Helen on her Holidays

Visiting San Marino: 11 tips for your visit to this magical tiny country

San Marino is one of the smallest countries in the world – and one of the least-visited. But if you go to Bologna or Rimini in Italy and don’t make the very slight detour to visit San Marino, you’re missing out on a spellbinding country with a lot to offer. Read on for advice and tips for visiting San Marino, and how to get the most out of your trip.

Where is San Marino?

San Marino is a tiny country, just 24 square miles in area and completely surrounded by the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions of Italy. It’s 8 miles from the Italian seaside resort of Rimini.

The rooftops of San Marino. The three towers lined up across the ridge of the mountain are the symbols of San Marino and feature on the national flag and coat of arms.

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San Marino is made up of 9 regions, although most visitors to San Marino will only visit the capital, Cittá di San Marino. While the whole country is hilly, Cittá di San Marino perches astonishingly on top of a mountain peak, so pretty it could come straight out of a fantasy movie.

Tip: Don’t say San Marino is in Italy! While it is surrounded by Italy, it’s an independent country.

Is San Marino worth visiting?

Absolutely yes – there are few places that I’ve been that are as spectacular and atmospheric. I’d planned a trip to San Marino mainly to tick another country off my list (my 42nd), but what I found was an incredibly beautiful and welcoming place that I’d love to return to.

Visiting San Marino will blow you away

Standing on the ramparts of one of the castle towers, climbing the narrow stone streets or taking the Witches’ Path through the forest between the towers, you could easily imagine yourself to be in a fairy tale. There’s some decent shopping, but what you’re really visiting San Marino for is the exceptional location, the extraordinary views and the otherworldly atmosphere.

Tip: If you have some flexibility in when you visit San Marino, try to pick the clearest day – the fewer clouds there are, the more you’ll see of the amazing views. That said, if you go to San Marino on a cloudy day in Rimini, you might well be above the clouds when you get to the top of Monte Titano.

How long to stay in San Marino

Most visitors to San Marino take a day trip from Bologna or Rimini, but I strongly recommend that you stay for at least one night and preferably two, particularly if you visit when there are events on. I definitely recommend staying overnight in San Marino if you’re visiting by public transport, as the bus timetable from Rimini doesn’t give anything like enough time to explore the city properly.

Up in the clouds while visiting San Marino

Cittá di San Marino is a maze of narrow streets which run along the sides of Monte Titano, gradually climbing as they go. Because everything is so compressed into a small space and lots of the roads run parallel to each other (but higher or lower up the mountain) it can be difficult to orientate yourself. We got lost when visiting San Marino a lot more than we normally do! There are a lot of steps so getting around takes a bit longer than you might expect based on looking at a flat map of the city.

Tip: staying for one or two nights in San Marino will give you the chance to see the city in the evening, when all the day trippers have gone home and the city is quiet and mysterious.

The old city streets are so atmospheric in the evening

Getting to San Marino

Which airport should i use for san marino.

San Marino doesn’t have its own airport. The nearest is in Rimini, on the Italian coast, which is served by low cost carriers Ryanair and Wizz. If your local airport doesn’t have flights to Rimini, try Bologna, which is 85 miles to the north of San Marino.

How to get to San Marino by car

It’s probably easiest to visit San Marino by car, although large parts of the historic old town are either pedestrianised or access only so you’ll need to leave your car at one of the car parks. These are either on the edge of Cittá di San Marino or in Borgo Maggiore, the town further down the slopes of Monte Titano.

All San Marino's public car parks, coach parks and bus stops are numbered. This one is P6, just underneath the Guaita Tower.

There are some hotels with parking, although not many. I stayed at the Hotel Rosa , which had parking for a small number of cars right outside the door. Parking in the main San Marino car parks cost 4 euro a day if you’re staying in a hotel in San Marino.

If you do bring your car when you’re visiting San Marino, I really recommend going on Google Maps’ Street View and planning your route before you arrive. The roads up Monte Titano zig-zag their way up, with hairpin bends and I found it quite confusing to know which way I should be going (I do generally have a decent sense of direction!).

Tip: If you’re renting a car, I recommend choosing as small a car as you can manage as the roads are narrow and twisty, and parking spots can be tight. You should also check that your car rental company will be ok with you taking the car into another country.

One of the gates into San Marino's old city

How to get to San Marino by public transport

The nearest railway station to San Marino is in Rimini, on the Italian coast.

If you’re flying into Bologna airport, the route that Google Maps recommends is the Marconi Express monorail to Bologna Centrale railway station, then a train from Bologna Centrale to Rimini, then a bus from Rimini to San Marino. This is fine, and it’s what I did, but I wish we’d taken the Shuttle Italy Airport bus straight from Bologna airport to Rimini.

The fast Frecciarossa and Intercity trains from Bologna to Rimini which take around an hour often sell out. If they do, you’ll have to take one of the slower Regionale trains which can take well over 2 hours and sometimes require a change.

The Regionale train I travelled back from Rimini to Bologna on was absolutely packed and we had to stand almost all the way back. The Shuttle Italy Airport bus takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to Rimini; it also means you don’t have to contend with the Marconi Express monorail, which was a lot less fun than it sounds!

Tip: Intercity trains from Bologna are around half the price of the Frecciarossa, but only take around 20 minutes longer. You should consider booking fast trains a week or so in advance – or if you’re travelling from Bologna airport, you could take the Shuttle Italy Airport bus.

San Marino's narrow streets

Rimini to San Marino bus

Bonelli Bus runs a scheduled bus service between Rimini’s main train station and San Marino. The bus runs every day, including on Sundays and public holidays. There are around three timetables each year, one for the summer (April to mid September), one for the Autumn (mid September to November) and one for the winter (November through to April).

There are eight buses per day in each direction, with the first bus setting off from Rimini just after 8am and the last bus from San Marino returning just after 7pm. The journey takes between 50 and 55 minutes, depending on the time of day. The buses are more like a coach than a city bus, with comfortable seats and luggage storage underneath.

You can either buy tickets on board the bus or, in Rimini, at the little tabaccheria immediately across the street from the train station. Tickets cost 6 euro each way and are valid for any service; if you buy a return at the tabaccheria you’ll be given two tickets which you can use anytime. I was able to pay for my tickets by card in the shop but lots of people say that they don’t always accept cards, and can be funny about taking small change.

The bus stop for San Marino has recently moved – it was by the Burger King but it’s now a little further along Piazzale Cesare Battisti, outside the Hotel Napoleon.

In San Marino, the bus from Rimini stops at Parcheggio P1 A, just outside the city walls and immediately below the Porta del Paese – Porta San Francesco (Gate of St Francis).

Waiting for the bus to Rimini in San Marino

A queue forms at the bus stop before each bus departure. Leaving San Marino it was very orderly, a bit less so in Rimini. While all of us managed to get on each time, I’ve read that that’s not always the case. If you go for the last bus back to Rimini from San Marino and don’t get on, you’re looking at a 45-50 euro taxi. We opted to catch the bus before the one we actually needed to catch to make sure we got a seat.

Tip: Make sure you’re at the bus stop well before the bus is due to leave, just in case there’s a long queue.

The bus from Rimini to San Marino arrives just below this gate into the old city.

Things to do in San Marino

Tip: If you stay in a San Marino hotel, you’ll be given a TuttoSanMarino discount card , which gives you money off entry tickets for the three towers and lots of San Marino’s museum, along with discounts at shops and restaurants and on the cable car.

Visit the three towers

If you do one thing when you’re visiting San Marino, it should be to see at least one of San Marino’s iconic towers. The towers sit on Monte Titano’s three peaks and are connected by a ridge.

The first tower, known as Guaita, is the oldest, built in the 11th century. It’s also the most popular with visitors. You can explore almost every part of the Guaita fortress, including climbing up a very steep and narrow ladder to get to the highest turret!

Inside the first tower in San Marino

The second tower, Cesta (but also known as De La Fratta) is temporarily closed for restoration work as of October 2022, but hopefully it’ll be open again soon. There are gorgeous views across to the Guaita tower and across the city, and many visitors say they found it the most beautiful tower. The Cesta tower is also home to the Museum of Ancient Weapons – while it’s closed, there’s a small display in the prison section of the Guaita tower.

San Marino’s third tower is the smallest, and it isn’t open to the public, although you can walk to it. It was built in the 14th century and was used as a prison tower.

Passo Delle Streghe – the Witches’ Path

Between the first and second towers, there’s a narrow path, known as Passo Delle Streghe, or the Witches’ Path. There are two stories for how the Witches’ Path got its name. One story says it was named because witches gathered here at night. In the morning, they would turn themselves into black cats and flee. The other story is more gruesome – it was where women who had been accused of being witches were taken to be thrown from the ridge.

The Witches' Path is one of the top sights in San Marino

The path is exceptionally beautiful, with stunning views in both directions. If you’ve seen a gorgeous picture that’s made you want to visit San Marino, there’s a good chance that it was taken here. Since it is so stunning, it’s also very popular with visitors so you might have to wait a while to get your perfect Instagram shot.

The Witches' Path in San Marino at night

See Piazza della Libertà and the Palazzo Pubblico

A big part of my reason for visiting San Marino was because it is an independent country. The Palazzo Pubblico, on lovely Piazza della Libertà is San Marino’s official government building and where official ceremonies take place.

During summer (until mid September), you can watch the changing of the guard here – unfortunately I visited the week after it finished for winter.

Looking towards Piazza della Libertà and Palazzo Pubblico, the seat of the San Marino government

Get your passport stamped

There’s no border control entering San Marino from Italy, but you can still make your visit official by getting your passport stamped at the tourist office on Piazzetta Garibaldi. It costs 5 euro and you’ll get a carefully-placed San Marino postage stamp and date stamp as a souvenir of your trip.

Collecting a San Marino passport stamp as a souvenir of visiting San Marino

Next door to the tourism office, you’ll find San Marino’s Museum of Stamps and Coins. San Marino has its own stamps, some of which are highly sought after – it’s believed that at one point in history, selling stamps to foreign collectors made up 10% of San Marino’s national income.

Ride on the cable car

The cable car that takes you from the lower slopes of Monte Titano at Borgo Maggiore up to the centre of Città di San Marino, behind the Palazzo Pubblico. The ride only takes a couple of minutes but the views are spectacular.

Tip: If you get off the bus from Rimini to San Marino in Borgo Maggiore, you can arrive in the heart of the old town by cable car – much more exciting than the bus!

The San Marino cable car has stunning views over the whole country

Visit San Marino’s unusual museums

San Marino has lots of museums, most of which have a distinctly dark nature! When you visit San Marino you can go to the Museum of Torture, the Museum of Curiosities and the Museum of Creatures of the Night. On a lighter note, you can visit the Museum of Waxworks – it’s no Madame Tussauds but it’s worth a look if you have the Tutto San Marino card which gets you into all these museums half price.

Check what’s on at Cava dei Balestrieri

Cava dei Balestrieri is an old quarry in the centre of San Marino, between the cable car station and Piazza della Libertà and is the setting for lots of San Marino’s most exciting events. The annual crossbow competition is held here in September, when you can see representatives of San Marino’s 9 regions compete to be named the crossbow champion.

In July, San Marino comes alive with 4 days of medieval parades and pageantry , with evening events featuring jesters, archery, troubadours, duels and flag-waving at Cava dei Balestrieri.

Cava dei Balestrieri is the setting for some of San Marino's most exciting events

Tip: Check out the events calendar on the San Marino tourism office’s website before booking your trip – there are events throughout the year.

See the old train

These days, San Marino’s nearest train station is in Rimini, but it did have its own station for a while. The San Marino to Rimini railway opened in 1932 but closed only 12 years later due to the damage caused by bombs and fighting in World War 2. San Marino was neutral during the war but being surrounded by Italy meant that fighting did spill over the border.

I’m really into trains (check out my posts about my favourite heritage railways and a vintage market in Madrid’s railway museum ) so after I saw The Tim Traveller’s video about San Marino’s railway I had to go and see it.

The railway tunnel near the site of San Marino's old station

There’s nothing left of the railway station in San Marino (it’s underneath the P2 bus park and the roundabout) but if you walk a little way down Via del Voltone you’ll see a stretch of track, a tunnel entrance and inside it, one of the old trains.

You can walk down the tunnel as far as you dare; when I visited there was an art installation further inside the tunnel and there’s apparently a great viewpoint where the tunnel briefly emerges on the side of the mountain, but it was a bit spooky for me. If you do go in, please let me know what it’s like in the comments! (Niche) tip: If you watch carefully, you can spot bits of the old railway line when you’re on the bus from Rimini to San Marino. The old Cerasolo station is right by the side of the road, next door to Federici Sofà.

Where to stay in San Marino

Choosing the best place to stay in San Marino will depend on how you’re getting to San Marino and how much luggage you’re bringing with you.

The view from Hotel Rosa's terrace - imagine waking up to this!

I stayed at Hotel Rosa , which is near the top of the mountain and in a prime position just underneath Guaita Tower. The views from our hotel terrace were absolutely amazing, and some rooms at Hotel Rosa have these incredible views from their windows. Breakfast was included, and the hotel had its own small car park. We arrived by bus, and it was a long way up a lot of steps from the bus stop. Luckily we’d packed light with just one small backpack each – I’m not sure I would have fancied the walk up with a lot of luggage!

Tip: For an extra-special stay, choose a hotel room with a view; the morning light over San Marino’s rolling hills as you open the curtains will take your breath away.

The best-reviewed hotel in San Marino is Hotel La Grotta . While it doesn’t quite have the views that you get further up the mountain, it does have some rooms with views across the valley. It’s right in the middle of the historic centre and easy walking distance to the bus stop and all the top sights you’ll want to see when visiting San Marino.

If you’re arriving by bus and you do have a lot of luggage, it’s worth looking at hotels at around the same level as the bus stop. Hotel Joli is up either a short slope or up in a lift to the next street up, and from there’s it’s a nice level walk to the hotel.

If you’re arriving by car, Grand Hotel San Marino could be a good option. It’s right in front of one of the largest car parks in the city and a short, gently sloping walk from Piazzetta Garibaldi where the tourist office is.

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San Marino: Things to Do & Travel Guide for First-time Visitors

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: May 31, 2024

San Marino: Things to Do & Travel Guide for First-time Visitors

Are you thinking of visiting San Marino , but are not sure what to expect or whether San Marino is worth a trip? Or maybe you’re already set on going and are wondering what there is to see and do in San Marino and how much time you need?

This complete travel guide to San Marino, including the best things to do in San Marino, should answer all your questions. Read on!

San Marino is a real hidden gem of Europe that somehow still managed to stay under the radar of most tourists. Surrounded by such famous Italian cities as Venice , Bologna , Florence , and Rome , San Marino is often overlooked by most people visiting Italy…

I have to say that it was the same with us – it took us tens of trips to Italy before we finally visited San Marino… And now that I discovered this little gem of Europe, I want to inspire you to do the same. San Marino has so much more to offer than it looks at first sight… Find out!

Disclosure: I visited San Marino in cooperation with the San Marino tourism board . As always, all opinions and enthusiasm are my own.

Passo delle Streghe - the Witches Path in San Marino

Below you can find a short overview of all the information we cover in this article. From interesting facts about San Marino, the best things to do in San Marino, to practical information for visiting San Marino and a handy map indicating all the main landmarks and attractions….

This article contains all the information that you need in order to plan your own dream trip to San Marino. Take a look!

Visit San Marino – OVERVIEW

What is san marino.

  • Why visit San Marino
  • How much time do you need in San Marino
  • What to do in San Marino
  • Map of the main San Marino attractions
  • Practical info and tips for visiting San Marino

Incredible view from Cesta tower in San Marino

San Marino is the 5th smallest country in the world and the 3rd smallest country in Europe. Surrounded by Italy, the Republic of San Marino is actually an independent country.

Below are some more interesting facts you may want to know about San Marino as a tourist:

  • San Marino is the world’s oldest republic and was never ruled by a king. San Marino was founded in the year 301 by Christian refugee St Marinus who, together with some others, was forced to flee from Roman persecution.
  • In San Marino, any citizen who is elected for parliament can also become a president. They have had more female presidents than any other country in the world and also the world’s youngest president, just 26 years old. San Marino has two presidents every year. They change every 6 months, on the 1st of April and on the 1st of October.
  • The area of San Marino is just 61,2 km² (24 square miles). Only the following countries are smaller: Tuvalu, Nauru, Monaco, and Vatican City.
  • The population of San Marino is just over 33,000 people.
  • San Marino is completely surrounded by Italy, but it’s not part of the European Union .
  • San Marino uses the Euro as its currency . Taxes are very low in San Marino and most things are cheaper in San Marino than in Italy.
  • San Marino has 9 towns, called castelli (municipalities), but most tourists only visit one – the city of San Marino , which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Sammarinese people have their own language, the Sammarinese dialect of Romagnol, which is basically a dialect of Italian also spoken in the nearby Emilia Romagna region. The official language of San Marino is Italian.
  • You can’t buy or even rent a property in San Marino as a foreigner.

Car of the president of the Republic of San Marino at Palazzo Pubblico

Why Travel to San Marino

There are so many reasons to visit San Marino! Spectacular views, fairytale castles, picturesque medieval streets, friendly people, fantastic atmosphere, delicious food, and low prices to mention just a few…

San Marino exceeded all my expectations! Lively during the day, fairytale-like and mysterious in the evening, and simply unforgettable while exploring the castles completely on my own early in the morning…

Those who like to count countries or collect passport stamps will love San Marino as well. If interested, for a small fee you can get a really nice passport stamp at the tourist office that is located near the San Marino cable car.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Most Beautiful Fairytale Destinations in Europe

Guaita Tower in San Marino

How Much Time Do You Need to Visit San Marino

All the main landmarks of San Marino can be seen in half a day to a day. Therefore, most tourists visit San Marino as a day trip . However, I highly recommend spending at least one night in San Marino!

There are only a few places in the world where you can still have one of the most incredible UNESCO sites all to yourself, and San Marino is one of them! If you explore it early in the morning or late in the evening, without the crowds of day tourists.

If you stay in San Marino for the night, you’ll have one of the most unique places in Europe all to yourself! Imagine strolling the deserted medieval alleys, visiting historic castles, or watching a spectacular sunset with gorgeous views and nobody else around… It’s simply magical!

Cesta Tower in San Marino at night

Best Things to Do in San Marino

While most travel guides to San Marino only focus on the best things to do in San Marino city, I want you to have a more complete picture of what San Marino is about.

Therefore, in addition to the main San Marino attractions, this guide contains a few extra things to do in San Marino that you won’t find in most other guides. While not everyone might want to make an effort to explore a bit deeper, these additional suggestions will hopefully inspire those who do have a bit more time in San Marino and like some off-the-beaten-path experiences.

But first, let’s start with the best places to see and things to do in San Marino that everyone should see do . Further below, you’ll find my additional suggestions for what to do in San Marino. Read on!

Good to know: If you plan well, you can do everything mentioned below in San Marino in one day. You won’t be able to visit each and every single museum in a day, but San Marino is so small and everything is so close to each other, that one day is sufficient to visit all must-see attractions. Once again, if you can, stay in San Marino for the night. You’ll love it!

TIP: Check out this highly-rated tour of the main places in the historic city center with a local guide . It’s a good way to see all the musts in a short time.

San Marino sunset

Here are the best things to do in San Marino:

Piazza della Libertà & Palazzo Pubblico

Among the must-see places in San Marino, Piazza della Libertà with Palazzo Pubblico (which serves as the Parliament Building) is probably the most important one. This is the main town square where official celebrations, festivals, and various events are held.

At certain times, you can watch the changing of the guard ceremony. If you are lucky, you may run into the president of San Marino, as we did.

Palazzo Pubblico on Piazza della Liberta in San Marino

Medieval Streets of Città di San Marino

When people talk about visiting San Marino, they actually refer to visiting the Unesco-listed capital town, Città di San Marino , or the city of San Marino . It’s here that you’ll find the historic buildings, the famous castles, and the iconic postcard-views of San Marino.

The old town of San Marino City is a beautiful labyrinth of narrow medieval streets, historic buildings, restaurants, cafes, shops, and museums.

The best way to explore this tiny city with narrow cobbled streets is on foot. Some streets are lined with souvenir shops, cafés, and restaurants and can get really busy during the day. Some others, just off the main tourist routes, are completely empty…

The city is built on a mountain, so there are lots of staircases and narrow passageways. Take your time and just wander the streets of San Marino – there are some amazing treasures hiding behind each and every corner.

Exploring the medieval streets of the Old Town is one of the best things to do in San Marino

Visit the Three Towers of San Marino

The Three Towers of San Marino – Guaita, Cesta, and Montale – are the symbol of the Republic of San Marino. They represent San Marino’s freedom and independence and are depicted on the national flag as well as on the coat of arms of San Marino.

Visiting these iconic towers is something every San Marino visitor should do.

Read on for an overview of what to expect when visiting the towers or click on the link below for an even more detailed guide!

LEARN MORE: Three Towers of San Marino

Cesta Tower is must see in San Marino

Guaita Tower

Guaita Tower , also known as La Rocca , is the first tower you’ll come across. It’s also the first tower that was built in San Marino (some sources say it’s built in the 10th, some – in the 11th century). Most locals just refer to it as The First Tower .

The tower has been rebuilt in the 15-16th centuries when a double line of walls and a roof have been added to it.

The First Tower is the most picturesque tower in San Marino – the one you’ll see in most pictures and travel guides.

Guaita Tower (La Rocca) in San Marino

Make sure to climb up the tower – the views are simply spectacular. Just note that there are many stairs involved and the last part is actually a ladder that leads you to the top of the tower via a narrow hole in the ceiling. This last part is probably not for everyone, but if you make the effort, you’ll be rewarded with the most spectacular views of the surroundings.

TIP: Get a 2-museum ticket that gives access to the first and the second tower – it’s cheaper than buying two separate tickets (6 EUR vs. 4,5 EUR for a single ticket). There is also a ticket that includes 6 museums and is valid for 10 days. At the moment of writing, this ticket costs 10,5 Euro.

San Marino old town as seen from Guaita Tower

Cesta Tower

The Second Tower , Cesta Tower , stands on the highest peak of Mount Titano. This tower has several names as well (why make things simple, right?) and is also called Fratta or Falesia Tower .

In addition to stunning architecture and incredible views, Cesta Tower also houses a really interesting Museum of Ancient Arms . Here, you can find a big selection of ancient weapons used in San Marino around 15-17th centuries and later.

Cesta Tower and view over Montale in San Marino

Montale Tower

The third tower of San Marino sits on the Montale peak and cannot be visited. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see it and the walk between the second and the third tower takes just a few minutes.

It’s said that Montale is the most important tower of San Marino because it offers 360° views of the valley. Therefore, it always had a strategic role in defending this tiny country from the enemies.

Montale Tower in San Marino

Passo delle Streghe

Passo delle Streghe (the Witches Path) is a cobbled walkway between the Guatia Tower and the Cesta Tower. To me, this is the most beautiful place in San Marino!

As you walk from one tower to another, don’t forget to turn back several times, because the nicest view is actually looking towards the first tower. It will take your breath away!

Passo delle Streghe - the Witches Path - is the most beautiful place in San Marino

TIP: Just as you reach the lowest point of the Witches Path, turn right at the little building that now houses public bathrooms. From there, you have a great view overlooking a hole in the rock and a narrow bridge that is part of the Witches Path.

San Marino Guaita tower and a bridge over the Witches Path to Falesia tower

Basilica di San Marino

Basilica di San Marino , also called La Pieve , is a 19th-century church that was built using the foundation of the church that stood at the same location before. It’s dedicated to Saint Marinus, the founder of San Marino.

This is the biggest church in town, the one where all official ceremonies take place. It’s definitely worth a short visit.

Next to the Basilica, on the right-hand side, you’ll notice a smaller church, Chiesa di San Pietro . Inside, there are stone beds, on which according to a legend, San Marinus and San Leo rested. The doors of this church are usually open in summer, so you can take a look inside, but visits are only available upon request.

Basilica di San Marino - Pieve

San Marino Cable Car & View from Il Cantone

San Marino cable car connects Borgo Maggiore to the historical center of San Marino. It’s a short 2-minute ride that offers spectacular views over the surroundings. According to the official website, you can see 200 km of the Adriatic coast from here.

This gondola is a great way to get to San Marino if you don’t want to drive all the way up to town. But if you’re already there, you don’t really have to take it just for the views. The best view is from the terrace to the left of the cable car entrance in San Marino city.

