10 Pristine Lakes in Latvia One Must Definitely Visit

Latvia is indeed a verdant gem in the Northern part of Europe, often overlooked in favor of its more well-known neighbors. However, its serene beauty, rich wildlife, and preserved tradition, coupled with a burgeoning urban culture, make it an exciting destination for every kind of traveler.

The Gauja National Park, Latvia’s largest national park, is a perfect example of Latvia’s natural bounty. It spans over more than 90,000 hectares of land and is home to over 900 species of plants, 149 bird species, and 48 mammal species. A visit here will provide you with opportunities for hiking, bird-watching, and exploring the unique flora and fauna.

Kemeri National Park is another must-visit for nature lovers. Famous for its Great Kemeri Bog, it offers a distinctive landscape of little lakes and peat bogs. During a sunrise or sunset, the vista here is absolutely magical.

In terms of water bodies, Latvia’s Lake Lubans is the country’s largest lake and offers a rich biodiversity. For a unique experience, a trip to Lake Engure, known for its bird-watching opportunities, should be on your list.

Moreover, Latvia is the second greenest country in the world, according to the Environmental Performance Index, meaning that its cities are also surrounded by greenery. Riga, the capital city, is known for its beautiful parks such as the Vermanes Garden and the Bastejkalna Park.

Latvia’s dedication to conservation ensures that these natural wonders remain undisturbed and continue to flourish. Its natural beauty is complemented by its rich cultural heritage. Riga’s historic center, for instance, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and small towns like Cēsis and Talsi offer a glimpse into the country’s past.

The combination of untouched nature and vibrant tradition makes Latvia a fascinating destination that deserves to be on every traveler’s list.

10 Beautiful Lakes in Latvia

Latvia’s picturesque landscape is adorned with captivating lakes, generously scattered across the nation. Discover the top 10 lakes in Latvia that are an absolute must-visit during your trip, ensuring an enchanting experience in this beautiful country.

1. Lake Burtnieks

Lake Burtnieks

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Lake Burtnieks is located in the northern part of Latvia and is the fourth largest lake in the country, covering an area of approximately 40.7 square kilometers. The lake is long and narrow, stretching approximately 13.6 kilometers in length, while its maximum width is about 5.5 kilometers.

The lake is fed by more than ten small streams and its only outflow is the Salaca River, which is known for salmon and trout fishing. The lake itself is a popular spot for fishing as well, with species such as perch, pike, eel, bream, roach, and other species commonly found in the lake.

In terms of biodiversity, the lake and its surroundings are rich in different species of flora and fauna. In fact, the lake is included in the Natura 2000 network, which is a network of nature protection areas in the European Union.

The surroundings of the lake are picturesque and serene with forests, meadows, and agricultural lands. The lake’s shoreline is quite diverse, featuring sandy and rocky beaches, steep banks, and several natural and landmarks.

In the vicinity of Lake Burtnieks, you’ll find a number of cultural and historical landmarks, including the Burtnieki Lutheran Church and the ruins of the medieval Burtnieki Castle. These attractions, coupled with the natural beauty of the lake and its surroundings, make Lake Burtnieks a popular destination for both local residents and tourists.

For recreational activities, apart from fishing, you can enjoy boating and watersports on the lake during the summer months, and ice fishing and skating during the winter. The lake is also a great spot for birdwatching, hiking, and picnicking.

Location: Latvia

2. Lake Lubans

Lake Lubans

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Lake Lubāns is the largest lake in Latvia by volume and the second largest by surface area, after Lake Rāzna. It is located in the eastern part of the country, covering an area of about 82 square kilometers. However, the lake is relatively shallow, with an average depth of only 1 meter.

Lake Lubāns is a eutrophic lake, meaning it is rich in nutrients and therefore supports a high rate of plant growth and wildlife. It is a very important site for birds, particularly waterfowl, and has been recognized as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The lake and its surrounding wetlands serve as a resting, feeding and breeding site for many species of birds, including several threatened and vulnerable species. This makes it a popular destination for birdwatching, and visitors can potentially spot species such as the white-tailed eagle, the osprey, and various species of ducks and geese.

