Lakes in Europe
Book a holiday at one of the less well known, less commercialised Unspoilt lakes in Europe. While European coasts and cities are overcrowded during the summer months, why not enjoy some clean mountain air and beautiful views? You can bathe, do water sports, walk, cycle and fish amongst other things, while you inhale clean alpine air. Some of the lakes in Europe featured here are also great for a winter break too.
An Alpine Holiday at one of Europe’s Lakes
Are you looking for something different from your standard holiday package? A holiday by one of the lakes in Europe featured here will calm your soul and fill your lungs with alpine air. Return home feeling inspired, invigorated and ready for anything.
Take a look at five of the less famous, and therefore less populated, lakes in Europe where you can holiday. The chosen five offer a diverse choices in terms of location, accommodation available and things to do.
In the Haute Savoy region of France beneath the French alps, Lake Annercy is the third largest lake in France.
Fed by mountain springs, it is known as one of the cleanest lake in Europe. Strict environmental regulations have been in place since the 1960’s to help ensure this. In the late nineteenth century Annercy became twinned with the local region of Savoy.
Lake Annercy Highlights
Of the five lakes in Europe featured here it makes a great holiday for medieval history lovers. There are medieval villages with interesting architecture close to Lake Annercy.
This lake in Europe also offers good clean waters for bathing.
Getting to Lake Annercy
Take the Eurostar from London St Pancreas direct to Paris Gare du Lyon, France in the summer months. This is approximately a four hour journey. The train onwards from Lyon to Annercy takes just over 3 and a half hours.
At other times of the year, change at Paris Gare du Nord for a ten minute interconnection to Paris Gare du Lyon. Because trains don’t run directly from London to Lyon except for summer months. If travelling by train to Lake Annercy in either summer or winter, you have to allow a full day.
Flying to Annercy
Annercy in France does have it’s own domestic airport however the flights aren’t overly regular. Flights to Geneva are far more frequent from many airports so this is perhaps a safer bet. The driving distance from Geneva airport to Annercy is 45 kilometres (roughly an hour).
Why not spend a couple of nights in Geneva and explore the area before continuing your journey on to Lake Annercy?
Things to do at Lake Annercy
You can drive round most of the lake with plenty of beautiful places to stop and be wowed by along the way. You don’t have to rely on a car though as you can enjoy walking beside much of the lake. There’s also a chance to be active on the available cycle path near the lake.
Bathe in the exceptionally clean water or try a water sport. Take a boat trip that stops at pretty lakeside villages.
Discover more about ‘roseau’ a chocolate liquer produced locally and learn also the regional cheeses.
Visit Chamonix with the highest mountains in Western Europe, roughly an hour and a half away in the car. Or use an organised excursion for this visit.
Two Castles to Visit
Chateau d’Annercy is a medieval castle come museum that overlooks Annercy old town is worth a visit. Or take a day trip to Chateau de Menthon. This is the castle just over 10 kilometres south of Annercy which was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping beauty film.
Where to Stay in Annercy
Talloires is a relaxed village resort with buildings dating back to medieval times.
See Lake Annercy for yourself
Germans call this lake ‘Lake Achensee and sometimes it is referred to as the fjord of the alps. Lake Achen lies in the Western Austrian state of Tyrol between the Austrian and Italian Alps.
The North and East of the Tyrol province belong to Austria and the South portion belongs to Italy. Lake Achen is the largest alpine lake in the Austrian Tyrol. This is one of the lakes in Europe which has water so clean you can almost (but shouldn’t) drink it!
Lake Achen highlites
It is one of the warmest lakes in Europe and has an annual average temperature of 20 degrees centigrade. The waters of this natural European lake can rise to 27 degrees centigrade in the summer months. A strong breeze from the north (known as the Bavarian Breeze) stirs up during mid afternoon. These two factors and the ultra clean water make favourable conditions for bathing, diving, windsurfing and kitesurfing. It is possible to rent all your water sports equipment here.
Getting to Lake Achen
Follow this link for travel information on getting to Lake Achen (or Lake Achensee as it is also called)
Things to do at Lake Achen
There are three alpine villages at intervals around the lake; take a boat trip between them.
Take a cable car up into the mountains and oversee the beautiful lake vistas. Go skiing in the winter months.
Accommodation Ideas for Lake Achen
The two main bathing areas are to the North of Lake Achen and the Schwarzenau. You can find a good cross section of accommodation here.
Consider staying in the Maurach region of the Austrian Tyrol as here you will have good access to both Lake Achen and great skiing territory in the mountains.
Lake Levico is in the province of Trentino (Trento) in Italy, 100 miles south-west of the Austrian border.
It has a more Germanic feel here than in other areas of Italy.
