There’s nothing more magical than witnessing the calm and quiet beauty of nature. These gorgeous lakes might make it seem like time is standing still. They’ll enchant you with their spectrum of colours and stunning surroundings.
They showcase some of the world’s most exceptional water scenery and are found in many corners of the earth, From Canada to China and Pakistan to Peru.
If you’re looking for unique bucket list ideas for travel lovers, consider adding some of these locations to your next adventure.
So without further delay, here are the most beautiful lakes in the world.
37 Most Beautiful Lakes in the World
Table of Contents
- 37 Most Beautiful Lakes in the World
- 1. Crater Lake, Oregon
- 2. Lake Powell, Utah, and Arizona
- 3. Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and California
- 4. Lake Minnewanka, Canada
- 5. Moraine Lake, Canada
- 6. Emerald Lake, Canada
- 7. Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
- 8. Lake Titicaca, Peru and Bolivia
- 9. Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
- 10. Lake Bacalar, Mexico
- 11. Lake Kawaguchiko, Japan
- 12. West Lake, China
- 13. Thale Noi, Thailand
- 14. Attabad Lake, Pakistan
- 15. Dead Sea, Israel and Jordan
- 16. Inle Lake, Myanmar
- 17. Lake Nakuru, Kenya
- 18. Lake Malawi, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania
- 19. Phewa Lake, Nepal
- 20. Phoksundo Lake, Nepal
- 21. Lake Pichola, India
- 22. Jökulsárlón, Iceland
- 23. Lake Saimaa, Finland
- 24. Loch Awe, Scotland
- 25. Buttermere Lake, England
- 26. Lake of Sainte-Croix, France
- 27. Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
- 28. Rakotzsee, Germany
- 29. Konigssee Lake, Germany
- 30. Lake Como, Italy
- 31. Lake Garda, Italy
- 32. Lake Prespa, North Macedonia, Albania, and Greece
- 33. Plitviče Lakes, Croatia
- 34. Lake Bled, Slovenia
- 35. Lake Baikal, Russia
- 36. Hutt Lagoon, Australia
- 37. Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand
- Most Beautiful Lakes in the World | Final Thoughts
It’s time to explore the most picture-perfect, jaw-dropping, wonderful waterways you’ve ever seen.
1. Crater Lake, Oregon
Image from Adil on Pexels
Crater Lake is a volcanic crater lake and the deepest lake in the US. It’s located in the state of Oregon, about a four-hour drive from Portland. This awe-inspiring body of water is famous for its rich blue colour and transparency.
The water that fills up the lake is entirely supplied by glacial runoff and precipitation. Visitors are permitted to swim in the lake in the designated areas. However, be warned: the water is quite chilly.
2. Lake Powell, Utah, and Arizona
Image from Zach Tilford on Unsplash
Lake Powell is a stunning man-made reservoir that straddles Utah and Arizona. It attracts millions of visitors every year with its abundance of water-themed activities like boating, fishing, waterskiing, and swimming.
The water stays pretty warm in the summer months, which means this season is the most favoured time to visit.
With a seemingly endless shoreline, the area surrounding the lake is popular for camping and hiking. And for a different experience, you can rent a houseboat and spend a few nights on the water.
3. Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and California
Image from Mick Haupt on Unsplash
Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. It formed during the Ice Age, which means it’s been around for millions of years. The water is so clear that you can see straight to the bottom in many areas.
Resting peacefully in the magnificent Sierra Nevadas, its charm is complimented by towering mountain views. Lake Tahoe sits on the border of California and Nevada. On one side, you’ll find ski resorts and beaches, and on the other, you’ll find Nevada casinos.
4. Lake Minnewanka, Canada
Image from Matthew Fournier on Unsplash
Lake Minnewanka is one of Canada’s stunning lakes. It’s found in Banff National Park, surrounded by the captivating Canadian Rockies.
This gorgeous glacial lake attracts visitors year-round. In winter, the large body of water freezes over and turns into a stunning natural ice skating rink.
In summer, it’s one giant playground for all your typical water sports, like kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and swimming. Just be warned: even in the height of summer, the water stays icy cold.
5. Moraine Lake, Canada
Image from John Lee on Unsplash
Moraine Lake is another jaw-dropping glacier-fed lake in Banff National Park. The waters change with the season, from a deep blue hue to a vivid shade of turquoise. Surrounded by steep mountain peaks, it’s a picture postcard of unspoiled beauty.
