10 Stunning Lakes in German-Speaking Places in Europe

Discover 10 stunning lakes in German-speaking places in Europe and add them today to your travel bucket list.

The most beautiful lakes are located in the mountains, and most are smaller lakes that can be accessed in ease.

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Hidden gems amidst a natural landscapes, while still accessible, make these lakes undoubtedly the best to see when in Central Europe.

The German-speaking region is also known as DACH, which stands for D for Germany (Deutschland), A for Austria and CH for Switzerland (Confoederatio Helvetica).

Yet, if you have been following me for a while, you will know that German is also spoken in other regions in Europe. Small countries such as Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg, as well as historical regions including the Alsace province in France and South Tyrol in Italy.

You will find countless lakes in this area, but only a handful are truly the lakes from your dreams. With that, I mean the stereotype crystal clear waters, the mirroring mountains and the unique natural landscape surrounding them.

Each lake listed below includes a special reason why you should visit, and I’m also sharing a few tips and pointers.

Traveling in any of the German-speaking countries? Get a list of English to German travel phrase essentials and the Austrian German to English translation for your upcoming trip.

🔴 Königssee and Obersee Lake in Germany

View of St.Bartholomä at the Königssee
View of St.Bartholomä at the Königssee

Amidst the Berchtesgaden national park, is the mighty elongated Königssee lake. The green, ice-cold waters of this lake are said to be the deepest, and it is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in Germany.

König means king in German, which is a reference to an old legend. It is said that a cruel king and his family were turned to stone, and the king is the Watzmann mountain towering above the lake.

Take the electric boat ride from Schönau am Königssee to St.Bartholomä to enter the national park. The boat master will play you a song on the trumpet and the echo will make this an unforgettable, magical moment.

Continue your trip across the lake to the Salet station and visit a second lake, lake Obersee. This particular glacier – filled mountain lake is situated above the elongated Königssee, and your views will get all the more enriched from here onwards.

AccessibilityThe entry point of the Königssee lake can be easily accessed via Schönau. Park your car, and it’s a 5-minute walk to Schönau. The Obersee, on the other hand, can only be accessed via boats from the Königssee.
SwimmingYes, you can swim in this lake. You will find beaches near Schönau and in St.Bartholomä.
Frozen Lake in WinterNo, just the lake edges.
Walking AroundIt’s a large, elongated lake, so you won’t be able to walk around the lake. However, you can walk along the lake in Schönau to the Malerwinkel, which is the prettiest corner, OR take a walk through the St.Bartholomä forest, or from the latter to Salet.
DogsDogs need to be on a leash at all time and on the boat they need to have a muzzle. Dogs can’t swim in the lake because the lake is situated in a national park.

🟠 Resia Lake in Italy

Resia lake
Resia lake

A mysterious medieval bell tower stands out in the resia lake, turning this lake into a unique sight. Yet, the story around this lake is rather a sad one.

Situated in South Tyrol in northern Italy, lake resia, Reschensee, or lago di resia as it is now known, and its province venosta were once part of Austria. The fascist Italian government submerged the village of Grauen to build a water reservoir.

What you see today is a heritage protected church tower from the 15th century in the lake. Parts of the ruined underwater village reemerged when the waters of the reservoir were emptied in May 2021.

Since that, a legend has been making rounds, that locals could still hear the bells ring in the tower, all these years later.

You will find another lake nearby, the Haider lake, which is a nature reserve.

AccessibilityThe resia lake is situated on the ancient Roman via Claudia road, near the Reschenpass and Austrian border. A small parking can be found right next to the lake and if you come early enough in the day, you will get plenty of parking spots to choose from.
SwimmingYes, you can swim in this lake, but it’s ice-cold.
Frozen Lake in WinterYes, the lake partially freezes. The part, where the bell tower is located, freezes completely when it’s cold enough, and you can walk over to the bell tower.
Walking AroundYou can either walk around the whole lake, which would take about 4 hours, or you can do the small tour around the church tower.
DogsYou can walk your dog on a leash at the lake and a muzzle isn’t required. You can’t leave your dog to swim in the lake.

🟡 Hallstatt Lake in Austria

Hallstatt Village and Lake
Hallstatt Village and Lake

Hallstatt in Austria is considered, with Alpbach, one of the most beautiful villages in Austria. That’s for a good reason and thanks to the Hallstatt lake.

The combination of this cute-looking village with the lake, makes this region in the Salzkammergut, a prime must-see spot for visitors from all over the world.

Historically, Hallstatt was the capital of the Celtic tribes and salt mining made the area one of the richest in ancient times.

Today, visitors can travel high up via the funicular to see the salt mines in action and from there you get a 360-panoramic view of the Hallstätter lake.