Practical information: Single ride costs 2,8 EUR; return ticket – 4.50EUR. Discounted tickets available. Operating hours are different depending on the season. For example, in July – beginning of September, gondola runs from 7.50 AM to 1 AM, whereas in January – February only till 6.30 PM.

San Marino cable car

Cava e Loggia dei Balestrieri

Crossbowmen’s Quarry and Logggias (Cava dei Baletrieri) is an area that has been used for the extraction of stone needed for the reconstruction of the Public Palace in the 19th century. In 1966, the first Italian national crossbow tournament took place here and the area has been used for the training of San Marino’s crossbowmen ever since.

Crossbow tournaments are an ancient tradition in San Marino and they are still held here every year. These events are organized by the San Marino Crossbowmen Federation that is made up of musicians, flag throwers, figurants, and shooters.

The most important events take place between spring and autumn. In June, there is a National Competition where the best five shooters of each Castle participate. During Giornate Medievali, usually the last weekend in July, and on the 3rd of September, National Holiday dedicated to Saint Marino, there are important crossbow tournaments as well.

In addition, there are parades and other traditional celebrations during pretty much all public holidays in San Marino. So, depending on when you visit, you might be lucky with the timing and witness this colorful spectacle yourself (here you can check the events calendar to see what’s happening on your travel dates). And otherwise, it’s nice to see the Cava dei Baletrieri anyway.

Giornate Medioevali at Cava dei Baletrieri in San Marino

San Marino’s Quirky Museums

For such a small country, San Marino has a big variety of museums, including the Museum of San Francesco, Museum of Ancient Arms (located inside the second tower), Emigrant Museum, Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, and several others.

In addition to these more traditional museums, there are also several really strange ones that might be worth visiting if you have more time. See a small selection below.

TIP: Most museums offer discounts in combination with San Marino card, or hotel discount cards.

Torture museum in San Marino

Torture Museum

Museum of Medieval Criminology and Torture (Museo della Tortura) is a journey that takes you through the history of human cruelty, showing all kinds of ways and machinery used to torture people in the past. This is probably not the best place to visit in San Marino with kids. But in general, reviews are really positive and most people find this museum well worth a visit. I didn’t have the time to check it out, so I can’t comment on it myself.

Museum of Curiosities

Museum of Curiosities (Museo delle Curiosità) is much more family-friendly and a nice place to visit if you are traveling to San Marino with kids. This museum has nothing to do with San Marino, but has a big display of interesting oddities, such as statues of the world’s fattest man, tallest man, longest beard, and many others. 

Vampire Museum

Vampire Museum (Museo delle Creature della Notte – Vampiri e Licantropi) is a small fun museum about vampires, werewolves, and other horror legends. If that’s your thing, you may want to pay it a short visit when in San Marino.

Vampire Museum - one of the unusual places to see in San Marino

San Marino Tourist Train

A good way to see more of San Marino (beyond the historic center) is to take a tourist train. It brings you to places you wouldn’t see otherwise, coupled with an audio guide that gives you more information about the country and the sights along the way.

The train runs between San Marino city and Borgo Maggiore (bottom station of San Marino cable car). The one-way journey lasts just 40 minutes and you can take the cable car the other way. It’s something really nice to do if you are visiting San Marino with kids.

If interested, you can find more information about the train route here . But you can also do it without booking in advance and decide upon arrival if it’s something you want to do.

San Marino tourist train - Trenino Borgo Maggiore

San Marino Cooking Class & Museum of the Agricultural Culture

All the things to do in San Marino mentioned above are located in the historic town of San Marino. However, if you want to get a bit off the beaten tourist path, you may want to visit the Museum of the Agricultural Culture and take part in a cooking class .

The House of Fabrica in Montecchio , where the museum is located, is one of the oldest farmhouses in San Marino. It was mentioned in 1770 in the Register of the landed property of the Republic of San Marino. You can visit different rooms that show how farmers’ houses in San Marino used to look like.

Museum of the Agricultural Culture - House of Fabrica in San Marino

In addition to visiting the museum, we attended a cooking class organized by the Consorzio “Terra di San Marino”. We learned how to make the regional specialty strozzapreti (literal translation means ‘priest-choker’) and a real piadina – Italian flatbread. It’s actually really easy, doesn’t take much time, and at the end, you are rewarded with warm piadinas topped with a local Casatella cheese and acacia honey. Such a simple meal, but absolutely delicious!

Everything was so good that I couldn’t resist and bought some local specialties at their little shop. They sell all kinds of local products made by farmers in San Marino – from olive oil and flour to honey and wines.

Good to know: The museum exhibition is open to the public the whole year-round, but only for a few hours in the mornings (more info here ). If you are interested to attend a cooking lesson in San Marino, you can book it directly with Consorzio (website in Italian) or via the tourist office next to the cable car in Città di San Marino.

TIP: One of the simplest ways to book a cooking class in San Marino is on Viator .

Piadina bread with cheese and honey - made in a cooking class in San Marino

E-bike tour in San Marino

If you have a few hours to spare, it might also be fun to explore the tiny country of San Marino by e-bike . At the bottom station of San Marino Gondola, Borgo Maggiore, you can find an e-bike rental shop. They have different options for e-bike tours in San Marino, or you can just rent a bike.

This is probably not something you want to do if you only have a day in San Marino and also not something for people looking for a relaxing ride… However, if you are staying in San Marino longer and like some adventurous off-road e-biking, then give it a go.

It’s a different way to explore San Marino that brings you to some cool places that most tourists never see.

If you want to get a bit off the beaten path in San Marino, you can book an e-bike tour here . It’s best to do this in advance since the number of guided tours (and guides) is limited. And it’s also easier to plan your time this way.

E-biking in San Marino

Best Things to Do in San Marino on the Map

To help you plan your visit to San Marino, I created this map indicating all the places to see and things to do in San Marino mentioned in this article.

How to use this map:  Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.

Practical Information and Tips for Visiting San Marino

Below you can find some tips and practical information for planning your trip to San Marino. How to get to San Marino, where to eat, and where to stay in San Marino. Take a look!

Do You Need a Passport to Visit San Marino?

There is no border control between San Marino and Italy, so you don’t really need any additional travel documents that you wouldn’t need in Italy.

However, you may want to bring your passport if you want to get a San Marino tourist visa in your passport. See ‘Why Travel to San Marino’ section above for more information.

San Marino tourist visa and stamp in an American passport - visiting the Republic of San Marino

Where is San Marino

San Marino is located on the border between the Emilia Romagna region and the Marche region in Northern Italy. The closest international airport to San Marino is Bologna Airport.

To give you an idea, here are some distances and driving times from some bigger cities and nearby towns in Italy:

  • Rimini to San Marino: 20km – 30min
  • Ravenna to San Marino: 75km – 1h15
  • Bologna to San Marino: 130km – 1h30
  • Ancona to San Marino: 130km – 1h30
  • Florence to San Marino: 150km – 3hrs
  • Venice to San Marino: 280 km – 3hrs
  • Rome to San Marino: 330km – 4hrs

Empty medieval streets of San Marino

When is the Best Time to Visit San Marino

San Marino is truly a year-round destination.

In summer, it can get really busy, so if you can, I’d advise traveling in other seasons. I visited San Marino at the end of September and it was just magical! If you see pictures of San Marino covered in snow, you’ll want to come in winter…

There is really no bad time to visit San Marino, but shoulder season (the months of September or May) are probably the best months to be in San Marino. The weather is nice, everything is open, and there are fewer visitors.

READ ALSO: Best Time to Visit Europe

Amazing view over San Marino

How to Get to San Marino

The easiest way to get to San Marino is by car . There are several big car parking areas in San Marino city. Alternatively, you can leave your car in the town of Borgo Maggiore, from where you can take a cable car to Cita San Marino.

Renting a car in Italy isn’t expensive and driving outside of big cities is quite easy. You can find some of the best deals for car rental on this website . We always use this site for all our car rentals anywhere in the world and can highly recommend it.

If you are traveling in Italy by public transport , the best way to get to San Marino is by taking a bus from Rimini. There are no trains going to San Marino.

There are also private transfers available, for example, this transfer from Bologna Airport. However, the prices are usually so high that renting a car is really the best option for visiting San Marino.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Rimini

San Marino city gate at Via della Fratta

Shopping in San Marino

Since taxes are much lower in San Marino and it’s not part of the European Union, it’s a good place to go shopping if you like.

In addition to typical San Marino local specialties and souvenirs, you’ll find lots of leather products – from wallets and handbags to leather jackets and belts. It’s also a place where you can buy some incredibly cheap perfume… There are also nice clothing stores, jewelry, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.

Amaretti Morbidi - traditional pastry of San Marino

Best San Marino Restaurants

There are several really nice restaurants in San Marino. Their food is pretty much the same as in the nearby Italian regions and is absolutely delicious. San Marino also has its own wine. We tried several varieties of white and red San Marino wines during our stay and they were all excellent.

Two restaurants that I particularly recommend in the city of San Marino are Righi and La Terrazza.

Righi is San Marino’s only Michelin-star restaurant. This family-run place serves delicious food in a historic building right near the Parliament building. Ask them to show you a stone crown that was found during the renovation of the building!

La Terrazza is a restaurant located at Hotel Titano and has probably the best views in town. The food was absolutely delicious as well!

Delicious pasta in San Marino restaurant La Terrazza

Where to Stay in San Marino

I stayed at the Grand Hotel San Marino . It has a very good location in San Marino city. You can easily get there by car and then also walk to all the main points of interest in town. Another good option is Hotel Rosa.

Other highly-rated hotels with excellent location in San Marino include Hotel La Grotta , Hotel Titano , and a lower-budget option Hotel La Rocca .

However, all these are in the Old Town and not ideal if you are coming by car. You’ll probably have to leave the car at the public parking at the city gates and ask the hotel to come and pick you up. It’s not a big deal – the town is small and easy to navigate, just probably not with a big suitcase.

LEARN MORE: Best Hotels in San Marino

Hot tub at Grand Hotel San Marino with a view of the castle

So, this is our travel guide for San Marino. If you have any questions or want to share your own experience visiting San Marino, don’t hesitate to leave a reply below.

TIP: If you are traveling to San Marino, don’t miss the incredible Emilia Romagna region in Italy. It’s one of the hidden gems of Italy that most tourists never see and it’s just nearby.

For inspiration on where to go and how to plan your visit, please check our Emilia Romagna itinerary . It will bring you to some incredible places like Ravenna , Rimini , and a few others in just 2-3 days. Check it out!

READ ALSO: Best Places to Visit in Italy

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

San Marino travel guide - how to visit, what to do, and what to know before your trip

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Thursday 28th of March 2024

Just stumbled onto your blog post. I been to San Marino twice, so reading this brought back some fantastic memories, especially the views from the top looking out to the sea. Beautiful photos. :) Hope to return one day.

We hope to return too - it's such a beautiful little country!

John Sgammato

Tuesday 29th of August 2023

My wife is afraid of heights...I think San Marino looks incredible, but incredibly scary for her!

Wednesday 30th of August 2023

Hi John, I cannot really tell you how your wife would feel in San Marino, but the fact that it sits high on the hill doesn't mean that you have steep drops everywhere. It's not a dangerous place in any way, plus she can always skip climbing the towers and just enjoy the rest. Hope this helps.

Monday 15th of May 2023

Hermosa guia de San Marino, lo anotaré como mi proximo destino, muchas gracias

Tuesday 16th of May 2023

Glad to hear that you found some travel inspiration on our blog, Silvia. San Marino is definitely worth a trip!

Saturday 7th of January 2023

What is the weather like in February (like in next month)? Would like to visit and stay overnight per your recommendation.

Monday 9th of January 2023

Hi, you can never really predict the weather. Normally, it should be just above the freezing point, but it can be much warmer too. There is definitely a chance of rain and maybe even snow in February. There is really no way to tell this in advance and your best bet is to check the weather forecast a few days in advance. That being said, San Marino should be just as nice in the winter, but it will likely be VERY quiet, especially in the evening. I think it will even be quiet during the day unless it's a weekend with exceptionally beautiful weather.

Saturday 23rd of July 2022

Wonderful information. My husband and I are planning a trip to the Emilia Romagna area and then Puglia, in October. The info is priceless. Our main dilema now is getting to San Marino. Train rides have two to three stops. With two suitcases, not fun, even when we travel as light as possible. Rental car or bus (from Rimini) could be an easier possibility. We were not planning to stay in Rimini but perhaps we could do one night and take a bus. I assume there are taxis from the bus terminal to the hotels in the Old Town?

This will be our 115 country visited. Fun and exciting!

Again, thanks for the useful info.

Monday 25th of July 2022

@Jurga, thank you again for the great advise. We are now thinking of renting a car in Bologna, just to get to San Marino and back.

Happy Travels.

Hi, Laura. San Marino is indeed not the easiest place to get to without a car. You could also just rent a car for a few days in Rimini (or another place where you are traveling from). Usually, car rental in Italy is very cheap. But it all depends on when you travel/ how long in advance you book. Otherwise, yes, you can take a bus from Rimini, and I'm sure you will find taxis once you get to San Marino. Have a great trip!

This Way To Italy

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

If you’re visiting San Marino soon and planning your itinerary, we have prepared options for a day trip or a two-day stay. Stick around for our recommended San Marino itineraries.

The microstate of San Marino surrounded by Italy is a must-see because of its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful natural scenery.

Follow any of the itineraries we have in this guide, and you’ll find out why San Marino is regarded as a hidden gem. Enjoy this lovely microstate to the fullest with the help of our suggested routes. Go and explore its medieval fortress and museums, experience its vibrant cultural life, and take in its breathtaking natural environment!

  • 10 Best Things To Do in San Marino
  • Guide to San Marino: 3 Easy Ways To Travel from Italy to San Marino

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

Table of Contents

Why Visit San Marino?

San Marino is the oldest country in the world, founded a long time ago in 301 AD. It has really cool buildings, museums, and art galleries that show how special it is.

There are three amazing towers, a fancy palace called Palazzo Pubblico, and a beautiful church called Basilica di San Marino. All of them are really old and important for the country’s history and culture. If you go to San Marino, you have to see them!

San Marino is part of the fabulous Apennines, one of Italy’s mountain ranges. It has really pretty views of the mountains and the Adriatic Sea.

If you like shopping, San Marino is great because you can buy things without paying extra money because it’s a duty-free zone. There are all kinds of stores for everyone, from fancy ones to small shops with souvenirs.

If you like food, San Marino has yummy Mediterranean and Italian dishes to offer. You can find all kinds of restaurants, from casual places to fancy ones where you can have a special dinner.

If you want to experience a charming and beautiful old country, San Marino is a place you should go to. It’s a tiny country within Italy, but it offers so much to see and enjoy!

Cost of Travel to San Marino

San Marino is an inexpensive vacation destination. You’ll be happy to know that there are several low-cost options to choose from in San Marino, whether you’re going for a day trip or staying for a few days.

If you plan your trip and stick to a strict budget, you can experience everything this stunning location has to offer without breaking the bank. San Marino is cheaper than Italy, despite common notions to the contrary.

The costs per day in San Marino are 19% lower than in Italy, making a vacation there a more attractive option. You won’t be disappointed by the low prices of meals and public transportation in San Marino.

Neither the entry fees nor the cost of accommodations in San Marino will leave you strapped for cash. You may relax about money and focus on having a good time on your trip. Spending more than a day in San Marino will cost you between €50 and €100. That sum will cover your lodging, meals, transportation, and attraction fees.

It is worth noting that San Marino has a GDP per capita that is on par with the world’s richest countries. That’s why everybody thinks it’s a rich and successful nation.

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

Recommended Length of Stay in San Marino

San Marino is a tiny country, so you can see a lot in just one day. But it’s better to stay for two days to enjoy everything fully without rushing.

Here are some suggested plans for your visit, but you can change them if you want. They’re just ideas to help you.

No matter how long you stay in San Marino, you’ll have amazing memories to cherish.

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

One Day in San Marino

If you’re thinking of visiting San Marino but just have a day to spare, here’s our recommended itinerary.

• Start your San Marino tour at the historic center

The historic center of San Marino is a World Heritage Site and a place to start your day. Check out the three towers and the twisting lanes that give this town a medieval feel.

• Next, visit the Palazzo Pubblico

After exploring the historic center, head to the Palazzo Pubblico, the seat of government in San Marino. Beautiful frescoes adorn the walls of the Hall of the Great and General Council, where tourists may also catch the noontime changing of the guard.

• Check out the Basilica del Santo

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

After the Palazzo Pubblico, you must check out the Basilica del San Santo, the city’s largest church. Inside you can find breathtaking landscape paintings and vistas.

• Grab a bite of the regional specialties

After you’ve seen these old town sites, why not get a bite at one of the numerous restaurants in the area?

If you want to experience authentic local cuisine, you must try the regional specialties. Tortellini al brodo, a dish of delicious dumplings in a hearty broth, is not to be missed. You shouldn’t pass on the crescia sfogliata, a type of flatbread, either.

• Climb up the Mount Titano

An excellent afternoon activity is taking the cable car to the summit of Mount Titano. From that height, you have a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape and the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea. It’s experiences like this that will make your journey to Mount Titano unforgettable.

• See the Three Towers of San Marino

You simply must see the Guaita Tower, the Cesta Tower, and the Montale Tower. These are the three most well-known structures in San Marino, symbolizing the republic.

• Enjoy dinner at a trattoria

Afterward, head back to the historic district and eat at one of the numerous cozy trattorie (eateries) there. Don’t miss out on trying some of the best wines in the world, all of which come from the rolling hills of San Marino.

• Check out San Marino’s nightlife

Check out the vibrant nightlife after dinner. San Marino has many bars and clubs to suit a variety of tastes. If you’re searching for a lively environment and a good time, this is the place to be especially on the weekend.

NOTE : If you plan on taking public transportation to and from San Marino, be careful to research when buses and trains run. Doing so ensures that you won’t have to wait long to get to and from San Marino.

Two Days in San Marino

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

To maximize your time in San Marino for a two-day trip, check out this itinerary recommendation.

• Eat upon arrival

You should arrive in San Marino by late morning, so settle into your hotel first before exploring the historic district. You may choose to enjoy some authentic San Marino cuisine before checking out what San Marino has to offer.

• Walk around the old town center

The Palazzo Pubblico, Basilica di San Marino, and Torre Civica can all be found in the Piazza della Libertà, the bustling heart of San Marino and a must-visit area.

• Explore the important structures

Don’t miss out on the chance to explore the government building, main church, and city tower while you’re there – they’re sure to impress. Be sure to swing by in the afternoon to fully appreciate the energy and excitement of this bustling square.

• Visit the museums

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

Explore museums here and there to gain new knowledge about San Marino’s history and culture.

Museums abound in San Marino, showcasing the rich history and culture of this enchanting country. Take a break from sightseeing and immerse yourself in the exhibits that each of San Marino’s fine museums has to offer.

Here are some of the best museums in San Marino worth checking out:

  • San Marino’s National Museum boasts an impressive collection spanning from the Neolithic period to the 17th century and beyond, artfully arranged across four floors. This inexpensive must-see venue is a fantastic opportunity to gain insight into the progression of San Marino’s rich history and culture.
  • The Museum of Curiosities in San Marino is an oddity that spans three levels. Visitors can observe the largest person ever documented and a variety of wooden clogs. While the museum lacks exhibits featuring the country’s past, it’s still worth browsing through the fascinating objects on display.
  • The Museum of Torture showcases instruments used as torture devices from various times, numbering over a hundred. In this strange but fascinating museum, you will learn about the use of these implements for executing individuals accused of witchcraft, criminal activity, and conspiring against the government.

• Have dinner at a trattoria

After you visit San Marino’s museums, you can call it a day with a meal in one of San Marino’s various trattorias (trattorie) . Have some good local wine before you rest early to get ready for an adventure-filled Day 2.

• Trek the Mount Titano

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

Start your day with a trek up to the summit of Mount Titano, San Marino’s highest mountain. Enjoy the peaceful setting and the fresh mountain air as you make your ascent.

As you enjoy the revitalizing exercise, you’ll be amazed by the beauty of your surroundings.

Upon reaching the peak, you will be treated to a beautiful panorama of the picturesque landscape surrounding it.

• Enjoy the views from the Rocca Guaita

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

In the afternoon, Visit the Rocca Guaita, one of the three towers that protect the beautiful city of San Marino.

Just by looking up at the tower, you may get a sense of the region’s rich history and traditions. The Rocca Guaita Tower stands out among the rest since it is the oldest and most well-known of the area’s towers. From here, you’ll enjoy incredible, 360-degree vistas of San Marino and the Adriatic.

• Have an early dinner

You simply can’t have enough of San Marino’s cuisine, so enjoy an early dinner to end your Day 2 in this beautiful microstate. Choose from a variety of restaurants perfect for a memorable meal.

More Activities

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

Here are more activities to include in a day trip or 2-day stay in San Marino.

• Ride the cable car for fantastic views of San Marino

The San Marino gondola provides service to the Borgo Maggiore station at the mountain’s foot, making it one of the most practical ways to get to the capital city. Only two minutes long, this trip up to the downtown area gives a relaxing mode of transportation with fantastic views of the Adriatic coast.

Note that you should always check for the most up-to-date schedule and prices on San Marino’s official website.

If you’d like to take in the sights without hopping on the cable car, head up to the terrace in San Marino, which is conveniently positioned close to the cable car station.

• Shop duty-free

Before you head back to Italy, be sure to visit many duty-free shops while in San Marino.

Tax and duty-free shopping in San Marino is famous among avid shoppers. You can pick up some trinkets like silver jewelry and scarves as well as some of the local wine and produce to enjoy on the flight back home.

Where To Stay in San Marino

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

There are a variety of places to stay in San Marino if you’re planning a visit. Despite its size, San Marino offers a wide range of accommodation options for visitors. These range from hotels and B&Bs to apartments and campgrounds.

Several five-star hotels in San Marino cater to those with a penchant for the finer things in life. These hotels are typically found in the heart of the city, making them convenient for visitors who like to be close to all the sights.

There are also several low-cost alternatives for travelers on a budget. These establishments are typically not centrally placed, but they do provide a more genuine taste of San Marino.

Renting a villa or property, meanwhile, may be a great option for large groups or families. If you’re looking to save money without sacrificing comfort, this is the way to go.

Last but not least, camping is a great option for nature lovers. Campgrounds in San Marino are known for their peaceful environment and breathtaking scenery.

Now that we’ve given you an idea about your lodging choice in San Marino, here are some highly recommended accommodations to help you decide:

• La Grotta Hotel

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

Rating : 8.9 Fabulous Location : Contrada Santa Croce, 17, 47890 Città di San Marino, San Marino

This centrally located hotel offers spacious family rooms and a convenient shuttle service to Rimini, making it the ideal base for your next adventure. You’ll love being just a stone’s throw away from the city’s main square, where you can soak up the local culture and enjoy all the sights and sounds of this vibrant destination.

• Garden Village San Marino

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

Rating : 8.0 Very Good Location : Strada di S. Michele, 50, 47893 Città di San Marino, San Marino

This property is nestled in a lush garden, providing a serene atmosphere for their guests. Garden Village San Marino is also a pet-friendly establishment, so you can bring your furry friends along for the adventure. Take a dip in the refreshing pool area or participate in one of its many sports and activities.

There’s something for everyone here. Plus, the location boasts proximity to bus stops, providing effortless access to both the city center and Rimini.

• Titano Suites

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

Rating : 8.6 Fabulous Location : Contrada del Collegio, 21, 47890 Città di San Marino, San Marino

The luxurious Titano Suites, meanwhile, is an exquisite hotel located in the heart of San Marino. Indulge in the ultimate relaxation experience at the wellness center and savor delectable cuisine at the on-site restaurant. Titano Suites is just a few meters away from San Marino’s Basilica and offers easy access to this iconic landmark.

San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

More Reminders

Apart from everything mentioned above, there are more things you must consider when planning a trip to San Marino.

You should visit this tiny country within Italy during spring (April to May) or fall (September to October), when the weather in San Marino is mild and the countryside is at its prettiest.

Book your lodging and activities in advance. This way, you can make the most of your trip in San Marino, especially if you’re visiting during the peak seasons.

You can easily explore the main sights of San Marino by walking, especially the historic city center. For leisurely travelers, the public transport system and taxis are also easily accessible.