One interesting aspect of Lake Lubāns is that it is partially regulated by a system of canals and sluices. These were built in the 19th century to control water levels and prevent flooding of the surrounding land, which is used for agriculture. However, this also means that the lake’s water levels can vary significantly throughout the year.

In terms of recreational activities, fishing is a popular pastime at Lake Lubāns, with the lake being home to a variety of fish species including pike, bream, roach, perch, and tench.

The surrounding area of the lake offers various hiking and biking trails, which allow visitors to explore the beautiful landscapes of the region. The “Lubāns Wetland Trail” is a popular route which provides information about the unique nature of the wetland and its importance for bird life.

Location: Osupe Parish, Madona district, Latvia.

3. Lake Razna

Lake Razna

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Lake Rāzna, located in the eastern part of Latvia, is the largest lake in the country by surface area, covering around 57.6 square kilometers. It is situated in the Rāzna National Park and is a major attraction due to its natural beauty and biodiversity. The lake’s average depth is around 3 meters, but it can reach up to 4.5 meters in some places.

The lake is known for its abundance of fish, making it a popular spot for fishing. Species like bream, pike, perch, and eel are commonly found in the lake.

The shoreline of the lake is very picturesque, featuring sandy beaches, pine forests, and various types of plants. Many different species of birds can also be spotted in the area, making it a good place for bird watching.

The lake is part of the Rāzna National Park, which is the second largest national park in Latvia and was established to protect the lake and its surrounding areas. The park features several nature trails for hiking, and camping is also allowed in certain areas.

In the vicinity of the lake, you can find several tourist attractions. One of them is the Ežezers lake, the lake with the most islands in Latvia. There are also several viewing towers in the area that offer panoramic views of the lake and its surroundings.

In terms of recreation, in addition to fishing and bird watching, visitors can also enjoy swimming, boating, and windsurfing on the lake during the summer. During the winter, the frozen lake offers opportunities for ice fishing, skating, and cross-country skiing.

Lake Rāzna’s natural beauty and diverse range of activities make it a must-visit destination in Latvia.

Location: Raznava, Latvia

4. Lake Engure

Lake Engure

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Lake Engure is located in the western part of Latvia and is a part of the Engure National Park. The lake itself covers an area of about 10 square kilometers, making it one of the largest lakes in Latvia.

One of the most distinctive features of Lake Engure is its diverse and abundant birdlife. The lake and the surrounding area are a sanctuary for numerous birds, and it’s considered one of the most important bird habitats in Latvia. Many species, some of which are endangered, can be observed here, making it a must-visit for birdwatchers.

The lake is relatively shallow, with an average depth of only 1 meter. It is separated from the Gulf of Riga by a narrow strip of land, and its water is brackish due to its proximity to the sea. The lake’s shoreline is diverse, featuring marshlands, reed beds, meadows, and forests.

As a part of Engure National Park, Lake Engure is situated in an area of great natural beauty. The park is home to a variety of wildlife and has several trails that allow visitors to explore the beautiful landscapes and enjoy activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and nature photography.

Nearby, you can also find the seaside village of Engure and the beautiful sandy beaches of the Gulf of Riga. The local museum in Engure offers insights into the area’s history and nature.

In terms of recreational activities, birdwatching is undoubtedly the most popular. However, you can also enjoy fishing, boating, and during the summer months, the nearby beaches offer opportunities for swimming and sunbathing.

Overall, Lake Engure is a place of tranquillity and natural beauty, perfect for nature lovers and those who are seeking a peaceful retreat.

Location: Engure Parish, Engure, Latvia.

5. Dridzis Lake

Dridzis Lake

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Lake Dridzis, located in the eastern part of Latvia, is known for its depth. It’s the deepest lake in Latvia and one of the deepest in the Baltic States, reaching depths of up to 65.1 meters. It’s located in the Dagda municipality and covers an area of about 3.2 square kilometers.

