Lakes can be absolutely mesmerizing and are found across the planet, and in this post, we’ll take a closer look at the top 18 most famous lakes in the world.
Related: Check out this list of amazing mountains in the world as well.
1. Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five great lakes in North America and is the largest lake that is completely located in the United States. The lake has a total surface area of 22,404 square miles (58,030 square kilometers) and a total volume of 1,180 cubic miles (4,900 cubic kilometers).
Even though its name refers to the State of Michigan, it is shared by Wisconsin and Illinois as well. In fact, the state most probably got its name from the lake because the word “Michigan” is believed to come from the Ojibwe word “Michi-gami” which means “great water.”
2. Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal is located in Siberia, Russia, and is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world. It has a surface area of 12,248 square miles (31,722 square kilometers) and a total volume of 5,670 cubic miles (23,615.39 cubic kilometers).
This massive lake contains over 22% of all the fresh surface water in the world and has a larger volume than all the 5 great lakes of North America combined, even though it’s only the 7th largest lake by surface area. It’s also considered to be the cleanest and oldest lake in the world, dating back to up to 30 million years ago.
3. Lake Erie
Lake Erie is another one of the 5 great lakes in North America and is the 4th-largest by surface area but the smallest one by volume. This is because it only has an average depth of 62 feet (19 meters). It’s located right on the border of Canada and the United States and borders the Canadian province of Ontario and the US states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
The name was named by the Erie people, a Native American Iroquoian people who lived along the borders of the lake in the south up until halfway through the century. Erie is actually derived from the Iroquoian word “erielhonan” which means “long tail.”
4. Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa, the largest tropical lake in the world, and the second-largest freshwater lake by surface area in the world. It has a surface area of 23,146 square miles (59,947 square kilometers). In terms of volume, it’s only the 9th-largest lake in the world.
The lake was named after Queen Victoria by British explorer John Hanning Speke, the first Briton to document it while he was sent out to discover the source of the Nile River, an expedition which was sponsored by the Royal Geographic Society. The name stuck and was used by the locals to explain it to him.
5. Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the largest of the 5 great lakes in North America. Apart from that, it’s also the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area as it covers 31,700 square miles (82,000 square kilometers). It’s allocated the farthest north and west of the 5 great lakes and is shared by the Canadian province of Ontario and the US states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Even though it’s the largest lake by surface area in the world, it’s only the third-largest lake by volume with a total volume of 2,900 cubic miles (12,000 cubic kilometers). The name for Lake Superior given by the Ojibwe people who used to live along its shores was “gichi-gami” which translates to “great sea.”
6. Lake Huron
Lake Huron is the second-largest of the 5 great lakes in North America by surface area as it covers 23,007 square miles (59,590 square kilometers). It borders the Canadian province of Ontario to the north and the US State of Michigan to the south. It’s the third-largest freshwater lake in the world.
The lake also has the largest shore length of the 5 great lakes and borders approximately 30,000 islands. It’s also connected to Lake Michigan by the “Strait of Mackinac,” a 5 miles (8 kilometers) wide strait that can be crossed by the “Mackinac Bridge.“
7. Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is a large freshwater lake on the border of Peru and Bolivia, situated in the Andes Mountains. It’s the largest lake in South America by both volume and surface area. It has a surface area of 3,232 square miles (8,372 square kilometers) and a volume of 214 cubic miles (893 cubic kilometers).
It’s the highest navigable lake in the world as well (when considering large commercial ships only). It has a surface elevation of 12,507 feet (3,812 meters). It’s also a pretty deep lake with an average depth of 351 feet (107 meters) and a maximum depth of 922 feet (281 meters).
8. Loch Ness
Loch Ness is arguably one of the best-recognized and most iconic lakes in the world. The reason is because of the legend about the monster of Loch Ness, an unknown animal with the nickname “Nessie” that was first mentioned in the year 1933 and whose descriptions vary.
The lake is located in the Scottish Highlands and is the second-largest Scottish lake with a surface area of just 22 square miles (56 square kilometers). It is, however, a very deep lake which makes it the largest lake in the British Isles based on volume, as it has a volume of 1.8 cubic miles (7.5 cubic kilometers).
9. Crater Lake
Crater Lake is part of the Crater Lake National Park which was established in the year 1902. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful lakes in the world because of its unique location inside the remnant of a destroyed volcano named Mount Mazama. The lake is located in the US state of Oregon in the northwest of the country.
Apart from the amazing scenery that it’s located in, the lake is also known to be the deepest lake in the United States with a maximum depth of 1,949 feet (594 meters). This makes it the 2nd-deepest lake in North America and the 9th deepest lake in the world as well.
10. Lake Garda
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. It’s located between Milan and Venice in the north of the country and it’s right on the edge of the Dolomites Mountain Range which was formed by glaciers during the last Ice Age.
