Lake Vanern, Sweden

Lake Locations:

Sweden - Gotaland - Dalsland - Vastergotland - Svealand - Varmland -

Swimming, sailing, pleasure cruises – Lake Vanern has them all. This ancient lake is the largest lake in Sweden and the third largest in Europe, spanning almost 1,400,000 acres. Formed when the last ice age retreated, the lake has existed since about 5600 B.C. Originally, the lake covered Sweden completely, finally retreating to near its current size as the earth rebounded from the weight of the ice. Testament to its importance in distant history, a Viking ship was discovered resting on the bottom of the lake recently. With over 20,000 islands and rocks, Lake Vanern holds the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. The lake still supports life landlocked here since the end of the ice age, including a salmon sub-group related to the Baltic Sea salmon that lives its life entirely in fresh water. The salmon spawn in small lakes connected to the northern part of Lake Vanern. More than 20 small tributaries empty into the lake, but the only outlet is the Gota River.

Lake Vanern has been an important economic center in Sweden for centuries. Castles dating to the 13th century still stand in the area. Some villages still depend on fishing for their economic health, but others developed industries which utilized the easy water transport of the lake. Freight transportation and industry along the lake greatly increased after the Gota Canal was begun in 1810 along the Gota River outlet to the North Sea. A series of locks were installed to ease ships past the small waterfalls and differences in elevation. The Gota Canal was continued from Lake Vanern east to Lake Vattern, then on to the Baltic near Stockholm. This allowed for the growth of the paper industry that takes advantage of the heavily-forested areas north of the lake. Up to 4,000 ships a year pass through Lake Vanern ranging in size from small ocean-going vessels to pleasure craft.

Lake Vanern has developed into one of the favored vacation destinations in Europe. Pleasure boaters regularly travel the Gota to Lake Vanern to enjoy a week at one of several small harbors. Marinas along the lake offer varying activities for vacationers, including guided tours to the islands and around the archipelago. Experienced sailors appreciate the challenges of navigation around the rocks and islands. Djuro archipelago, which has been given national park status as Djuro National Park, surrounds Island Djuro in the middle of the lake. The lake has two sections, divided by peninsulas. The western body of water is known as the Dalbosjo in Dalsland Province; the eastern arm is known as Varmlandsjon, its northern parts in the province of Varmland and the southern in Vastergotland. A popular tourist attraction located near the southeastern shore of Lake Vanern is the mountain plateau of Kinnekulle. This 886-foot ridge is the best spot for viewing the vastness of Lake Vanern.

Charter fishing is a popular activity at Lake Vanern. The local variety of landlocked salmon grows to nearly 40 pounds. The fall season is particularly popular for trolling for salmon. Fishermen also cast for perch, trout and zander. Five species of whitefish inhabit the lake, along with smelt. There are cycling trails and a roadway that encompass nearly the entire lake. Birders enjoy the chance to view various species of terns and gulls, sea eagles and cormorant. Rarer birds sometimes sighted are the black-throated diver, turnstone and Caspian tern.

Gota Canal has become a focal-point of vacationers wishing to sail through the inland waterway, either via their own watercraft or aboard a cruise. Twentieth-century cruise ships do a booming business providing canal cruises, either for the day or with full accommodations for a week or more. Watercraft, including kayaks, canoes and sailboats are available for rental as are bicycles for cycling along the old towpath. Many of the small locks are the responsibility of the boater to operate and instructions are available at most vendors along the route. Vacation rentals and youth hostels are strategically placed along the canal for those who wish to spend several days either hiking or slow-boating. Several points of interest are available to the visitor such as the Karlsborg Fortress Museum on Lake Vattern.

An unusual but popular treat awaits the traveler when they get to Lake Vanern; a floating wood-fired sauna can be reserved to ease sore muscles from cycling, hiking or trimming sails. Traditionally, the sauna is followed by a dive into the lake just off the deck. This should refresh both body and spirit before the visitor-turned-explorer begins investigating the architecture in the old towns along the shore. Ranging from small villages to cities with more than 50,000 people, the towns provide every amenity the visitor could wish for. One of the more popular is the harbor at Mellrud, near the archipelago. Lidkoping holds the famed Rorstrand porcelain factory and has the longest and nicest beach on the lake, Svalnas. Any amenity and activity a visitor could wish for are available here, including golf, tennis, horseback riding and nightlife.

Vacation rentals and real estate for long-term use are available in most cities along Lake Vanern and along the Gota Canal. Come and experience nature the Swedish way; you’ll find lake living you never knew existed.

Things to do at Lake Vanern

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • Birding
  • National Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Vanern

  • Perch
  • Salmon
  • Smelt
  • Trout
  • Whitefish
  • Zander

Lake Vanern Photo Gallery

Lake Vanern Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,396,146 acres

Shoreline Length: 337 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 144 feet

Average Depth: 89 feet

Maximum Depth: 348 feet

Water Volume: 124,039,119 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 9 years

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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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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