At 5,380 feet, this is Turkey’s largest lake. It’s in the east of the country. Several rivers feed the lake, but it doesn’t have an outlet. Despite the altitude and cold winters, the water doesn’t freeze because it’s a saline lake. You can see the lake from all angles with ferries or private boats, and you can admire the reflection of the surrounding forest and the extinct, snow-covered volcanoes Mount Suphan and Mount Nemrut. There are volcanoes on the northern and western shores. There’s something striking about snowy mountains, green woods, and deep blue water.
There’s an Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on Akdamar Island, which is a must-see. You can get there by ferry from Gevaş. According to legend, Tamara was a princess imprisoned on the island by her father, who didn’t approve of her poor, humble lover. She used to light a candle in her window to guide him across. As the candle blew out, he drowned, calling “ach, Tamara,” from which the island got its name.
Next, there’s Van Gölü Canavarı, a carnivorous lake monster. Despite not seeing it yet, Van got a statue for it.
Lake Uzun (or Uzungöl) is an oasis of peace and tranquility without legends or monsters. At the foot of the Soganli mountains, approximately 44 miles inland from Rize on the Black Sea coast, Lake Uzun is a sweet water lake surrounded by steep hills.
The hillsides are dotted with chalets, and cattle graze in the meadows, making it look like Switzerland. But you know you’re in Turkey when you see the mosque with two slender minarets reflecting in the water in the village of the same name.
You can walk around the lake for about an hour, hike up into the mountains, rent pedal boats, and cruise on the lake, or enjoy the peace and tranquility in a tea house on the shore.
Lake Bafa used to be part of the Aegean Sea, but sediments carried by the Meander River cut it off. As a result, the water in this shallow lake is salty. There are steep mountain slopes covered in olive trees on the northern side. From the southern side, you can hire boats to visit the twin islands in the lake or go fishing.
A national park surrounds the lake, which is popular with bird watchers. Among the ruins, you’ll find a fortress and a monastery on one island and a cave with prehistoric paintings in the mountains to the north. On the shore, you’ll find stone tombs of monks from the ancient site of Herakleia. From ancient Greece to Byzantine times, Lake Bafa offers stunning scenery and a journey through history.
Karia Restaurant on the water’s edge is my favorite. They serve fish that are only caught in Lake Bafa, and you can get boats to the islands from here.
There’s a legend, too. It’s easy to see how Lake Bafa inspires romance since the moon goddess Selene fell in love here with the shepherd Endymion.
Central Anatolia is home to Turkey’s second-largest lake. Sufism originated in Konya, 65 miles away. It’s also one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world. From Aksaray in Cappadocia, you can get to the lake. This shallow lake is fed by two streams but has no outlet, so it dries out in the summer and leaves a salt crust that supplies a lot of Turkey’s salt. What’s most amazing is the color: It’s a vibrant pink!
There’s no tourism to speak of in this out-of-the-way place, so it’s all the more appealing. If you’re there at sunset, the pink gets otherworldly.
There’s something special about Lake Salda in Turkey’s southwest Burdur Province, where its hydromagnesite waters help heal dermatological problems. Because of its white beaches, shallow access, and azure color, the lake is very popular with Turkish tourists. But the sand can be treacherous, as it sucks your feet in, and it’s Turkey’s deepest lake. Make sure you’re careful when you’re in the water.
A compelling connection to outer space surrounds Lake Salda, but no legends or monsters. Perseverance, NASA’s Mars rover, thinks the lake is the same composition as the Jezero Crater on Mars.
It’s the biggest freshwater lake in Turkey. Beysehir Lake National Park is in Konya Province.
It’s fed by streams from the nearby Taurus, Sultan, and Anamas mountains. It has 33 islets, coves, and sandy beaches, so it’s an enjoyable lake experience in Turkey.
There’s a lot of flora and fauna in the national park, and it’s a bird watchers’ paradise.
Black pine forests surround the shore and stretch up into the mountains.
If you’re looking for a lake to camp by, this freshwater lake in Bolu Province near Mudurnu is ideal.
There are good facilities, and instead of showers, you can swim in the lake. Near Mudurnu is Burj Al Babas, a ghost town of abandoned castles.