With Lake Garda to the east and Lake Como to the west, Lake Iseo is a case of out of sight, out of mind for many visitors to the Italian Lakes. Italians, meanwhile, have been spending their summer holidays here for decades, drawn in by the laid-back fishing towns strung around the waterfront – and the walking, cycling and ferry routes that link them. Iseo town, on the south bank, comes alive in the summer. From here, ferries cross between fishing villages and sanctuary-topped islands. Up in the hills, wine-makers are busy creating Lake Iseo’s beloved Franciacorta fizz, as they have done for generations.
Introducing Iseo: food, wine, history and nature
The lake’s namesake town, Iseo, makes a great base for a walking and foodie holiday. Arcaded cafés and shops surround the main square, Piazza Garibaldi, where an historic market filled with everything from creamy farmhouse cheeses to silver jewellery, pops up every Friday. From the piazza, medieval streets curve past trattorias, with their red-checked tablecloths and seafood menus, to the palm-lined promenade – the starting point for a leisurely lakeside 'passeggiata'.
Walking trails: pull up a (really, really) Big Bench
Walks in Lake Iseo range from sedate strolls along the promenade to mountain climbs – but they all encourage wanderers to pause and take in the views. The Big Benches art project has placed BFG-sized seats at strategic viewpoints to rest weary legs upon… if you can clamber onto them.
For a different type of scramble, ascend the rocky path to San Defendente, a church with an uninterrupted view of Corna Trentapassi peak. Easy routes through the Piramidi di Zone Nature Reserve showcase more in the way of geological wonders, with well-marked paths snaking past stalagmite-like rock formations. Or, you can head to the southern edge of Iseo, where wooden walkways criss-cross the swaying reed-beds of the Torbiere del Sebino Nature Reserve.
Summer in Franciacorta: Italy’s champagne region
Over 100 family-run vineyards stripe the hills of Lake Iseo, all on a mission to produce the finest glass of Franciacorta sparkling wine. This wine is as close to champagne as an Italian sparkling gets – but (we’ll go there) it’s even tastier. A bit like Lake Iseo, Franciacorta is popular in Italy but isn’t sipped as much abroad. Tours of labyrinth cellars and lake-view vineyards reveal each winery’s secrets, whether that’s their passion for organic vines or the story behind Italy’s first sparkling rosé. We musn’t forget that, of course, all tours end in a wine tasting!
Sightseeing fun: ferry routes to Sarnico, Monte Isola & more
Passenger ferries putter between towns like Iseo, Sarnico, Castro and Pisogne, taking just over two hours to cross the whole lake from north to south. If you have time for only one trip, go for the crossing to car-free Monte Isola island. Fishing traditions are still going strong here. Silvery fish dry on lines along the shore and net-making is a living tradition – including making nets for football goals used in the FIFA World Cup. For the best views in the summer, follow the stone mule tracks up to Madonna della Ceriola – a frescoed church perched on the highest point of the island.
Why book a summer holiday in Lake Iseo with Inghams?
At Inghams, we do walking holidays differently. With no fixed itinerary, you have more time in your destination and the freedom to walk as much or as little as you like, discovering some of Lake Iseo's best walking routes and activities at your own pace.
Plus, we've included two optional guided walks every week in Lake Iseo. Join a professional mountain guide and really get to know the area (see more details in the ‘walking’ tab below).
With over 85 years of outdoor travel experience, our holiday packages to Lake Iseo include flights, transfers, and accommodation, so you can relax and leave the small details to us. Our experts can help you choose the best holiday for you, and our team in resort can give you the inside scoop on how to spend your time away with us.