Lake Iseo, in northern Italy, is relatively unknown to most people outside of the country. But with so much to see and do year-round, there’s no doubt that it is soon to be discovered. We look at the top 10 things to do in and round this beautiful lakeside area.
The hills surrounding Lake Iseo offer a fantastic variety of hiking trails for people of all skill levels. Walk the paths along the shore to better appreciate its clear waters and natural beauty, or pick a more strenuous trail like the Punta Almana, which culminates with glorious views of the Monte Isola (the largest lake island in the country), the rising alps and the waters of the lake.
Monte Isola, the island in the middle of Lake Iseo, is well worth the boat trip on its own. There are about 1,800 people who live here, spread out over eleven different villages. Sights include several churches built between the 15th and 17th centuries that contain frescoes, statues and other art, while the well-preserved medieval castle, Rocca Martinengo, is another attraction.
The area around Lake Iseo truly has a few excellent resorts where skiers can hit the slopes. The Montecampione Ski Resort is just a 15-minute drive north-east of the lake. The resort offers three different lodging options and numerous runs tailored to families, beginners, and also intermediate and advanced level skiers. Montecampione’s close proximity to Milan makes it a favorite retreat with Italians.
A visit to Lake Iseo is not complete without trying some of the local fare, particularly the fish that comes straight from the lake. Tinca, or tench, is the king of the area, and is typically prepared in the oven. Head to Clusane for the most authentic lake food experience; the town that lays claim to being the tinca capital of these parts.
Ferries are constantly criss-crossing their way across the waters here, going to and from the various towns on the shores of the lake. A trip from one side to the other can take up to three hours, depending on the number of stops along the way. And while a ferry ride may not be the most efficient method of travel, it certainly is the most picturesque.
Overlooking the village of Grumello del Monte in between Bergamo and Lake Iseo, this castle dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. Nowadays, the tower, back gate, knights’ hall and cellar all remain from the original structure and are open for exploration. But the fortress isn’t the only draw here, there is also a winery that produces about 100,000 bottles each year.
Just off the southern tip of Lake Iseo lies the Riserva Naturale Torbiere del Sebino. This wetland is protected as an important area for biodiversity in the Po Valley of Lombardy, as there are a number of endangered plants and animals that live here. A hiking trail around the reserve allows visitors to explore the nature of this stretch.
The Tadini Academy Gallery was built between 1821 and 1826 to display the art collection of Count Luigi Tadini. The gallery represents one of the oldest collections in all of Lombardy. Highlighting the museum’s collection is the sculpture work by the Venetian Antonio Canova, with whom Tadini had a close relationship.
Mountain bikers can climb up through the forests to some of the higher altitudes nearby. For the complete Lake Iseo cycling experience, follow the ‘Giro del Lago’ itinerary: a 40-mile adventure around the entire lake that usually takes about four hours to complete.
Want some sun or a dip in the water? Then head over to the area known as La Spiaggetta, or ‘the little beach’. The perfect spot to relax after a long day of touring Lake Iseo, La Spiaggetta is a grassy beach area that is free and open to the public. Plus, there is a small bar to grab a refreshing drink and a snack while enjoying the beautiful view of the lake.