Swedish Lakes

Swedish lakes: Splashing through the best lakes in Sweden to visit

Swedish lakes are one of the many incredible things making Sweden a must-visit part of the Scandinavian landscape. With around 100,000 to choose from, you’ll have no trouble planning your trip around the top lakes in Sweden. 

But, which ones demand a visit?

Lakes are a fundamental part of Swedish life and culture, with many of the nature-loving locals spending their time kayaking, fishing, and even swimming in the beautiful water. 

Many Swedes spend their summers in lakeside cabins if they’re not checking out local music festivals. Even in the summer, these watery destinations evolve into locations for swimming, ice diving, and other cold-weather events. 

Today, we’re going to give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most impressive lakes in Sweden, so you don’t need to test all of the 100,000 options yourself.

How many lakes does Sweden have?

Sweden is home to more than 100,000 lakes. The ones we’re covering here include:

Lake Vänern5,519 km²
Lake Vättern1,886 km²
Lake Mälaren1,090 km²
Lake Storsjön456 km²
Lake Hjälmaren477 km²
Lake Siljan292 km²
Lake Hornavan262 km²
Lake Torneträsk330 km²
Lake Akkajaure260 km²
Lake Bolmen184 km²
Lake Tåkern44 km²
Lake Väsman39.1 km²
Lake Åsnen160 km²
Lake Glan73.2 km²
Lake Laisan424 m surface elevation
Lake Lygnern33 km²

1. Lake Vänern

If size counts towards your idea of the best lakes of Sweden, then you should definitely start with a trip to Lake Vänern. As the largest Swedish lake, Vänern is an incredible 100m deep and 145km long. Some people even say it’s more like a mini sea than a lake. 

Vänern is so large it’s even home to some of Sweden’s many islands (around 22,000 islands in total). This means Vänern offers the largest inland archipelago in Europe. 

You’ll find Vänern located in the south of Sweden, within the district of Varmland. During the winter months, it’s an extremely popular location for swimming, sailing, fishing, and kayaking. There are even sandy beaches nearby where you can relax with a picnic. 

Close to Vänern is the lakeside town of Karlstad, where you can book boat trips to ferry you throughout the islands within the lake. Hit up the Karlstad campsite nearby for a natural accommodation experience right by the water.

Swedish Lakes

2. Lake Vättern

Following Vanern, we have the second largest lake in Sweden, Vättern. Like its big brother, Vättern is widely regarded one of the most beautiful destinations for locals and tourists alike. 

Here, you’ll find golden sandy beaches dotting the shores, as well as plenty of crystal-clear water if you’re planning on going for a swim. 

Vättern is the sixth largest lake in Europe, and its located within south central Sweden, to the south east of Vänern. Nearby, you’ll find the Gota Canal, and the medieval town of Jönköping. 

If you’re taking the time to explore the lake, stop off at the Tiveden national park for some beautiful hiking trails, or visit Vadstena castle for a taste of history.

For wonderful scenic views, it’s also worth travelling a little further away from the lake to Omberg, where you’ll find plenty of wildlife, forests, and hiking. The Jönköping museum is also pretty interesting if you want an insight into Swedish heritage. 

For beautiful accommodation nestled among the trees, visit the Wisingso hotel.

3. Lake Mälaren

The third of the largest lakes in Sweden, Mälaren may be one of the easiest to visit for a lot of tourists, because it’s located close to Stockholm, the Capital city. Otherwise known as Lake Malar, the Mälaren lake covers 1,140 km2 with a maximum depth of 64m. 

This beautiful inland lake is packed with places to explore, including inlets and miniature islands. During the summer months, locals from Stockholm often visit to go swimming or kayaking around the area. You can even consider a spot of camping in the forested areas around the shores. 

One of the best things to do when visiting Mälaren is check out some of the local architecture. Drottningholm Palace is the home of the Swedish royal family, located on the Lovon island. 

There are boat trips to the island from Stockholm which take about 50 minutes in total. Once you get there, you’re free to explore the palace. 

Other great places to check out include Gripsholm Castle, and Skokloster Castle, for insights into some of the historical architecture Sweden has to offer. You can even check out the oldest town in Sweden, Birka, and the charming town of Mariefred

Enjoy a room right on the lake with the Red Boat Marlaren hotel. The laid-back hotel actually sits in a docked boat, and it has its own restaurant.

4. Lake Storsjön

With a name meaning the “Great Lake,” Lake Storsjön is an easy addition to any list of the best Swedish lakes to visit when you’re in the country. The lake has an area of around 464 square kilometers and goes up to 40 meters deep in some places. 

Lake Storsjön is located in the Jämtland province in central Sweden. The lake is the largest in the middle of Sweden and can be easily explored from the town of Östersund. Visitors can hire kayaks and paddleboards, book boat trips, and even go swimming. 

There’s also the option to check out one of the oldest steam-powered ships in Sweden. 

Lake Storsjön is unique among many of the lakes in Sweden because it has its very own monster — Storsjöodjuret which many locals have stories about seeing. 

Nearby, you’ll also find a range of great places to visit, like the open-air Jamtli Museum, where you can learn more about the monster, and how the town has attempted to capture it over the years. 

For an all-natural, camping-based visit to the lake, check out the Östersunds Camping area. There are some gorgeous cabins available for rent here, and the location even has its own water park with slides.

Swedish Lakes
Credit: Udo Schröter

5. Lake Hjälmaren

Covering an impressive 483km squared, Lake Hjälmaren is another must-visit lake in Sweden. Hjälmaren is the fourth largest Swedish lake, located within the Central Swedish lowland. 

The lake is home to a number of islands, as well as a variety of great fish if you’re looking for an opportunity to go and catch some meals of your own. 

The easiest way to visit Hjälmaren is to take a trip to Örebro, where you can see a stunning Renaissance castle, beautiful village museums, and surrounding forests with plenty of hiking trips available. 

Make sure you check out the Gustavsvik water park if you’re travelling with kids. It’s full of slides and rides to enjoy with the family. 

The Karslund manor house and garden is another wonderful place to visit if you’re looking for interesting things to do. For a unique accommodation experience, visit the Elite Stora hotel — the oldest hotel in Örebro, with an excellent view of both the local castle and the lake.

6. Lake Siljan

The sixth largest lake in Sweden is Siljan, which locals say is millions of years old. The story behind Lake Siljan is actually pretty amazing, as the body of water was created by a meteor crashing to earth. 

Today, the shoreline is dotted with beautiful lakeside villages and towns, as well as wooden cabins and sandy beaches to check out. 

If you’re looking to take in some culture, you can visit the Dalhalla opera, where there are packed crowds in attendance during the summer. The steamship M/S Gustaf Wasa is here too, where you can take cruises throughout the local villages. 

The visitor centre and national park located around 16km northwest of Leksand is another great place to visit, where you can learn all about the meteor which hit the region millions of years ago. 

Alternatively, you can visit the open-air museum of Rättviks Gammelgård.

For a great place to stay, check out the luxury Tällbergsgårdens Hotel, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2018.

7. Lake Hornavan

Lake Hornavan is located in Northern Sweden, within the Arjeplog Municipality. This lake is the deepest in Sweden, reaching up to 725 feet in depth (or 221m). 

The icy cold lake might not be the best place for swimming, thanks to its position just below the Artic Circle. However, it’s still worth a visit if you’re ever exploring the country.

The surrounding dense forests are often home to all kinds of wildlife, including bears, reindeer, and moose. It’s best to avoid venturing out alone — as not all of those animals are friendly. The surrounding landscape is also protected by national parks. 

The main town of Arjeplog is located towards the southern end of the lake, and it’s a good place for hiking, kayaking and fishing, particularly during the months of the Midnight Sun in summer. In winter, the temperatures can drop to under -50 degrees Celsius. 