Whatever month you visit, you’ll be in for a treat. You can take advantage of the numerous activities offered, like boating, canoeing, hiking the trails around the lake, or cross-country skiing in winter. Or, simply enjoy a leisurely water-side stroll or picnic next to the lake and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
6. Emerald Lake, Canada
Image from Hayden Scott on Unsplash
Emerald Lake is located in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada. This freshwater lake has a beautiful bluish-green colour that’s created by the sun reflecting off of the Mari (a white calcium carbonate clay) that rests on the bottom of the lake.
One of the best ways to experience Emerald Lake is by taking the 5 km loop trail that wraps around the whole lake. It’s generally considered an easy route and only takes about 1.5 hours to complete.
When you’re not admiring views of the water, you can take in stunning views of glaciers, craggy peaks, waterfalls, and wildlife.
7. Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
Image from Giorgia Romiti on Unsplash
Laguna Colorada is a salt lake that rests within the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve in Bolivia. The lake has a striking red tint that comes from the algae and red sediments in the water.
It’s known for being home to hundreds of pink flamingos that offer a pop of pink in the stunning mix of landscape colours.
The lake isn’t really suited for swimming; the water is quite muddy. It’s best to visit for nature and wildlife viewing.
8. Lake Titicaca, Peru and Bolivia
Image from Jeison Higuita on Unsplash
Lake Titicaca is one of the most well-known bodies of water in the world. It’s South America’s largest freshwater lake and sits on the border of Bolivia and Peru.
Backed by the breathtaking Andes Mountains, it’s believed to be the birthplace of the Inca civilisation. Today, it contains floating villages where the indigenous Uros people live. They’ve built man-made floating islets on the still and sparkling blue water.
You can visit the floating islands of Lake Titicaca — inhabited by the Uros people — on a tour. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
9. Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Image from marcoreyes on Pixabay
Lake Atitlán is the deepest lake in Central America. It’s set in a huge volcanic crater in the southwestern highlands of Guatemala. Surrounded by Mayan villages, lush hills, and towering volcanoes, it’s a truly unique sight to see.
You can hike around the lake and observe the deep blue water from different angles. Or, visit one of the Mayan villages to experience the local culture. Panajachel is one of the most popular towns on the water; it’s a popular departure point for Lake Atitlán boat tours.
10. Lake Bacalar, Mexico
Image from Ivan Cervantes on Unsplash
Lake Bacalar is located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, near the border of Belize. This long and narrow body of water measures 42 km from north to south but only 2 km at its widest.
The calm, clear water makes it a popular spot for various water activities, like swimming, snorkelling, diving, and kayaking. The lake has a white limestone bottom and presents magical colours that change from bright turquoise to deep blue.
11. Lake Kawaguchiko, Japan
Image from Catriona Palo on Unsplash
On a clear day, you can witness the magnificent mountain reflecting on the calm lake water.
It’s an enchanting place to visit year-round. But in springtime, when the country is filled with cherry blossoms, you can capture effortlessly beautiful images of the water framed by these cheerful flowers.
12. West Lake, China
Image from David Veksler on Unsplash
West Lake and the bordering Hangzhou region are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Throughout history, this idyllic freshwater lake has influenced Chinese painters and poets. Its natural beauty is complimented by historical relics, like pagodas and temples, that line the shore.
The still water is peppered with small islands that you can access by boat. Or, simply wander around the scenic gardens and low-lying bridges and appreciate the natural beauty on foot. Just make sure to bring your camera with you; you’ll be able to capture effortlessly beautiful photos.
13. Thale Noi, Thailand
Image from notchana6565 on Pixabay
Nicknamed “Lotus Lake”, Thale Noi is a protected freshwater wetland and waterfowl park in southern Thailand’s Phatthalung province. During lotus flower season, it features countless pink lotus flowers peacefully floating on the shimmering lake.
The water is home to some unique wildlife, including box turtles, water buffaloes, and storks. Local fishermen also glide along the water each day in search of fresh catch.
The best way to discover the natural beauty of Thale Noi is on a small boat tour.
