Lake Iseo (Lago D’iseo) Lombardy Italy
Lake Iseo, Italy is located in Lombardy Italy and is around 1 hours drive from Milan, the lake is around 25km long and 5km wide and is dotted with some of the most picturesque medieval towns and villages you will ever see.
The northern Italian lake is nestled between Garda, Maggiore and Como, The smallest lake of the four, Iseo is the lesser known destination.
Since Lake Iseo isn’t the largest, or most extravagant of the lakes it does not have the tourist pull that some of the larger lakes have. Therefore, it makes it the perfect hidden gem for those who like to visit less touristy destinations in search of a more authentic experience, or just want to take the holiday at a slower pace.
However, it would be a shame for such a beautiful destination with so much to offer to go to waste, so we’ve put together a list of 5 things to do in Lake Iseo.
1. Drive around Lake Iseo (Lago D’iseo)
Due to Lake Iseo (Lago D’iseo) being one of the smaller lakes, it means that you can quite easily drive around the entire lake in about 2-3 hours. However, I would recommend allowing longer so that you can stop off at any points of interest.
This is one of the best things to do when you first arrive at Lake Iseo, it will really help you to get your bearings of the lake and the views are absolutely breathtaking.
A particular point of interest is the Orrido di Castro (Bogn) a stretch of road between Riva Di Solto and Castro where you can take in the unusual geographical rock formations which see’s vertical slabs towering over the lake. For the best views of the Bogn you should drive down the west side of the lake from Lovere towards Riva Di Solto.
For a relaxing pit stop you should park in Riva Di Solto and use the old coastal road to reach a small beach where you can enjoy the view and a swim!
You can also cycle around Lake Iseo (Lago D’iseo) for those who are looking for a more active holiday.
2. Hike Corna Trentapassi
Corna Trentapassi is a summit located on the Brescia Prealps. The hike to the summit starts in Zone and is 6.3km in total, taking around 2.5 hours to complete. You can find more details about the hike here.
The hike path is extremely well defined and sign posted, so it can be completed by anyone with a moderate fitness level and families. However, there are no places for refreshments and parts of the walk can become quite steep, so you should be prepared for this.
The views from the top of the summit are breathtaking, providing you with uninterrupted views of lake Iseo and Monte Isola.
3. Visit Medieval Towns; Lovere and Pisogne
Located in close proximity to each other at the most northern part of the lake sits two of the most picturesque medival towns on lake iseo (lago d’iseo) Lovere and Pisogne. You simply need to walk around these towns to understand why they are so captivating.
Famed as one of the most beautiful hamlets in Italy, scattered with old piazzas, towers and churches this charming town is something out of a romance novel.
Things to see in Lovere
- Walk along the promenade to Piazza XIII Martiri – There is a long promenade along the front of Lovere where you can enjoy views of the lake finishing the walk at the piazza, the centre of Lovere which hosts a range of cafes and restaurants.
- Piazza Vecchia – A smaller piazza and the old centre of Lovere is picture perfect and is home to the civic tower. Visitors can now climb to the top of the tower and take in views of Lovere.
- Gallery of the Tadini Fine Arts Academy – Formally established in 1829, it is among the oldest museums in Lombardy and houses the Academy of fine arts in it’s impressive grounds.
- The Basilica of Santa Maria in Valvendra – Located just outside the main historic centre, do not be fooled by the demure exterior, the interior is extravagant and covered with beautiful frescoes.
Found on the most north-eastern tip of lake Iseo (Lago D’iseo) and a prominent market place in middle ages, Pisogne has managed to maintain much of it’s Ye Olde charm.
Things to see in Pisogne
- Piazza Corna Pellegrini and Bishops Tower – The main square in Pisogne is surrounded by beautiful cafes and houses. It is also where the Bishops Tower which was built in 1250 is located. You can now climb the steps to the top of the tower and enjoy 360 degree views of the town and lake.
- Church of Santa Maria Assunta – The Parish church of Pisogne, was built in the 18th century and towers over the main square the interior follows a neo-classical design .
- Church of Santa Maria della Neve – This looks like every other roman catholic church. However, this one houses frescos by Girolamo Romanino a renowned Italian high Renisance painter from Brescia. Art critic Giovanni Testori went as far as to rename is as the “Sistine Chapel for the poor”
4. Taste Franciacorta
Franciacorta is a delicious sparkling wine, often described as Italy’s answer to Champagne due to the similarities between the grapes and method used for producing the two drinks.
Franciacorta from the Lombardy region has been designated DOCG classification since 1995, the highest level of quality for Italian wines.
With the Franciacorta wine region being located on the shores of Lake Iseo, it is a must try for anyone visiting this quaint lake.
There are a number of ways to experience this taste of Italy. You can visit one of the over 100 wineries in Franciacorta, either by taking a self guided tour and visiting your preferred wineries or by booking onto an organised tour, these range from day itineraries, cycling tours and weekend itineraries that will also cover the local sites.
Alternatively, Franciacorta is stocked in all of the local bars and supermarkets, so you can sample the local tipple whilst sitting on the edge of lake Iseo!
5. Visit Monte Isola
Monte Isola is the largest populated lake island in Europe and is located in the centre of Lake Iseo (Lago D’iseo). In 2019 it was elected as the third best European tourist destination and should therefore be on anybodies list of things to do in Lake Iseo.
It’s easy to see why, as this little mountain has so much to offer; beautiful villages and architecture, a rich history, great local produce and plenty of hiking and cycle routes; there is something here for every kind of traveller.
Getting to Monte Isola
You can take the public Ferry to Monte Isola, which runs multiple times a day, the time table can be found here.
Cycle around the island
A great way to explore the island is to cycle around, as cars are banned this is the most efficient mode of transport for tourists (unless you own a scooter). The most typical route starts in Peshciera Marahlio and follows the coastal road clockwise which is around 9km and takes around 1 hour, with the additional option to cycle up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola for those brave enough for the assent.
Other points of interest on Monte Isola
- The Net and Memories Museum – The island has a long history relating to the construction of boats, production of nets and fishing which you can learn more about at the museum.
- Sanctuary of the Madonna Della Ceriola – Sources suggest the church was started in the 13th century with expansions and development continuing through to the 17th century. Located on the highest point of the island, the church is said to be the first Marian shrine in the lake Iseo area and offers amazing panoramic views of the lake. There is a well defined hiking path to the church and viewpoint.
- L’isola Dei Sapori – A family run store located right on the lakefront in Peschiera Maraglio L’isola Dei Sapori offers authentic local delicacies such a salami, sardines, olive oils, craft beers and Franciacorta. You can simply pop in for a drink or reserve one of their tasting platters
- Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo – Located in Peschiera Maraglio this decadent church is beautiful to observe from both the exterior and interior and also provides lovely views over the town.
Map of Lake Iseo (Lago d’iseo)
Lake Iseo (Lago d’iseo) has so much to offer and I hope this blog post has highlighted some of the hidden treasures and things to do on this little known lake in Lombardy, Italy.