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12 Instagram Worthy Beautiful Lakes Around the World

Updated 12/7/2022

In our travels, Chris and I have encountered many breathtakingly beautiful lakes around the world.

Some of these picturesque lakes have tourists flocking to them by the thousands each year. Many are easy to reach and not too far off the beaten path. Whereas, some of these beautiful lakes are hidden treasures only the most determined hiking and photography enthusiasts discover.

Lake Haiyaha in RMNP is one of the beautiful lakes around the world
Lake Haiyaha

1. Lake Haiyaha, Colorado

Chris and I hiked past the trail to Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park a number of times before finally adding 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.

>> Related: The Best Thing to Do In Rocky Mountain National Park

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2. Hanging Lake, Colorado

One of the iconic and famous lakes in Colorado is Hanging Lake outside of Glenwood Springs. Since seeing some amazing pictures of the lake and waterfalls, I had always wanted to visit. In fact, Chris and I tried to visit the area two 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 most amazing lakes.

Hanging Lake in Colorado one of the beautiful lakes in the world
Hanging Lake

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 and up and up. There are only a few level parts along the way—and seven or eight bridges to cross.

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 and elevation gain to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

There is a restroom at the parking area and another one at the trailhead. There are no facilities anywhere else along the trail.

3. Mills Lake, Colorado

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 as one of the beautiful lakes in the world.
Mills Lake

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 was still one of the most beautiful mountain lakes.

The lake was totally frozen over in the winter.

Mills Lake is one of the beautiful lakes in the world
Mills Lake in the Winter

4. Crater Lake at Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines

Getting to Crater Lake at Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines will involve some advance planning. Beautiful lakes around the world are worth the effort right?

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. 

Crater Lake at Mt Pinatubo in the Philippines
Crater Lake at Mt. Pinatubo

Due to some unfortunate accidents at the lake, 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 the most beautiful mountain 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.

Crater Lake is one of the beautiful lakes in Oregon
Crater Lake in Oregon

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

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.

Lake Como in Italy is one of the beautiful lakes
Lake Como in Italy

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 around the world.

7. Lake Louise, Alberta

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.

Lake Louise is one of the beautiful lakes around the world
Lake Louise

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 as well as:

  • Amazing hiking trails
  • Rock climbing
  • Canoeing or kayaking the lake
  • Alpine mountaineering
  • Rock climbing
  • Skiing
  • Ice climbing
  • Ice skating
  • Scrambling

The next lake on my beautiful lakes bucket list in Banff is Moraine Lake. It is about 10 miles (14 km) away from Lake Louise and totally Instagram worthy.

8. Lake Isabelle, Colorado

Beautiful lakes Lake Isabelle
The view here gives you a great look back at Lake Isabelle, one of Colorado’s most beautiful lakes

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.

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 onto 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?

9. Konigssee, Germany

Did you know that “see” means lake in German? Beautiful lakes in German is Schöne Seen. Konigssee is definitely one of the beautiful lakes around the world.

Konigssee is a beautiful lake in Germany
Konigssee

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, Colorado

Ouzel Lake in RMNP
Ouzel Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Here’s another one of Colorado’s most beautiful mountain lakes.

Accessing the trailhead to Ouzel Lake requires a reservation through Recreation.gov during the summer months.

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. 

Be sure to pack your backpack with the ten essentials for hiking to stay safe.

The hike to Ouzel Lake takes a couple of hours if you are moving at a moderate speed.

And… you might get a little dirty.

Dirty legs from hike to another of the beautiful lakes.
Dirty legs from visiting one of Colorado’s beautiful lakes

11. Lake Geneva, Switzerland

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 freshwater 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.

Walk along Lake Geneva in Evian-les-Bains
Walk along Lake Geneva in Evian-les-Bains, France

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
  • Enjoying the beauty of another one of my favorite beautiful lakes
  • Taking the ferry or booking a cruise

The options are plentiful.

12. Lake Lugano, Switzerland

I love Lugano sign view of Lake Lugano which is one of the beautiful lakes around the world

The picturesque city of Lugano, in the heart of the Ticino canton of Switzerland, is tucked along the shores of Lake Lugano surrounded by majestic mountains. Ticino is the most Mediterranean of all of the Swiss cantons.

The path along the lake offers stunning views. Stroll at your own pace and bring along your camera for all of the picturesque moments as you take in the beauty of Lake Lugano.

>> Related: 12 Best Things to Do In Lugano, Switzerland

Photographing Beautiful Lakes Around the World

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.

Because cameras tend to get heavy around your neck if you are hiking all day long, you may wish to try this Peak Design Capture Clip that allows you to attach your camera to your backpack strap.

Cell phone cameras are so advanced these days, they can capture the beauty of any location and are easy to carry.

Gear for Visiting the Beautiful Lakes Around the World

The North Face Women’s Recon backpack is perfect to attach the clip to as well as to add all of your other hiking supplies for your day hikes in the Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall.

If you want to bring along a quick snack that is tasty and nutritious, try Built Bars. After trying a number of other brands and growing tired of them, Chris and I have decided these bars are great.

Bonus * Use Code SJTRAVELS at checkout for 10% off your Built.com purchase.