14. Attabad Lake, Pakistan
Image from Hassaan Malik on Unsplash
Lake Attabad is a beautiful body of water that was created by unfortunate circumstances. In January 2010, a major landslide buried the village of Attabad. This natural disaster caused the water flowing to the nearby Hunza River to direct its course to the site of the former village.
It displaced thousands of people. But in the decade since the event occurred, the turquoise-hued lake has become a major tourist attraction. The water and surrounding area host many activities, like boating, waterskiing, and hiking.
15. Dead Sea, Israel and Jordan
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The Dead Sea is a salt lake in the Jordan Rift Valley. It gets its name because the water’s high salinity means that no macroscopic aquatic organisms (like fish and aquatic plants) can live in it. Although, a very small amount of microbial fungi and bacteria are present in the water.
Extreme saltiness also makes swimming difficult, but floating is very easy. People visit the Dead Sea in high numbers, specifically to float in the water and rub the nutrient-rich mud on their bodies.
16. Inle Lake, Myanmar
Image from Su Wai on Unsplash
Inle Lake is the second-largest lake in Myanmar. It’s an area that seems almost untouched by the modern world. Local fishermen row their canoes with one leg, gardens float on the water’s surface, and local tribes inhabit the shores and islands of the lake.
Inle Lake is rich in culture and tradition, and it’s open for visitors to experience first-hand. Take a tour of the waterways onboard a small boat. Stop into a shoreline shop and pick up a souvenir, and dine at a local family-run restaurant.
17. Lake Nakuru, Kenya
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Lake Nakuru is located in Kenya’s Rift Valley, inside Lake Nakuru National Park. It’s famed for its wide diversity of wildlife, including lions, leopards, rhinos, giraffes, baboons, and more. The lake has an abundance of algae which attracts flocks of flamingos to the shores.
Inside the park, game drives are offered that take you on a tour of the area. There are also camping facilities if you want to stay the night.
18. Lake Malawi, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania
Image from Craig Manners on Unsplash
Lake Malawi is Africa’s third-largest lake. The vast open waters contain more fish species than any other lake in the world, but fishing isn’t what attracts people to this large body of water.
Lake Malawi is known for its pristine sandy beaches, with water as clear as the sky and temperatures as warm as bath water. All sorts of aquatic activities can be enjoyed, from snorkelling and scuba diving to kayaking and surfing.
Tourists (especially honeymooners) come in large numbers to stay in the hotels along the shoreline and enjoy a tropical vacation.
19. Phewa Lake, Nepal
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Phewa Lake is the second-largest lake in Nepal. This semi-natural freshwater lake offers panoramic views of two famous mountains: Machhapuchhre and Annapurna. With the right weather conditions, you can see reflections of the towering peaks on the water’s surface.
You can appreciate the beauty of the lake at a comfortable lakeside cafe. There’s also a scenic trail that wraps around the water. If you’re feeling more adventurous, activities like boating, kayaking, and paragliding are popular with tourists.
20. Phoksundo Lake, Nepal
Image from Bibek Raj Shrestha on Unsplash
Phoksundo Lake is like a little piece of heaven. This alpine freshwater lake is housed inside Nepal’s Shey Phoksundo National Park. It’s famous for its majestic turquoise colour and breathtaking scenery.
The water is too cold to enjoy a pleasant swim. Instead, hiking around the lake and admiring the lush landscape is the best way to enjoy the area.
The lake is surrounded on all sides by about 20 monasteries. It’s also outlined by traditional villages, Ringmo village being the most popular.
21. Lake Pichola, India
Image from Swetangkumar Panchal on Unsplash
Lake Pichola is a man-made freshwater lake created in 1362. It’s located in the Indian state of Rajasthan, in the historical city of Udaipur.
It’s well known for containing the elegant Taj Lake Palace, which sits on its own island in the middle of the lake. The palace was built in 1746 and now operates as a luxury five-star hotel.
Lake Pichola offers something for everyone. The water is full of small islands and is outlined by temples, palaces, mansions, restaurants, and ghats. It’s recommended to take a boat tour so you can see everything the area has to offer.
22. Jökulsárlón, Iceland
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Jökulsárlón is a gorgeous glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park. The still blue waters are filled with icebergs of all sizes. In winter, you’ll find hundreds of seals lazily lounging on the ice blocks.
