Lake Ladoga, North-Western, Russia

Lake Locations:

Russia - North-Western -

Also known as:  Lake Laatokka, Ladozhskoye Ozero

Located 25 miles north of St. Petersburg, Russia’s Lake Ladoga is the largest freshwater body in Europe with a surface area of 4,481,238 acres. The amazing lake stretches for 136 miles across northwestern Russia and has an average width of 51 miles. There are 660 islands in the lake and over 32 rivers that drain into the lake; only one river, the Neva, flows out. Before 1940, Lake Ladoga was divided between Finland and the Soviet Union; it now lies entirely within Russia and serves as a main source of drinking water for the city of St. Petersburg and the republic of Karelia. The lake also provides recreation for residents and visitors.

Lake Ladoga, also known as Lake Laatokka, and Ladozhskoye Ozero, was formed by glaciers approximately 10,000 years ago. According to most geologists, the lake was originally part of the Baltic Sea that separated from the main body of water when the Yoldia Sea began to recede. Lake Ladoga and the Baltic Sea stayed connected by a small strait until the Neva River fully formed. Today a vast network of rivers and canals connects the lake with the Baltic Sea, the White Sea, and the Volga river system.

Lake Ladoga, due to its incredible size and location, has always played an important role in trade. In the Middle Ages, commercial traders used the lake to transfer goods from the Varangians (Vikings) to the Greeks. Because of the economic importance of the trade route, the area soon came under controversy as both the Novgorod Republic and Sweden claimed the waterway as their own. In order to defend against military advances, the fortresses of Korela and Oreshek were built along the shores of the lake. Religious societies also sought to claim the peaceful waters of Lake Ladoga. The first monastery on the lake, Valaam Monastery, was formed on the island of Valaam. Other significant monasteries in the region included the Konevets Monastery (on the Konevets Island) and the Alexander-Svirsky Monastery. Today the monasteries represent stunning examples of medieval Muscovite architecture.

During the Ingrian War, the shores of Lake Ladoga once again became hotly contested territory between the warring countries of Russia and Sweden. In 1617, by the Treaty of Stolbovo, the northern and western coast was given to Sweden by Russia. In 1721, after the Great Northern War, the land was returned to Russia by the Treaty of Nystad. From 1812 to 1940 the lake was shared between Finland and Russia. According to the conditions of the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty, militarization of the lake was severely restricted, but both Soviet Russia and Finland maintained flotillas in the lake. During World War II, Lake Ladoga became a scene of international naval powers. German and Italian navy vessels as well as Finnish and Soviet fleets occupied the waters. At one point during the war, Leningrad was placed under siege and the only way to reach the city was by the lake. For supplies to reach the city, trucks were driven over the frozen lake in the winter and boats transported goods in the summer. As a result of the war, Lake Ladoga was once again returned to Russian.

Today, water quality is the biggest concern of Lake Ladoga residents. Farm runoff and pollution from industries has become a threat to wildlife, fish and people. In 1984 the Council of Ministers of USSR adopted a resolution to protect the water of Lake Ladoga and its basin. Because of this resolution, a large pulp and paper plant in Priozersk was forced to close. Along with supplying drinking water, the lake is home to 48 species of fish to include roach, carp bream, zander (related to the walleye), European perch, ruffe, a variety of smelt, a number of Salmonidae (salmon), and the endangered Atlantic sturgeon. Commercial fishing was once a major industry, but has been hurt by overfishing. Trawling has been forbidden in Lake Ladoga since 1956.

With 976 miles of shoreline, the terrain and culture around Lake Ladoga varies greatly. The region has unique landscapes, which are a combination of coniferous and deciduous forests, granite rocks and caves, underground water springs, dunes, and sand beaches. The shoreline can change from rocky to sandy and the water can be calm or dangerously choppy. The lake caters to tourists, but with so much to see and do, visitors will need to plan which areas they’d like to visit. Number one on most lists are the lake’s beautiful islands and ancient monasteries. Most of the islands, including the famous Valaam archipelago, Kilpola and Konevets, are located in the northwestern part of the lake.

