In the beautiful countryside of Greece, there are 50 natural lakes and quite a few artificial ones, which vary significantly in size. The lakes of Greece are of exquisite beauty, jewels in the heart of the wilderness, inviting nature lovers and adventures to explore them and spend their day by their banks or hiking around them. Many mainland destinations around Greece combine the beauty of traditional villages with rural landscapes of forests, rivers, and lakes to discover.
Here are 10 of the most beautiful lakes to visit in Greece:
10 Lakes to Visit in Greece
The mountain of Tymfi is the sixth highest mountain in Greece at an imposing altitude of 2.497 meters at the highest peak called Gamila. It is located 70 km outside Ioannina, in the region of Zagori, with the wonderful alpine villages of Zagorochoria, a very popular destination for excursions and nature holidays. The Mountain and its surrounding habitats are a natural reserve and a part of Vikos-Aoos Natural Park.
In the western part of the mountain, at 2.050 meters of altitude, there is one of the few alpine lakes in Greece, by the name of Drakolimni Tymfis. The name translates to Dragonlake because the breathtaking scenery reminds the visitor of a dragon nest.
According to the local legends, a dragon used to reside upon the mountains, between the two peaks of Tymfi. It was also supposed to be in a constant fight with another dragon found at Mt. Smolikas, also residing in a Dragonlake at 2200 meters of altitude. The peculiar rock formations of white and black hues were thought to be the remnants of this fight between the dragons.
The most popular village around is Mikro Papigko, with picturesque stone-paved alleys and a traditional style of architecture which is so distinct it is unforgettable. There are many rooms to rent, hotels, and resorts there, perfect for those who wish to ascend to the Dragonlake. There is a well-trodden hiking trail of 8.4 km and lasts about 3-4 hours. The incline is 20%, so it can be quite strenuous for non-frequent hikers.
Check out: The best hikes in Greece.
Prespa Lake (Mikri and Megali Prespa)
In the region of Florina, at the northwestern Greek borders with Albania and the Republic of Macedonia, there are two twin lakes by the names of Megali Prespa and Mikri Prespa, named so according to their sizes, separated by the isthmus “Koula”. Megali Prespa, as the name suggests, is also the biggest lake in Greece, amounting to 28, 168 hectares. Mikri Prespa, on the other hand, is the smaller of the two with only 4,738 hectares. There is a lot worth visiting here.
The lakes and surrounding area are part of the Prespa National Park, surrounded by thick virgin forests on the mountains. The lakes lie at an altitude of 850 meters, and most of their slopes are wild and steep to approach. The Big Prespa has an average depth of 50 meters, and the Small Prespa is shallower with a depth of 8.5 m.
It is a natural wetland habitat of immeasurable ecological value, also protected by UNESCO. There is very rich biodiversity especially for bird species such as the Dalmatian pelican, the Cormorant, and the Heron, as well as wild ducks and pelicans. There is a Bird Observatory of the Hellenic Ornithological Society with great opportunities for bird-watching.
The lakes are also widely popular for the various caves and the Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments, with remnants of churches and monasteries of extreme value. The region has been inhabited for over six thousand years, marking it as a historically and culturally significant site. You can cross a floating bridge across the Small Prespa that leads to the church of Saint Achilios from the 10th century.
Tip: Don’t miss the opportunity for a romantic boat ride across the Big Prespa, with breathtaking views.
The artificial lake Plastiras, which is a Reservoir of Tavropos and Achelous rivers, has a size of 2,356 ha. It is located in the region Karditsa, and it is also called “Little Switzerland” because of the stunning scenery surrounding it, including lush vegetation and alpine peaks resembling the Alps.
The snow-capped peaks melt into running freshwater streams, and the morphology of the ground is fjord-like at certain spots, with narrow stretches of pine-forested land contouring the lake and creating a unique landscape. The water of the lake has emerald water that comes to a stark contrast with the lush green background.
The freshwater of the lake offers itself for various water sports activities such as pedal boat riding and swimming. There are also facilities for air sports such as paragliding if you are into extreme sports. For the hiking enthusiasts, there are countless paths nearby to stroll around and enjoy the untamed nature along the lake.
The lake is beautiful throughout the seasons, making it a perfect destination for excursions. While traveling there, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the nearby traditional villages of Kalivia Pezoulas and Neochori, perfect for overnight stays, traditional cuisine, and cozy evenings. There is also a Botanical Garden just outside Neochori. Both villages have spots that offer breathtaking panoramic views over the magical lake.
In the wider region of Serres in north Greece, Lake Kerkini lies imposingly with a size of 4,609 ha. Surrounded by the mountains of Belles and Mavrovouni, these wetlands are just 40 km away from the town of Serres and about 100 km away from Thessaloniki.
Lake Kerkini is among the most popular European destinations for bird watching, with approximately 300 bird species migrate or nest here, including herons, pelicans, and the Pygmy cormorants, the latter two being endangered. Other species include the rare Bonelli’s Eagle, the Peregrine Falcon, the Great Spotted Eagle the Eurasian Hobby, the Levant Sparrow Ηawk, and the Northern Goshawk, among others.
This valuable ecosystem is rich in biodiversity of flora and fauna, with one of the biggest populations of buffalos in Greece. Nature is preserved despite any human intervention. The lake is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who can enjoy boat rides, canoeing, horse-back riding, and hiking along the lake which is 15 km long.
Tip: The best seasons to visit for bird watching are autumn and spring, as the birds migrate during those periods.
