Last Updated on 26/03/2023
The old part of Sirmione is a busy and overcrowded very small old town surrounded by walls. What to see in Sirmione? There are a fortress, Roman ruins, a thermal pool and an ancient water source for it, and one special beach. Picturesque, but tiring, it’s more suitable for excursions than for recreation.
The place with healing waters was used as a resort even by the Romans. The next generations were not so smart and valued the protective function more. In the 19th century, tourism was rediscovered. And now the tourist plan is clearly being overfulfilled.
Sirmione is located on a long, narrow peninsula that juts out for three kilometers into the lake in the very center. The widest part is called Sirmione Colombare. There are a lot of hotels and apartments. Local residents rolled back into the “mainland”.
If you decide to book a hotel in the old town and have a car, keep in mind that using it can cost you a long time. First you have to wait for your turn, and then push through the crowds and narrow gates by millimeters.
Supermarkets are located along the high roads (Via Brescia and Via Verona). Towards Desenzano Italmarkt and Maxigross, toward Peschiera – Penny. No supermarkets have been seen on the peninsula, and there is only a very small shop in the old town.
How to get to Sirmione
There is a regular bus service from the mainland to the old town. The cost of tickets bought in a tobacco shop or near the old town at the box office is 1 euro. But in most cases there is no time to look for this tobacco shop, so you have to pay 1.5 euros to the driver. Children travel for free. These expense is completely necessary. It takes a very long time to get to the old city on foot.
The map shows the main bus stop in Sirmione Colombare. The city bus to old Sirmione and buses to Peschiera / line 26 Verona-Brescia cross there and at the tourist info.
By car, you can drive up to the old town itself, there are large parking lots, but, of course, they are paid and traffic is difficult.
The beaches along the entire western shore of Sirmione can be ignored. They are either overgrown with reeds or inaccessible. The eastern shore in Colombare is not very pleasant for swimming – lime suspension, a very long shallow strip with sharp stones. So we went to the beach on the rocks in Old Sirmione, even though it meant an extra half hour to the beach. Photos of the beach on the rocks below.
There are two thermal pools in Sirmione: the thermal baths of Virgilio for heiling in Colombare and the usual thermal pool Aquaria. The price is very high, its necessity is doubtful. If you absolutely want to visit a thermal bath, think about the alternative (about this in the post “East Garda”). If you do go nevertheless, do not forget your flip flops, you are not allowed without them. The nearby shops sell them especially for those who forgot.
What to see in Sirmione
Scaliger Castle and old town Sirmione
The Scaliger Castle was built in the 13th century.
The Scaligers were the rulers of Verona. They have built castles all over the lake and nearby. It can be visited (mainly for the views ´from above). Ticket – 6 euros, combi with Catulla grottoes is cheaper.
Fewer people in Sirmione are, probably, only late at night. On any day (and we were there four times – to the port, then to swim) the town is overcrowded.
Narrow streets and people do not allow you to photograph at least something whole, you get pieces.
The grottoes of Catullus
The grottoes are located at the very end of the peninsula on top of a small hill. It was named after the poet Catullus, as he mentioned Sirmione. In fact, the villa was built after the death of Catullus. The ruins are named grottoes because they resemble caves in shape. The scale of the structure is impressive – the Romans did not waste time on trifles.
Grottoes are certainly worth a visit, both for the views and to admire the size. There is a museum near the ruins, but it is very small. The museum is open until 18, and the territory is open until 19 hours. If you come after 18, do not regret that you do not get to the museum. To see the territory is enough.
This is how it should have looked under the Romans
Beach on the rocks, view from the hill.
Beach on the rocks
You can walk down to the rocky beach from the Catullus grottoes. There is, however, a fence, which, apparently, is sometimes closed. In any case, on the gate it says “until 19:00”. The fence encloses a small eatery, which also has changing rooms and sun loungers.
Without any fence, you can walk along the shore from the castle.
Public beach closest to the castle. Not recommended: very dirty.
A narrow path leads to the beach on rocks (backward view of the castle). On the way to the beach on the rocks, the proximity of the mineral water source gives you the smell of hydrogen sulfide. It is better not to stop at the beginning of the beach: the stones are covered with the same gray suspension. But it is very shallow and warm, safer for children.
But it’s better to move on.
The beach on the rocks is not entirely safe: deep gullies and big waves from the rolling endless motor boats. Swimming slippers will not work here – they are too slippery. The stones are often hidden by water. Diving head downward is not a good idea. However, by carefully examining the stones, you can find safer exits to the water. With children 5 and 8 years old, we had a lot of fun.
Catullus grottoes from the beach side.
Towards the west shore – Manerba, Salo and Gardone Riviera.
East shore – Torri and Garda.
Towards Desenzano and the west shore to Salo.
The port and its area.