Check out the Hornavan Hotell in Arjeplog if you’re looking for a relaxing place to stay where you can enjoy heating up your own hot tub.

Swedish Lakes

8. Lake Torneträsk

Another excellent Swedish lake worth visiting if you’re already in Swedish Lapland, Torneträsk is situated in the Kiruna Municipality, in the Swedish mountain range. 

Being one of the largest lakes in Sweden, Torneträsk is among the most dramatic bodies of water you can visit in the country. The lake is surrounded by amazing wilderness and mountains on all sides. 

If you’re looking for truly spectacular views, there are waterfalls at various points throughout the lake, thanks to the mountainous terrain. The western edge of the lake actually stretches almost all the way to the Norwegian border. 

This beautiful region is a must-visit destination if you’re planning on hunting the northern lights. 

In the winter, the lake often freezes over, which means you can go ice fishing, take a snowmobile trekking over the cold landscape, or even check out a husky tour. In the summer, there are some great hiking opportunities, but the lake is still pretty cold, so we wouldn’t recommend swimming.

For accommodation, the lake has the beautiful Abisko Mountain lodge available, with log cabins to rent. There are also various tours you can organize here, with dog sledding and treks to see the Northern Lights.

9. Lake Akkajaure

When it comes to choosing the best lakes of Sweden, Akkajaure always ranks high in our list. This impressive reservoir in Sweden is actually a man-made attraction, first created when the locals built the Suorva dam in the twentieth century. 

Located in Swedish Lapland, within the Stora Sjofallet national park, the beautiful river is one of the most attractive for those in search of a picture-perfect adventure. The water is surrounded by mountains and forests on all sides, with Mount Akka situated to the south.

With so many beautiful sights to see, the best thing you can do when visiting Lake Akkajaure is go for a guided tour or a hike. You might even find some special tours nearby offering a chance to spot the Northern Lights. 

Visit the Ritsem hiking hut for a convenient place to stay during the Kungsladen long-distance hiking trail.

10. Lake Bolmen

Bolmen is an eye-catching lake in the Smaland part of Sweden. Covering about 184km squared, the lake has a depth of up to 37m, and supplies a considerable part of Skane with its fresh water. The Bolmen lake is the tenth largest in Sweden, and one of the most popular tourist destinations of the area. 

The lake belongs to four different municipalities overall, and there are hundreds of islands to explore (more than 365!). The largest island worth visiting during your adventure is Bolmso, which is accessible from the Tannaker region in the east via a bridge. 

You can also take a small free car ferry into the island from the Sunnaryd ferry dock in the northwest. Perhaps one of the best things about the Bolmen is how rich in fish it is. It’s definitely worth enjoying some fresh seafood during your visit. 

Book a room at the Gasthus Hollands for an adorably charming place to stay.

Swedish Lakes

11. Lake Tåkern

The ultimate lake destination for bird waters, Lake Tåkern is located in Östergötland County, and is considered one of the best bird lakes in northern Europe. Reaching around 12km long and 8km wide, the lake is pretty tame compared to some of the largest lakes in Sweden. 

At its deepest, Tåkern is only around 0.8m deep, and it’s located around 20km to the west of Mjolby. When you’re not checking out the 270 different species of bird in Tåkern, you can check out the surrounding meadows and forests. 

The region regularly offers guided tours, so you can learn everything you need to know about the birds of the region. There’s also a host of picnic tables and camping destinations you can check out if you want a taste of getting back to nature. 

For a truly unforgettable hotel experience, visit Ombergs Turisthotell. The rooms here are stunning, as is the hotel itself. Situated in a forested location, the hotel stands out with its bright orange and autumn colors.

12. Lake Väsman

Otherwise known as the “pristine” lake, Lake Väsman is a stunning scenic lake best known for carrying steamboat traffic many years ago. Stretching around 53 meters in total, the lake has also been a major source of iron ore too. 

Surrounded by forest areas, there’s no shortage of places to go hiking and exploring when you’re visiting Väsman. The Nya Teaterhuset Ludvika theatre is nearby if you’re looking to soak up some culture too. Plus, there are stunning fine-dining destinations like Restaurang Akropolis.

We definitely recommend checking out the Luvika Kulrika Kyrka for an insight into Swedish history, as well as the beautiful Grangarde Kyrka church. Folkets park offers a fantastic place to relax with family and enjoy a picnic. 

There are plenty of great places to stay nearby, including the Dalarna First Hotel Brage, where you can enjoy a restaurant, bar, and free Wi-Fi.

13. Lake Åsnen

Another of the best lakes in Sweden, Ansen is a huge lake in the southern Smaland area. Around 150km squared in side, the lake likes south of Alvesta and northwest of Tingsryd. This is another of the many archipelagos in Sweden, with over 1000 islands protected via the Ansen national park.

The indented coastline of uninhabited islands and a range of inlets make Ansen a popular place to go kayaking. If you prefer to stay on dry land, there’s also a host of cycling and hiking spots nearby where you can check out local wildlife.

The forested areas around Ansen include many different kinds of trees, such as deciduous oaks. There’s also a lot of fantastic bird life nearby, along with the occasional moose and otter. 

Head to the Karrasands campsite for a beautiful place to stay beside the woods. You can either check into a timber cabin for some extra comfort, or use your own tent to get back to nature during your stay.

Swedish Lakes
Credit: Svens Welt

14. Lake Glan

Lake Glan is a lake located within the Östergötland province of Sweden, in the municipalities of Finspång and Norrköping. Though not as large as some of the other Swedish lakes in this guide, Glan has plenty to offer for visitors, particularly if you’re checking out Norrköping.

Visit the Arbetets Museum within the Laxholmen river to see a unique exhibition which changes regularly throughout the year. Alternatively, there’s also the phenomenal Abackarna walking route to enjoy. This trail has countless beautiful flowers and flora to discover, ideal for nature lovers.

If you have chance, it’s also worth visiting a little further away from the lakes and rivers of Norrköping, to see the Hedvigs Kyrka, the prettiest church in the region, estimated to come all the way from the 17th century. 

For places to stay, you can try out the ProfilHotels President for a four-star sleeping experience, complete with beautifully artistic rooms.

15. Lake Laisan

Situated in Vasterbotten County, Laisan is around 443 meters long, and can be found just a little south from Laisholm. There are various canoe trips and tours available if you’re keen to see the attractive surroundings of Sweden from a spot on the water. 

Laisan is also surrounded by beautiful sandy shores — ideal for the summer months.

Although you shouldn’t expect the warmest summers around Lake Laisan, you can still have a lovely time here during the warmer months of the year. There’s even a cycling route nearby from the village of Tarnaby. If you’re a fan of hiking, make sure set aside some time to explore the trails.

For a comfy place to rest for the night, check out the Hemavans Fjällcenter, managed by the STF. There’s even an on-site sauna if you feel like sweating out some of your stresses.

16. Lake Lygnern

If you’re looking for beautiful clear water in Sweden, you can’t go wrong with lake Lygern, found within the Mark and Kungsback municipalities of Western Sweden. Covering an area of around 33km squared, the lake is the largest in Halland country. 

Because it’s situated so close to Gothenburg, Lygnern is a great Swedish lake to visit if you’d like to combine some outdoor adventuring with a city-style vacation. You can spend one day exploring the joys of Gothenburg, and the next visiting the sandy beaches and waterfalls of Lyngern. 

Meadows and woods surround Lyngern on all sides, making it ideal for picnics and general relaxation. Visit the Mill Hyssna for a beautiful and clean place to stay.

The most amazing lakes in Sweden

There’s really no shortage of beautiful lakes to explore in Sweden. If you love the idea of exploring some of the many archipelagos and waterways the country has to offer, you can find them just about anywhere you go. 

Make sure you have plenty of space in your memory storage for snapping photos of the lakes you visit whenever you get the chance.

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