One side of the lake features a black volcanic sand beach known as Diamond Beach. Seeing the blue chunks of ice contrast with the dark sand is a captivating sight to behold. And the lake earns even more beauty points when the Northern Lights reflect their stunning colours across the water.
The only way to explore the waters of Jökulsárlón is on a glacier lagoon boat tour, as it’s not safe for visitors to travel around the iceberg-filled lake on their own.
23. Lake Saimaa, Finland
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Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland. It’s located in the Finnish Lakeland area, in the southeastern end of the country. It’s known for its clean water, tree-lined shores, and a labyrinth of waterways filled with tiny islands.
It’s one of those places where you can witness pure, unspoiled natural beauty. Everything seems to be in harmony with nature.
You can enjoy all sorts of fun watersports on the lake, like swimming, SUP boarding, boating, and kayaking. In winter, when it freezes over, you can go ice fishing or snowshoeing around the lake.
24. Loch Awe, Scotland
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Loch Awe is a large body of freshwater in the magnificent Scottish Highlands. It’s also the name of a village that rests along the banks.
Measuring 40 km from northeast to southwest, it’s the longest freshwater loch in the country. It contains three islands that you can visit: Innis Chonnell, Innis Chonain, and Inishail.
Each contains old structures and remnants from the past.
Loch Awe is a popular spot to fish, and the surrounding area contains an array of wildlife, including red deer, Scottish wildcats, and golden eagles.
25. Buttermere Lake, England
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Breathtaking Buttermere Lake is found in North West England’s Lake District. It’s as idyllic as English lakes come.
Set in the rural countryside, the best way to discover the lake is on the footpath that circles the perimeter. It’s an easy route that takes less than two hours to walk. Although with all the stopping you’ll be doing to take in the gorgeous scenery, it might take you a bit longer.
If you’d prefer something more adventurous, two other challenging but incredibly scenic hikes are accessible from the lake: Haystacks and Red Pike mountains.
26. Lake of Sainte-Croix, France
Image from ToNic-Pics on Pixabay
The crystal-clear, turquoise Alpine River feeds into the awe-inspiring Lake de Sainte-Croix. This artificial body of water is one of the most magical lakes in France. It was created from 1971 to 1974 during the construction of an arched dam by the same name.
The lake is just as striking as its surroundings. It’s a popular place for paddle boating, kayaking, and sailing. Or you could simply throw down a beach towel and sunbathe on the sandy shores all day. The refreshing water will help keep you cool and comfortable when it’s hot outside.
27. Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
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Lake Lucerne is Switzerland’s fourth largest lake. It’s part of the country’s stunning fjord landscape and features a unique shape, with many turns and bends directing the water.
The shores of the lake are partially formed by steep mountains that rise straight up into the sky. The most popular ones are Rigi and Pilatus. It’s also bordered by quaint towns, including the town it’s named after, Lucerne.
There are a few ways to appreciate the lake: find a swimming spot along the water’s edge, admire it from a bordering town, or take a Lake Lucerne cruise.
28. Rakotzsee, Germany
Image from Florian Dormann on Unsplash
Rakotzsee is one of the most unique and beautiful lakes in the world. It’s located in Germany’s Kromlau’s Azalea and Rhododendron Park, just a two-hour drive from Berlin. The water area is quite small, only measuring about 30 metres long and between 35 and 50 metres wide.
The main attraction of the lake is a 19th-century stone bridge called Rakotz Bridge. During certain times of the day, it reflects on the water and creates a circle, which makes it look like something out of a fairytale.
29. Konigssee Lake, Germany
Image from LVER on Pixabay
Konigssee Lake is a gem of a lake in the German state of Bavaria. Glaciers carved this natural body of water during the Ice Age.
It features an exceptionally emerald green hue, and it’s one of the cleanest bodies of water in the country. Since 1909, only rowing boats, pedal boats, and eclectic boats have been permitted to ride the waters.
One of the best spots for lake viewing is the historic St. Bartholomew Church. This 16th-century Baroque-style building rests peacefully on the water’s edge and overlooks the calm currents. Eco-friendly boat tours on the lake are also offered seasonally.
30. Lake Como, Italy
Image from Bruce Meier on Unsplash
Lake Como is in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region. This section of the country perfectly illustrates natural, romantic Italian beauty. The lake lies peacefully in front of the magnificent Alps, forested hills, and quaint Italian villages.
