A few weeks ago, my friends and I went on a day trip to Sirmione, which is a peninsula at the south end of Lake Garda. You might recognize the name because it’s famous for the Scaliger Castle (Castello Scaligero in Italian) which is surrounded by water, and makes for some very cool pictures.
Interested in visiting Sirmione? Read on for all the info you need!
Luggage and Life’s Guide to Visiting Sirmione
Getting to Sirmione by train and bus
If you’re traveling by train, you can catch a high-speed or regional train to Brescia, Desenzano, Peschiera, or Verona and then take a bus to Sirmione. Here’s a site with the schedules.
You can also take a ferry to Sirmione from other towns on Lake Garda. For details, check here.
Parking in Sirmione
We drove. Finding parking was tricky on a Sunday. We were lucky and found some sneaky street parking (which was technically three-hour, but in the end, no one checked, presumably because it was Sunday). If you’re there during the week, I’d say one of the many parking lots is the way to go.
One thing I’ve noticed recently about parking here is that there are these parking discs which are common in Europe, but that I’ve never seen anywhere else. It basically works on the honor system. You spin the disc until it shows what time you left your car, so that you can demonstrate to the people monitoring the timed parking that you’re staying within the parameters. If you’re planning a road trip somewhere in Europe, investing in one might not be a bad idea! Here’s some more info.
Getting to the old city in Sirmione
Sirmione is a long peninsula, so if you park at one of the parking lots or find street parking, you’ll have to travel the rest of the way down in order to see the sights.
Take the shuttle bus
Along the main road, which leads up to the castle and the rest of the old city, there’s a seasonal shuttle bus which stops at several points. It’s 1 euro for a ticket, or 1.50 on board. I can’t find any up-to-date information in English, so I’ve looked up some info in Italian. According to what I read in some recent posts, the shuttles come every 15/20 minutes. If you park in a parking lot and take the bus, you should have change on hand to pay for the parking (and probably for the bus tickets too).
My friend had brought her puppy with her when we went to Sirmione, so we decided to walk up to the old city and enjoy the views of the lake and the blissful breeze. It took us about 45 minutes to walk all the way up at a slow pace. It was a pleasant stroll, with much of the sidewalk being shaded and lots of beautiful houses to look at.
Seeing the sights
The old part of the city, where all the sights are, is closed to traffic, which is awesome. We stopped for a few pictures and an ice-cold lemonade outside of the city wall, and then made our way in to explore.
The Scaliger Castle
Tickets are free, and it’s really cool inside. The views from the top are spectacular. We made our way up (you have to wait for the foot traffic to shift in the right direction because there’s only one staircase for going both up and down) and stayed there for a while, taking pictures and spotting fish in the water down below.
You can also take a boat around the castle, which looked really cool! Check here for info.
After that, we strolled around, wandering in and out of the tiny streets, popping into churches and looking at ruins here and there. We walked through the Parco Callas Arena, which was cool and quiet, despite the fact that it’s in a very busy little town.
The Grottoes of Cattulus
We decided to walk all the way up to the tip of the island to go for a swim and have a cold drink. On the way, we passed the Grottoes of Cattulus, which are the ruins of a Roman villa that was constructed in the 1st century AD. Earlier in the day, I checked to see if it was open, and my phone had said it was closed, but it wasn’t. We all had our minds set on sitting by the water for a bit so we didn’t go, but I think it’s probably worth the visit. The photos I’ve seen look really beautiful.
The beach at the tip of the peninsula is public (many beaches here in Italy are private). It’s called Jamaica beach, and there’s a little bar there that rents sun loungers and has couches outside of it. We were lucky enough to snag one. The bar closes at 7pm.
Jamaica beach was jam packed, but it felt good to be by the water. It was cold, but refreshing. Perfect for cooling down after a hot day of walking around.
Another popular public beach in Sirmione is called Lido delle Bionde.
We walked back down to the cars, slowly but surely, and decided to stop for dinner at Trattoria al Porticciolo. The food and house prosecco were very nice. We split a plate of fried fish and a pizza which were both really good.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend visiting Sirmione. It really is beautiful, and perfect for a day trip!
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