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Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan (Guide to the self-guided day trip to Lake Garda from Milan)

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. View of Sirmione Village

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy situated to the west of Milan and perfectly nestled between the cities of Brescia and Verona. The portion of Lake Garda is also insinuated in the mountains of the Alps to the north of Verona forming a picture-perfect setting of a clear blue lake surrounded by majestic Mountains. Lake Garda is a beautiful lake famous for its small quaint villages, clear blue water and different water activities. Lake Garda is one of the popular tourist destinations of Italy and deserves at least a day of your trip to Italy.

Lake Garda is a huge lake and exploring all the great places of Lake Garda would take around 1 week. However, the best of it can be easily visited as a day trip from Milan to Lake Garda. The best place to visit in Lake Garda is Sirmione village. Therefore, for a day trip to Lake Garda from Milan, we will focus on visiting the village of Sirmione and enjoying the unique ambience of a lake at the same time.

In this article on a day trip to Lake Garda from Milan, we have covered everything you need to know on how to reach Lake Garda from Milan, the best places to visit, the best places to eat, how to explore and many more.

Lake Garda can also be visited as a day trip from other nearby cities like Venice, Verona, Breccia and Bolzano, however, this article is all about a day trip to Lake Garda from Milan.

So, let’s start our day trip to Lake Garda from Milan!

How to reach Lake Garda from Milan

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. Regional Train of Italy

Sirmione village is easily accessible from Milan by train as well as by car.

By Train & Ferry or Bus combination

To reach village Sirmione of Lake Garda from Milan by Public transport, you will need to make combinations of Trains and buses or ferries.

Train from Milano Centrale to Desenzano Del Garda

To get to Lake Garda from Milan, you must first reach Desenzano Del Garda from Milano Central train station. The regional trains to Desenzano del Garda depart every hour from Milano Centrale train station and take around 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is also an option for fast trains to reach Desenzano Del Garda from Milano Centrale station. Fast trains take around 50 Minutes to reach and tickets are costlier than regional trains if not booked in advance.

Ferry From Desenzano Del Garda to Sirmione
Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. Ferry boat in the lake

From the Desenzano Del Garda ferry terminal, the ferry departs to Sirmione typically once every hour in the morning and evening hours. The ferry timetable varies based on the season, where during winter months there are no ferries at all and in summer months ferries run with increased frequencies. Therefore, always check ferry timings before planning a trip to Lake Garda.

The ferry ride from Desenzano del Garda to Sirminone takes around 20 minutes.


Bus From Desenzano Del Garda to Sirmione

The buses also run between Desenzano del Garda train station to Sirmione all year round including winter months. The bus (Line NL026) typically runs every hour from Desenzano del Garda to Sirmione and takes around 20 Minutes. Always check the bus timetable in advance if you are planning to take a bus to Sirmione from Desenzano Del Garda.

You will also find taxis in front of the Desenzano Del Garda train station that can drop you to the Sirmione in 10 to 15 Minutes.

By Car

Sirmione is easily reachable by Car from Milan via highway A4 and usually takes around 1 hour and 30 Minutes to reach with no traffic. Visiting Sirmione by car can be quite a hustle during peak summer months since it usually gets overcrowded with increased traffic.

Also, you cannot enter the village with a car if you are not staying inside the walls of Sirmione Village. However, there is a huge parking area available just at the entrance of the walls where you will need to pay a small parking fee. From the parking area, you can walk to the village in no time.

Try to reach Desenzano del Garda before 10 AM to have a good time exploring Sirmione.

Sirmione Village

Guided day trips to Lake Garda from Milan (Most Convenient option)

The private tour agencies operate day trips from Milan to Lake Garda which is always a convenient option since the transport to Lake Garda from Milan is by private vehicle and you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable tour guide. The guided tours also have perfectly crafted Itineraries for a day trip to Lake Garda from Milan so that you can explore the best of Lake Garda without wasting time.