If you worry about the language barrier, don’t. Yes, Italian is the main language in San Marino, but English is understood and spoken by many people as well.

Make friends with the locals. They are friendly and approachable. Mingling with them will make you enjoy the tiny country’s rich culture easily.

The Crazy Tourist

Home » Travel Guides » San Marino » 15 Best Places to Visit in San Marino

15 Best Places to Visit in San Marino

When people say that good things come in small packages, they may well be talking about San Marino, the oldest sovereign state in the world that measures just 61 metres squared. The Republic of San Marino, or the Serene Republic of San Marino as it is poetically also known, is an independent state in the centre of Italy, nestled next to the Apennine Mountains with views as far as the Dalmatian Coast.

San Marino is the third smallest country in Europe after Vatican City and Monaco , but you will find everything from forests, fortress towers, and shopping malls, to medieval markets and Olympic stadiums in this quirky and unique part of the world.

Let’s have a look at the best places to visit in San Marino !

1. Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta

Rocca Guaita

Perhaps the best known of all of San Marino’s attractions, Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta are two fortress towers situated on a ridge at the summit of Mount Titano.

The towers are part of a set of three that feature on the official flag of San Marino, and visitors can visit and tour the towers, the earliest of which, Rocca Guaita, dates from the 13th century. The two towers are usually visited together and Torre Cesta has a traditional weaponry museum on site.

From the top of the towers there are stunning views that stretch as far as the Dalmatian Coast, as well as over the nearby Apennines. On top of Mount Titano, and surrounding the towers, you will find food and drink stands, souvenir stalls, and tourist kiosks.

2. Torre del Montale

Torre del Montale

The third tower atop Mount Titano, Torre del Montale, can be accessed by walking a little further along the bluff from Torre Cesta and Rocca Guaita.

Torre del Montale is sadly not open to the public, but it is well worth making the trip along the marked footpath that skirts the ridge of Mount Titano to see it, as you will find even more spectacular views over San Marino, as well as several quaint spots to relax with a picnic as you take in the unspoilt scenary.

3. Mount Titano

View from Mount Titano

Aside from the main path that leads to the tower, there are other marked walking trails that take you through picturesque and lush woodlands that give you a different perspective to the more crowded city centre down below.

You will find old stone benches dotting the mountain that are the ideal place to relax as you take in the vistas, and as Mount Titano is found at an elevation of 750 metres above sea level, the mountain air is crisp and bracing, so be prepared for it to be cooler than the lower regions of the state and plan accordingly.

4. The Museums

Museum of Torture in San Marino

San Marino, the capital city of which is also called San Marino, may be small but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a lot going on in terms of the museum scene, and anyone who likes a stroll around an exhibition won’t be disappointed here.

San Marino seems to specialise in quirky museum topics and with that in mind, and apart from the National Museum, there are a whole host of niche museums to visit on a trip here. One of these is the Museum of Torture, featuring a range of torture devices through the ages that is a slightly macabre but highly interesting place to visit.

If you are in the mood for something a little lighter then you can head to the Wax Museum that features a wide selection of famous historical characters through the ages as well as several nods to the history of San Marino so you can learn about its development and influencers at the same time.

There is even a coin and stamp museum for those who want to learn about the history of the currency and postage of San Marino.

Faetano

The town of Faetano is one of the nine communes that make up the catelli of San Marino and used to be part of neighbouring Rimini in Italy until it became part of San Marino in the 15th century.

A sleepy area of San Marino with little over 1,000 inhabitants, visitors make the trip to Faetano to see the Church of San Paolo Apostolo as well as the quaint town hall.

Visitors can spend a tranquil day wandering the small streets of Faetano and taking in the local atmosphere as well as trying some of the local food and wines.

6. Montegiardino

Montegiardino

Another of the nine communes of San Marino, Montegiardino is most famous for being a university town, the only one in San Marino in fact, and home to the University of the Republic of San Marino.

The town is often described as the most beautiful of all San Marino and it has the relaxed and intellectual vibe of university towns the world over.

Said to date from the Roman period, Montegiardino is stepped in history and you can enjoy the well established cafe culture here as you while away a few hours trying the local food and drink including special flat bread sandwiches called piadina that are also popular in the neighbouring provinces of Italy.

7. Borgo Maggiore

Borgo Maggiore

Borgo Maggiore started life as a sleepy village and has grown into the modern town which is one the largest residential areas in San Marino. Borgo Maggiore is most famous for its street markets that are held every Thursday from early in the morning until around 2pm.

The first markets ever held in Borgo Maggiore (previously known as Mercatale) are said to have taken place in the 13th century, so if you come here know that you are shopping in a place with a long and proud history. The markets used to sell cattle but in the present day you are more likely to find fresh local produce and household wares as well as arts and crafts from the region.

The town is also connected to the city of San Marino by a funicular which allows you to enjoy the beautiful vistas over the state as you ascend.

8. Serravalle

Serravalle

Another of the castelli of San Marino, Serravalle is the largest municipality in the state and lies at the foot of the Apennine Mountains. The town dates from medieval times and was previously a small village named ‘The Village of the Elm Trees’.

Places of interest in Serravalle are the Serravalle Castle which feature on the castello’s coat of arms, as well as Saint Andrea’s Church built in the 19th century.

In terms of modern architecture, check out the Olympic Stadium, something of a misnomer and not actually linked to the Olympic Games, but rather the national stadium used predominately for football matches.

  • 9.  The Festivals

San Marino Medieval Days Festival

If you enjoy festivals and happen to be visiting San Marino during the month of July, then you will have plenty of choice, as the state features the renowned San Marino Jazz Festival in the city of Borgo Maggiore, as well as the Adriatic Music Festival.

For something more quirky, look out for the Medieval Days festival which features period costumes, food, games, and arts and crafts as San Marino goes back to its roots and celebrates all things medieval in the state.

  • 10.  Piazza della Liberta

Piazza della Liberta

Come to Piazza della Liberta for one of San Marino’s best loved traditions, the changing of the guard ceremony with the Guardie di Rocca.

The Guardie are known for their green uniforms and red pompom hats, and the changing of the guard happens on the hour every hour during daylight hours in the summer months.

After you have enjoyed this engaging traditional spectacle, head down the single main street that leads off Piazza della Liberta which is packed with restaurants, cafes, and charming boutiques that sell local handicrafts including San Marino’s most famous items, its duty-free products and exquisite ceramics.

  • 11.  Dogana

Dogana

The town of Dogana is found in the north of San Marino near the border with Rimini and as such the town is used as the main entry and exit point for visitors wishing to travel to San Marino.

The name Dogana literally translates as ‘Customs House’ although there are no border checkpoints as you enter or exit San Marino, and the main buses that run from Italy into the state usually stop at several shopping malls that are located in Dogana.

Here you can pick up duty-free items and souvenirs including local arts and crafts products.

  • 12.  National Museum

San Marino National Museum

Wander down to Palazzo Pergami Belluzzi where you will find the National Museum that has an eclectic mix of Neolithic pieces, Roman artefacts, and even Egyptian and Byzantine historical works.

The museum also features a range of artwork dating from as early as the 17th century as well as early examples of San Marino currency. There are over 5,000 excellently preserved and presented curiosities in the National Museum which will take you through the history of San Marino as well as that of the wider region.

The museum has been supported over the years by a great many prominent Italian public figures, from politicians, to artists, to celebrities, and many of the works on display here are the result of donations.

  • 13.  The restaurants of San Marino city

Restaurant in San Marino

The food in San Marino is, as you would expect, heavily influenced by Italian flavours and ingredients, with an emphasis on pasta dishes, fresh local produce, and plenty of flowing wine.

Distinctly Sammarinese however, are Faggioli con le cotiche, a kind of bean and bacon soup that is perfect for the milder winter months, as well as Torta Tre Monti, a favourite Sammarinese desert.

Many visitors from surrounding Italy also come to San Marino for two famous products, the wine and the local truffles which are quite the delicacy here. The city of San Marino is said to have some of the best restaurants in the whole of the state.

  • 14.  Palazzo Pubblico

Palazzo Pubblico

Palazzo Pubblico is easily recognisable in San Marino due to its Gothic style and the ornate facade. Palazzo Pubblico is the official Town Hall of the state and all the main government events and ceremonies take place here.

The building is made from stone taken from neighbouring Mount Titano, and dates from the 1800s. As you approach you will notice a square clock tower that tops the building and features battlements that echo Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

Well worth a visit, there is a staircase located inside the building that leads to the top tower.

  • 15.  Basilica di San Marino

Basilica di San Marino

Dating from the early part of the nineteenth century, the Basilica di San Marino was actually built upon the remains of a Roman church that originally stood in the fourth century.

The Basilica is famous for housing the bones of the patron saint of San Marino, Saint Marinus, which are stored in an urn, and there is a high alter that features a statue of the saint.

The basilica has seven alters in all that are ornate and intricate in design, and visitors should also take the time to explore the paintings within Basilica di San Marino which are exquisite in their craftsmanship.

15 Best Places to Visit in San Marino:

  • Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta
  • Torre del Montale
  • Mount Titano
  • The Museums
  • Montegiardino
  • Borgo Maggiore
  • Destinations
  • Winery Directory

San Marino Itinerary: Top Things to Do in San Marino This Year

Beautiful aerial view taken while visiting San Marino

San Marino is a tiny country completely landlocked by Italy and situated on the slopes of Mount Titano in the Apennine Mountain range near the Adriatic Sea . It’s one of the world’s smallest countries with a claim to being the oldest surviving republic. This micro-state spanning 23.6 square miles is the third smallest country in Europe after Vatican City and Monaco. It contains rich history, medieval fortifications, charm, dramatic views, and of course, wine.

Where to Stay in San Marino

San marino’s three towers, get your passport stamped, take a sammarinese wine tour.

A Little History

Legend claims that this little country was founded in 301 by Saint Marinus, a Christian from Dalmatia who climbed up Mount Titano to escape religious persecution. He traveled to Rimini as a stonemason, went to the nearby Mount Titano to collect stone from quarries, and ultimately spent his life on top of the mountain. Saint Marinus was gifted the mountain in gratitude for his performing of a miracle. Upon his death in 301 he gave the land to those living among him.

San Marino Itinerary

Extending your stay in Italy to tour this beautiful enclave is very doable since San Marino is nearby to many frequently visited Italian cities . By car, San Marino is ~35 minutes from Rimini, ~1 hour and 45 minutes from Bologna, ~3 hours and 15 minutes from Florence or Venice , or ~4 hours from Milan .

Two days should be sufficient to explore this tiny country and make it to their winery. Since San Marino is quite small, if you are only visiting for a day trip , as many do, you should be able to see most everything on a cursory level.

If you do plan on visiting San Marino as a day trip, we highly recommend booking a privately guided tour with Curioseety , led by a local, to make the most of UNESCO-listed San Marino.

should i visit san marino

Getting to San Marino

Visitors to San Marino first need to travel to Italy since San Marino does not have an airport and is surrounded by Italy. The closest international airport providing service to San Marino is the Rimini Airport . You can search for the best deals on flights here .

Once in Italy, renting a car to drive to San Marino may be the most convenient option as there is no train station in San Marino. Remember to bring your International Driving Permit .

If private transfers are your preference, some operators offer this service from Rimini to San Marino and can drop you off at the hotel of your choice.

To get to the capital city, you will drive right up the steep, winding mountain road. Public parking within walking distance to the historic old town is well-marked. If you’re not staying in the historic center and prefer not to drive all the way up, you can take the short 2-minute cable car up from Borgo Maggiore .

If you are traveling via public transportation, you can take a train to Rimini railway station with Trenitalia and then take a bus to San Marino with Bonelli Bus .

Things to Know Before You Go

Transitioning from Italy to San Marino will be smooth as San Marino’s official language is Italian , the currency is the Euro even though not a member of the EU, driving is on the right side of the road , the cuisine has many similarities, and there’s no formal border control .

The Hotel La Grotta, San Marino is a charming boutique family friendly hotel arranged over 3 floors conveniently located in historic San Marino walking distance to all the top sites. For those traveling with babies, we were able to reserve a Pack n Play.

For more hotel options, search San Marino hotel deals on TripAdvisor . If you stay in San Marino, ensure your hotel gives you the free Tutto San Marino card to receive discounts on museum admission prices.

Best Things to Do in San Marino

Book tickets for things to do in san marino online, where to eat.

As you walk around, you’ll pass plenty of restaurants, many of which offer great views. La Terrazza is currently ranked as one of the best restaurants in San Marino. For a truly unique dining experience, dine in a cave at Il Piccolo .

One challenge we encounter while traveling to Europe with babies is that we need to dine early to get the babies in bed and many restaurants don’t reopen for dinner until after 7 pm. La Gatta , next door to Hotel La Grotta, served dinner early and was a great option for families traveling with young children.

Touring San Marino, San Marino

Mount Titano, rising 2,425 ft., and the historic center of San Marino are a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Being that the historic center located in San Marino’s capital city, also known as San Marino, is located on top of a mountain, breathtaking panoramic views of the below countryside surround you from nearly every corner. We highly recommend this private guided tour of the city center led by local resident Sarah.

As you explore fortresses, churches, museums, walk through centuries old gates, shop duty free, and try Sammarinese wines, you may be reminded of a time when Italy and other parts of Europe were made up of independent city-states.

Comfy shoes are recommended as you tour the historic center as there is little flat ground. Expect a lot of uphill walking over streets made of uneven and varying sizes of stone, and lots of rugged stone steps.

Three defensive fortifications are perched on top of Mount Titano’s three peaks in the capital city. They’re connected by medieval stone walls and cobbled paths. These towers are the symbol of the country, and were the first thing that caught our eye as we approached San Marino. They are portrayed on the national flag, the coat of arms, and inspired the Sammarinese traditional cake, Torta Tre Monti (meaning “Three Mountain Cake”).

The Guaita Tower (also known as Rocca or the First Tower), the oldest and the most famous and impressive of the towers, was originally built in the 11th century. At Guaita Tower, you are surrounded by stunning panoramic views to the below countryside, and all the way to the Adriatic Sea on clear days.

There is a pathway connecting the first two towers called Passo delle Streghe , translating to mean the Witches Path. If you are walking from the first to the second tower, make sure to turn around throughout your walk for the better view.

If you only have time or energy to climb up to one of the towers, climb up to the Cesta Tower (also known as Fratta or the Second Tower) constructed on the highest peak of the mountain in the 13th century. From this tower, you can capture the quintessential image of San Marino with the dominating Guaita Tower in the backdrop resting on Mount Titano. The Museum of Ancient Weapons is also here.

The Montale Tower  (the Third Tower) isn’t open to the public, but you may enjoy the walk and continued scenic overlooks. While it is the smallest of the towers, historically this tower aided San Marino’s defense as it has an optimal lookout position.

More Things To Do in San Marino

For being such a tiny country, I was surprised by the number and variety of museums ranging from historical, artsy, and to the somewhat peculiar, including the State Museum , the Wax Museum with historical wax characters, Torture Museum , Museum of Ancient Weapons (in the Cesta Tower), Vampire Museum , Museum of Curiosities  and Museum of the Emigrants .

Winetraveler Tip : If you plan on visiting multiple museums, make sure to get the Multi-Museum Pass (€10.50) that covers the admission for the First Tower, Second Tower, Saint Francis Art Gallery, State Museum, the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, and the Public Palace when open to the public.

The Basilica of San Marino, a Catholic Church, built in 1836 in neoclassical style is dedicated to the country’s founder, Saint Marinus, with a porch surrounded by columns at its entrance. This church was built on the same spot as a much older church and contains the relics of Saint Marinus. Other nearby churches to see include the Small Church of St. Peter and the St. Francis Church.

Palazzo Pubblico

Meaning Public Palace, Palazzo Pubblico is San Marino’s official government building and its town hall. Depending on the time of your visit, you may witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony from here. We visited in late November and were informed this happens during the summer.

Many come to San Marino for shopping as taxes are lower. The most memorable items I noticed aside from commonplace souvenirs, clothing, handbags, jewelry, ceramics, and wine were an abundance of weapons.

Festivals & Events

For those who love festivals and events, San Marino schedules quite a few throughout the year. You can look up upcoming events here .

If adding a San Marino tourist visa on your passport is desirable to you, you can acquire one for a fee at the Tourist Information Office.

Trying wine from San Marino, known as Sammarinese wine, should be a “must-do” for all Winetravelers during a stay in San Marino, especially since tasting Sammarinese wine outside of the country may be very challenging. Winemaking has been an integral part of San Marino’s history for centuries. In 1979, Consorzio Vini Tipici di San Marino, now known as Cantina di San Marino, was established, and is the only entity producing wine in San Marino.

Sammarinese Wine

Visit cantina di san marino.

Trying wine from San Marino, known as Sammarinese wine , should be a “must-do” for all Winetravelers during a stay in San Marino, especially since tasting Sammarinese wine outside of the country may be very challenging. Winemaking has been an integral part of San Marino’s history for centuries. In 1979, Consorzio Vini Tipici di San Marino, now known as Cantina di San Marino , was established, and is the only entity producing wine in San Marino.

This winery produces approximately 6500 hectoliters of wine per year based on coordinating with and collecting grapes from ~100 local farmers who grow and sell the grapes to the consortium across ~120 hectares. To put this quantity in perspective, that equates to a volume of more than 866,000 standard 750 ml bottles, but not all the wine is bottled and some is sold in bulk at the winery. The main grape varieties include Sangiovese for red wines, Biancale and Ribolla for white wines, and Moscato for sweeter white wines. Wines in San Marino can also be made with  popular grapes such as Chardonnay , Cabernet Sauvignon , and Merlot .

Staying in San Marino for two days should allow time for a visit to San Marino’s winery Cantina di San Marino, as long as you’re visiting during the week or on a Saturday morning. The weekday hours are from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm, and then from 2:30 pm until 6:30 pm; and from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm on Saturdays. The winery is closed on Sundays. No reservation is required for a simple tasting in their shop of one or two wines. To sit in their tasting room and visit the winery, contact the winery at least 2-3 days in advance.

If visiting the winery isn’t possible due to timing/scheduling, you will easily be able to purchase bottles as Sammarinese wine is sold all over in the shops lining the timeless streets.

One of the best ways to experience Sammarinese wine from Cantina di San Marino around the city is to take a 2-hour wine and food tasting walk with local Nico . You’ll get the inside scoop on the best wine bars and restaurants in San Marino. We purchased a couple of bottles from a boutique wine shop where we were able to find higher end Sammarinese wines that were still very reasonably priced. You should also try wines while dining in San Marino as the winery produces certain wines exclusively sold to restaurants.

Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting San Marino

How long should i spend in san marino.

Two days should be sufficient to explore this tiny country and make it to their winery. Since San Marino is quite small, if you are only visiting for a day trip , as many do, you should be able to see most everything on a cursory level. If you do plan on visiting San Marino as a day trip , we highly recommend booking a privately guided tour with Curioseety , led by a local, to make the most of UNESCO-listed San Marino.

Is San Marino worth visiting?

San Marino, an independent nation surrounded by Italy, is certainly worth visiting for its rich history, unique architecture, and breathtaking views. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Marino’s historic center and Mount Titano offer a captivating atmosphere and a glimpse into the past. The Three Towers of San Marino, situated atop Mount Titano, provide stunning panoramic views of the Italian countryside and the Adriatic Sea. The country also boasts impressive architecture, such as the Palazzo Pubblico, the Basilica di San Marino, and ancient defensive walls. For those interested in shopping, San Marino presents a unique duty-free shopping experience, featuring local artisan shops with traditional Sammarinese crafts and souvenirs.

Can you do San Marino as a day trip?

Easily accessible from nearby Italian cities like Bologna, Florence, or Rimini, San Marino is an ideal day trip destination for travelers looking to explore a distinct culture and country.

What are the best things to do in San Marino?

In San Marino, visitors can indulge in a variety of engaging activities that showcase the country’s rich history, beautiful landscapes, and unique culture. A must-see attraction is the historic city center, where you can wander through medieval streets, admiring well-preserved buildings and structures. While there, don’t miss the iconic Three Towers of San Marino – Guaita, Cesta, and Montale – perched on the peaks of Mount Titano. These towers provide not only fascinating insights into the country’s past but also panoramic views of the surrounding region. Another remarkable site is the Palazzo Pubblico, the seat of San Marino’s government, which features striking architecture and hosts the official ceremonies of the Republic. Nearby, the Basilica di San Marino, dedicated to the country’s patron saint, is a splendid example of neoclassical architecture and houses important religious relics. History enthusiasts will enjoy the State Museum, which showcases a diverse collection of archaeological artifacts, art pieces, and historical items related to San Marino and its people. For those who appreciate the outdoors, San Marino offers scenic walking trails around Mount Titano and through its natural parks, allowing visitors to explore the beautiful landscapes and take in the fresh mountain air. Finally, don’t forget to take advantage of the duty-free shopping opportunities in San Marino, where you can find a wide range of products, from electronics to local crafts, at competitive prices.

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Very informative and well written article. Not too much, nor too little detail, just perfect to help with trip planning. Thank you 🙂

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Directionally Challenged Traveler

Ultimate Travel Guide to Visiting San Marino

San Marino is a micro-country completely surrounded by Italy, but is independent from Italy. Nestled in the mountains of the Adriatic Sea a few hours south of Venice, it’s often overlooked by travelers. It’s the oldest country in the world and has incredible things to do (not to mention breathtaking views!). Here’s your Ultimate Guide to Visiting San Marino!

When I brought up the idea of stopping in San Marino during an Italian road trip , my husband looked at me confused. We had talked about the big cities, like Rome, but we weren’t quite at the “smaller” stops. It’s easy to be confused; San Marino is one of the oldest and smallest countries in the world. Needless to say, many people have not heard of a 23 sq mi city that is completely surrounded by Italy.

Read more about San Marino & get your free travel guide

If you like this post, be sure to sign up for my e-mail list for travel inspiration (and get your FREE budget printable), or connect with me on Facebook , Instagram , Twitter , or Pinterest .

This post contains affiliate links. This means if you purchase something I may make a small commission at no cost to you. This helps keep the post running and free.

If you want a guide to show you around this impressive country, I recommend these tours:

  • Historical Center Private Tour
  • Audio Guide Historic Walking Tour
  • Guided Tour of the UNESCO Historic Center of San Marino

Sunset over San Marino.  Ultimate Guide to Visiting San Marino.

If you’re near Venice , then I highly suggest spending one night in San Marino! There are two ways to get to San Marino from Venice. One is inland and goes through Bologna. The other, which we took, is the coastal drive. Since it’s Italy, either drive would be beautiful. We got to stop in Rimini, a lovely beach vacation town for lunch and soft-serve ice cream at an adorable shop. We even dipped our feet in the Adriatic Sea!

San Marino History

San Marino is one of three countries completely surrounded by another country. The other two are Vatican City and Lesotho.  It’s also the oldest country in the world, with its founding date being September 3rd, 301! This small but fierce country has survived over 1,700 years, has low unemployment rates, and has no national debt. The people who live in San Marino are not “Italians” – they are referred to as Sammarinese. They are very proud of their independence from Italy. This is one of the coolest things about visiting San Marino.

Fun fact: San Marino is also the only country that has more vehicles than people.

San Marino  castle on Mount Titano.

Upon arriving in San Marino, it is hard to miss the castle looming at the top of the mountain.  That is to say: it is surprisingly easy to miss . When you’re looking for sharp features jutting up from the surrounding flatlands, there are a few in the area and I have to admit we took a wrong turn (this shouldn’t surprise you, as the blog states, I am directionally challenged). San Marino is the largest one. One of the best things to do in San Marino is to get your passport stamped at the visitor’s center at the bottom of the mountain. It’s a stamp not many people have!

Fun Fact: San Marino is not part of the European Union although they do use the euro as currency.

Things to do in san marino.

Like its name “The Most Serene Republic of San Marino” the country boasts a beautiful green landscape of rolling hills. One of the best things to do in San Marino is to enjoy the views! The towering walls of the town often have peeks into the countryside giving you a chance to look wherever you are!

Piazza Della Liberta

San Marino Guard. Photo by Laranzo on Flickr.

This is the most popular public square in San Marino. There are a number of shops in the square and places to eat. The Palazzo Pubblico, San Marino’s town hall and iconic building are also located here. You can even see the changing of the guard here.

