Sirmione on Lake Garda is one of the most visited places and a real highlight on the beautiful Lake Garda. Sirmione is located on a peninsula that extends several kilometers into the southern end of Lake Garda. Why so many tourists come to Sirmione, the best things to do in Sirmione, whether Sirmione is really worth it and whether parking here is really so difficult, we tell you now.
Sirmione on Lake Garda
Fresh sea air, picturesque buildings, a great old town and a wonderful view of Lake Garda. What more could you want? This and much more you get in Sirmione, one of the most visited places on Lake Garda. Already in the 17th century before our era the first people settled here and until today Sirmione attracts millions of tourists every year.
The special thing about this small town on Lake Garda is its special shape and landscape. The peninsula of Sirmione juts out from the southern shore several kilometers into Lake Garda. And while the southern part of this peninsula (the new town) still comes across very modern and is virtually paved with numerous hotels and restaurants, the old town of Sirmione presents itself in a completely different light.
The old town is also the part you should visit, the new town you can skip and is only interesting because of its tourist infrastructure (here there are huge parking lots and many hotels).
But the old town of Sirmione is also relatively quickly visited and you then come to the greener and scenically more interesting part of Sirmione. Here in the north are also beautiful beaches and other Sirmione attractions. Which highlights you should not miss in Sirmione we will tell you in the next sections.
How to get to Sirmione
Sirmione is located at the southern end of Lake Garda and is easily accessible from both the eastern and western shores of Lake Garda. The parking situation is a bit more complicated, but more about that in the next section.
Where to park in Sirmione on Lake Garda
It is often advised to arrive as early as possible in Sirmione to get a free parking space. We can also confirm this. There is an incredibly large number of parking spaces in Sirmione, but even these thousands of parking spaces fill up quite quickly during the day.
We would therefore recommend arriving in Sirmione early in the morning to get a good parking space. We would recommend the following 2 parking places:
- We went to the parking lot Parcheggio Monte Baldo (Google Maps link), which is located quite far north on the peninsula and thus represents a good compromise between easy parking (there are many parking spaces here) and little walking to the old town.
- If you want to walk even less, you can try your luck at the following parking lot: Lungolago Diaz Parking Area (Google Maps link). Closer to the old town you can not park, but there are rather few parking spaces here so you probably have to look for a long time for a free parking space.
The Best Things To Do in Sirmione
Scaligerburg | The Water Castle
The moated castle is the first highlight you will see when you reach the old town of Sirmione. The castle separates the old town from the new town with its moat and you actually have to walk across a bridge to enter the old town. The Scaliger Castle or Scaliger Fort is considered one of the best preserved castles in Italy and can also be visited from the inside.
The entrance fee is 6 Euro for adults and 2 Euro for children. You can climb inside the castle even to the highest tower and have a fantastic view of Lake Garda and the old town of Sirmione.
The Old Town of Sirmione
The old town of Sirmione is, like many places on Lake Garda, architecturally extremely beautiful, but also very crowded. There are the typical souvenir stores, restaurants, hotels and of course a lot of ice cream stores where you can indulge yourself with delicious (and unfortunately also expensive) ice cream.
There are also several places in the old town where you can get directly to the water and also some restaurants offer unobstructed lake view. Because it can be very stressful due to the abundance of tourists, we would recommend not to stay so long in the old town, but to go further to the much quieter north of the peninsula. There you can visit some very special highlights.
The Caves of Catullus
The Grottoes of Catullus are located at the northernmost tip of Sirmione, directly in front of the beautiful Jamaica Beach and are the remains of a formerly magnificent Roman villa, which probably collapsed in the 4th century.
So the Grottoes of Catullus are not grottoes at all, as you might imagine, but a walk-in ruin. Nevertheless, quite nice to look at, as it is a great example of the ancient way of life and building techniques. There are old masonry, columns and olive trees everywhere on the huge site. The entrance fee is currently (August 2022) 8 Euro for adults and 4 Euro for children.
The Thermal Springs of Sirmione
The thermal springs have long been a tourist magnet in Sirmione. In the east of the peninsula sulfurous water rises and spreads the well-known sulfur smell. From 1889 the hot springs were used professionally and from 1914 there was the first spa.