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 stone steps so much easier.

If you choose to hike to any of these amazing lakes, be prepared with good hiking boots. Chris and I have seen people hiking in flip flops!

Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen.

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Beautiful lakes around the world

Final Thoughts on Instagram Worthy Beautiful Lakes Around the World

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.

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.

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Laura Claypool
1 year ago

Beautiful photos! Crater Lake and Lake Como have been on my bucket list for years!

Hannah
1 year ago

These lakes are stunning! I don’t think there is anything more relaxing than sitting at the edge of a lake! I’d love to visit Lake Como, it looks beautiful! Thanks for the great guide!

Krista
1 year ago

There are some gorgeous lakes in the north of Spain that are popular for photos too! I don’t think I’ve been to any of the lakes in this list, so they’re all going on my bucket list!

Chelsea Messina
1 year ago

These lakes are all so beautiful. I love hiking to lakes! We try to pick trails that lead to either a lake or a waterfall. Saving this list for our future adventures!

Linda (LD Holland)
1 year ago

We too love to find and enjoy lakes on our travels. There are some great new ones here to add to our list. I love when we find lakes surrounded with waterfalls. The winter views add a different kind of beauty.

Tiffany Smith
Tiffany Smith
1 year ago

These are gorgeous! Thanks for the heads up on hiking reservations for some of them. I guess I need to get used to checking on that before I book my trips to some of the more popular places now!

Missy
1 year ago

I’ve only been to Lake Geneva, and have wanted to go to Como for so long now. But I’d never heard of the German lake, Konigssee before. I’m hoping to get to Bavaria before the end of this year and this has now been added to my list. Super photos btw.

Alex
1 year ago

How beautiful these lakes are! These are definitely bucket list worthy!

Kate
1 year ago

Wow these lakes are all so gorgeous! I haven’t been to any yet, but I would love to! I think the first on my list is Konigssee! It’s so pretty!

jetlaggedroamer
1 year ago

Such a great post. Lake Como and Lake Louise were my favs you mentioned. Love them all though 🙂

Melissa
Melissa
1 year ago

Beautiful images! They are all so gorgeous, I love the contrasting colors with the teal water in some of them. I was so disappointed to have missed Hanging Lake on my recent trip to Colorado, but I will definitely be back to visit at some point.

JJ Jordan
1 year ago

These are all so beautiful! I love Lake Como too 💕

Kaybee Lives
1 year ago

I miss traveling so much! If you are looking for more lakes to add to this list (or to visit!) I would add in Lake Tahoe! Gorgeous and different around every corner. Great post!

Cristina
Cristina
1 year ago

These lakes are absolutely amazing! However, I’ve been dreaming about visiting Lake Como for a while now. I hope I can visit it soon.

Claire
1 year ago

I’ve been to Geneva briefly as part of my Tour Du Mont Blanc trip but didn’t visit Lake Geneva, dangit! I want to go back for more hiking and will have to remember about that lake. Would love to check out the German one too. Unfortunately when driving past Crater Lake recently on my way back from Washington, the whole place was smoked out from the fires 🙁

Josy A
1 year ago

Beeeautiful!

I have to admit, the glacial lakes in Canada (like Lake Louise, but there are so, so many more) blow me away! I had never seen anything quite like that from the UK. If you ever get chance to visit BC, Watersprite Lake is my fave local lake…I have a feeling you would love that one too.

Jan
Jan
1 year ago

Great collection of beautiful lakes! I have just been to two out of these – Crater Lake in Oregon and Lake Louise. Have a lot to catch up on. Lake Como is in my bucket list. Just sitting in front of a beautiful lake is so calming, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing. 🙂

Ruth
1 year ago

Absolutely beautiful collection of lakes. Such a great post with fantastic information. You are lucky to have visited so many amazing lakes.

MacKenzie
1 year ago

That dirty leg photo is so funny! You’ve got some really famous and popular lakes here, great list.

Cherry
1 year ago

These are beautiful lakes! I am building a house on a lakefront in East TN. Can’t wait to see the view every day!

Sara
1 year ago

Beautiful! Only one I’ve been to is Lake Louise and you’re so right…it is COLD!! Would love to see the other lakes on this list!

Jenn
10 months ago

Beautiful lakes indeed. I’ve only seen Crater Lake and Lake Louise, but I definitely plan to see the others one day.

anatureescape
10 months ago

The blue/green water is beautiful! I was surprised to learn that was a red mushroom–thought it was some type of berry at first look.

Chelsea Messina
1 month ago

These lakes are so beautiful! I’ve been to Lake Louise, did you happen to visit Lake Moraine while you were there?

Kirsten Smith
Kirsten Smith
1 month ago

Beautiful photos!

Josanne
1 month ago

Amazing list! We have our share of amazing lakes in Canada but Colorado seems to take the lead here 😉 Beautiful photos!

marian
marian
1 month ago

I want to go!! These all look heavenly!

Amanda
1 month ago

Hanging Lake was one of my favorite hikes! It was so beautiful. It is sad the mudslides did so much damage.

jimmy clare
jimmy clare
1 month ago

i want to travel to these places