Climb the Three Towers

This is easily my favorite thing to do and an absolute must-do! There are three towers that overlook the city and the countryside. They’re at the top of Monte Wear comfortable shoes as the roads are hilly and uneven.

The tower walls while walking up to the San Marino towers.  Ultimate Guide to Visiting San Marino.

It’s a 30 degree uphill walk, so be sure to enjoy the sights and visit the few shops that dot the way.

Read More: Venice in One Day

Guaita Tower

Climbing the towers is one of the best things to do in San Marino, but the stairs are quite steep!

Guaita Tower is the oldest and grandest of the three. Built during the 11th century, it also packs a lot of history. To get to the top, there is a very steep “staircase” – which is more like a ladder. Good to know if you’re afraid of heights like me!

View of the countryside in a break in the tower of San Marino

Cesta Tower

The Cesta Tower is on the highest peak of Monte Titano. There is a museum inside displaying an impressive collection of weapons. The weapons date back to medieval times and continue to the present day.

This museum also showcases how San Marino stood through wars, and cultural impacts, and yet still maintained its independence.  It’s interesting to see all of the history in this tiny country.

should i visit san marino

Fun Fact: The three towers of Monte Titano are boasted on the San Marino flag and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Montale tower.

In complete honesty, we were going to go here as well, but we were short on time. There’s no entrance into the actual tower. In addition, you have to walk downstairs for about ten minutes and through some woods to get to it. It is currently not open to tourists (as of 2022).

Read more: Fun facts about San Marino

Museums in San Marino

There is a National Museum of San Marino which is home to everything San Marino! Learn about the long history and the current issues facing the country today. Across the street from Hotel Cesare (where we stayed) is the Torture Museum as well. There’s also a Museum of Curiosity and the World of Leonardo. When visiting San Marino, you’ll realize that this country is small, but not boring!

Fun Fact: San Marino made Abraham Lincoln an honorary citizen.

Cava dei balestrieri.

This is a crossbowman’s quarry carved out of rock. If you’re lucky you can watch a performance of the federation of crossbowmen. It’s also home ot the Crossbowmen’s Palio which takes place every year on September 3rd as part of the national holiday.

should i visit san marino

After climbing up and down the hills all day, we were hungry, so we decided to go through the shops and check out the cafes for dinner.  I’m semi-ashamed (I would be fully ashamed, but it was delicious) to say that my first pizza in “Italy” was actually in San Marino, but it was SO GOOD.  I got the four cheese and it was amazing. After dinner, we walked back to our hotel and relaxed at the hotel. There was nothing better than enjoying some local wine with a view.

The sunset view with a bottle of wine at Hotel Cesare.

Where to stay in San Marino

It wouldn’t be a guide to visiting San Marino without our hotel recommendation! We made the very intense drive up the mountain around hairpin turns to our hotel: The Hotel Cesare . If you’re going to stay in San Marino, your best bet is to stay at the top of the mountain. I do believe you should spend a night here, but if you’re short on time, a day trip from Bologna is doable. It’s a 2-hour drive from Bologna (one way). You’ll have an easy walk to the castle, the restaurants, and of course the amazing view. This sounds commonplace but it is literally the difference of a thousand-plus vertical feet of elevation.  

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What do you think about visiting San Marino? Let me know!

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31 thoughts on “Ultimate Travel Guide to Visiting San Marino”

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This place looks so charming! I wonder if anyone gets vertigo when looking down from the top of the castle? It has incredible views, but that drop! Yikes!!

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Yes, it was quite a drop! I would imagine those with vertigo would be extra cautious! I’m afraid of heights and it was scary!

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Wow, the view from the castle is incredible. How many days would you recommend to spend there?

Probably no more than two full days. It is small and there is just three parts of one castle.

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Wow! I’ve never heard of San Marino and drove to and through both Venice and Bologna! I’ll have to check it out the next time I’m in Italy (which is hopefully soon)!

I always want to go back to Italy! And it’s so tiny you probably drove right by it haha!

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What a beautiful looking place! I’ll have to save this post for later. I’d be most interested in seeing the tallest fortress, Monte Titano. Sounds like it would be a great trek!

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I’ve never been to a Mictor-State, but San Marino looks stunning! Thanks for the tip about staying at the top of the mountain, saved my legs a lot of pain there haha!

Oh absolutely! I would not walk up that hill unless you paid me a lot of money haha!

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The castle looks so epic, what an incredible view you’d get from those towers too, even if the stairs to get there look a little nerve-wracking. San Marino, unlike Vatican City, isn’t really somewhere I’d have considered before reading this, but it sounds like a small but mighty place with a whole lot of history

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The views from the castle definitely look amazing! Never heard of San Marino but think it should definitely need a stop for everyone!

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Great guide to seeing San Marino and I am envious of you staying in Hotel Cesare. I stayed out of the centre which meant a long climb up the walkways to tke top each day of the two days I was there. You were at the centre of everything in that hotel, so its a good recommendation. I did peep into their cafe one day for a coffee but it was very full and busy and I didn;t have time to wait so skipped it. Nice choice of place to stay. I loved Sam Narino. In many areas its like steeping back a few hundred years as the buildings are so immaculately restored and atmospherical. I never knew San Marino is the oldest country in the world. I did find out that it is teh only country in the world to have two Heads of State who share the duties.

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You had me at Italy! I really wish I snuck visiting here when I was in Venice. How can you resist climbing those towers to see those incredible views! It sounds like a great 1-nighter destination. I’m surprised to learn there are more cars than people.

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Oh this was an interesting read and has potential for a visit if it is doable from Bologna. I’m intrigued, do you know what the deal with Abraham Lincoln and the link to the US is? Would you need a special visa to visit San Marino?

Carolin | Solo Travel Story

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Those views and those attractions are stunning, it’d be amazing to get the chance to visit here at some point! Loved all the cool fun facts as well!

Never heard of San Marino but looks like such a fun little country! Never been to a micro country but definitely seems like. fun thing to explore!

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Looks like such a beautiful place to stop!

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Thanks for introducing me to San Marino! I’m in the planning stages of a trip to Italy next year, and this sounds like the perfect day trip from Venice. The castle view is amazing!

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San Marino has never been on my radar, but your photos make it look stunning. I’d love to hike up those towers!

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I actually live in Italy, but never made it to San Marino. After reading this article, you have convinced me to do that 🙂 And so much useful information, thank you for putting it together! Saved.

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This is so embarrassing … I had no idea the country of San Marino existed! Ha – thank you for educating me! it looks lovely

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This tiny country definitely packs a punch! The views from the castle are breathtaking and there seems to be much to do and explore on a trip to San Marino.

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You sold me! I can’t believe I never heard of this country. I so wish I had visited during my trip to Venice. Great post!

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Super cool! You don’t hear too much about people visiting San Marino. For such a small country, there are definitely a lot of things to do. Saving this for later, hopefully I can pay San Marino a visit as well!

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Very cool! It’s great to read about a place so little visited!

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Great post! I had no idea that San Marino is the smallest and oldest country in the world! I plan to visit Italy in the near future, and will refer back to this post then 😉

Awesome! I have a lot of Italy content as well and feel free to ask me anything!

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As a fellow travel enthusiast, I find your blog incredibly relatable. Your personal anecdotes and reflections add a wonderful touch of authenticity to your posts. Your passion for exploration truly shines through!”

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very perfect article thanks sharing it with us.

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Landscape with the oldest tower in the Guaita Castle - San Marino.

Of Earth's 196 independent countries, San Marino is the fifth smallest and – arguably – the most curious. How it exists at all is something of an enigma. A sole survivor of Italy's once powerful city-state network, this landlocked micronation clung on long after the more powerful kingdoms of Genoa and Venice folded. And still it endures, secure in its status as the world's oldest surviving sovereign state and its oldest republic (since AD 301). San Marino also enjoys one of the planet's highest GDP per capita, but some say it retains a curious absence of heart and soul.

Attractions

Must-see attractions.

Palazzo Pubblico

Palazzo Pubblico

The neo-Gothic Palazzo Pubblico overlooks Piazza della Libertà and is San Marino's official seat of government. Visitors can watch a small video about the…

Torre Cesta

Torre Cesta

Dominating the skyline and offering superb views towards Rimini and the coast, the Cesta castle dates from the 13th century and sits atop 750m Monte…

Museo di Stato

Museo di Stato

San Marino's best museum by far is the well laid out if disjointed state museum, which displays art, history, furniture and cultural objects.

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

One of Città di San Marino's summer highlights is the changing of the guard in Piazza della Libertà, which takes place several times daily between late…

Torre Guaita

Torre Guaita

The oldest and largest of San Marino's castles, Torre Guaita dates from the 11th century. It was still being used as a prison as recently as 1975.

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should i visit san marino

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should i visit san marino

Jun 28, 2012 • 6 min read

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Visit San Marino: The complete travel guide to the Most Serene Republic

Nestled in rocky hills and overlooking the splendid Adriatic coast, San Marino is one of the smallest European countries. Its rocky territory is part of the Apennine mountain range, and Italy surrounds the tiny landlocked country. However, while it’s pretty easy to visit San Marino , most travelers tend to ignore it.

Despite its small size, there are many things to do in San Marino. People on a road trip to Italy usually spend just a couple of hours there. However, San Marino is charming, and it’s a pity not to give it a proper chance and spend at least one night there. After all, how often can you see a whole country in just two days?

Therefore, in this travel guide to San Marino , you will find everything you need to know before visiting the Most Serene Republic. Specifically, you will read how to reach San Marino, several things to do, and the best hotels for your stay. Moreover, I’ll share my photos and a 4K video, and you’ll also find a separate FAQ section full of San Marino travel tips.

So, let’s start with the travel guide and what you need to know for your San Marino visit.

Table of Contents

*Some of the links are affiliate links. It means that if you buy something, I might earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Visit San Marino: A Travel Guide

In the first section of this San Marino travel guide, I will show you how to reach the tiny European country. There are various ways to do so, and most of them include a stopover in Italy.

Let’s break down your options.

How to get to San Marino

It doesn’t come as a surprise that San Marino doesn’t have an airport . Don’t forget that this is a microstate, in other words, a country with a small population (33,000 inhabitants) and an equally small territory (61,2 sq. km/23,1 sq. miles).

That said, the easiest way to visit San Marino as an international traveler is to fly to one of the nearby airports. The closest airport to San Marino is the Federico Fellini International Airport in Rimini. It is just 22 km away, and you won’t need more than half an hour to reach the small republic. However, the Rimini Airport is small, and just a few seasonal flights are landing on its airstrip.

A better alternative for your upcoming San Marino visit is definitely the Bologna International Airport (BLQ) in the Emilia Romagna region. Many international flights are landing daily on BLQ, even though it takes a bit longer to reach San Marino. The airport is 135 km away, and you’ll need a bit more than 90 minutes by car to San Marino.

No matter what, make sure to book your tickets in advance. You can find the best flight deals here .

Visit San Marino by car

The closest Italian city to San Marino is Rimini. If you happen to be on this side of Italy and would love to step foot in the small country, it won’t take more than 30 minutes to reach it. All you have to do is follow the A14/E45 motorway , take a turn before entering Rimini (there are plenty of street signs), and drive the SS72 road uphill. The route is really scenic, and it goes through some smaller settlements of the country.

You can prebook a car and pick it up at the airport upon your arrival.

Visit San Marino by bus

A company called Bonelli operates the bus service between Rimini and San Marino . The buses run daily all year long, even though you can expect fewer itineraries during the winter. You can buy the ticket from the bus driver, and the journey won’t take more than 50 minutes. You can find the bus schedule here .

To San Marino by train

There’s no rail network in San Marino. However, if you land in Bologna, you can take the train to Rimini and, from there, hop on the bus to San Marino.

The best things to do in San Marino

Apart from strolling around the picturesque (and steep) streets of San Marino, there are plenty of other things to do in the tiny republic. Even though it remains undiscovered and most of its visitors come from Italy, San Marino hosts some unique attractions that deserve a visit. And while you can see every single attraction on a day trip to San Marino , I recommend spending at least one night there.

Also, if you’d like someone to show you around, there’s an excellent guided tour that will take you to all the places of interest in San Marino. You can find more info about the guided tour here .

So, here are the must-sees for your San Marino visit:

Palazzo Pubblico & Piazza della Libertà

The Town Hall, known as Palazzo Publico, is located at the Piazza della Libertà , the most famous square in the whole country. It actually stands at the same spot where the Old Town Hall once was. However, after consecutive restorations throughout the centuries, the old building was demolished in 1884, and a decade later, the new Town Hall was erected.

Francesco Azzurri, the architect of Palazzo Publico, designed the new Town Hall to resemble the austere style of 14th-century municipal halls. Today, the Palazzo Publico hosts the Parliament of San Marino and several governmental offices.

As for the Piazza della Libertà, it took its name from the Liberty Statue that stands at the square’s center. Several cafes and restaurants occupy one side of the piazza, and the views from the square over San Marin0’s rocky landscape are breathtaking. No matter how much you walk around the compact city center of La Citta (the city of San Marino), you’ll cross this spot several times.

Visit the Three Towers of San Marino (Guaita, Cesta, and Montale)

The entire historic center of San Marino is built on Mount Titano . That’s the oldest part of the republic, dating back to the 13th century, and showcasing an impressive number of towers, gates, and medieval walls. In the 55 hectares of Monte Titano, one can see three medieval towers on three peaks: Guiata , Cesta , and Montale .

These towers are the most iconic landmarks of the Republic of San Marino, and each one has its remarkable history. Make sure to walk the beautiful Passo Delle Streghe (Witches Path), which connects the first two towers. It’ll be one of the highlights of your San Marino visit.

So, here’s what makes each of these must-see towers unique.

Guaita – The First Tower

The so-called first tower is also the most famous. Constructed almost a thousand years ago, in the 11th century, the Guaita served for a short period as a prison. A Unesco World Heritage Site since 2008, the Guaita is also presented on both San Marino’s flag and its coat of arms.

In the local dialect, the word “Guaita” means “to guard,” and since the restoration in 1930, it’s been open to the public. One remarkable thing is that the Tower has no base and is built straight on the rock. Last but not least, the tower is also known as La Rocca, and a small chapel on the southern part is dedicated to Santa Barbara.

Cesta – The Second Tower

The name of the second tower is Cesta or de la Fretta. Cesta Tower lies on the highest peak of Monte Titano (755 meters) and hosts a museum honoring Saint Marinus, the republic’s founder (more facts on the FAQ section). The museum presents more than 1,500 weapons dating back to the Middle Ages, but you can also see some contemporary ones. In addition, the tower served as an observatory, and as is the case with the other two towers, Cesta is also on the country’s flag.

Montale – The Third Tower

Montale is the third tower of San Marino. It’s built on the lowest peak, and it’s the only tower that is not open to the public. According to historians, the Montale Tower was built to protect the locals from the increasing power of the Malatesta family , which ruled for centuries the area.

Apart from that, Montale also served as a prison, hence its bizarre architecture: it has only one entrance, which lies seven meters from ground level, a common architectural concept for prisons of this time. Nevertheless, even though it remains closed to the public, Montale contributes to the magnificent skyline of San Marino, and you can enjoy a walk towards it.

Try the Torta tre Monti

While this is not strictly part of the sightseeing, it’s one of the best things to do in San Marino. Although I could save it for later, I thought of adding it here since it directly connects with the Three Towers of San Marino.

The Three Towers have their own sweet called Torta Tre Monti, which stands for “the three mountains cake.” That’s a traditional Sammarinese cake made of multiple layers of wafers cemented with chocolate (or hazelnut) creme. The cake is covered in chocolate. Don’t miss the chance to taste it while strolling around the medieval streets of the city of San Marino.

Visit the Basilica di San Marino

Located in the Piazzale Domus Plebis, the Basilica is the city’s main church. It is dedicated to Saint Marinus, the country’s founder, and his relics are enshrined in it. While a Basilica has existed in the same spot since the 7th century, the current one dates back to 1836. It has a Neoclassical style, featuring eight Corinthian columns .

Museo di Stato

If you’d like to see how the history of San Marino developed through the centuries, the Museo di Stato offers a unique view. The state museum of the country showcases a collection including archaeological artifacts and works of art. The museum is located at the iconic Palazzo Pergami-Beluzzi, which has four floors. Every year, several temporary exhibitions present stories from the country’s past.

Take a ride with the San Marino cable car

If cable cars fascinate you, then one of the best things to do in San Marino is ride the one starting from Borgo Maggiore. It is a short 2-minute ride to the City of San Marino, and you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the country. Locals say that you can see more than 200 km of the Adriatic coast on a clear day.

Visit (at least) one of the 4 bizarre museums in San Marino

For a country that is compact in size, the existence of four unconventional museums is definitely an oddity. While I don’t think they are representative of the Sammarinese mentality (the locals are extremely friendly), you should consider visiting at least one of them. These museums are:

The museum of torture . Knee-breaker or Guillotine? This quirky museum in San Marino features more than 100 devices dedicated, well, to torture. So if you think that humanity didn’t advance that much, well, you’d better think about it twice. You can find more info on the Torture Museum website .

The Museum of Curiosities . This is a more easygoing museum that showcases oddities from around the world. You can see the tallest man who ever walked on Earth or even the fattest.

The museum of vampires . The museum “exhibits” werewolves and vampires made of wax. If it sounds good to you, make sure to stop by.

The Ferrari Museum . Last but not least, if you’re a die-hard fan of the famous automobile company, here’s your chance to see some classic models up close. The small Ferrari museum of San Marino hosts 25 cars and presents the evolution of the iconic car company.

Where to stay in San Marino

While most people spend just a couple of hours in the country, I strongly recommend staying at least one night. When the daytrippers leave, you’ll discover another side of San Marino—quiet, beautiful, and with a strong local color. Therefore, I added this section to this San Marino travel guide to help you find the best hotel for your stay.

Before writing down the best hotels in San Marino, I must tell you that you should only consider staying in La Citta . The so-called City of San Marino is the country’s capital and main settlement. While there are some places outside of it for your stay, like Borgo Maggiore, the Citta is where all the things to see are. At night, walking around the medieval buildings is quite an experience. Plus, it’s the most lively area in the country.

Let’s start.

Where I stayed in San Marino

I chose to stay at Hotel Joli , which is just two minutes from the city walls. Since there aren’t many hotels in the City of San Marino, I thought of keeping an eye on the budget and the services offered. As you can see from the photo above, the Hotel enjoys fantastic views of the Sammarinese landscape, and that’s a big plus for every traveler.

Moreover, the rooms were clean and the prices reasonable. A breakfast buffet is included in the price, and the front desk will answer every question you have. If you don’t expect a luxurious stay but you’re after a clean room as close to the city center as possible, look no further. You can book your room at Hotel Joli here .

The best hotels in San Marino

Apart from the Hotel Joli mentioned above, there are a few more options for your stay in San Marino. These are:

Hotel Rosa . Located in the heart of San Marino, Hotel Rosa is a great place to stay. It’s just 200 meters away from the Guaita Tower. Its rooms are relatively simple but clean, and they enjoy fantastic views of the countryside. It’s a reasonably priced hotel. Book your room at Hotel Rosa .

Grand Hotel San Marino . That’s probably one of the really few hotels in San Marino that you can splurge. While the standard rooms are normally priced and nothing spectacular in terms of design, the suites of the Grand Hotel are exquisite. If you want a stylish stay in the city’s heart and great views of the Montefeltro Valley, then that’s your best option. Book your room at the Grand Hotel .

Hotel Titano . One more hotel in the heart of San Marino. The Hotel Titano offers typical Sammarinese rooms, but it has one big plus. It’s also where the La Terrazza restaurant is located, which is assumed as one the best (if not the best) in the country. Its nicest room is the maisonette, but it comes at a cost. The rest of the rooms are priced reasonably. Book your room at Hotel Titano here .

Hotel La Grotta . At a short distance from the Piazza della Liberta, you’ll also find the easygoing Hotel La Grotta. Don’t expect something very fancy, but the hotel is nice and clean, and you’ll be close to every sightseeing spot in San Marino. Book your room at Hotel La Grotta .

Last but not least, if staying in the city’s heart is nothing for you, there’s a great hotel a few kilometers away. Therefore, if you have a car and don’t mind driving a bit, the Grand Hotel Primavera is worth mentioning. Check it out too.

Please use the interactive map below for all other San Marino accommodation options.

Where to eat in San Marino

Despite being a small country, the eating options are more than you’d probably expect. While San Marino cuisine is more or less Italian, you should also try a couple of local dishes. Moreover, you should also taste its local wine when you visit San Marino. Therefore, make sure to order a bottle of Sammarinese wine, and if you’re into red wine, make sure to try a Brugneto .

Now, assuming that you won’t stay that long in San Marino, I’d give you just three food options. Although I didn’t exhaust the country’s eateries, I believe that they are great places to have some local food.

La Terrazza . As I wrote above, it belongs to Hotel Titano, and it’s a great dining option. If you visit San Marino during the summertime, it’s almost a must: as its name betrays, it has a fantastic terrace. Book a table and enjoy a spectacular sunset accompanied by delicious food. See La Terrazza here .

Agli Antichi Orti . That’s the place I enjoyed the most when I traveled to San Marino. The food is delicious, and so is the homemade wine. Of all the places I visited, this had the more local atmosphere and charm. The owners might seem rough at first, but they are polite and funny. If there’s only one place you can eat when you visit San Marino, this should be it. Go for the handmade pasta and/or pizza. See Agli Antichi Orti on Facebook .

Ristorante Righi . I didn’t visit Righi, but some of you might want to. Located straight at Piazza Liberta, Righi is the only restaurant in San Marino with a Michelin Star . So if you enjoy fine dining and can afford it, that’s probably the place to eat in San Marino. The 4-course menus start from 40-60 euros (no wine included, the bottles start from ~25 euros). See the Ristorante Righi here .

The best activities in San Marino

San Marino is an excellent addition to your Italian trip. Apart from the beautiful scenery, there are some unique activities to enjoy while visiting this landlocked country. Below, you will find a few selected activities to elevate your San Marino experience.

An E-Bike excursion in the San Marino Castles . In this 2-hour tour, you will ride an e-bike and see the castles of San Marino. Of course, you will have a professional guide with you, and they’ll also provide you with a helmet for your safety. Check the e-bike tour here .

A cooking class at a San Marino farmhouse . I guess it doesn’t get more unique than this. Participate in a small cooking class in one of the smallest countries in the world. You’ll learn how to make regional specialties like tagliatelle or strozzapreti pasta. At the course’s end, you’ll eat some Sammarinese food created by you. See the cooking class here .

Guided tours in San Marino . Last but not least, if you’d like to have a professional guide to show you around, there are a couple of great tours. There’s a big price range, which usually depends on the group’s size. So, you can see here a great tour around the historical center , but if you’re on a tight budget this one here is probably more suitable.

FAQ about San Marino

Here you can find answers to some of the most common questions about San Marino. Moreover, you’ll also read some fun facts about San Marino that will help you get a better overview of this small landlocked republic. So, here’s what you need to know before visiting San Marino.

Do I need a visa to visit San Marino?

No. You should only check if you need a visa to visit Italy. There’s no border control in San Marino. In fact, you won’t probably notice that you entered the country.

What’s the currency of San Marino?

San Marino has used the euro since 2002. It replaced the Sammarinese lira. However, San Marino is not a member of the European Union.

Is San Marino safe?

San Marino is one of the safest places in Europe. Of course, as is the case with every place attracting tourists, pickpocketing exists here, too.

Why is San Marino called “the Most Serene Republic”?

That’s actually a title with a historical background. In former times, republics that wanted to highlight their sovereignty added the phrase “Most Serene” in front of the word “Republic” to emphasize their independent status. The term is no longer in use in other states, and only San Marino sometimes uses it.

Who was its founder?

The founder of San Marino was Saint Marinus . He established a monastery on Mount Titan, where San Marino is today back in 301 AD. It was around this monastery that the state started to grow.

Fun fact: Saint Marinus lived in Rab, a small island that today belongs to Croatia; however, it was a Roman territory back then.

Is it really the oldest republic in the world?

Since Saint Martinus founded this monastic community in 301 AD, San Marino claims they are the oldest surviving republic in the world. The country’s constitution dates back to 1600, and it’s indeed the oldest constitution in the world. All that said, it’s more accurate to call San Marino the oldest constitutional republic in the world.

How much time do you need in San Marino?

You can visit San Marino on a day trip from several nearby Italian cities. However, although it’s easy to see everything on a day trip, I recommend spending at least one night there.

