An aerial view of  Lake Vanern in Sweden

10 beautiful lakes in Sweden

Known as the land of 100,000 lakes, Sweden is unsurprisingly home to many stunning lakes, and you will likely come across several of them while visiting the country.

While some lakes in Sweden are just a short distance from the biggest cities, there are others hiding away in the far north. Here, they are often covered in ice and the mystic Aurora Borealis elegantly dances across them, on freezing nights under millions of stars.

Both tourists and locals find refuge in the Swedish lakes all year round. Whether you want to soak in the warming rays of the summer sun or push your boundaries by ice bathing, the lakes are a large part of Sweden’s culture.

Here are some of the most beautiful Swedish lakes - just choose which ones you can best incorporate into your travel itinerary.

Colourful clouds reflected in the calm water of Lake Malaren

1. Lake Mälaren

Lake Mälaren is situated right west of Stockholm and is the third largest lake in Sweden. Before the water levels sunk significantly in the area in the 10th and 11th centuries, the lake was part of the Baltic Sea. However, with time, salt water has been replaced with fresh water from melting glaciers.

Besides being one of the most popular lakes in Sweden, it is extremely picturesque. Wrapped in a deep green, pine forest there are a few small towns and resorts surrounding it.

A myriad of green islands pop up from the calm water, making it a delightful place to visit. Tour Lake Mälaren by boat, paddle silently on a paddleboard or a kayak, relax at one of the beaches, or hit the hiking trails around the lakes.

Surrounding the lake is Sweden’s oldest town, Birka, and idyllic fairytale castles like Skokloster Castle and Gripsholm Castle make Lake Mälaren a great place to hang out for a few days, taking in the idyllic scenery and surroundings.

Reflections of trees, clouds and stones in Lake Hjalmaren, Sweden

2. Lake Hjälmaren

Another breathtaking Swedish Lake near Stockholm is Lake Hjälmaren. It is perfect for those wanting to combine city life and a relaxing break at the lake on a hot summer’s day.

The vast landscape around the lake is incredibly stunning, and it seems like the lake and the green vegetation surrounding it keeps going forever.

Lake Hjälmaren is also a wonderful place to go for a walk around the rocky bays taking in the scent of green trees and plants.

The lake is Sweden’s fourth largest. Wander along its rugged edges and watch locals throw in fishing lines, as they have been doing for generations.

Looking down at Lake Storsjon from Hoverberg

3. Lake Storsjön

Translated into The Big Lake, Lake Storsjön is home to the Swedish version of the Lock Ness Monster, Storsjöodjuret.

You can hear numerous legends about the monster, and the locals tell stories about seeing it. To learn more about the local lake monster Storsjöodjuret and several unsuccessful attempts to capture it, head to Jamtli Open-Air Museum.

But the lake is so much more than its monster. If you dare, rent a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard to uncover the small islands, hidden bays, tiny beaches, and picturesque lakeside huts.

You can also go on a boat trip or explore one of the oldest steamships in Sweden. If you prefer to stay on land, you can enjoy wonderful hiking and cycling routes around the lake.

The medieval Lacko Castle on the shores of Lake Vanern in Sweden

4. Lake Vänern

As the largest and one of the most picturesque lakes in Sweden, Lake Vänern is surrounded by a flat landscape, lush trees, and 13th-century fairytale castles.

The beauty of the lake is hard to beat, with its little islands, peninsulas, and cute coves. It is hard to think of a prettier setting, especially when the reflections of the sunset paint the still water in vivid shades of pink and orange.

Lake Vänern is situated in the central part of Sweden, and the surrounding villages have a long history of fishing. There are a lot of activities on the lake, and you can rent kayaks, standup paddleboards or go out on a boat tour which takes you between the islands.

The most popular town around the lake is Karlstad where you can find plenty of hotels, restaurants, and bars, so it is easy to spend a few days in the area.

Sunset on Lake Asnen in Sweden

5. Lake Åsnen

One of the stunning Swedish lakes not to miss is Lake Åsnen. Situated in the southern part of the country between the Baltic Sea and the Northern Sea, it is dotted with over 1000 islands of different sizes.

This makes it a paradise for kayaking and canoeing, as you easily find secluded coves and inhibited islands. Just dock up and enjoy some peace and quiet without encountering other people.

