Lake IJssel, Netherlands

Lake Locations:

Netherlands - Flevoland - Friesland - North Holland -

Also known as:  IJsselmeer Lake, Lake Yssel

Lake IJssel, also known as Lake Yssel and Lake IJsselmeer, stretches approximately 296,500 acres across the north central region of the Netherlands. Lake IJssel borders several provinces including Flevoland, North Holland, and Friesland. The name of the lake comes from the IJssel River, which drains into the lake through a smaller lake called Ketelmeer or Lake Ketel. Lake IJssel was created in 1932 when an inland sea, the Zuiderzee was closed off by a 19-mile long barrier dike called the Afsluitdijk which separated Lake IJssel from both the Waddenzee (the northern part of the former Zuiderzee) and the North Sea. The average depth of the lake is rather shallow, only 16 to 19 feet, but due to its size, Lake IJssel provides fresh water for agriculture and drinking, and also offers plenty of opportunities for various recreational activities.

The Afsluitdijk dam that formed Lake IJssel sits 25 feet above sea level and stretches between the provinces of North Holland and Friesland. There is a highway and bicycle path along the top of the dam. Locks provide passage for barges and small boats. Regulated by sluices, the formerly brackish water has been replaced by fresh water, partly by inflow from the IJssel River, a branch of the Rhine River. Originally much larger than its current 296,500 acres, in 1975 Lake IJssel was split in half by the completion of the Houtribdijk causeway dike, also called Markerwaarddijk, which runs from Enkhuizen southeast to Lelystad. This former southern part of Lake IJssel is now a separate body of water called Markermeer Lake.

Once a home for herring, anchovies, and flounder, Lake IJssel is now known for freshwater fish specifically perch, pike perch and glass eel. Carp, whiting, bream and roach also inhabit the lake. Fishing on the lake is a popular sport, and many historic and modern fishing villages and seaports line the lake. Fishing licenses are required and are available at local post offices. You can fish from shore in designated areas, rent a boat, or launch your own boat from a number of public ramps located along the shoreline.

Boats of all sizes and kinds are available to rent or charter. Sailing is more popular than motor boating on Lake IJssel, and there are a number of yacht clubs on the lake that offer tours and just a relaxing time on the water. Access to the lake can be found at most campgrounds, and many cities and villages on the lake have public boat launches. Swimming is allowed and there are a number of sandy beaches along the shoreline. Waves can be strong on the lake, so it is best to stay near the beaches when swimming.

Camping is a popular pastime for vacationers and locals, and there are a large number of campgrounds on and near Lake IJssel. Most campsites open in the spring and close at the end of October, but some stay open year round. For those who prefer a bit more comfort, there are plenty of lodges and vacation rentals on the lake as well.

The countryside around Lake IJssel is perfect for hiking, cycling or just relaxing. There are many footpaths and cycle routes which cross over canals and bridges and wind around windmills and tulip dotted fields. You will also see a number of beautiful water birds, specifically the Great Cormorant known for its diving and swimming under water for fish.

The Netherlands is famous for bicycles. The popularity of cycling is due to the country’s geography. The distance between most cities is short and the countryside is mainly flat, except for a few rolling hills in the east and south. Cycling trails and facilities are well maintained, and detailed cycling maps can be obtained from local tourist information offices. Cycling lanes are marked by a round blue circle with a white bicycle in the middle. Most routes are circular, starting and ending at the same place. The landscape around Lake IJssel varies from spectacular dunes to wilderness and forests, and many cycle routes encompass this beautiful lake.

In the winter months, sections of Lake IJssel freeze and ice skaters replace sailboaters. Cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and sledding become the popular pastimes. The region doesn’t slow down just because it’s cold. There is still much to see and do.

There are many interesting towns and cities on and near Lake IJssel, but probably the most well know is Amsterdam located on the IJ, an inlet of Markermeer Lake. If you like museums, this city has plenty. The Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, the Amsterdam Historisch Museum, and Nemo, a fascinating science museum are only a few. A canal cruise is also a great way to see the sights of this culturally diverse city.

If you’re planning on doing some traveling, the bordering provinces of South Holland and Utrecht offer a number of fascinating destinations for guests of Lake IJssel, including the cosmopolitan cities of The Hague and Rotterdam; the museums and old medieval town center of Utrecht; and Delft, famous for its blue and white pottery. The Hoge Veluwe Park combines nature, art and history, with beautiful forests and museums to explore.

For those who like flowers, a visit to one of the famous Dutch flower markets is essential. Some of the best flower markets are located in the cities of Amsterdam, Delft and Utrecht. Dutch flower bulbs are available for sale, but make sure the vendor sells them with an official export certificate or you will not be able to take them out of the country. The most popular Dutch flowers are tulips and daffodils. As you wander around Lake Lake IJssel, you will soon notice colorful flowers growing everywhere.

If planning a vacation to the Netherlands, make sure you pay a visit to Lake Lake IJssel. The idyllic countryside of windmills and tulips combined with splendor of sparkling water and fine beaches is a relaxing way to take in the culture and beauty of the area.

Things to do at Lake IJssel

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake IJssel

  • Carp
  • Eel
  • Flounder
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pike Perch
  • Roach

Lake IJssel Photo Gallery

Lake IJssel Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Surface Area: 296,500 acres

Average Depth: 14 feet

Completion Year: 1932

Water Residence Time: 0.4 years

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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