Outdoor insider tip: Lake Iseo in Italy
Have you had enough of the tourist crowds on Lake Garda? Then it's time to discover a real insider tip: Lake Iseo impresses with partly spectacular steep shores, crystal clear water, beautiful mountains and is a true paradise for outdoor and water sports! And the best part? The lake is (still) relatively unknown and not overcrowded even in the high season.
A travel tip from Fabian from the Sport Bittl Online Marketing Team.
The lake is surrounded by mountains, some of which rise steeply, reaching up to about 1300m (at an altitude of 185m). There are countless idyllic hiking trails that offer fantastic views of the lake at every turn. There is something here for every fitness level !
From culture to sports , there's plenty to do at Lake Iseo. You can discover sleepy villages, visit historic churches, monasteries and other monuments, but also have the opportunity to explore the mountains surrounding the lake. Hiking, trail running, mountain biking, road biking, SUP adventures - really anything goes here. And then when you've been active enough, just put in a day at the beach!
The pace at Lake Iseo is pleasantly leisurely. The manageable number of tourists, the small villages above the lake and the beautiful nature contribute to the relaxation and convey the true "Dolce vita" - the sweet life in Italy.
The most important facts
Location: Lake Iseo is located in the upper Italian region of Lombardy and lies at the foot of the Bergamo Alps. The lake lies at an altitude of 185m and is about 25 km long. With 65 square kilometers, it is the fourth largest of the Upper Italian lakes, but (pleasantly) much less known than, for example, Lake Garda, which is located further east. There are several islands in the lake, Monte Isola being by far the largest of them. There are several villages on it and it is a worthwhile destination for a day trip.
Accommodations: Along the small villages on and above the lakeshore there are hotels and plenty of cottages and apartments. The choice of campsites is limited and especially in high season it is strongly recommended to book in advance. It certainly adds to the charm of the area that the lakeshore and surrounding mountains are not plastered with tourist accommodations.
Travel time: The ideal travel time is from spring to autumn. If you book in the off-season, you have a good chance of encountering few other tourists, and even in the peak summer season, tourist numbers are kept in check and quickly get lost outside the hotspots.
What you can discover
For sports and outdoor enthusiasts, the area around Lake Iseo is a true paradise. Whether you want to go hiking, cycling or spend your time swimming and SUP tours on the lake - there is something for all fitness levels! You can also combine these activities with a little culture and discover numerous historical monuments.
Also for mountain bike and gravel fans, the region has much to offer, but what is immediately noticeable are the road cyclists:inside. This is no wonder: the routes along the lake and also in the mountains above are absolutely spectacular (there are many tunnels, so it's best to think of your light)!
A real classic is the "Giro del Lago d'Iseo", a loop that goes once around the lake and mostly follows the shore. You pass idyllic villages that invite you to linger over an Italian gelato and are rewarded with numerous great views of the lake. The steep cliffs towards the shore offer a spectacular backdrop and with just under 65km and about 550 meters of altitude, the round is relatively relaxed for active road cyclists.
SUP and windsurfing
Lake Iseo is an ideal spot for water sports enthusiasts: with its high wind resistance, the lake is a popular destination for fans of wing-foiling.
For those who prefer something more relaxed, Lake Iseo also offers excellent conditions for SUP adventures. From the water, completely new perspectives of the surrounding mountains and villages are offered. In addition, you can explore idyllic bays with clear water and enjoy the sight of spectacular rock faces that characterize especially the northern part of the lake.
Hiking Lake Iseo
The possibilities for hiking on and especially above Lake Iseo are almost unlimited! Not only do fantastic views of the lake await you, you can also discover the unique nature with its enchanted forests, flower-covered meadows and rugged rock formations. Deep below you is always the azure blue glittering water to see.
Tour to San Defendente Church
(545 Hm, about 9km, start and end point: Riva dis Solto, difficulty: medium)
The tour starts in the idyllic village of Riva di Solto at the bottom of the lake, but if you want to shorten it a bit, you can also start higher up, because you only leave the built-up area in Zorzino, which is directly adjacent to Riva. On a forest path, which is pleasantly shaded but still offers a view of the lake from time to time, you slowly gain altitude until you finally reach the summit at about 730m at the end of the climb across an open area. From here you have a magnificent view of the lake and the central Alps all the way to the Adamello area.
At the top you should definitely take a short time to visit the historic church from the 16th century. The way back is via another path, so you can make a perfect circular hike.
Monte Isola: the dream island
An absolute must is the beautiful island "Monte Isola", which offers fantastic nature and picturesque little villages. To make the deceleration for the Uraluber:innen perfect, the island is also car-free, but there are some bus connections and the possibility to rent bikes and e-bikes.
The best way to explore the 5 square kilometer island is on foot. Even the boat ride to the island puts you in the right mood, because from the lake you have an excellent view of the surrounding mountains and the island. We start our hike in the tranquil village of Peschiera Maraglio, which lies on the southern edge of the island.
Behind the edge of the village, the path leads steadily up through the forest, because our goal is the highest point of the island. In the small village of Cure we stop for lunch and fortify ourselves with pizza for the last meters of ascent. The impressive church Santuario della Madonna della Ceriola, whose roots go back to the 12th century, is enthroned at about 640m at the highest point of the island. The descent takes us via Siviano to the northern tip of the island, where there is a beautiful beach that invites you to swim. Finally, from Porto you can take a boat back to the mainland.
(Easy to medium tour/ 500Hm/ 5,74km): With 1244m this is a tour on one of the highest mountains that rise directly above the lake. If you go by car to the village zone, the subsequent drudgery is then also limited with about 500 meters of altitude. As soon as you come out into the open above the village, you can see the striking summit cross relatively early, while in addition, with every meter of altitude, better views of the lake deep below you are offered. The way back follows the same route and those who still have enough energy should definitely visit the "Piramidi di Zone" just below the village: these are imposing earth pyramids formed by erosion. You can end the day with a dip in the cool water in the village of Marone, directly on the lakeshore below the Corna Trentapassi.
Whether for families with children or ambitious hikers - at Lake Iseo everyone can find the right hike and the ideal water sports or outdoor adventure: Discover this insider tip in beautiful Italy before the crowds arrive!