Sirmione: things to do and see
Located between Desenzano and Peschiera, there is a narrow strip of land that extends northward into Lake Garda. Right there is Sirmione, which, thanks to its disarming beauty, should not be missed on your itinerary around Lake Garda. In this article, let’s explore the things to do and see in Sirmione that will make your vacation unforgettable!
Continue reading if you want to learn more about the “pearl of peninsulas and islands” – as the poet Catullus described it.
How to reach Sirmione and where to park
How much time do you need in Sirmione? It depends on what would you like to see. If you just want to see the historic buildings, a day is enough. However, if you would like to enjoy the sun and the lake, I suggest you stay for more time. There are several ways to reach the magnificent peninsula of Sirmione:
- By bus. Sirmione is served by the LN0026 line of the Arriva Brescia company. In winter, this bus enters the peninsula up to the entrance of the historical center. In summer, it stops in the Colombare area. From there, you can continue on foot or use the shuttle (free with a valid ticket for bus 0026).
- By train. Sirmione does not have a train station. The closest stations are Peschiera del Garda and Desenzano del Garda, both on the Milan-Verona line. To reach Sirmione, you can take a taxi or the LN0026 bus.
- By plane. The two nearest airports are Valerio Catullo Airport in Verona and Orio al Serio Airport in Bergamo.
- By boat. If you are in another town on Lake Garda, you can reach Sirmione by ferry from Navigarda.
- By car. On the A4 Torino-Trieste highway, take the exit for “Sirmione.”
For more information on buses around Lake Garda and to check schedules, read our article here. If you’re interested in information about ferries, read another article at this link.
And if you’re arriving by car? Where can you park? The final part of the peninsula is a restricted traffic area. However, outside the walls of the Scaliger Castle, you can find numerous paid parking lots. The main and most significant one is the Piazzale Monte Baldo parking lot (cost of €2.50 per hour).
If you’re looking for free parking in Sirmione, I recommend exploring the small streets of the peninsula. If you find parking with white lines, be careful to check if they’re free for the whole day or just for a limited period. However, most of these are located in the Colombare area, more than 20 minutes on foot from the historic center.
Things to see in Sirmione
1. The Scaliger Castle
In this list of things to do and see in Sirmione, it’s impossible not to start by mentioning the Scaliger Castle. Located just before the actual entrance of the historic center, its imposing structure will leave you in awe.
The castle was built in the second half of the 14th century. Even today, you can see how it is part of a unified project, which also includes a fortified harbor, the dock, useful for accommodating the fleet. Over the years, Sirmione lost its importance as a defensive structure, giving way to the nearby Peschiera del Garda. During the Napoleonic period, the castle was used as an arsenal and accommodation for troops.
To discover more about the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Fort of Peschiera del Garda, read our article here.
The three towers and the 47-meter-high keep give the castle a fairy-tale atmosphere. Inside, 146 steps will take you to see a magnificent panorama of Lake Garda.
Entrance to the castle is possible from Tuesday to Sunday. During the good weather days, I recommend booking your visit online on the Musei del Garda website (mandatory for groups and schools). The ticket can then be purchased at the ticket office and costs €6.00. Admission is free for those under 18. If you’re interested in visiting the Grotte di Catullo and the Villa Romana in Desenzano, a combined ticket is available for €14.00.
2. The Grotte di Catullo (Catullo’s Cave)
The immense archaeological area spanning 2 hectares known as the “Grotte di Catullo” encompasses the remains of a luxurious Roman villa from the Augustan period and a museum. “Grotte” (Caves) is not coincidental but dates back to the accounts of early travelers who mistook the overgrown ruins for caves. Contrary to past beliefs, the villa never belonged to the poet Catullus but was constructed after his death.
Originally, the villa had two floors, various porticos, panoramic terraces, and a thermal area. However, from the 3rd century onwards, some parts of the villa were rearranged to accommodate poorer dwellings, contributing to the degradation of the area. In the 5th century, the villa underwent another transformation, becoming part of a defensive structure before eventually being used as construction material.
If you don’t want to miss this noteworthy site on Lake Garda, I’ll provide you with some useful information on how to access it.
Entry to the Grotte di Catullo is allowed from Tuesday to Sunday. The ticket prices are €8.00 for adults, €4.00 for individuals aged 18 to 25, and free for those under 18.
3. The beaches
I couldn’t miss adding the beaches to my list of things to do and see in Sirmione. Take advantage of the clear, azure waters of the peninsula to cool off and spend a few hours in total relaxation! A day at the beach is a must-add to your itinerary if you’re looking for what to see in Sirmione in 3 days.