Located in the majestic region of Kastoria, Lake Orestiada is considered one of the most beautiful in Greece and has been declared a Natural Monument of immense value. The lake is relatively big at 28 square kilometers and an average of 9 meters of depth, situated at an altitude of 630 meters. It is protected as a natural reserve by “Nature 2000” and lots of animals live there including swans, wild ducks herons, and Dalmatian pelicans.
The views of the lake are beyond comparison, its serene waters reflecting the sun and creating amazing orange hues during the late afternoons. Sunsets are amazing at Lake Orestiada, so make sure to spend the day and marvel at the spectacle. There are various traditional villages around, including Chloi and Mavrochori, where you can find various accommodation options.
For sports enthusiasts, there are many opportunities; mainly rowing (canoe-kayak), water skiing, sailing, and surfing. The location, however, is also a priceless wetland for aquatic life and bird species, so visitors should always show respect.
Tip: There is a wooden platform with mesmerizing views where you can take amazing photos!
Lake Pamvotida, also known as Lake Ioannina is the largest lake of Epirus with 1,924 hectares and 23 square km surface. This gem of natural beauty is just outside the city of Ioannina, surrounded by mountains, with many water springs flowing into the lake.
The temperature can make the lake freeze at times, but generally, the lake is visited by many people, locals, and travelers, all year round. The location is ideal for watersports, with facilities for rowing (canoe), skiing, surfing, and fishing.
Don’t miss the island peninsula with a fairytale-like castle of imposing minarets, which is inhabited and a most popular attraction. Around the lake, you will find many cafes, bars, and restaurants to enjoy the view and the traditional cuisine of Epirus. Generally, there are many points of interest to visit nearby, including monasteries and small hamlets.
Tip: The lake is perhaps most beautiful during autumn, when the poplar trees and willows are laden with orange and red leaves, creating a cozy atmosphere.
Another artificial, whose beauty fools anyone into believing it’s natural is Lake Doxa, also known as Feneos Reservoir, located in the mountainous region of Corinthia, at an altitude of 1100 meters. It is said that the lake looks natural because there used to be an ancient lake there, until Hercules himself dried it out, according to the legend.
The lake’s construction was completed in 1998, and since then it has become a popular destination among locals and travelers thanks to its unparalleled beauty. It is surrounded by the awe-inspiring Corinthian mountains and a thick fir forest. There is a small peninsula where the stone-built church of Agios Fanourios is built, and there is a monastery on a hill nearby to visit.
The destination is also popular as it is 2 hours outside of Athens, making it ideal for day-tips or weekend getaways. You can find accommodation in the village Trikala Korinthias, with stone-built houses and a traditional style of architecture, from where you can also set off from Mt. Ziria. The mountain has a ski center operating there in the wintertime, and a cozy chalet.
At Lake Doxa, you can enjoy a picnic or take great shots of nature, or if you are brave enough, even dive into the cold waters. There is also a race organized here for remote control sailboat enthusiasts.
Lake Kournas is not the only lake situated on an island on this list, it is also Crete’s only freshwater lake. It is located in the prefecture of Chania in West Crete, and it lies just 20 meters above sea level, while its deepest point reaches about 22 meters. The lake has a surface of 56 hectares.
The Cretan landscape of the lake is breathtaking; the lake lies between untamed hills, its waters azure in the shallow parts and deep blue in others. Lots of animals live here thanks to the clean waters, including ducks, turtles, some bird species, and many fish. It is also protected by “Natura 2000” as a valuable habitat.
People love to visit Lake Kournas, either for an evening stroll or for a picnic on a sunny day. During the summer, some people swim here or do water sports, such as paddleboat rides, canoe, and snorkeling. The lake also offers amenities such as various taverns, free sunbeds, and rental options for water sports. You will never get bored at the lake.
Aoos Springs, as the name suggests is an artificial reservoir of the powerful river Aoos, with a significant surface of 821 ha. It is located in the region of Ioannina, near the picturesque town of Metsovo, in Epirus, between the city of Ioannina and the magical site of Meteora.
The lake is at an altitude of 1300 meters situated in the Pindus National Park, a biotope of great importance. During the winter, the weather is snowy and the lake looks like an alpine landscape. Some amateur fishing is permitted there, although there are many fish species in need of preservation.
You can marvel at the wonderful mountain-scape of the Pindus Mountain range, with lush vegetation and spectacular clouds hanging low, or take a bicycle ride around the lake which is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are various hiking paths along the National Park, and many villages nearby to get a taste of Epirus.
Tip: Visit Metsovo and Meteora, since you are traveling nearby. They are also must-visit highlights of the region!
Last but not least is Lake Vistonida, the northern lake in the regions of Xanthi-Rhodope, which separates the two, covering a total of 45 km. Vistonida is the fourth biggest lake in Greece, and it is situated 25 km outside Xanthi and another 23 km outside Komotini.
The lake was given its name because of Vistones, residents of this Thracian region a long time ago. It is also said that this lake is also related to the Twelve Labours of Hercules, namely the part about Hercules and the horses of Diomedes.
The whole area included a fertile plain, many lagoons, and forests, as well as another smaller lake named Ismarida. This wetland biotope also consists of the Nestos River Delta, and together they form the National Park of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.
This wetland is also important in terms of biodiversity, housing 20 mammal species, amphibians, and 37 fish species, as the locals claim. In addition, it is a place where over two hundred bird species nest or migrate to winter, of which approximately 10 are endangered.
The wild lake is an untouched landscape of natural beauty, perfect for bird watching, family excursions, and exploration.