Latest update: 11 August 2021
Sirmione. What was once an idyllic Italian village on Lake Garda has become a real tourist trap. The village is ruined by its own success if you ask me. However, because the castle Rocca Scaligera is an impressive sight, I think you shouldn’t skip the village. So go in town, and get out asap.
Mass tourism in Sirmione
When my travel partner and I drive into Sirmione by car, we quickly find our way to the castle and the peninsula. Just follow the rest of the tourists to the enormous parking lot. When we park our car, we already know that we will have a hard time in Sirmione: too many people, too little space.
Tip! If you still need to rent a car in Italy, check out Sunny Cars.
Rocca Scaligera with a guide
You enter Sirmione via the bridge over the moat. The beautiful Rocca Scaligera Castle is immediately on your right – you can’t miss it. We buy a ticket (8 euros) and join a guided tour that leaves within a few minutes. The guide is not very talkative, but we are happy with him anyway because we can go to places in the castle that are otherwise inaccessible.
Sirmione Castle was built in the 13th century and has two drawbridges. It borders Lake Garda on three sides. However, the most impressive part is the small, enclosed harbor at the back of the castle. It contrasts beautifully with the blue water. We get to walk around in the port with the guide.
See more of Sirmione
Rocca Scaligera is located in the narrowest part of the Sirmione peninsula. As you walk further into the village, it becomes a bit wider. There you will find shops (mainly souvenirs) and restaurants that charge ridiculous prices. However, we manage to find an affordable cup of coffee at Bar Bussola. It’s full of Italians, so that seems like a good sign. If you walk a little further, you will get to the green part of the peninsula, where it’s a bit more peaceful.
When to visit Sirmione
Try to visit Sirmione as early in the day as possible, especially if you travel in the high season. Then it is still doable in the castle in terms of people. But, if you’re looking for an authentic Italian feeling, I advise you to stroll around and enjoy the food in another village (Salò is nice!). Sirmione, for me, is really a case of walking into town and running out of it.
But, maybe it’s better from the water:
More travel inspiration for Italy
Do you want even more inspiration for your Italy trip? You might like to purchase a travel guide. I recommend the Lonely Planet because it contains a lot of practical information and is also available in separate PDFs or in an e-book version. You can buy it at Amazon or Book Depository, for example. The latter is usually the cheapest.
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