The Scaliger (Sinking) Castle in Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy
When I first saw a video posted online of a fairytale castle “sinking” in water, I knew we had to see it for ourselves during our road trip in Northern Italy. I mean come on, how cool is that?! With that said, there is very little information about the famous sinking castle. We had to figure out everything on our own, including the location and the castle’s true name, Scaliger Castle. So if you are standing in those same shoes, I have everything you need to know about visiting Italy’s most famous “sinking castle”. From how to get to Scaliger Castle, what to expect when you arrive, and even some fun things to do around the “sinking castle”.
Getting to Scaliger Castle
Scaliger Castle is located in Sirmione, Italy, one of the best towns on Lake Garda. Sirmione is one of the most popular destinations on Lake Garda because it is located on the tip of the long Sirmio peninsula protruding from the southern shore of Lake Garda. With that being said, it is not difficult to get to Sirmione, but you do need some specific details.
If you are coming by car (which is recommended), you are not allowed to actually drive into the city unless you are staying at a hotel in the city. Tourists visiting for the day must park their car just outside the entrance to the town, where you will have to leave your car and walk across the long peninsula. You can find parking lots along the street of, Via XXV Aprile. The closer you get to the entrance of Sirmione, the harder it will be to find parking. Depending on where you find parking, the walk to the entrance of Scaliger Castle can be anywhere between a 10-30 minute walk. Though the walk is long, it is a beautiful walk along Lake Garda.
If you take the train to Peschiera, you will still need to take a bus or taxi into Sirmione. Right before the bridge to Sirmione is a tourist information kiosk. Tourists can ask any further questions they may have and be provided with a map of the city.
A Sinking Castle or a Fairytale Castle?
Just walking over the bridge to enter the city, (or should we say fortress) of Sirmione, made us feel like we were in a fairytale. Then to see Scaliger Castle in person with a real moat and drawbridges solidified every fairytale feeling.
The Scaliger Castle was built in the 13th century and though it is nicknamed the sinking castle, it is actually just a rare example of medieval port fortification. The castle was used by the fleet of the Scaliger family. It was strategically placed in the perfect location that provided great protection from their enemies and locals. Not only is Scaliger Castle built within the lake on the peninsula, but it also has a moat with two drawbridges for entry. What was once used for protection and a symbol of powerful militia, is now a beautiful landmark. Tourists can now walk inside the castle and live out their childhood fairytale dreams.
Guests are allowed to roam the grounds of the castle on their own for only €4 per person. Though the castle is beautiful on the ground floor, it is spectacular from the above. Once you walk 150 steps up to the tower you get magnificent views of Lake Garda and the city of Sirmione. We can see why the Scaliger family and fleet were so keen on protecting this castle and city.
Guests can also see the courtyard and more of the architecture of the castle from the tower.
Towards the east side of the castle and lake, guests can walk along the fortified walls and look out to what seems like an endless ocean. The views never got old for us.
The City of Sirmione
Outside the castle, the city is full of cute restaurants, cobblestone streets, homes and gelato shops! There are also some beach areas to relax at and enjoy a dip in the water.
The entire time we were walking the streets of this charming city we saw tourists with the biggest scoops of gelato on a waffle cone. Though there were more than plenty of gelato shops to choose from, we knew what we wanted. So we walked passed all the tourists with giant gelato cones and found Mirkoz Gelateria. Not only did they have the biggest scoops of gelato, but they also have the biggest selection of gelato we have ever seen! They have 100 different flavors of gelato, including vegan and sugar free options. We got limoncello, coconut and coffee – not the best combo, but each flavor was delicious. Did I mention how big the scoops were? My gelato scoops were the size of my head!!!!
Via Vittorio Emanuele 26
We can see why Sirmione is a tourist destination for Italians. It is a very charming city, with great dining options, beaches, direct access to Lake Garda and of course a beautiful castle. Visiting Sirmione and Scaliger Castle is a must for visitors looking to enjoy Lake Garda.