Holidays to Sirmione offer thermal springs, a 13th century castle and some of the prettiest beaches on Lake Garda, all on a unique island promontory on the southern lakeshore.
Sun and culture
This upmarket resort is clustered within the ancient walls of the impressive medieval Scaligeri Castle and moat. Its honey-coloured buildings and maze of tiny pedestrianised streets might appear untouched, but they house the town’s bustling pavement cafés and elegant shops. And a proper visit to the castle is a must – its lake views alone are worth the steps and stairs.
The thermal springs that bubble up naturally from the lake bed are what attracted the Romans to Sirmione and you can still treat yourself at the local thermal spas. Or head to one of the lovely shallow beaches to sample the bathing waters. The town’s also home to some beautiful old churches, many of them filled with frescoes. Venture out a little further and you’ll be rewarded with the beautiful Grottoes of Catullus, the ruins of an ancient villa at the peninsula’s tip.
Out and about
• Lakeside promenade
• Lake bathing
• Boat trips
• Local ferries
• Cycle routes
• Roman ruins
• Therme spa
Things to See and Do in Sirmione
Take a dip in thermal waters
Sirmione has been famous for centuries for its thermal waters. The natural springs begin 20m below the surface of Lake Garda, just off the coast of the Grotta di Catullo on the peninsula, and reach 69°C. When the lake is still, you can often see the bubbles on the surface near the springs. People come from all over the world to bathe here.
On the tip of the peninsula, Jamaica Beach is the closest beach to the thermal spring. Many believe it to be one of the south’s most beautiful free beaches - the rocks on the lakebed give the water a beautiful turquoise colour. We recommend wearing lake shoes, as the smooth rocks can be a little slippery. The beach itself is made up of shingle and rocks, and sun loungers are not available.
Lido delle Bionde
Lido delle Bionde is a free pebble beach and jetty on the east of the peninsula. The name translates to Blonde Beach, in reference to the white rock that appears as the water level drops during the summer months. It’s possible to rent sun loungers and parasols for the day, and the bar and restaurant makes grabbing refreshments really easy. If you want to get out on the lake, you can rent pedalos and canoes.
The weekly market arrives inside the castle walls every Monday. Stroll around the many stalls that sell a variety of Italian pottery, clothing, leather goods and gifts to take home. The prices are reasonable and the quality is generally high. This same market moves around, so you can visit it in a different town another day.
Sirmione is a maze of narrow streets with many small shops and boutiques. You’ll find everything from ornaments and gifts to clothing and jewellery. Paolo Golinelli, a well-known Italian artist, has a studio that sells lots of colourful artwork. For more of a shopping centre experience, visit the Il Leone centre, 14km away in Desezano. Here, you’ll find 120 national and international stores.
Many boutiques in resort offer Italian designer products for those who are looking to splash the cash. If you’re after a wider variety, Sirmione is ideally situated for getting to Verona, Brescia and Milan - where brands including Gucci, Prada and Versace will excite any fashionista.
Sirmione is renowned for amazing ice cream, which is why many parlours stay open well into the evening. Take a wander along the lakeside path with an ice cream in hand, and admire the great views of the surrounding area from the Sirmione peninsula. Many cafés and bars have lakefront seating, the ideal spot for a relaxed evening on the water’s edge.
Sirmione’s narrow streets buzz with activity in the evenings, as shops, bars and restaurants stay open till late. Venture out of the castle walls to Barracuda Bar, for excellent cocktails and views towards Desenzano - which is the town to visit if you're after livelier nightlife.
Other than being world famous for its ice cream parlours, Sirmione is also home to lots of high-class restaurants. Compared to other Lake Garda resorts, there's a wider range of cuisines here, from Italian to American and even Japanese – so there'll be a lot of debating about where to go next.
San Vito for a romantic setting
Formerly known as Malibu, San Vito is an Italian restaurant with a romantic lakeside setting. The staff are highly attentive and the food, like the risotto with prawns and lime, is extremely good value.
Fine dining at Ristorante Pace
Part of the Hotel Pace, Ristorante Pace is great for treating yourself on holiday. A small jetty filled with tables overlooks the lake, and the food is beautifully presented as well as being unique and delicious. A rare fine-dining restaurant on the heart of the peninsula.
Perfect combinations at Trattoria Clementina
On the outskirts of Sirmione is the small Italian restaurant, Trattoria Clementina. They have a large assortment of wines and a small menu, but this means that everything is freshly cooked with extra care and attention. The antipasti platters are very popular, all served with a side of fried bread.
In Sirmione, you can explore a labyrinth of small pedestrianised streets that sit within the ancient walls of the Scaligeri Castle and moat.
You can jump on a ferry to various resorts around the lake, including Bardolino, which is only an hour away. The port is located through the castle on the peninsula.
The nearest station to Sirmione is Desenzano, which can be reached by bus. From here there are links to Milan and Verona, which leave several times an hour. A tourist train also operates around Sirmione – a quaint mode of transport that helps you see the whole resort at its finest. You can catch it from Aquaria and it makes its way around the whole town.
Local buses can be caught from the bus station that’s located behind the tourist office in town. The buses run once an hour to Verona, Desenzano and Brescia. The bus to Verona only takes an hour so you have the whole day to explore – and it’s cheaper than the train.
Sirmione is a beautiful old town with beautiful walks to match. The best way to explore is simply by going for a wander – either through the streets to admire the lovely architecture or along the lakeshore to see breathtaking views over the water. To stretch your legs further, it’s an easy walk around the headland to visit the Church of San Pietro and the Roman ruins at the Grottoes of Catallus. Take a day trip to one of the other towns around Lake Garda, such as Malcesine, for more varied walking trails.
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