When it’s the best time to visit San Marino?

Any time between April and September will be pleasant. I visited San Marino in late October, and apart from the shorter days, the weather was pleasant. However, during the wintertime, San Marino can be really cold.

Is San Marino expensive?

You should more or less expect European-level prices in San Marino. However, the country feels slightly cheaper than Italy.

San Marino Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

San Marino is the third smallest country in Europe and the fifth smallest in the world. As you can imagine, it doesn’t get that much attention, and most people aren’t even aware of its existence. However, its compact size doesn’t mean that it has no interest. On the contrary, a mixture of medieval architecture and fantastic landscape makes a visit to San Marino a must, especially if you happen to be on this side of Italy.

As I wrote several times in this travel guide to San Marino, try to spend at least one night there if you decide to visit it. Honestly, the next time I’m in the region, I’ll consider having it as a base for my trip. After all, you won’t have that often the opportunity to spend a night in one of the world’s smallest countries and have its streets at night for yourself.

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SAN MARINO DAY TRIP ITINERARY: 20 Things to Do & Walking Route

SAN MARINO DAY TRIP ITINERARY: 20 Things to Do & Walking Route

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On our first European trip, San Marino was part of our original itinerary. We were supposed to visit on a day trip from Florence. We did reach Italy, but we got so distracted by Tuscany that we never made it to San Marino. Filed it under “Maybe next time”.

Three years later, “next time” finally happened.

Completely landlocked by Italy, which harbors several famous destinations, the tiny nation of San Marino is easy to overlook. It is the fifth smallest sovereign state in the world and third smallest in Europe, next only to Vatican City and Monaco. It is also the least visited country on the continent, welcoming only 60,000 international visitors a year.

Yet, tiny as it may be, it can still fill a day’s itinerary effortlessly. In this post, we’ll share with you some of the key places to visit in San Marino. But here are a few notes to bear in mind:

  • This is a walking trail. These attractions are arranged chronologically, from the first stop if you’re coming from the Piazzale Calcigni, where the San Marino Bonelli bus from Rimini terminates.
  • You may skip some of these stops. We’re laying out the key attractions along the route, but if you want to skip a site for whatever reason, move on to the next stop. A few of these attractions are not open to the public but we still included them so you could admire from the outside or take photos.
  • Expect a long, uphill hike and some stairs. The old town of San Marino City is perched on top of Monte Titano (Mt. Titan), so the ground is largely uneven.
  • Always check the schedule of buses going to San Marino in advance. The jumpoff point to San Marino is the Italian city of Rimini. There are only six trips in a day so make sure your timing is right. For more information, READ: HOW TO GET TO SAN MARINO!
  • You’ll find a sample itinerary at the end of the post. It does not include all the stops listed here due to time constraints. But feel free to follow or tweak it according to your needs and preferences.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s start!

WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?

Convento dei Frati Cappuccini

If you’re coming from the Piazzale Calcigni bus stop and climbing to the city center, one of the first structures you’ll spot is the Convento dei Frati Cappuccini, which overlooks the first hairpin turn to the top.

This convent-and-church complex was constructed in the 16th century at the site of the old San Quirino chapel. It’s best known for its walnut-wood main altar which showcases a canvas of the Deposition of Christ, a masterpiece by Italian Mannerist painter Federico Zuccari. Also inside is an image of the Madonna of Lourdes.

Piazza Sant’Agata

From Convento dei Frati Cappuccini, follow the road to the next hairpin bend and you’ll find an arch. Walk through it and up a short alley and you’ll emerge at Piazza Sant’Agata .

should i visit san marino

This small, unassuming square is surrounded by sandstone structures including the Teatro Titano building to the left and a small portico. The centerpiece is the Girolamo Gozi Monument , which features a bronze statue of the captain regent and a bronze relief of other freedom fighters behind it.

With your back to the monument, you should see a narrow street to your right. Walk down that alley and you’ll find your next stop: The Torture Museum (Museo della Tortura).

Museum of Medieval Criminology and Torture

The Museum of Medieval Criminology and Torture (or simply the Torture Museum) exhibits over 100 death- and torment-inflicting devices including the guillotine, the knee-breaker, and the spike-crazy Inquisitorial chair.

We’ve been to similar torture museums in other cities in Europe so we skipped it. But if you haven’t seen one and you’re fascinated with the macabre, this may be worth your time.

Hours Open: Daily 10am-7pm Entrance Fee: 8€ (6€ reduced rate)

Porta San Francesco

Fronting the Torture Museum is the Porta San Francesco , also known as Porta del Loco .

For most of its history, this iconic watchtower serves as the main gate to the city. It was erected in 1361 by the Feltresca clan, which ruled San Marino, as protection from raids by rival Malatesta family from Rimini. It bears the coat of arms of San Marino and the Feltresca family.

Chiesa di San Francesco

Just across the street is Chiesa di San Francesco (Church of Saint Francis) , a Roman Catholic Church.

should i visit san marino

It’s easy to walk past it without a second look because there’s nothing grand or ornate about its facade. But this is the oldest building in San Marino as it was built in 1361 (like the city gate). Since its construction, this sandstone church has undergone several restorations.

Inside the church are a wooden 14th-century crucifix, a copper tabernacle created by Rimini artist Romolo Mulazzani, and images of saints by Ciro Parisa.

Museo Pinacoteca San Francesco

At the same site as the church is the Museo-Pinacoteca San Francesco , a museum and gallery housed in the colonnaded loggias of the cloister of the religious complex. It was opened and inaugurated in 1966.

It has two zones — sacred art museum and art gallery — which display a collection of frescoes and paintings on canvas from the 15th to 18th centuries.

Hours Open: 8AM-5PM (Monday-Friday), 9AM-6PM (Saturday-Sunday) Entrance Fee: €3*

*If you also plan on visiting the two towers, the State Museum, and the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, you might want to purchase a multi-museum ticket which costs €10.50. If you’re visiting just one or two, then just get individual tickets.

Museo di Stato

Continue walking along the same street and in a minute you’ll reach Museo di Stato (State Museum / National Museum) .

Established in 1865, the State Museum was originally housed in Palazzo Valloni until 2001, when it was moved to its current home, the Palazzo Pergami-Belluzzi. The museum exhibits around 5000 pieces of art and historic artifacts — archaeological finds, paintings, coins, medals, and porcelain, among others — all narrating the story of San Marino.

Hours Open: 9AM-5PM (Daily, 8AM-8PM in summer) Entrance Fee: €4.50*

*If you also plan on visiting the two towers, the St. Francis Museum, and the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, consider grabbing a combined ticket which costs €10.50. If you’re only interested in just one or two, then just buy single tickets.

National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art

The establishment of the National Gallery and Contemporary Art sprung from the launching of the San Marino Biennale season in 1956. During this event, artists gather to showcase their artworks and masterpieces. Over 700 art pieces, in various forms and media (watercolor, photographs, sculpture, etc.), by both famous and emerging artists, are displayed here. Some of them date back to the 20th century.

Hours Open: 9AM-5PM (January 2-June 7), 8AM-8PM (June 8-September 13), 9AM-5PM (September 14-December 31), CLOSED (January 1, November 2 & December 25) Entrance Fee: €3

Cava dei Balestrieri

Just across the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, before reaching the road curve of Via Eugippo, is the Cava dei Balestrieri (Crossbowmen’s Quarry) .

should i visit san marino

It’s an outdoor theater that features carved walls and cultural events like Palio of the Old Crossbow (a crossbow competition with participants in medieval costume) in September. It’s also the site for other festivals and open-air exhibitions. Watch the show if you happen to visit during the right season.

Borghesi Monument

Erected in 1904, Monumento a Bartolomeo Borghesi is one of the city’s historical landmarks. The bronze bust of Italian antiquarian, Bartolomeo Borghesi, who spent his last days in San Marino. He was one of the founders of numismatics, which is the study of currencies — paper and coins — and medals.

The monument is located near the cable car (funicular) station. The area also serves as an observation spot where you can admire the panoramic view of the towns below and the surrounding area.

Funivia di San Marino

This is probably the most preferred mode of transportation going to the high-altitude city center, which is also the historical center. The aerial “tramway” or funicular, runs between Borgo Maggiore (base station) and the City of San Marino (upper station).

should i visit san marino

The cable car system has two gondolas, which can accommodate up to 50 people each and operate every 15 minutes. It was first launched in 1959 and has undergone two renovations/upgrades; the latest was in 2017. The travel duration from the base station to the upper station is about two minutes.

Hours Open: 7:50AM-6:30PM (November-February), 7:50AM-7PM (March & October), 7:50AM-7:30PM (April), 7:50AM-8PM (May-June), 7:50AM-1AM (July-September) Fare: €2.80 (Single), €4.50 (Roundtrip), FREE (children with height under 1.20 meters)

Borgo Maggiore

should i visit san marino

This is the city at the base when taking the funicular. Located at the base of Mount Titano, Borgo Maggiore has the second largest population in San Marino after Dogana. The city has always been a busy marketplace.

Today, it’s considered a major shopping district in the country. It houses six parishes, Piazza Grande, and the sole heliport in San Marino.

Tourism Office Stamp

should i visit san marino

Drop by the San Marino Tourism Office to get a passport stamp! It’s not compulsory. The republic has no hard border, ergo no border checkpoints, ergo no entry stamps. But you can get a souvenir stamp for 5€. This is the only place in the world where you can obtain a San Marino stamp.

However, consider having the stamp on a separate booklet or on an expired passport instead of your current one. Some embassies take issue with unofficial stamps. You’ll risk having your passport rejected if you have souvenir tourism stamps. Better safe than sorry.

San Marino Basilica

should i visit san marino

This is the main church of the City of San Marino, the nation’s capital. This Neoclassical church’s origin dates back to the 7th century, but the present structure was built in the 1830s. The Catholic church is dedicated to the nation’s patron saint — Saint Marinus .

It’s located just behind the Tourism Office on Piazza Domus Plebis. Just beside the basilica is Chiesa di San Pietro which features a crypt that is said to house the remains of Saint Marinus.

Liberty Square & Palazzo Publico

should i visit san marino

Just a short walk from the Tourism Office, the pathway opens up to the wide Piazza della Liberta . The square features the Statua della Liberta (Liberty Statue) in the middle and the politically significant structure, the Palazzo Publico.

From the square, tourists stop to marvel at the scenic view of the city and the surrounding hills and mountains. You will find shops, cafes, and restaurants in the area.

Museum of Curiosities

The displays at the Museo delle Curiosità are not related to anything San Marino but a collection of curated out-of-this-world real-life oddities and curiosities.

The museum has three floors full of interesting displays of strange facts such as fattest man, longest beard, longest hair, tallest man, etc. The information and descriptions are written in 4-5 languages.

Hours Open: 10AM-6:30PM (may change without prior notice) Entrance Fee: €8 (Regular), €4 (Reduced)

should i visit san marino

This is a good time to have lunch. There are plenty of food places around. If money isn’t an issue, you can dine at a restaurant for a proper lunch. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can grab a quick bite. You can find establishments offering a quick meal for less than 10 euro.

Guaita Tower (First Tower)

San Marino has three iconic towers that are all situated atop the three peaks of Monte Titano in the city center. The nation’s flag and coat of arms both bore the image of these three towers.

should i visit san marino

The 11th-century Guaita Tower , which was shortly used as a prison, is the first and the oldest of the three. It is also the most popular. It has undergone a lot of restorations. You will also see drawings or scribbles done by the former prisoners on some walls. From the tower, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the city and beyond.

Hours Open: 9AM-5PM (Daily, 8AM-8PM in summer) Entrance Fee: €3 (Guaita Only), €4.50 (Guaita and Cesta Combo)*

Cesta Tower (Second Tower)

From the First Tower, take the Passo delle Streghe , a narrow passage on the way to the Second Tower. It’s best known for its snap-worthy rock bridge that connects the cliffs.

should i visit san marino

Also called Fratta but marked on Google Maps as Falesia Second Tower, the 13th-century Cesta Tower sits atop the highest peak of Monte Titano. It also features a museum, Museo delle Armi Antiche, which exhibits over a thousand items related to weaponry and artillery, encompassing those from the medieval era up to the present time. The scenery is a visual delight for those who took the time and effort to visit.

Hours Open: 9AM-5PM (Daily, 8AM-8PM in summer) Entrance Fee: €3 (Cesta Only), €4.50 (Guaita and Cesta Combo)*

Montale (Third Tower)

The 14th-century Montale Tower is perched on the smallest peaks of Monte Titano. Tourists can’t go inside the tower as the only entryway is located about seven meters from the ground. Like Guaita, this served as a prison and might be the reason for the design and location of the door. Taking photos of the tower (and the view) from the outside is allowed.

Hours Open: 9AM-5PM (Daily, 8AM-8PM in summer) Entrance Fee: FREE

And for those who love shopping or buying souvenirs, you will pass by several shops on the way back to the bus terminal. Ref magnet collectors will have no problem finding one to add to their stash. The price for ref magnets ranges from €3.5 to €5.

SAMPLE SAN MARINO ITINERARY

Here’s a sample San Marino DIY day tour itinerary. This assumes you’ll be taking the train to Rimini Station, where you’ll catch the Bonelli Bus to San Marino. We have a step-by-step on how to get there here: RIMINI TO SAN MARINO BY BUS!

In the morning, you’ll be sightseeing on foot around the Old Town. In the afternoon, you’ll be visiting the city’s three towers before boarding the bus back to Rimini.

08:36 am – Arrival in Rimini 08:45 am – Buy roundtrip ticket to San Marino, 10€ 09:30 am – Board bus to San Marino 10:30 am – Explore (follow the trail above) 12:00 pm – Lunch, 10€ 01:30 pm – Visit the three towers, 6.50€ 05:30 pm – Board bus back to Rimini 06:30 pm – Arrival in Rimini, grab dinner 10€ 07:20 pm – Train to your origin or next destination

How you use your exploring time in the morning is up to you. You may follow the walking route above and choose the attractions you want to enter. Be mindful of the corresponding entrance fees, which are indicated in the individual descriptions.

TOP APARTMENTS & GUESTHOUSES IN BOLOGNA

Bologna is the closest metropolitan city to San Marino, so most day-trippers use it as their base. If you decide to stay in Bologna, here are some of the top-rated apartments and guesthouses in the city as scored by Agoda users.

should i visit san marino

  • Residence Railway by Studio Vita. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
  • B&B Casa Faccioli. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
  • Casa Isolani, Piazza Maggiore. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
  • Le Stanze degli Angeli, Room & Breakfast. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
  • La finestra sul canale. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
  • Attico di Via d’Azeglio. Check Rates & Availability! ✅

Search for more Bologna Hotels!

THEPOORTRAVELERKLOOK

Edited by Asta Alvarez 2020 • 9 • 6

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guest

My friends and I are interested in going to San Marino thanks to your video. Are there any places you would recommend where we can run? We are runners. Thanks

Yosh Dimen

Hi JC, unfortunately, dunno any in San Marino. I think in Bologna, there’s a popular trail that’s OK for runners.

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should i visit san marino

8 Reasons to Visit the Country of San Marino

  • Emilia Romagna

April 23, 2020

The Most Serene Republic of San Marino is a must-see destination for lovers of history – and for those who love picturesque panoramas. One of the world’s smallest and oldest republics, San Marino isn’t, technically, Italy. But it is surrounded by Italy’s Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche regions near the Adriatic Sea, making it an easy day trip from cities like Florence or Bologna.

Map of San Marino. The total size of the country is 24 sq miles!

Map of San Marino. The total size of the country is 24 sq miles!

Here are 8 reasons why you should visit San Marino!

  • Founded in the 4th century AD, San Marino prides itself on being one of the world’s smallest, oldest independent states. The country is tiny, with a total population of around 30,000 people ( the city of Rome has more than 2,600,000!) and is home to UNESCO world heritage sites like Mount Titano (San Marino’s highest point), San Marino City and Borgo Maggiore.
  • Whether as a day trip or weekend getaway, San Marino is easily reached from central Italian cities like Rimini (30 mins), Bologna (1.5 hours) and Florence (2.5 hours) by bus or rental car.
  • Like its name,  “Most Serene Republic of San Marino,” implies, the tiny country is a green oasis—the perfect place to relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Complete with unspoiled land, rolling hills, wineries and fortresses, San Marino is a great (and less crowded) alternative to the Tuscan countryside. On a clear day, you can even steal a view of the nearby Riviera Romagnola beaches!
  • Looking for a deal on Italian brands or a great souvenir to bring home? Head to San Marino for tax-free shopping! Despite its tiny size, the country boasts hundreds of chic shops and boutiques, malls (Atlante and Azzurro) and outlets (San Marino Factory Outlet and Queen Outlet) with a wide range of electronics and clothing for men, women and children.
  • The San Marino cuisine is simple and delicious, with flavors from neighboring regions mixed with local herbs and ingredients. Look for faggioli con le cotiche  (bean and bacon soup) rabbit stew and torta tre monti  (chocolate and hazelnut layer cake). Make your meal complete with delicious local wine and tilus , a truffle infused after-dinner liquor.
  • Hopping over from Italy to San Marino is quite easy: There is no border control, so you don’t need your passport to enter… but you can ask for a stamp in the tourist department as a souvenir! The local currency is the Euro and the official language is Italian, although most shops and restaurants speak English ( check out our most useful Italian words and phrases for travelers as as a handy guide !).
  • San Marino boasts a wide range of museums… from traditional paintings to more quirky collections! Highlights include the State Museum (large collection of paintings, coins and archeological objects), San Francesco Museum (16th century paintings), Museum of Ancient Arms, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Wax Museum, Museum of Curious Objects and the Ferrari and Abarth Museum.
  • As an independent state, San Marino has its own military—one of the smallest in the world! The fascinating tradition of the changing of the guard is kept from April to September, every half hour from 8am to 6pm at the Palazzo Pubblico

Ancient castle on the hill in San Marino

Ancient castle on the hill in San Marino

should i visit san marino

by Elena Ciprietti

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Unsure Traveller

San Marino travel guide: everything you need to know

Table of Contents

Do you know anything about San Marino? Is this country on your bucket list and are looking for a San Marino travel guide? Well, you found it! In this guide, I will walk you through what to do in San Marino, how to get there, how to explore it on a sort of budget and more!

I’ve always been fascinated by San Marino and the fact that it’s not only the oldest republic in the world but also because it’s a separate country enclosed within Italy. I know that it’s the same as Vatican City but San Marino felt more mysterious to me. Visiting this country is not always easy if you don’t have a car, which is why it took me so long to do it. In February I had one of my best friends visiting from Australia who wouldn’t stop talking about San Marino. 

He REALLY wanted to visit and I did too but I was concerned about the cost of everything (I have a very budget traveller mindset like you might have noticed from How to visit Copenhagen on a budget or New Zealand on a budget ). However, we managed to find some pretty good deals and he was willing to cover more of the costs because I wasn’t working at the time. We visited San Marino in February which is a very quiet time. We only found a handful of tourists and had the pleasure to live it like a local. 

Now, without further ado, let me walk you through this San Marino travel guide on a sort of budget.

San Marino history

should i visit san marino

First of all, let’s recap some of San Marino’s very long history! The Most Serene Republic of San Marino is a landlocked country within Italy. It covers a land area of just over 61 km2 and has a population of 33,562 which makes it the third smallest country in Europe and fifth in the world. Its capital is the City of San Marino located at the top of Mount Titano. 

Its name comes from Saint Marinus who was a stonemason from the island of Rab. In AD 301 he founded a monastery at the top of Mount Titano which became San Marino. The country’s borders haven’t changed since 1463! There have been many times when institutions or countries tried to conquer San Marino but they all mostly failed. 

This country is not a member of the European Union although it uses Euros as its official currency. The official language is Italian, its citizens hold the San Marino passport which is quite a powerful one! At the border, there are no formalities with Italy and to visit it you’d need an Italian visa (if you are not an EU citizen).

How to get to San Marino 

Getting to San Marino can be tricky if you don’t have a car. There are buses that run within San Marino and one from Rimini to the coach terminal but that’s about it ( this is the timetable of the bus from Rimini ).

Having a car will definitely give you more freedom to explore not only this country but also its surrounding areas. Parking is made easy in the City of San Marino with its many carparks.

The closest airport to San Marino is either Rimini or Bologna but I suggest flying to Bologna as you get more choices. 

We flew to Bologna and rented a car through Sixt . It was my first time doing so and the process went very smooth and easy. The guy at the front desk was very helpful and he even upgraded our car choice! We ended up getting an automatic Golf with the middle tear insurance that covered us for any damage.

In total, for 2 full days, we paid 186 €. We could have paid less but decided to upgrade the insurance to have more peace of mind.

The journey from Bologna Airport to San Marino is around 135km and it takes 1.5 hours as it’s a freeway. We had to pay a toll which was around 8€ each way. ( Remember to go through either the pay with card or cash lane because we were so stressed the first time! The Telepass lane is reserved for people who have the electronic toll collection device).

Where to park in San Marino

I was very surprised at how organised San Marino is when it comes to parking. There are 13 parking areas scattered around town. The cost to park in San Marino is:

  • 1,50€ per hour
  • 4,50€ for 3-5 hours
  • 8€ for the whole day.

However, a very great thing is that if you are staying in a hotel in San Marino, you can buy a 24-hour parking pass for 4€. This allows you to park in any parking area and you can come and go as many times as you want. 

Where to stay in San Marino

Depending on what area of San Marino you want to stay in, you can find different accommodation at different price points. Usually, the cheaper places are located just below the capital while the slightly more pricey ones are in the capital. 

We decided to stay at Hotel Rosa which is right in the capital. At first, I was concerned about the cost of it but it was definitely worth it!

Hotel Rosa is a family-owned hotel located very close to the Guaita Tower and the main street full of shops and restaurants. The staff were super friendly and helpful and gave us lots of tips and suggestions. The room was nice and had everything we needed and the view was spectacular! It was hard for me to close the window because I was so in love with it. Moreover, you get free breakfast and they also have on-site parking.

should i visit san marino

We paid 100€ for two nights which was a very good price for what we got. I’m not sure if it gets more expensive in summer but it was worth it. 

Finally, when staying at a hotel in San Marino you get the San Marino card which gives you access to discounts for shops, restaurants and tourist sites. 

Where to eat in San Marino

should i visit san marino

San Marinese cuisine is highly influenced by the one from Emilia Romagna. Being located so close to it, it’s no surprise that you can find lots of Emiliani dishes. 

During lunch, we would often eat something quick like a slice of pizza or a piadina. For dinner, instead, we tried two different but very local places. Unfortunately, when we were there lots of places were closed probably due to it being low season. 

Ritrovo Dei Lavoratori XXVIII Luglio

This is the first restaurant we tried. It was a bit challenging to find and we had to ask for directions but we managed to get there. What I really liked about il Ritrovo Dei Lavoratori XXVIII Luglio was it being very local. When we arrived there was only another tourist couple and the rest of the people were all from San Marino. I really enjoyed looking at them and trying to pick up some unique characteristics. 

Food-wise, I didn’t find it super tasty. The bread they gave us was plain and the waitress made a rude comment on the fact that we didn’t order any wine! Other than that, I had some nice tagliatelle ai porcini while my friend had some pasta with ragu’ and meat which he enjoyed.

Ristorante del Ghetto da Ottavio

should i visit san marino

Ristorante del Ghetto da Ottavio is located very close to the border with Italy in the castello (San Marino suburbs are called castelli) of Fiorentino. We ended up going there because that night all the other restaurants were shut! The road to get to it was a bit narrow and tricky but also fun.

Just like the previous restaurant, even this one was packed with locals which were very nice! I had a pizza while my friend had a fish risotto. Moreover, we also had some of their homemade desserts which were also tasty. 

The view from outside the restaurant was truly stunning as you were able to see the whole capital very clearly. 

What to do in San Marino 

Walk, walk and walk.

should i visit san marino

Most of the historical places are located within the capital of San Marino which makes walking a very convenient and easy way to explore them. We loved getting lost in its small and narrow roads and seeing what we would have found at the end of them. From breathtaking lookouts to elegant and unique shops, you’d be surprised at what you can find just by walking.

Passo delle streghe 

should i visit san marino

This is probably one of the most famous walks in San Marino and that’s not a bad thing because it’s beautiful! This walk connects the first tower to the second one and it immediately transports you to medieval times as it was built in the 1200s! 

