Medieval villages, luxuriant woods, clear waters, picturesque churches, mountain peaks. Lake Iseo has a lot to offer. Here is the list of the best things to do when spending some time in the area.
A trip to Montisola
Montisola is the biggest lake island in Europe and it is located in the middle of Lake Iseo. Some people might know it because of the Floating Piers, the work of art by Christo and Jean-Claude, that connected the island to the mainland in summer 2016.
It can be easily reached by the ferry boat (called “battello“) with a short ride from Sulzano or Sale Marasino. You can also enjoy a longer trip, leaving from Lovere.
The beauty of Montisola lives in its villages and ancient traditions. You can explore Montisola on foot (you can walk around the island in around 3 hours) or by bike (which can be rented on site). You can also walk to the sanctuary at the top of the mountain in about 1 hour, or just sunbathe in one of the main grass areas or in one of the few pebble beaches and swim in the lake (the grass areas always allow easy access to the lake).
Find more information about a day trip to Montisola.
Visit a Franciacorta winery
Located south of Iseo, Franciacorta is an area famous for its sparkling wine. Among its splendid hills and villages, there are 117 family-run vineyards, where you can enjoy a truly unforgettable experience. Visiting a winery means getting closer to wine production, discovering its secrets, and of course, tasting. Check the official Franciacorta website to find the full list of wineries and book your visit.
See the medieval villages
Iseo, Sarnico and Lovere are the biggest towns of Lake Iseo area. Iseo and Sarnico are located on the south part of the lake. Both of them have a lovely promenade where you can find bars, gelaterie and restaurants. There is no shortage of shops for some shopping.
Lovere (in the picture) is on the Northern side of Lake Iseo and it is on of the “I borghi più belli d’Italia” (the prettiest medieval villages in Italy). Lovere also has a lovely promenade, shops, bars and restaurants.
On the other shore, just in front of Lovere, there is the village of Pisogne. Its main square is beautiful and the perfect place to enjoy a drink or a pizza when the weather is warm.
Enjoy the view from a panoramic viewpoint
Lake Iseo has many panoramic viewpoints. Some of them are easy to reach, some others require a bit more effort, but all of them offer incredible views over the lake and the surrounding mountains. Here is a list of some viewpoints:
- San Defendente – Solto Collina (easy walk)
- San Giovanni – Lovere (long walk)
- San Lorenzo – Castro (easy walk)
- Eremo di San Pietro – Marone (easy walk)
- Panchina Gigante – Sale Marasino (easy walk)
- Panchina Gigante – Pilzone (long walk)
- Panchina Gigante – Fonteno (easy walk)
- Santuario Madonna della Ceriola – Montisola (long walk)
Admire the “Bogn”, the fjord of Lake Iseo
Between the villages of Castro and Riva di Solto, the winding road that runs along the lake offers breathtaking views. At some point, you will notice a bay, with a small pebble beach, where the overhanging rocks fall into the crystalline water. That is the “Bogn”, a natural cove that reminds of the Nordic fjords. If you park before the village of Riva di Solto, you can walk on the promenade and then follow the path and reach the little beach in around 15 minutes.
Cycle, skate or walk on the Vello-Toline pedestrian road
The Vello-Toline is the old coastal road, now made pedestrian and closed off to traffic. The road is around 5 km long, so totaling up to a 10 km round trip which can be done in roughly a 2 hours walk or an hour cycle.
The road starts after at Toline, just before the village of Pisogne or at Vello, before the village of Marone. The itinerary is easy but impressive as it is in direct contact with Lake Iseo.
Find more information about the Vello-Toline pedestrian road.
Eat with a view
Enjoying a dinner – or lunch – while admiring the beautiful view of Lake Iseo is an experience to try. There is no shortage of restaurants with a view in the area, both in a hilly position and in front of the lake. Here is a small and not exhaustive list.
Go hike on the surrounding mountains
Lake Iseo is surrounded by mountains. They are called “Prealpi” (which means “before the Alps”) and they are higher on the north side of the lake. Monte Guglielmo (1957 m), Corna dei Trentapassi (1248 m), and Punta Almana (1391 m) are probably the most famous peaks, from where you can enjoy an incredible view.
There are many hiking trails around Lake Iseo, suitable for both beginners and experts. You can ask the local tourist office for information about the best hikes.
Walk the Antica Strada Valeriana
The Antica Strada Valeriana (Ancient Valeriana Way) is a hiking route that connects the mountains of Valle Camonica with Lake Iseo. The road, believed to be built during Roman times, was used until the mid-1800s.
Today, it is possible to walk part of the Ancient Valeriana way and enjoy a historical and naturalistic context of great value. Walking along the old mule tracks and following trails in the woods, you can admire fantastic panoramic views of Montisola and Lake Iseo and cross small rural villages.
The entire walk goes from Pilzone to Pisogne and it’s divided into 6 parts. Each part can take from 1 hour to 2 hours walk to be completed. Four of them are easy and family-friendly, whilst two others require a little more training. You can find a description of all the parts on Lake Iseo official website.
See the lake from the water
A great way to discover the wonders of Lake Iseo is to navigate its water. There are many ways to do it: you can take a trip on a local battello (ferry boat), you can rent a boat, a canoe, a windsurf, or a SUP, or you can also book an experience like a tour on the famous Riva Aquarama boat, or an aperitivo on the boat at the sunset.
Wander around the pyramids of Zone
In the mountains behind the village of Marone, there is a place where the rocks have created something enchanting. The so-called “pyramides” are high spires made of earth and stone (they can reach 30 meters in height) with large boulders lying on top of them, serving as protective shields. The phenomenon is constantly evolving, and the erosion process, generated by the atmospheric agents, is continuous and visible.
The Pyramids area is about 21 hectares and is located at an altitude of between 400 and 600 meters above sea level. The circular route is medium difficulty, not recommended for families with very young children or for the elderly who are used to hiking. The best time to see the Pyramids of Zone is autumn, because of the colors of the surrounding woods. Avoid when it has rained or snowed, as it can become dangerous. The reserve is always open to visitors all year round and access is free of charge.
Enjoy an Aperitivo like the locals
In Italy, the aperitivo is a sort of cultural ritual. Literally, the word means “to open” the stomach before dining.
The aperitivo time (usually after work and before dinner, so between 6 PM and 8 PM) is a moment spent in good company to chill over a drink and a some snacks. The aperitivo is accompanied by stuzzichini, a variety of bites that are served together with your drink.
At Lake Iseo, you will find many bars where you can sit and enjoy your aperitivo. A classical drink at this time is the Spritz, but a glass of the local Franciacorta wine is also a very popular option!