A lot of hotels listed as being in Sirmione are not actually in Sirmione old walled town. Some are on the 3.3 km peninsula but many are in the modern town of Columbare which has grown several km inland around the base of the peninsula.
It is only as we arrived at the town of Sirmione that we realised there were pretty considerable traffic restrictions. A coach took us from the airport but had to stop outside the walls of the castle where we disembarked and had to get a taxi into the old town. It would have been fine if the taxi driver was nice, but he wasn't! he grumbled and mumbled and threw our suitcases around, then left us several metres from where we were supposed to be even though one of us was disabled!
Anyway, back to the thrust of the tip. The streets of the old town are very narrow and cobbled and many of them are covered by low stone arches. This is why buses simply cannot get through!
Cars and some other vehicles are allowed in, but they cannot travel at more than two miles an hour - when you see the streets thick with tourists you will see why!
Big big word of warning - some of the cars don't observe the speed limit, don't stop at red traffic lights, and the bigger SUV's shouldn't really be allowed in at all as they are way too wide for the narrow streets (but they pass the rules so they get in).
As you will read in another tip, the streets inside the old walled town of Sirmione are incredibly narrow and they are closed to use by buses. Cars and some other vehicles are allowed inside, but you don't really see a taxi service as such (exceot to bring people from the bus station to their hotels).
The most popular and very quaint mode of transport around this town is by mini train. You can catch the train at Aquaria and it goes all the way around town making several stops.
The train costs just about a euro and it's lovely to use if just for the fun of it.
There is a wonderful ferry service which takes passengers to and from the various beautiful towns around the lake.
A rather complicated free timetable is available at the reception of all hotels, and also at the brown ticket office located beside the ferry terminal. There are three types of ferry - the fast one, the normal (slow) one, and a vehicular or commercial ferry and the times for all three are on the timetable.
It's great for tourists to use to travel from one port to another close by, but if you want to travel from, say, Sirmione to Riva keep in mind that the slow ferry takes four hours in either directioon so you might be better off taking a bus for long lake distances.
I really strongly recomment taking the ferry at some stage of your trip - we travelled from Garda to Riva and back four years ago and this time we took the shorter trip from Riva to Limone. Bring your camera and watch out for spectacular scenery.
In Sirmione the ferry dock is situated just inside the entrance to the walled old town beside the hotel Sirmione in the Piazza Carducci.
If you are thinking of driving into Sirmione forget it!!! Unless you have hotel reservations it's impossible. When we arrived at Sirmione we were stopped by a barricade and police officers. They would not let us pass until they checked off our name on the list of hotel guests. That was only the start of our problems! You need to go through three sets of vary narrow gates and a molt bridge. Now it would be tough enough only you have to fight a crowd of people that won't let you pass. We were lucky because our car was a diesel and they heard us coming.
After the first set of gates you come to a next set. This one has a small traffic light stuck up on a building. We would have missed it except our hotel warned us. Next to the light there is a sign instructing you to turn your engine off and wait, and wait , and wait. Finally, a car came through in the opposite directions. The crowd was so thick we couldn't even read what few street signs there were. It was real tricky to be in the narrow gate with all those people. We were scared we would run over their feet.
It never got easy. Then came the narrow one way streets with no names.... We were lucky and found our hotel. We only went down a one way street the wrong way once. Lucky for us a nice lady came running out of her shop to tell us and we had room to turn around.
Good Luck.... if you drive in...
This is the beautiful paddle steamer we caught from Sirmione to Desenzano - such a delightful way to cross the lago di garda.
Unfortunately tickets for daily unlimited travel are not available - all tickets are bought separately and can add up if you make several trips.
We travelled to Sirmione by bus from Verona to Lazise and then got a ferry across but other options are available. Via train, go to the Peschiera or Desenzano railway stations and get a boat from the harbours to Sirmione.
In fact the boat was a catamaran - some of the other boats are lovely paddle steamers.
Sirmione and the Lake of Garda are accessible by the motorway A4 exit Sirmione.
The picture shows how unruly are the Italian drivers (as the French ones).
Several drivers seeing there are some exits working quicker than the one in front of which they are, decide to change of lanes. Doing that, they block two lanes.
Che pasticcio !