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Blick auf den Iseosee, Bild: Roberto Cerruti / shutterstock

Lake Iseo surprises and inspires

Nestled in a magnificent natural setting lies one of the most beautiful lakes in northern Italy – Lake Iseo, Italian Lago d’Iseo. It is one of the famous northern Italian lakes, but is much less overcrowded with tourists than neighboring Lake Garda. While there, just like Lake Como or Lake Maggiore, many international visitors ensure hectic holiday activity, Lake Iseo is a real oasis of peace. Its shores are a popular destination for Italian families on weekends or holidays. As a foreign visitor, you have the pleasant feeling of being a rare but always welcome guest in an almost private part of Italy.

An idyll on the southern edge of the Alps

Lake Iseo is conveniently located not far from the AA motorway, about 50 km west of Lake Garda. Milan International Airport is less than a two-hour drive away. From the Gotthard tunnel or the Brenner Pass, it takes just under three hours to drive. With a length of 25 km and an area of 65 square kilometers, Lake Iseo is the fourth largest of the northern Italian lakes. For comparison, Lake Garda covers an area that is more than 6 times as large. In the middle of Lake Iseo stands Monte Isola, an island with a mountain almost 400 m high.

Monte Isola is one of the “I borghi più belli d’Italia” – the most beautiful places in Italy. The steep rock faces along Lago d’Iseo provide special climatic conditions. Fall winds make the lake a paradise for windsurfers and sailors. There are numerous sheltered beaches, which are somewhat hidden, but wonderfully comfortable. Directly adjacent to the lake is the Franciacorta wine-growing region. It is famous for its excellent Spumante – noble sparkling wines whose quality is on a par with the legendary champagne.

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Enchanting places line the shores of Lake Iseo

Time seems to have stood still a little on Lake Iseo. There are no large hotel castles, shopping miles or even discotheques or nightclubs. Instead, beautiful small hotels directly on the shore, family guesthouses, cozy restaurants, romantic alleys and market squares. On a drive around the lake, you get an inspiring impression of this enchanting holiday region. The roads are artfully carved into the rock over long stretches and always offer magnificent views of the lake and the islands.

Resorts on Lake Iseo

The main town is named after the lake – Iseo

The small town has just under 10,000 inhabitants and is located on the southern shore of Lake Iseo. The long and well-kept waterfront promenade is lined with numerous palm trees. On the café terraces you can enjoy the fantastic view of the surrounding peaks with a cappuccino or a glass of Spumante . The ferries of the Navigazione sul Lago d’Iseo start in the small port. They connect all the towns and also run regularly to Monte Isola. A few kilometers further north is the small community of Sulzano. It was at the center of the international art world in the summer of 2016, when the famous artist couple Christo and Jeanne Claude installed their “Floating Piers” here. On the floating paths covered with colorful fabric, anyone could walk over to the island of Monte Isola and even completely circle the small island of San Paolo.

Most popular places – Lovere and Sarnico

Sarnico on Lake Iseo, Image: SchnepfDesign / shutterstock

The village of Lovere on the northern shore offers its guests a variety of amenities. Around the impressive marina there is a varied promenade where flea markets and small concerts take place. In less good weather, the spacious indoor pool offers comfortable opportunities to swim. The historic town centre with the old town tower and the Tadini Academy is worth a long walk. Particularly worth seeing is the church of Santa Maria from 1473.

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Sarnico in the south offers its guests a 100 m long bathing jetty in the beautifully landscaped outdoor pool Lido Nettuno. The main attraction of the friendly little town, however, are the numerous Art Nouveau villas, which were built at the end of the 19th century for the Faccanoni family of entrepreneurs. The church of San Martino and the Cappella dei Mortini with their wonderfully restored old frescoes are also worth a detailed visit.

Sights along Lake Iseo

The church in Pisogne

The small church of Santa Maria della Neve is also known as the “Sistine Chapel of the Poor”. The painter Romanino created these impressive frescoes between 1534 and 1536. They show many people of that time in great detail and still give a very interesting impression of rural life around Lake Iseo.

The hiking and nature paradise of Monte Isola

Monte Isola, Lake Iseo
Monte Isola, Image: MicheleRossetti / shutterstock

This large island dominates the landscape of Lake Iseo. The high mountain is densely covered with olive trees and offers wonderful opportunities for beautiful walks, sporty hikes or extensive bike tours. The main town of Peschiera Maraglio has a great atmosphere and lives up to its claim to be one of the most beautiful places in Italy at every turn. At the highest point of the island stands the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola. The approximately one-hour hike there is rewarded with probably the most beautiful view of Lake Iseo and in a small bar you will find the necessary refreshment. Cars are not allowed on Monte Isola, but some bus lines offer comfortable connections to the idyllic little island towns.