Sirmione Village

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. View of Sirmione Village

Sirmione is a quaint and romantic tiny village in Italy surrounded by the clear blue waters of Lake Garda where the medieval castle and walled entrance are the main treasures of the village. Sirmione is situated on a narrow peninsula extended 4 Kilometres in Lake Garda, therefore, it is fully surrounded by a lake which mainly contributes to the romantic and pleasant ambience of the village. The village is also full of restaurants, ice cream shops, boutiques for clothing, souvenir shops and many more.

During your day trip to Lake Garda from Milan, Sirmione has so much to offer to spend a wonderful day surrounded by the lake. The main attractions to visit in Siromione are Castello Scaligero, Grotte di Cattulo, Lido di Sirmione, Jamaica Beach and Aqua Therme of Sirmione.

You can also just stroll in the village, hop in its unique boutique shops, float in a boat and still have a wonderful day trip to Lake Garda from Milan.

Castello Scaligero

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. View of Castello Scaligero

As soon as you enter through the walls of Sirmione village, you will be welcomed by the beautiful Scaligero castle that was built by the Scaliger family in the 14th century. Castello Scaligero is one of the best attractions to visit in Lake Garda and must must-visit place during your day trip to Lake Garda from Milan.

The castle is a good example of a 14th-century lake fortification that was followed in the region of Lake Garda. The fairy tale Castle is surrounded by a moat and can only entered by draw bridges which act as protection for the castle from enemies as well as from residents. The castle also has its dock which is built in the lake water and remained intact till today. The keep of the castle which is around 37 meters high gives a real fortress look to the castle and offers splendid views of Lake Garda, Sirmione village and the beautiful green peninsula. It is one of the popular photo spots in Lake Garda. 

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. View of Castle dock

If we talk about little history, then the Castello Scalingero remained under the control of the Scaliger family until the 16th century when it was taken over by Napoleons. Later from Napoleons, it was taken over by the Habsburg Dynasty of Austria. During the Napoleonic and Habsburg eras, the castle was used as an armoury and barrack for the troops.

In the present day, the castle is open for visitors. The entrance ticket to Castello Scaligero alone costs 8 euros per person. However, if you buy combined tickets to Castello Scaligero,  Grotte di Catullo and Villa Romana a Desenzano del Garda then it will cost 15 Euros per adult. Even if you are planning to visit only Castello Scaligero and Grtotte di Catullo, the combined ticket is worth buying.  

Once you are done exploring Castello Scaligero, head towards the Grotte di Catullo.

Grotte di Catullo

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. Grotte di Catullo

Grotte di Cattulo is located 1 KM away from Castello Scaligero at the end of the Sirmione Peninsula.

Grotte di Catullo is nothing but the remains of a huge Roman Villa built in the 1st century AD. The villa was built on one of the best panoramic points in the region overlooking Lake Garda.  The Villa itself was known as Grotto di Catullo for centuries by the name of the Veronese poet Catullus. The Villa was believed to be built by Catullus but there is not enough evidence to prove it. It is also believed that the villa belonged to the Member of Roman senate and Patron of Verona Gaius Harennius Caecilia, however, it is also a theory due to lack of evidence.  The Grotte di Catullo is an example of the lavish lifestyle of wealthy Romans that was followed for centuries.

A good reason to visit Grotte di Catullo is it offers the stunning panorama of Lake Garda since it is located at the end of the Sirmione Peninsula.

At the entrance of Grotto di Catullo, you will find a Museum where the Archaeological findings of the Villa have been displayed.

The Grotte di Catullo would take around 1 to 2 hours to explore Completely depending on your pace.

The Grotte di Catullo is one of the best places to visit in Lake Garda not only to witness the ruins of the Roman villa but also to admire the jaw dropping views of Lake Garda. Therefore, it is recommended not to miss this place during your day trip to Lake Garda from Milan.

By the time you are done exploring Grotte di Catullo, you must be hungry by all the walking and clicking beautiful photos. Therefore, spare some time for your lunch.

Where to eat in Sirmione

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan, where to eat.

