13 lakes in Wales for an extraordinary break

Days out, Nature, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Kate W on 2nd November 2023

Magnificent lakes to visit in Wales

Seek out vast swathes of water or tranquil pools hidden beneath Welsh mountains on your visit. There are so many enchanting lakes in Wales offering all kinds of days out – whether you’re searching for an idyllic setting for a wild swim or a destination full to bursting with activities, you’ll be spoilt for choice in beautiful Wales.

Spot osprey nesting near one of the North Wales’ lakes in our list, enter a medieval village on the banks of a lake in South Wales, and discover a pool in the Brecon Beacons said to be home to fairy folk.

To get to know this remarkable country better before you go, head over to our guide: Discover Wales.

Plan wild swims and lakeside rambles with a read of our selection of magnificent lakes to visit in Wales. You’ll come across family-friendly locations, lakes full of activities for adventurous groups, and tranquil spaces where you can get away from it all.

Wales cottages

Jump to a region to discover enchanting Welsh lakes: 

Lakes in North Wales and Snowdonia/Eryri

Llyn Tegid/Bala Lake: the largest lake in Wales

Llyn Tegid/Bala Lake: the largest lake in Wales

Mountains, forests, waterways and waterfalls fill Snowdonia/Eryri National Park and the town of Bala is surrounded by it all. Two rivers, the Tryweryn and Dee, flow into Llyn Tegid, which is an incredible 4 miles long and 40 meters deep and renowned for being Wales’ largest natural lake.

This Snowdonia/Eryri lake is home to the extraordinarily rare 'gwyniad' fish, a species that became trapped in Llyn Tegid after the last Ice Age and can only be found in this lake.

Llyn Tegid is also renowned as the home to Wales’ answer to the Loch Ness Monster – the beast of Llyn Tegid. Discover the legend of Teggie before you visit this lake and see if you can spot this crocodile-like creature of the deep.

Activities: There’s a pay & display car park, toilets, a cafe and a mini lakeside beach perfect for a picnic or a paddle, just off the A494. Wild swimming is popular in Bala Lake, and there are buoys to mark the areas safe for swimming. Kayaking is popular on the lake too, and there are scenic walks along the lake shoreline and into the surrounding mountains.

Stay nearby: The Watering Hole Gwernfeistrol, Bala | sleeps 6 and 3 dogs

Llyn Padarn

Llyn Padarn

Escape to Llyn Padarn for fun days out with the family or with friends. This enchanting Snowdonia/Eryri lake has bustling Llanberis town set on its southern shore and the extensive Padarn Country Park to the south east, providing plenty to explore and enjoy during a getaway.

While Llyn Tegid takes the top spot, Llyn Padarn is one of the largest lakes in Wales at 2 miles long and nearly 30 metres deep. It’s also connected to the second, slightly smaller but equally exquisite, lake of Llyn Peris to the south.

All around, this landscape is absolutely bursting with fun activities, whether you’re planning on taking a dip in the water or ramble the fantastic shores of this lake in North Wales.

Activities: There are five walking trails of varying difficulty to explore alongside a host of extreme sports from rock climbing to scuba diving. Go sailing on the lake or hire a canoe to get out on the water. Hop aboard the Llanberis Lake Railway which runs along the northern shore of Llyn Padarn, or venture into Padarn Country Park where there’s the old Quarry Hospital Museum, the Welsh Slate Museum, picnic areas and more adventure activities to seek out.

Stay nearby: Jentrea Cottage, Llanberis | sleeps 6 and 1 dog 

Llyn Brenig

Llyn Brenig

A delightful lake in North Wales, just east of Snowdonia/Eryri, Llyn Brenig is the perfect place for everyone from young families to adventure seekers.

There’s a network of waymarked trails for cyclists with forest, moorland and the impressive dam to take in across the six main trails. Meanwhile, there’s an adventure playground with swings, a climbing wall and a zip wire where youngsters can burn off some steam.

Llyn Brenig is most popular among the birding community as the site of a nesting pair of osprey. There is a camera so you can see inside the nest from the visitor centre and there’s an osprey hide too so you can watch these animals in their natural habitat rearing their chicks, usually from April onwards.

Activities: Cycling, walking, bird watching, fishing, sailing and an adventure playground for kids.

Stay nearby: Denbigh Valley View, Denbigh | sleeps 8 and 2 dogs

Stay in North Wales 

Head out on an adventure in Snowdonia/Eryri to seek out the largest natural lake in Wales, home to the rare 'gwyniad' fish and the legendary monster 'Teggie', or enjoy a relaxing family day out on the shores Llyn Brenig, with cycle trails and an adventure playground to make the most of. Book a stay in one of our North Wales cottages today.

