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A medieval castle and well-preserved Roman villa, strolls through narrow lanes, waterfront hikes, and boat trips, all in the ‘pearl of the lake’.

Huddled onto a thin strip of land that juts into the water from Lake Garda’s southern shore, Sirmione’s pastel-painted buildings, open squares, and 13th-century castle make up what’s widely said to be the prettiest town on the lake. It’s also one of the most popular, with its handsome old town drawing visitors year-round who come to stroll the narrow stone alleys that lead to the waterfront.

As well as its striking medieval castle, you can visit Grotte di Catullo — the crumbling ruins of a Roman villa abandoned in the 4th century, or soak in the town’s invigorating thermal springs. There are plenty of walking options in this area, or you might prefer to relax on a boat or ferry trip out on the water. We can also arrange for you to visit ‘fair Verona’ during your stay here with its grand stone churches, pretty piazzas, and Roman amphitheatre.

Things to see and do in Sirmione

Sirmione’s old town

Once a popular retreat for wealthy Verona families and a fortified Roman city in the 4th and 5th centuries, Sirmione has a long history. You get a sense of its past as you wander the winding lanes lined with honey-hued stone buildings, some of which are draped in bright purple bougainvillea.

As you stroll, either alone or with a guide, you can browse shops, hop between cafes, or walk down to the waterfront, where there are beach bars and other places to relax while taking in views over the lake. You could also take to the water by boat or ferry to gain a different perspective over the lake and town.

Scaliger Castle

At the entrance to the city’s peninsula, you’re greeted with the sight of Scaliger Castle, which sits in a moat of turquoise water. Built in 1277 by Mastino I della Scala — the lord of Verona — it was designed to ward off any attacks to the peninsula and to protect its busy port.

You can cross one of the two drawbridges to enter its walls and visit the small museum to learn more of its history. On display are local finds from the Roman and medieval eras.

Next to the castle, you can drop into the small 12th-century Sant’Anna della Rocca church, which was used mainly by the garrison and a few local villagers. Inside, you’ll see frescoes dating between the 14th and 17th centuries.

Grotte di Catullo

Close to the tip of the peninsula lie the remains of a Roman villa and baths, long abandoned but still well preserved. Known as the Grotte di Catullo, the ruins sit on a rocky bank with far-reaching views over the lake.

Once belonging to the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catallus, the villa was built in the 1st century AD, and its remains give you a sense of its scale and grandeur.

While some of the stone was later repurposed for building another Sirmione villa and the peninsula’s fortifications, much of the original structure remains. You’ll stroll past stone pillars, follow corridors now exposed to the sun, and see the site of a swimming pool believed to have been installed in the 2nd century.

Visiting Verona

Less than an hour’s drive east of Sirmione, Verona is best-known for being the setting of Romeo and Juliet. We can arrange for you to visit this attractive, storied city with a guide who can help point out its sights and fill you in on its past.

Among its highlights are a remarkably preserved 1st-century amphitheatre, countless churches, fountain-adorned piazzas, and photogenic stone bridges spanning the Adige River.

Best time to visit Sirmione

Sirmione’s attractions, restaurants, and shops are mostly only open from May to October. However, we recommend visiting outside of July and August, when temperatures soar and sights can get crowded. For the best balance of weather and widest choice of hotels, visit in May and June or September and October.

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Audley Travel Specialist Ruth

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Suggested itinerary featuring Sirmione

This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Sirmione, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Sirmione

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Sirmione

    Accommodation choices for Sirmione

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Sirmione. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Villa Cortine Palace

      Villa Cortine Palace Hotel

      Deluxe

      Enjoying a central location on Sirmione’s highest peak, Villa Cortine Palace Hotel has an air of opulence thanks to its extensive grounds, lake views, and period features. Take a dip in the pool, enjoy a game of tennis, or relax on the private jetty over the lake.