Lake Sanabria, Castille-Leon, Spain

Also known as:  Lago de Sanabria

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Sanabria.

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Lake Sanabria visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: Spain - Castille-Leon -

Say “hola” to Lake Sanabria, Spain’s largest lake, which was formed thousands of years ago by glaciers crossing the continent. Today, you will be captivated by the breathtaking views of the crystal clear water, lush green mountains, and the inviting natural beaches beckoning you to come relax and enjoy all that the province of Zamora and Lake Sanabria have to offer.

Although scientists say Lake Sanabria was formed by glaciers, locals tell a colorful legend about the origin of their lake. According to the story, the village of Valverde de Lucerna was located exactly where the lake is today. One cold winter night, Jesus, disguised as a beggar in ragged clothes, came to the village starving and begging for food. The men of the village ran him off as they did not want his kind in their village. As he was leaving, some women in a bakery took pity on the man and gave him some bread still warm from their oven. The beggar told the women to rush to the nearby mountains, and then he took his staff and drove it into the ground, commanding water to rise from the hole. Water gushed from the hole, drowning the village and all the men, until the lake was formed. All that was left of the village were the kind-hearted women and the roof top of the bakery, which is now said to form the little island in the center of Lake Sanabria.

The crystal clear water of Lake Sanabria and the warm sandy beaches that surround it are a year-round destination for many, but the area is especially busy during the warm summer months. Swimming, boating, and water skiing are popular, as are windsurfing, sailing, and kayaking. Equipment for these water sports can be rented at the lake. For a more leisurely excursion on the cool water, pedalos (paddle boats), a fun way to enjoy the lake and get your exercise, are available for rent. International competitions are held on Lake Sanabria, including the Kayak Regatta held at the end of July every summer. Of course, fishing is quite popular and barbel, bream, and trout waiting for your bait as you follow your guide’s tips for the catch of the day.

For some time off the water, visit nearby Lake Sanabria National Park which surrounds the lake. Here you will find walking trails that lead to scenic beauty of over 30 glacial lakes, high mountains, splashing waterfalls, green canyons, quiet lagoons and gorgeous valleys. As a natural park, you will want to make sure you have your camera ready for great photos of the many wildlife and birds that call the park home.

The area around Lake Sanabria, the province of Zamora, is sometimes called the “land of bread and wine.” With a large agriculture area, local cuisine boasts of different varieties of bread, cheeses, and wines that enhance the spicy local dishes. It is here that you will find vacation rentals, home exchanges, charming bed and breakfast and “paradors,” which are hotels in renovated castles, fortresses, or other noteworthy Spanish buildings. Ceramics is a major industry in Zamora, which allows it to host the International Ceramics Fair in June along with the festivities of Holy Week.

Spain is divided into 17 diverse regions, each with its own culture and flag. Lake Sanabria and Zamora are located in the Castile and Leon region that takes up most of the northern part of the county. Surrounded by glorious mountains, beautiful unspoiled countryside and brimming with Spanish history, this region offers attractions and temptations for everyone. The region is self-named as the “land of castles” due to the many historic castles, medieval villages, and cathedrals that abound across the landscape. The San Martin de Castaneda Monastery, a 12th century building, is today a nature reserve that boasts over 1,500 plant varieties with some dating back to prehistoric times. The nature reserve also is home to over 140 species of birds. Trails around the region can be explored by hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking, and each will reward you with views of spectacular waterfalls, wild horses roaming free through the grassy plains, and panoramic views as the sun sets over the mountains.

A trip to Lake Sanabria is not only about a great lake, wonderful beaches, and exciting water sports: it is a cultural experience with historic castles and monasteries, villages rich in custom and tradition and a way of life that welcomes everyone. So say “adios” to your everyday routine, pack your bags, and head for Lake Sanabria today.

Custom Lake Sanabria house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Sanabria

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Lake Sanabria

  • Barbel
  • Trout

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Sanabria

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Lake Sanabria photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Lake Sanabria statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 785 acres

Shoreline Length: 6 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,281 feet

Average Depth: 115 feet

Maximum Depth: 167 feet

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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