13 must-see lakes in Austria
Ready for an unforgettable journey through Austrian beauty? Get your camera ready and explore some of the country’s must-see lakes. From crystal clear waters to spectacular mountain views, discover what makes each lake a unique destination.
Austria is a land of majestic lakes. From the emerald splendor of Atter lake, to the vast tranquility of lake Hallstatt, each lake throughout Austria offers a unique and breathtaking experience.
Whether it's hiking through the stunning Alpine scenery at Gosausee lake, fishing year-round on Achensee lake, or simply taking in nature's beauty from a cable car at Traunsee lake, visitors to Austria have plenty of options for exploring its many amazing lakes.
Pack your hiking boots and get ready to experience Austria’s stunning lakeside scenery firsthand – pictures don’t do them justice!
Embark on a journey of discovery to explore some of Austria's most majestic lakes. From rugged outdoor adventures and tranquil backdrops, get ready for an unforgettable experience at any one of these 13 sought-after destinations!
1. Lake Hallstattphoto source: Shutterstock
Lake Hallstatt, or Hallstätter See in German, is a glacial lake situated in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. Located 648m above sea level, this picturesque lake runs through the historic village of Hallstatt which lies nestled along its banks.
This scenic spot can be seen on many postcards and has found itself listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its beauty and cultural importance to the area.
Although small and secluded from nearby urban areas, Lake Hallstatt attracts both local and international tourists who come to marvel at its beauty, take part in various water activities or just admire its surrounding landscape.
For a refreshing break, visitors come to the stunning Hallstatt lake, approximately 8 kilometers long, and enjoy its countless possibilities! Family-friendly beaches in Obertraun, Bad Goisern, and Bathing Island with a playground close to Hallstatt village center. Apart from these public beaches, countless swimming spots can be found all around it.
When visiting Lake Hallstatt, don't forget the world's oldest salt mine and the Hallstatt skywalk, which is located on the hill above the village of Hallstatt, as well as the Dachstein Krippenstein mountain and its 5 Finger viewing platform with views high above the lake.
Read also: Top Attractions & Things to Do in Hallstatt, Austria
2. Wolfgangsee Lakephoto source: Shutterstock
The idyllic Wolfgangsee lake, located in the Salzkammergut region near Salzburg, is a truly wonderful destination.
It is one of the largest lakes in Austria and is a popular destination for tourists who want to experience nature at its best. The sparkling clear waters of Lake Wolfgangsee are perfect for swimming, sailing, and even cliff diving.
For truly enchanting views of the lake, head up to the Schaffberg mountain, which is the highest in the lake area at 1,783 meters. To get there, be sure to use the iconic steam locomotive - Schafberg Railway (Schafbergbahn).
Around the Wolfgangsee lake there are three beautiful small towns like St. Gilgen, St. Wolfgang and Strobl, which certainly deserve to be explored.
From swimming and sailing in the crystal clear blue waters to enjoying the lush Alpine mountain range on one of the many hiking trails in the summer to ice skating, skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
In addition to its incredible natural beauty and abundance of attractions, Lake Wolfgangsee is famous for its luxurious hotels and cafes, making it the perfect destination for those who want to be surrounded by breathtaking views as well as world-class amenities.
Read also: Holidays at Wolfgangsee Lake, Austria
3. Lake Wörtherseephoto source: Shutterstock
Located in the southern Austrian state of Carinthia, Lake Wörthersee is an astonishing beauty that brims with life in the summer. It was largely formed by glaciers during the last ice age and boasts several islands and peninsulas, most notably Maria Wörth peninsula.
Of all lakes in Austria, Wörthersee is among the warmest, the sparkling clear water average temperature is 26 degrees in the summertime, that sometimes even reaches 28 degrees.
With its Mediterranean atmosphere and clean, warm waters, visitors flock to this tourist destination in summer to soak up the sun and enjoy all kinds of activities - from slides and water trampolines to paddle boarding and surfing - available for all ages.
Traveling to Lake Wörthersee in winter months is a magical experience - the picturesque landscapes, quaint towns and villages like Klagenfurt, Velden and Pörtschach provide visitors with an enchanting fairytale backdrop rarely found elsewhere.
Though it's unlikely one will see water frozen over in this region during these coldest of seasons, don't worry! There are plenty of wondrous sites around Lake Wörth that more than make up for any lost opportunities on ice-skating.
Read also: Holidays at Wörthersee Lake, Austria
4. Lake Atterseephoto source: Shutterstock
Attersee, also sometimes known as Lake Atter or Kammersee, is the largest lake within the borders of Austria.
Located close to Salzburg, it's popular among sailors, kite surfers and swimmers throughout spring, summer and autumn due to its constant winds and surprisingly clean water quality.
Sailing competitions are held there on a regular basis and during some lucky days the so-called "Rosenwind" can be experienced. The easterly wind brings the scent of roses across Lake Attersee, creating an unforgettable atmosphere throughout the region.
Like Lake Wörthersee, Lake Attersee unfortunately rarely freezes over, so winter sports are not possible, but you can explore its surroundings on a day trip from Salzburg.