Despite its small surface area, Lake Dridzis stands out due to its clear waters and the surrounding natural beauty. The lake is surrounded by forest, making it a serene spot for relaxation and nature appreciation.

The lake is home to several species of fish, including pike, perch, and bream, which makes it a popular location for fishing. There are also several species of birds found in the surrounding forests, making it a suitable location for birdwatching.

The Lake Dridzis area is great for outdoor activities such as hiking and picnicking, especially during the summer months. During winter, when the lake freezes over, it’s possible to enjoy ice fishing and skating.

Near Lake Dridzis, there are a few cultural and historical sites, including the town of Dagda with its unique architecture, orthodox church, and local museum which tells the history of the region.

Although not as large or famous as some other Latvian lakes, Lake Dridzis is certainly worth visiting for its unique characteristics and tranquil, natural surroundings.

Location: Latvia

6. Lake Kisezers

Lake Kisezers

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Lake Ķīšezers is a large, elongated lake located in the northeastern part of Riga, the capital city of Latvia. The lake covers an area of about 16.4 square kilometers, making it the largest lake in Riga and one of the largest in Latvia.

The lake’s name, “Ķīšezers”, translates to “Long Lake” in English, a fitting name considering its stretched, irregular shape. The lake is divided into two parts, Large Ķīšezers and Small Ķīšezers, and it features several small islands.

Lake Ķīšezers is surrounded by beautiful parks and forests, providing scenic views and making it a perfect place for nature walks and picnics. The lake’s calm waters also make it a popular spot for various recreational activities. Boating and fishing are quite common, with the lake being home to several species of fish including perch, pike, and bream.

In addition, the lake is a popular venue for various water sports, including rowing and sailing. The Latvian Rowing Championship is frequently held at the lake, making it a gathering spot for sports enthusiasts.

The area around the lake includes the Mežaparks neighbourhood, one of the most beautiful and prestigious areas in Riga. Mežaparks is known for its large, green park (also called Mežaparks), its open-air stage, which is one of the main venues for the famous Latvian Song and Dance Festival, and the Riga Zoo, the largest zoo in the Baltic states.

Lake Ķīšezers is an excellent destination for anyone visiting Riga, offering a blend of recreational opportunities, natural beauty, and cultural experiences.

Location: Riga, Latvia.

7. Pape Lake

Pape Lake

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Lake Pape is located in the southwestern part of Latvia, near the Baltic Sea coast. It’s a part of the broader Pape Nature Park, which is a protected area of significant environmental value. The nature park is a part of the Natura 2000 network, a collection of important nature protection areas across the European Union.

The lake itself covers approximately 2 square kilometers. Despite its small size, Lake Pape is of great ecological importance. It’s a lagoon lake, separated from the Baltic Sea by a thin strip of sand, and has a mix of both freshwater and saltwater. The lake’s unique conditions support a wide array of wildlife, making it a biodiversity hotspot.

Lake Pape is particularly known for its rich birdlife. It’s an important stopping point for migratory birds, with more than 200 species reported in the area. Bird enthusiasts have the opportunity to observe rare species such as the lesser spotted eagle, the corn crake, and the black stork.

In addition to birds, the area around the lake is home to several large mammals, including red deer, roe deer, elk, and even European bison, which have been reintroduced to the area.

The lake’s proximity to the Baltic Sea means that visitors can enjoy the beauty of the lake, the nearby forests, and the sea all in one place. There are several trails around the lake perfect for hiking and birdwatching, and the nearby sea offers opportunities for swimming and sunbathing.

Overall, Lake Pape is a fantastic destination for those who love nature and wildlife. Its unique ecosystem and tranquil setting make it a memorable place to visit.