The lake provides amazing views of these mountains in combination with stunningly picturesque villages. This, in our opinion, makes this one of the most beautiful regions in the entire world and Lake Garda is an amazing place to visit.
11. Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest freshwater lake as well with a maximum length of 673 kilometers (418 miles). It’s also the second-largest lake in Africa after Lake Victoria and the second-deepest and second-largest in terms of volume after Lake Baikal. It’s bounded by the steep mountains of the East African Rift to the east.
The lake is one of the African Great Lakes located in the eastern part of the continent and is located within the borders of 4 different countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, and Zambia. It’s also the second-oldest lake in the world with its central basin being formed between 12 and 9 million years ago.
12. Great Bear Lake
The Great Bear Lake is the largest lake located completely within the borders of Canada. It’s located in the northwestern part of the country in an area referred to as the “Northwest Territories” and is situated within the Boreal Forest of Canada, a huge forest that takes up about 60% of the land area of the country.
The lake has a special shape with several arms on each side because it was initially part of a much larger prehistoric lake, which has been split up into 3 different lakes during the last Ice Age. The lake is considered to be sacred by the Native people who have historically lived near it called the Sahtu Dene people. Therefore, part of the lake along with its peninsulas in the south has been declared a “Saoyú-ʔehdacho National Historic Site of Canada.”
13. Lake Hillier
Lake Hillier is one of the most fascinating lakes on the planet, mainly because of its bubblegum pink color. It’s located just off the south coast of Western Australia on Middle Island, a relatively small island that is part of the Recherche Archipelago in the Goldfields-Esperance region.
Only a few dunes covered in dense vegetation separate the lake from the ocean, which also means that this is a salt lake with an extremely high concentration of salt. Red algae cause the pink color of the water and this organism is referred to as Dunaliella salina. Regardless of its color, the water is safe for humans. The best way to explore this magnificent lake is by air as this allows you to get clear views of the remarkable pink color of this fascinating lake!
14. Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is the easternmost of the 5 Great Lakes of North America and is situated right on the border of Canada and the United States. This means that it’s surrounded by the state of New York in the United States and the Canadian Province of Ontario to which the lake gave its name.
It’s the final of the Great Lakes before the Great Lakes Chain releases into the Atlantic Ocean. It does so through the Saint Lawrence River which forms the eastern end of the Saint Lawrence Waterway, a series of canals and locks that interconnects all 5 lakes. Lake Ontario is the smallest of the 5 Great Lakes by surface area but has a slightly higher volume than Lake Erie. Some major cities are located on its shores, including Toronto in Canada and Rochester in the United States.
15. Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake is one of the most astonishing lakes in Canada for multiple reasons. It’s located in the Alberta Rockies, a mountain range situated in the Canadian Rockies, which is an extension of the Rocky Mountains, the largest mountain range in North America. The lake is also part of the Banff National Park, the oldest national park in Canada which was established in 1885.
It’s one of the most famous lakes in the world because it is situated in the “Valley of the Ten Peaks.” These ten mountains provide an amazing background for the lake which has resulted in this view becoming one of the most photographed places in Canada. The water of the lake also has a distinctive blue-green color which is the result of the rock flour that is deposited into it by the glaciers surrounding it.
Jökulsárlón is a glacial lake that is located in the southeastern part of Iceland. Yes, this literally means that it’s filled with huge chunks of ice sticking out of it. It’s located at the end of a retreating glacier called the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and was only formed around the year 1948. It has been growing rapidly ever since, though.
Today, the lake is about 4 times the size it was during the 1970s and it covers an area of 18 square kilometers (6.9 square miles). It’s part of the huge Vatnajökull National Park which features the largest glacier and icecap in the country, a chunk of ice that covers about 8% of the country. The lake is a popular tourist attraction and offers boat tours, hiking trails, and various excursions inside ice caves, to name just a few of the popular activities.
17. Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka is another lake located in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta. It’s one of the attractions of the Banff National Park and just emphasizes the fact that this is one of the most amazing natural landscapes on the planet. The glacial lake is the longest in the area and that’s not because of natural reasons.
A dam is located in the western part of the lake which means that it also serves as a reservoir for the two power generators located near the town of Banff. The dam was completed in 1941 and has elevated the water level by 30 meters (98 feet). Because of this, the lake encircles the nearby mountains.
18. Torch Lake
Torch Lake is the largest of the so-called Chain of Lakes in Northern Michigan. This elongated lake runs virtually parallel with its much bigger brother nearby, Lake Michigan, which is situated just west of Torch Lake. Because Lake Michigan straddles the border of multiple U.S. states, Torch Lake is the longest inland lake in Michigan.
It was named as such because of the hunting habits of the native people who placed torches along the lake to attract fish. They would then catch the fish with spears and nets. Today, the lake is a popular tourist attraction and many resorts have been established on its banks. Especially the southern part features a sandbank that attracts thousands of people every summer.