In our travels, Chris and I have encountered many breathtakingly beautiful lakes all around the world.
Some of these beautiful lakes have tourists flocking to them by the thousands each year. Many are easy to reach and not too far off the beaten path. Some of these beautiful lakes are hidden treasures only the most determined hiking and photography enthusiasts discover.
Discover Beautiful Lakes Around the World
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As a hiker AND a photographer, I can often be found with my Canon 6d Mark II around my neck and my iPhone in my hand as I hike, sightsee and travel. I don’t want to miss a single picturesque moment.
Here’s a list of 11 of my favorite beautiful lakes that I have encountered around the world. Pretty sure I have posted most of them on Instagram at one time or another too!
I still have many lakes on my bucket list to visit, but I think you will agree, these lakes all provide a breathtaking destination point.
1. Lake Haiyaha
Chris and I hiked past the trail to Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park a number of times before finally tacking it on after our hike to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake along the Dream Lake Trail. All beautiful lakes in their own right, but Lake Haiyaha was the lake that caused a quick intake of breath as we scrambled over giant boulders to reach it.
What does Haiyaha mean? Some have joked that the meaning is: “You will never be able to pronounce this”, but it is actually an Arapahoe Indian word meaning “rock”.
Pronunciation is close to Hi-ya-ha.
Regardless, the lake is amazing and if you arrive at the right time of day with the sun shining, the lake sparkles a beautiful turquoise blue.
You will need reservations to enter RMNP between May and October.
2. Hanging Lake
One of the iconic and beautiful lakes in Colorado is Hanging Lake outside of Glenwood Springs. Since seeing some amazing pictures of the lake and waterfalls, I have always wanted to visit. In fact, Chris and I have tried to visit the area two other times when we were turned away because there was no available space in the parking lot.
It is a popular hike to one of Colorado’s amazingly beautiful lakes.
If you wish to hike to Hanging Lake, you will need a reservation. Reservations are $12 per person. In fact, your reservation will be confirmed at the entrance gate and then rechecked at the trailhead.
When Chris and I hiked to Hanging Lake in July of 2021, we lucked out with the last two reservations for the day starting at 9:30 am. Maybe a little later in the day than we wanted since the weather was hot, but we jumped on the opportunity to visit the lake.
The hike to Hanging Lake is rigorous and involves climbing steps and boulders along the path up up and up. There are only a few level parts along the way—and seven or eight bridges to cross.
I highly recommend trekking poles. If not to use on your hike up, at least on your descent. Chris and I usually share a pair and that works great for us; the extra anchor point makes stepping down the stone steps so much easier.
The lake is small but clear and is surrounded by waterfalls. There is plenty of seating; you will need it after that 1.25 mile climb to one of the world’s beautiful lakes.
If you choose to hike to Hanging Lake, be prepared with good hiking boots. Chris and I saw people hiking in flip flops! And bring lots of water.
There is a restroom at the parking area and another one at the trailhead. There are no facilities anywhere else along the trail.
*** Due to the devastation of fires in 2020 and then mudslides in 2021, the hike to Hanging Lake is temporarily closed. ***
3. Mills Lake
Chris and I have hiked to Mills Lake twice now. Once in the middle of winter—brrrr—and again in the middle of summer. I much prefer the summer hike.
You hike to Mills Lake by first hiking to Alberta Falls, one of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike to Alberta Falls starts at Glacier Gorge Trailhead and is a pretty easy hike with some elevation gain.
Little kids hike to the falls all of the time.
Continuing on to Mills Lake, the hike becomes a MODERATE hike.
Mills Lake is one of the beautiful lakes where you can stop and enjoy the view. If you love to fish, take pictures, hang out, enjoy a picnic lunch, or simply take a breather before hiking back, you will find plenty of picturesque spots along this instagrammable lake.
We happened to visit on a day when the sky was filled with smoke from fires in California and Oregon. The lake is still one of the beautiful lakes that we love to visit.
The lake was totally frozen over in the winter.
If you are lucky, you might even find some of these amazing red mushrooms along your trek!
