Sirmione is a picturesque Italian commune area and town on a peninsula extending into Lake Garda in Northern Italy. Its description by Catullo as “the pearl of the islands and peninsulas” sums this small town of just over 8,000 residents up perfectly. It may be small, but there’s so much to do in and around Sirmione. With its pedestrianized centre full of attractive shops and eateries, you could easily while away a day strolling through the town’s winding streets and narrow alleys and enjoying its relaxed vibe. Its position on Lake Garda makes it an ideal spot for water sports and tours of this beautiful lake area.
But although Sirmione is a small town, there are still plenty of things to do in and around the area. Here are 14 of best things to do in and around Sirmione.
1. Scaliger Castle (Castle Scaligero)
If you do just one thing in Sirmione, aside from relaxing and enjoying the peaceful surroundings, you must go to Scaliger Castle. This unique 13th-century castle is surrounded by water, a rare example of medieval port fortification. The castle stands at the entrance to the peninsula, making it a spectacular sight, from either the lake or the surrounding hills. The site was originally a Roman building and artifacts from this time can be seen in the castle museum.
Price: Over 25 years old USD 5 (GBP 3.50, EUR 4), 18 – 25 years USD 2.50 (GBP 2, EUR 2), Under 18 and seniors older than 65 years free
Address: Piazza Castello, 34, 25019 Sirmione BS, Italy
Website: Scaliger Castle
2. Grotte di Catullo
Grotte di Catullo is the name of the extensive Roman ruins at the northern end of the Sirmione peninsula overlooking Lake Garda. The villa ruins date back to 1st-century AD and is the largest Roman villa in Northern Italy. Wandering through the ruins of the villa with towering three-story arches and walls will transport visitors back in time. Visitors can also enjoy the archaeological museum of Sirmione, with exhibits from Simione and other sites around Lake Garda.
Grotte di Catullo
Price: USD 7 (GBP 5.5, EUR 6)
Address: Piazzale Orti Manara 4, 25019 Sirmione, Italy
Website: Grotte di Catullo & Villa Romana
3. The Church of San Pietro in Mavino
The oldest and most impressive of the churches in Sirmione, the church of San Pietro in Mavino was built in the 8th-century, and was renovated in the 14th-century. Located out of the way, a fifteen minute walk from the town centre, up a steep hill, the church is a delightful collection of architectural remains and frescos from the 12th to 16th-century. Outside the church there is a large memorial altar and bell to those lost in war. Take a while to sit in the peace and quiet of the church grounds and enjoy.
The Church of San Pietro in Mavino
Address: Via S. Pietro in Mavino, 25019 Sirmione BS, Italy
Website: The Church of San Pietro in Mavino
4. The Church Santa Maria Maggiore
The church Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary of the Snow) is a late 15th-century Catholic church that stands on the site of the 8th-century former Lombard church of San Martino. Early 15th-century frescoes decorate the walls of the nave, with frescoes on the north wall dating to an earlier period.
The Church Santa Maria Maggiore
Address: Via S. Maria Maggiore,13, 25019 Sirmione BS, Italy
Website: The Church Santa Maria Maggiore
5. Ca dei Frati Vineyard
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
The Ca dei Frati Vineyard in Sirmione is a must for lovers of wine. The vineyard offers tours of both the cellars and the wine production processes. And of course, at the end of the tour, there is ample chance to sample (and purchase) a selection of the excellent Ca dei Frati wines including the Laguna House of the Friars.
Ca dei Frati Vineyard
Address: Via Frati, 22, 25019 Sirmione BS, Italy
Website: Ca dei Frati Vineyard
The peninsula of Sirmione is the perfect base to explore the beautiful surroundings of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. There are many tours available to explore the lake and plentiful opportunities along the coast to indulge in water sports of all kinds. But if you’re not feeling active, the beautiful Jamaica Beach in Sirmione is a perfect spot to relax and unwind.
Lake Garda Mini Cruise: Sirmione Peninsula
Duration: 25 minutes
Setting off from the harbor of the Scaliger Castle at 10am, this 8 hour boat tour is perfect for exploring the beautiful sights of Lake Garda. Along the way you’ll see natural beauty spots such as Jamaica Beach, the sulfur springs of Boiola, and the Bay of the Sirens; discover historic sites such as Villa Borghese, the Roman caves of Catullo, and Scaligero Castle. There are plenty of chances on the tour to disembark and explore, including lakeside Bardolino, Torri del Benaco, and Salò.
The tour will explore both the Western and the Eastern shores of the lake, with an hour stop off in Bardolino village. For a lunch treat, the tour stops at Torri del Benaco. After lunch the tour continues with a chance to swim in the beautiful clear waters of Lake Garda before concluding with an hour to explore the historic village of Salò before returning to the harbor.
Lake Garda Afternoon Sightseeing Cruise from Sirmione
Duration: 4 hours
Whilst relaxing in Sirmione, what better way to spoil the one you love with this hour long romantic boat trip? Enjoy the sunset over Lake Garda as your boat gently passes by various notable sights including the ex-villa of Maria Callas, the SPA and beauty-farm Aquaria, the Grotte of Catullo, and Castello Scaligero. The trip begins with Prosecco and appetizers from a lakeside restaurant. A perfect romantic setting for a special event or simply a way to treat that special someone.
