10 things to see in Sirmione
Your holiday in Sirmione, the “Pearl of Lake Garda”, would not be the same without exploring the 10 best things to see in the town.
There are numerous places of interest for anyone who enjoys culture, history, nature and beaches, and we have identified ten that can be visited on one or more days of your stay.
You can read this description to get some ideas for making the most of your holiday in Sirmione.
01. The Scaligero Castle
Built around the middle of the fourteenth century, the Scaligero Castle stands at the entrance of the historic town centre, where it watches over the old town and the water of Lake Garda that surrounds it.
Walking around its harbour, which served as a place of refuge for boats, its courtyard and its corridors brings back the atmosphere of the Della Scala era, when the fortress served as a defensive post for the surrounding area.
The castle can be visited, subject to seasonal openings, in its entirety by buying tickets from the ticket office located at its entrance. Visit the official website of the Scaligero Castle.
02. The Grottoes of Catullus
Located in a scenic position, at the tip of the Sirmione peninsula, overlooking the waters and landscapes of Lake Garda, the Grottoes of Catullus are the remains of a Roman villa built between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD. According to unfounded local popular belief, it was once the residence of the poet Gaius Valerius Catullus, hence its name.
The ruins are surrounded by vegetation and it is possible to walk around the grounds and stop at the adjacent museum that exhibits finds from the various periods of history of Sirmione and Benaco. For information about entrance fees and opening hours check out this link.
03. Jamaica Beach
Located on the tip of Sirmione, below the Grottoes of Catullus, Jamaica Beach has an exotic vibe. From here you can see as far as the Rocca di Manerba and the northern part of the lake. The beach is surrounded by crystal-clear water and wild vegetation; it has flat white rocks that are constantly smoothed by the lapping of the lake’s waves.
Partly equipped with sun beds, it can be reached on foot by going through a gate just before the entrance to the Grottoes of Catullus and down a steep descent among the olive groves. More info here.
04. Lido delle Bionde Beach
Situated on the Sirmione peninsula, between the gardens of Villa Cortine and the Grottoes of Catullus, the Lido delle Bionde is a romantic beach that lies between the terraced olive groves and the cliff on which the remains of the Roman villa is situated. The name comes from the word ‘biunda’ which means ‘enclosed place’ and it perfectly describes this quiet corner of the lake.
Directly in front of the beach is a small stone enclosure where can occasionally enjoy a breath of warm water coming from the Sirmione Thermal Spa Baths.
The beach is free and is equipped with showers, a bar and a restaurant. Dogs are allowed. Sun beds must be booked in advance by sending an email the day before your visit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
05. A walk through the old town
From the enchanting Scaligero Castle to the tip of the peninsula where the Grottoes of Catullus are located: a walk through the old town of Sirmione is a unique experience where you can enjoy local and national Italian history through monuments and finds ranging from prehistoric to Roman times, from the early Middle Ages to the present day.
Once you have visited the castle, you can wander through the picturesque streets and admire the remains of the Church of San Salvatore and the Roman archaeological sites, find out more about the opera singer Maria Callas in the Palace that bears her name or walk up to the lovely little Church of San Pietro in Mavino, taking a regenerating break in one of the parks or in the bars and restaurants in the town centre.
06. Thermal spa baths
Sirmione’s sulphurous water, from the Bojola hot water spring, with bromide and iodine salts has been known since Roman times for its preventative and therapeutic properties: a stay in the town is an opportunity to discover all the health and wellness treatments on offer.
It is possible to take the spa waters at any time of the year at the two thermal spa centres, Terme Virgilio in Colombare and Terme Catullo in the old town centre, as well as partake in wellness activities at the Aquaria Thermal SPA centre and at various hotels.
07. San Pietro in Mavino Church
The church of San Pietro in Mavino is the oldest church in Sirmione and it dates back to the 8th century A.D. The church is located on Mavino hill and can be reached by going in the direction of the Grottoes of Catullus and climbing a gentle slope. It is surrounded by olive trees and is enveloped in an atmosphere of peace and silence, despite being a stone’s throw from the busy historic town centre.
Outside is a Romanesque bell tower, remodelled in 1070, whereas the church building was rebuilt in 1320.
Inside you can admire beautiful 14th-century frescoes and the painting of the Madonna Enthroned with Child and Saint from the same period.
08. Punta Grò
Punta Grò is a park and lakefront area at the far end of the Sirmione, on the border with Peschiera del Garda, directly overlooking the lake in Lugana. It is an idyllic area for walking among ancient Poplar trees, spending hours on the beach and enjoying a panoramic view of Lake Garda that takes in the entire lower part of the lake as far as the mountains to the north.
Punta Grò is the starting point of Sirmione’s Literary Walk and at the “Casa del Pescatore” (fisherman’s cottage) there is an open-air exhibition that explains the ancient craft of lake fishing in Sirmione.
09. Boat Tours
Sirmione is a peninsula so it is possible to sail around it at practically any time of the year. Sirmione is also particularly beautiful when viewed from the lake; on a boat trip the whole family can admire its natural and archaeological beauty from a truly unique perspective and experience the pleasure of the waves and breezes of the lake in complete safety.
The harbour and Scaligero Castle, the Grottoes of Catullus, the thermal baths and Villa Callas are just some of the places of interest that can be admired from a boat, interspersed with Lake Garda’s amazing views and lush Mediterranean vegetation.
10. Literary walk
There are six places, found at various points on the territory of Sirmione, that have signs with a QR Code. You can easily scan these using your Smartphone and listen to the audio recordings of literary excerpts specifically chosen to form a route, linked to a theme or a writer that is changed every year.
Why not look for the signs and enjoy the words of the authors while taking a pleasant walk around Sirmione, discovering beautiful views all the way from Punta Grò, along the lakefront in Lugana, to Galeazzi Beach, along Largo Pertini and up to Parco Callas gardens and San Pietro in Mavino church?
You can find all the information you need know about the ten things to see in Sirmione by following the points shown on the map below: