Lakes showcase some of water’s most alluring qualities, from mesmerizing ripples and mirror-like reflections to crstyalline clarity. The world has millions of them, from tiny grass-lined ponds to massive freshwater expanses easily mistaken for oceans, but some lacs, lagos, and lochs simply stand out more than others. A few of these irresistible bodies of water owe their charisma to climate, others to geologic luck of the draw, and some are even made by the humans who admire them. These 20 beautiful lakes—some of which may surprise you—differ in the details, but all are uniquely beautiful and well worth a visit.


Where: Lombardy, Italy

A place where you can stroll amid palm trees and blooming rhododendrons while admiring snow-capped mountains has got to be magical, right? Blessed with a superb microclimate, Lake Como in Northern Italy is the kind of place that leaves you searching for fancy words to capture its exquisiteness—but a simple “bellisima” (beautiful) is a start. Get on the water by hiring a vintage Riva speedboat to take you on a tour of the lake’s villas and villages.

Where to Stay: For both sublime views and inspired meals, book a room at Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio.


Where: Alberta, Canada

There’s some mighty stiff competition in the Canadian Rockies when it comes to glacier-fed beauty Lake Louise, Morraine Lake, and Peyto Lake each could easily have taken the crown but what makes Maligne Lake(located in Jasper National Park and pronounced Maleen) so stunning is the surrounding landscape: perfect foreground pines, majestically jagged background mountains, and cornflower blue Alberta skies. For postcard-perfect views, be sure to kayak to Spirit Island.

Where to Stay: The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, which is located on its very own pristine lake.



Where: Udaipur, India

Maharana Udai Singh chose to build his City Palace here in 1559. Since then, Lake Pichola, one of a chain of lakes in Udaipur, has enjoyed an elevated status even though it was artificially created in the 14th century. Adding to its allure are two islands, each with its own palace, that don’t need Instagram filters to look spectacular when silhouetted at dusk. Sail across the lake to visit Jag Mandir Island Palace, where royals used to hold parties, and have your own royal meal.

Where to Stay: Taj Lake Palace, a white marble 18th-century stunner built as a pleasure palace for Maharana Jagat Singh II, appears to float atop the water.


Where: Hangzhou, China

The beauty here is not just the landscape—a slice of verdant green in Hangzhou, but the lifestyle of its elderly residents who treat West Lake like a vast sunrise wellness center as they gather to practice Tai Chi, engage in graceful fan dances, or walk the perimeter listening to small radios playing Chinese music. In addition to this microcosm of daily life, the lake also offers stellar photo-ops, from the Tang Dynasty-era Broken Bridge to charming pavilions with upturned roofs.

Where to Stay: Sofitel Hangzhou Westlake, where you’ll enjoy a lake view from most rooms.


Where: Tasmania

This serene lake in north central Tasmania is home to the fabled Tasmanian Devil, as well as more cuddly looking wallabies and wombats, but Dove Lake’s main appeal is that it is the starting point for scenic day hikes as well as the rigorous 40-mile Overland Track. If you catch it at the right time and with the wind calm, you can also enjoy a reflection of distinctive Cradle Mountain.

Where to Stay: Cradle Mountain Lodge, where cabins let you spy on wildlife, especially at dusk and dawn.

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