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14 Largest Lakes in Europe: Listed by Size

Europe is filled with beautiful lakes and rivers. What is largest lake in Europe? And how does it compare to the other large lakes in this region? In this post, we’ll compare Europe’s largest lakes – by area, volume and depth.

What’s the largest lake in Europe? Lake Ladoga in northwestern Russia is the largest lake in Europe. And at 6,800 square miles, it’s almost twice as large as the second largest lake, neighboring Lake Onega.

largest lake in europe
Pictured is Europe’s largest lake: Lake Ladoga, Russia

Ready to dive in to the largest lakes in Europe?

Here are the 14 largest lakes in Europe, sorted by surface area.

1. Lake Ladoga, Russia

  • Surface Area: 6,800 sq mi (17,700 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 750 feet (231 meters)
  • Water Volume: 201 cu mi (837 km3)
  • Location: Northwestern Russia (Republic of Karelia and Leningrad Oblast)
lake lodoga
Oreshek Fortress located in Lake Ladoga during winter

Lake Ladoga is the largest lake in Europe. And it is also considered the purest lake on the planet. When the lake freezes in winter, it separates impurities and minerals. And the granite keeps the water from becoming salinated. And as the water flows to St. Petersburg, it is further filtered by charcoal rich forests.

The water from Lake Ladoga is the source of drinking water for St. Petersburg and is used to make vodka brand Russian Standard.

Lake Ladoga is 17,700 km2, 138 km wide, up to 231 meters deep, and 837 km3 in volume.

This lake is located between the republic of Karelia and Leningrad Oblast, on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. It is home to 660 islands and drains into the Gulf of Finland.

Orekhovy Island, located at the south western corner of Lake Ladoga, is home to Oreshek Fortress. This ancient fortress is also known as fortress at Shlisselburg. It was first built in 1323. And was the home to many battles between Russia and Sweden.

2. Lake Onega, Russia

  • Surface Area: 3,700 sq mi (9,700 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 417 feet (127 meters)
  • Water Volume: 68 cu mi (285 km3)
  • Location: Northwestern Russia (Republic of Karelia, Leningrad Oblast, and Vologda Oblast)
lake onega karelia

Lake Onega, otherwise known as Lake Onego, is the second largest lake in Europe. It has a surface area of 9,700 km2. It is also 90 km wide, 245 km long, and 285 km3 in volume.

It is located between the Leningrad Oblast, Vologda Oblast, and Karelia regions and is fed by around 50 rivers. Lake Onega has 1,650 islands on it.

The most famous island on Lake Onega is Kizhi. Kizhi is home to a famous 18th century church. And at 57 sq mi (147 km2) Big Klimenetsky is the largest island on the lake.

3. Lake Vänern, Sweden

  • Surface Area: 2,180 sq mi (5,650 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 348 feet (106 meters)
  • Water Volume: 36.7 cu mi (153 km3)
  • Location: Southwestern Sweden, in the provinces of Västergötland, Dalsland, and Värmland
Lake Vanern Sweden

Sweden’s Lake Vänern is the third largest lake in Europe. It is the largest lake in the European Union. It is located 44 meters above sea level, and is 5,655 km2 and 106 meters deep at its deepest point.

Experts think that is over 10,000 years old and formed because of the Quaternary glaciation.

Lake Vänern is fed by three rivers: the Klarälven, Byälven, and the Norsälven.

4. Saimaa, Finland

  • Surface Area: 1,700 sq mi (4,400 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 269 feet (82 meters)
  • Water Volume: 8.6 cu mi (36 km3)
  • Location: Southeastern Finland
Lake Saimaa Finland
Lake Saimaa – Port of Lappeenranta, Finland

The Saimaa is the 4th largest lake in Europe and is located in southeastern Finland. It is the largest lake in Finland! It is 4,400 km2 and was formed by glaciers that melted shortly after the Ice Age.

One cool thing about the Saimaa is that it has four different types of eutrophication, which means that there are four different levels of nutrients and minerals in the water, so each part of the lake looks different than the other parts.

5. Peipus, Russia

  • Surface Area: 1,373 sq mi (3,555 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 50 feet (15.3 meters)
  • Water Volume: 6 cu mi (25 km3)
  • Location: Eastern Estonia, western Russia
lake Peipus estonia russia
Shore of Lake Peipus with flock of shorebirds

Peipus Lake is the 5th largest lake in Europe and is located between Estonia and Russia. It is the largest transboundary lake in Europe.

The deepest part of the lake is only 15 meters deep, and the average depth is 7.1 meters, but it covers 3,555 km2 of surface area, which is why it is the 5th largest lake in Europe.

Lake Peipus is made up of three parts

  1. Lake Peipsi / Chudskoye: Northern section. The largest of the three parts
  2. Lake Lämmi / Tyoploye: Connection section. The smallest of the three parts
  3. Lake Pihkva / Pskovskoye: Southern section.

This lake drains into the Gulf of Finland and was a part of the Battle on the Ice in 1242.

6. Vättern, Sweden

  • Surface Area: 738 sq mi (1,912 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 420 feet (128 meters)
  • Water Volume: 18.5 cu mi (77 km3)
  • Location: South central Sweden
lake vattern sweden
Shoreline of Vättern, the second largest lake in Sweden

The Vättern is the second largest lake in Sweden but is the 6th largest lake in Europe. It is a very long, almost finger-shaped lake that is found in south-central Sweden.

The name is believed to come from the Swedish word for water, which is “vatten,” but many others think that the name comes from the word “vätter,” which means lake or forest spirits.