Why is it called the “Witches’ walk”?

There are a few legends that try to explain why it’s called this way and they all date back to the Middle Ages. The story says that the most beautiful girl in San Marino was a witch and every night she went to the Passo delle Streghe to transform herself into a black cat thanks to the moonlight. Back then black cats were believed to be the incarnation of witches. In addition to this, on this walk, every night dozens of girls used to gather around large fires to dance and perform mysterious rituals. Some people believed that they also were witches. One night, a young man decided to spy on them. As soon as he saw the beautiful girl he fell in love with her. He promised her his love and swore to keep her secret safe. From that night on, he always went to see her and never revealed to anyone what the truth was. Even today, especially on summer nights, you might be able to hear the witches’ laughing and singing.

Besides the interesting legend, this walk is beautiful because it allows you to see both the Adriatic Sea, the Emilia Romagna coast and the Valli di Comacchio!

Visit the Three Towers of San Marino

San Marino is famous for its three towers which are also depicted on their coat of arms. They are the Guaita , the Cesta and the Montale . 

The Guaita tower

This is the oldest tower in San Marino and the closest to the actual city. It was first used as a prison and then rebuilt numerous times until the 15th century. The Guaita is easily accessible from both the town centre or the Hotel Rosa. Simply follow the Salita alla Rocca walk and you’ll get to the tower in no time.

As I mentioned before, if you are staying in a hotel in San Marino you will get the TuttoSanMarino Card . This card allows you to get discounts on participating restaurants, shops and all the museums and other touristy places. It also gives you a 50% discount on the private museums that accept it.

When we visited the first tower we bought the multi-museum ticket at a reduced price of 7,50€. This ticket gives you access to the first and second tower, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Pinacoteca, the Palazzo Pubblico and the Mint Museum.  

The Cesta tower

The second tower can be easily reached via the Passo delle Streghe. When we were there it was closed to the public due to work so we didn’t visit it.

The Montale tower

Finally, the third tower is a bit further out and can be reached via a 15 min walk but this tower is not open to the public.

Visit the Palazzo Pubblico

should i visit san marino

This palace is both the town hall and the government building. This is where official State ceremonies take place and you can visit it every day until either 5, 6 or 8 pm depending on the season.

Visit its countless museums

San Marino is full of very unique museums like the “ Museum of Curiosities ”, “ Wax Museum ” and the “ Vampire’s Museum ” just to name a few. We didn’t manage to visit them but they might be interesting if you have some spare time.

Get a stamp on your passport

Ok, I know that this is a very touristy thing to do but it was fun. Simply stop by the Ufficio del Turismo which is connected to the Mint Museum. There, you can purchase a San Marino stamp that will be applied to your passport for 5€.

Hop on the cableway

should i visit san marino

The cableway connects the castle of Borgo Maggiore with the historical city centre. The journey is roughly two minutes and you can get a return ticket for 3,50€.

Explore the surrounding areas

If you have a car and time, I highly suggest you explore the surrounding areas of San Marino, even the Italian ones. We explored places like the Castello of Coriano which I had never heard of before that was stunning. The drive was especially beautiful because we went through small towns and green and lush hills. 

Bonus: Explore Urbino 

should i visit san marino

On our last day in San Marino, we decided to visit Urbino. It was a new town for me which didn’t really know much about. I knew of its existence but that was about it. I’m now soooo glad we went because I loved it.

Urbino is so beautifully medieval, full of wonderful buildings and lookouts that give you an uninterrupted view of the city and the mountains. It was a Sunday when we were there so not much was open but we enjoyed the peace. We also loved learning more about its long history and finding out that Raphael was from there!

Final Thoughts

Despite being relatively small in size, San Marino is packed with beautiful buildings and natural places. You can find great lookouts, friendly people, historical places and a very relaxed lifestyle. It felt so weird knowing that I was not in Italy while also feeling like I kinda was. I also enjoyed trying to guess what areas were in Italy and what ones were not! 

Finally, I’m glad that I got the chance to visit this country! I hope you enjoyed this San Marino travel guide and found it useful! Have you ever been to San Marino?

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  • The 10 Things To Do...

The Top Things to Do in San Marino

The Guaita fortress stands tall on Monte Titano, overlooking the city of San Marino

It’s easy to mistake San Marino for part of Italy , but this tiny republic on the slopes of Monte Titano has a distinct character, with fairytale castles, culture and fine wines galore. Here’s our list of the best things to do in the fifth smallest country in the world, such as exploring the medieval Three Towers, riding the Funivia di San Marino and doing some tax-free shopping.

1. discover the state museum of san marino.

Republic of San Marino State Museum: Tabernacle with nativity scene. Lombard sculptor of the fifteenth century. Donated by Gaetano Spelluzzi 1866

San Marino is a living monument to an era in European history when city-states were common. The State Museum (Museo di Stati) is the best place to learn about the country’s fascinating history. It houses archaeological remains from the Neolithic period to the Middle Ages, coins and ancient Etruscan and Roman artefacts, as well as 17th-century paintings and sculptures by the likes of Guercino.

2. Buy an ice cream at Altro Gelato

Galeteria, Ice Cream, Italian

LAltro Gelato

Altro Gelato was the first ice-cream shop in San Marino to use ingredients sourced solely from organic farms in the area. Here, young founders Samantha and Fabio have created unique Sammarinese gelato and semifreddo flavours without additives. Try the Happy Cow, mixed with Romagnole apricots and black sesame (its name is a dedication to the gelateria’s ethical supplier).

3. Watch the changing of the guard at the Piazza della Libertà

Republic of San Marino: Government Palace: Changing of the Guard

The Piazza della Libertà was once the epicentre of political life in San Marino. Here, you’ll find the Palazzo Pubblico – the town hall and official government building. The elaborately decorated facade features the coat of arms of the republic. If you visit San Marino during summer, catch the changing of the guard in front of the Piazza della Libertà – it happens several times a day between June and mid-September.

4. Climb up and explore the Three Towers

Architectural Landmark

CASTLES - left to right : Third, Second and first Towers - (aerial view). Republic of San Marino.

The first tower, Guaita, is the most iconic of San Marino’s three impressive fortresses located on the peaks of Monte Titano. Built in the 11th century, it looks like it has fallen out of a storybook about Medieval knights and dragons. Cesta, or the second tower, houses the Sammarinese Museum of Archaic Arms, a collection of traditional weaponry and battle dress, while the third, Montale, is a lookout post that you can walk around (but sadly, it’s not open inside). You can buy a ticket for just the first tower or a combined ticket with the second tower included.

5. Ponder modern art at the San Marino National Gallery

More than 1,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art have been packed into the San Marino National Gallery. The 20th-century collections have been divided into four categories, each one representing a different historic moment in San Marino’s history. Art lovers can enjoy works by some of Italy’s finest, including Renato Guttuso, Giuseppe Spagnulo and Emilio Vedova; there are also pieces by local artists and sculptors to enjoy.

people cheering on a mountain

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6. Take advantage of tax-free shopping

Tourists at the street of Old Town of San Marino. Tourism in San Marino contributes approximately

Splurge guilt-free as you make the most of San Marino’s tax-free shopping. You can stock up on unusual crafts, clothing, food and much more when you browse the stalls at the Borgo Maggiore Market on Thursdays. It dates back to 1243 when it was known for its trade fairs, which mainly stocked cattle. Thankfully, these days shoppers have many more choices.

7. Tuck into seafood at the Osteria La Taverna

Bistro, Restaurant, Italian

San Marino square of Palazzo Pubblico - Repubblica di San Marino

Expect incredible seafood in the heart of one of San Marino’s main squares at Osteria La Taverna. The terrace is the perfect place to people-watch or simply soak up the views over the Tuscan hills with a glass of full-bodied sangiovese red in hand. Try the delicious seafood spaghetti or the potato gnocchi with cod. The osteria hosts regular theme nights, too, and the chef, Luigi Sartini, also has the Michelin-star Ristorante Righi directly above.

8. Sip wine at Consorzio Vini Tipici

Tasting white wine, Italy

Gathering all the wine producers from the Republic of San Marino, this vineyard colony is a must-visit for wine connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. With quality grapes, the wines are the best in the business, and there are plenty of experts on hand to help you choose the perfect tipple. The fruity Biancale di San Marino is a definite winner.

9. Ride the San Marino funicular

Train Station

Two cabins of the funicular over the village from the fortress of San Marino

Take a ride on San Marino’s cable car, and glide above the rooftops of Borgo Maggiore as you admire the views stretching to the Adriatic coast. The funicular runs from a lower terminus in Borgo Maggiore to the upper station in the city centre of San Marino and attracts tourists and commuting locals. A word of warning: arrive at the car park early, or you may well miss out on a parking spot.

Raphaele Varley contributed additional reporting to this article.

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Inside the Travel Lab

The San Marino Travel Guide: Finding Castles in the Sky

September 26, 2021

San Marino Travel Guide Cover

Use our San Marino travel guide to plan your trip to one of Europe’s smallest countries.  

High above the clouds of Italy, you’ll find castles in the sky. More than just a legend, they mark the home of the world’s oldest republic. 

Disclosure – if you buy or book through some of the links in this article, we may earn a small amount at no extra cost to you. Cheers! Also, I visited San Marino as a guest of the San Marino tourism board. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. I wouldn’t recommend everything we did. This article covers the many things I would recommend. Ta!

Table of Contents

The Ultimate San Marino Travel Guide

What is San Marino?

The Most Serene Republic of San Marino is both a beautiful and curious place to visit. It’s a tiny, landlocked nation surrounded entirely by Italy. Only three places in the world share this set up. The other two are Lesotho and Vatican City.

Where is San Marino?

You’ll find San Marino surrounded by Italy, just an hour from the Old Town of Rimini on the Adriatic coast. It’s one of the smallest countries in Europe, with a population of around 33 000 and a land area of 24 square miles.

Is it Worth Visiting San Marino?

Yes, yes, yes! It’s one of the most interesting places I’ve visited in Europe (and I’ve visited a lot.) 

However, I imagine that a crowded day trip could possibly feel a little soulless. I’d highly recommend an overnight stay to have the place to yourself. And push yourself beyond the main sights to start to get a sense of the place and its people.

Why is San Marino a Country?!

It’s a fascinating question, isn’t it? While wars raged on the ground below and then in the air above (Allied Forces accidentally bombed San Marino during WW II,) San Marino remained independent throughout. 

To understand why, we need to travel back in time a little and remember that Italy as we understand her today is actually very young. For most of history, Italy has consisted of city states, kingdoms and principalities until the formation of the Republic of Italy in 1871.

Since the fall of the Roman Empire in 301AD and the foundation of San Marino by the saint of the same name, wise strategic choices have maintained independence. Governments provided just enough support to roving armies to keep them alive, but not enough to “back them.” San Marino persuaded Napoleon not to invade and then negotiated exemptions from the united Italian state. 

Do you need a passport to visit San Marino?

With all that said, San Marino has maintained a harmonious border with her much bigger neighbour. You don’t need separate passport and visa checks to enter San Marino, but you can pay for a passport stamp to commemorate the event!

Fun Facts About San Marino

  • The San Marino capital is called… San Marino. 
  • In 2010, twins Aldo and Davide Simoncini wrote themselves into the history books by each scoring an own goal in an international football match against Sweden. The record stands to this day.
  • Her people are called Sanmarinese.
  • The San Marino area isn’t just Mt Titano. The surrounding foothills make her territories larger than the Vatican and Monaco, but apart from those two, she’s the smallest sovereign state in Europe.
  • San Marino has two presidents and no army. 
  • The entire city of San Marino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

San Marino Travel Guide Cover

How to see San Marino Travel Guide for Italy

What To Do in San Marino

The great pleasure of visiting San Marino involves strolling around her medieval cobbled streets and battlements and pondering the events of world history while gazing out over the land below. 

But for more concrete examples and a more traditional San Marino travel guide, you can:

Take The Cable Car to the UNESCO World Heritage City

A cable car connects the large (for San Marino) town of Borgo Maggiore with San Marino City – and it’s a fantastic way to make the journey.

Clean and efficient, it’s only as you rise up above the terracotta rooftops that the geography of the area makes sense. No wonder weary soldiers thought better of trying to invade and opted for a bowl of warm soup instead. This area is steep amid a flatland of rolling vineyards and olive groves. 

Ride up at sunset for one of the most spectacular views in the world. 

Cesta tower in San Marino Italy

Walk along the witches’ path between the three towers of San Marino

Visit the Three Towers

Ay caramba. The three medieval towers that claw across the craggy peaks of Titano like a dragon’s spine make fairy tales seem real. 

Known as the three towers, and featured on the San Marino flag, you can climb two of the three and teeter around the battlements and ramparts of the rest of the complex. 

11th century Guaita is the oldest of the three, with steep stony steps and a ladder that gives the view across to Cesta tower.

Cesta is the fairytale turret rising out of the green. Built on a the ruins of a Roman fort, it houses over 1550 weapons from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century.

Once a prison, the Montale tower is no longer open to the public. 

Walk the Witches’ Path

The atmospherically named Witches’ Path curves and claws along the ridge between the Guaita add Cesta towers. And it lives up to the promise of the name. Wear comfy shoes and stride along, imaginary broomstick in tow.

Liberty Squiare or Piazza della Liberta in San Marino Italy

See the Piazza Della Libertà

A beauty spot in itself, Piazza della Libertà offers fantastic views across the countryside as well as the entrance to the Palazzo Pubblico, the official government building. If your’e lucky, as we were, you may even see one of the presidents arrive…

Watch the Changing of the Guard

The changing of the guard ceremony takes place every half hour from 8am to 6pm outside the Palazzo Publico in Liberty Square.

Cycle Mount Titano

Not for the faint of heart or foot (!) you can take the roads and off-road paths of Monte Titano herself in a hair-raising downhill scramble. 

Hire an eBike from the base of the Cable Car to help get back up again ;-)

Making traditional flatbread piadina and drenching with olive oil and rosemary in a farm in San Marino

Nothing tastes better than a freshly cooked piadina

Take a Cooking Class: Make a Mean Piadina

Food in San Marino shares a lot in common with the surrounding Emilia-Romagna countryside. While tourists focus on the UNESCO World Heritage Site citadel, the rest of San Marino consists of traditional farming land and practices. 

And some farmhouses are opening their doors to visitors, forming cooperatives, and running cooking classes through the kind of agroturismo that warms my cockles at night. Once such operation is the Terra di San Marino, where I learned how to make a traditional flatbread called piadina.

You can also learn how to make handmade pasta and buy locally produced olive oil to take home. That’s easily two of the best Italian souvenirs right there, even though they’re Sanmarinese here.

Duty Free Shopping

“More knives and guns than Texas,” was a phrase I heard a lot, although​ make of that what you will. Many day trip visitors are lured in by the duty free shopping experiences and there are a lot of weapons on display. 

Enjoy the Sunset

The sunset views from the 2500 high Mt Titano take some beating. Another good reason not to race away after a day trip. 

Visit Some Quirky Museums

I didn’t have time for all of these on my trip (too busy enjoying that sunset?!) but you can find the following in San Marino. 

  • The Museum of San Francesco – religious sculptures and paintings in cloisters that date back to the 1400s. 
  • The Museum of Ancient Arms – think armour, swords, crossbows and firearms.
  • The Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art – houses over 800 pieces of work. 
  • The Museum of Emigrant – as befits such a small nation, many Sanmarinese need to leave. This museum explores why and how they live elsewhere in the world and discusses the patterns that drive people to go – and then return. 
  • The Ferrari Museum – leave the city confines of San Marino and immerse yourself in shiny cars.
  • The San Marino Museum of Torture – not for me, but if you have the stomach for it, you can visit and reflect that perhaps our current European governments are not so bad after all.

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The San Marino Travel Guide: What to Know Before You Go

When to visit san marino.

July and August are peak months for tourism in Italy – and hence San Marino. The UNESCO World Heritage City is a little cooler than down on the ground, so a trip to San Marino can provide some light relief. 

That said, the spring and autumn months are often far less crowded and the temperatures easier to manage for outdoor activities. May to July and September are probably the best times to go. San Marino can look festive in December but bad weather and mist can obscure the views (although, to be fair, that can happen at any time of year.)

What to wear in San Marino

As with most of Italy, a degree of effort in what you wear is appreciated. Stylish, good quality clothes will help you fit in. But no one will mind if you opt for the full tourist shorts, sneakers and strappy top combo.

What languages do people speak in San Marino?

You can get by in English in most tourist spots, although the official language is Italian.

Do you need a visa to visit San Marino?

If you don’t need a visa to visit Italy, you don’t need one for San Marino. You can pay for a passport stamp as a souvenir, if you wish at the San Marino Tourist Office. At the time of typing, visits are visa free for EU, US and Canadian citizens.

How much time should you spend in San Marino?

Many (many) people visit San Marino as a day trip but if I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Stay overnight to truly get a sense of the place beyond just being a tourist hotspot. That said, San Marino is small so unless you really enjoy slow travel, one night should be fine. 

How to Get to San Marino

San Marino doesn’t have an airport of its own. The closest airport is Federico Fellini International in Rimini (RMI.) However, Bologna Airport (BLQ) serves more international flights.

By Public Transport

From Rimini

Bonelli Bus 72 runs from Rimini Train Station to San Marino on a daily basis. The trip takes just under an hour.

From Bologna

Take the train from Bologna to Rimini and the bus from there. Links are easy to follow and close together and the journey will take around 2 hours 30 minutes. 

It takes just over 4 hours to travel from Rome to San Marino.

I’d highly recommend creating a road trip through the Emilia-Romagna region, combining Bologna, Casa Artusi, Rimini and San Marino. 

You will be able to explore more of the rest of San Marino with your own transport, such as the farmhouse cooking lessons run by the Terra di San Marino.

It takes 90 minutes to drive from Bologna and 45 minutes from Rimini.

Top tip: speak to your hotel about where to park your car in advance. It’s often simpler to park out of the UNESCO area and have the hotel pick you up. 

Getting Around San Marino

You won’t need a car in the central UNESCO World Heritage City of San Marino. It will only get in the way! 

However, to explore the rest of the countryside, it will make life much easier.

San Marino Currency

San Marino has its own mint and while they are not in the European Union, they do use the Euro. 

Using Your Phone in San Marino

There are no additional roaming charges as you cross from Italy to San Marino. So, if you have EU coverage or a SIM for travel within the EU, you will be fine in San Marino.

Hotels in San Marino

For a taste of Agatha Christie-era grandeur, stay at the Grand Hotel San Marino. Although a little dated, the view across San Marino is unbeatable and it’s easier to get to that other San Marino city hotels.

San Marino Tours

Head to the Tourist Office website to book some official tours. Otherwise, a good book and a pair of sturdy shoes should be all you need. It’s a small place and (almost) impossible to get lost.

Where and What to Eat in San Marino

Gastronomy in San Marino is heavily influenced by the surrounding Emilia-Romagna region – or should that be the other way around? Either way, it’s great news for foodies as great wine, pasta, cheese and breads march their way onto the table. 

San Marino has its own wine and protects its cultural traditions, such as making pasta and piadina by hand.

San Marino city may be small but their gastro ambition is not. Here are some restaurants in San Marino that I would recommend in particular:

  • El Righi – Michelin Star Restaurant right in the heart of the city near the parliament building. Includes great pasta and a stone crown discovered during recent renovations. 
  • La Terrazza Restaurant at Hotel Titano – the terrace overlooks medieval turrets and the landscape below.

San Marino Nightlife

Dinner is the main event, followed by strolling around the cobbled streets. San Marino is not a place for night clubs and all night revelry. Thankfully ;-)

What to Pack for San Marino

Build on your standard packing list for Italy with something a little warmer for San Marino. It can get breezy up on that mountaintop!

Looking for a guidebook for San Marino?

  • Buy the Lonely Planet Guide to Italy (it has a great section on San Marino)

Is San Marino Safe?

With its wealth, small area and full police force, it’s probably one of the safest places in the world. Unless you include mountain biking.

What next after San Marino?

A trip to San Marino fits really well into a road trip around the surrounding Emilia-Romagna countryside. Check out this great Emilia Romagna road trip guide and itinerary here.

More on Travel in Italy

  • Beat overwhelm with this Italy itinerary planner
  • Gorgeous and unusual things to do in Italy
  • Tuscany off the beaten path
  • Exploring the Amalfi Coast
  • How to find the best Italian souvenirs

If you enjoyed this San Marino travel guide, please share it with your friends or bookmark on pinterest to read later. Anything I missed? Let me know!

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The Present Perspective

San Marino Travel Guide: Is San Marino Worth Visiting? [2023]

· the san marino travel guide ·.

aerial view of san marino castle and city in a valley of green

As one of the smallest countries in the world, San Marino draws intrigue from a lot of visitors to Italy. After all, San Marino is fully surrounded by Italy and is no bigger than a small city! San Marino is a pretty unique place that many people are excited to visit, either because of the fun things to do or simply out of intrigue that such a small country can exist within another country’s borders.

This post will cover everything you need to know about visiting San Marino and will answer any questions you may have about this tiny nation.

This post contains affiliate links through which we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own.

Is San Marino a Country?

San Marino is indeed a country by every measure. This tiny little nation only consists of about 24 square miles of territory and 33,000 inhabitants, but nevertheless is a fully independent country with its own elected government and diplomatic relations. San Marino is surrounded on all sides by Italy, speaks Italian as its language, and is not all that different from Italy in most ways.

San Marino’s independence is a long story of friendship and diplomacy, and it remains a country to this day because it never really did anything to irk its neighbors. Italy as we know it didn’t exist until the 1800s, and it was just small kingdoms before that.

San Marino managed to become allies with every nation that occupied Italy over time, and as it offered very little strategic advantage, nobody was really all that interested in conquering it.

So in summary, yes San Marino is a fully independent country with its own government, passports, diplomats, and laws. It is entirely independent of Italy even though it is surrounded on every side and has an open border policy. If you are able to enter Italy, you are most likely able to enter San Marino without any kind of additional visa.

San Marino Castle at sunset in autumn

How to Get to San Marino

Get to san marino by flying.

San Marino is a very small country, and it doesn’t have its own international airport. To get to San Marino, you will need to fly into a city in Italy (if you aren’t already in Italy, that is).

San Marino is closest to the city of Rimini, but Rimini’s airport is small and will not have great international flight options, if any. Your best airport options to get to San Marino are either Florence or Bologna , which both made my list of the best airports to fly into in Italy.

From either of these airports, you can take a train to San Marino. There is no direct train, and you will need to make two train changes along your route.

If you plan on taking a train to San Marino, Bologna is the better choice to fly into, as it is two hours closer by train. In fact, if you fly into Florence, you will need to take a train that goes through Bologna, anyway.

If you plan on driving a car, Bologna is about a 90-minute drive from San Marino and Florence is about 3 hours (and like the train, the drive also passes through Bologna).

should i visit san marino

– R E A D –

Get to San Marino by Train

I mention this in all of my Italy travel guides, and I will say it again here. Italy has one of the best and most extensive train systems I have ever used. Trenitalia , which is the country’s national train line, is simply incredible. The train cars are nice, the prices are affordable, and the system is incredibly well-connected.

I personally think that traveling by train through Italy is the best way to go, and the same holds true when it comes to getting to San Marino.

San Marino does have a train station and you can take a train right into the country. However, you may have even better luck taking a train to Rimini and then boarding a bus for the 15-mile ride to San Marino. Rimini is a much bigger and busier city than San Marino, meaning that you may have faster train options to Rimini that require fewer stops and switches than the train to San Marino.

Right outside of the Rimini train station, you will find the buses that go to San Marino, and they are very clearly marked. The company is Bonelli Bus. You can buy tickets in cash from the bus driver, and buses leave all throughout the day, every day of the year.

should i visit san marino

Best Things to Do in San Marino

1. hike up to the three towers.

To me, this is the best thing to do in San Marino. The most iconic images of San Marino are all of its three towers at the peak of Mount Titano, Guaita, Cesta, and Montale.

Guaita was the first tower built in San Marino, and historians debate whether it was built in the 11th or 12 century. This is the most iconic structure in San Marino and is the castle-like tower that you are sure to recognize from photos of the tiny republic.

You can explore the tower much more than you may think, as you can even enter inside and climb some stairs and a ladder to get onto its roof.

drone shot view of castle towers on green cliff overlooking the country of san marino

Trust me – it is worth it for the view!