Location: Pape, Latvia

8. Kanieris Lake

Kanieris Lake

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Lake Kaņieris is a beautiful shallow coastal lake located in the western part of Latvia, not far from the Gulf of Riga. It spans an area of about 17.3 square kilometers. The lake is part of the Kemeri National Park, which is known for its rich biodiversity and stunning natural landscapes.

Lake Kaņieris is a lagoon lake, separated from the sea by a sandbar, and its water is slightly brackish due to the inflow of seawater from the Gulf of Riga. This unique environment makes the lake a special habitat for various species of birds and fish.

The lake and its surroundings are particularly notable for birdlife. It’s an essential breeding ground, migration stopover, and wintering site for many species of waterfowl and wading birds. Birdwatchers may spot species such as the black stork, white-tailed eagle, osprey, and various species of ducks, geese, and swans.

The lake’s surroundings are a mixture of reed beds, marshes, meadows, and forests, adding to its scenic beauty. There are several hiking trails and birdwatching towers around the lake, making it a great place for nature observation and outdoor activities.

Fishing is also popular at Lake Kaņieris, with the lake being home to various species of fish like pike, perch, roach, bream, and eel. The lake’s large area and shallow depth also make it a suitable location for windsurfing.

Nearby, you can visit the Kemeri National Park, which is known for its bog landscapes, therapeutic mineral springs, and sulfuric mud, which have made the area a popular health resort since the 19th century.

Lake Kaņieris, with its natural beauty and wealth of birdlife, offers a peaceful escape for nature lovers and birdwatchers alike.

Location: Engure County, Latvia

9. Lake Aluksne

Lake Aluksne

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Lake Alūksne is located in northeastern Latvia in the town of Alūksne. It’s the 10th largest lake in the country, covering an area of around 15.7 square kilometers. The lake is known for its clean, clear water, and its depth reaches up to 8.2 meters.

Lake Alūksne is part of a picturesque landscape with its azure waters surrounded by green forests and hills. The lake itself is a popular spot for various water activities. During the summer, you can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing, while in winter, when the lake is frozen, ice fishing and skating are popular activities.

The lake is home to several fish species, such as perch, pike, and roach, making it a great place for fishing enthusiasts. Birdwatchers will also find the lake and its surrounding areas to be an interesting spot, as it attracts various bird species.

The town of Alūksne is located on the shores of the lake and it offers a blend of natural beauty and historical charm. There are several historic sites in the town, such as the Alūksne New Castle, the Alūksne Castle ruins, and the Alūksne Manor Park.

One unique feature of Lake Alūksne is the island in the middle of the lake, known as Pils Island, which hosts the ruins of the medieval Alūksne Castle. During the summer, you can rent a boat to explore this small island and learn more about the local history.

With its stunning landscapes, recreational opportunities, and historical sites, Lake Alūksne is a must-visit location in Latvia.

Location: Aluksne Municipality, Latvia

10. Lake Jugla

Lake Jugla

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Lake Jugla is located in the northeastern part of Riga, the capital city of Latvia. It’s the second largest lake in Riga after Lake Ķīšezers, covering an area of about 4.3 square kilometers. The lake, with its tranquil waters and green surroundings, offers a peaceful retreat within the city limits.

The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including perch, pike, and roach, which makes it a popular spot for fishing. Its shores are a mix of sandy beaches, grassy areas, and woods, providing a scenic backdrop for walks, picnics, and relaxation.

In addition to fishing and walking, other popular activities at Lake Jugla include boating and swimming, especially during the summer months. The lake’s calm waters also make it suitable for paddleboarding and other water sports.

One of the notable attractions near the lake is the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, which is located on the eastern shore of the lake. The museum showcases traditional Latvian rural architecture and lifestyles. Visitors can explore over a hundred buildings from all regions of Latvia, including farmhouses, windmills, and churches, most of which date back to the 17th to 19th centuries.

Overall, Lake Jugla is an excellent place to visit if you’re looking to enjoy nature and outdoor activities within the city of Riga. It combines the beauty and tranquility of a natural lake environment with the convenience of being easily accessible within the city.

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