Lake Iseo, Lombardy, Italy
Also known as: Lago d'Iseo
Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Iseo — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!
Topics we cover in this article:
- All About Lake Iseo
- Things to Do
- Fish Species
- Where to Stay
- Vacation Planning Tools
- Lake Iseo Map
- Statistics / Weather / Helpful Links
- Shop Lake Iseo Gifts
Looking for Lake Iseo cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.
All About Lake Iseo
A ferry glides across 15,271-acre Lake Iseo to arrive at the dock on Monte Isola. Passengers with packages and bicycles climb off the ferry; curiously absent, however, are cars. No vehicles are allowed on the 1,062-acre island in the middle of Lake Iseo, so there is nothing to mar the charm and quiet of the beautiful island. Surrounded by picturesque fishing villages, Monte Isola is the perfect place to explore by bike or on foot and be immersed in the culture of the Lombardy region of northern Italy. Visitors can climb to the island’s highest point, 1,358 feet above the water, and enjoy the view across Lake Iseo from the religious sanctuary at Cure. Relatively unknown outside of Italy, Lake Iseo is a favorite with Italians and a fantastic destination nestled in the foothills of the Alps.
A fleet of motorized ferries connects most of the lakeside towns around the 38-mile shoreline. Tours with food and bar service leave from Sarnico on the southern shore and from Sulzano and Sale Marasino on the eastern shore. Most tours stop at picturesque Monte Isola.
Monte Isola is the largest island in any lake in Europe- 12.8 square kilometers or 3,163 acres-and one of three in Lake Iseo. The other small islands, Loreto and San Paolo, are private. Lake Iseo itself is the fourth largest lake in the Lombardy region behind Garda, Maggiore and Como. Known in Italian as Lago d’Iseo and also as Lago Sebino, Lake Iseo is 15.5 miles long and a little over three miles wide. It was formed by the Valcomonica Glacier, and the Oglio River makes up both the lake’s primary inflow and outflow.
The western shore of Lago d’Iseo is rugged with very little vegetation. Little gorges created by small mountain streams entering the lake are interspersed with charming fishing villages. The eastern shore is also dotted with fishing villages, but its terrain is much gentler giving way to abundant vegetation and agricultural fields. The southern end of the lake includes a peat bog and nature reserve. The lake is very deep with a maximum depth of 824 feet. Originally, Lake Iseo was much deeper, but sedimentation build-up over time created the bog and provided valuable habitat for waterfowl. The northern end of Lake Iseo has thermal spas and petroglyph sites. In fact, the National Park of Rock Engravers is Italy’s first UNESCO site, preserving several prehistoric rock carvings and archeological sites.
The Nature Reserve of the Pyramids of Zone, established in 1984, is in Marone on the eastern shore of Lake Iseo. Created by the same glacial activity that carved the lake’s basin, the pyramids are pinnacles, some over 30 feet tall, capped with boulder “hats.” Every so often a hat will fall off, and the pinnacle will erode until it reaches the next boulder. Marone is one of several fishing villages around Lake Iseo, including Riva di Solto, Sarnico and the village of Iseo. Lovere, once a fortified town, is known for its arts and nightlife, and it is a popular tourist destination. All the villages have a variety of accommodations including holiday homes, villas, hotels, and bed and breakfasts.
Some of the lakeside villages have boat rentals available, and the winds on Lake Iseo make it a great place to sail or windsurf. Canoeing, diving and fishing are also popular lake pastimes. Fishermen pull tench, pike and trout from the waters. In the winter, visitors can use Lake Iseo as a home base from which to enjoy one of the area’s nearby ski slopes.
In June of 2016 the conceptual artist Christo opened a 16-day exhibit on Lago d’Iseo titled The Floating Piers. Floating walkways connected the lakeside town of Sulzano to the islands of Monte Isola and San Paolo, totaling 1.9 miles in length. 220,000 interconnected cubes wrapped in a shimmering yellow fabric were designed to change to shades of gold and red according to the time of the day and the weather. Christo described the experience as “like walking on water – or perhaps the back of a whale.”
Tucked away in the foothills of the Alps, Lake Iseo is an almost undiscovered gem. With its rich past, sparkling water, and quaint villages all set against the reminders of its glacial creation, it is a treasure waiting to be enjoyed.
Things to Do at Lake Iseo
- Vacation Rentals
- National Park
Fish Species Found at Lake Iseo
Find Places to Stay at Lake Iseo
If you’re considering a Lake Iseo lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.
Recommended Sites to Book a Lake Iseo Vacation
If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake Iseo lodging partners.
- VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
- Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
- Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
- Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
- TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
- Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
- KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
- RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
- CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.
Lake Iseo Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed
Surface Area: 15,271 acres
Shoreline Length: 37 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 607 feet
Average Depth: 404 feet
Maximum Depth: 824 feet
Water Volume: 6,161,420 acre-feet
Water Residence Time: 4.1 years
Drainage Area: 686 sq. miles
Trophic State: Meso-oligotrophic
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