Lake Bolsena

Boat and fish on the crystal clear waters of this crater lake formed by an extinct volcano. Walk or cycle along the shoreline, snap photographs or try your hand at painting the scenic views.

Lake Bolsena is Italy’s fifth-largest lake and one of Europe’s biggest crater lakes. It was formed some 370 millennia ago after an eruption in the Volsini volcano complex created a huge basin. Lake Bolsena has an area of 28,170 acres (113.5 square kilometers). It’s a popular place for recreational pursuits and is surrounded by volcanic sand beaches and a handful of picturesque towns and villages.

Water-based activities abound on the lake and can be enjoyed at all times of the year. One of the nicest ways to discover the crystalline water is on organized sailing and motor-boating excursions. Explore at your own pace via a paddleboat or kayak. Try more fast-paced watersports, including waterskiing, wakeboarding and windsurfing.

Lake Bolsena is rich in fish and thus a favorite angling location. Even in the cold winter months you can see dedicated fishermen waiting patiently for a catch. Purchase a permit and then fish from shore or join a sport fishing trip. Sample species, such as eel, coregone and mullet, at restaurants in the lake’s nearby towns.

Relax on the attractive stretches of black sand beaches, which front the towns and villages. Drink in the natural scenery and take a refreshing swim in the enticing water. Out of the water, walk or bike along the waterfront trails. Spot egrets, herons, swans and warblers, among other birdlife.

The two main towns around the lake are Bolsena and Capodimonte. These are the best places to rent bikes and watersport equipment, purchase fishing permits and arrange tours. Capodimonte, on the southern shores, is the gateway to the lake’s islands, Isola Bisentina and Isola Martana. Ferries travel from the village to Isola Bisentina, which is decorated with Italian gardens and medieval landmarks.

Lake Bolsena sits towards the north of the Lazio region of the province of Viterbo. Find a range of accommodation options at Bolsena, Capodimonte and Marta. Peak season, when accommodation prices are higher, is in July and August.

Guide to Exploring Lake Bolsena

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