Read also: Holidays at Attersee Lake, Austria
5. Lake Achenseephoto source: Shutterstock
The crystal clear Lake Achensee, often referred to as "Tyrol's Ocean" or "Tyrolean Sea" by locals, situated at 930 meters above sea level, is the largest lake in the Tyrol region.
Although the average water temperature is just 20°C, due to its excellent water quality it is considered as one of Austria's best lakes for swimming.
The alpine lake with a length of 10 kilometers and with perfect wind conditions offers many opportunities for water sports activities such as, surfing, sailing, paddling, and even diving with underwater visibility reaching up to 10 meters.
Additionally, several trails for all types of hikers and walkers can be found near the lake's shoreline, leading past jagged mountain peaks and high alpine pastures to great vantage points for peaceful exploration.
Cable cars are also available to take travelers to the nearby Rofan Mountains and the Karwendel massif surrounding Lake Achensee.
In the winter months, the lake does not tend to freeze over, but there are countless opportunities for skiers and snowboarders, as there are several ski slopes nearby.
The lake can easily be accessed from Innsbruck by car in only 45 minutes. In addition, Alpbach, one of Austria's most beautiful villages, is only 25 kilometers away.
Read also: Holidays at Lake Achensee, Austria
6. Plansee Lakephoto source: Shutterstock
The turquoise Plansee Lake, located in the heart of the Lechtal Alps in Western Austria near the border of Germany, is renowned for its fabulous waters and breathtaking mountain views.
This second-largest natural lake in Tyrol boasts not only crystal clear turquoise waters but also a maximum depth of 78 meters and visibility of 15 meters on average - making it an ideal spot for scuba diving.
Visitors come from far and wide to admire the scenic views of the mountains in the background or take part in water activities like sailing, surfing, swimming.
Furthermore, Plansee provides an array of hiking trails – ranging from a simple one-hour hike to intricate five-hour treks around its shore.
For winter adventurers, snowshoeing trails can be found around the lake, and if cold enough, it even freezes over to become an ice-skating rink!
Read also: 19 Best Places to Visit in Austria
7. Lake Gossau (Gosausee)photo source: Shutterstock
The emerald-green Gosausee lake lies between the Dachstein mountains of Salzkammergut, a short distance from Hallstatt.
As an ideal destination for a day trip from Salzburg, it offers enchanting views of jagged snow-capped mountains and is a perfect place for hiking and climbing as well.
Practically, Gosausee or Gosausees consists of three alpine mountain lakes. The first and largest is the Lower Gossau known as "Vorderer Gosausee", the next is the middle "Gosaulacke" so-called puddle because it is shallow and tends to change its size, even sometimes disappearing entirely, and the third is the Upper Gossau "Hinterer Gosausee".
All three are worth a visit and each offers its own spectacular views.In order to visit all of them, at least half a day is necessary to calculate what you will spend hiking.
At the first Gossausee there is a hotel with nice rooms, excellent food and boat rentals.
Lake Gossau is not really suitable for swimming because its temperature rarely exceeds 19 degrees, but on very hot summer days it is definitely worth trying to swim with snowy mountains in the background.
In winter, this magnificent area turns into a winter wonderland, offering many slopes to ski, as well as turning hiking trails into snowshoe trails.
Read also: Visit Gosausee Lake, Austria
8. Grüner See (Green Lake)photo source: Shutterstock
Located in central Austria near Graz, Grüner See (Green Lake) is one of the most beautiful and unusual alpine lakes in Austria.
The Green Lake has gained its popularity not only because of its dynamic green color, but also because every spring, when the air temperature rises, it undergoes noticeable changes - as a result of the melting of snow and ice, water from the Hochschwab mountains enters the lake, flooding the surrounding area, which is a well-maintained nature park.
In winter, this unusual lake is very shallow - only two meters deep at its deepest point, but in spring, when the snow and ice melt and flow into it, the lake becomes even 12 meters deep.
Due to the clear green water of the lake and the unusual location, this place is very popular with divers in spring and early summer. Although it is not a typical scene of the underwater world with coral reefs and thousands of colorful fishes, it offers an unusual view of the environment, where benches, bridges, paths and trees are located under water.
The Grüner See is in a flooded stage for several months (from May to July, after which the water level begins to recede), but during the rest of the year visitors can relax here and walk along the paths, enjoy the wonderful scenery, take photos on the bridges and enjoy the beautiful green lake.
Read also: Things to do around the Grüner See, Austria
9. Traunsee (Lake Traun)photo source: Pixabay
Lake Traun, located in Upper Austria, is renowned for its breathtaking views of meadows and forests as well as the Traunstein massif - with its near vertical walls that are perfect for climbers. In addition, it is the deepest lake in Austria.
Only a few minutes' drive from the popular spa town of Bad Ischl, it offers crystal-clear, turquoise waters perfect for swimming, surfing, sailing and waterskiing.