Nowadays, up to 50,000 visitors come annually to visit the health-promoting thermal springs. You can get a ticket for the famous Terme di Sirmione here.
Beaches in Sirmione
The beaches and especially one beach in Sirmione are for us one of the absolute highlights on Lake Garda. Because real sandy beaches are rather sparse on Lake Garda. Also here in Sirmione there are some sections with sandy beaches, but for us the most beautiful beach in Sirmione was the one on the northernmost shore of the peninsula.
The Jamaica Beach in Sirmione
Be sure to pack your swimsuit when you go to Sirmione, because you should definitely lay on the beach here. Jamaica Beach in Sirmione is truly beautiful, but memories of the Caribbean are not awakened here for me. There is no sand and no palm trees. But you can still spend a few hours here.
The entire beach consists of large flat rock formations over which you also have to walk to get to the beach. At high tide you will not be able to get to Jamaica Beach on dry feet. A real path does not lead here, but you have to walk along the water or even through the water, at least if you come from the eastern side of the peninsula.
On normal paths you can come from the western side by simply walking to the Jamaica Beach Bar (Google Maps link). However, in our opinion, the way from the eastern shore is more beautiful and exciting.
You can look for a free spot on the rocks and have to walk quite far to be able to swim, because the first 100 meters are extremely shallow. But there is also a hole in the rocks here and there, so you have to be very careful. All in all, however, a great experience.
By the way, Jamaica Beach is even an official dog beach, so your four-legged friend can go into the water here without a leash. But don’t worry, the beach is by no means overrun by dogs, but is also well suited for children.
Boat Trip around the Peninsula
It is also very popular to make a boat tour around the peninsula. Here you can see Sirmione from a completely different perspective and experience Lake Garda and the peninsula on an exciting boat tour. You can book this from 25€ per person*.
Travel Tips for Sirmione
Accommodation in Lake Garda
If you want to stay directly in Sirmione then we recommend the following hotels:
Directly at the entrance to the old town is this luxury hotel, which offers everything you can imagine. The hotel is located directly on the lake shore, so the rooms also have a great lake view. In addition, there is free breakfast and you are super fast to all Sirmione attractions
Hotel Charming Sirmione
In the Charming Sirmione you sleep outside the old town in the south of the peninsula of Sirmione. But it is much cheaper here and you still have large double rooms with free breakfast and are in a few minutes walk in the old town.
If you want to stay a little cheaper and more centrally on Lake Garda, then take a look at Toscolano Maderno on the western shore of Lake Garda:Garda Friends Apartments We stayed at Lake Garda in a beautiful apartment overlooking Lake Garda. You have everything you need for a great stay here. You can even use the large garden which was really great for us with our dog Aaro. Also at Lake Garda or at the paper mill valley hike you are in a few minutes.
- spacious apartments
- Possibility to use the garden
- own parking place & balcony with lake view
- WIFI & TV
Can you swim in Lake Garda in Sirmione?
Yes you can and you should. Don’t forget your swimsuit, because there are several sandy beaches here and even Jamaica Beach, a really great beach that can’t offer sand, but is all the more beautiful for swimming. And you can even let your dog into the water here.
Is Sirmione very touristy?
Unfortunately, we have to answer in the affirmative. Probably every tourist to Lake Garda comes here to Sirmione. Accordingly, it is crowded here, which is already evident from the size of the parking lots.
But most tourists stay in the old town and in the greener north of the peninsula and on the beaches at the northern tip it is really much quieter. The many tourists should therefore not keep you from coming to Sirmione.
Visit Sirmione with a Dog
We had our dog Aaro with us during our visit to Sirmione and even though it was much too busy for him in the old town (for us, too, by the way), the visit was still exciting for him, because there are plenty of places where he can go into the water to cool down.
Especially Jamaica Beach, located in the north, is specially designated for dogs and so you can also swim there with your dog in Lake Garda.
Lake Garda Hike near Sirmione
It’s not really nearby, but we still don’t want to deprive you of the hike through the Paper Mill Valley here. On the west coast of Lake Garda is the cute little town of Toscolano Maderno. Here starts the completely untouristy hike through the beautiful Paper Mill Valley along a babbling brook.
A wonderful contrast to the bustling Sirmione. Our travel report on the hike can be found here Paper Mill Valley Hike I The most beautiful hike on Lake Garda