole Morske oko. The easy 2.5 km trail can be walked also by kids. Morske oko is a stunning destination for anyone – from couples, to families with kids to single travelers, both younger and elder. Don’t forget to walk to the edge of the lake to observe shoal of fish peacefully swimming around the crystal clear water. Just please, do not feed them as it would disturb their natural habitat.
4. More difficult hike to Sninsky kamen
For more serious hikers there’s another option as well. If trekking around Morske oko is not enough for you, then climb up to the mount Sninsky kamen situated at 1006 m a.s.l. The steep hike takes approx. 90 minutes from the Kastielik chalet. Sninsky kamen, literally The Rock of Snina is a National Monument also part of the UNESCO Primeval Beech Forests, thus under the 5th level of protection. It’s one of the most famous hiking spots in the area and definitely the mount I’ve hiked the most myself. Morske oko will look like a five-pointed star from the Sninsky kamen.
5. Rent a cottage
If you’d like to stay for longer than a couple of hours, there’s 2 big cottages for rent – Kastielik Morske oko (Mansion Morske oko) and Chata Morske oko. The former one is one of the nicest looking forestry buildings in Slovakia and it was built in 1924 by Countess Gladys Vanderbilt Szechenyi. Her sick daughter would stay there at the Kastielik to get healthier. Nowadays, you can rent the whole chalet for bigger family or friends reunions or celebrations. Remember to bring your own food and drinks. Wooden benches by the Kastielik are my favorite spot by the lake.
Each time when visiting Morske oko, I sit on a bench, eat some fruit and observe fish randomly jumping not far from my feet. The last time I also noticed a lizard relaxing on the warm stone close by 🙂
Tips before visiting Morske oko
- in summer months and on some weekends, you will need to pay for the parking. There’s no other entrance fee but parking.
- from the parking lot Krivec 562 m a.s.l. you need to walk up to the lake to 618 m a.s.l. There is a small hill up first, then downhill. The walk up will take you 20 to 30 minutes.
- there’s a buffet by the lake approx. in the middle of the hiking trail which goes around the lake. You need to walk to the buffet for half an hour. The buffet is usually open in summer months and they sell drinks and snacks there. Otherwise bring your own food and water.
- because Morske oko is a National Nature Reserve, swimming, boating, fishing, picking up herbs/mushrooms and other ways of destroying the nature are not allowed.
Below you can check my video from Morske oko in Slovak:
When going to Morske oko, you can also visit places nearby, such as former quarry Benatina, UNESCO wooden church in Ruska Bystra or another wooden church in Inovce.
If you are interested in UNESCO Sites in Eastern Slovakia, go to Unesconadosah website which will show you all the 18 UNESCO Sites within 100 minutes by car from Kosice. For more information about this area of Eastern Slovakia, visit Kosice region website.