Norway’s lake scenery is among the most beautiful on the planet. The north European country—lying on the western fringes of Scandinavia—is scattered with thousands of lakes, typically freshwater pools filled with glacial meltwater.
Most of Norway’s lakes share similar qualities. Bound by pine-clad mountains and verdant hills, the waters shimmer a spectrum of soothing greens and blues.
Norway’s best lakes are found close to the craggy seashore, inland from the dramatic fjords, and near Oslo, the cosmopolitan capital. They nearly all offer hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and the chance to go wild swimming.
Discover some of the best lakes in Norway, from idyllic lakes atop Bergen’s city mountains to tranquil stretches where the only sound is the soft rumbling of waterfalls.
Djupvatnet, near Geiranger
Traverse switchbacks on a thrilling journey to Djupvatnet from Geiranger. The zigzagging drive takes roughly 45 minutes, with several viewing points along the route allowing sweeping vistas of the snow-capped mountains, mountain villages, and cascading waterfalls.
The 565-foot-deep Djupvatnet is often snow-covered, even by early summer, thanks to its altitude of 3,333 feet above sea level. Once you’ve gazed at the dazzling natural pool, continue your journey by ascending the 4,843-foot Mount Dalsnibba.
Step onto the awe-inspiring Geiranger Skywalk, a mountain top viewing platform cantilevered over the edge of Dalsnibba’s rocky plateau. Ensure your camera is fully charged to capture the far-reaching views over the UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjorden.
Take a seat by the roaring fire at Geiranger Skywalk Café and tuck into a sticky cinnamon roll, or the Norwegian classic snack of waffles, jam, and cream.
The toll road from Geiranger to Dalsnibba is only passable during summertime, so only suitable if you’re visiting between June and August.
The slender, deep-green Oppstrynsvatn is located near the village of Stryn and close to the port of Olden in western Norway.
Stretching from Hjelle in the east to Mindresunde in the west, Oppstrynsvatn is surrounded by sharp mountain peaks and icy glaciers that feed into the lake. Its deepest point is in Nesje, where Oppstrynsvatn is around 755 feet, making the lake one of the 20 deepest in Norway.
One of the best things to do in Norway is to go for an exhilarating hike around Oppstrynsvatn to soak up some of the fresh mountain air and serene fjord landscape. Look out for locals or vacationers enjoying the fishing here, with Arctic char, trout, and, during summer, salmon and eel in the lake.
On the lake’s southern shore, you’ll find the Jostedalsbreen National Park Center, which tells the story of Jostedalsbreen glacier and its many arms—including Nigardsbreen and Briksdalsbreen, one of the best places to visit in Norway. Jostedalsbreen is the largest glacier in mainland Europe and lies to the south of the lakes outside of Olden.
Jostedalsbreen National Park Center offers a wonderful insight into the region. Visit the indoor exhibition to view equipment used by some of the first Jostedalsbreen glacier guides.
The exhibition also details the glacier’s geology, including how it was formed, and answers questions such as why are glaciers blue and glacial meltwater viridescent, or greenish?
Outside, take time to enjoy the stillness of the lake-facing Botanical Garden. Around 200 plants, trees, and flowers are on display, while the Geological Park displays 26 types of rock from the regions Nordfjord, Sunnfjord, and Sogn.
There’s a gift shop and cafe at the center to relax with a coffee and browse Norwegian wooly sweaters, handmade jewelry, and local jelly, cured sausage, and honey.
Randsfjorden, near Oslo
Lying directly above Oslo, the trout-filled Randsfjorden is just over an hour’s drive from the capital. Norway’s fourth-biggest lake is long and narrow, with the Dokka and Etna rivers flowing into the north of the lake and the lake draining into the Randselva river to the south.
The Randsfjorden’s Dokka delta is a protected wetland and one of the best places near Oslo for bird watching, with plenty of waders and migrating birds. Look out for great crested grebe, pink-footed goose, common teal, tufted duck, common crane, golden plover, and common greenshank.
At the southern tip of Randsfjorden, there’s a child-friendly beach where you can enjoy a splash and swim in the refreshing water. There’s also a fun-filled inflatable bathing park with slides and other obstacles set out in the water that you’ll need to pre-book for a one-hour session.
Lake Skomakerdiket, Bergen
High up above Bergen, Lake Skomakerdiket is located on one of the city’s seven mountains, Fløyfjellet. This peaceful lake is easily reached from the center of Bergen by taking the city’s Fløibanen funicular railway from the lower station on Vetrlidsallmenningen to the top station.
Boarding the funicular is one of the best things to do in Bergen, offering a scenic journey taking less than 10 minutes, with impressive views across the city from the top.
Lake Skomakerdiket is one of the best lakes in Norway to visit if you’re traveling with children. It’s a short 10-minute walk from the station to the lake and there’s a children’s playground right by the top station, too.
Surrounded by green foliage, Skomakerdiket is an idyllic summer spot with free canoe rental from late June to August. You don’t need to pre-book, either. Just turn up at the lake’s pier.
You could also follow the hiking trails from Skomakerdiket to one of Bergen’s other mountains, including Fjellhytten, Blåmann, and Rundemanen.
There’s a cafe by the lake and a restaurant, Fløien, at Fløibanen top station.
Hornindalsvatn, near Olden
Lakes in Norway are outrageously beautiful, and Hornindalsvatn is no exception. At 1,686 feet, Hornindalsvatn is Europe’s deepest lake. The water here is also some of the clearest.
Roughly a 30-minute drive north of Olden, head for the village of Grodås, nestled into the lake’s easternmost point. Hire kayaks or rowing boats to paddle across the lake.