North Wales cottages

Lakes in Mid Wales

Lake Vyrnwy (Llyn Efyrnwy)

Lake Vyrnwy (Llyn Efyrnwy)

Hidden under the swirling currents of Lake Vyrnwy lie the ruins of ‘the drowned village’. Lake Vyrnwy’s underwater village was flooded in the 1880s to create this immense lake and supply Liverpool with fresh water.

Today, Lake Vyrnwy is a remarkable beauty spot with spectacular waters, the towering Berwyn Mountains all around, and a 24,000-acre RSPB reserve on its shores.

Activities: Spot birds from the viewpoints and hides in the RSPB reserve surrounding this Mid Wales lake. Visit the Sculpture Park below Lake Vyrnwy’s magnificent dam, go boating, hire bikes, walk the trails or go horse riding.

Stay nearby: The Coach House At Penybontfawr, Powys | sleeps 4 and 2 dogs

The Elan Valley Reservoirs in Powys

The Elan Valley Reservoirs in Powys

Instead of just one impressive lake, how about a whole valley bursting with reservoirs and waterways? The Elan Valley has numerous reservoirs kept in check by six impressive dams, setting the scene for an epic day of cycling, walking or wildlife watching.

The Elan Valley Trail is the best way to take it all in. Beginning in Cwmdeuddwr, just west of Rhayader, this trail winds through the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust Reserve, over the impressive dams and past these glistening reservoirs in Wales. Head to the Elan Valley Visitor Centre when you're ready for a bite to eat and a bit of insight into local history.

Activities: Cycling is the top way to see the reservoirs and dams in this valley but you can also walk along the Elan Valley Trail. There’s also the opportunity for mountain biking, Ranger Tours, stargazing and fishing in this enchanting landscape.

Stay nearby: Elan Village, Rhayader | sleeps 6 and 3 dogs

Llyn Brianne

Llyn Brianne

One of the more remote lakes in Mid Wales, you’re likely to visit this snaking reservoir via an 11-mile road up the Tywi River from the market town of Llandovery.

This is the place for catching your breath on a peaceful day out amongst remarkable scenery. Walk or cycle along the banks and admire the 91-metre tall dam that dominates the landscape. The Llyn Brianne Dam is the largest dam in the UK and an impressive sight to see during your Wales adventures.

Activities: Walk or cycle along the bank, take in the impressive Llyn Brianne Dam and look out for red kites, pied flycatchers and redstarts on a bird-watching jaunt to nearby RSPB Gwenffrwd-dinas Nature Reserve. The car park at Llyn Brianne is a Dark Sky Discovery Site so you could visit late at night for an evening’s stargazing.

Stay nearby: Mount Pleasant – Llandovery, Llandovery | sleeps 6 and 1 dog

Stay in Mid Wales

These Mid Wales lakes boast a 'drowned village', a remarkably high dam, and remote walking routes through precious natural habitats. Find a holiday cottage in Mid Wales that can act as your base as you explore all this and more.

Mid Wales cottages

Lakes in South Wales

Llandegfedd Reservoir

Llandegfedd Reservoir

Head to Llandegfedd Reservoir, one of the most exciting lakes in South Wales for all kinds of water sports and adrenaline-fuelled family fun!

There’s a visitor centre where you can begin your day out, getting to know what’s on offer, before heading out for stand-up paddleboarding or canoeing backed by mountains.

The landscape is a Site of Special Scientific Interest with wildlife-rich forest and grasslands to hike when not in the water. Finally, retreat to the visitor centre café for panoramic lake views over a warming cuppa.

Activities: You could go sailing, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing/kayaking, or powerboating on Llandegfedd. Go fishing in Llandegfedd Reservoir for rainbow trout or one of the many species of coarse fish in this South Wales lake, or pull on your walking boots for a lakeside ramble.

Stay nearby: The Canal Hot Tub Cottage, Croes-y-pant | sleeps 4 and 2 dogs

Cyfarthfa Park Lake

Cyfarthfa Park Lake

In the heart of Merthyr Tydfil, sit the Grade II*-registered Cyfarthfa Park complete with castle and a beautiful town lake.

Cyfarthfa Park Lake is home to ducks and swans and is an idyllic spot for dog walk outdoors or to go canoeing with the mountains of the Brecon Beacons in the distance. It’s best loved by families and fishermen as this lake is populated with carp and perch.  

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery is free and a great indoor attraction to visit during your day out by this South Wales lake.

Activities: Walking, picnicking, fishing, cycling – visit the free Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Gallery during your day out.

Stay nearby: Sunnyside Lodge, Aberdare | sleeps 2

Cosmeston Lakes Country Park and Medieval Village

Cosmeston Lakes Country Park and Medieval Village

Located right by the southern coast and easy to reach from Cardiff, these beautiful lakes in South Wales provide just the place for anyone on a city break who would like to get out into nature.

The lakes were created by flooding two old limestone quarries and are the heart of the Cosmeston Lakes Country Park and Medieval Village. A tranquil destination for dog walks and horse rides, this country park stretching for around 250 acres encompasses a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a wide variety of habitats from reed beds to coastal grasslands.

