These days we’re all dreaming about traveling again. Why do you love to travel? Is it about rare architecture or world-class museums? Food you’ve never tried before? Immersing yourself in a different culture? Or could it be about experiencing amazing natural phenomena such as animal migrations, gorgeous beaches…or the world’s most beautiful lakes?
Some lakes shine in winter, and others in summer. Some are beautiful because of the simplicity of the surrounding landscape—while the beauty of others can’t be separated from the grand geological features surrounding them.
‘Visit’ the world’s most beautiful lakes
Whatever your preferences, we feel certain you’ll find plenty of lakes on this list that you’ll want to put on your travel list. Here are 50 photos of gorgeous bodies of water all around the world.
1. Lake Baikal, Russia
When this nearly mile-deep lake freezes in the frigid Siberian winter (the ice is so thick you could drive a car on it), methane gas that rises from the lake’s floor creates gorgeous patterns in the ice.
2. Gurudongmar Lake, India
Located at nearly 18,000 feet above sea level—making this one of the highest lakes in the world—this beautiful alpine lake remains frozen for over six months out of the year.
3. Lake Yamdrok, Tibet
Yamdrok (which means “turquoise” in English) is a sacred lake to Tibetans. The long, slender body of water is surrounded by a beautifully austere landscape of hills and snow-capped mountains.
4. Lake Wuhua Hai, China
“Five Flower Lake” is located within the spectacular Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its crystal-clear waters reveal fallen tree trunks lying on the lake bottom.
5. Diablo Lake, North Cascade Mountains, Washington
Nope, this isn’t photoshopped. Diablo Lake’s unworldly turquoise water is caused by suspended rock particles that sift into the lake after being ground up by surrounding glaciers.
6. Lake Bled, Slovenia
Looking straight out of a fairytale, this aquamarine lake in the Julian Alps is best known for the island in its middle (thanks, Instagram!), which is home to a centuries-old, red-roofed church.
7. Lake Pichola, India
Gleaming Lake Pichola, surrounded by Jaipur, is a human-made lake that was first developed in 1362 AD. Over the centuries, marble palaces and temples have been built around the lake and its four islands.
8. Crater Lake, Oregon
Gorgeous, circular Crater Lake is, yes, a lake formed in a caldera after volcanic activity. It’s one of the deepest lakes in the world — the deepest in the Western Hemisphere, in fact. The purity of the water and the surrounding landscape’s beauty make it one of the most stunning natural phenomena in the United States.
9. Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona
Sadly, Lake Powell is a reservoir that drowned spectacular canyon lands after a dam was built on the Colorado River. That being said, the canyons’ tops are still visible, and myriad inlets make this a very intriguing and beautiful lake to explore.
10. Lake Como, Italy
Colorful historic villas line the Lake Como’s shores, and steep, forested mountains rise high behind them. The lake has been popular since Roman times as a retreat for artists and aristocrats.
11. Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Quaint lakeshore villages and the snowy Swiss Alps reflected in its serene blue waters? Check. Lake Lucerne is another alpine wonder.
12. Rossvatnet, Norway
You practically couldn’t throw a dart in Norway and not hit a spectacular lake. Still, Rossvatnet—which is Norway’s second-largest lake—offers a simple beauty made up of land rolling gently away from the lakeshore and views of distant snowy peaks.
13. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Stunning Lake Tahoe, ringed by trees and surrounded by snowy mountains in the distance, is one of North American’s ancient lakes and distinguishes being the deepest lake after Crater Lake.
14. Lake Superior
Breathtaking in its scope and size, this great inland sea can be explored from many angles. In the winter, visitors trek to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, where magnificent ice caves await them.
15. Melissani Lake, Greece
Melissani Lake is located below ground level inside a soaring cave—like the cenotes of the Yucatan—and its impossibly clear waters are (of course) a popular tourist attraction.
16. General Carrera Lake, Chile
The largest lake in Chile is the keeper of a spectacular secret. The lake’s wave action against marble cliffs on its shores, over millennia, has carved out truly breathtaking caves, columns, and other formations that visitors can explore on commercial tours or by kayak.
17. Lake Bacalar, Mexico
The limestone bottom of this lagoon, located on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, turns the water a hauntingly clear turquoise. The lake is fed by the Yucatan Peninsula’s extensive underground rivers, which give rise to the cenotes that have made this part of Central America a destination for adventure-seekers.
18. Lake Louise, Canada
Glacier-fed Lake Louise is a milky turquoise, and the surrounding mountains—as seen from luxury hotel Fairmont’s Chateau Lake Louise—make the alpine lake impossibly gorgeous.
19. Lake Titicaca, Peru/Bolivia
This deep, high-altitude lake in the Andes is home to floating islands made out of indigenous residents’ reeds. Its deep blue creates a striking effect against the surrounding arid hills.
20. Lake Hillier, Australia
Micro-organisms in the water turn Lake Hillier in Western Australia into a startling opaque pink, and salt in the water dries into a shining white crust along the lakeshore.
21. Hanging Lake, Colorado
Crystal-clear Hanging Lake, in Glenwood Canyon, is a travertine lake fed by waterfalls. The delicate landscape is visited in summer but can be dangerous in winter.
22. Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand
The backdrop to this long, Z-shaped lake is the jagged and snow-covered mountain range called The Remarkables, which lends the scenery an air of rugged drama.
23. Torch Lake, Michigan
Clear, turquoise-colored Torch Lake is nearly 20 miles long and very popular in the summer with outdoor enthusiasts.
