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Lake Iseo - Italy’s Secret Lake

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10 days From £3,140 £3,040 per person

Uncover an unspoilt corner of northern Italy rich in rare beauty, fantastic flavours, and serene landscapes of glistening lakes and rolling mountains

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2024 Tour code: ISL24

About the tour

Discover the hidden treasures of Lake Iseo, the jewel of Lombardy and its fourth-largest lake. Immerse yourself in its captivating medieval hamlets and indulge in its world-renowned gastronomy.

Embark on a gourmet train journey along the lake's edge, relishing the distinct flavours of the region. Elevate your palate during a sumptuous dinner and wine-tasting session at a Franciacorta winery, celebrating Italy's finest sparkling wines.

Bask in the tranquil beauty of the lake from a luxurious Sulzano hotel, and take a mesmerising boat excursion to the majestic Monte Isola.

Dive deep into the rich history of the region's unsung towns and cities, especially the enchanting Bergamo, a city adorned with magnificent historic structures.

Unforgettable Experiences

Explore the picturesque island of Monte Isola
Explore the picturesque island of Monte Isola
Spend free time on Europe’s tallest lake island, the tranquil car-free Monte Isola with pathways lined by olive trees, quaint houses bedecked by bougainvillea and small boats hinting at a history of fishing.
Indulge in a tasting of Franciacorta sparkling wines
Indulge in a tasting of Franciacorta sparkling wines
Learn about the region’s renowned wines during a tour of a local winery and enjoy a wine tasting and three-course dinner in charming surroundings.
Discover the delights of Bergamo
Discover the delights of Bergamo
Visit the historic city of Bergamo and embark on a guided sightseeing tour of the historic Upper Town, a wonderful gathering of ancient churches, ornate piazzas and eye-catching buildings.
Bask in beautiful views on a gastronomic train journey
Bask in beautiful views on a gastronomic train journey
Savour wonderful flavours on a food-and-drink tour along the eastern shore of Lake Iseo onboard the ‘Treno dei Sapori’ (Train of Flavours), including visits to a historic church and an idyllic monastery.

What’s included


Day 1 – London to picturesque Strasbourg in Alsace

Our Italian adventure begins as we gather at London St Pancras International, ready to board the Eurostar in Standard Premier Class. We enjoy a light meal at our seats as we travel to Paris, where we switch trains to the First Class service to Strasbourg. This historic Alsatian city has a compact but captivating centre, with grand squares and picturesque narrow waterways. We get a flavour of the Alsace with the group's first dinner together at a local restaurant.

Please note: Some departures have different order of itinerary due to the running days of the 'Train of Flavours'

Some departures dates will have a different itinerary on this day due to Italian engineering works - click here to see affected dates

  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Light Meal
Day 2 – Through the Alps to Italy’s hidden lake

We leave delightful Strasbourg on a morning train across the Swiss border to Basel. From here, we board a direct train to Milan in Italy. Passing glistening Lake Thun, we find ourselves deep in the Swiss Alps, surrounded by imposing mountains, gleaming glaciers and rushing rivers. Entering the Simplon Tunnel, we follow the route taken by the evocative Orient Express, emerging in Italy. Skirting the shores of Lake Maggiore, we arrive in Milan.

From this stylish city, a coach transfer transports us to the charming small village of Sulzano on the shores of Lake Iseo. Our elegant hotel has a pleasant pool and panoramic terrace right on the lake edge, providing jaw-dropping views of this gorgeous lake and its rising mountains. With a private bathing area, it is also possible to take a dip in the lake's refreshing waters.

After checking in, there is time to unwind before we gather for a three-course dinner in the hotel's restaurant this evening.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – Free day on Lake Iseo

You have the chance to familiarise yourself with this little-known corner of northern Italy today as we explore independently. Exploring the beauty of Lake Iseo allows you to uncover many hidden gems. This unspoilt lake and its charming villages recall the days of the Grand Tour when people flocked to Italy to discover the culture and beautiful landscapes of this fascinating country. A train line with regular services along the eastern shore makes this easy and a pleasure.

Sulzano's Old Town is small, but its narrow, sheltered streets are beautiful, winding gently with the shoreline and regularly providing glimpses of stunning views. There is a memorial to the temporary 2016 installation by renowned artists Christo and Jean-Claude. The inventive couple's 'Floating Piers' created a walkable surface between Sulzano and the islands of Monte Isola and San Paolo that allowed visitors to stroll across the lake on bright orange walkways.

