Europe is large and consists of 44 countries. In these 44 countries, there are some of the most breathtaking lakes in the world. Whether you are looking for your next outdoor travel destination or you are simply curious about European lakes, we have the list just for you! In this article, we will review the 12 most beautiful lakes in Europe and all they have to offer. These lakes are great for recreational activities, wildlife viewing, and simply enjoying scenic sights.
1. Lake Como
We can’t make a list of the 12 most beautiful lakes in Europe without discussing Lake Como. This lake is located in Italy and is absolutely stunning. It’s the third largest lake in Italy with a very deep point. The maximum depth is an astounding 1,394 feet. While visiting this lake, you can enjoy many recreational activities like taking a boat trip, kayaking in the clear and shimmering waters, and visiting the close city of Bellagio, nicknamed “The Pearl of the Lake”. Surrounding the lake are mountains, lake-side villas, and colorful shops you can spend hours exploring!
2. Lake Garda
Also in Italy, Lake Garda is a jaw-dropping beautiful lake with a rich history and a gorgeous scenic view. Many people visit this popular holiday vacation spot during the hot months. Actually, it has been a popular spot for villas since Roman times. Rocky and thick white mountains surround the lake. The water is so cool and refreshing, that there are multiple spots to swim. While swimming or fishing, you can enjoy the surrounding beauty. If you want to be near the water, without taking a dip, you can enjoy the many castles and archeological sites.
3. Lake Ohrid
Third on our list of the 12 most beautiful lakes in Europe is Lake Ohrid, also known as “The Pearl of North Macedonia“. This 22.6-mile-long lake is on the North Macedonia-Albania border and is an ancient and tectonic lake. It is one of the oldest lakes in the world! Not only is the age impressive, but this lake is gorgeous. It is a popular wedding destination in the Balkans. Watersports are also very popular at this stunning lake. Next time you visit, kayak to see the charming houses and thick gardens around the large lake.
4. Lake Orta
It shouldn’t surprise you that another lake in Italy makes this list! Lake Orta is situated in Northern Italy in the foothills of the alps and near the Swiss border. It is a perfect romantic getaway and better yet, it is peaceful. The dark green forest that surrounds the lake gives it a majestic and stunning look. The average depth of the lake is 235 feet, while the maximum depth is an astounding 469 feet. This 8.3-mile-long lake features stunning views of old buildings within small Italian villages.
5. Loch Lomond
Moving away from Italy we have Loch Lomond in Scotland. It is a breathtaking lake with sparkling water. This lake is a popular fishing destination. This 22.6-mile-long lake was formed between 10,000 to 20,000 years ago as a glacial depression. There are over thirty islands within the freshwater loch, but the number depends on the water level. In the lake, you can find common fish species like the common roach, flounder, European lamprey, perch, and brook trout. Other than angling, you can also enjoy a scenic boat ride, canoeing, kayaking, and water skiing on the loch.
6. Lake Thun
Lake Thun is in Switzerland in the city of Thun. This alpine lake has a surface area of 18.6 square miles. There is a lakeside beach perfect for swimming with beautiful views of tall rocky alpine mountains. Within the city, near the lake, you can also find the marvelous Thun Castle. If you don’t want to swim, you can also hike around the lake. It takes days to hike the Bernese Oberland. The hiking trail surrounds the lake, charming villages, and stunning caves. Lake Thun is also perfect for sailing and taking a romantic cruise.
7. Wolfgangsee Lake
Wolfgangsee Lake, also known as Lake Wolfgang, is a glacial lake in Salzburg, Austria. The surface area of the lake is five square miles. The views are breathtaking, especially in the evenings when the lake almost looks purple. Wolfgangsee Lake’s maximum depth is 374 feet. Most people visit to enjoy the scenery while on a hike or cycling through the trails. If you have the stamina, you can climb the Schafberg to see stunning views of Wolfgangsee Lake and the Bohemian Forest.
8. Hintersee Lake
Although it is not a large lake, Germany’s Hintersee Lake has a jaw-dropping beauty and is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe. This lake is quiet, peaceful, and serene. Hintersee Lake is a deep blue lake surrounded by vibrant green and rocky mountain scenery and forests. You can hike through the “magic forest” from Ramsau to Lake Hintersee. Throughout the trail, you can find easel paintings and many wild creeks. The hiking trail is clean and clear, and leads to the lake with breathtaking paintings overseeing the lake’s natural beauty.
9. Lago di Tovel
Let’s travel to Italy again to see the majestic sights of Lago di Tovel in Trentino. It is one of Trentino’s most beautiful lakes. While it is not the most popular lake in Italy, the glistening water is inviting and a treat to see. Fun fact, up until the 1960s, people from all over the world would travel to experience Lago di Tovel since the water used to turn a deep red because of special algae. This special type of algae is now rare and sadly the waters do not turn red during the summer. You can still enjoy the lake now by taking one of many hiking trails with mountainous views or kayaking in the turquoise shimmering water.
10. Chew Valley Lake
Located in Somerset, England, Chew Valley Lake has a reservoir surface area of 14,000 acres. Unlike other lakes on this list, Chew Valley Lake is surrounded by meadows and woods, as opposed to forests and mountains. The lake is man-made and was inaugurated by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1956. However, when the area was excavated, they found artifacts belonging to Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic ages as well as Roman remains. Waterfowl frequently travel to this lake from July to February. At certain times of the year, you can fish for pike and perch.
Once again in England, we have Windermere. This is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe, known for being the largest natural lake in England. It is 11 miles long and one mile wide. The lake was formed about 14,000 to 17,000 years ago after the last glacial maximum. There is plenty of fish in the lake including perch, trout, pike, and char. Power boating and skiing are very popular aquatic recreational activities at the lake. Interestingly boat clubs are very popular at the lake. The lake also has 18 major islands, most of which are private. Belle Isle is the largest private island in the lake and is only 0.62 miles long.
12. Lake Bracciano
Last but not least, we have Lake Bracciano in Lazio, Italy. It is a volcanic lake with deep blue waters. It is the largest lake in the region and a popular destination spot for tourists. Motorboats are forbidden as the lake is also used for drinking water. The surface area of this impressive lake is 21.92 square miles, and the maximum depth is 541 feet. It’s an hour away from Rome and well worth the drive. There are multiple beaches on the lake to cool down and enjoy the views. Your furry friend doesn’t have to stay home either as Lido dei Gabbiani is a dog-friendly beach. When you grow tired of swimming or sunbathing, you can travel to the ancient town of Bracciano and experience its beautiful castle.
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