When one thinks of lakes in Italy, the first thought usually brings up Lake Como – largely thanks to George Clooney. However, Italy’s largest lake, Lake Garda, is a well-known holiday destination for locals. Those who seek creative inspiration also come to Lake Garda for its numerous historical monuments, fortresses, castles and thermal baths.
One of the most picturesque villages around is the scenic town of Sirmione in Lake Garda. Located on the south of the lake, Sirmione is an ancient fortified town and home to the Virgilio & Catullo Spa Complexes. You’ll find numerous restaurants, bars, hotels, fashion stores and a market inside the fortress.
Famous poets and writers such as Catullo, Stendhal, Lawrence and Goethe have helped in promoting Sirmione’s beauty through their writings. From the Scaliger Castle to the Grotto of Catallus, from the natural parks to the stone slabs beaches, it is no wonder why Sirmione is the ultimate scenic lake getaway, especially during summer.
WHAT TO DO IN SIRMIONE IN LAKE GARDA
Soak up the Italian sunshine and splash around in the clearest waters of Lake Garda that can only be found around the beaches of Sirmione. The beaches around Sirmione are rocky and anti-slip beach shoes are highly recommended.
Lido delle Bionde
Located on the northern tip of the peninsula, Lido delle Bionde has the cleanest and clearest water across Lake Garda and is perfectly calm and pleasant to swim in.
Lido delle Bionde offers its visitors a lovely pier to relax on. There is also a shaded area where you can laze under olive trees. Watch the sunset with an apero at the bar or have a snack at the restaurant. Sun loungers and umbrellas are also available for rent and there are free showers and paid bathroom facilities on site.
A beautiful spot where wild swimming is at its best. Jamaica Beach is one of the best known beaches in Sirmione and offers the best sunset views around. Situated below the Grotto of Catallus, Jamaica Beach is formed by flat stone slabs that actually look like white sand from afar. It’s probably what inspired the name after Jamaica’s beaches. These stones are partially submerged in water and wide enough to lay on to work on your tan.
There are other beaches surrounding Sirmione that are also worth checking out such as: Passeggiata delle Muse, Punta Staffalo, Punta Gro, Lido Parrocchiale, Lido Galeazzi, Lido di Lugana and Brema Beach.
Terme di Sirmione is one of the most important spa centres in Europe. Precious sulphurous water, containing sodium chloride, bromine and iodine, flowing naturally from the depths of Lake Garda, aid in the cure of pathologies of the respiratory system, the treatment of rheumatic complaints and motor rehabilitation. The spa water feeds the “Virgilio” and “Catullo” spa complex and a new well-being spa centre, Aquaria.
Aquaria, awarded as Europe’s Best Thermal Resort in 2018, is a one-stop wellness oasis where one can spend the day being pampered by massages and relaxing in the magnificent thermal waters overlooking Lake Garda. For more information and rates, click here.
ISOLA DEL GARDA
A trip around Lake Garda is incomplete without visiting one of its most exclusive private islands. Between March to October, the Borghese Cavazza family opens their home to guided tours. Immerse yourself in the surroundings of this private island and imagine yourself living in the Venetian neo-Gothic style villa while sipping on local wine atop the tower balcony.
Isola del Garda is the biggest island in Lake Garda with a long and varied history. Located southwest of the lake, Isola del Garda was once used as a Roman burial ground, pirates lair, a monastery and is now a residential villa.
A guided tour of Isola del Garda will begin with a leisurely boat trip from Sirmione to the island where you’ll be greeted by an experienced guide. Tours are given in English, Italian or German and lasts for approximately two hours. You’ll discover the history of the island, the villa, the owners and above all, you’ll get to sample some of the best olive oil, wine and cheese from the region.
Sirmione Boats organises tours to Isola del Garda on Tuesdays and Thursdays, departing from Sirmione. Tickets costs 38.00€ for adults and 22.00€ for children (5-12 years). Book your tickets here: www.sirmioneboats.it. Sirmione Boats also arranges group excursions, private boat tours around Lake Garda, boat rentals and special events that can be customised to suit your itinerary.
Take a stroll around the picturesque old town of Sirmione. The cobbled streets are full of charm and walls are covered with bright pink Bougainvillea flowers. The 13th Century Scaliger castle is something out of a fairytale with a drawbridge fortified harbour and is free to enter.
You’ll also come across lovely parks and the Roman ruins of the Grotto of Catallus, perched atop a cliff. Magnificent villas including the one owned by famed Italian opera singer, Maria Callas are a sight to behold.
There are plenty of restaurants, cafes, gelaterias and souvenir shops to keep you busy.
Watch the golden sunset behind the mountains along Lake Garda on board a boat with a glass of prosecco in hand. Departing daily, this 45-minutes fun group tour by Bertoldi Boats takes you on a scenic cruise along Lake Garda and stops in the middle of the lake for you to watch the sunset while the boat captain hands out perfectly chilled prosecco. On this cruise, you’ll get to see Jamaica Beach from afar, the underwater pipeline which flows hot thermal water to the Sirmione peninsula and pass under the drawbridge of the Scaliger Castle.
Tickets can be purchased on the day itself at Bertoldi Boat’s dock at Lungolago Armando Diaz for just 10.00€ .
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HOW TO GET TO SIRMIONE
Sirmione is easily accessible by road and is connected to Lake Garda’s other destinations by ferries which depart from a jetty in the centre of town.
Here is a list of the closest airports to Sirmione.
Verona Airport – 30km
Gabriele D’Annunzio Airport – 40km
Orio al Serio Airport – 87km
Milan Linate Airport – 134km
Bolzano Airport – 155km
Marco Polo Airport – 159km
Treviso Airport – 165km
Milan Malpensa Airport – 174km
If you’re coming from the south, east and west of Italy, take the A4/E70 motorway (autostrada) which connects Milan with Venice and exit at signs after Verona.
Drivers coming from the north of Italy should take the A22/E45 from the Austrian border down towards the A4 motorway.
Parking in Sirmione is not a problem. There are plenty of paid parking spots with blue lines and also gated parking spaces. If you’re lucky enough to get a parking spot with white lines, these are free but do check if there are time restrictions on some of them. You can find some of the free parking spots with white lines along Lungolago Armando Diaz, facing the lake.
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The nearest railway stations are at:
Desenzano del Garda Sirmione – 10km
Peschiera del Garda – 11km
From these stations, you will need to take a bus, taxi or ferry to Sirmione center.
Take Linea LN026 direction Verona-Brescia-Verona stopping at Via Colombare. From there, get on the shuttle bus Centro Storico Navetta which connects Colombare to Sirmione center.
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WHERE TO STAY
From thermal spa hotels to family friendly accommodation, use the map below to find the perfect place to stay in Sirmione.
Sirmione is situated within close proximity of famous cities such as Verona with its stunning arena and amazing vineyards and is the ideal place to start your trip around Lake Garda. The wonderful vista of Lake Garda together with the region’s natural surroundings and mild climate makes Sirmione a truly special place for a tranquil holiday full of exciting things to do and see.
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