AccessibilityThree major parking areas are situated near the lake and village. Yet, the lake can be accessed fairly easily from other points and towns.
SwimmingYes, you can swim in this lake, but look out for designated spots, which are not near Hallstatt itself.
Frozen Lake in WinterNo, the lake is large and doesn’t freeze.
Walking AroundIt’s a large lake so, you won’t get to walk around it. BUT you can walk along the banks of the river.
DogsYou can walk your dog on a leash at the lake and a muzzle isn’t required. Dogs and people can swim at the dog beach.

🟢 Lake Brienz in Switzerland

Known as the turquoise lake, lake Brienz or Brienzersee, in Switzerland, is a marvel in itself. This super sized lake is naturally green turquoise, and that’s a rare thing in this world.

I know Instagram and TikTok videos will show you lakes and turquoise rivers, but those are highly faked edited and colored filters. Brienz lake is the real deal!

Visit the town of Brienz or the picturesque village Iseltwald on the southern shore to get to the best photo spots. You will also find multiple hiking trails just above the lake, which will give you some unique photo points.

Another pretty lake nearby is the Thun lake and the city of Interlaken is situated right at the center between these two stunning lakes. The Lauterbrunnen valley is also a day trip from here.

AccessibilityIt’s a massive lake, and you will find multiple towns around the lake with plenty of possibilities to park your car and to access the lake.
SwimmingYes, you can swim in this lake, but look out for designated spots. It’s also a freezing cold lake.
Frozen Lake in WinterNo, the lake is large and doesn’t freeze.
Walking AroundIt’s a fairly large lake so, you won’t get to walk around it. BUT you can walk along the banks of the river.
DogsYou can walk your dog on a leash at the lake and a muzzle isn’t required. Dogs an swim at flat points at the lake border.

🔵 Eibsee Lake in Germany

Eibsee Lake in fall
Eibsee Lake in fall

The Eibsee lake is situated at the base of the Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain. This area is particularly picturesque thanks to the natural environment and traditional murals house paintings of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area.

Our highlight was being at the Eibsee lake soon after 8 am in October, when the foliage gets to mirror in the blue-green waters.

At first, it’s foggy, but by the time you walk to the right photo spot, you will have the most dazzling view of the mountains and lake.

I highly recommend spending a night or two at this lake in the wellness Hotel Eibsee to make the most of your trip to this natural wonder.

AccessibilityThe lake is accessible via the Zugspitze parking lot, but the best photo spots are after the Untersee (a smaller lake). Walk there for 15 minutes to take your first photos. The passage is doable with a stroller or wheelchair.
SwimmingIt’s an icy lake, so people usually don’t swim there.
Frozen Lake in WinterYes, the lake freezes completely by January, and then you can walk over to the small islands.
Walking AroundYou can do the 2-hour long scenic hiking loop. It’s great for beginners, too.
DogsYou can walk your dog around the lake and dogs can swim in the lake.

🟣 Hintersteinersee Lake in Austria

Hintersteinersee Lake
Hintersteinersee Lake

The Hintersteinersee lake is our little hidden gem and if you have been following us on our socials, you will have come across the clip with the fish swimming in turquoise crystal clear water.

This protected mountain lake is tucked away in the Austrian alps at the Kaiser mountain range. It’s just near the winter sports upscale resort Kitzbühel.

Follow the path along the lake for some unforgettable views, or continue a relaxing hike across the mountains on one of the many hiking trails in the region. Don’t forget to stop in one of the alms, a mountain inn, to try some local food specialties.

AccessibilityDrive to Scheffau and take the road up across the forests, which is another 10 minutes at least. You will find a parking lot right next to the lake. In peak season, come before 10 am to get a parking spot, or else you will have to drive away.
SwimmingYou will find a designated swimming space with a lawn near the parking lot, which is payable. The lake is under protection, and it has been privatized. Furthermore, the lake is freezing cold.
Frozen Lake in WinterNo, the lake doesn’t freeze completely.
Walking AroundYou can hike around the lake. The loop takes about 90 minutes in total and is partially through forest and the other side is along the road.
DogsYou can walk your dog around the lake on a leash. Dogs are not allowed to swim in this lake.

⚫️ Lake Braies in Italy

Lago di Braies
Lago di Braies © IDM Südtirol-Alto Adige/Harald Wisthaler

Emerald green waters and unparalleled mountain views, this is the lake Braies (aka lago di Braies or Pragser Wildsee).

Initially popularized by a local hiking guide and then by the Instagram community, this lake is South Tyrols’ most popular destination in the Italian Dolomites.

Due to its beauty, it has gained a lot of press over the years and the result is mass tourism at peak hours.

You have to purchase a ticket to enter the area during peak seasons, which might be sold out on the day when you arrive. In that case, you need to book a ticket in advance online. Peak season, by the way, means July and August.

My tip here is to visit in the early morning hours and at the end of the day, both times because the falling light on the lake appears differently at various times of the day.

The hiking loop is another top tip because you get to see the lake from other dazzling perspectives.

