Lake Como and 9 Other Astonishingly Beautiful Lakes
There's something magical about lakes that's hard to describe. For thousands of years, people have sought out the freshness of the calm, cold water as a place of retreat.
A perfect lake vacation spot combines scenic surroundings, pretty towns near or on the water, and a hint of something that makes it unique. While Italy's Lake Como tops most people's lists of must-see lakes, it's only one of 10 that we dubbed the most beautiful lakes in the world.
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10. Lake Superior
Location: United States & Canada
As the world's largest freshwater lake, this immense body of water is a sight to behold. Shared between Michigan and Ontario, Canada, the lake has no major cities on its shores, which has helped keep it relatively wild and clean.
For travelers, this translates into stunning spots of crystal-clear water in places like Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Isle Royale National Park.
Where to stay: Roam Inn in Munising, Michigan
9. West Lake
One of Hangzhou's most popular spots, this urban lake is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is distinctive because of the temples and pagodas found on its shores — a feature that still influences East Asian garden designs.
The lake is seen as an example of harmony between civilization and nature.
Where to stay: The East Hotel Hangzhou
8. Lake Atitlan
Sitting on a volcanic crater, Lake Atitlan is a sacred place to the Maya people who have lived on its shores for centuries. It is surrounded by three volcanoes and several small Maya towns. Its distinctive scenery makes it one of Guatemala's most popular places to visit.
Enjoy swimming and boating on the lake or shopping for traditional artwork and learning about local culture in the towns.
Where to stay: Casa Palopó
7. Dead Sea
Location: Jordan & Israel
Famous for its high salinity, the Dead Sea is so salty that few living beings can reside there. Even humans should only stay in for about 15 minutes. But while your time in the water will be short, a trip to this incredible lake (yes, it is a lake despite what its name suggests) is worth it.
Besides a landscape that marries large salt deposits, arid mountains and turquoise water, the area is known as a spa destination. Indulge in water treatments from the lake and mud baths to return home rested and rejuvenated.
Where to stay: Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea in Jordan
6. Lake Nakuru
This saline lake is protected by a national park that bears the same name. Most people come here for the spectacle of hundreds of pink flamingos fishing for algae. The birds share the lake with other species like impalas, rhinos and hippos, making it an exciting place for a safari.
Although committed visitors come to the national park as a day trip, it's better to stay at least one night in the area so that you can appreciate its breathtaking landscape.
Where to stay: Capella Resort Elementaita in Nakuru
5. Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake is one of the most visited spots in gorgeous Banff National Park. Intense turquoise water reflects the sharpness of the Canadian Rockies and the dense green woods that surround it.
In the summer, people swim and kayak on the lake. But don't listen to the naysayers, winter brings out an equally attractive side of this exquisite spot.
Where to stay: Moose Hotel and Suites in Banff
4. Lake Bled
Perhaps Slovenia's most famous destination, Lake Bled is marked by the picturesque image of a tiny island populated by a church and a few other buildings. Around this island within a lake, you'll find the pretty little town of Bled, the imposing Julian Alps and a forest that changes colors with the seasons.
While swimming is a popular activity, the one thing no one can miss is taking a row boat or gondola to visit the small island in the middle of Lake Bled.
Where to stay: Triglav Bled
3. Lake Wanaka
Location: New Zealand
We've all seen trees surrounding lakes, but have you ever seen a tree inside a lake? This curious sight is what has given Lake Wanaka world recognition. Located on South Island, it is near the glacier-filled Mount Aspiring National Park.
The lake's popularity means that it is often crowded, but the poetic loneliness and resilience of the Wanaka tree make it all worth it.
Where to stay: Maple Lodge in Wanaka
2. Lake Tahoe
Location: United States
The United States is a land of too many beautiful lakes to count. But perhaps none can compete with the charm of Lake Tahoe. Straddling between California and Nevada, the lake is famous for its impossibly clear water, which lets you see all the way down to the bouldered bottom.
Pristine yet easy to access, this is a spot lake lovers have to visit at least once.
Where to stay: Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada
1. Lake Como
Italy's deepest lake has been a preferred getaway since ancient Roman times. Wealthy citizens of the republic traveled to northern Italy to bask in the sun and escape the heat of the summer in the cold lake.
We'd venture to say Lake Como is even prettier today, as the forked body of water is dotted by villages of colorful stacked houses. It won't be a cheap destination, but you'll forget all about money as you're standing on the shore of the lake, taking it all in.
Where to stay: Grand Hotel Menaggio in Varenna