If you remember to pack aqua shoes and a wetsuit or suitable swimwear, consider going for an exhilarating swim in the crystalline pool. Trout fishing is popular, too, though you will need a license, which can be purchased from Raftevolds Hotel or Grodås Camping in Grodås.
The village has limited facilities, though there is a cafe and restaurant. Go prepared with snacks and a drink to enjoy beside the lake.
This small circular lake on the outskirts of Stavanger is a popular walking and running spot, particularly among locals who live in the south of the city. Stroll from the center of Stavanger to Mosvatnet via the pretty Eiganes neighborhood. You could also rent a bike and enjoy a cycle ride to and around the lake.
Stop at Stavanger Art Museum, located within a contemporary glass-domed building by the lake. Admire the museum’s 19th-century to present-day Norwegian art. The museum houses an exquisite collection of landscape works by 19th-century Norwegian artist Lars Hertervig.
The museum is surrounded by fragrant lavender shrubs and rose bushes during summertime. There’s a cafe with lovely lake views and a gift shop selling a delightful collection of pottery, ceramics, and other locally-sourced souvenirs.
A short distance from the villages of Loen and Olden, the silky Lovatnet Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, fed by mountain streams, mainly from the Jostedalsbreen and Tindefjellbreen glaciers. The water flows from the lake through the Loelva river, finally reaching the spectacular Nordfjorden.
For some of the most jaw-dropping views of one of the best lakes in Norway, hop on the Loen Skylift, a cable car at the innermost section of the Nordfjord. The five-minute cable car journey will whisk you 3,316 feet to the top of Mount Hoven.
Step out to extraordinary views in every direction, including the snowy peak of Mount Skåla, Lake Lovatnet, Jostedalsbreen, Olden, and Nordfjorden.
Enjoy a hearty lunch at Hoven restaurant. On a pleasant day, take a seat at the outdoor terrace to soak up more views and relish dishes such as fresh beetroot salad, a charcuterie platter of locally cured meats, and creamy wild mushroom soup.
Another option in summer is to enjoy a tranquil boat ride on the lake aboard MS Kjenndal II. The boat operates from Sande in the northwest to Kjenndalstova, the southeast tip of the lake, including a two-hour stop.
Sit back and enjoy the dramatic backdrop of dense pine forests, which appear to tumble into the luminous emerald lake. You’ll also get a glimpse of the magnificent Ramnefjellsfossen, one of Norway’s most impressive waterfalls, which drops in four stages from a total height of 2,684 feet.
During a stop in Kjenndalstova, enjoy deliciously sweet waffles and a steaming cup of coffee before returning to Sande. If you’re eager to get even closer to the water, rent a boat or canoe in Kjenndalstova and enjoy a paddle on the lake.
Read: Best Lakes in Europe
Located just a few miles northwest of Stavanger, Hålandsvatnet is one of the most serene lakes in Norway.
A five-mile trail conveniently loops around the lake, offering you the opportunity to hike Hålandsvatnet in its entirety on a neatly carved path. You could also tie a visit to Hålandsvatnet in with a coastal hike and continue towards Vistestranden, a small sandy cove that lies less than one mile from the lake.
Tyrifjorden, near Oslo
The gorgeous, sapphire-blue Tyrifjorden near Oslo branches in four directions, forming a unique H-shape. The lake is surrounded by swathes of pine forest with small, sandy Norwegian beaches dotted around the shore.
Pick a section of the lake and follow some of the best hiking in Norway either on the shore or in the dense woodlands that surround it. There’s little else here, so Tyrifjorden is perfect if you’re looking for a more scenic off-the-grid activity when visiting Oslo. Pack water and snacks to keep you going.
Oldevatnet is within easy reach of Olden, not far from the striking Briksdalsbreen arm of the Jostedalsbreen glacier. This shimmering strip is cradled between jagged, green-covered mountains, with mountain vistas reflected in the water.
Between June and August, you can hire three-person canoes, two-person kayaks, and five-seater timber boats from Yri Outdoor on the lake’s west shore. Yri Outdoor also doubles as an alfresco cafe serving fresh bites alongside breathtaking lake views. Mountain hikes are popular, too.
Whether you decide to go active on the lake or stay shoreside and marvel at the surrounding mountains, waterfalls, and glaciers, time spent at Oldevatnet is guaranteed to be a peaceful experience.
Lake Mjøsa, near Oslo
The 73-mile-long Mjøsa is Norway’s largest lake. The lake’s southern tip, Minnesund, is a 50-minute drive from Oslo, while the northern point, the winter ski resort of Lillehammer, an outdoor adventure center in summer, is just over a two-hour drive.
There are multiple kayak, bike, and boat hire stations around the lake, including in Tingnes, the midpoint of Mjøsa, and the location of the lake’s information office. Fishing is popular in Mjøsa, too, with large brown trout in abundance in the pristine waters.
In Hamar, on the east shore of Mjøsa, you’ll encounter one of Norway’s most famous diving towers. A jetty leads to a walkway, leading to a modernist, circular dive platform built into the water. Join locals and make a splash into the glistening water.
Afterward, enjoy a relaxing waterside sauna experience at Kok’s sauna boat. The sauna cabin features a large window with lake views. Paddleboarding and water skiing are also available during the summer months. Hamar offers plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafés, too.
A direct train service operates between Oslo Central Station and Hamar, which takes just over an hour, making Lake Mjøsa perfect for a day trip.
From Olden to Oslo, hiking, kayaking, swimming, and canoeing are just some of the activities on offer at the best lakes in Norway. Discover this stunning country on a luxury cruise to Norway.