To the south of Sulzano is the medieval village of Iseo. The region's largest open-air market is held here on Fridays amid a picturesque warren of alleys and towering, pastel-coloured houses. One of Italy's most beautiful villages is Lovere, on the northern edge of the lake. With public ferries connecting most settlements surrounding the fourth-largest lake in Lombardy, a day here could prove appealing. Nestled between the lake and mountains, the Centro Storico is a delightful jumble of colourful houses jostling for position around the shore and main square, Piazza 13 Matriri. The understated exterior of the 15th-century Basilica of Santa Maria of Valvendra hides an astounding interior. Glorious frescoes cover the walls and ceiling, as well as the nine arched chapels, enclosed by iron gates.

There are many restaurants in the lakeside towns serving up traditional lake fish, such as stuffed tench, battered perch and marinated char, while modern cuisine includes trout tartare and pike ravioli.

  • Breakfast
Day 4 – Journey on the ‘Train of Flavours’

Today is a highlight of our visit to Lake Iseo as we embark on a gastronomic exploration of the area aboard the 'Treno dei Sapori', or the Train of Flavours, as we delight in the scenery and tastes of the region. Meeting in Iseo, we are given a guided tour of this picturesque village before we board modern carriages hauled by a vintage locomotive for a journey to Pisogne at the northern edge of the lake. On arrival in this colourful village, we are given a guided tour of the Santa Maria della Neve church which contains frescoes by Renaissance artist Girolamo Romanino depicting scenes from the Passion of the Christ.

The next leg of our journey sees us travel the full length of the lake to Provaglio d'Iseo. Along the way we bask in beautiful views of the lake from our windows, while being served fresh, local food throughout the journey, including cheeses, meat and sparkling Franciacorta wines. The air-conditioned carriages are equipped with audio-visual systems to ensure we don't miss a thing.

The village of Provaglio d'Iseo is dominated by the nearby Torbiere del Sebino, a large wetland nature reserve known for its wildlife including purple herons, black kites and great bitterns. These large peatbog marshes called 'lame' gave their name to the beautiful monastery we visit. Founded in 1083 and donated to the Benedictine order of Cluny, the Monastery of San Pietro in Lamosa overlooks the atmospheric wetlands. Recently restored to its original condition, the idyllic Romanesque monastery contains historic frescoes and provides excellent views over the Torbiere del Sebino.

We return to Sulzano via Iseo and have a free evening to head out independently to a local trattoria or admire the sunset over the lake from our hotel.

  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 5 – Cruising to Monte Isola

After a leisurely morning we walk to the nearby pier from where we sail across to Monte Isola. This short boat ride affords delightful panoramic views of the lake and its hilly shores as we make our way to the imposing island. With a summit nearly 2,000-feet above sea level, Monte Isola is the tallest lake island in Europe.

Disembarking on the car-free island in Peschiera Maraglio, we have free time to explore independently. Small boats bob gently on the water under the watchful eye of lakefront houses and cafés, many bedecked with bougainvillea. The Church of San Michele Arcangelo can be found amid the labyrinthine alleyways and rewards the visitor with an impressive stucco interior decorated with Baroque frescoes. The shoreline path between Peschiera Maraglio and Sensole has attracted artists for centuries due to its thick olive groves. Known as the 'road of olive trees', this mile-long walkway also boasts wonderful views of the lake and the attractive small island of San Paolo.

The lake has understandably played a crucial role in the life of islanders, many of whom made wooden boats and nets for its fishermen. Near the shore, you may see racks of lake fish being dried in the sun, while the interior is renowned for its salami. Due to this heritage, the characterful trattorias abound with delicious food - look out for sundried lake sardines with polenta, a traditional speciality and an example of 'slow food'.

You can return to Sulzano at your leisure today, ready for our three-course dinner in the hotel restaurant this evening.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Day at leisure on Lake Iseo

A full free day today presents many opportunities to enjoy the beauty of Lake Iseo and beyond. You could opt to take a boat to one of the lake's other villages, soaking up the amazing views of the surrounding mountains. The ancient fishing village of Clusane is renowned for its gastronomy, particular Franciacorta wine, saffron and baked tench - the villagers celebrate this culinary speciality each July with a festival called 'Tench Week'.

From the train station in Sulzano, you could travel further afield to explore some of Italy's most famous cities. Milan, the 'style capital of the world, and Verona, the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, can be reached in less than 90 minutes via Brescia.

The underrated city of Brescia is a delight to visit in its own right. Bursting with history, this ancient Celtic city aligned with Rome in the 2nd-century BC during the Carthaginian Wars. The most important Roman remains in northern Italy can be found here, including the remarkable Capitolium, a former temple and part of a UNESCO World Heritage site that also contains the neighbouring amphitheatre. Overlooking these evocative ruins is the sprawling medieval fortress, while the expansive Old City contains many attractive historic streets and squares. In the Piazza Paolo VI, you can find the old and new cathedrals next door to one another. The circular Romanesque 12th-century Duomo Vecchio is towered over by the grand Baroque façade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.

