This Gorgeous Lake in Italy Is Even More Amazing Than Lake Como

A boat in Lake Iseo
Photo: LucaLorenzelli/Getty Images

While Lake Como has become a popular destination in the tourist realm, Italy is home to another magnificent lake where you can enjoy beautiful scenery with far less crowds. Nestled in between Lake Como and Lake Garda is Lake Iseo. Surrounded by dense woodlands and soaring peaks, the lake remains sheltered from the naked eye, and is the least known of Italy's Lombard Lakes. The hidden gem is an awe-striking sight to behold, with an enormous mountain that shoots straight out of its waters and an array of activities that include everything from touring vineyards to spending the afternoon enjoying fresh sardines in the middle of the ocean. We’ve put together a selection of images that showcase just what makes the lake a gem worth visiting, especially before other tourists start to catch on.

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A Hidden Oasis

Lake Iseo and rooftop
Matthias Riedinger / Alamy Stock Photo

Shrouded by soaring mountains on all ends, the lake has remained closed off to the unassuming eye for years.

The lake is located in Lombardy, which is in northern Italy, and sits near the cities of Brescia and Bergamo, almost equally divided between the two provinces.

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Scenic Roads

morning on Lake Iseo, Italy
mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

To provide visitors with easy access and magnificent views, a road has been carved into the side of the mountains that circles around the entire lake, though once inside, there are plenty of activities to enjoy on foot.

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A Nature Lover’s Paradise

Lookout point on Lake Iseo
David Burton / Alamy Stock Photo

The lake is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with a variety of parks and nature reserves that you can explore.

These range from the Fossil Lakes Park, where you can observe fascinating rock formations created 800,000 years ago to the Tinazzo Gorge Park, where you’ll be greeted to terraced meadows lined with olive trees and roe deer, badgers, and a variety of bird species that take to the skies here.

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In the Water

A boat in Lake Iseo
LucaLorenzelli/Getty Images

You'll also find a variety of water activities you can participate in, including canyoning, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, diving, and surfing.

Meanwhile, the wind that blows from the surrounding valleys makes the ideal environment to engage in kayaking or windsurfing.

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Taking a Dip

A crowded beach on Lake Iseo
Getty Images

When it’s time to cool down, don’t be afraid to hop in the calm waters of the lake, all of which are open to swimmers.

Surrounding the lake and within the islands that dot its terrain, you’ll also find a selection of beaches and shores to soak up the sun, while the sheer cliffs and rock faces that surround the lake also make the location ideal for mountain climbers.

Scuba divers are also invited to discover the many species of fish live in the lake's waters.

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Catching a Boat

Mone Isola, Lake Iseo in Italy
MARKA / Alamy Stock Photo

Fishing enthusiasts will also be at home at Lake Iseo, with a variety of sport fishing centers that line the lake. In fact, Lake Iseo’s sailing centers were some of the first in Italy, with rowing taking place on its waters throughout the year.

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Tours by Boat

Boat on Lake Iseo
Getty Images

You can also hop on tours on motorboats and ferryboats to explore the boat and its surroundings both during the daytime and in the evening.

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Paths Lined With Views

Lake Iseo boardwalk
Getty Images

If you’re looking to tour the lake by foot, consider taking one of the hiking or biking trails that follow either alongside the lakeshore, or take you into the rolling hills that surround the lake.

There are also non-paved roads and mountain routes more experienced hikers will enjoy.

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Europe's Biggest Island in a Lake

Monte Isola villas in Italy
Andrea Pistolesi/Getty Images

One of the lake’s most notable locations is the island of Monte Isola, which is the largest lake island in Europe at close to 5 square kilometers.

The wooded mountain rises out of the lake, providing a lush island lined with chestnut groves and a quaint fishing village you can wander through as you make your way up cobblestone streets winding towards the mountains.

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Island Hopping

Ispla de San Paulo, Lake Iseo
Atlantide Phototravel/Getty Images

South of Monte Isola, you’ll find the quant islet of Sao Paulo Island, where the buildings of what was once a Franciscan convent remain.

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Cultural Attractions

Monte Isola in Italy
Getty Images

For history buffs and artists, the lake is also dotted with churches, sanctuaries, castles, and museums to visit.

There are 8 different museums, over 100 churches and religious institutions, 38 different historic buildings, 8 archeological sites, and 16 different cultural trails that lead you into charming towns.

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Towns and Villages

A trolley in Loevere, Italy
iStock Editorial/Getty Images

The lake is also home to many towns, ranging from those that date back to the medieval era to the sleepy fishing villages where you can enjoy succulently fresh seafood selections.

As you walk through cobblestone streets and ancient fortresses, you'll find yourself transported back in time.

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Loevere town square in Italy
Johann Hinrichs / Alamy Stock Photo

These include locations like Lovere, which sits right between the lake and surrounding mountains and looks like a large amphitheater.

Home to medieval forts and basilicas, the town is home to a dreamy atmosphere that led Lady Worley Montagu, an English writer, to dub it as “the most romantic place I have ever seen.”

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Pisogne, Italy
LucaLorenzelli/Getty Images

In Pisogne, the theme continues as the town is home to 17th-century homes, medieval gates, and a Market Square that leads you to churches filled with 19th-century paintings and instruments.

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Local Delicacies

Lake Iseo, Italy
Piere Bonbon / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re looking to wine and dine, Lake Iseo makes for a top-notch location. The lake is home to restaurants, some of which sit right on the shore, that serve up fresh fish selections.

A specialty here is sardines slow dried on wooden racks for 30 to 40 days before being marinated in olive oil for a few months. They’re seasoned with parsley and garlic and served with polenta.

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Markets Galore

Swans on Lake Iseo
Andrea Pistolesi/Getty Images

Throughout the week, the lake is also home to a variety of markets ranging from farmer’s markets serving up fresh dishes and produce to antique markets and shops selling handcrafted items.

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A Couple on a bench overlooking Lake Iseo
Matthias Riedinger / Alamy Stock Photo

Already a haven from the bustling crowds of tourists heading into the country’s more noted locations, Lake Iseo also has parks and green spaces for picnics plus wellness spaces in the hotel's that line its vicinity.

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Top Wine Right at Your Doorstep

A gate with love locks overlooking Lake Iseo
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The lake also sits in close proximity to the lush vineyards of Franciacorta, where you can sample wines that are made using a selection of chardonnay, pinot noir, and pino blanc grapes.

With more than 116 different wineries to visit, the area is a dream come true for wine connoisseurs.

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