Lake Levico is often likened to a Norwegian fjord. It’s one of Italy’s cleanest and quietest lakes and has the European blue flag. Lake Levico is surrounded by forests and is next door to Lake Caldonazzo, also worthy of a visit. In the winter migratory birds stop here including robins and gulls
Get active at Lake Levico
This lake in Europe is great for walking; both recreational and serious hiking. Hardened hikers have the option of a three day hike following the high path of Granite. The route peaks at 2,800 metres. Cyclists can use the Valsugana cycle route that follows the direction of the water.
Getting to Lake Levico
Fly to Venice if you want to spend a day or two here. Either car hire or Shuttles Direct transfer company will take you on the two hour journey to your Lake accommodation. If you’re hiring a car, bear in mind that some routes to and from Venice involve tolls.
Verona is another airport you can fly to. The journey from Verona airport to Lake Levico takes about an hour and a half.
Things to do at Lake Levico
Sculpture enthusiasts will love the Arte Sella. It’s a huge outdoor gallery in a forest on the side of a mountain. Natural sculptures are displayed from worldwide artists. The area surrounding lake Levico area offers a huge quota of spa treatments and spa accommodation. After all it is the area of the ‘warm bath’ and it’s waters are mineral-rich. The Spa of Levico in the old town offers highly regarded spa treatments Also Levico lake has a good stock of fish for freshwater fishing.
Accommodation Ideas for Lake Levico
Try the Levico Terme Hotel
Gjovik region in northern Norway is where you find Lake Mjosa. The area of Mjosa is about 100 kilometres north of Oslo and the furthest north of all the lakes in Europe mentioned here. With some of the coldest temperatures of all the lakes in Europe, it is a fantastic spot to catch freshwater fish in the summer and go ice fishing in winter. Large Mjosa trout and salmon are found in this area.
Lake Mjosa is known for large species of carp, trout, perch and pike.
The fishing season at Lake Mjosa runs from 1st May to 1st September. Although at the nearby Randsfjorden Norwegian lake (best known for salmon), you can fish all year round. More information about needing a fishing licence in this area
Getting to Lake MjØsa
Fly to Oslo and hiring a car is the easiest way. The drive takes about an hour and a half.
Things to do at Lake MjØsa
Besides fishing you can hire a motorised or non motorised boat on Lake Mjøsa. You can also hire a professional guide for a fishing excursion.
Unless your preference is ice fishing, the best time to visit lake Mjøsa is between April and the end of September when the lake freezes. Unless of course you are wanting to do ice fishing; in this case, the winter months offer ideal conditions!
Skiing is popular near here as you are only a couple of miles from Lillehammer, the town used by Olympic athletes. Hafjell alpine ski village with it’s Olympic downhill slalom is 10 kilometres away.
Accommodation Ideas for staying near Lake Mjosa
You can rent a private house on a beach at Lake Mjøsa on booking.com
Of the 5 lakes in Europe featured in this article, Lake Skadar is the furthest South. This freshwater lake is the largest lake in the Balkans lying in the small European country of Montenegro in the county of Virpazar. Previously a bay of the Adriatic sea, Lake Skadar formed when it became separated from the sea due to the effects of geography and geology.
Two thirds of this lake belongs to Montenegro and a third belongs to Albania. The section of the lake in Montenegro is a designated national park, surrounded by lush greenery. The Albanian portion of Lake Skadar is a nature reserve.
Lake Skadar highlites
One of the best lakes in Europe to visit if you are into bird spotting and nature.
Getting to Lake Skadar
The closest airport to Lake Skadar is Podorica which is just over 10 miles away. Tivat airport is 22 miles away.
Things to do at Lake Skadar
Take a cruise and see native and migratory birds. Visit Budva marina with it’s old town, within 15 miles of Virpazar county.
Accommodation ideas for Lake Skadar
Lake Skadar lies in the county of Virpazar, close to Petrovac town. Find accommodation in the Virpazar area.
Round up of the Five Lakes in Europe
If you want to participate in water sports requiring wind, choose Lake Achen in the Austrian Tyrol.
Skiers who love the alpine mountain feel should be happy at Lake Achen at the foot of the mountains.
Is your preference is visiting villages dating back through the centuries and viewing medieval architecture? Then Lake Annercy in France is best for you.
Sculpture lovers who also love hiking or biking will find inspiration in Lake Levico in Italy.
For the freshwater and salmon fishing people among you, try Lake Mjosa in Norway for a fishing trip to remember.
Birdwatchers and nature lovers head to Lake Skadar in Montenegro. This lake is good also for a boat trip but does not have such a good reputation for clean waters for swimming.
Italian Lake Levico is another option for freshwater fishing, if you want a region not quite as cold as Norway!
If you want help with transfers getting to and from any airport mentioned here try Shuttles Direct