Cesta, the second tower, is now the home of the Museum of Ancient Arms . This tower isn’t quite as grand as the first one, but is still worth the trip to visit! After all, if you hiked up to see the first tower, you may as well see the others, right?

The cobblestone path connecting the first two towers, known locally as the Witches Path, is one of the most tranquil places in the country, too, and is the perfect place to sit on the ledge and catch your breath. The museum in the second tower is a cool place to visit, too, displaying weapons and armor from centuries past.

Montale, the third tower, serves much less of a purpose from a tourism perspective as it cannot even be entered. Still, you should walk out to it to enjoy the fantastic views it offers of the valley below.

2. Visit the State Museums of San Marino

The State Museums of San Marino are a nifty spot to check out, as they do a fantastic job of documenting San Marino’s history and legacy. This is especially unique, as San Marino is such a tiny country and has never had a monarch.

white concrete building with roman columns near green trees under blue sky during daytime

It is the oldest republic in the world, was founded by a priest, and survived an era of city-states that has since passed.

Other than Vatican City, there is no other city-state remaining in Italy.

How in the world did San Marino not get invaded or conquered over the past thousand years? Even Napoleon couldn’t do it? Visit the State Museums of San Marino for the answers to these questions and more.

The museum in the second tower is one of the State Museums, actually. Tickets cost €6 for entrance into two museums, or €8 for a pass granting you access to all of the museums.

3. Visit the Torture Museum [Queasy Warning]

I have been to torture museums all around the world. From California to Amsterdam to London to Prague , I have seen my fair share of these places. However, in my opinion, nothing tops the Torture Museum in San Marino. This museum is extremely well put together and is really a must-do thing in San Marino.

This museum is not for those with weak stomachs.

Room filled with renaissance torture devices

With that being said, I feel the need to give you a warning. The museum is not for those with weak stomachs. I don’t have a weak stomach, but even I had to sit down and take some deep breaths at points throughout the museum.

It is dark, it is disgusting, and it is hard to handle. But it’s human history, and it’s important to see and acknowledge. This place is not kid-friendly whatsoever. Tickets cost €8 per person and are worth every penny.

4. Ride the San Marino Cable Car

The San Marino Cable Car connects the town of Borgo Maggiore to the City of San Marino. It provides some really spectacular views of the town and the sea off to the east and is a really great way to get up to the city.

Personally, I don’t think that it is worth the time or money if you are already up in the City of San Marino, as the views from the towers are better than the views from the cable car.

If you are parking in Borgo Maggiore, though, don’t take the bus up to the city. Take the cable car! Tickets cost €2,80 one way or €4,50 round trip and can be purchased at the cable car station.

aerial photo of city from cable car

5. Hang Out in the Piazza della Libertà

The Piazza della Libertà is the main square in the City of San Marino and is one of the centers of life and culture in the little nation. Here is where you can meet and mingle with locals, grab a nice bite to eat, and even watch the changing of the guard outside of the municipal building.

White stone statue in San Marino square with flag during daytime

There isn’t much to actually do here other than relax, but I am a big fan of just grabbing a coffee and soaking in the sights, smells, and sounds around me. The Piazza della Libertà is the place to do that in San Marino.

Once you are done relaxing in the square and watching the changing of the guard, be sure to explore the streets that extend off from here. The little cobblestone streets are narrow and date back over 500 years, and you really do feel like you’re stepping back in time.

How to Get Around San Marino

San Marino is tiny. The entire country is only 24 square miles, and the parts that you will want to see are even smaller. The country is made up of the city and the rural land surrounding it. The city is small enough to be fully explored in a day on foot, and there is no need at all for a bike, car, or scooter. Walking is absolutely the way to get around San Marino.

With that being said, San Marino is a very hilly country and actually requires a little physical fitness to explore. Hiking to the castle takes some real effort, and the slopes and steps are pretty steep.

San Marino is not a very handicap-accessible country, either. You can’t do much in the city without walking up steep hills, so be sure to take that into consideration before visiting.

aerial view of italian city rooftops

How Many Days Do You Need in San Marino?

As I mentioned before, San Marino is pretty tiny. While there is more to the country than just the City of San Marino, the city is really where you will spend the brunt of your time. You can easily do San Marino as a day trip from Bologna or Rimini, if you’re already there.

Seeing all of the major sights, visiting the most popular museums, and stopping for a couple meals can all be done in a day or less.

I recommend staying a night if you can, though. Day trips feel rushed to me, and while a day trip might check off all of the boxes of the best things to do in San Marino, you miss out on a bit of the country’s vibe by rushing through it. I recommend trying to stay a night and catching a sunrise or sunset up by the towers.

brown concrete Italian church steeple with cross during daytime

Is San Marino Worth Visiting?

This question really just depends on what you are looking for. In many ways, San Marino isn’t all that unique from Italy. In other ways, it’s extremely different.

If you are a history buff, I think San Marino is a must. The country’s history is very unique and interesting, and the sole fact that it still exists as a country is a historical marvel. I mean, the country’s leaders were best friends with both the pope and Napoleon!

If history isn’t really your thing, San Marino could still be worth visiting. Personally, I think the views from the towers are worth the trip themselves if you aren’t too far away. I wouldn’t recommend flying from another country to get here. But if you are already in Eastern Italy, it doesn’t hurt to come to check San Marino out for at least a day.

So, if you ask me “Is San Marino worth visiting while in Italy?” I would say yes. Is San Marino worth visiting on a trip of its own? Not really. Pair it with a trip to Bologna, though, and you’re in for a real treat!

italian countryside

That’s all we have for you about San Marino! Hopefully, this post has helped you to determine whether or not San Marino is worth visiting on your next trip to central Italy. I sure think so!

If you’re planning a trip to San Marino, comment below ! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have.

Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.

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should i visit san marino

PlanetWare.com

14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in San Marino

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers Updated Mar 9, 2021 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Only 61 square kilometers in size, the little Republic of San Marino is independent, with its own government and laws, even though it is completely surrounded by Italy. The world's oldest sovereign state, it dates from the fourth century AD. Atop the center of this hilly area's highest point, Mount Titano, is the capital city of San Marino.

Fortresses

Medieval stone walls enclose the original settlement, built entirely of stone and closed to traffic. A single street leading up to Piazza della Libertà is lined with cafés, restaurants, and shops selling ceramics and duty-free items. Duty-free shopping in San Marino is one of its attractions to visiting Italian tourists.

The three fortresses at the top of the mountain give San Marino its best-known image and are linked by a path that runs along the entire ridge of the mountain.

Discover other rewarding things to do here with our list of the top attractions in San Marino.

1. Rocca Guaita (Guaita Fortress)

2. monte titano, 3. palazzo pubblico and piazza della liberta, 4. basilica di san marino, 5. museo di stato (national museum), 6. museum of curiosities, 7. ride the cable car for views, 8. wax museum, 9. maranello rosso ferrari museum, 10. convent and art gallery san francisco, 11. castle towns, 12. museum of agricultural culture and traditions, 13. coin and stamp museum, 14. day trip to riviera romagnola beaches, where to stay in san marino for sightseeing, map of attractions & things to do in san marino.

Rocca Guaita

Three fortresses crown the long ridge of Mount Titano, with the city of San Marino clustered at the foot of their walls. The first and earliest of the fortresses is Rocca Guaita, constructed in the 11th century. It served for a time as a prison and was rebuilt several times for different uses until it reached the form we see today, during the 15th-century war between San Marino and the House of Malatesta.

It takes a bit of climbing to get here, but the tower is well worth a visit for the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from its lofty perch.

Address: Via Salita alla Rocca, San Marino

Rocca Cesta

The highest point for miles, 739-meter-high Mount Titano commands spectacular views from any of its three towers. The views stretch northwest to the Apennines and east to the coast, Rimini, and on a clear day across the Adriatic to the Dalmatian coast in Croatia.

Three castles punctuate its long ridge, rising to the highest of them, Rocca Cesta. These are linked by a paved path, the Passo delle Streghe or Witches' Passage. The lower part of this is lined with kiosks selling snacks, drinks, and souvenirs, giving the mountain top the air of a carnival. Rocca Cesta contains a museum of ancient arms with thousands of weapons: swords, knives, and crossbows, as well as early firearms and some unusual experiments, such as a 1730 dagger-gun.

The iconic three towers are shown on both the San Marino flag and coat of arms and are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site , which includes the old town below.

Palazzo Pubblico and Piazza della Liberta

The neo-Gothic-style Government House (Palazzo Pubblico) with its square crenelated tower was designed by the architect Francesco Azzurri in the late 1800s and built of stone quarried on Mount Titano. The facade is decorated with coats-of-arms of the Republic and its four municipalities, and inside, a staircase leads to the Council Hall on the top floor.

Piazza della Liberta is one of the most popular places to visit in San Marino because frequently throughout the day, the Guardie di Rocca change guard in a colorful ceremony. Their uniforms - a dark green double-breasted jacket with white braid, red trousers with a green stripe, hats with red pompoms, and white gaiters - assure that everyone scores great photos of the event.

Address: Piazza della Liberta, San Marino Città

Basilica di San Marino

This Neo-classical basilica was built in the early 19th century on the foundations of a fourth-century Romanesque church, also dedicated to San Marino (St. Marinus), which had been abandoned. The interior is classic basilica style, with a long nave and two side aisles lined with altars.

The seven altars are worth seeing for their statuary and paintings, and the high altar has a statue of St. Marinus sculptured by Tadolini. An urn at the high altar contains the relics of St. Marinus.

Address: Piazza Domus Plebis, San Marino Città

This excellent museum in the historic Palazzo Pergami Belluzzi shows archaeological collections beginning with Neolithic Age artifacts and later Etruscan and Roman finds. The collections of ancient arts are not confined to the Italian peninsula and include Egyptian antiquities, Byzantine icons, 17th-century paintings, and antique San Marino coins.

Many of the nearly 5,000 items in the museum were donated in the 19th century from private collections of Italian intellectuals and political figures who wanted to show their admiration for the little republic.

Address: Piazzetta del Titano 1, San Marino Città

Certainly one of the quirkiest and most entertaining things to do in San Marino is this collection of strange objects and peculiar inventions and their stories.

In the collection of about 100 objects are 60-centimeter-tall wooden clogs designed to wear during Venice's high waters, the world's longest fingernails, a 1700s German mousetrap, a trap for fleas, a 17th-century hand-pumped shower, a "nose watch" that works by creating smoke of different scents each hour, and silver covers to protect the long fingernails of Chinese Mandarins. The exhibits are well labeled to provide fascinating glimpses into history.

There are displays about unusual people, too: the world's tallest recorded man and its shortest woman. Even the free transport offered to take you from the municipal parking to the museum is interesting - a 1913 Ford motor-coach.

Address: Via Salita della Rocca 26, San Marino Città

San Marino's Funavia

Although designed for the very utilitarian purpose of moving people from the lower Borgo to the upper Citta quickly and conveniently, San Marino's Funavia is a scenic experience of its own. On the trip up the slopes of Mount Titano to San Marino's historical center, you'll get sweeping views to 200 kilometers of Adriatic coastline, bird's-eye views of tiled rooftops, and vast panoramas of rolling green hills and farmland.

Of course, you'll save a lot of steps and time, too. Cars leave either station at 15-minute intervals beginning at 7:50 in the morning.

Address: Piazzale Campo della Fiera, Borgo Maggiore, San Marino

The 100 wax figures in the museum represent significant historical characters, each dressed in the clothing of their day and arranged in scenes, often with other contemporaries. Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler are shown meeting, Jacqueline Kennedy is shown in audience with Pope John XXIII, and Giuseppe Garibaldi is at the bedside of his dying wife, Anita.

Others are shown with their inventions or tools: Marconi with his telegraph, Galileo with telescope in hand, Da Vinci holding a paintbrush - or at historic moments, such as President Abraham Lincoln's assassination in Ford's Theater. You'll learn a little about San Marino's history here, too.

Address: Via Lapicidi Marini 17, San Marino Città

Official site: www.museodellecerersm.com

The Vintage Car Museum at the foot of Mount Titano houses a collection of automobiles relating to the history, life, and cars of Enzo Ferrari and Carlo Abarth. You'll find sports cars, Formula 1, and cars belonging to famous people, including the first Ferrari Spyder designed by Pininfarina and owned by Marilyn Monroe.

Among the 25 Ferrari cars dating from 1951 to the present is the most famous of all, the 250 GTO Red that won three World Championships. There are unpublished photos and mementoes from the history of competitions, races, and the sport successes and life of Carlo Abarth.

Address: Strada dei Censiti 21, Falciano, San Marino

The San Francisco Convent

The San Francisco Convent, completed in 1400, is worth visiting for its beautiful cloister, as well as for the art displayed here. The church is now home to an art museum. In the sacred art part of the museum are works from several former Franciscan churches, including paintings on canvas and wood, furnishings, and other items illustrating the long history and influence of the order in San Marino.

The Art Gallery section is known for its collections of 16th-century paintings, which include works by Raphael, Guercino, and Gerolamo. The city's main entrance, a massive gate known as the Porta di San Francesco , is built into the walls of the church.

Address: Via Basilicius, San Marino

View towards castle towns in San Marino

Surrounding the capital in the Republic of San Marino are a number of small villages set on peaks and spurs surmounted by castles of their own; most offer excellent views of the countryside and of Mount Titano, and several have interesting histories. Domagnano's fortress of Montelupo was constructed in 1463 and played a part in San Marino's war against the Malatesta of Rimini.

In the same year, Faetano , once territory of the Malatesta, was taken over by San Marino, and they also acquired the Malatesta castle in Fiorentino . One of the most beautiful castles is in Montegiardino , a town that dates back at least to the Roman era. Both Borgo Maggiore and Serravalle have grown from villages to become important residential centers of San Marino.

Agricultural land in San Marino

It may seem odd to find a fully restored and furnished farmhouse museum in a tiny principality that clings to a cliff-top, but San Marino is very proud of its long agricultural heritage. The House of Fabrica in Montecchio is one of the oldest patronal houses, dating from the mid-1700s at least.

Restored to its original state and furnished to recreate the daily lives of farm families in the villages around Mount Titano, the museum seeks to preserve something of the traditions and customs of rural life. Along with farm tools such as sickles and hoes, there are domestic tools, copper pots, coal-heated flat-irons, a loom, cradle, and other historic furnishings.

Address: Strada di Montecchio 11, San Marino Città

San Marino postage stamps

For stamp collectors worldwide, San Marino means beautiful postage stamps, and philatelists can admire a complete collection in this museum housed in the church at Borgo Maggiore . The republic has for many years issued regular commemorative series, which are sought after by collectors and are a not-inconsequential source of income for San Marino's treasury.

Along with the stamps issued by the republic since the mid-19th century are coins, which San Marino began minting in 1862. Since adopting the Euro, San Marino has continued to mint limited editions of gold coins for collectors. These are accepted as currency inside San Marino only.

Address: Piazza Grande 24, Borgo Maggiore, San Marino

Rimini beach

Miles of beautiful white sands lapped by the Adriatic line Italy's east coast in a holiday region known as the Riviera Romagnola. At the center of these is Rimini, only 22 kilometers from San Marino. All these towns have the usual Italian-style beach resorts, with rows of lounge chairs and umbrellas for rent, but many also have free beaches, most also equipped with changing rooms and lifeguards.

Heading south from Rimini there are excellent beaches at Rivabella, Riccione, and Cattolica, especially popular places for families, with gentle waves and safe Blue Flag beaches. North of Rimini are Viserba; Visebella; Bellaria; and the beautiful port of Cesenatico, with its little harbor full of vintage boats. The free beach of Tamerici at Cesenatico is planted with trees whose lush foliage provides natural beach umbrellas.

The most convenient hotels for tourists are those in the old hilltop town, where most of the attractions are. But the cable car makes travel between the lower Borgo and the upper town easy, and you'll find places to eat in both.

  • Deluxe rooms at the Grand Hotel San Marino have balconies overlooking beautiful views of the countryside. The panoramic terrace features a Jacuzzi and sun beds. The location is convenient, only a few steps from tourist attractions in the historic center.
  • Right in the center, in a historic home that has been in the owner's family since medieval times, Antica Bifora has some connecting rooms that are good for families. The generous breakfast is included, and rooms have bathrobes and tea/coffee making supplies.
  • Recently restored and located right beneath the castle walls, Rosa Hotel is on a quiet street in the historic center, perfectly situated for sightseeing. Breakfast and Wi-Fi are both included.
  • Another good place to stay for families is Hotel La Grotta , with comfortable family-sized rooms. Wi-Fi is free and breakfast included; it's in the town center near museums and other places to visit.

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Exploring Florence : It's a beautiful drive through the forest parkland of the Apennine mountains to Florence , where you can wander the streets and marvel at the magnificent Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and its beautiful Renaissance palaces. To find the best of these, use our helpful article on Exploring the Top-Rated Palaces in Florence: A Visitor's Guide .

San Marino Map - Tourist Attractions

More on Italy

Italy Travel Guide

San Marino Day Trip: The Perfect Itinerary

So small – and so spectacular! The old town of San Marino is majestically enthroned at the top of Monte Titano. No wonder its historic centre has been proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site . San Marino is simply breathtakingly beautiful.

Referred to as a microstate, San Marino is one of the smallest countries in the world . It is completely surrounded by Italy. Therefore, visiting San Marino is ideal for a road trip through “Bella Italia”.

In this travel guide we show you all you can experience on a day trip to San Marino and which sights are not to be missed. On top of this we share our experiences , what we enjoyed, and of course, as always, our personal tips and the best itinerary for your day trip.

1. San Marino: Overview of the microstate [initial travel tips]

2. san marino travel guide: things to see on a day trip, 3. practical travel tips for your day trip (arrival, entry, parking etc.), 4. staying the night in san marino, 5. further travel destinations around san marino, 6. map: the best sights for your day trip at a glance.

San Marino Travel Guide

Useful & exciting facts

  • San Marino is tiny . Spanning just 12 kilometres from north to south. Crazy, right?
  • San Marino is considered the oldest republic in the world .
  • The old town is enthroned on a ridge of Monte Titano . The area is really extraordinarily spectacular. It isn’t for no reason that San Marino’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Around 30,000 people live in San Marino – the vast majority not in the old town, but in the suburbs at the foot of the mountain.
  • San Marino is not part of the EU . However, you still pay using euros.

San Marino’s flair: our (honest) experience

As spectacularly as San Marino is situated – unfortunately the flair of the town centre (at the capital on the mountain) did not amaze us personally as much as we had hoped. To clarify what we mean, we need to expand a little.

No doubt, the city landscape of the old town is beautiful. Small alleyways, old houses, stunning buildings and of course the three landmark towers – San Marino is quite a feast for the eyes.

However: the life was missing for us. The old town is completely, thoroughly catered towards tourists. There are rows of souvenir shops, jewellers, leather goods shops and gun stores. Yes, you read right. Gun stores. There are an absurd amount of stores in San Marino where you can buy pocket knives, air pistols and so on. Why is this? We didn’t understand until the end, but it definitely puts people off.

Taking a stroll through San Marino feels a bit like visiting a museum . And unfortunately we don’t mean that in a positive way. Nevertheless: the historic town centre is definitely worth seeing, even though the sparks didn’t really fly with us. 

Is a day trip enough to visit the main sights?

Admittedly: it sounds a little strange to visit a whole republic in just one day. In the case of San Marino, we definitely think that taking a day trip is enough.

All the main attractions can be found in the old town (the capital, which is enthroned on the hill). You can imagine this part of San Marino as being kind of like a small, medieval town , which can be explored rather quickly. There would even be enough time for an excursion to Borgo Maggiore (the municipality at the foot of the mountain, where the gondola starts). 

If you would like, you can of course also spend one night (or two) in San Marino. Although, the hotel selection is rather light, because the vast majority of guests only visit San Marino on a day trip.

San Marino Travel Tips

The three towers

San Marino’s landmark and easily the main attractions are the three defence towers and the associated castle complex. They are enthroned on the ridge of Monte Titano and can be seen far and wide.

  • Guaita:  The first tower is the oldest and most iconic of the three. From this tower (and from the castle’s defence wall) you get a grandiose view of the second castle complex.
  • Cesta:  The second tower (also called „Fratta“) is just as impressive. You can visit it, although the area is currently (as at Spring 2022) being renovated. You have a great view from here back towards the first tower.
  • Montale:  The third tower in the bunch is the smallest and youngest of the three. It probably originates in the 14 th Century. It is not possible to visit this tower.

Travel Tip: witches’ path between tower 1 + 2

All three castle complexes are connected via a so-called witches’ path. They path is always open (even outside of opening hours). Most of all, you can look forward to the iconic postcard picture view in the first part of the witch path.

The stone staircase with a view of the second tower, Cesta, presents an especially popular photo opportunity . Also don’t miss the view back towards Guaita. It is really impressive to see how the majestic fortress is perched here on the ridge.

San Marino Witch Path

Palazzo Pubblico in the Piazza della Libertà

The central square of San Marino’s old town is the Piazza della Libertà. One of the nation’s most important sights is situated here, the Palazzo Pubblico . It is the seat of the town hall, parliament and the government – and is also depicted on the back of the 2 euro coin.

The Palazzo Pubblico immediately catches the eye with its cream coloured, Neo-Renaissance style façade. You can also view the palace interior (including the large boardroom), as long as there isn’t an important meeting taking place.

The spacious Piazza della Libertà stretches out in front of the Palazzo Pubblico. The square is open to the south-west so that you can enjoy a great view of the surrounding landscape. In our opinion, you shouldn’t leave San Marino without having paid a visit here.

San Marino Palazzo Pubblico

San Marino Basilica

San Marino‘s  main church is the San Marino Basilica. It was built in the 19 th century in classical style and is definitely one of the most impressive sights in the country.

You can of course also view the church interior. Entrance is free. The column architecture of the cathedral’s entrance continues into the interior. We personally found the flair very special and worth seeing.  

Small tip: be sure to dress appropriately. You cannot enter with shorts, short skirts or bare shoulders.

Basilica San Marino

Tip: get your passport stamped

You can get a pretty souvenir for your passport from the tourist information centre in the Piazzetta Giuseppe Garibaldi. You can get a sticker with a stamp in your passport for 5 euros . Clearly, this whole thing is rather touristy, but we really enjoy this special kind of souvenir.

San Marino passport stamped

Arrival: how to get to San Marino

San Marino is located inland, only about ten kilometres away from the Adriatic sea, and is completely surrounded by Italy . The next largest city is Rimini, which you can drive to in less than half an hour.

San Marino does not have any airports . You usually get there using your own car, especially if coming from Germany or Austria. It is a good 8 hour drive to this region from Vienna.

An alternative possibility is to arrive by plane (e.g. to Bologna). You can find cheap flights on Skyscanner . From there you can then book a rental car. We always book our rental cars through Sunny Cars .

You can book your rental car here: Sunny Cars

Entrance into San Marino

Entering San Marino from Italy is less spectacular than you would think. There are several border crossings, which you only notice if you’re really paying attention. There are simply signs that say you are leaving the European Union.

Surprisingly, there is no border control , so you don’t need to account for wait times. The same entry requirements apply in San Marino as in Italy.

Tips for parking

Once you arrive in San Marino, you have roughly two options for parking to reach the (mainly car free) old town (i.e. the capital).

Option 1: You park “down” in the municipality of Borgo Maggiore (e.g. at carpark P11). You take the gondola (Funivia di San Marino) from there directly to San Marino’s old town. The trip (there and back) costs 5 euros. The top station is located practically in the middle of San Marino’s old town.

Option 2: You drive along the road up towards the old town. You can park there at e.g. carpark P9. From there you reach the town centre via two elevators. Then just a short stroll (uphill) lies between you and the town centre.

San Marino cable car

Option 1 (our tip): In neighbouring Italy

Personally, we wouldn’t suggest you stay in San Marino, but instead one of the surrounding villages in Italy. The picturesque town of Santarcangelo di Romagna is recommendable. You can drive from there to San Marino in less than half an hour.

We can highly recommend the Delle Farfalle Boutique B&B . This personally managed bed and breakfast is located in a peaceful area on the outskirts of Santarcangelo di Romagna’s old town. There are only three rooms and a lovely garden.

You can book the B&B here: Delle Farfalle Boutique B&B

Option 2: In San Marino

If you stay overnight in San Marino, you do naturally have the advantage being able to get up and going in the morning and explore the old town before everyone else. The majority of the guests visit San Marino on a day trip, so of course staying the night there has its appeal.   