This body of water has been attracting affluent vacationers since ancient Roman times. It has everything you need for a relaxing (or active) lake holiday. You’ll find an abundance of aquatic activities, waterside luxury hotels, and restaurants filled with fresh seafood.
31. Lake Garda, Italy
Image from Louis Tripp on Unsplash
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. It’s another beautiful body of water famed for its crystal blue waters, stunning vistas, tranquil waterfronts, opulent hotels, and colourful Italian towns.
The landscape around the lake is very diverse: it’s bordered by towering mountains, green hills, and a mix of peddled and sandy beaches. It’s also dotted with historical sites, from ancient ruins to old castles and fortresses.
Due to Lake Garda’s charming appeal, it attracts many holiday goers, especially in summer when lake activities abound.
32. Lake Prespa, North Macedonia, Albania, and Greece
Image from Nick Vlachos on Unsplash
Lake Prespa sits at the tripoint of three countries: North Macedonia, Albania, and Greece.
This gorgeous freshwater lake is bordered by national parkland, where visitors can stroll the trails and admire the abundance of local flora and fauna.
Within the lake rests Maligrad island. This secluded spot contains many caves, archaeological remains, and a 14th-century church.
Known as St. Mary’s Church, this ancient religious structure was built into a cave in 1369. If you’re into history, make sure to visit the inside to see the old frescos displayed on the walls.
33. Plitviče Lakes, Croatia
Image from Obryan Poyser on Pexels
Croatia’s Plitviče Lakes National Park is one of those places that will make you feel like you’re in another world. This awe-inspiring area of the country contains 16 terraced lakes joined by waterfalls.
They’re among the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. Each contains slightly different, mesmerising shades of blue and green.
Wooden walkways weave through each of the lakes, letting you explore each body of water up close. And if that doesn’t sound magical enough, the whole area is surrounded by lush forest, where you can enjoy more hiking in this picture-perfect natural area.
34. Lake Bled, Slovenia
Image from Artem Sapegin on Unsplash
Lake Bled looks like it’s straight out of the pages of a fairy-tale book. Backed by the towering Julian Alps, the tranquil blue water houses a small central island with a single Gothic church.
And on the forested hillside looms a Disney-like castle.
A popular way to admire the lake is by walking 6 km along its perimeter. It takes about one to one and a half hours to complete and allows you to appreciate the water from all different angles. The path is flat and mostly paved, so it’s suitable for all skill levels.
35. Lake Baikal, Russia
Image from Raimond Klavins on Unsplash
The breathtaking Lake Baikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site found in southeast Siberia. This impressive body of water holds several impressive records. It’s the world’s oldest lake — it’s estimated to be about 25 million years old — and the deepest. In some areas, it reaches a maximum depth of 1,642 metres.
It’s extremely isolated and lacks minerals, which also makes it one of the cleanest and most pristine lakes in the world. If you’re ever lucky enough to travel to Lake Baikal, it will be like visiting heaven on earth.
36. Hutt Lagoon, Australia
Image from Dylan Shaw on Unsplash
Lake Hillier is a striking pink lake in Western Australia. Scientists believe that this salty body of water gets its bright pink colour from Dunaliella Salina, which is a microalga naturally found in salty lakes.
The colour is more prominent when viewed from above, but even at eye level, the pink hue is pronounced. It’s also permanent; even when collected in a container, the pink pigment does not change.
37. Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand
Image from Michael on Unsplash
Lake Wakatipu is on New Zealand’s South Island, on the shores of Queenstown. It’s the longest lake in the country, measuring over 80 km long. The sparkling water sits in the shadows of soaring mountain ranges that feature sensational alpine scenery.
The large body of water is popular for adventure activities, like swimming, parasailing, kayaking, fishing, and jet boating. Or, if you’d rather explore it a little more leisurely, cruise across Lake Wakatipu onboard a vintage steamship.
Most Beautiful Lakes in the World | Final Thoughts
The most beautiful lakes in the world are sprinkled all over the planet. These natural wonders give you a chance to connect with nature, which might help you temporarily forget about the stresses of everyday life.
They host numerous water activities and provide countless hours of wholesome fun. Although some are found in rural locations, many are located near big cities and attractions. They might be closer to you than you think.
And if you want to check out even more gorgeous bodies of water, you can discover the most beautiful lakes in the US next.