Lake Åsnen is also an excellent location for bird watchers and photographers. Nearby, you find one of the largest bird sanctuaries in Scandinavia, the Getna Gard wildlife preservation area.

Besides the wealth of birds you can observe around the lake, you can also be lucky and spot wildlife like moose and otters in the areas with fewer people. The area around Lake Åsnen is perfect for cycling and hiking.

Northern lights dance over Lake Tornetrask in winter

6. Lake Torneträsk

Lake Torneträsk translates into Swamp Lake, referring to the swampland surrounding the lake. Together with the backdrop of mountains that surround the area, this is one of the most outstanding lakes in Sweden.

The lake is situated in the untamed Abisko National Park in Lapland. Lake Torneträsk is one of the best places to see the northern light dance across the ice that covers the lake throughout the winter months.

This is truly the classical image of a Swedish lake with snowcapped mountains reflecting in the water.

Looking down at Lake Hornavan in Norrbotten County, Lapland

7. Lake Hornavan

Situated in northern Sweden, right below the arctic circle, Lake Hornavan is the country’s deepest lake at 221 meters deep. The surroundings are dominated by dense unspoiled forests, and wildlife lovers will be pleased to know that you can spot wildlife like moose, bears, and reindeer.

The winters turn the lake into an exotic ice-covered flatland and the perfect foreground to the twirling greens of the Aurora Borealis, best witnessed on the dark, freezing nights of winter.

In the summer months, you can enjoy the midnight sun from a kayak or go for a hike in the surrounding landscape. The best town to stay around the lake is Arjeplog, where you can find a wealth of activities.

Islands on Lake Siljan with a clear sky above in Dalarna, Sweden

8. Lake Siljan

This is one of central Sweden’s most impressive lakes, mainly known for its small towns along the shore. Wander through narrow, cobblestoned streets lined by unique architecture and feel like you've stepped back in time.

The scenic lake is hugged by the trees reaching down to its shores. The unspoiled hills surrounding the lake, make it a wonderful place to recharge your batteries and soak in nature.

Like so many other lakes in Sweden, Lake Siljan is dotted with islands. Solleron Island, in particular, is a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

White beaches on Vattern Lake in summer

9. Lake Vättern

Lake Vättern is another beauty that will leave you in awe. The breathtaking scenery around the lake is dotted with lighthouses, white-sanded beaches, and patched farmland.

One of the most unique towns in Sweden is also found on the lakefront - Hjo. It is a cute town, mainly built in timber, and is an important heritage town in Sweden as it's one of the few left of its kind.

There are also plenty of activities to be had on the lake, including paddleboarding, kayaking, and steamboat tours. Lake Vättern is the second largest of the Swedish lakes and is very popular as a vacation destination for Swedes.

Calm Lake Akkajaure at sunset with snow covered mountains in background

10. Lake Akkajaure

The last lake on our list is also situated in Swedish Lapland and is actually manmade. However, the picturesque settings with the majestic Mount Akka overlooking Lake Akkajaure's calm waters make it one of the most beautiful lakes in the country.

The wilderness of Lapland surrounds the lake, and the area offers a whole lot of hiking routes in the area in the summer months. Summer is also the perfect time to go for a midnight swim, while the sun shines its weak light over the water. 

During winter, on the other hand, temperatures drop drastically, and ice covers the water from the autumn months. Yet the surroundings make this one of the most breathtaking lakes to see, even in the winter, and you might see the northern lights over the lake or in the surroundings.

Share this article

Linn Haglund

Author - Linn Haglund

Originally from Norway, Linn is an avid traveller and freelance travel writer that has a passion for the outdoors, wildlife, and responsible travel. She is currently living the van life in southern Europe with her fiancé and their dog.

Having travelled in 50+ countries and lived in five countries, she has developed a fervour for helping people to travel more responsibly and leave a positive impact on their destinations through her blog, Brainy Backpackers.

Last Updated 8 January 2024

An aerial view of lake in Sweden in summer


Sparsely populated Sweden is known for its natural wonders. Cities tend cling to the coast and rivers, while inland you'll find towns, the occasional house, and a huge amount of forest interspersed with moors and lakes.