The 15 Biggest Lakes In Europe

Written by Taiwo Victor
Published: May 25, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/azamotkin
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No matter where you’re going or what you’re looking for, Europe’s lakes have something for everyone. Alpine lagoons, glacial waters, and breathtaking scenery abound. Summertime in Europe’s lakes is excellent for individuals looking for a spot to unwind and cool down without traveling to crowded beach destinations. Europe features some of the world’s largest lakes. Their freshwater supply is used for irrigation, hydropower, fishing, and carrying goods and environmental assets throughout the rivers, from natural freshwater lakes to enormous human-made reservoirs. This article will list the 15 biggest lakes in Europe and other fascinating facts.

The 15 Biggest Lakes In Europe

15. Lake Beloye

Lake Beloye Russia
The second largest lake of Vologda Oblast is Lake Beloye.

Kirill Skorobogatko/Shutterstock.com

Lake Beloye, often known as White Lake, is a lake in Russia’s Vologda Oblast. It is among Europe’s ten largest natural lakes, with a surface size of 440 square miles (1,130 km2). Lake Beloye is the second largest natural lake of Vologda Oblast (after Lake Onega) and the third largest lake in the region (after the Rybinsk Reservoir). The Russian lake holds slightly over 1.48 cubic miles of freshwater, a drop in a bucket relative to Lake Baikal, the largest global freshwater lake by volume, containing 5,758 cubic miles. Lake Beloye is a lovely lake that reaches a depth of 112 feet at its deepest point, which is unusually deep for the area.

14. Greater Saimaa

Greater Saimaa Finland
Greater Saimaa has a surface area of 443 square miles and is the primary lake in the Great Saimaa lake system.

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Suur-Saimaa is a word that refers to at least two separate water locations in relation to Saimaa, another massive Finnish lake. It encompasses 443 square miles (1,147 square kilometers) and contains 8.6 cubic miles of water. The lake refers to the massive backbone of Lake Saimaa, which extends north from Lappeenranta and Imatra on maps. 

13. Gorky Reservoir

Gorky Reservoir Russia
Created by the Gorky Hydroelectric power plant dam, Gorky Reservoir is one of the biggest lakes in Europe.

iStock.com/Sergey_Sizov

Gorky Reservoir, often known as Gorky Sea, is an artificial lake in the Volga River’s central basin with a surface size of 614 square miles (1591 km2). It was created by the Gorky Hydroelectric power plant dam, completed in 1955 between Gorodets and Zavolzhye and filled in 1955 to 1957. The reservoir’s filling forced the migration of several villages and towns, including Chkalovsk. Although the lake is relatively narrow in the upper reaches and parallels the Volga’s natural riverbank, it widens to up to 32 miles downstream of Yuryevets.

12. Saratov Reservoir

Measuring a surface area of 707 square miles, Saratov Reservoir is one of the biggest lakes in Europe.

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Saratov Reservoir is a man-made lake in Russia’s lower Volga River produced by the Saratov Hydroelectric Station’s dam, located in Balakovo. It has a surface area of 707 square miles (1,831 square kilometers) and 3 cubic miles of water. The reservoir was built for power engineering and inland water transportation and was completed in 1967 and 1968. The reservoir is used for irrigation and as an urban and industrial water supply. Fishing is also available where anglers can catch European bream, pike perch, pike, and carp. The cities of Kuibyshev, Chapaevsk, Syzran’, Khvalynsk, and Balakovo are among the many populated locations on the reservoir.

11. Vättern Lake

Houses on the lakeshore of a lake Vättern in Sweden
The second largest lake in Sweeden by surface area (738 sq mi) is Vättern Lake.

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Vättern Lake is Sweden’s second-largest lake by surface area, after Vänern. It’s a narrow, finger-shaped lake in south-central Sweden, southeast of Vänern, leading to Scandinavia’s tip. The lake has a surface area of 738 square miles or 1,912 km2 and 18.5 cubic miles of water. Vättern has long been known for the high quality of its clear water. Many of the local municipalities get their drinking water straight from Vättern. The lake is also known for its fishing, serving local communities. Tourist sportfishers and tourists can fish in the lake without using nets.

10. Kakhovka Reservoir

Kakhovka Reservoir located on the Dnepr River, Ukraine
Built in 1956, Kakhovka Reservoir spreads up to 832 sq mi and is one of the biggest lakes in Europe.

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Kakhovka is a Ukrainian reservoir situated on the Dnieper River. It is a little smaller than the Kremenchuk, with 832 square miles (2,155 km2) and a volume of 14,800,000 acre-feet. The Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant operates this reservoir built in 1956. The Krasnoznamensk Irrigation System and the Kakhovka Irrigation System, both key irrigation alternatives for the region, receive water from the reservoir. European perch, northern pike, common bream, and Prussian carp are among the freshwater fish species raised in the lake.

9. Kremenchuk Reservoir

Ukraine, Kremenchuk Reservoir, Dnieper
Covering 870 sq mi, Kremenchuk is the largest reservoir on the Dnieper River.

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Kremenchuk is another major European reservoir in Ukraine. Covering an area of 870 square miles (2,250 km2) and a volume of 10,900,000 acre-feet, it is the largest reservoir on the Dnieper River. It is situated in the territories of the Poltava, Cherkasy, and Kirovohrad Oblasts in central Ukraine and is named after Kremenchuk. The reservoir mainly benefits the surrounding area by supplying irrigation for local agricultural activities and flood control, fishing opportunities, and transportation routes. Cherkasy and Svitlovodsk are two important ports located on the reservoir’s banks.