Visit the Cosmeston Medieval Village, the remains of which were uncovered during the development of Cosmeston Lakes Country Park in 1978. Today, it’s been built up and turned into a living village with audio tours so you can get to know our past.

Activities: Canoe, kayak, sail or stand-up paddleboard on the lakes or go walking, cycling, birdwatching and picnicking in the picturesque park.

Stay nearby: The Corn Mill, Cowbridge | sleeps 4 

Stay in South Wales 

Windsurf the immense waters of Llandegfedd Reservoir, fish for perch at Cyfarthfa Park Lake, or step into the living village of Cosmeston Lakes Country Park for a trip back in time. Stay in one of our South Wales cottages for break to remember.

South Wales cottages

Lakes in the Brecon Beacons

Llangorse Lake

Llangorse Lake

An action-packed destination, this lake in the Brecon Beacons is just the place to head to with a group of mates or the family for a fun week of water sports and lakeside activities.

Soak up the amazing surroundings from the water by hiring a boat (or bring along your own) or challenge the group to go on a Giant SUP which takes up to six adults.

Ensure you walk along the iconic viewing platform to take in Llangorse Lake’s Crannog; an ancient artificial island built on the lake in 916 AD, most likely by the King of Brycheiniog.

Activities: Boating, SUPing, canoeing, kayaking, pedalos, fishing, water skiing and windsurfing.

Stay nearby: Ty Clyd, Llangorse | sleeps 6 and 2 dogs

Llyn y Fach Fan

A small glacial lake in extraordinary surroundings just north of the Black Mountain in Carmarthenshire, Llyn y Fach Fan or ‘Lake of the small Beacon Hill’ is a lake with its own legend that’s wonderfully popular as a wild swimming spot.

The legend goes that the Lady of the Lake married a local farmer on the understanding that if he struck her three times, she would return to the lake and take all his farm animals with her. He didn’t succeed and she returned to the lake, but their children went on to become the Physicians of Myddfai whose ancient remedies have survived in an important medieval manuscript, the Red Book of Hergest.

This mystical lake in the Brecon Beacons will soon enchant you; visit for peace, quiet and exquisite scenery.

Activities: Take the plunge and go wild swimming in this beautiful lake! Those who prefer to keep their feet on dry land will find it’s a picturesque place for a walk and a picnic.  

Stay nearby: Bryniau Pell, Crai | sleeps 4 and 3 dogs

Llyn Fawr

Llyn Fawr

This lake sits just next to Llyn y Fach Fan, north of the Black Mountains, and can be visited on the same trip. Llyn Fawr, literally translated as ‘Big Lake’, is best known for the discovery of the Llyn Fawr hoard, a collection of metal objects from the late Bronze Age.

Located in the South Wales Coalfield uplands, combine the two beauty spots of Llyn Fawr and Llyn y Fach Fan to create a wonderful day out with a long leisurely walk and wildlife spotting. Escape it all on a ramble and bring along the camera for capturing the beauty of this corner of South Wales.

Activities: Llyn Fawr provides a peaceful place to visit with few amenities nearby but that may be in your favour if you prefer a tranquil day of exploration. Follow this walking route to soak up the scenic landscape that encompasses Llyn Fawr and Llyn y Fan Fach.

Stay nearby: Top Of The Lane Cottage, Crai | sleeps 5 and 3 dogs

Llyn Cwm Llwch

Llyn Cwm Llwch

Another legendary lake in the Brecon Beacons, Llyn Cwm Llwch is an unusually small glacial lake between 1 and 2 acres big, but it is a local gem that’s taken care of by the National Trust with a delightful walking route to follow and the opportunity for another chilly wild swim amongst the Brecon Beacon mountains.

The tale that’s been passed down is one of an enchanted fairy island that would appear in the lake each year on May Day. The fairies welcomed locals to visit, however told them not to take anything from the island. One year, a man hid a flower in his pocket as he left the island and, as a consequence, the man lost all his senses and the island has never returned.

This Brecon Beacons lake is still a magical place to visit during a Wales holiday.

Activities: Wild swimming – bring a towel! There are a couple of National Trust walking routes to try on your visit and it's less than a mile from the summit of Pen y Fan mountain. 

Stay nearby: Ty Carno, Libanus | sleeps 4 and 2 dogs

Stay in the Brecon Beacons

Myths and legends can be found in all corners of the Brecon Beacons and these remarkable lakes are no different. Book a stay in one of our Brecon Beacons cottages and see for yourself if the stories are true.

Brecon Beacons cottages

Stay with us in Wales

From reservoirs in Wales to the largest natural lake in the country, there are so many scenic and fun-filled lakes to visit during your holiday.

To begin planning your getaway to one of these Welsh lakes, take a look through our collection of cottages in Wales.

Wales cottages

The Great British Outdoors

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.