The range of accommodation options in San Marino is fairly slim. We recommend the B&B Balsimelli 12 , an authentic Bed and Breakfast located right in the historic old town. The rooftop terrace and its view is simply fantastic.

You can book the B&B here: B&B Balsimelli 12

Hotel Santarcangelo di Romagna

If you are not already staying in Rimini and visiting San Marino from there, then taking a stop-off in the small town is definitely worth the while. Aside from parties and the beach, Rimini has a lot on offer.

Rimini’s old town , with its many Roman remnants, exudes a very special flair. The Tiberius Bridge and the Arch of Augustus are particularly impressive.

You can find our tips in this blog article: Rimini Sights (available soon)

The small town of Verucchio sits gracefully on a hill just a few kilometres away from the border to San Marino. We personally really liked it here.

The main sight in Verucchio is the historic castle complex , the Malatesta, from which you can enjoy a dreamy view into the Marecchia valley and back towards the Adriatic coast.

The flair of the alleyways in Verucchio’s old town is just as charming. Time passes slower here. Because Verucchio is so small and quick to explore, a couple of hours is enough time for a visit.

West of San Marino, just five kilometres as the crow flies, lies another jewel: San Leo. With its medieval and spectacularly situated fortress , San Leo is a little reminiscent of San Marino in terms of its setting.

Although, the flair of the town centre is hardly comparable. San Leo can gladly be described as an insider tip. We personally had a really great time here.

Verucchio Italy

To round things off, we have marked all of the main sights and our tips for your day trip on this interactive map. How do you get the most out of this map? Our tip: it is best to click the top right corner of the map, to open the map in the Google Maps app on your smartphone. That way, you can comfortably navigate your way from A to B while there.

Disclaimer: Affiliate Links

This travel guide contains our personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you book or buy something via the links, we will receive a small commission. This will not change the price for you at all. A million thanks from the both of us! 

Have you already been to San Marino? How did you like it? Do you have any additional tips for the perfect day trip? We look forward to hearing about your experiences below this blog article.

You might also be interested in this

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Is San Marino Worth Visiting? 10 Things To Do In San Marino [2024]

Is San Marino Worth Visiting? 10 Things To Do In San Marino [2024]

By Gemma Tedaldi | Published: 3rd June 2018 | Updated: 2nd January 2024

should i visit san marino

It may be one of the smallest countries in Europe but San Marino is quite possibly the quaintest country we have had the joy of visiting. Matt and I recently ventured there during a week-long trip to Northern Italy and boy if you ever needed some reasons to visit San Marino, there is an abundance! So here our the top 10 things to do in San Marino:

Table of Contents

  • Is San Marino Worth Visiting?

Things to do in San Marino Map

Things to do in san marino.

  • Is San Marino Worth Visiting? Things to do in San Marino FAQs

Planning Your Trip? Use our favourite travel resources below:

Accommodation: We recommend Booking.com

Rental Car: We recommend Rentalcars.com

Flights: We recommend Kiwi.com

Tours: We recommend Get Your Guide

Is San Marino worth visiting?

If you like incredible views, historic sights galore, and visiting one of the smallest countries in the world, then yes San Marino is worth visiting. We only visited for the day, but boy did we love it, we’re planning a trip back ASAP! Just be aware that like entering any country you will need to have a valid passport to get into San Marino, it is its own teeny tiny country after all.

1. Walk the Medieval Town Walls

The walls that surround the capital/country, (it is basically the same thing, to be honest!), are astounding architectural pieces of sculpture as well as building. You can climb up onto them at Portanova Gate, as we did when entering the capital, and walk across the top of them to gain access into the heart of the country. San Marino was once fortified by three enclosing walls like these, however, they have been taken down to allow for the capital to expand.

2. Explore the narrow cobblestone streets

The capital is filled with narrow streets you can just fit people past in, which to me makes it even more unique as a country. They manage to cram every little bit out of every view for both tourists and residents alike with tiny balconies to put a single chair on at sunset to a high wall covered in flowering plants, I could most definitely live there!

3. Wander through the Markets

As with most European countries, San Marino has a number of little market stalls that sit along the edges of the cobbled streets, walkways between the three towers and the main piazza. Mainly leather market stalls but we did come across a few selling various liquors and San Marino goods, of which everything is cheaper than in Italy as there is no tax duty on them!

10 reasons to visit San Marino

4. Explore the Three Towers

The three towers of San Marino not only make up the landmark for the country but also the flag and a cake! Guaita Fortress is the first tower you come across and oldest of the three towers. It is also the most famous as it sits directly on top of Monte Titano.

Cesta Tower is the second tower along the ridgeline of the country which is now being used to house the Museum of Archaic Arms. The third and final tower not many venture too as it is a trek through the woodlands. Don’t let that put you off finding Montale Tower though as it has the best views out from San Marino as it was once used as a look-out post.

10 reasons to visit San Marino

5. Enjoy the Delicious Wine

Now after being in Italy for 4 days previously Matt and I had had our fair share of nice wine, but the wine in San Marino was something else! If you venture there head to the Restaurant Falco across the bridged walkway for great wine and views to die for.

6. Find the beautiful woodland

You could wander away hours in the woodland, filled with birdsong and the views completely hidden from sight, you could be anywhere in the world.

7. Discover the Piazza Della Libertà

The main square in San Marino is a great place to people watch if nothing else. Lined on one side with bars and cafes and amazing views on the other, I recommend you find a spot to sit and watch the world go by without a care in the world. Glass of San Marino wine in hand obviously.

IMG_8509

8. Relax in the Liburnian Garden

This hidden away garden is a must find when visiting San Marino. The trickling sound of water will entice you through a gallery space into an open courtyard where no one else dares go. The peaceful nature of the space lets you relax after hiking up and down the hillsides of the country all day!

9. Walk the Via Donna Felicissima

This street is named after the legend of Donna Felicissima, a noblewoman from Rimini who gave Monte Titano to Marino, as a sign of gratitude for having healed the son Verissimo. It is well worth a stroll up and down to soak in the culture of San Marino, with sculptures on one side and beautiful flower beds and distant views on the other.

10. Enjoy the views

should i visit san marino

Where to stay in San Marino

We didn’t actually stay in San Marino as we visited from Rimini as part of our week-long trip in Emilia Romagna, ( check that post out here ), but there are numerous options for staying overnight in San Marino. From spa hotels to pizzerias with accommodation, hotels with rooftop bars to bed and breakfasts hidden in the historic centre, there really is something for everyone.

B e sure to check out Booking.com or the below map for the best accommodation rates and options for your trip to San Marino.

Things to do in San Marino FAQs

Where is san marino.

The third-smallest country in Europe (after Vatican City and Monaco) and the fifth-smallest country in the world, San Marino is a mountainous micro-country surrounded by the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. At only 61.2km², the World Heritage UNESCO Site is one of the world’s oldest republics, with incredible views, (even the winding bus journey up to the capital is stunning), historic architecture, and, as we found out, delicious wine.

📍 San Marino to Rimini – 35 minute, 23km drive or 1 hour and 35 minute bus

📍 San Marino to Bologna – 1 hour 45 minute, 135km drive or 3 hour bus then train

📍 San Marino to Florence – 2 hour 50 minute, 250km drive or 3 hour 50 minute bus then train

📍 San Marino to Venice – 2 hour 50 minute, 280km drive or 4 hour 50 minute bus then train

📍 San Marino to Rome – 4 hour 15 minute, 330km drive or 5 hour 30 minute bus then train

How to get to San Marino:

Which airport should i use for san marino.

The nearest airport to San Marino is Federico Fellini International Airport at Rimini, (17km away), however if coming from outside of Europe then your best bet is to fly into either Florence, (100km away), Bologna, (113km away) or Pisa, (167km away).

How to get to San Marino by car

You can easily drive to San Marino from surrounding Italy, and even other countries across Europe, but it is the parking in this micro country that may cause you a problem! (There is limited parking here, and due to the nature of the country, you can not drive into the main centre of it due to the narrow historic streets). Rental cars picked up from within Italy allow for driving in San Marino, and as there is no border control you will have no problems entering the country.

How to get to San Marino by public transport – Rimini to San Marino Bus

As San Marino is such a small country, you can forgive it for not having an airport or train station. So, the easiest way to get to San Marino is actually via local buses from Rimini in Italy. Rimini is the closest place you will find an airport or train station, so it makes sense to arrive in San Marino from there.

It takes roughly 1 hour from Rimini Stazione to the bus stop drop off in San Marino via Bonellibus and costs roughly 5 euros each way, but the views are well worth the ride itself! You could always opt to drive or take a taxi instead, but the parking is very limited in San Marino and a taxi can cost between 30 and 50 euros easily.

10 reasons to visit San Marino

How to get around San Marino

The easiest way to get around San Marino is on foot. With tiny alleyways, cobbled streets, and lots of footpaths to explore, you wouldn’t want to get around San Marino any other way. Cycling to or from San Marino would be great fun through the surrounding Emilia Romagna scenery but you wouldn’t want to cycle in San Marino itself.

Even though technically there are more cars than people in San Marino, we wouldn’t recommend driving into San Marino yourself either. Not only is it really small so you won’t need a car to get around, but you might struggle to find a parking space in between all the locals’ cars. Plus, you will need an International Driving Permit.

When is the best time to visit San Marino?

The best time to visit San Marino is in the spring or the autumn, avoiding the peak of the tourist season summer holidays, and the heat, (being on a hill it can get quite hot in the middle of the summer). We visited in September and we had the most perfect weather as well as few crowds to contend with.

How long do you need in San Marino?

If you have a chance to visit San Marino for a day trip then you will most definitely get to see some of the most beautiful and best bits of this country. If you have more time then we would suggest three days in San Marino would be plenty.

What is San Marino popular for?

San Marino is not only popular due to its medieval streets and piazzas and historic guard towers that line the country but due to its spectacular location high in the hills of the Italian countryside. It is also the oldest surviving sovereign state in the world, being founded in 301.

Is San Marino cheaper than Italy? Is San Marino expensive?

San Marino is in fact cheaper than Italy, even though it is surrounded on all sides by the country. The taxes are low in San Marino and because the country relies on tourism for a lot of its income, this means as a visitor you will get more for your money than if you were in Italy.

Do you need passport to visit San Marino?

You won’t need a passport to enter San Marino as the country has an open border with Italy and to enter Italy as an international tourist you will have already been through passport control. You can however get your passport stamped, for a small fee, at the tourism office.

Can you just walk into San Marino?

In theory, yes you could just walk into San Marino, but you should make sure to have a passport that has a valid ‘entry stamp’, from a different Schengen country i.e. from your arrival into a European country. If you live or have residence in a Europe country then you do not need to show an entry stamp if asked, just your permit / passport.

What is San Marino?

San Marino is a micro country surrounded by Italy.

Why visit San Marino?

Why not visit San Marino! Not only is it one of the smallest countries in Europe, which means you can visit and cover most of the country in a day, but it has some of the most incredible views over neighbouring Italy as well.

Is San Marino tourist friendly?

San Marino is very tourist-friendly, (other than the limited public transport options for reaching the country). It may be small but it packs a lot to see and experience, with historic architecture, including towers and a medieval walled town, quaint cobblestone lanes, beautiful gardens, and of course a good view or two. The locals are also extremely friendly and the food is delicious, with it taking local dishes from nearby Italy, and giving them a San Marino hint.

Is San Marino in Italy?

San Marino is surrounded by Italy but is its own country and one of the world’s oldest republics.

Is San Marino safe?

San Marino is very safe to visit as well as to live in, as with high levels of employment, (mainly through tourism opportunities), there is minimal crime. As with anywhere, it is best to be safe than sorry, so keep an eye on your valuables and avoid any areas where you feel uncomfortable. (We didn’t feel unsafe anywhere we visited).

San Marino Tours

Taking a walking tour in San Marino is a great way to find out more about this micro country. You can also take day trip tours from the nearby towns and cities in Italy so you can experience San Marino firsthand. Check out Get Your Guide for the best tours below:

Conclusion: Things to do in San Marino

So there are our top things to do in San Marino. This country may be small but it is mighty in terms of its history, beauty and those stunning views.

Planning your own trip to San Marino?  Make sure you check out our Travelling Tedaldi Amazon Store Travel Guides for all your guidebooks and maps. (We’ve done the hard work for you and linked all the things we used to plan our trip!)

SanMarino1

Gemma is the owner and author of The Travelling Tedaldi, a travel blog helping travellers to discover the best road trips and travel itineraries throughout the UK and Europe. When she isn’t writing about her favourite travel destinations, she can often be found out exploring local hikes or planning future trips.

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Wolters World

Honest Travel Advice

should i visit san marino

5 Things You Will Love & Hate When You Visit San Marino

Hey there, fellow travelers! Today, we visit San Marino, a micro-nation surrounded by Italy!  The Republic of San Marino is a beautiful place, with mountains on one side and the sea on the other side.  As you know, here at Wolters World, we like to prepare travelers with the good, and the bad, of visiting a new travel destination. So these are the five things you’ll love, and the five things you’ll hate when you visit San Marino.

Hate #1: Getting to San Marino

If you’re coming to San Marino from Rome, there’s no direct train. You have to take a train to Rimini and then a bus up to San Marino. The bus takes a winding mountain road and if you are prone to motion sickness, beware. Several people on our bus got sick during the trip from Rimini to San Marino. The challenge in reaching it keeps San Marino tourism well controlled.

Hate #2: Summer Tourists

Rimini is a popular beach destination and in the summer, busloads of tourists come to San Marino for day trips. It can get really crowded, so if you are visiting in the summer, try to come early in the morning or stay later in the evening to avoid the day trip crowds at most San Marino attractions. Low season is a great time to visit San Marino because you can really enjoy the city without crowds.

should i visit san marino

Hate #3: Uphill Hikes of San Marino

San Marino is built into the mountains and it’s a very hilly city, so there’s a lot of uphill walking. The parking lots are often lower down and then you have to hike uphill for the towers and the views. If you have limited mobility, it can be difficult to get around. Be prepared for a lot of uphill walking in San Marino.

Five Rules for What Shoes to Wear in Europe

Hate #4: Shopping in San Marino

When you visit San Marino, you probably expect to find some cool, authentic shops in such a historic place, but the shopping in San Marino is not great. You’ll find a lot of shops selling guns and crossbows, perfume and watches. During the high season, the shopkeepers will stand in the street and try to get you to come in and buy something. It’s not the quaint shopping experience you might expect.

Souvenirs: What Not to Buy When You Travel

Hate #5: Service in San Marino

Service in San Marino isn’t quite up to the high standards of Italy and surrounding regions. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s not as friendly and outgoing. It’s definitely more of a tourist atmosphere, where they want to get you in and out quickly.

should i visit san marino

Love #1: Views from San Marino

The hilltop location means San Marino has spectacular views in every direction. You can look down at Rimini and the Adriatic Sea, or look up to the surrounding mountains. Everywhere you look, there’s another amazing view. You really feel like you’re in a different time and place than other parts of Italy and Mediterranean Europe.

Love #2: Fortresses of San Marino

The city walls and fortresses around San Marino give it a unique feel and really give you a sense of the history of this country. There are 11th-century  and 13th-century fortresses, and you feel like you are walking around in medieval times. There are also tons of cool churches and cathedrals as you would expect from this region of Europe.

Love #3: Offbeat Museums of San Marino

Micronations love to have museums on the silly side and San Marino is no exception. In addition to the usual history and art museums, they have a museum of old weapons, a museum of new weapons, a car museum, the Museum of Curiosity and a wax museum. The museums aren’t expensive, so it’s fun to visit a few of the more offbeat San Marino attractions.

Love #4: Venturing Outside San Marino

There are eight other cities in the small country of San Marino, and there are outdoor adventures to be had as well. You can take a day trip to the beaches at Rimini or go see the ancient Byzantine churches of Ravenna. San Marino is surrounded by hills and mountains so there are tons of hiking opportunities as well.

Love #5: Evening Solitude in San Marino

Since most travelers visit San Marino on a day trip, if you choose to stay over, you’ll practically have the town to yourself at night. The streets get pretty quiet after the day-trippers go home and then you really feel like you’re back in medieval times with quiet streets and no tourists or tour buses. It’s easy to find affordable San Marino accommodation, so I highly recommend staying the night.

should i visit san marino

San Marino is a really cool little micro-nation that’s well worth a visit if you find yourself along the Adriatic Coast of Italy. If you can’t tell, the “hates” aren’t really “hates” at all,  just a few things to keep a head’s up on rather than a reason not to visit San Marino. Want more tips for traveling in Mediterranean Europe? Check out these other blog posts:

  • Five Things You Will Love & Hate About Mediterranean Europe
  • What to Know Before You Visit Italy
  • What to Know Before Your First Trip to Europe

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  1. 7 most beautiful places in San Marino

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  2. 10 Reasons To Visit The City of San Marino (From Italy)

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  3. 5 Best Places To Visit In San Marino

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  4. Things to do in San Marino. You should visit here because it is UNIQUE

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  5. San Marino: Ultimate Travel Guide for First-time Visitors

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  6. 8 Reasons to Visit the Country of San Marino

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COMMENTS

  1. Visiting San Marino: 11 tips for your visit to this magical tiny

    San Marino is made up of 9 regions, although most visitors to San Marino will only visit the capital, Cittá di San Marino. While the whole country is hilly, Cittá di San Marino perches astonishingly on top of a mountain peak, so pretty it could come straight out of a fantasy movie. Tip: Don't say San Marino is in Italy! While it is ...

  2. San Marino: Things to Do & Travel Guide for First-time Visitors

    How Much Time Do You Need to Visit San Marino. All the main landmarks of San Marino can be seen in half a day to a day. Therefore, most tourists visit San Marino as a day trip.However, I highly recommend spending at least one night in San Marino! There are only a few places in the world where you can still have one of the most incredible UNESCO sites all to yourself, and San Marino is one of them!

  3. San Marino Itinerary: Day Trip or Two Days

    Why Visit San Marino? San Marino is the oldest country in the world, founded a long time ago in 301 AD. It has really cool buildings, museums, and art galleries that show how special it is. There are three amazing towers, a fancy palace called Palazzo Pubblico, and a beautiful church called Basilica di San Marino. All of them are really old and ...

  4. 15 Best Places to Visit in San Marino

    Let's have a look at the best places to visit in San Marino! 1. Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta. Source: StevanZZ / shutterstock. Rocca Guaita. Perhaps the best known of all of San Marino's attractions, Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta are two fortress towers situated on a ridge at the summit of Mount Titano.

  5. San Marino Itinerary: Top Things to Do in San Marino

    Staying in San Marino for two days should allow time for a visit to San Marino's winery Cantina di San Marino, as long as you're visiting during the week or on a Saturday morning. The weekday hours are from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm, and then from 2:30 pm until 6:30 pm; and from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm on Saturdays. ...

  6. Ultimate Travel Guide to Visiting San Marino

    Piazza Della Liberta. One of the San Marino guards. This is the most popular public square in San Marino. There are a number of shops in the square and places to eat. The Palazzo Pubblico, San Marino's town hall and iconic building are also located here. You can even see the changing of the guard here.

  7. San Marino travel

    Europe. Of Earth's 196 independent countries, San Marino is the fifth smallest and - arguably - the most curious. How it exists at all is something of an enigma. A sole survivor of Italy's once powerful city-state network, this landlocked micronation clung on long after the more powerful kingdoms of Genoa and Venice folded.

  8. Visit San Marino: The complete travel guide to the Most Serene Republic

    Visit the Basilica di San Marino. Located in the Piazzale Domus Plebis, the Basilica is the city's main church. It is dedicated to Saint Marinus, the country's founder, and his relics are enshrined in it. While a Basilica has existed in the same spot since the 7th century, the current one dates back to 1836.

  9. Best Things To Do in San Marino (2024 Travel Guide)

    2. Basilica of Saint Marinus. The 19th-century Basilica of Saint Marinus, full of valuable statues and paintings, is a must-see when visiting San Marino. This beautiful religious building stands atop a pre-existing Romanesque church and is dedicated to the city's patron saint, St. Marinus.

  10. Best Things to Do in San Marino: Top 12 Attractions to Visit

    2. Museo di Stato. When it comes to the best things to do in San Marino, a visit to the Museo di Stato (National Museum) is a treasure trove that's often overlooked. Situated in the heart of the capital, this museum is where you'll find an eclectic mix of art, archaeology, and history. From ancient Roman artifacts to Renaissance paintings ...

  11. SAN MARINO DAY TRIP ITINERARY: 20 Things to Do & Walking Route

    San Marino Basilica. This is the main church of the City of San Marino, the nation's capital. This Neoclassical church's origin dates back to the 7th century, but the present structure was built in the 1830s. The Catholic church is dedicated to the nation's patron saint — Saint Marinus.

  12. Guide To Visiting San Marino

    Visit The Three Towers - San Marino's national flag and coat of arms depicts the three towers the capital city is known for — Guaita, Cesta, and Montale. You can easily spend an afternoon hiking between the towers and enjoying the view below. It's an easy walk, but there is some incline and stairs, so wear sturdy shoes and allow for ...

  13. 8 Reasons to Visit the Country of San Marino

    Here are 8 reasons why you should visit San Marino! Founded in the 4th century AD, San Marino prides itself on being one of the world's smallest, oldest independent states. The country is tiny, with a total population of around 30,000 people ( the city of Rome has more than 2,600,000!) and is home to UNESCO world heritage sites like Mount ...

  14. San Marino travel guide: everything you need to know

    There are 13 parking areas scattered around town. The cost to park in San Marino is: 1,50€ per hour. 4,50€ for 3-5 hours. 8€ for the whole day. However, a very great thing is that if you are staying in a hotel in San Marino, you can buy a 24-hour parking pass for 4€.

  15. The 10 Things To See And Do In San Marino

    The elaborately decorated facade features the coat of arms of the republic. If you visit San Marino during summer, catch the changing of the guard in front of the Piazza della Libertà - it happens several times a day between June and mid-September. 4. Climb up and explore the Three Towers. Architectural Landmark.

  16. San Marino Travel Guide for Thoughtful Travel

    The San Marino Travel Guide: What to Know Before You Go When to visit San Marino. July and August are peak months for tourism in Italy - and hence San Marino. The UNESCO World Heritage City is a little cooler than down on the ground, so a trip to San Marino can provide some light relief.

  17. San Marino Travel Guide: Is San Marino Worth Visiting? [2023]

    1. Hike Up to the Three Towers. To me, this is the best thing to do in San Marino. The most iconic images of San Marino are all of its three towers at the peak of Mount Titano, Guaita, Cesta, and Montale. Guaita was the first tower built in San Marino, and historians debate whether it was built in the 11th or 12 century.

  18. 14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in San Marino

    Map of Attractions & Things to Do in San Marino. 1. Rocca Guaita (Guaita Fortress) Rocca Guaita. Three fortresses crown the long ridge of Mount Titano, with the city of San Marino clustered at the foot of their walls. The first and earliest of the fortresses is Rocca Guaita, constructed in the 11th century.

  19. San Marino Day Trip: The Perfect Itinerary

    5. Further Travel Destinations around San Marino Rimini. If you are not already staying in Rimini and visiting San Marino from there, then taking a stop-off in the small town is definitely worth the while. Aside from parties and the beach, Rimini has a lot on offer. Rimini's old town, with its many Roman remnants, exudes a very special flair ...

  20. Is San Marino Worth Visiting? 10 Things To Do In San Marino [2024]

    The main square in San Marino is a great place to people watch if nothing else. Lined on one side with bars and cafes and amazing views on the other, I recommend you find a spot to sit and watch the world go by without a care in the world. Glass of San Marino wine in hand obviously. 8. Relax in the Liburnian Garden.

  21. 4 Essential Things to Know Before You Go to San Marino

    Here are a few things to know before you go. This tiny speck of a country literally clings to the edge of the Apennine Mountains with spectacular views over the Italian Adriatic coast. The views are one of the main reasons some 2 million tourists a year visit the microstate. It's basically a good day trip, something to do when you need a break ...

  22. 5 Things You Will Love & Hate When You Visit San Marino

    Hate #4: Shopping in San Marino. When you visit San Marino, you probably expect to find some cool, authentic shops in such a historic place, but the shopping in San Marino is not great. You'll find a lot of shops selling guns and crossbows, perfume and watches. During the high season, the shopkeepers will stand in the street and try to get ...