Ever seen a list of the most visited destinations in the world? Most of them in the top 10 are in Europe. Yep, Europe is one of the most touristy continents. Why do I even mention it? Read on.
When a destination becomes even mildly famous in Europe, it kind of turns into Disneyland. It is not just with destinations that have been famous for decades – such as Amsterdam, Paris or Prague – but also newly famous destinations thanks to the power of Instagram such as Bucharest.
Same happened with the most famous lakes in Europe too. Yes, I’m talking about the ever famous Lake Grada of Italy, Lake Bled of Slovenia and Lake Camo of Italy again. Yes, they are definitely lovely but it is hard to enjoy the raw natural beauty of these lakes when the area all around is so developed and busy.
If you’re anything like me, then you seek peace and raw natural beauty of a lake destination instead of the hustle bustle of an overly developed town. Moreover, you would want to see the lake without too many boats in or around it.
For me, a stunning lake is the one that’s in the wilderness – or even better mountains. It is not surrounded by developed towns but you can only see empty areas if you sit next to the water. An absence of commercial boats is definitely an added advantage because it adds to the peace element. Calm and clear water so that you can see inside. Yes, that’s what it takes for a lake to be truly stunning.
Maybe I sound like a nature snob, but the thing is exploring natural landscapes is our thing. San and I are living in Germany and we often travel within the Europe on our campervan. We avoid big cities and instead head to National Parks. And guess what, some of the most beautiful lakes in Europe are found in National Parks. Yes, we have seem many European lakes and we’d like to tell you about the most beautiful ones.
The easiest way to reach most of these lakes is by car. If you live in Europe, then you can drive your own car to these destination. Alternatively, you can fly to the nearby destination and rent a car. Traveling by car is usually cheaper and more convenient in Europe.
Click the above button to see a comparison of car or van rental prices for your preferred destination from many different providers.
Europe’s Most beautiful Lakes
1) Lake Bohinj, Slovenia (Triglav National Park)
The spectacular Bohinjsko jezero – Lake Bohinj in Slovenia
Slovenian’s Lake Bled gets all the attention, but Lake Bohinj is the one that will truly take your breath away. This lake has all it takes to be on top of our list. Bohinj is the highlight of Triglav National Park so you can rest assured that the natural beauty of the area around the lake is preserved.
So what makes Lake Bohinj so special? The water is insanely clear, it is away from the main towns and is surrounded by big mountains. Mount Triglav is the highest peak of the Julien Alps. Yep, so Lake Bohinj is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Alps. Bonus point – Lake Bohinj has some ridiculously stunning beaches.
Mountains, clear lake and pretty beaches – Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
You can not just sit on the side of Lake Bohinj on one of its beaches and not get stunned by the jaw dropping beauty of the mountains around it. They are so high! I wasn’t even able to capture the complete height of the mountains even with a wide angle camera except only at one spot where I walked way far back.
One of the many beaches along Lake Bohinj – Bohinjsko Jezero – Slovenia
There are definitely many stunning lakes around the world but not many that you can camp right next to. Yes, you can actually put up your tent or park your camper van next to the lake in Camp Zlatorog Bohinj. For all these reasons, Lake Bohinj is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe.
Many visit Montenegro for its beaches but in our experience this country’s mountains is so much better. Montenegro’s Durmitor Mountain range within the Dinaric Alps is a destination that will wow you over.
Within the Dinaric Alps, there’s a protected area called Durmitor National Park which has many glacier lakes. One of the most famous glacier lakes here is called Crno jezero (the Black Lake) near Zabljak, which should actually be called the Blue Lake. The water is extremely clear and is blue-green in color.
Crno jezero or Black Lake entry area, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Black Lake is actually a set of twin lakes that is joined by strait. There are trees and mountains around most of the lake so the resulting landscape is super stunning. There is also a walking path around the twin lakes with many benches. You can walk around both the lakes in 1,5 hours if you make a few resting stops.
You can’t swim in the Black Lake or Camp right next to it. For more information on Black Lake, read my post about Durmitor National Park.
