What to do in Sirmione?

Grottoes of Catullus

Located at the very tip of the Sirmione peninsula, these Roman ruins are the remains of an ancient villa. The site is quite large and also includes a museum with objects, paintings, and mosaics found during excavations. Visitors can learn more about the villa’s history and the archaeological digs that took place.

The site is a true labyrinth where one can wander among the ruins, moving from one room to another, from one garden to another, all with a stunning view of Lake Garda. The ruins have been called “grottoes” since the end of the 15th century because many rooms were underground. Some of these underground rooms can still be seen, but they are closed off and not open to visitors.

Entrance is free for minors and €8 for adults.

Sirmione Castle

The Castello Scaligero of Sirmione is one of the exceptionally well-preserved fortresses. Built in the second half of the 14th century, the castle takes its name from the Della Scala family, who ruled Verona and much of the Veneto region during that time.

During the era of Napoleon and Austrian domination, the castle served as an armory and barracks for troops. It later became a prison and housed offices.

Today, the castle still features a drawbridge, a dock, an honor courtyard, a keep, as well as docks and battlements in perfect condition. The rooms are unfurnished, and the visit focuses on the castle’s history and architecture. It is possible to combine the ticket with one for the Grottoes of Catullus.

Sirmione thermal baths

Sirmione is also renowned for its thermal baths, where you can undergo spa treatments and bathe in hot springs. Given their popularity, it is highly recommended to book your access several months in advance, especially if you visit during the peak season.

The history of the thermal baths dates back to the Romans, who used them as early as the first century BC. In 1889, a Venetian diver named Procopio, equipped with a diving suit, dove 20 meters deep near the Grottoes of Catullus, where a hot spring, the Boiola, surfaced. After several attempts, he managed to insert a long pipe into the water table, allowing a hot water jet to spout more than five meters above the lake’s level. At the time, this caused a stir throughout Italy and made headlines!

Visiting the old town of Sirmione

The old town of Sirmione is located at the tip of the peninsula. The visit is very pleasant, as the town is beautiful and truly deserves its nickname “Pearl of Lake Garda.”

The entrance to the historic town is through a gate adjacent to the castle and a bridge that spans the lake. What follows is a maze of cobbled streets and stone buildings. Don’t hesitate to venture into the alleys; you’ll discover small secret gardens and stunning views of Lake Garda.

For shopping enthusiasts, you’ll be delighted: the old town is filled with small shops that, for once, don’t all sell the same tourist traps. For a gourmet break, we recommend the restaurant Scalegeri, whether for a meal or a snack with their delectable pastries!

Where to park in Sirmione?

By car:

The old town of Sirmione is entirely pedestrian, so you’ll need to park well before the entrance and walk! There are numerous parking lots around, some of which have shuttles to take you into town.

By motorhome:

There is a day parking lot about 30 minutes’ walk from the old town at €3 per hour, GPS coordinates: N 45°28’15.744” E 10°36’29.2608”.

For overnight stays in Sirmione with your motorhome, there are two areas and campsites available. We tested the “Camper Park Sirmione,” which is located by Lake Garda. Note that you need to reserve your spot in advance directly on the site. Booking in advance allows you to choose your spot. We visited off-season in April and were able to get a spot with a lake view for €24 per night without electricity, which is available at an additional cost if needed.

The only downside of this area is its distance from the old town, requiring at least a 1-hour walk, longer if you have children. You can reach the town on foot by taking a walk along Lake Garda or by bus. There is a bus stop about 10 minutes from the area.

Where to swim in Sirmione at Lake Garda?

You will find many equipped beaches in Sirmione where you can swim in Lake Garda, some paid and others free.

In the old town: At the tip of the peninsula, you will find Jamaica Beach, which is free. The entrance is near the Grottoes of Catullus. You will also find Spiaggia del Prete near the Sirmione Castle, which has the advantage of having public toilets.

Other beaches are located in the more modern part of the town. The campsites also have their private beaches.

When is the best time to visit Sirmione?

Sirmione is one of the most visited towns in northern Italy. The summer crowds can be extreme, making it very difficult to navigate the narrow streets of the town! We recommend visiting in spring or autumn if possible, to better enjoy and appreciate it!

About Author

We are Sophie, Adrien, and our two adorable little ones. Passionate about travel, discovery, and gastronomy, we bought a 2007 Rapido camper van to travel differently, travel more, and introduce our children to the world. Here, we share our wonderful discoveries and tips for activities to do with children in France and beyond ! Welcome !

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