Ultimate Travel Guide to San Marino
Ultimate Travel Guide to San Marino
We wanted to put together this travel guide to San Marino in order to help other travellers interested in visiting one of the tiniest and oldest sovereign states in the world. In it we provide a little background information, step-by-step instructions on how to get in and out of San Marino as well as our top recommendations of things to do while in the country.
We hope you find this travel guide to San Marino helpful!
Coming from the second largest country in the world (Canada), I’m always fascinated to learn about the smallest. The Republic of San Marino is tiny, in fact it is the third smallest country in the world at 61 squared kilometres, with only Monaco and Vatican City smaller. Despite its compact size, it is one of the wealthiest countries in all of Europe based on GDP per capita (pop. 32,000) as well as boasting one of the lowest unemployment rates.
San Marino is the only country in the world that has more cars than people!
The Republic of San Marino is said to have been founded in 301 AD which would make it the oldest surviving sovereign states in the world. Its ancient medieval city, which is perched atop of Mount Titano offers winding pedestrian only cobblestone walkways, cute cafes, fantastic restaurants and historic architecture. Although San Marino boasts world-class shopping and a some fun museums, its top attractions are the three castles surrounding the city dating back to the 11th century. All three offer stunning panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea and Italian countryside below.
The Sammarinese cuisine is very similar to Italian but they do have few specialty items. For example, they have their own version of a flat bread called piadina and their own specialty beer called Titanbrau which comes in a few different brews good for any taste or season.
Where is San Marino?
How to Get to San Marino from Italy
By far the easiest and best way to travel to San Marino from Italy is to first arrive into the coastal city of Rimini by train. We travelled from Florence, but most do so from Bologna which is closer.
To buy your train tickets to Rimini you have two options:
1) Use the site www.trentitalia.com to find the cheapest train tickets to Rimini
2) Purchase at the train station. Be sure after you select your destination (Rimini) you select at the bottom “Show All Options” which will show you the cheapest fares often with multiple connections.
Once you have arrived into Rimini Train Station you will need to purchase a bus ticket to San Marino.
You can either purchase your return bus tickets at the Tourist Information Centre which is located 50 metres outside the entrance to the train station (look to your left) or at the bus stop. To find the bus stop turn right outside of the train station, walk 30 or so metres look across the street for the Burger King. Just to the right of the Burger King you will see a little table on the sidewalk selling tickets.
At the time of writing the return tickets were 10 Euro per person. You should expect the trip to take 1 hour from start to finish.
From Rimini to San Marino:
The first bus starts from Rimini Station (To the right of Burger King) at 06:55 and then leaves from there every 1 hour 15 minutes thereafter. The last bus to San Marino leaves Rimini at 20:40.
From San Marino to Rimini:
The first bus leaves San Marino from station P.le Calcigni Park 1A at 06:45 and then leaves every 1 hour 15 minute thereafter. The last bus to Rimini leaves San Marino at 20:30.
At the time of writing there is only one hostel in San Marino which is called (surprisingly enough) Hostel San Marino. There are many luxurious hotels inside of the ancient walled city but because we were on a budget we chose to stay just outside the city walls.
The hostel is good for the one night you’ll end up staying here as it has a nice big social room with games and a tv, free wifi, a simple breakfast, and decent dorm rooms. There is also a bar and kebab place downstairs which are great but be warned that on Friday and Saturday nights the music is so loud that it vibrates the hostel upstairs!
You’ll need to tell the bus driver to drop you off at stop “Tavolucci” as you board. The hostel building has a golden cow on it and is across the street from the Alpha Romeo dealership. Expect to pay approximately $21 USD per person for a dorm bed.
Another option worth looking into is Airbnb. The cost of accommodation is quite high so if you can find a host you should be able to save money not only on accommodation but also on food if you have access to a kitchen. Plus, the owners are a wealth of information and may even show you around. Let us refer you to Airbnb and you’ll receive $20 USD off your first Airbnb booking.
If you are somebody who prefers to have your accommodations pre-booked ahead of time so you can breathe easy on your vacation, then Booking.com is your best bet as they have a huge collection of hotels with no booking fees and often times free cancellation.
The hostel is not in the main walled ancient town site of San Marino at the top of the mountain so you have to find your way up. You have two main options which are to take the bus which comes every 1 hour and 15 minutes and will cost 1.50 Euro each one way or you can walk the 20-30 minutes uphill to the gondola and take that up for 3.50 Euro each one way.
What to do in San Marino
1) Get an Official Stamp in Your Passport!
Head to the Tourism Office once you arrive into town and get an official San Marino stamp. This will cost 5 Euro each.
2) Sightsee for free or check out the views from Tower One and/or Two
There are many staircases that you can climb up for free that will give you impressive views for free. They are usually located close to the doorways in and out of the walled city but be careful going up and down as these ones don’t have side rails!
Head to Tower One and/or Tower Two to explore inside but more importantly, taken in the impressive view. One tower costs 5 Euro per person or you can visit two for 7 Euro.
You cannot go inside of Tower Three but you can enjoy the views around it for free.
3) Check out the Kitchy Museums
For some reason San Marino has decided to open three very odd museums to attract tourists. The Vampire, Oddities and Torture museums are all kitch to the extreme.
Use the San Marino Tourist Card to get half off admissions here.
4) Watch the Changing of the Guard
This changing of the guard doesn’t have the same flare that other larger countries have but is still worth checking while you are in town. It takes place every half hour near the palace and is free.
5) Have lunch with a view
Grab a pizza or some world-class seafood at one of the many restaurants offering million dollar views of the countryside and Adriatic Sea below.
6) Shop, Shop, and Shop some more
Other than taking in the outstanding 360 degree views from the top of the republic on the mountain, the main thing that brings people here is for the shopping which is free of any tax.
There are endless shops selling San Marino souvenirs, clothing, and obscene amount of shops selling weapons like guns, swords, and crossbows.
7) Try the local beer
You can either buy San Marino’s finest beer Titanbrau from the main grocery store in town and go find your own private area to enjoy it or you can order one in a restaurant and enjoy it while looking out over the countryside and the Adriatic Sea below.
8) Grab a gelato and people watch
Enjoy one of San Marino’s most delicious treats while watching the tourists and locals wander the beautiful stone streets.
There are many festivals throughout the year but the most popular has to be Medieval Days which is held in July. During this time shop owners dress in medieval attire and a crossbow competition is held in the main square. Check out this link for more information on other festivals happening throughout the year.
We hope you enjoyed this travel guide to San Marino on a budget and that you feel confident that you will be able to fully explore one of the world’s smallest and prettiest countries.
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Ross & Alyse
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