For those who enjoy boating, the small town of Novaya Ladoga, located at the mouth of the river Volkhov, offers boat excursions along the New Ladoga Channel. The waters of Lake Ladoga can be rather dangerous on windy days, and the channels make for a more relaxing tour of neighboring towns. Sailboats, cruise boats and barges also take visitors around the lake. For the daring canoeist or kayaker, there is much to explore.

There are several small towns and village surrounding the Lake Lagoda which feature historic landmarks and attractions. The Oreshek Fortress in Shlisselburg, the Korela Fortress in Priozersk, and railroad stations in the towns of Sortavala and Lakhdenpokhya are popular with tourists. Travel can be accomplished by boat, train, horseback, car, bike or on foot. Parts of the lake are heavily wooded and unpopulated and open to hiking, camping, fishing and swimming.

On the outflow of Lake Ladoga, St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) is Russia’s second largest city. Often referred to as the “Venice of the North”, the city is located on the delta of the Neva River. Downtown St. Petersburg features beautiful palaces, impressive historical monuments, a 17-acre zoo, tree-lined avenues and beautiful parks and gardens. Many attractions, restaurants, and vacation rentals line the banks of the Neva River which makes its way through the center of town. Saint Isaac’s Cathedral is a must-see with its statues of trumpeting angels and beautiful golden fountains. By climbing the stairs of the cathedral, tourists are afforded wonderful panoramic view of the city. Accommodations of all kinds can be found in the city.

Nature lovers will want to visit two large nature preserves on Lake Ladoga. The Vepssky Les Nature Park covers 470,000 acres in the Oyat River area and across the adjacent and beautiful Veps Hills. The Nature Park was established to preserve the valuable forests and original landscapes of the area. On the southeastern shore of the lake, the Nizhnesvirsky Zapovednik Preserve is a 102,795-acre habitat for many rare animal and plant species. Hiking trails throughout the park offer observation towers, planked footways, a visitor’s center and other facilities. Guests of the reserve can watch many species of birds, beaver communities, and an encounter with a brown bear is not uncommon. Lake Ladoga has its own ringed seal subspecies known as the Ladoga seal which can be spotted along the shores of the lake. For bird lovers, the Southern Priladozhye Sanctuary is home to thousands of waterfowl. Osprey and white-tailed eagles can also be observed flying over the Lake Ladoga shoreline.

For avid bicyclers, a unique cycling path wraps around Lake Ladoga, passing through both the St. Petersburg Region and the Republic of Karelia. The path begins from a base camp at Orehovo and circles the lake on forest and paved paths, taking in all the majestic splendor of the lake’s varied geological formations. Along the way, cyclists can visit many of Lake Ladoga’s famous islands and monasteries.

The months from November to March turn the beautiful countryside around Lake Ladoga into a winter wonderland. During these months, visitors need to be prepared for below zero temperatures and, for a short period, the thermometer can dip as low as minus 30 Fahrenheit. Even with a maximum depth of 755 feet, the lake freezes over. Ice skating, ice fishing, snow shoeing, and skiing are popular pastimes for those who can brave the cold.

For a truly unique vacation, Lake Ladoga offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities. Take a day trip to an ancient monastery or extend your excursion by staying overnight in a charming Russian town located on the edge of the lake. Hike through some scenic hills and be sure to take a tour across Europe’s largest freshwater lake. The scenic shores of Lake Ladoga offer something for everyone.

Things to do at Lake Ladoga

  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Lake Ladoga

  • Carp
  • Perch
  • Roach
  • Salmon
  • Smelt
  • Sturgeon
  • Walleye
  • Zander

Lake Ladoga Photo Gallery

    Lake Ladoga Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 4,481,238 acres

    Shoreline Length: 976 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 16 feet

    Average Depth: 167 feet

    Maximum Depth: 755 feet

    Water Volume: 736,127,580 acre-feet

    Water Residence Time: 12.3 years

    Drainage Area: 27,073 sq. miles

    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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