3) Lake Zaovine, Serbia (Tara National Park)
Swimming in Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Serbia
A lot of the lakes in this list are surrounded by high mountains and pine trees but Serbia’s Lake Zaovine is a bit different. Yes, there are mountains but they aren’t as high on all the sides and we definitely did not see pine trees. As a result, there is a high visibility of the landscape around Lake Zaovine.
Lake Zaovine is in Serbia’s Tara National Park, which is literally on the border of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is situated in Tara National Park which is known for its mind-blowing viewpoints.
Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Mokra Gora, Serbia
Talking about touristy, this place definitely isn’t. It is perhaps the least touristy destinations that are mentioned on this list. As a result, you can have the gorgeousness of this lake to yourself like we did. You can swim in it, spend a few hours around it, click endless photos without bothering about other tourists. For us, Zaovine is one of the best lakes in Europe for swimming.
Yes, Italy’s lakes are super famous and touristy, but Lago di Tovel isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t gorgeous. It has the bluest water and was semi frozen when we visited in spring. It is surrounded by snowy mountains and has everything you imagine in a typical alpine lake. The best part, you can usually see a reflection of the snowy mountains on the surface.
Lake Tovel is in Italy’s Trentino region which is known for the Dolomites. As with most of the lakes on this list, it is in a protected area – Adamello-Brenta nature park. As per the legends, this lake was once red in color. Spooky!
Lago do Tovel – the stunning lake in Val di Non, Trentino – Italy
It is possible to walk al around Lago di Tovel in 1.5 – 2 hours to discovered other scenic spots. We couldn’t because I was pregnant when we visited and I wasn’t in a mood for so much exercise. The lake is triangular in shape. No, you can not swim in Lake Tovel.
In order to get to Lago di Tovel, you need to visit Italy’s Trentino region. Stay in Val di Non to enjoy its romantic beauty and drive to Lago di Tovel.
5) Plitvice Lakes, Croatia (Plitvice Lakes National Park)
Water so clear that you can see the bottom of the lake – Plitvice Lakes Croatia
How can I write a post about the most beautiful lakes in Europe and not mention the Plitvice Lakes? It is a National Park in Croatia with 16 lakes that are formed on different levels that are interconnected. They are on different levels and as a result there are waterfalls and cascades. These lakes are stunning with insanely clear water. This area is truly a natural wonderland.
The 16 lakes of the Plitvice Lakes complex are divided in two segments – the Upper Lakes and the Lower Lakes. Some of the lakes are really big but in my experience the smaller lakes were better than the bigger ones because you could really see the clarity.
Plitvice Lakes National Park has 7 hiking routes that vary in length. Because of the size of the national park, not all trails cover all the lakes but just 1 of them does. That’s the hiking route we took but it took us all day and we ended up walking for 15-20 kilometers in total. You can also pick one of the smaller trails. I mention all of the Plitvice Lakes’ hiking routes in detail in my post. Be sure to read it before you go.
Maybe you were only looking for Europe’s most beautiful lakes but for me it is an added bonus when you get to enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls too. Yes, you will find a lot of them in this national park.
Sadly you can not swim in the Plitvice Lakes but it is really a good thing because that’s how the water is so clean and the biodiversity is truly protected. These lakes collectively are some of the cleanest lakes in Europe. The water is so clean that you can actually see the bottom of the smaller lakes.
Perhaps the Plitvice Lakes are the most touristy lakes on this list and the crowd peaks in the months of August and July. But you can visit them in other months and that will help you avoid crowds.
For more information, read my post about the Plitvice Lakes where I also mention how to avoid crowds.
6) Seealpsee, Switzerland
Recommended by Continent Hop
Seealpsee Switzerland – Most Beautiful Lakes in Europe
Switzerland’s Seealpsee that’s sat at an altitude of 1141 meters above sea level, is one of the prettiest lakes in Europe. The lake is located amongst the Appenzell Alps in Switzerland and reflects the nearby surroundings like a glass mirror.
To add to the magic, this alpine lake doesn’t get a lot of visitors. The only ones to be found here are ones that head off on the Wasserauen -Seealpsee hike.