AccessibilityThe best way to get to this lake is via the shuttle bus. You can get there by car, and you will find a parking lot right next to the lake, BUT during peak seasons this is highly limited. In July and August, you need to purchase a ticket in advance to get to the lake, or you have the option to get there by car before 9:30 am or after 4:30 pm.
SwimmingYes, you can go for a swim in this lake, and it’s not all that cold.
Frozen Lake in WinterYes, the lake freezes completely in winter, and therefore you won’t be able to see any reflections in the water.
Walking AroundThe hiking loop around the lake is not difficult, and to complete it takes about 1 hour.
DogsYou can walk your dog around the lake on a leash, and dogs can swim in the lake.

⚪️ Achen Lake in Austria

Achensee lake
Achensee lake

Situated in the beautiful state of Tyrol in Austria, lies the Achensee lake, a large water body in the Brandenberg Alps. The lake, surrounded by mountains, was formed by glacier melt and therefore appears turquoise.

A small village known as Pertisau is your starting point at the Achensee, if you want to take a boat ride across the lake.

Yet, most visitors come to hike along the lake or to take a swim at the beach nearby. Sail boating and paddle boats are also very popular activities on the Achen lake.

AccessibilityThe lake can be accessed from various villages, such as Maurach, Pertisau and Achenkirch. Parkings can be a bit overpriced, but they are always situated near the shores of the lake.
SwimmingYou will find a designated swimming space in Maurach, next to the thermal spa, near Pertisau and Achenkirch.
Frozen Lake in WinterNo, the lake doesn’t freeze completely, it’s far too large.
Walking AroundYou can follow the hiking trail along the western rocky side of the lake. The hike starts near the boating area in Pertisau to Achenkirch. The total walking time exceeds 2 hours, but you can take a boat back to Pertisau (or vice versa).
DogsYou can walk your dog around the lake on a leash. You will find a dog beach where dogs can go swimming near Pertisau.

🟤 Karersee Lake in Italy

Karersee lake
Karersee lake © IDM Südtirol-Alto Adige/Tiberio Sorvillo

This might look like a lake to visit instead of lake Braies, but lake Karer is a gem in itself. It’s just that the international community hasn’t come across this lake yet.

Crystal clear waters mirror the Latemar massif and neatly lined pine trees, creating an almost fairy-tale like ambiance. This lake is small, but well worth a visit if you cross the Dolomites.

Fortunately, the area isn’t as touristy as lake Braies, but it can get busy too during peak seasons, so be prepared for that!

AccessibilityA large parking lot is situated about 15 minutes walking distance from the small lake. Go through the underpass to get there.
SwimmingThis lake is not suited for swimming.
Frozen Lake in WinterYes, this lake freezes completely in the winter months.
Walking AroundA picturesque stroll around the lake takes about 60 minutes, and it includes plenty of photo spots.
DogsYour dog can be on a leash when you stroll around the lake but swimming in the protected lake isn’t allowed.

🟥 Plansee in Austria

Plansee lake in Austria
Plansee lake in Austria, ©Tirol Werbung_Aichner Bernhard

Visitors exploring the great palaces of the Bavarian mad king will come across this lake. Lake Plan is in Austria to the German border, and you will stop here if you are visiting the Neuschwanstein castle and the Linderhof palace in Germany.

The Plansee is on a main road, making it very well accessible to anyone, yet it’s not overcrowded and it still offers stunning natural views.

Take in the grand panorama from the various car parking spots, or walk along the lake and take a boat back to the other side of the shore. The Plansee lake is a relaxing gem in the Austrian alps worth exploring!

The best part is that you will find a second lake connected to the Plansee lake called the Heiterwanger lake. Both are currently popular for stand up paddling and scuba diving.

AccessibilityYou will find a couple of car parking lots or stopping options along the road, right next to the lake.
SwimmingYou can go swimming anywhere along the lake.
Frozen Lake in WinterThis lake used to freeze completely, once upon a time, but not anymore.
Walking AroundWalk along the lake. There is an option to take a ferry back to the other side of the lake if you are tired. It’s a large lake!
DogsYour dog can be on a leash on the banks of the lake. Dogs can swim in the part connecting lake Plan and lake Heiterwanger.

💭 FAQs

When is the best time to visit these lakes?

If you want any of these lakes to yourself, visit outside the peak tourist season. Europe is most busy during the summer months, and it’s not any different in the mountains. I think the best time to see any of these lakes is in May and June or September or October. If you have come to take a dip, then visiting in summer on a weekday is your best option to make the most of your trip. For winter wonderland lovers and partially or fully frozen lakes, visit in January.

Can I fish in any of these lakes?

You can only legally fish in European lakes with a valid permission or fishing license. Fishing can be done without a license in designated fishing ponds.

What should you not do at a lake?

Don’t feed the ducks and swans with bread, it kills them. Don’t go skinny-dipping, for that, visit a German sauna thermal spa. Don’t let your dog swim in the lake, without checking first if dogs can swim there.

Are Drones allowed at any of these lakes?

No, drones are not allowed at any of the lakes.

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