Sea breeze, sunlit sands, and sizzling heat are traditional attributes of summer vacation. How about fresh coolness, wide tree crowns, and the serenity of a smooth, sparkling lake? Quite unlikely associations for most people! Yet, if you seek something more affordable than first-line hotels in San Sebastian or Santorini and got tired of sunburns, noisy parties, and crowded beaches, you will like our alternative.
Eastern Europe is known for its affordable service and not-so-hyped spots for combining nature exploration, swimming, and other summer activities. Welcome to our top-5 of the cleanest lakes in the region.
Wigry Lake, Poland
Wigry lake is located in the north-eastern part of Poland, close to the border with Lithuania. The lake is a part of Wigry National Park and is surrounded by the forests called Augustów Wilderness, so expect to see many trees on its shore. Being under protection means that tourists will have to abide by some rules while staying in the reserve’s territory. Still, the lake has places where swimming is allowed.
Other activities popular in the destination are cycling (there is a biking trail near the lake) and boat sports like canoeing and kayaking. Motorboats are not allowed in the area due to the regulations we mentioned above.
As for hotels and apartments, there is a wide variety of them. Most of the offerings are as affordable as $50 per night or often even less. There are also camping areas where you can stay in your tent. No expensive resorts were detected, though it can be a drawback for people who look for extra amenities and outstanding service.
Blue Lake, Ukraine
Blue lake is a hidden gem in the heart of coniferous forests of Ukraine’s Northern part, located near Chernihiv city. It’s known for its clear turquoise water, bearing some resemblance to the sea of the Eastern Adriatic coast, also renowned for pines on the beach and emerald waters.
In terms of accommodation choice, it’s not the best pick, though. The only notable hotel here is the Blue Lake complex. It’s likely the least luxurious resort on our list, where you can’t reside in a villa, order breakfast with champagne to your suite in the morning, and go out to the casino lounge in the evening. But it might seem an over-indulgence in the times when you can easily take champagne with yourself and access any online casinos from your mobile phone. On the other hand, it’s a plus for those who value pristine nature over crowded resort towns.
Good news that since 2021 arranging your vacation by yourself is even simpler: local authorities launched the direct bus transfer from Chernihiv to the destination.
Balaton Lake, Hungary
This one you have probably heard of. A stay on Balaton is something in-between conventional seaside trips and peaceful residency on the shore of the hidden lake. For a reason: it’s the largest lake in Eastern and Central Europe. It has a tectonic origin and is relatively shallow: its average depth is around 3.6 meters, so that its water warms quickly and is suitable for swimming from spring to autumn.
Being a popular place, Balaton offers a wide variety of venues to stay along with other activities beyond just chilling on the beach, from SPA centers to museums. Tourists can visit several attractions, including Bences Apatsag, Castle at Szigliget, and Festetics Palace. They may also embark on a boat trip across the Lake Cave in Tapolca and enjoy mesmerizing views of underground passages. Electronic music festival Balaton Sound from creators of the famous Sziget Festival is also worth attending.
Accommodation pricing here can be either very affordable in simple bungalows or expensive for exclusive villas and luxury hotels with top-grade facilities like the abovementioned casino, in-room dining, fitness & SPA rooms, and tennis courts.
Liptovská Mara, Slovakia
Liptovská Mara, also called Liptov sea, is the largest lake in Slovakia and probably the best for swimming and relaxing here. It’s situated in the Northern part of Slovakia near the High Tatras and Low Tatras. Liptov sea is an artificial reservoir created in 1965–1975 to prevent the flood of the Váh river and exploit its potential to generate electric power. Over 4000 people were resettled after the dam construction, which was quite a typical process in many similar cases that had a negative societal impact.
However, now Liptovská Mara is loved by Slovakian citizens and tourists as a recreational resort. It’s a place for numerous water activities like surfing, jet-skiing, boating, and fishing. It’s also possible to take a boat sightseeing tour. Among the notable landmarks are reconstructed Celtic oppidum Havránok, the largest aquapark of Slovakia – Tatralandia, and Thermal Park Bešeňová.
Most hotels are reasonably priced, while the good choice of possible stays allows you to find something to your taste. Camping is also popular here, with several spots scattered across the shore.
Deep Lake, Belarus
Deep lake is located in the Vitebsk region of Belarus and was frequently named the clearest lake in the whole country. Water clarity here reaches impressive 9.5 meters, which makes it a popular destination among divers. Citizens of Belarus believe: a trip to a deep lake may be a great alternative to scuba diving in the Red Sea in Egypt.
Local environmental authorities protect the lake, so industrial fishing and the use of motorboats are prohibited here. However, there are sports for recreational fishing for an extra fee. Unfortunately, no hotels are detected in the area, so the only viable way to stay overnight is to take your tent. From the grand lake Balaton to the obscure lakes of Belarus and Ukraine — all these options inevitably offer something that you will never find in the South now: chill and uncompromising tranquility. So if you like it this way and have prepared yourself for traveling (COVID-19 restrictions are unforgiving), grab your tent or book a room for a quiet retreat on the serene shores — now you know the places!