You could take a picnic here and in summer possibly go for a boat ride; however, the postcard-perfect location is best enjoyed by taking a walk around it and admiring the dense trees and the glass reflections in the lake while the cows lazily graze around. On some days, the clouds almost descend on the lake, making it look unbelievably stunning.
There’s numerous options for stay here if you’d rather not spend just a single day at the lake.
7) Xhema’s Lake, Valbonë, Albania
Xhema’s Lake in Valbona, Albania – Travel the Balkans – by Robert Figgen
Albania’s Valbonë River and the Albanian Alps create a stunning natural landscape in Valbonë Valley National Park. The most famous lake in national park is Shkodër (Lake Skadar) and that’s massive. But there is a smaller lake in Valbonë village called Xhema’s Lake which is stunning.
It is easy to reach Xhema’s Lake from Valbona village. You will see the signboards in the village itself and from there it is a 30 minute walk. The lake is super clear and blue. The water is icy cold. It is surrounded by limestone cliffs that adds to a strange rugged beauty to this spot.
Please keep in mind that Xhema’s Lake dries up in late summer heat and it is a better idea to see it in spring or early summer. The above picture was clicked in late June. The locals say that the lake is at it’s best in spring because that’s when the winter ice freshly melts and as a result the water is clear blue.
When it comes to lakes, Germany doesn’t have a shortage of them and some of the best ones are in Bavaria. While Bavaria’s Königssee is definitely a more famous one, we’d like to mention Eibsee on this list, which is smaller.
Eibsee is special because not only it has crystal clear water but you can also see the Zugspitze (the highest mountain peak in Germany). It is said to be one of the purest and most beautiful lakes in Bavarian Alps.
You can visit Eibsee in all the seasons, each has something unique to offer. This lovely alpine lake freezes in winter and the water starts melting in spring. Summer is a very good time to visit with a family because the weather is warm. Bonus: you can swim in Eibsee in summer. Autumn can be a really interesting time to visit because of the contrast of warm red leaves against the cold blue water.
The landscape around Eibsee is rocky and you should take some time out to walk around the lake. You can reach Eibsee from Munich. We suggest you read Bayern Ticket Guide by Germany’s travel specialist – Happy to Wander.
9) Lago di Braies, Italy
Lago di Braies or The Pragser Wildsee, or Lake Prags, Lake Braies in North Italy
Did we save the best for the last? Maybe. Yes, it is the second one from Italy on our list and totally deserves to be here because Lago di Braies is one of most beautiful lakes in the Alps. It is also called the Pragser Wildsee.
Lago di Braies is often called the “pearl among the Dolomite lakes”. As with most of the alpine lakes on this list, you can enjoy a surreal landscape of mountains too.
Lago di Braies suddenly became extremely famous because of Instagram. This resulted in a massive spike of visitors and traffic jams. Thankfully there is now a restriction on the number of visitors from 10 am to 3 pm. If you arrive by car, you can only visit if you get a parking place in one of the valley car parks in Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park. Another way of visiting would be by booking a bus ticket to the lake in advance from Dobbiaco or Monguelfo. Another option would be to hike from Ferrara to the lake.
During your visit to Lago di Braies, you can take some time out to walk around the lake. The walking path is 4 kms and this way you can get to enjoy the surreal beauty of this lake from different perspectives.
Did something catch your eye? Let us know which one of the above mentioned European lakes you have visited already or are planning on visiting next. Comment and let us know.
Travel information for Durmitor National Park, Montenegro near Žabljak
What’s the first image that comes to your mind when someone mentions Montenegro? I bet you’re visualizing the sunny Bay of Kotor with amazing beaches. After all, it is the most visited part of Montenegro.
The lovely Kotor Bay is not even the most beautiful part of Montenegro. If you like nature and heavenly paradisiacal landscapes, then you’re going to love the North Montenegrin Mountains. Go spend a few days in Durmitor National Park near Žabljak and you wouldn’t want to go back to Kotor’s crowded beaches. This fairyland will make you feel you’re in the Lord of the Rings!
