Lake Iseo - scenic Lombardy lake in Italy

Photo of Lake Iseo (Lombardy region)

Visit Lake Iseo

Lake Iseo is in the heart of the Lombardy region, to the north-west of Brescia and east of Bergamo. It is a picturesque lake surrounded by steep wood covered hillsides, especially towards the north of the lake.

Lake Garda to the east and Lake Como to the west are larger, better known and more visited than Lake Iseo but if you are touring the lakes of Lombardy you should also allow a day to to explore this lake: even if it is smaller than its neighbours, Lake Iseo is still 25 kilometres long and has several sites of interest and rather less international tourists.

Explore Lake Iseo

Italy This Way comment: while Lake Garda and Lake Como are more impressive and have more charming towns and villages than Lake Iseo, the towns of Lovere and Iseo and the island of Monte Isola are certainly worth visiting and a tour of Lake Iseo is an interesting contrast to the more famous lakes nearby

The highlight of Lake Iseo is the scenery, hills and mountains but there are various towns and villages around the edges of the lake, usually small but creating an interesting tour when visited together. The best way to enjoy the lake is to follow one of the many hiking trails that lead into the hills and have lovely views across the lake.

Statue and piazza on lakefront at Lovere

Many of these villages have a harbour, fish restaurants and a small historical center to explore, along with a ferry terminal to carry visitors around and across the lake. This is a very pleasant way to explore, since most towns and villages here look at their best when seen from the water. There is also a coastal road that follows the whole circumference of Lake Iseo.

Below we follow a tour around Lake Iseo in a clockwise direction starting from Iseo, but that is just because that is the route we followed ourselves...

When you first arrive at the lake you should first head south for the town of Iseo: in any case, it is likely that you will arrive in Iseo as a first stop if you are approaching the lake from the south, as most visitors do. Iseo is a charming place to enjoy a promenade and also useful as a base for exploring the lake and surroundings: see the Iseo guide for details.

To the west of Iseo you can pass through Clusane, a small picturesque village with a promenade, to reach Sarnico, which has a small historic centre to explore and a lively shopping area. Passing the small village of Predore you reach Tavernola Bergamasca with its ancient frescoes in the church of Saint Pietro as well as a ferry terminal to Siviano on the north-west coast of Monte Isola.

Next stop, Riva di Solto has an attractive small lakefront area, and north of here at Orrido del Bogn you reach some of the most beautiful scenery on Lake Iseo, with cliffs plunging to the shoreline.

The most interesting towns are to the north of Lake Iseo, in particular at Lovere which is a charming lakefront town with a pleasant historic centre classified among the "most beautiful villages in Italy", and the small medieval village of Castro. A short distance east of Lovere you can explore Pisogne, a very small town but with two impressive monuments: a church with frescoes and a medieval tower.

Continuing south you reach Marone with a large baroque church overlooking the lakefront on the east coast, from where you can take a popular excursion to see the Pyramids of Erosion, the rock formations near Zone. Further south you reach Sale Marasino and Sulzano, both with ferry terminals to reach Monte Isola.

Medieval tower in Pisogne

Monte Isola

The 'mountain' island of Monte Isola in the middle of Lake Iseo, usually reached by ferry from Sulzano, is the largest island-lake in Europe and almost car free. The island is small enough to explore by bike or on foot, and the highlight of a visit to Lake Iseo: there are several traditional villages on Monte Isola as well as lovely scenery and views across the lake.

You will probably arrive on Monte Isola in the very fishing village of Peschiera to the south of the island (having taken the ferry from Sulzano) where you can spend some time exploring then follow the walk / ride around the island that offers very good views across the lake to the villages and mountains beyond (15 kilometres total). Ambitious visitors can also follow the walk to the hill villages and the sanctuary.

See our detailed guide for Monte Isola.

Peschiera village on Monte Isola

Attractions nearby

The long walk called the Antica Strada Valeriana above Pisogne is the best known hike, although to complete the entire trail will take you a long day of hiking, and the Waterfall Trail in the Valley of Gaina (Monticelli Brusata) is slightly more challenging (hiking boots recommended).

At the southern end of Lake Iseo starting in the shopping centre in Corte Franca there is an easy walk that discovers the Torbiere del Sebino nature reserve, and if you enjoy walking up hill you can follow the route up Monte Bronzone from Sarnico for exceptional lake views.

Active visitors will find numerous other hill walks available around Lake Iseo, and these are the best way to enjoy views across Lake Iseo: ask for information and a guide book in any of the tourist information centres around Lake Iseo for trails near whre you are staying.

Most visitors to Lake Iseo will also be visiting at least one of the larger lakes in the same region. You can find detailed travel guides for the other important lakes in northern Italy at: Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda.

See also:

Photos of Lake Iseo

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Map of Lake Iseo and places to visit

Lake Iseo places to visit

See more places nearby in the Lombardy guide