Beyond the popular beaches and bustling cities lies a tranquil world of freshwater lakes in Greece, each with its own unique charm and story. Embark on this aquatic journey to discover the serene and often overlooked gems of Greece’s natural landscape.
The most significant lakes in Greece are:
- Lake Prespa (Megali Prespa): Located on the borders of Northern Macedonia, Albania and Greece, Lake Prespa is part of a double lake system that covers an area of 259 km², of which 36.4 km² is on Greek territory. The lake is characterized by its bi-national setting and diverse ecosystem.
- Lake Trichonida: The largest natural lake in Greece, Lake Trichonida is located in Aetolia-Acarnania, between Agrinio and Nafpaktos. It covers an area of 98.6 km² and reaches depths of up to 58 meters, making it a significant freshwater resource in the region.
- Lake Volvi (Vovli): Located at the foot of the Chalkidiki peninsula, Lake Volvi is an ecological oasis that supports over 200 species of birds and a variety of rare aquatic plants. It stands out for its rich biodiversity and scenic beauty.
- Lake Vistonida: Located in Porto Lagos, Xanthi, Lake Vistonida encompasses a unique ecosystem, providing a habitat for various fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and bird species. Its ecological diversity makes it a critical area for wildlife conservation.
- Lake Vegoritida: Located in western Macedonia, near Amyntaio and Edessa, Lake Vegoritida is a large natural lake at an elevation of 540 meters, bordered by the Voras Mountains. This lake is a prominent feature in the northern Greek landscape.
- Lake Koroneia: Located in the Thessaloniki Regional Unit, Lake Koroneia, also known as Lake Agios Vasileios or Lake Langadas, is central to the Mygdonian Basin. Its strategic location underlines its ecological and cultural importance.
- Mikri Prespa (Little Prespa Lake): Shared between Greece and Albania, this smaller counterpart of the Prespa Lakes system covers 46.8 km². It is celebrated for its wetland ecosystem, which supports a variety of rare waterbird species.
- Lake Doirani: This 43.1 km² transboundary lake is located on the Greek-North Macedonian border. It offers a blend of natural beauty and recreational activities such as bird watching, fishing and hiking.
- Lake Yliki: A vital source of drinking water for Athens since 1958, Lake Yliki is located in Boeotia, near Thebes. Surrounded by mountains, it plays a crucial role in the hydrology and ecology of the region.
- Lake Pamvotida (Lake of Ioannina): The largest lake in Epirus, located in the regional unit of Ioannina, is flanked by urban settlements, including Ioannina and Perama. It is home to a diverse fauna, but is threatened by urbanization and pollution. Read more: The City of Ioannina
- Lake Orestiada (Kastoria Lake): Located in the Kastoria regional unit of northwestern Greece, Lake Orestiada is notable for its Byzantine architectural heritage and its winter frost. At an altitude of 630 meters, it covers an area of 28 km² and is an integral part of the cultural and natural landscape of the region.
- Lake Kournas: Crete’s only freshwater lake, near the village of Kournas in Chania, was once known for its eels, but now attracts tourists with its terrapins and scenic beauty.
- Lake Kremasta: Greece’s largest artificial lake, created by the Kremasta dam in 1965, straddles Aetolia-Acarnania and Evrytania. It is fed by four rivers and is home to the country’s largest hydroelectric plant.
- Lake Plastiras, or Tavropos Reservoir, is an artificial lake near Karditsa, Greece, named after Greek general Nikolaos Plastiras. Created in 1960 for flood control, it’s now a popular tourist spot. The lake, surrounded by lush woods and often likened to the Swiss Alps, serves multiple purposes including irrigation, hydroelectric power, and supplying water to Karditsa. The lake offers diverse activities such as biking, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, and water sports. In winter, visitors can ski at the nearby Karamanoli resort. Surrounding traditional villages like Kalyvia Pezoulas, Neochori, and Neraida offer a glimpse into Greek mountain life, with amenities like a botanical garden and a winter sports center in Neraida. Lake Plastiras is a year-round destination, perfect for both relaxation and adventure.
- Lake Stymphalia, nestled in Corinthia, southern Greece, is a unique karst basin and wetland located 600 meters above sea level on a plateau in the Peloponnese. Easily accessible, it’s just over an hour and a half drive from Athens, making it an ideal addition to any trip to the mountainous Corinthian region. The lake is a vital habitat for diverse wildlife, including migratory birds like the rare ferruginous duck, glossy ibis, and herons, as well as unique species like the Pelasgus stymphalicus fish. It’s also famous in Greek mythology as the site of Hercules’ sixth labor against the Stymphalian Birds.
The above list highlights 15 must-see lakes in Greece, each with its own unique appeal and natural beauty. It’s important to note, however, that the Greek landscape is dotted with numerous other lakes, each with its own charm and ecological significance. From the serene waters of mountain retreats to the vibrant ecosystems of coastal lagoons, the country’s diverse range of lakes offers endless opportunities for exploration and appreciation. Whether you’re an avid nature lover, photography enthusiast, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, the lakes of Greece are waiting to be discovered beyond this selection.