Lakes are a great nature sight to behold and even more so when they are nestled between mountains or other picturesque scenery. Winter or summer, here are 12 of the most gorgeous European lakes which every nature enthusiast should add to his bucket list.
- Lake Como, Italy
Lake Como is one of the most romantic lakes in the world and was therefore chosen as setting for John Legend’s 1.2 billion views ‘All of Me’ video as well as his wedding.
The lake is located just an hour’s drive away from Milan, right on the Swiss border. The fantastic mountainous backdrop surrounding the lake, the picturesque architecture in the lakeside towns and the lake’s weird shape make Como one of the most staggering lakes in Europe and a great destination for a romantic nature related trip.
- Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled has become well known over the last few years simply because this uncanny natural sight could not have stayed hidden for long. Located between the staggering peaks of the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia, Lake Bled has a stunning little island, Bled island, in the middle of it with a small church where weddings are held. Lake Bled has moreover hosted the world rowing championships 4 times, in 1966, 1979, 1989 and 2011.
- Hallstättersee, Austria
The lake of Hallstatt and the town itself look like they both came straight out of a fairy tale. The lake, which is located in Upper Austria is a prime fishing location and a tourist destination. It has in fact become very affluent in recent years and so has the UNESCO world heritage town of Hallstatt. The Chinese actually like the town so much that they built a replica Hallstatt town in China, who would have thought?
- Lake Geneva, Switzerland & France
Lake Geneva is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe and shared between France and Switzerland. There are several larger cities such as Geneva and charming smaller towns such as Montreux situated on its shores. Lake Geneva has an area of about 8000sqkm (3000sqm) which explains the fact that on foggy days it looks more like an ocean. Winter or summer, there is no shortage of activities that can be done on the lake, such as kayaking, sailing, swimming and wind surfing.
- Lake Braies, Italy
Lake Braies or ‘Pragser Wildsee’ in German is one of South Tyrol’s best kept secrets. Located high up in the northern Italian Dolomites, the utterly unspoilt beauty of this small lake is only matched by its breathtaking location between rocky peaks. The best way to explore Lake Braies is to paddle a wooden barge across the lake, which is the traditional method of circulating on Lake Braies’ shimmering surface.
- Lake Annecy, France
Lake Annecy is the third largest lake in France and a popular destination for swimming and water sports. It is also one of the oldest lakes in Europe having been formed over 18,000 years ago when large alpine glaciers melted. The lake is spotlessly clean and the city of Annecy moreover delights travellers with its picturesque canals which have given it the nickname ‘French Venice’.
- Wastwater, England
Wastwater or Wast Water is located in the western part of the English Lake District and almost 3 miles (4.8km) long. It is the deepest lake in England and surrounded by some of the highest peaks in Great Britain, notably Scafell Pike. In the 80s, some unidentified individuals installed a ‘gnome garden’ at the bottom of the lake which led to divers actively searching for this garden. A few divers unfortunately died in the 90s and it is not clear whether the garden is still there or not.
- Sognefjord, Norway
Norway is well known for its breathtaking fjords which are long, narrow water inlets formed by glacial erosion. Located in Western Norway, Sognefjord is the biggest in the country with a length of 205 km (127 miles). Its sheer size and the spectacular steep cliffs surrounding it have given the fjord the nickname: king of fjords.
- Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Plitice Lakes (Plitvicka jezera) National Park is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia and located in the Lika Senj and Karlovac Counties on the border with Bosnia & Herzegovina. The park’s staggering natural beauty won it an addition to UNESCO’s World Heritage register in 1979. The park boasts 16 lakes which are arranged in cascades and thereby create a unique natural site, similar to none in Europe.
- Lake Saimaa, Finland
Finland is the country with the highest density of lakes in the world. Its 188,000 lakes moreover make it the country with the second highest number of lakes on the planet, just behind Canada. Lake Saimaa in southeastern Finland is the largest lake in the country at approximately 4,400 sqkm (1,700sqm). Its sheer size, its beautiful shimmering surface and the beautiful towns and castles located on its shores make Saimaa one of Finland’s most alluring lakes to visit.
- Lake Maggiore, Italy & Switzerland
Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake in Italy and the largest in southern Switzerland. It is located in the Swiss Ticino canton and the Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. Lake Maggiore is well known for its mild climate which enables rare exotic plants to grow alongside it. The gardens on the shorelines of Lake Maggiore are one of its most famed assets and provide excellent opportunities for a romantic walk.
- Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid is probably the most underrated and least well-known lake on this list. This is however completely unfounded since the lake’s utterly incredible blue surface matches anything in other parts of Europe. The lakeside towns moreover boast some picturesque churches and an imposing fortress. The complete extent of Lake Ohrid and its surrounding towns are therefore a UNESCO world heritage site.