Blog, Italy, Travel

Two of Italy’s Best Kept Secrets – Lake Iseo and Lake Idro

The Lombardy Region of Italy has several lakes, such as Lake Como, Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano, Lake Iseo, Lake Idro and more. Two of the most populars ones are Lake Como and Lake Garda. In addition, Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano are also well known and shared with Switzerland. The two lakes that we visited were Lake Iseo and Lake Idro, which are in-between Lake Como and Lake Garda. These last two lakes are referred to as Italy’s best kept secrets from the locals, which is why our host family was excited to take us.

Lake Iseo

Lake Iseo is the fourth largest lake in the Lombardy Region of Italy and is home to several medival towns, one being Iseo and the other Sarnico. It also has a lake island called, Montisola, which is the largest lake island in Europe and a popular destination for locals. Our hosts took us to Lake Iseo for an evening picnic and an annual festival called, Sarnico Busker Festival.

When we arrived to Lake Iseo, we were already in awe. This was our first lake to visit in Italy and we were blown away by its grand beauty. We were across from the town of Sarnico, which had views of the city and two other towns across the lake. Behind the towns and beyond the lake were rolling green mountains that encompassed the area – it was magnificent. In addition to Lake Iseo’s beauty, we loved the accents of nature and art surrounding our picnic area. There were manmade lily ponds and art sculptures that enhanced the lake’s ambience even more.

Since we were enjoyed our picnic in the evening, there was not much activity out on the water with the exception of several swans swimming close to shore. We can see why our hosts wanted to enjoy a nice picnic dinner here, it was all very romantic and peaceful. And just when we thought this picnic and lake could not get any better, the sun began to set behind the mountains coloring the sky red and orange. Needless to say, this lake is the perfect place to enjoy an evening picnic.

Once we finished our picnic and the moon came out, we made our way across the lake to Sarnico to enjoy the festival! The Sarnico Busker Festival takes place every year between the towns of Sarnico and Paratico, near the end of July. The festival brings street artists together to perform in little spots throughout the town. There are over 150 artists from all around the world who perform over 200 shows over the course of four days. The shows contain aerobics, urban theater, juggling, contemporary dance, puppets, acrobatics, street music and more, all with the intention to entertain both children and adults. The festival was a lot of fun and had some talented acts. It was clear that not only Lake Iseo was a local-favorite, but the festival was too.

Lake Iseo’s Official Website

Lake Idro

Lake Idro is one of Lombardy’s smaller lakes, but definitely not one to be missed! The Chiese River is the primary inflow and outflow of water in this 2768-acre lake. It is also an Italian pre-alpine lake of glacial origin, which is probably why this lake is freezing cold! Like the other lakes in Lombardy, Lake Idro is surrounded by alpine mountains and since this lake is small, the mountains felt closer and bigger. It is known to feel similar to the Norwegian fjords because of the shape of the lake and its surrounding landscapes. After visiting Lake Iseo and Lake Garda this lake felt like Italy’s most hidden gem. It is less crowded and has fewer towns than the other lakes, making it feel more secluded.

As we were driving with our hosts in their camper it started to pour down rain, but they assured us that the rain would clear and it would be a beautiful day on the lake. Well… when we arrived at the lake the rain only came down harder and so we stayed in their camper playing games with the boys and eating some fine Italian cuisine.

Lo and behold, after an hour of waiting the rain out, the sun came out and it ended up being an amazing day on the lake!

Lake Idro is known for its famous trout fishing, great sailing and windsurfing because no engines over 10HP are allowed on the beautiful lake. Unfortunately, we were not able to try the trout and the wind was not there that day to take Marco’s sailboat out, so we drove to a “beach” on the lake with a dock that was picturesque. Though we loved Lake Garda and Lake Iseo, Lake Idro felt more like a lake where you spend the day with your family. Maybe it was because of how we spent our day there, but it just had a different vibe than the other lakes. Tourists flock to Lake Garda and Lake Iseo was busy because of the festival, whereas Lake Idro had only a handful of families and felt family-friendly.

We spent our day on the lake playing games, trying to catch fish, and jumping off of the dock. Like we said earlier, the water was freezing, but jumping off of the dock and into the water was well worth it.


Though it took awhile for the sun to come out and play, we had a great day on Lake Idro with our host family playing games, eating well and enjoying the glacier cold water.

Lake Idro’s Official Website

We know these two lakes are not as glamorous as Lake Como and Lake Garda, but we promise you they are worth a visit. Both are more quiet and peaceful than the other lakes and definitely less touristy!

To read more about our lake day adventures in Italy click the links below!