- Jamaica Beach. One of the most famous beaches on Lake Garda and also one of the most unique. What makes it stand out are the water-eroded stone slabs that provide excellent support for swimmers. The colors that characterize it inspired its name, as it resembles the beaches of Jamaica. It tends to be very crowded in the summer. To reach it, you’ll find an entrance near the Grotte di Catullo.
- Lido delle Bionde. A pebble beach, equipped with every comfort, such as bars and various rentals.
- Punta Grò. Perfect for the hottest summer days as it is surrounded by numerous trees. Located outside the Sirmione peninsula, on the border with Peschiera del Garda. Ideal if you’re looking for things to do in Sirmione with children, as it offers ample space for resting and having a picnic.
In Sirmione, you can find numerous beaches all along the peninsula! If you want to know which are the best beaches on Lake Garda, read our dedicated article.
For families, I can also recommend Lido di Lugana, Lido Galeazzi, Punta Staffalo, and Spiaggia delle Muse. For the more sports-oriented, Spiaggia Brema offers the opportunity to engage in kitesurfing, windsurfing, canoeing, pedal boating, as well as beach volleyball and ping pong.
To end the day beautifully, stay until sunset. The sky will begin to be painted with all shades of orange, reflecting on the clear waters of the lake. A magnificent day at the beach on the peninsula is the perfect option if you’re looking for free things to do in Sirmione.
Things to do in Sirmione
1. Boat trip around the peninsula
What to see in Sirmione in a few hours? If you’re in Sirmione, have limited time to explore the village, and want a unique experience, I have the perfect suggestion for you! Opt for a boat tour around the peninsula departing from the harbor near Scaliger Castle.
For more detailed information on this experience, visit the dedicated section on our website here. Add it to your list of things to do and see in Sirmione!
During this magnificent 30-minute tour aboard an open motorboat, the captain will share all the secrets of the peninsula. The highlight of the tour? It’s the only way to see the source of Sirmione’s thermal water. You’ll reach the point where it springs, easily recognizable by the bubbles rising to the surface.
But that’s not all! From the boat, you’ll have a complete view of the archaeological park of the Grotte di Catullo, Jamaica Beach, and the magnificent villa of Maria Callas, the greatest opera singer in history.
2. Relax at the Terme di Sirmione
Sirmione is the most famous thermal destination on Lake Garda and one of the most visited in Italy. Its waters have healing and aesthetic properties, and they can have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and respiratory systems, as well as treat dermatological and gynecological conditions. If you are looking for a place to spend a day or a relaxing weekend, Sirmione is the right place.
The Terme di Sirmione includes the Terme di Catullo with the Aquaria wellness center and the Terme Virgilio. But, which one to choose?
- Terme di Catullo and Aquaria Wellness Center are located in the heart of the historic center of Sirmione, just a few steps from the archaeological park. Here, you will find various thermal pools with a view of the lake, allowing you to admire the panorama amid the steam of the warm water. At the Aquaria wellness center, you can spend the day in Finnish saunas, Turkish baths, relaxation areas, and mud areas. You can try personalized treatments and massages using local raw materials: thermal water and lake clay.
- Terme di Virgilio is the specialized health center of Terme di Sirmione. Specialized visits and thermal treatments are carried out here. Programs are designed for the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of patients using sulphurous thermal water. For each guest, targeted paths are created with the constant guidance of specialized and experienced staff.
3. Stroll along the lakeside
Among the things to do and see in Sirmione, a lakeside walk is a must. The stroll from Colombare to Sirmione is an excellent way to reach the historic center on foot if you have parked outside the peninsula. The walk is flat and about 4 km long, easy and suitable for everyone, both adults and children.
It’s a perfect activity for any occasion! It’s my top recommendation for those wondering what to do in Sirmione in the evening after a delightful meal.
In any season you visit, this lakeside walk in Sirmione offers unique views and an immersive 360-degree experience. In spring, you’ll be serenaded by the sound of water and the first warm rays of the sun. During summer, you’ll be refreshed by the lake breeze. In autumn, it takes on the beautiful hues of yellow and orange – a fairy-tale atmosphere. In winter, the lake will be calm, and it’s the perfect time to enjoy the most beautiful sunsets.
Now that we’ve finished the list of things to do and see in Sirmione, I can’t let you go without mentioning the main events in the city. These are perfect if you’re planning a weekend in Sirmione and looking for things to do!
- Sports Festival. In June, the municipal sports center hosts sports games, music, and gastronomic stands.
- Sardinata. In July, you can participate in this fish barbecue in Piazzale de Porto and taste excellent lake fish.
- Astronomical Observations. In August, you can take part in this special evening by looking up at the sky.
- Kite Festival. In September, a festival is organized where kites are built and decorated. There will also be food and wine stands and activities for the little ones.
- Grape Festival. Also in September, this festival brings together all enthusiasts of good wine with a breathtaking view of the lake as a backdrop.