10 Great Lakes

STORY BY Patrick 29th June 2018

The world is full of lakes of all shapes and sizes (there are roughly 109,610km2 of them altogether apparently), but some have a bigger reputation than others, often for one particular type of water sport. 

We do have more in depth features on Lakes Garda and Annecy, but here we detail 10 more of the world’s great lakes worthy of your attention.


At nearly 13km long, Ullswater is a seriously big stretch of water which has a big lake feel about it. With the mighty Helvellyn Mountain towering above, its impressive scenery really adds to the experience. 

For SUP fans, crossing the length of the lake, usually a three-hour, one-way trip, is the ultimate Lakeland SUP experience. Southwesterly winds typically funnel down the lake, creating downwinders, 48kph winds which generate a metre-high rolling wave that’s easy to ride. It usually begins at the Steamer Pier car park in Glenridding village and finishes at Pooley Bridge in the north.  

Ullswater Paddleboarding rent boards and offer guided tours.  ullswaterpaddleboarding.co.uk 


Slovenia, a small nation with a population of just two million, is one of the most water-rich countries in the world. It’s also a nation of pristine nature and numerous flat-water Alpine lakes and gently flowing rivers. 

The unbelievably picturesque Lake Bled, 2,120m long and 1,380m wide, is the most popular of all, an Alpine lake that is home to Slovenia’s only island. Traditional wooden boats – pletnas – have been taking visitors to the island in the middle of the lake for centuries. These boats are operated by standing rowers known as pletnars – were these the first SUPers?  bled.si 


Technically not one lake but many, the Bowron Lakes circuit is a famous route for canoes and kayaks which encompasses a 116km chain of lakes, waterways and connecting waterways. This wilderness canoe trip usually takes from 6 to 10 days to complete, depending on your time frame and skill level. For those looking for a shorter trip, the west side of the circuit can be paddled in two to four days. It is recommended that those who attempt the circuit have some wilderness canoeing experience. Spectacular views meet you around every corner on the route, from the very first in the Kibbee Lake channel.  bowronlakecanoe.com 


The jewel in the crown of Malawi’s many natural attractions, Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest lake, was “discovered” by the missionary-explorer Dr David Livingstone just over 150 years ago. Although totally landlocked, the 563km-long lake is so vast it is virtually an “inland sea”. Fringed by beaches of golden sand it is not only a scenic wonderland but a popular destination for sailing, including in a traditional wooden dhow, as well as other activities like scuba diving.  malawitourism.com 


Austria is full of crystal-clear lakes (see our Salzburgerland and Tirol features). This makes them great for scuba diving, and while that’s not an activity permitted at all of Austria’s lakes, it is a popular pastime at the Weissensee (White Lake) in Carinthia. Around 11km long and 97m deep at its deepest point, the water is drinking-water quality and during the summer can reach a balmy 24°C. In winter it’s a famed spot for ice diving once frozen over too.  weissensee.com 


Llangorse Lake in Wales is a natural lake of approximately 160 hectares which allows waterskiing and wakeboarding for ski boat owners so long as they’re registered members of British Water Ski & Wakeboard. It is the only large natural lake in South Wales, and its great wildlife value is reflected by its designation as a site of European importance. There are zoning arrangements in place to help protect the wildlife and rules listed below to ensure the enjoyment of the lake by all.  llangorselake.co.uk 


Nicknamed “the pocket ocean”, the biggest lake in Western Europe is some 73km long. The crescent-shaped lake was formed about 150,000 years ago thanks to the Rhône glacier melting and now produces a micro-climate creating milder winters and refreshing summers locally. There are an estimated 20,000 boats moored around the lake and a whole host of water sports on offer including monoski, water skiing, wakeboard, snorkelling, lake sailing and many more … but jet ski is forbidden due to the dangers. There are also about 100 beaches around the lake for swimmers. 


The largest single body of water in the famous Yellowstone National Park, covering an impressive 323km2, is located almost 2.4km above sea level and spends more than half of the year under the ice. Even during the summer the water is cold at between 4.4°C and 16°C, but you can warm yourself up by diving down to one of the underwater thermal features that the Park is famous for on land. You’ll see steady streams of bubbles venting all around you – some of which you can get close to, others you’re wise to keep your distance from.  nps.gov/submerged/Parks/YELL.html 


Home to as much water as all the lakes in England and Wales combined, Loch Ness extends for approximately 37km southwest of Inverness, connected to the city 10km away by the River Ness, one of the world’s shortest major rivers. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as “Nessie”. It’s good for water sports on top of the loch, but less so in the water due to water visibility being exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil.  


The biggest lake in South America, some 190km long and up to 80km wide, Lake Titicaca is also regarded as the “highest navigable lake” in the world, with a surface elevation more than two miles up at 3,812m. There’s a vast choice of water sports on offer here, and the snow-capped Andes, often cloaked in an ethereal mist, are a spectacular backdrop against the electric blue waters. 

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