Sirmione has many choices to eat, however, we recommend eating in one of the following restaurants in Sirmione:


L’Accanto is a restaurant specialising in seafood and offers different varieties to choose from the typical Italian cuisine. It is located at the entrance of Sirmione very close to Castello Scaligero (Google Map Location).

Ristorante Al Pescatore

Ristorante al Pescatore is one of the top-rated restaurants in Sirmione serving delicious fresh lake fish and authentic seafood dishes (Google Map Location).

Note: If you are vegetarian then you can find Margarita Pizza, cheese sandwich or vegetarian pasta easily in any restaurant in Sirmione.

Boat tour around the lake

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. Boat tour.

After your lunch, taking a boat tour around the lake is recommended to admire wonderful views of the castle and Sirmione peninsula from the lake. During the boat tour, you can also have an opportunity to have a closer look at the castle dock.

The tour boats depart from Piazzale Porto located at the entrance of Sirmione walls. The typical boat trip takes around 25 to 30 Minutes.

It is always better to book your boat tour in advance to avoid last-minute rush and long queues.

If you wish to float for a longer time in a private boat, then you can also book yourself a 45-minute private sunset boat tour in Lake Garda.

Swimming in the lake

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. View of Lake Garda Beach

A trip to Lake Garda from Milan would be incomplete without entering or swimming in the crystal-clear water of Lake Garda. Sirmione Lido (Translated as Sirmione Beach) is one of the best locations to enter the waters of Lake Garda. The beach is very safe and suitable for kids. Also, there is a lifeguard present for the full-time on the beach.

Just a few minutes walk from the Lido di Sirmione, you will find Jamaica Beach which is located on the end of the peninsula of Sirmione. Jamaica Beach is a flat beach with a rocky surface and another good location to enter the water of Lake Garda. If you don’t wish to enter the lake then you can just lie down on the beach to soak the sun.  

Remember to carry your towels and swimwear’s with you. The changing rooms are also available at the beach.

If you don’t have swimwear, you can also buy one at the local swimwear shop in Sirmione just behind the Castello Scaligero.

Relax in the Aquaria Therme of Simone

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. View of thermal pool.

If the time allows during your day trip to Lake Garda from Milan, it is worth visiting the Aquaria Therme of Sirmione to relax in its SPA or Swim in their thermal swimming pools. You can also admire the beautiful views of Lake Garda while swimming in the open-air thermal pools. They also offer indoor and outdoor Sauna, steam, salt room, music room and different SPA treatments.  

If you wish to go to the Aquaria Therme, then make sure you will stay there at least for 3 hours to make good use of your money.

To enter the Aquaria Therme, you will need to book the entrance tickets in advance.

Return from Sirmione to Milan

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. View of train station

Sirmione will need at least 7 to 8 hours to explore depending on your pace and the activities you wish you do in Sirmione. To return from the day trip to Lake Garda from Milan, you need to return to Desenzano del Garda from Sirmione. You can use either Bus or Ferry to reach Desenzano Del Garda.

If you are dependent on public transport, then always plan your return journey in advance and manage your time in Sirmione accordingly since the frequency of Ferry and bus is limited depending on the Season.

To reach Milan from Desenzano del Garda, you can catch the regional train that departs every hour until 10.07 PM. You will also have a choice of fast trains, but it will be expensive if not booked in advance.

The best time to Visit Lake Garda

Day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. View of Sirmione

Lake Garda or Sirmione can be visited at any time of the year, however, it is better to visit during the early summer months of June and July when it is less crowded, and you can also swim in the lake due to warmer weather.

Consider that August is peak vacation season in Italy and Europe, and Sirmione gets overcrowded during that period. Also, August month is comparatively hotter and you will get all sweaty exploring the village. Therefore, it is always better to avoid visiting Sirmione during August.

Winter months are also good to visit Sirmione, only limitations are the bus timings are limited and ferries do not operate during the winter months.

We hope that you liked this article and it will help you to plan a perfect day trip to Lake Garda from Milan. If you have any questions related to exploring Lake Garda or any other places in Italy, then do let us know in the comment section. We will be very happy to help you plan your trip.

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