Lake Vattern, Sweden

Lake Locations:

Sweden - Gotaland - Ostergotland - Smaland - Vastergotland - Svealand - Narke -

Also known as:  Vatternsee

Lake Vattern in Sweden’s Southern Region plays a vital part in recreational boating among Swedish holiday-makers. The second-largest lake in Sweden and straddling the Smaland, Vastergotland, Ostergotland and Narke provinces, Lake Vattern is overshadowed only by nearby Lake Vanern. Both are connected to the North Sea and the Baltic by the Gota Canal system. Both were part of the Baltic Sea for much of pre-history and were isolated when the last glaciers receded. Evidence of this past is reflected in fish species still existing in the lake that originated in the Baltic Sea. Early man apparently found the vast lake’s abundant fish inviting, as evidence of pre-historic settlement has been found along the shore. And Sweden’s early kings built their fortresses and royal refuges on the island of Vistingo beginning in the 12th century.

Lake Vattern attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors over the course of a year. The city of Jonkoping at the south end of the vast lake possesses one of the best beaches in Sweden. Visitors come here to swim, play volleyball and attend the many summer and cultural festivals occurring at the beach. The lake holds many bays with picture-perfect sand beaches and an archipelago at the northern end that is a canoeist or kayaker’s dream. Water-skiing and windsurfing are favorites at Lake Vattern, although the lake can be surprisingly cold due to its depth. Sailing is a revered pastime with racing, regattas and sailing clubs scheduling planned activities and pleasure boating. Lake Vattern lies northeast to southwest in its boat-shaped basin and is thus prone to develop surprisingly strong gales due to wind patterns. Visitors who are less experienced sailors often arrange for sailing cruises and leave the tricky navigation to the experts. Those more familiar with the lake’s behavior can rent sailboats at several places along the shore. Several historic cruise boats operate passenger service between villages and among the archipelago islands at the north end of the lake. Because so many visitors arrive by boat from the Gota Canal, several guest harbors provide docking, berths and boaters’ services.

Lake Vattern has a long history as a fishing lake. Commercial fishing still occurs here, although not a prevalent as in years past. Twenty-eight different fish species are known to thrive in the lake, including the famous Vattern alpine char landlocked here since the Ice Age. The most sought-after sport fish are pike, perch, grayling, salmon, brown trout and pikeperch. Visitors are free to fish in the lake as long as they do not use nets; fishing charters can be arranged readily in the villages along the shoreline. Known as one of the cleanest lakes in the world, the water from Lake Vattern is used for drinking water in numerous local towns with little or no filtration.

The Gota Canal, completed in 1832, created a much needed waterway for early transportation of goods between the Baltic and the North Seas. Until recently, many tons of timber, paper products and agricultural goods traveled the waterway which offered a direct water route to Stockholm. Now, “Sweden’s blue ribbon” as it is called has given over to recreational boating. The Gota Canal Company maintains the canal system and its 58 locks, and coordinates cruises, special events and activities along the adjacent towpath. The towpath is a favored location for hikers, cyclists and bird watchers, providing plenty of rustic camping areas, fishing and myriad ever-changing water views. Two canal-related museums are maintained; the Gota Canal Exhibition Museum is located in Motala on the eastern shore of Lake Vattern.

The lake is a favorite place for boaters to stop-off for a day or two and see the sights. The Karlsborg Fortress on the western shoreline is a favorite tourist stop, as are Vadstena Castle and Vadstena Abbey. The castle was built by King Gustav Vasa in 1545 as a fortress, and the abbey dates to even earlier. Visingso island holds the ruins of the castles of Sweden’s first kings, many bicycling trails, herb gardens, horse-drawn carriages, a harbor, campground and ferry service from the mainland. A variety of annual sports and cultural events bring holiday-makers to Lake Vattern, including the Vatternrundan, a 300 km bicycle ride around Lake Vattern in mid June. The event attracts about 17,000 cyclists from all over.

Several campgrounds along Lake Vattern offer visitors plenty of opportunities to stay in close proximity to nature. The towns along the lakeshore offer a variety of holiday apartments, guest houses, hotels, hostels and farm-stays for the holiday renter. Outdoor enthusiasts find opportunities for paragliding and hot air ballooning around the lake along with Tiveden National Park and several nature reserves. The national park offers a variety of locations for canoeing, fishing and hiking. In winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing claim many of the trails, while ice skating takes place among the archipelago islands. Those desiring more social and cultural experiences can take advantage of the many nightclubs, small art museums and local craft shops and fairs.

A visit to Lake Vattern is must during any Swedish holiday. The entire area is uniquely geared toward vacationers and every amenity provided to make your stay a pleasant one. Vacation rentals are plentiful but reservations should be made well in advance. Real estate in the area is sometimes available but much of the land is now held within the national park and reserves. The towns themselves offer many holiday flats and guest houses. Restaurants are excellent and a beach never more than a few yards away. Come to Lake Vattern and enjoy the crystal-clear waters, the varied terrain and the friendly local inhabitants. There’s plenty to enjoy at Lake Vattern. Make your first visit soon!

Things to do at Lake Vattern

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • National Park
  • Museum
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Lake Vattern

  • Brown Trout
  • Char
  • Grayling
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pike Perch
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Lake Vattern Photo Gallery

Lake Vattern Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Gota Canal Company

Surface Area: 458,628 acres

Shoreline Length: 399 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 289 feet

Average Depth: 131 feet

Maximum Depth: 420 feet

Water Volume: 59,992,776 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1832

Water Residence Time: 56 yrs

Drainage Area: 1,739 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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