Exploring the Great Outdoors: Top Lakes to Visit in Europe

When it comes to outdoor sightseeing, there’s arguably no better place to do so than in Europe, wherein you can find stunning lakes and bodies of water. From crystal-clear glaciers of the Danube and Great Lakes of Northern Italy to the ever-brimming aquamarine of Scotland’s Loch Lomond, Europe is plentiful in spectacular lakes that offer a unique experience to any type of explorer, be it an adventure enthusiast or a nature worshipper.

To make it easier for you to make optimum use of your recent found vacation days, here’s our definitive guide to the top lakes you must visit if you’re planning to go outdoor sightseeing in Europe.

Loch Lomond, Scotland

Loch Lomond is one of the great lakes in Northern Europe and boasts some of the most breathtaking views you can find anywhere. It’s located just north of Glasgow and is part of the Trossachs National Park, known for its wide variety of plants and wildlife. With its large expanse of vibrant purple, blue and yellow heather as far as the eye can see, it’s no surprise that Loch Lomond has been the basis for numerous eulogies, including the most famous of them all, ‘The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond’.

Apart from being a great spot for nature-loving photographers, this lake also offers a range of activities you can indulge in, such as sailing and waterskiing. Fishing here is said to be excellent too, plus there are plenty of walking and cycling trails to explore around its edges as well as on its islands.

Lago di Garda, Italy

Lago di Garda is the largest lake in Italy and is located between Milan and Venice. The lake’s name literally translates to The Lake of Garda, named after the region that surrounds it. It’s home to the magnificent city of Sirmione which is the easternmost tip of the lake, located on a small peninsula.

This lake is renowned for its sheer blissful beauty and clear waters that reflect like a mirror the mountain peaks that encircle it. Here, visitors can enjoy world class sailing, windsurfing, paragliding and fishing, with access to amazing camping sites near by. Plus there are several towns around its edges like Bardolino and Riva Del Garda for shopping and dining.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

If you’re looking for a fairytale-like setting, then Lake Bled is the stuff of legends. Picture yourself on its serene shores surrounded by the lush green Julian Alps, with a small alpine church, or `blejski oltar’, situated atop a tiny island in the middle of this glacial lake.

This sublime lake is also an amazingly easy spot to access, as Bled itself is an easy train ride away from Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. Whilst here, you can explore the charming island on a traditional ‘pletna’ boat and soak in the views of the medieval-like Bled Castle perched up high on a rocky cliff.

Moreover, there are plenty of outdoor activities to take part in here such as pleasure boating, fishing, paddling and sailing. On land, you can find some fantastic biking and hiking trails to explore.

Vatnajokull Glacier, Iceland

Vatnajokull glacier is located in the southern part of Iceland and is the biggest glacier in all of Europe. This magnificent ice desert boasts an array of crevasses, deep gorges and sparkling rivers which, when combined with the snow-capped peaks in the background and the deep blue lake at its base, paint an unforgettable landscape for all kinds of explorers.

Here, you can enjoy a plethora of activities, from discovering its caves and volcanoes on a super jeep, to enjoying a glacier climb or snowmobile ride through the deep crevasses. Boating, deep sea fishing and canoeing are also popular activities in this area, with multiple tour companies available to help visitors explore the glacier’s depths.

Laacher See, Germany

Laacher See is situated in the beautiful Eifel region of Germany, making it an excellent choice for outdoor sightseeing. It’s a flooded, caldera-like lake and one of the classic examples of Earth’s most stunning volcanic-formed lakes. Here, you can enjoy the stunning views on a hike loop of the Ring, a trail that circles the lake, which is covered in the crater wall.

If you’d like something a bit more challenging, you can ascend the nearby volcanoes or climb Mt. Steffeln, or you can even tackle the adventure courses located in the nearby town of Nieder Blankenheim. Plus, there’s plenty of trekking or mountain biking trails around the lake as well.

Loch Ness, Scotland

Loch Ness is one of the most famous lakes in Britain and, most likely, the whole of Europe. It’s located in the northwest Highlands of Scotland and it’s home to the legendary Nessie, an infamous monster supposedly living in its depths. Despite Nessie’s presence, the lake is still immensely beautiful.

The lake itself is an impressive 24 miles long, with beautiful shorelines that are either made of smooth pebbles or white sand. In addition to fairy tale-looking cottages, there’s plenty to keep visitors busy such as waterskiing, kayaking, sailing, fishing, and more.

Plus, the lake stretches as far as Fort Augustus, giving you the chance to explore its full length on a boat cruise, or to discover its hidden gems on a scenic walk.

No matter what your preference is, you’re sure to find plenty of fantastic lakes to provide you with a memorable outdoor sightseeing experience in Europe. From the glacial beauty of Vatnajokull to the tranquility of Laacher See, these lakes have a lot to offer. So grab your bags, get your cameras ready and make sure you take a little time to explore the wealth of nature available in Europe’s wonderful islands and lakes.