8. Tsimlyansk Reservoir

Tsimlyansk Reservoir Russia
The eighth largest lake in Europe is Tsimlyansk Reservoir.

iStock.com/Boris Panasyuk

Tsimlyansk is a Don River man-made lake that was completed in 1952. Its territory of 1,043 square miles (2,702 km2) extends into the oblasts of Rostov and Volgograd. The reservoir was developed to supply hydroelectric power to the locality and function as a source of irrigation for the Rostov and Volgograd provinces. Because of this, the area neighboring the lake is replete with growth, agriculture, and farms. This reservoir and irrigation system assists rice, cotton, maize, wheat, fruit, grapes, alfalfa, and vegetables. 

7. Lake Peipus

Lake Peipus in Estonia
Peipus Lake is Europe’s largest transboundary lake.

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Because it straddles the boundary between Estonia and Russia, Lake Peipus is Europe’s largest transboundary lake. It covers 1,373 square miles (3,555 km2) and has approximately 6.0 cubic miles of water. The lake is divided into three sections: Lake Peipsi in the north, Lake Phivka in the south, and Lake Lammi, which links the two. It is Europe’s largest transboundary lake. Peipsi whitefish, common bream, European perch, common roach, and European smelt are among the lake’s prominent recreational and commercial fish species. However, because of agricultural runoff that poured into the lake, the Soviet agricultural boom created significant environmental harm to the lake ecosystems.

6. Lake Saimaa

Lake Saimaa Finland
Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland and one of the largest in Europe.

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With a surface size of 1,700 square miles (4,400 km2), Lake Saimaa is Finland‘s largest lake. It is situated in the northwest of Russia and the northeast of Helsinki. It is Europe’s fourth-largest natural freshwater lake, but sixth when larger Russian reservoirs are considered. Lake Saimaa is home to nearly 3,500 islets and various wildlife. The Saimaa ringed seal is an endangered freshwater seal that exclusively lives on Saimaa. The Saimaa salmon is another endangered species in the lake. Summer cabins and lake cruises are trendy in the areas surrounding Saimaa Lake.

5. Rybinsk Reservoir

Rybinsk Russia
Covering an area of 1,770 sq mi, Rybinsk Reservoir is one of the biggest lakes in Europe.

iStock.com/azamotkin

Rybinsk, often known as the Rybinsk Sea, is another Russian reservoir. It covers 1,770 square miles (4,580 km2) and contains 6.1 cubic miles of water. The lake was produced by the Rybinsk Hydroelectric Station dam on the Volga River, built by humans. Sheksna and Mologa are two further tributaries that flow into the lake reservoir. Tver, Vologda, and Yaroslavl Oblasts surround Rybinsk. Construction and filling of the reservoir began in 1941 and lasted until 1947. It was the world’s largest man-made body of water at its completion.

4. Lake Vänern

Lake Vänern Sweden
Measuring 2,180 sq mi, Lake Vänern is Sweden largest lake and also one of Europe largest body of water.

iStock.com/perreten

Lake Vänern spans the Swedish provinces of Dalsland, Värmland, and Västergötland. It is Sweden’s largest lake, with a surface size of 2,180 square miles and an average depth of 89 feet. The lake has considerably impacted the neighboring cities and towns, particularly financially. The fishing sector has historically supported the local community. Smelt, Atlantic salmon, trout, and whitefish are among the lake’s many highly sought-after species. However, because of the loss of habitat, local authorities have implemented conservation and preservation efforts to limit overfishing and species decline in the lake.

3. Kuybyshev Reservoir

Kuybyshev Reservoir
Commonly known as Samara Reservoir, Kuybyshev Reservoir is regarded as one of Russia’s most efficient reservoir projects.

iStock.com/Евгений Хабаров

Kuybyshev Reservoir, commonly known as Samara Reservoir, is a man-made reservoir in Russia’s Chuvash Republic, Mari El Republic, Republic of Tatarstan, Samara Oblast, and Ulyanovsk Oblast. The reservoir is the largest in Europe, with a surface area of 2,490 square miles or 6,450 km2 and a volume of 13.7 cubic miles. Kuybyshev was dug and completed between 1955 and 1957 and is regarded as one of Russia’s most efficient reservoir projects.

2. Lake Onega

Lake Onega is the second largest lake in Europe.

Shujaa_777/Shutterstock.com

Encompassing a surface area of 3,700 square miles, Lake Onega is the second largest lake in Europe. Lake Onega is a massive lake with a catchment basin of 58 rivers and over 110 tributaries that flow into the lake. The lake contains 1,650 islands, the most famous of which is Kizhi Island, designated as a State Historical, Architectural, and Ethnographic Preservation Area. There are numerous buildings and monuments on the island, including the beautiful Kizhi Pogost from the early 18th century, the most attractive and noteworthy.

1. Lake Ladoga

Lake Ladoga is the largest lake in Europe.

FOTOGRIN/Shutterstock.com

The largest lake that sits entirely in Europe is Lake Ladoga. It has a surface size of 6,800 sq mi or 17,700 km2 and is located just outside of St. Petersburg, Russia, between Karelia and the Leningrad Oblast. The lake supports a diverse range of creatures, including smelt, bream, ruffe, carp, arctic char, and the rare Ladoga seal. Overfishing has harmed commercial fishing, which was formerly a substantial sector. The overall annual capture climbed after the war, reaching as high as 4,900 tonnes.

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