Black Lake – Durmitor National Park near Žabljak, Montenegro
Many people told me that the name Montenegro is a combination of two words – monte and negro and it means “Black Mountain”. Before the Kotor Bay achieved its fame, this little country was more known for its untouched natural beauty that was mostly in the mountain region within the Dinaric Alps.
Geographically, Montenegro is in the Balkans, sharing its border with Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania and Kosovo. It is a very good idea to visit one or a few of the nearby countries if you visit Montenegro. As mentioned over and over again on this website, the best way to travel with the Balkans (or the entire Europe in general) is by road. If you live in Europe already then it is easy, just drive to Montenegro. You can also fly to Montenegro or to one of the nearby countries, rent a car and drive around.
Durmitor is a compact group of limestone mountains in North Montenegro. These mountains belong to the Dinaric Alps. There are total 48 Durmitor mountains and they are higher than 2000 meters above the sea level. The highest peak in Durmitor is Bobotov Kuk, is 2523 meters above the sea.
Žabljak, Montenegro – Durmitor National Park Travel
Durmitor National Park is massive and is spread out near and around Žabljak. Like many other national parks that I have written about, it is easier to explore this place if you have your own car.
The main town in the middle of Durmitor National Park is Žabljak, which is a popular ski destination in winter months. Žabljak surrounded by the middle of the mountains and is beautiful.
The lovely town Zabljak in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
During our Balkans road trip, Žabljak was the coldest destination and we loved every bit if it. We drove here directly after the warm Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia. Guess what, Zabljak is the highest town in the Balkans. Sadly, this adorable town Zabljak was burnt during the World War II and was rebuilt later and emerged again as a popular ski destination.
During your visit to Durmitor, you will most likely be staying in Zabljak. This little town has many wooden cabins and apartments that you can rent. The advantage of booking an entire apartment is that you can cook your own food. Zabljak is small and you can walk almost everywhere within just 20-30 minutes.
Durmitor National Park Entrance Fee
Our tickets for Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
The entrance fee for Durmitor National Park is just 3 Euros per day. You can also buy a 3 day ticket which is for 6 Euros. This fee is very low if you compare it to the other National Parks in Europe. In comparison, we paid around 30 euros per person to enter Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park. Ouch!
What to See in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Black Lake or Crno jezero
Crno jezero or Black Lake entry area, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Durmitor National Park has 18 glacier lakes that are collectively called the “Mountain Eyes” or Gorske Oči. The largest, most beautiful and the most famous one is the Black Lake, or Crno jezero. Black Lake is actually a set of two lakes that are connected by a strait. In summer, the connection dries up and the lakes get separated, resulting in Big Black Lake and Small Black Lake. This is also the reason why the count of glacier lakes in Durmitor keeps changing from 17 to 18 and back.
Black lake is under the mountain Medjed and in the middle of conifer forest. The conifer forest gives this lake its emerald green colour with unbelievable clarity. I don’t know why it is called Black Lake, instead it should be called Green Lake.
Black Lake’s surface area and depth keeps changing throughout the year. During the highest water level, the maximum length is 1.55 meters and maximum width is 810 meters.
Walking along the Black Lake in Durmitor National Park
You can go for a little walk all around the big lake and the little lake, which will take around 1 – 1.5 hours. The main walking path that goes around the lake is 3.5 Kilometers. There are many trails around the lake and interesting viewpoints. The main walking path has benches so you can sit and admire the view at many different spots.
Pure natural beauty – Black Lake in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
There is a climbing park in Black Lake complex where you can spend sometime. There is a restaurant called Katun that’s near the lake. We didn’t eat here.
A climbing park next to the Black Lake in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Black Lake is 3 KMs away from Žabljak town. You can easily walk from the main town to reach it and enjoy the excursion.
As mentioned earlier in this post, Durmitor National Park has 18 glacier lakes that are called the “mountain eyes”. These lakes are in and around Zabljak. If you have more time on your hands, we highly recommend you visit the other “mountain eyes” too. The remote Jablan Lake is also said to be beautiful.
