With their still surfaces and spectrum of colors, lakes showcase some of the most mesmerizing qualities of water. In fact, some of the most beautiful of these natural wonders, found all around the world from Bolivia to Siberia, will make you forget about beaches altogether. And while these examples may go by different names (lake, laguna, loch) they are all equally stunning—and worthy of a visit.
Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
While folklore attributes the crimson waters of Laguna Colorada to the spilled blood of the gods, the salt lake actually largely gets its hue from red algae.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
With emerald waters, views of the Julien Alps, and a fairy-tale church on an island, there’s a reason Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s most popular sites.
Lake Nakuru, Kenya
Located in Kenya’s Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru is known for attracting lions, leopards, and swarms of feeding flamingos. Although rising water levels over the past few years have caused the number of pink birds to drop, the protected area is still a sight to behold, due to the diversity of wildlife it attracts.
Lake Minnewanka, Canada
Banff National Park has no shortage of beautiful lakes (Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are standouts), but we love the glacial Lake Minnewanka for its epic views of the Canadian Rockies.
Lake Como, Italy
This 56-square-mile Lombardy jewel has been attracting summer vacationers since ancient Roman times; today, it’s as popular for its natural beauty as it is for its luxury hotels (and George Clooney sightings, of course).
Crater Lake, Oregon
Sitting at 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest in the United States and made entirely out of glacial runoff and precipitation, which is responsible for its clarity and intense blue color.
West Lake, Hangzhou, China
West Lake and its surrounding region have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011. The organization says the lake “has inspired famous poets, scholars, and artists since the 9th century.”
Loch Duich, Scotland
Located in the Highlands near Scotland’s western coast, Loch Duich is perhaps best known for being the site of the 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
The 16 terraced lakes of Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park are connected by waterfalls and vary in shades of blue, resulting in something that defies the imagination—and a tourist attraction at risk of overcrowding.
Dead Sea, Israel
Don’t let the name fool you—the Dead Sea is, in fact, a saline lake with palm-tree-lined mountains and white, serpentine salt formations. The amount of salt in the water makes swimming difficult, but floating a breeze.
Lake Titicaca, Peru and Bolivia
The largest lake in South America (3,200 square miles) and highest navigable lake in the world (12,500 feet above sea level) is a place of sparkling blue water, welcoming villages, and snow-capped mountains.
Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia
The oldest and deepest lake on earth—it reaches a depth of one mile in some spots—is also home to our planet’s only freshwater seals. Come winter, the lake transforms into a wonderland, with jagged ice caves encircling what amounts to the world’s largest ice skating rink.
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Flanked by volcanoes and Mayan villages, this serene lake in the Guatemalan Highlands is a must for anyone considering a trip to Central America.
Lake Superior, Michigan
Covering 31,700 square miles, Lake Superior is so large that it can feel more like an ocean than a lake—it even has beaches, islands, and shipwrecks.
Located in the northern section of England’s Lake District National Park, Derwentwater is surrounded by verdant hills and hiking trails. Make the charming town of Keswick your base, where you’ll quickly see why this region of England inspired poets like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey.
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