24. Garibaldi Lake, Canada
Another unworldly turquoise lake that’s fed by silt from glaciers. Garibaldi is surrounded by magnificent, snow-covered peaks in the distance and hills steeply from the lakeshore.
25. Deer Lake, Minnesota
Fed by underwater springs, Deer Lake is known for its nearly unbelievable clarity and the shifting colors of its waters. The lake is studded with islands, where wildlife can be seen.
26. Lake MacKenzie, Australia
This freshwater lake’s clarity, and the white silica-sand beach surrounding it, are stunning. The lake sits above the water table, so it is filled with rainwater only—making it too pure to support any life forms—which only adds to the lake’s eerily pristine appeal.
27. Lake of the Woods, Canada/Minnesota
You could get lost in this enormous, island-studded body of water. People flock here to fish and boat in the summer or ice-fish in the winter.
28. Phoksundo Lake, Nepal
Located in Nepal’s spectacular Shey Phoksundo National Park in the Himalayas, Phoksundo Lake’s brilliant turquoise waters are surrounded by jagged glacial mountains.
29. Moraine Lake, Canada
Like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake is located in Alberta’s Banff National Park. The rugged landscape and surrounding mountains make this alpine lake a photographer’s dream.
30. Blue Lake, Australia
This lake, which formed in an extinct volcano crater, turns a brilliant blue during Australia’s summer months. During the winter, its color is more muted, and scientists are still not sure why.
31. Skilak Lake, Alaska
Located on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, this clear turquoise lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks. The area is rich with wildlife such as bears, caribou, and moose.
32. Delta Lake, Wyoming
The Grand Tetons are some of the most breathtaking mountains in the United States. Delta Lake, located within Grand Teton National Park, is another meltingly beautiful “rock-flour”-fed turquoise lake.
33. Borovoe, Kazhakstan
The serenely beautiful Borovoe, located in Burabay National Park, is ringed by lush forests and striking rock formations. A circular inlet in the lake makes for a dramatic photo-op.
34. Lake Tanganyika, Africa
The second-oldest freshwater lake in the world (after the ancient Lake Baikal), and also the longest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Tanganyika boasts beautifully clear water that can show, in different areas, the sometimes-stunning rock formations beneath.
35. The Dead Sea, Jordan
Dried salt formations in and around the lake and the austere beauty of the surrounding Negev desert make the Dead Sea stunningly beautiful (and yes, it really is a lake, not a sea). It’s almost impossible to swim beneath the surface due to the lake’s high saline content.
36. Caddo Lake, Texas/Louisiana
Bayous and sloughs, punctuated with submerged bald cypress trees and rafts of Spanish moss, make this lake a mysterious place for exploration. An international treaty protects the wetland.
37. Lake Nakuru, Kenya
Located within the Nakuru National Park in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru is widely known for the vast flocks of flamingos that feed on the lake’s abundant algae.
38. Lake Champlain, Vermont/Canada
Lake Champlain, which straddles the US and Canada border, is notable for the islands within it. Stacks of gently rolling hills add to its air of gentle beauty.
39. Maroon Lake, Colorado
Maroon Lake, located a short drive from Aspen, is a mountain lake that sometimes perfectly reflects the distant Maroon Bells peak in its waters.
40. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Atitlan is a Sierra Madres crater lake, and it’s the deepest in Central America. Three volcanoes preside over one side of the lake, while small towns and villages hug the lakeshore on the other, making for impossibly beautiful photo ops at every turn.
41. Thale Noi, Thailand
This government-protected “little sea” is a haven to nearly 200 bird species and the lotus flowers that bloom from February to March drape the water with pink.
42. Sebago Lake, Maine
Deep, clear Sebago is dotted with beautiful sandy beaches and is surrounded by forest. Visitors come here year-round to swim or to cross-country ski in a serenely beautiful landscape.
43. Lake Martin, Alabama
Dam-created Lake Martin is one of the largest human-made lakes in the United States. Rocky, tree-covered formations rise directly out of the water in places, making this a beautiful place to explore.
44. Derwentwater, England
The Lake District in England is known worldwide as a destination for lake aficionados. Derwentwater is one of the largest in the district, with a serene landscape that highlights the forested hills of Cumbria.
45. Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Huge freshwater Lake Okeechobee is as shallow as one could expect from a lake that’s a gateway to the magnificent Everglades. Visitors come here year-round to traverse the surrounding Florida National Scenic Trail.
46. Lake Wa’ia’u, Hawaii
One of the few lakes in Hawaii, Lake Wa’ia’u, is located inside the dormant volcano Mauna Kea’s cinder cone. The contrast between its blue water and the unforgiving volcanic landscape that surrounds it is stunning.
47. Pehoe Lake, Chile
Pehoe Lake, located in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, is an unworldly crystalline water body that reflects the surrounding mountains’ jagged peaks, which seem to rise directly from the lake.
48. Maligne Lake, Canada
Maligne Lake is another alpine lake—this one located in Alberta’s Jasper National Park—that boasts vivid turquoise waters that reflect the jagged glaciers around them.
49. Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Lake Coeur d’Alene was formed over 10,000 years ago by floods ripped through this part of the country. Today, it’s a dam-controlled body of water that is beloved in summer for its beaches.
50. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Known for its many delicate travertine waterfalls, the conjoined Plitvice Lakes (located within a national park) are soothing and translucent.
Want more travel ideas?
Check out more amazing destinations:
- 21 of the world’s most beautiful destinations
- The best destinations for a Fall getaway during COVID-19
- 25 gorgeous places for when it’s safe to travel again
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