Contemplating a visit to San Marino? Then this San Marino day trip guide is just for you.
This completely landlocked country, surrounded by Italy on all sides, is the 5th smallest country in the world, and the 3rd smallest in all of Europe. Despite this, the country has somehow remained untainted by the mass number of tourists that flock to Italy every year, making it a real hidden gem worth exploring.
Even though it’s small, San Marino certainly offers tourists enough to warrant at least a day trip to explore the incredible sights and admire the amazing views out over the countryside. Having said this, I would highly recommend that you consider staying overnight to make the most of your visit!
In this guide, I’ll outline everything you need to know to plan the perfect day trip to San Marino!
How to Get to San Marino
So where is San Marino, and how do you get there? This small country is completely surrounded by north-central Italy. It’s in a mountain region between Emilia-Romagna and Marche, Italy, not too far from the Adriatic Sea.
The nearest large Italian cities to San Marino are Bologna, Florence, and Venice. Driving is the most convenient way to travel between these areas. Here is the approximate distance if you plan on reaching San Marino by car.
Bologna to San Marino: One hour and forty minutes (129 km)
Florence to San Marino: Three hours (250 km)
Venice to San Marino: Three hours (277 km)
Rimini is the only city in Italy that provides direct bus service into San Marino. If you’re coming from other cities in Italy by bus, you’ll transfer at Rimini Train Station and continue onto San Marino.
This journey takes about 30 minutes. Buses run every day and depart hourly. Click here to inquire about bus tickets.
How to Get Around When Visiting San Marino
Once you arrive in San Marino, you can easily walk from site to site. The layout of the historical centre is pedestrian-friendly and fairly compact.
If you’re driving into San Marino, you’ll find numerous parking garages where you can leave your car for the day.
Where to Stay When You Visit San Marino
If you’re only visiting San Marino for one day, you might want to consider spending the night. This will allow you to make the most of your time and fit all of the important San Marino attractions into your schedule.
Most hotels are well-priced and located in close proximity to San Marino’s historical centre, which is where you’ll find the stops included in this guide. It’s also worth pointing out that there isn’t an overwhelming amount of options. Therefore, it’s always best to book your accommodation in advance.
Even better, booking a hotel will allow you more time in San Marino to watch the sunset, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, and wander the quiet streets without the daytime tourists.
Best Centrally Located Hotel in San Marino – Hotel La Grotta
Most Lavish Hotel in San Marino – Hotel Cesare
Best Budget-Friendly Hotel in San Marino – Hostaria da Lino
Airbnb San Marino Italy – click here for a range of San Marino Airbnb options.
What To Do in San Marino For a Day
San Marino is the third smallest country in Europe and the fifth smallest country in the world. Exploring all of the highlights in one day is totally doable, especially given the close proximity of San Marino tourist attractions. Here are the top things to do in San Marino during your day trip.
Guaita Tower (The First Tower)
Visiting the three towers of San Marino is a must as they are iconic San Marino landmarks. These ancient fortresses are located on the peaks of Mount Titano and showcase the rich history of the country. You can easily travel between the towers on foot.
Guaita Tower is the oldest and most famous among the three. Originally constructed in the 10th century, it has been rebuilt many times over the years. An interesting fact about the tower is that it has also served as a prison as recently as 1970.
It keeps a watchful eye of the city and offers breathtaking views over San Marino and the surrounding region. The entrance fee is €3.00, or, you can buy a combination ticket for the First and Second Tower for €4.50.
Castello della Cesta (The Second Tower)
Castello della Cesta (also referred to as Fratta and the Second Tower) sits 756 metres up Monte Titano, making it the fortress with the highest elevation. It was built in the 11th century and was the seat of the guardhouse. Like the First Tower, it utilized several of its rooms as prison cells.
During the 16th century, the strategic importance of the tower was no longer deemed necessary. This caused it to fall into abandonment until the 1930s when the country saw a spike in tourism.
Today, you can visit the tower as well as the Museum of Ancient Weapons housed inside. Learn about and admire approximately 535 objects relating to weaponry from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
Del Montale (The Third Tower)
The Third Tower is referred to as del Montale. It dates back to the 13th century and is the smallest tower among the three. It’s located in the best position for a lookout and has played an important role in the protection of the country.
It has been restored numerous times throughout the centuries. The inside contains an eerie eight-metre deep prison, referred to as the “bottom of the tower.”
Unfortunately, guests are not permitted inside the Third Tower. However, you can still visit del Montale and walk along the exterior to take in the phenomenal panoramic views.
Piazza della Libertà
If you’re visiting San Marino during summer (June to mid-September) head to Piazza della Libertà. This city square is where you can watch the changing of the guard ceremony.
The guards wear a very special uniform that consists of a deep green jacket with red trousers and a hat with a red pompom. Make sure you bring your camera along, it’s quite an interesting sight to see.
Museo di Stato
Museo di Stato is a national museum that spans four floors. It contains many archaeological finds, artwork, and relics from San Marino and Italy. Marvel at old paintings, ancient coins and pottery, historic armour, and more.
Most of the collections span from Ancient Egypt to the Renaissance. You could easily spend a couple of hours touring this well-curated museum.
Basilica di San Marino
Basilica di San Marino is the main church of the City of San Marino. The building we see today was built in 1836, however, it stands in place of an earlier basilica that was constructed around the 7th century.
It was built in the Neoclassical style and has a façade with eight Corinthian columns. The interior is made up of three naves that are supported by sixteen Corinthian columns. A statue of St. Marino stands proudly in the centre of the altar.
You’ll gain a deeper appreciation of San Marino by visiting this religion site.
Indulge in the Local Cuisine – What to eat in San Marino
San Marino cuisine is largely influenced by Italian flavours. It’s hearty, delectable, and centred on fresh ingredients. Here are some local dishes to try out during your trip.
Pasta e ceci is a tasty chickpea and noodle soup infused with garlic and rosemary. Piadina is an Italian flatbread packed with savoury fillings. If you’re visiting San Marino at Christmastime, Faggioli con le cotiche is a bean and bacon soup that’s a festive speciality.
For the sweet-toothed traveller, Torta tre monti is a traditional cake made of thin waffle wafers and a chocolate or hazelnut creme.
If you’re a fan of gelato, add a stop at Altro Gelato into your San Marino travel itinerary. This small ice cream shop uses local products and seasonal fruit to craft the perfect creamy treat. Their pistachio flavour is especially mouth-watering.
Lastly, try and budget some time to sit at a charming outdoor eatery and sip on a refreshing Italian drink, like a glass of Lambrusco red wine or a foamy cappuccino.