Greece may be known for its beaches and picturesque islands, but it is also home to peaceful and beautiful lakes. Formed far from the coastline, these lakes are usually located in fertile valleys or nestled high inside mountain ranges, which may be why few tourists dare to explore them. But we believe this trend needs to change. Here are some of the most beautiful lakes you should visit in Greece.
Located in the region of Florina, in northern Greece, the magical world of the Prespa Lakes runs by the Albanian border. Surrounded by mighty mountains, the two lakes, Great and Small Prespa, lie at 850 metres above sea level and form a wonderful sight to behold. A paradise for migratory birds, they are home to hundreds of bird species, including the Dalmatian pelican, the heron, the wild duck and the cormorant. The region, dotted with small villages, is perfect for those seeking total relaxation, hikes across small mountain paths and hearty meals at taverns where you can sample local delicacies.
Located in the prefecture of Thessaloniki, Lake Volvi is situated at the entrance of the Chalkidiki peninsula. The second largest lake of the country, it is an important wetland, along with Lake Koronia, and is home to over 200 bird species, including flamingos, herons, storks and egrets, as well as many fish, amphibian and mammal species. You may even be lucky enough to spot water buffalos, as it is one of the few areas in Greece where the animals are raised.
An artificial lake in the heart of mainland Greece, Lake Plastira is located in Thessaly, close to the city of Karditsa. This all-year destination is definitely a favourite among Greeks in the fall and winter but certainly deserves to be known by foreigners as well. It provides many opportunities for walks through lush forests, kayaking, canoeing and cycling.
The jewel of Ioannina, Lake Pamvotida is located in Epirus, at the foot of Mount Mitsikeli. Associated with a famous legend with many variants, where Kyra Frosini, a young local known for her beauty, had an affair with Mushtar Pasha, son of local Ottoman ruler, Ali Pasha, and was executed and thrown into the lake for her adulterous act. The lake is an important ecosystem home to a great number of rare species and many water activities are possible, including rowing, canoe-kayak or water skiing. The lake is also home to a small islet, where a museum, seven monasteries, souvenir shops and tavernas serving unusual fare can be found.
Protected by the Ramsar Convention, the artificial Lake Kerkini, lying close to the borders of Bulgaria and FYROM, is located near the city of Serres. The surrounding region is a protected national park that features impressive landscapes and vibrant fauna and flora, such as deer, wolves, birds and even buffalos. If you are a bird watching enthusiast, Lake Kerkini is an excellent location to spot pelicans, eagles and cormorants, as well as many other species. Several photo and bird watching tours are organized, as well as outdoor activities such as trekking, cycling and boat rides.
Dragon Lake of Tymfi
Greece is also home to what is called dragon lakes, or simply put, alpine lakes, remnants of the Ice Age, though local folklore has it that there were the dwelling places of dragons. Sources of beauty and home to singular ecosystems, these are found in the high altitudes of Greece’s mountain ranges, including the Dragon Lake of Tymfi, located at a 2050-metre altitude, between the Aoos and Voidomatis rivers in the Pindus range, in Epirus. This fascinating lake is surrounded by a bare landscape and can be reached after a four-hour hike, departing from Mikro Papigo village, in the Zagorochoria region.
Set in western Macedonia, northern Greece, at the foot of Mount Voras and Mount Vermio, Lake Petron, is part of a three-lake complex, which includes nearby Lake Vegoritida and Lake Chimaditis. Member of the NATURA 2000 protected areas, Lake Petron is home to about a hundred species of birds, some of which are endangered. Blessed with stunning beauty, it is located near the town of Amyntaio, an important region with a wine tradition. Petron is a must for birdwatchers, as it includes rare species such as the white-fronted goose and the pygmy cormorant. This peaceful lake, along with its sisters, is certainly a beautiful region to explore for nature lovers.
Better known as Lake Kastoria, Lake Orestiada sits at the border of Kastoria, in the region of Macedonia, northwestern Greece. Sitting at 630 metres of altitude, the lake covers around 28 square kilometres. The home of over 200 species of birds, including swans, wild ducks and herons, vibrant fauna and flora, it is a beautiful place to explore and an excellent reason to visit this picturesque town of northern Greece, blessed with a strong Byzantine heritage. But you can definitely take advantage of other lakeside activities, such as sailing, rowing, water skiing or fishing, but nothing beats a leisurely stroll around it, as it reflects the city on its surface like Mother Nature’s own mirror.