Whether it’s going for a dip in your favourite lake or spending the day kayaking or fishing under the warm summer sun, there’s no better place to do so than right here in Canada. There are more lakes in Canada than any other nation in the world, and you don’t have to travel far to discover some of the most beautiful freshwater lakes in any province.
Canada is home to four of the five Great Lakes, and the highest concentration of lakes in the world are in the northern and eastern regions of the country. And many of Canada’s lakes can be enjoyed any time of year; whether it be while ice fishing in the winter or hiking to a sparkling blue glacial lake on a summer road trip. From the most famous lakes to some you may not even know about, here’s a glimpse of the best lakes in Canada from coast to coast.
Please note: Check the latest health and safety guidelines with the local municipality before visiting a lake near you, and be sure to read and follow the regulations for the wellbeing of yourself as well as others. It’s also vital to be respectful of the natural landscape, making sure you #LeaveNoTrace.
Most beautiful lakes in Canada for swimming
The breathtaking views in Squamish, BC are not to be missed. Located along the infamous Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler, Brohm Lake near Squamish is the perfect lake for a swim. The water is shallow here and there’s limited parking nearby, so come early and you can enjoy some unforgettable moments on this calm body of water. Make sure to bring your hiking boots so you can explore all the trails that loop around the lake, including the Interpretive Forest Trail.
Located in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, the beautiful Cultus Lake is warm and welcoming to visitors. This freshwater lake doubles as a provincial park and is just over 100 kilometres from the city of Vancouver, making for an excellent weekend trip during the hot summer months. Check out the trail at nearby Teapot Hill for excellent views of the lake — we assure you that once you get here, you won’t want to leave! While you’re in the Fraser Valley, consider treating yourself to a wellness getaway at a nearby Harrison Hot Springs.
The “belle province” of Quebec is home to a number of beautiful lakes from south to north. One of the best lakes in Quebec is Meech Lake (Lac Meech in French) in the town of Chelsea. Located in Gatineau Park, this is the perfect lake for a swim and to spend a sunny summer’s day with friends and family. Choose between O’Brien Beach or Blanchet Beach, where you can enjoy the lake’s shoreline and a picnic on the sand or the nearby tables. The water at Quebec’s Lac Meech remains safe for swimming, and you can check the swim guide for the latest updates and safety guidelines for your next visit.
Most beautiful lakes in Canada to enjoy with the family
No list of the most beautiful lakes in Canada is complete without mentioning what’s probably our most iconic lake of all, Lake Louise. Beloved by Canadians and revered around the world, the stunning Lake Louise in Banff is your picture-perfect family escape any time of year. Exploration and activities abound here. Travellers can enjoy an epic day of skating on the frozen lake in the winter, take the kids on a canoe ride during the summer months, and stay at a nearby hotel for an unforgettable getaway. Be sure to check out the nearby Moraine Lake, which is equally impressive.
Ever wondered why Lake Louise is so blue? The lakes in Banff are all glacier-fed, and it’s the rock flour that’s carried in via melted ice from the glaciers that give these lakes that beautiful blue and turquoise colour.
Known as the 10th largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Winnipeg provides hydropower, numerous resources, and so much beauty to the province of Manitoba. This beautiful prairie province is actually filled with lakes: there are over 100,000 lakes in Manitoba alone! The shores along the lake are also home to a number of First Nation and Metis communities, who’ve been on the land for centuries. There have unfortunately been algae blooms found on the lake as of late, and you can learn more about the conservation efforts for Lake Winnipeg put in place here.
Want to more tips for a trip to Winnipeg? Check out this guide.
Named one of the best lakes in Ontario for summer outdoor activities, Charleston Lake is a long-running local favourite. Spend your summer vacation camping at Charleston Lake Provincial Park, where you’ll be blessed with tons of hiking trails, rocky shoreline, beautiful bay views, and kid-friendly activities to keep everyone active and inspired.
Most beautiful lakes in Canada for water sports
Pyramid Lake is a remarkable glacial lake located in Jasper National Park. With canoeing, paddle boating, and kayaking in the summer and skating in the winter, there’s so much to do on a visit to this stunning lake. Kayaking is a perfect activity to savour the clear waters of Pyramid Lake, and rentals are readily available. Visitors during the winter months love skating, playing shinny hockey, and can even cross-country ski along the trails nearby.
The largest of all five Great Lakes, Lake Superior can be found along the beautiful shores of western Ontario. While it’s not safe to swim in Lake Superior, do not miss the stunning coastline and activities that this natural wonder has to offer. This Canadian lake has so many opportunities for hiking, camping, paddling, and lots of wildlife spotting. The trout fishing is also one of Lake Superior’s main highlights. If you’re visiting during the summer season (May-September), be sure to check out the unique Agawa Rock Pictographs.
Insider tip: Some of the best views of Lake Superior can be found at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay, so we definitely recommend adding this trip to your travel bucket list.
Most beautiful lakes for fishing
Did you know that Saskatchewan has the highest amount of lakes in any province in Canada? Our prairie provinces truly have so much to offer. If you’re looking for an exclusive lake getaway with some world-class fishing, then Reindeer Lake which borders northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba might just be for you. Located just south of Northwest Territories, Reindeer Lake has been named one of the best lakes for trophy fishing, where you can catch (and release) some of the biggest northern pike, walleye, and trout fish imaginable. Accessible only by boat or floatplane, book your stay at a nearby lodge where you can fish all day and experience the wonder of the northern lights at night.
Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake in NWT is the second-largest lake of our northern territories and offers so much to see and do. Come up to this lake for activities throughout the year such as fun winter festivals, sailing, wildlife watching, and lots of fishing opportunities, just to name a few. The fishing season here might be short but remember, the days up north during the summer months are almost 24 hours long! You can enjoy entire days (literally) fishing and kayaking on one of Canada’s most impressive lakes. A visit up here is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Be sure not to miss the adorable houseboats that line some of the lake’s shores on Yellowknife Bay!
Most remote lake in Canada
Great Bear Lake
Even further north in the heart of Canada’s boreal forest is Great Bear Lake, one of the largest masses of freshwater in the world. This huge, pristine lake (roughly the size of Armenia) is sacred territory for the Dene First Nation and local Metis people. The lake was returned to them in 2016 when Great Bear Lake and the surrounding area were named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and it’s now governed by the local native communities.
Frequently asked questions
Canada has the highest number of lakes in the world, and it’s estimated that between 7-9% of the country consists of freshwater. According to the World Atlas, there are 31,752 lakes in Canada over three square kilometres. But when it comes to lakes of any size, it’s been estimated that Canada has about two million lakes!
The largest lake in Canada is none other than the great Lake Superior. Second and third place go to Lake Huron and Great Bear Lake. Great Bear Lake is actually the largest lake that’s entirely in Canada.
Great Slave Lake is Canada’s deepest lake, which goes as deep as 614 metres.
Even though we’ve just scratched the surface of the best lakes in Canada, we encourage you to get outside to discover your favourite lake in your local province. Always make sure to follow the safety guidelines put in place and be mindful of your fellow explorers so that we can all enjoy our favourite lakes across the country for years to come.
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