Private Lake Garda Sunset Cruise with Prosecco
Duration: 45 minutes
Should your time in Sirmione be limited and you would still like to take a tour of Lake Garda, this 25 minute boat trip is perfect. The trip departs from the small harbor in front of Scaliger Castle, either morning or afternoon. With your professional guide at the wheel of the boat, you’ll see the ex-villa of Maria Callas, the Aquaria Thermal Spa, the Grotte di Catullo, and the sulphur spring of the thermal water of Sirmione.
Lake Garda Mini Cruise: Sirmione Peninsula
Duration: 25 minutes
10. Chiesetta di St. Anna, a beautiful, tiny chapel
Chiesetta di St. Anna is a beautiful little chapel that’s a nice place to escape the summer crowds for a few minutes. It’s right across from the castle and is functional. Stained glass windows and wonderful artworks are captivating. Anyone who appreciates beauty will enjoy a visit, even if they are not religious. As the chapel’s in the main busy tourist area, it’s a cool and quiet spot to rest and contemplate for a while. Keep an eye out for the peaceful sanctuary which has a beautifully decorated altar. It’s not far from the castle drawbridge and entry is free.
Chiesetta di St. Anna
Address: Piazza Castello 1, 25019 Sirmione, Italy
11. Explore Jamaica Beach on foot or kayak
Jamaica Beach is unusual as flat slabs of rock extending out into the water, making for a very different beach experience. It’s best to wear aqua socks as the rocks can be slippery and sharp. However, the waist-high water is fun to bathe in. Visitors enjoy paddling in the shallow areas and kayaks can be rented from nearby. The beach bar is a popular spot and apart from cold drinks, cocktails are available. Views over the clear water across the lake also take in the Roman villa. There are also grassy areas adjacent to the beach where you can sunbathe and relax.
Address: Lago di Garda, 25019 Sirmione, Italy
12. Claudio Lana Professional Surf Center
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
As you would expect from an area jutting out into Lake Garda, there are many opportunities for water sports on the lake. Our favorite is Claudio Lana, established in 1982. It offers surfing, windsurfing & kitesurfing, tours, boat tours & water sports, with English speaking professional instructors including Claudio.
Claudio Lana Professional Surf Center
Address: Spiaggia Garda Village, 25019 Sirmione BS, Italy
Website: Claudio Lana
13. Enjoy the natural beauty of Parco Maria Callas
See the natural greenery of Sirmione and spend an afternoon at Parco Callas Arena. This lovely park has a stunning garden that leads to a pathway to a beach. The greenery is properly maintained by local gardeners, making it a great place to stroll around and admire the lushness of the fauna and plants. If you wish to spend a few hours longer and take a dip in the water, head on over to the park’s nearby beach for a little bit of sunbathing and swimming during Sirmione’s stunning summer days.
Parco Maria Callas
Address: Via Caio Valerio Catullo, 25019 Sirmione, Italy
Opening hours: 24 hours, Sun to Mon
14. Gardaland Theme Park and Sea Life Aquarium
Sirmione is a beautifully peaceful and relaxing holiday location, but after a few days, families with children may find themselves looking for a little more excitement and activity to keep the little ones occupied. And a trip to the Gardaland amusement park is the perfect solution.
Just a quick 30 minute drive away, the resort includes Gardaland, Gardaland Sea-Life, and the Gardaland Hotel. The Gardaland amusement park includes all of the big thrill rides to keep the kids happy across several themed areas, including Fantasy Kingdom, Kid’s Country, the western themed Rio Bravo and Energy, home to the park’s biggest rollercoasters. The Sea Life Aquarium holds forty tanks with over 5,000 animals to see in a variety of themed areas.
Gardaland Theme Park and Sea Life Aquarium
Price: Gardaland From USD 38 (GBP 30, EUR 32), Aquarium from USD 15 (GBP 12, EUR 12.50)
Address: Via Derna, 4, 37014 Castelnuovo del Garda VR, Italy
Beautiful Sirmione: relax and unwind in the beautiful surroundings
Our final entry in the best things to do in Sirmione has to be the area and town itself. This gorgeous slice of Italy is a superb holiday destination, full of interesting and wonderful sights. This is somewhere you can relax and unwind, whether it’s in the winding streets of Sirmione or by the shores of Lake Garda.
Frequently asked questions about best things to do in and around Sirmione, Italy
1. What are the best attractions to visit in Sirmione?
Sirmione is boasting of must-visit attractions that will make you come back every time you have a chance, including Castello Scaligero, Grotte di Catullo, and Jamaica Beach.
2. What are the best outdoor activities in Sirmione?
There are plenty of things to do here in Sirmione, but the best outdoor activities you can try here are mostly water sports, including kayaking at Jamaica Beach and windsurfing at Lake Garda.
3. What are the most popular things to do in Sirmione with kids?
One of the most popular activities with kids here is visiting Gardaland Theme Park and Sea Life Aquarium, where you can enjoy different amusement rides and get to know numerous aquatic life.
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