The heart of historic Brescia is the Piazza della Loggia and is a good place to sit and people-watch, perhaps enjoying delicacies of this city that was the Italian Capital of Culture in 2023. Look out for casoncelli bresciani, a delicious stuffed pasta that can be paired with a Franciacorta Brut, or perhaps sip on Brescia's signature apéritif, the pirlo, similar to Aperol spritz.

  • Breakfast
Day 7 – Beautiful Bergamo

This morning we travel by coach to the gorgeous city of Bergamo at the foothills of the Alps between Lake Iseo and Lake Como. After meeting our guide, we board a funicular to the historic Upper Town, viewing the Lower Town spreading out on the plain below us.

We embark on a walking tour of this captivating historic town surrounded by 16th-century Venetian walls. The spellbinding Piazza Duomo is a wonderland of magnificent buildings. The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was founded in 1137 and its small but not understated entrance to is guarded by two red and white marble lions. Adjoining it is the decorative Colleoni Chapel. This eye-catching structure with a red, white and grey façade is dedicated to a renowned Italian general from the 15th century. Everywhere you turn there is another fantastic sight, including the neoclassical cathedral and the octagonal 14th-century baptistery. The large Piazza Vecchia, lined with characterful buildings, can be reached under the large arched arcade of the 12th-century Palazzo della Ragione, formerly the town hall.

After our sightseeing tour, there is a free afternoon to continue exploring. You might like to head down into the airy and modern Lower Town, where wide boulevards are lined by chestnut trees. Perhaps you could find a trattoria to savour some local flavours including casconcelli, a variety of filled ravioli. Wandering the streets, you may be tempted into some retail therapy in the stylish boutiques, while the monumental twin neoclassical gates at the Porta Nuova frame great views of the Upper Town. Another option is to relax in one of the small squares, sampling a coffee or an apéritif, or indulge in a stracciatella, a variety of ice-cream with dark chocolate flakes that was invented in Bergamo.

We return to Sulzano this afternoon and have some time to unwind before we sit down for a three-course dinner this evening.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 – A sparkling evening at a Franciacorta winery

After a free morning and afternoon to unwind in Sulzano, we embark on a highlight of our trip as we travel by coach to a Franciacorta winery. Franciacorta is a famed sparking wine produced in the small region around the southern edge of Lake Iseo. Renowned for their gleaming, straw-like colour and delicate bubbles, these wines are differentiated from other Italian sparkling wines by their rich bouquet and dense, balanced flavours. The smooth and refined character also separates it from the familiar minerality of champagne.

At a vineyard in Franciacorta, we enjoy a guided tour of a winery to learn about the history and flavour of these acclaimed wines, before sampling a number of varieties. Dinner this evening is at the winery as we sit down for a three-course meal of local specialities in idyllic surroundings.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 – Crossing the Alps to delightful Basel

After a leisurely morning to drink in our final views of beautiful Lake Iseo, we transfer by coach to Milan. Here, we continue by First Class rail through the Swiss Alps to Basel. Enroute, we can admire views of shimmering lakes and towering peaks lining steep valleys. Basel is a picturesque Swiss city near the borders of Germany and France. After checking in to our hotel near the station, there is time at leisure to explore at your own pace. Basel's charming Old Town is full of historic, winding streets dotted with quintessentially Swiss architecture and, near the red-brick minster, you can find a pretty, cobbled square enveloped by lovely, shuttered buildings.

This evening, we have our final dinner together at a local restaurant.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 – Homeward bound

This morning we board the direct train from Basel to Paris, enjoying the gentle French scenery from our First Class seats. We can recall our wonderful holiday of discovery to Lake Iseo. We have uncovered the rare beauty of Italy's secret lake which has offered up many unforgettable experiences, from the views of imposing Monte Isola and its idyllic olive-lined paths to the delightful flavours of its produce on the 'Train of Flavours' and Franciacorta winery.

In Paris, we change to the Eurostar, enjoying a light meal in our seats in Standard Premier Class. On arrival back at London St Pancras, we say farewell to our fellow travelling companions, with whom we have shared these fantastic memories.

  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Light Meal

Additional information

Departure Information

Some departures dates will have run a different itinerary due to Italian engineering works - click here to see affected dates

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Hotel RivaLago, Sulzano

Hotel RivaLago, Sulzano

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Treno dei Sapori

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Europe Holidays 2024

Europe Holidays 2024

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