Earlier this month my husband and I spent a wonderful long weekend in Verona, which I highly recommend. Verona is quite small though so if you have longer than a weekend, I suggest taking a day trip to one of the little towns in Lake Garda.
We went to the Tourist Information centre near the Arena to find out more about which town to visit as well as how to get there. We were recommended to go to either Peschieria del Garda, Bardolino or Sirmione, with Peschieria del Garda being the closest to Verona. You can actually get a ferry between Sirmione and Bardolino but as it was low season, it wasn’t running when we went – which was a Sunday. I really recommend visiting the Tourist Information centre as they will also give you the most up-to-date bus and train timetables.
On Sunday morning we took ourselves off to the bus stop (the buses were only running every hour, so another reason to plan your trip!) and an hour later we were in the picturesque town of Sirmione, which is on the southern shores of Lake Garda. When you get off the bus, you’re greeted with a stunning castle – what’s not to like?
As we arrived around 11:30 am, we decided to have a quick coffee before exploring the town. Can you believe that Sirmione dates back to the 5th/6th century BC? From the 1st Century BC, the area became a favourite resort for rich families from Verona as it’s famous for its thermal springs. You’ll find many thermal resorts around the town, including Aquaria SPA, which you can go to for the day.
We had a walk by the lake, which apparently is packed with sunbathers and swimmers in summer. Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and covers 370 square kilometers. It’s huge! The water is so clear and the view of the mountains make it a really special place.
The castle, known as Scaliger Castle, only dates back to the 13th century – pretty modern, given Sirmione’s history! You can visit the castle too, although check when you arrive what time it closes. Luckily we checked as it closes at 1:30pm on a Sunday so we had a look around before lunch. The view from the top was spectacular!
After a visit to the castle we had lunch outside, as the weather was so nice, at Ristorante Risorgimento. Sirmione has lots of cafes and restaurants to suit most budgets. Ristorante Risorgimento is on the top end but the food was really nice and the service was excellent.
After lunch we had a couple of hours before our bus back to Verona so we decided to take a boat tour around the island. For just €10 each we enjoyed a 25 minute tour around Sirmione where our guide pointed out some interesting sights, such as some thermal baths where the water reaches temperatures of 70 degrees Celsius and Jamaica beach (because it’s like the Caribbean).
After our boat tour it was finally time for some gelato. All day we had seen people walking around with mammoth ice-creams (seriously, I’ve been to many places in Italy and never seen such huge ice-creams) so we had to try one too. We ordered a small one to share – how could this be a small?! It was really yummy though – two of my favourite flavours, pistachio and stracciatella.
Before heading to the bus stop, we took another little walk around the lake and this is the only public (free) thermal bath in Sirmione. It can only fit around six to eight people at a time. It had quite a sulphuric smell though – I’m not sure I’d last too long!
Our bus back to Verona took an hour and a half as there was so much traffic to get out of Sirmione. I thoroughly enjoyed our day trip to Lake Garda and would really recommend a visit if you’re in Verona. It’s so worth it!