4. Crater Lake at Mt. Pinatubo
Getting to Crater Lake at Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines will involve some advance planning. Beautiful lakes are worth the effort right?
Be sure to bring the right gear, carry plenty of water, and wear sunscreen.
Before starting out on this all-day guided tour, you will need to fill out paperwork and sign waivers and be ready to go early in the morning (we left at 6:30 am).
Our tour came with a 4×4 Jeep, a driver, a guide as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Be prepared to ford streams, pass caribao (water buffalo), bounce around in the back of the Jeep, and hang on for the next couple of hours until you reach the trekking portion of your tour.
As you arrive at the crater, you will need to climb stones steps to where the vista of the volcano suddenly opens up. Crater Lake sits nestled in the volcano valley surrounded by mountains.
Due to some unfortunate accidents, swimming is no longer allowed, but you can enjoy the scenery of another of the beautiful lakes around the world.
Be prepared for your hike back up the stone steps.
And don’t be surprised to find a few enterprising Filipino young men who may offer to take a picture of you and your family with Bob Marley—a young Aeta youth (indigenous Filipino people) with dreads.
Chris, who speaks Tagalog, surprised them by joking, “Uhhh, Bob Marley is dead.” The boys laughed and then offered for us to take “Bob Marley” with us. We laughed, declined the offer, and asked our guide, Audi, to take a picture for free!
5. Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake is one of those beautiful lakes that will truly take your breath away when you see it. The water is a stunningly brilliant color of blue
The incredible blue color also means that the water is incredibly cold due to glacial runoff.
What makes the water in so many of the beautiful lakes around the world so blue?
…these lakes are so blue because of the presence of something floating in the water. As the warmer months hit, glaciers melt, thus filling these pools with their water. With this glacial melt comes something called glacial flour. It’s basically finely ground rock. Unlike other objects that make their way into the lake water, this glacial flour is so light that it doesn’t sink. Instead, it stays suspended in the liquid, most clearly visible near the surface. These particles distort the wavelengths of lights that hit the lake, reflecting visible hues that fall in the blueish-green end of the spectrum.outtherecolorado.com
I just learned something new! Who knew there was such a thing as GLACIER FLOUR?!
Depending on the time of the year that you visit Crater Lake National Park, you may or may not be able to hike down to the water’s edge from the visitor’s center.
We visited in June and the trail was still snow-packed and impassable. Our youngest had been pretty determined that she was going to swim in the lake. I think she was secretly glad to not take a dip.
6. Lake Como
Italy is my happy place, so being able to spend a day visiting Varenna, Bellagio, AND Lake Como, an amazing day trip in Italy, made for a perfect day.
You will find Lake Como is a beautiful lake surrounded by small towns hugging the foothills of the Alps.
You may become so enthralled with Varenna that you don’t purchase a ticket to ride the ferry across Lake Como to Bellagio, but I highly recommend that you plan some time to visit both destinations and take in the views as you cruise.
Plan time to photograph this Instagrammable lake nestled in the heart of the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. Lake Como is truly another one of the beautiful lakes of the world.
Cell phone cameras are so advanced these days, they can capture the beauty and are easy to carry.
7. Lake Louise
Lake Louise has been on my beautiful lakes bucket list since I was a youngster and I heard my friends in elementary school talking about their summer vacations. I determined then and there that I wanted to visit the lake before even seeing any pictures of it!
The pictures sealed the deal.
The alpine lake in Banff National Park and in the heart of the Canadian Rockies is a brilliant turquoise blue.
Lake Louise is often teeming with tourists, many with their selfie sticks or cameras in hand taking pictures. You have to be careful not to photobomb their pictures!
You do not have to walk too far from the parking lot to be met with an amazing view.
You may even see some people braving a polar bear plunge into the frigid glacial water.
Depending on the time of year when you visit Lake Louise, you can enjoy the stunning beauty of the lake, amazing hiking trails, rock climbing, canoeing or kayaking the lake, alpine mountaineering, rock climbing, skiing, ice climbing, ice skating, or scrambling.
