From Croatia to China: the most beautiful lakes in the world

Lakes are one of the most magnificent natural wonders of the world, with their shimmering kaleidoscope of colours, mirror-like reflections, variety of wildlife and irresistibly photogenic backdrops. From the heights of the Bolivian Andes to luscious UNESCO treasures in Croatia, here’s our pick of some of the world’s most mesmerising lakes.

Laguna Colorada in the Bolivian Andes, Bolivia. Image: iStock/agustavop

Laguna Colorada, Bolivia

The ‘Red Lagoon’ is one of the most otherworldly natural wonders across the globe. Thanks to the blood-red algae in its shallow waters, Laguna Colorada salt lake has an alluring tinge that contrasts with the white pools dotted along the banks. Located within Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, it’s home to a huge number of flamingos, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot an alpaca.

Bled Island, Lake Bled, Slovenia. Image: iStock/borchee

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Like something from a fairytale, picture-perfect Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s (and Europe’s) most enchanting landscapes. It’s not just the sparkling sapphire waters that make this place special – mesmerising Bled Island and its medieval castle alongside a backdrop of magnificent mountains set an ethereal scene like no other. Head for the shores during the winter to witness this gem at its most magical.

Lake Moraine in the Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Image: iStock/YinYang

Moraine Lake, Canada

Majestic mountain peaks and striking turquoise glacial waters make up the surreal natural scenery of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. Breathe in the fresh air and soak up the stunning panoramas with a hike along the glacial moraine, or a gentle shoreside stroll, and for a unique perspective, surround yourself in utter beauty by taking to the waters in a canoe.

Derwentwater in the Lake District. Image: iStock/Daniel_Kay

Derwentwater, UK

Sitting in all its glassy glory in the Cumbrian countryside, the Lake District’s Derwentwater lake is a sprawling swathe of cool blue surrounded by rolling verdant hills, perfect for hiking. Head to the Friar Crag viewpoint before setting up camp in Keswick and you’ll see exactly why it served as a playground for the likes of Beatrix Potter and a number of English poets.

View of Varenna town on Lake Como, Italy. Image: iStock/joci03

Lake Como, Italy

For all its glitz and glamour, Lake Como also has charm, tranquillity and beauty in abundance – think picturesque Victorian gardens, opulent centuries-old villas, quaint and colourful cobblestone villages and classic shoreside restaurants. There are a number of ways to make the most of the lake’s scenery too, whether it’s journeying along its shores, boating on the glistening waters or heading for the clouds on the funicolare.

Waterfalls of Plitvice National Park in Croatia. Image: iStock/Remedios

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

This stunning series of 16 crystal-clear, emerald-hued lakes sit amid luscious Plitvice Lakes National Park – a natural wonder like no other, with UNESCO status thanks to its unique geology. Tread the suspended boardwalks that link with wooden bridges and footpaths, as cascading waterfalls thunder down around you, all the while taking in the exceptional views that surround you at every turn.

View of the Five Flower Lake at Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China. Image: iStock/fototrav

Five Flower Lake, China

Sitting pretty in southwest China, Jiuzhaigou Valley is home to the spectacular Five Flower Lake. The colour of the clear water varies from amber yellow and light turquoise to emerald green and dark jade, and thanks to a flowing underwater hot spring, the lake never freezes, so you can witness these mesmerising colours throughout the year, even as the snow settles on the surrounding trees and mountains.

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