Tara River Canyon
Tara River Canyon near Zabljak and Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
We all know that the Grand Canyon is the biggest canyon in the world, but do you know about Tara River Canyon? It is supposed to be the second biggest canyon in the world and Europe’s deepest gorge.
The deepest point of Tara Canyon is 1300 meters and this lovely river makes the border for Montenegro , Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina – all three that we visited on a road trip through the Balkans. Tara canyon is 80 kilometers long.
Tara River Canyon in Durmitor National Park near Žabljak, Montenegro
If you’re wondering why the name Tara sounds familiar, it is because we visited the Tara National Park in Serbia where there is Tara Mountain and the river of course.
The easiest way to see the beauty of Tara River Canyon is by going on top of the Tara Bridge. This is where the above pictures were clicked.
Tara River Canyon, Durmitor National Park
If you’re a little adventurous, you can hike to other spots from where you can get a good view of the canyon. You can also do white water rafting on Tara river. The best – you can zip across the Tara River on a zip-line by Red Rock Zip Line. This is near the Tara bridge. You can scroll to the next section on this post to find information about all the adventure activities in Durmitor (including the Zipline) and how to book them.
Tara River canyon isn’t the only one in Durmitor. You can also see the canyons made by rivers Draga, Sušica, Komarnica in Durmitor National Park.
Tara River Bridge, Durmitor National Park
Tara Bridge is 150 meters high and is a beautiful sight with 5 massive arches. It was destroyed in 1942 by Italian and German troops right before the WW2 and rebuilt in 1946. It is likely that you will cross Tara River Bridge when you enter or exit Durmitor National Park by road.
Walking on Tara Bridge, Montenegro
Walking on Tara Bridge was an experience to remember because of the views. We saw the beauty of bluish green Tara River as it snaked along the mountains and formed the deepest canyon in Europe.
Stecci are well preserved medieval tombstones in the nearby Novakovici. These tombstones are intricately decorated and carved.
They are in the middle of nowhere, giving a touch of mystery to the the surrounding landscape. It sort of looks like it is out of the Lord of the Rings.
Many people visit the Stecci sites for the view as well, not only the tombstones. The Stecci sites are not easy to reach unless you have a car of your own. This is one of the reasons why they aren’t one of the highly visited spots in Durmitor National Park.
Adventure Activities in Durmitor National Park
Tara River Rafting
Rafting on Tara River, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Tara River Canyon and the scenic beauty along the river is by rafting. There are day trips from Kotor and Dubrovnik (Croatia) that you can pick, based on your location.
We have handpicked a few Tara river rafting tours for you that you can check:
Please read the fine-print before booking your tour.
Tara River Canyoning or Nevidio Canyon
Inside Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Is hiking a bit too slow paced for you? You should consider canyoning in Durmitor National Park. After all, you have multiple options – Rivers Draga, Sušica, Komarnica and Tara – all make canyons in Durmitor. You can opt for an all inclusive tour that includes not just canyoning on Tara River but also rafting. Alternatively, you can go for canyoning in Nevideo Canyon.
Hiking in Durmitor National Park
One of the many little Bridges inside Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
You will find many hiking trails that start at the Black Lake complex. There is a big map next to the lake with several marked bicycle and hiking routes with information about viewpoints.
We did hike to one of the viewpoints for a kilometer but it was very cloudy that day. Just look at this picture to see what we saw. The view from here will remain a mystery to us.
One of the viewpoints in Durmitor – we hiked but the clouds obstructed the view
This was supposed to be a good viewpoint but zero visibility – Durmitor National Park
If you decide to go hiking in Durmitor National Park, be sure to wear proper hiking shoes. It can rain and get slippery, so be careful. Don’t be stupid like me and hike in canvas shoes like I did.
Wrong hiking shoes – canvas shoes get slippery when it rains
Tara Canyon Zip-lining
Tara Canyon Zip Line – Durmitor National Park, Montenegro – Picture by Taylor’s Tracks
The zip-line on Tara river is the craziest one that I have ever seen because Tara River canyon is very deep. You will find 3 different zip-line tours next to Tara bridge – Red Rock Zipline, Extreme Zipline Tara and Big Zipline. I visited Durmitor when I was pregnant and sadly I wasn’t allowed to do this.
The cost of a single ticket of zip line over Tara Canyon by Red Rock Zipline is only 10 EUR. They also offer group discounts. Be sure to check their website for more information.
Red Rock Zip line over Tara River Canyon, Durmitor, Montenegro
How to Reach Durmitor National Park
Driving in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
The easiest way to reach Durmitor National Park is by driving. If you’re not traveling solo, then renting a car can be an economical way to explore the Balkans, especially Montenegro and around.
We drove to Žabljak from the Kotor Bay via Nikšić in just 3.5 hours. The road is very good and broadens at many viewpoints so that you can park your car without disrupting the traffic. From Žabljak, we drove to Visegrad in Bosnia & Herzegovina in barely 3 – 4 hours.
If you want to reach Durmitor National park by bus, then you have to look for buses that go to Žabljak. You can reach here from some of the bigger towns – Podgorica, Nikšic, Pljevlja and Mojkovac.
Where to Eat in Zabljak and Durmitor National Park
Restaurant Zlatni Papagaj, Zabljak – Durmitor National Park,. Montenegro
We had our meals in a few different places in Zabljak but one place that really stood out was Zlatni Papagaj. It is an Italian restaurant and pizzeria with amazing food. The restaurant is completely wooden with a view of the mountains through the glass windows. It was completely full when we visited so they opened the outside area for us and put up a heater there.
Food in Zlatni Papagaj Zabljak, Durmitor National Park
Apart from Zlatni Papagaj in Zabljak, we also enjoyed our little snack and hot chocolate in Cafe Bar OR’O in the main town. There is also a very cute little restaurant Koliba that’s located a little outside Zabljak but is good.
Zabljak and Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Tara River in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Zabljak town in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Where to stay in Zabljak / Durmitor National Park
Zabljak is in the middle of Durmitor National Park and it makes total sense to find a place to stay here. This little town is surrounded by green mountains in the summer months and turns into a ski destination in winter. Hence, Zabljak has a lot of ski chalets kind of places where you can stay.
Wondering what are ski chalets? These are wooden houses with sloped tops and are mostly found in Europe’s Alpine region. Chalet apartments aren’t expensive in Zabljak. You can book an entire apartment for yourself, like we did. You can cook your own food and enjoy your own privacy.
Here are a few places to stay in Žabljak and Durmitor National Park that we suggest for you:
Apartment Presoje in Žabljak:
This apartment is located inside Žabljak town so is super convenient for those who don’t have their own car or motorbike. There’s kitchen, washing machine, fridge, a sitting area apart from a bedroom and bathroom in each apartment. Click here to book Apartment Presoje.
Apartments Baron Žabljak
Apartments Baron is in Žabljak but a little away from the centre but closer to the lakes. A walk to the centre will be around 10 minutes and 15 minutes to Javorovača Ski Lift. Black Lake or Crno Jezero Lake is 2.7 KMs away. Click here to book Apartment Baron in Zabljak.
Eco Camp Chalets Pod Gorom
These are eco friendly and sustainable chalets that are newly built. This place is in the middle of the nature and you will get to experience the beauty of Durmitor National Park right at your doorstep. Click here to book Eco Camp Chalets Pod Gorom.
Sunnyside Vacation Home (for a large group)
This place makes a lot of sense if you’re in a big group of 10 people or more. Sunnyside vacation home has 5 bedrooms and really amazing wooden interiors with all basic amenities that you’d need. Click here to book Sunnyside vacation home.
Have you visited Zabljak and Durmitor National Park already? We’d love to hear from you. Share your top tips for visiting in the comments below
I'm Sonal from India, currently living in Germany and exploring Europe. I often travel alone (and sometimes with my husband & our toddler).
I love nature, adventure, Yoga, and road trips. I love creating itineraries and in-depth travel guides which will help you make the most of your trip.