The lake is 1,912 km2 and the deepest point is 128 meters deep, but most of the lake is around 41 meters deep. Around the perimeter, the lake is 642 km.

7. Beloye, Russia

  • Surface Area: 500 sq mi (1,290 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 110 feet (34 meters)
  • Water Volume: 1.5 cu mi (6.2 km3)
  • Location: Northwestern Russia

Lake Beloye, also known as the White Lake, is located in Russia and is the 7th largest lake in Europe. It is located near the Belozersky District and the Vashkinsky District.

The lake is 46 kilometers in diameter and has an area of 1,130 square kilometers. Lake Beloye is a beautiful lake and is 50 meters deep at the deepest point, which is very deep for the area that it is in.

8. Lake Vygozero, Russia

  • Surface Area: 480 sq mi (1,250 km2)
  • Location: Northwestern Russia
Lake Vygozero Russia
Sunset over Lake Vygozero, Russia

Lake Vygozero is a freshwater lake located in the Republic of Karelia, which is in northwestern Russia. Lake Vygozero is the 8th largest lake in Europe.

It is part of the White Sea-Baltic Canal, and many people go fishing in the lake around the 500 islands that are located on it. It has an area of 1,250 km2 and drains into the White Sea Basin.

At its deepest point, this lake is only 24 meters deep.

9. Lake Mälaren, Sweden

  • Surface Area: 440 sq mi (1,140 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 210 feet (64 meters)
  • Water Volume: 3.36 cu mi (14 km3)
  • Location: Southeastern Sweden

Lake Mälaren, otherwise known as Lake Malar, is the third-largest lake in Sweden but is only the 9th largest lake in Europe.

This lake drains into the Baltic Sea and has an area of 1,140 km2. Its deepest point is 64 meters deep, and the lake is 120 kilometers long.

This lake drains through the Norrström, Söderström, and the Hammarbyleden waterways, as well as the Södertälje Canal.

10. Lake Päijänne, Finland

  • Surface Area: 413 sq mi (1,070 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 313 feet (95 meters)
  • Water Volume: 4.3 cu mi (18.1 km3)
  • Location: Southern Finland
Lake Paijanne Finland
Aerial view of Lake Päijänne, Finland

Lake Päijänne is located in Finland and is the second largest lake in that country. And it is only the 10th largest lake in Europe. This lake is 1,070 km2 in area and is 119 kilometers long.

Lake Päijänne is 95.3 meters deep at its deepest point. This lake is connected to Lake Keitele, Lake Vesijärvi, and Lake Ruotsalainen through various waterways and rivers.

This lake drains into the Gulf of Finland and is often used for boating, canoeing, and other sailing activities.

11. Lake Inari, Finland

  • Surface Area: 401 sq mi (1,040 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 302 feet (92 meters)
  • Water Volume: 3.8 cu mi (15.9 km3)
  • Location: Northern Finland
Lake Inari Finland
Aurora Borealis over Lake Inari, Finland

Lake Inari is the third largest lake in Finland but is the 11th largest lake in all of Europe. It is located to the north of the Arctic Circle in Sápmi, Finland.

It is about 119 meters above sea level and covers an area of 1,040 square kilometers. Lake Inari is 92 meters deep at its deepest point and is 49.71 miles long.

It freezes every year from November to June, so it cannot be used during the winter months, but many people use it for various activities during the summer months.

12. Lake Topozero, Russia

  • Surface Area: 381 sq mi (986 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 160 feet (50 meters)
  • Location: Northwestern Russia

Lake Topozero is located in Russia in the Republic of Karelia and is the 12th largest lake in Europe. It is 75.3 km long, 30.3 km wide, and is only 50 meters deep at the deepest part of the lake.

It has more than 100 islands on it, and people frequently go fishing and timber rafting on this lake.

13. Lake Ilmen, Russia

  • Surface Area: 379 sq mi (982 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 33 feet (10 meters)
  • Water Volume: 2.9 cu mi (12 km3)
  • Location: Northwestern Russia

Lake Ilmen is the 13th largest lake in Europe and is located in the Novgorod Oblast of Russia. It has an average surface area of 982 square kilometers and is fed by 52 rivers that flow into it.

Lake Ilmen is 10 meters deep at its deepest point. Historically, it was used by the Varangians for trading with the Greek people, and this lake was a very important part of the trading route.

This lake drains into Lake Ladoga, via the Volkhov.

14. Lake Segozero, Russia

  • Surface Area: 350 sq mi (906 km2)
  • Maximum Depth: 338 feet (103 meters)
  • Location: Northwestern Russia

Lake Segozero is the 14th largest lake in Europe. This lake is not the 14th largest natural lake in Europe, but when a hydroelectric power plant was built on the Segezha River, the water level rose 815 km² to 906 km², so now it is the 14th largest lake in Europe.

It is 48.7 kilometers long, has a maximum width of 35 kilometers, and is 103 meters deep.

More reading: 14 Largest Peninsulas in the World

europes largest lake
Sunset over Lake Ladoga, Europe’s largest lake

More reading: 9 Largest Lakes of Africa Compared

Where are Europe’s Largest Lakes Located?

It might surprise you to know that the largest lakes are located in just 3 of Europe’s 44 nations.

  • Russia: 8. Including the two largest lakes in Europe
  • Finland: 3
  • Sweden: 3

Your Turn

Have you been to one of these lakes? Which of Europe’s largest lake do you want to visit?