While traveling from Limone sul Garda to Moniga sul Garda, we decided to visit on our last day of vacation, a city absolutely gorgeous, Sirmione, a strip of land surrounded by turquoise water. At a glance, this is how the Lake Garda’s jewel looks like.
Dominated by the grandeur of the castle Scaliger and its historical center surrounding it, Sirmione thrills you with its charm, gifted with pedestrian cobbled streets, beautifully arranged with lots of boutiques, designer-clothes shops, souvenir shops, cafes, pastry shops, restaurants, terraces with stunning views over the Garda Lake, and not least, the beloved gelato shops in all colors, flavors and assortments to which you might think of.
Sirmione Castle, the Scaliger Castle (the Rocca Scaligera castel) is the gateway to the historic center of Sirmione. You will pass on its drawbridge, being among the few castles that still have integrated the dock and the drawbridge. Try not to miss the panoramic view from atop the Scaliger Castle. The price of entry costs 4 Euros, and if you climb its 150 steps will be worth all the effort – you will be delighted with fascinating belvederes of Lake Garda and its turquoise water.
Castle Scaliger monopolizing all the attention, the key element of the Sirmione city, dates back to the 13th century, and has a large moat with turquoise water where swans and ducks wallow freely. It's a fairytale landscape, especially in spring when smells of lilac flowers and the colorful tulips are spread on the whole city.
Grotte di Catullo – The Caves of Catullus (associated with the Catullus poet, who had a vacation home in the area, yet the villa is of a slightly later date), is another place where you can have panoramic views of Lake Garda. Grotte di Catullo is located on the northern tip of Sirmione, at the end of the peninsula, representing the ancient ruins of a Roman villa. This archaeological site is worth visiting, primarily due to its incredibly beautiful landscape, while you can wander through the olive trees admiring what Mother Nature has left on earth.
After you have enjoyed endless walks discovering the city, you can choose a bus ride or a boat short trip into nearby Desenzano del Garda, another beautiful destination. Day trips to Verona or Venice are welcome, and if you're with children in vacation necessarily take them to Gardaland Theme Park. A walk at sunset on the shores of Sirmione it would be lovely.
Sirmione is linked to the other towns on Lake Garda by ferries that depart right in the city centre where, there is actually a kiosk from where you can buy tickets. Sirmione provides also a bus route between Brescia and Verona, so you'll be able to visit these two great cities without much effort. Note that you can enter by car in Sirmione up to a point - if you come by car you cannot enter on the pedestrian area unless you present a proof of a booking at a hotel located in the historic center. In fact, this is a good thing! You can walk freely in the narrow cobbled streets without being honked all the time. We saw that some cars were passing by the castle and tourists looked at them quite accusatory, because they have ruined their vibe for pictures and walks, fair enough.
Eating out in Sirmione
In Sirmione you will find plenty of cafes, restaurants, terraces, and pastry and gelato shops, so might become difficult to decide. However, here are some of the nicest, in my opinion, of course.
Let's start with the most important meal of the day, breakfast, which can be taken on the terrace of Caffe Grande Italia, looking right onto the square, a smart choice if you like to admire passers and analyze their face expressions. Going over it, here you can have a good Italian coffee along with a butter crosissant (I know, you're not in France, but nevertheless, these are so tasty...), or choose a fresh cocktail.
I saw that many people gather at Caffetteria Pasticceria La Fenice, though having slightly spicy prices, considering the magnificent view it does not matter anymore. Located on the shore of Lake Garda, you can drink a cappuccino and serve a fruit tart or other tempting cakes. You can upload your sugar dose whether you choose mini tarts, ice cream, profiteroles, croissants along with a cup of tea, everything seems poetry. The location itself makes this coffee house an important detail when you want to have breakfast or catch the sunset.
For lunch and dinner >>> Trattoria Clementina (for typical Italian food); Leo's Hamburgers (obviously for some absolutely delicious burgers); Antica Trattoria La Speranzina (exquisite dishes, location suitable for hopeless romantics….it has a fantastic!); La Chiccheria (for those on a budget or those who want to eat a lunch at a fair price, away from the crowded city); for a super cool gelato go to Cremeria Bulian. Do not miss the small artisanal pasta shops, where for hundreds of years, the Italian families are selling homemade products at decent prices and outstanding quality.
Accommodation in Sirmione
Sirmione is a tourist town and one of the most popular resorts on Lake Garda and that shows and feels ... in your pocket! Yet, there are options for everyone, whether book in advance, you know the story ... or catch a last minute offer, choose to rent an apartment or spoil yourself with a belvedere room at one of the luxury hotels. During summer, in high season the 3 Star/4 Star Hotel – Standard double room prices start at 65 Euros / night and the 4 Star/5 Star Hotel Standard double room prices start at 115 Euro/night. Of course, prices depend on the season chosen and the offers found via hotel booking websites. You might look for options on others Lake Garda comunes, for example Desenzano del Garda.
If you have the chance to visit Sirmione, advantage of it. You will find a genuine city in which the people, history and food will make you come back.