Furthermore, there are electric boat rentals available, or ferry tours, which take visitors between towns and picturesque villages located around the Traunsee such as Ebensee, Altmünster, Traunkirchen and Gmunden.
Traunsee is home to the Schloss Ort, a majestic medieval fortress that rises from Traunsee's placid lake. Connected to the shoreline by an elegant bridge and framed with gardens of manicured beauty - this castle is one postcard perfect sight!
The surrounding mountain of Höllengebirge and Traunstein massif are especially popular attractions amongst hikers, walkers and mountain bikers.
Read also: Holidays at Traunsee in Austria
10. Lake Zell (Zeller See)photo source: Pixabay
Lake Zell, or Zeller See in German, is a natural marvel nestled among Austria's captivating mountain peaks.
The lake is especially astounding during winter due to the frozen surface that gives way to the perfect environment for activities like ice skating and curling.
The most popular Zell am See - a resort town located on Zeller See lake shores with snowy mountain side slopes, is the perfect destination for ski enthusiasts in winter. Boasting endless options of fun-filled activities like snowshoeing, snowboarding and skiing or just taking a leisurely stroll by the lakeshore.
Once summer kicks in, Lake Zell heats up to a pleasant temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius, making it an ideal destination for swimming and other water sports activities such as sailing, paddling and surfing.
Furthermore, there are plenty of hiking trails and cycling routes around this gem of a lake that both locals and tourists enjoy life no matter the season.
Read also: Holidays at Lake Zell in Austria
11. Weissensee Lake (Weißensee)photo source: Pixabay
Ideally located in the Austrian state of Carinthia and within the Gailtal Alps mountain range, Weissensee is Austria’s highest swimming lake.
At 930 meters above sea level, it lies in a sunny, high valley with water temperature reaching up to 25 degrees Celsius even in early fall.
One of the most unique features of Weissensee lake is its turquoise water that has also a drinking-water-quality, which along with the temperature, attracts visitors to enjoy the summer water pleasures.
All kinds of water sports are available on the Weissensee lake, from wakeboarding and waterskiing to scuba diving and ice diving.
Animal watching enthusiasts have plenty to look forward to as plenty of wildlife including geese and herons inhabit the area around the lake.
The Weissensee Nature Park, which surrounds the Weissensee lake, offers a wide variety of outdoor activities with over 200 kilometers of marked paths for biking,hiking, walking, and Nordic walking.
What makes this place truly unique - during wintertime, Weissensee freezes over completely to form Europe’s largest continuously frozen natural area of ice.
Ice sports enthusiasts come from around the world to experience 6.5 square kilometers of smooth, glass-like skating terrain.
Moreover, every year in January, Dutch 11-City Tour hosts a global spectacle where an astonishing 3,000 participants brave marathons spanning 50 km - 200 km! Not only that – Europe's largest traditional curling tournament also takes place here each winter.
In addition, Alpine skiing, snowshoeing and Cross-country skiing are available around the lake.
Read also: Holidays at Weissensee in Austria
12. Mondsee Lakephoto source: Pixabay
Mondsee lake or 'Moon Lake' in English, which is located very close to Salzburg, almost between Wolfgansee and Attersee, is one of the warmest lakes in the Salzkammergut region, with a water temperature of up to 27 °C.
It's clear turquoise water that is surrounded by majestic karst peaks creates an image that encapsulates true beauty.
Thousands of visitors flock year-round to Mondsee to experience its many offerings. From sailing and surfing, to kitesurfing, swimming and more; adventure seekers are sure to find something exhilarating here.
The main town at the same name nestled along the banks of Mondsee lake, is renowned for its former monastery and particularly for the Mondsee Basilica which was featured in the classic movie The Sound of Music.
Lastly, the towering karst peak Drachenwand (Dragon Wall) stands majestically in view offering plenty of excitement with hiking, climbing and BASE jumping opportunities available.
A visit to Lake Mondsee is sure to be an unforgettable experience, whether you go to enjoy the joys of the water or take part in another activity, such as cycling around it.
Read also: 19 Top Places to Visit in Austria
13. Lake Constancephoto source: Pixabay
Lake Constance, or Bodensee as it's called in German, is the third largest lake in Central Europe, located between Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Bregenz, the biggest city in Austria that borders the lake, is well known for its cable car that goes to the top of Pfänder mountain, allowing visitors a spectacular view of both the lake and its surroundings.
Taking a boat ride on Lake Constance is one of the best ways to appreciate its beauty; there are multiple ferries running between countries. You can also rent a private boat and go out into the lake for some excellent water jumping.
On the shores of Lake Constance one can also find cultural attractions such as old castles, historic sites and lush gardens.
Any traveler looking for a perfect blend of stunning nature, culture and history should certainly consider visiting this magnificent lake.
Read also: 12 must-see alps villages in Austria
And Finally… Here they are - one of the most beautiful lakes in Austria, which should be visited by everyone who travels to this fabulously beautiful country. No matter which one you choose, these 13 best lakes are sure to fascinate and amaze you with their breathtaking views and experiences. Have an adventurous trip!