8. Lake Isabelle
You will need a reservation to hike to Lake Isabelle via the Pawnee Pass Trail in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. I really think the reservation system will be one of those things from Covid that will continue as it allows the rangers to manage the activity levels throughout the park.
If you arrive at the park without a reservation, you can still get in, but you will be directed to park at the lot outside of the park entrance and trek at least 2.5 miles in to reach the Pawnee Pass Trailhead.
The Isabelle Trail is popular and often busy with young hikers, families, and inexperienced hikers…lots of people.
Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated as you hike. Chris and I love our Camelbak hydration pack.
Start toward the Long Lake Trailhead and hike in a short .15 of a mile to reach the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area and just beyond that the Jean Lunning Trail Junction. Stay to the right if you want to continue on to Lake Isabelle.
The short hike to Long Lake seems to be the destination for most of the hikers. The trail becomes less busy if you continue on past Long Lake to Lake Isabelle if viewing another one of the beautiful lakes from around the world is your goal.
I say less busy, but there is still a good amount of foot traffic. And keep your eyes open for moose along the way.
The trail grows in difficulty after you reach the West Jean Lunning Trail Junction and continue on to Lake Isabelle.
If you are ambitious, continue on past the lake toward the base of the glacier. You’ll find yourself traversing rock fields, walking over snow, skirting over rocks along the shore line and then beginning to climb up to the falls.
But hey, it is all in the name of getting that Instagrammable photo right?
The view here gives you a great look back at Lake Isabelle, one of Colorado’s beautiful lakes.
Did you know that “see” means lake in German? Beautiful lakes in German is Schöne Seen. Konigssee is definitely one of the beautiful lakes from around the world.
Enjoy a ferry cruise to appreciate the dramatic beauty of Konigssee located in Bavaria’s Berchtesgaden National Park. Apparently it is the deepest and clearest lake in Bavaria. Look at that reflection!
There are a number of ferry stops along the way or you can simply stay on the ferry until you reach the Salet boat dock at the far end of the lake. You will want to make note of the time for the last return ferry.
If you choose to walk along the trail at the far end of the lake, just note that the trail there does not continue around the entirety of the lake.
We didn’t have enough time to stop at St. Bartholomew as well, but it had a cool church that you could tour. The scenery along Konigssee during the ferry ride was beautiful.
10. Ouzel Lake
Here’s another one of Colorado’s beautiful lakes.
Accessing the trailhead to Ouzel Lake requires a reservation through Recreation.gov.
To reach Ouzel Lake, you will pass by Cascade Falls, Calypso Cascades, and Ouzel Falls.
Because there are so many waterfalls to see, the trail is busy. The parking lot is busy.
After moving past Ouzel Falls, the trail opens up and you will encounter fewer and fewer hikers. Don’t be dismayed when the trail starts moving downward (knowing of course, that you will have to hike back up on the return trip). The trail evens out for a mile and half as you walk along ridge line of the mountain top before reaching Ouzel Lake.
The hike to Ouzel Lake takes a couple of hours if you are moving at a moderate speed.
You might get a little dusty.
11. Lake Geneva
Whether you visit Lake Geneva (also known as Lac Leman) from the French side or the Switzerland side, you are met with an expansive, crescent-shaped lake. It is the largest body of fresh water in Switzerland and France.
If you land in Geneva or plan to spend time exploring the city, you may want to drive to downtown Geneva to see one of the city’s most famous landmarks IN Lake Geneva—the Jet d’Eau. No doubt you will spot the water fountain on the lake immediately.
Lake Geneva features a variety of activities: renting a boat, paddleboarding, swimming, cycling, hiking, walking from small village to small village, touring the vineyards at Lavaux, simply enjoying the beauty of another one of my favorite beautiful lakes, taking the ferry or booking a cruise. The options are plentiful.
Final Thoughts on Beautiful Lakes Around the World
If you have suggestions for more favorite Instagrammable and beautiful lakes around the world, leave them in the comments below. I am always looking to add new and exciting destinations to my bucket list.