San Marino is among the smallest countries in the world, only 43 miles in size. More precisely, it is the fifth smallest, but probably the most curious one. This micro-country is a sole survivor of Italy`s former (and powerful we must add) city-state network and it is still holding on as the world`s oldest surviving sovereign country and its oldest republic dating back to 301 A.D. Tucked away inside Italy`s north-eastern region, San Marino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with lovely things to offer it`s visitors. You`ll find everything from forests, fortress towers, and shopping malls, to medieval markets and Olympic stadiums in this quirky and unique part of the world.
Atop the center of this hilly area`s highest point, Mount Titano, is the capital city of San Marino. 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 souvenirs. 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.
San Marino`s main attractions are the three towers, which feature on the national flag. Only the Guaita Tower and the Cesta Tower are open to visitors. They are small castles at the top of Mount Titano, offering excellent views over San Marino and Italy as well as the Adriatic Sea. The third and smallest of the towers, Montale Tower, is inaccessible and was once used as a prison.
Basilica di San Marino is another top attraction of the country. It is a neoclassical style Catholic church that has been rebuilt several times. There are also a few museums to visit: State Museum, St. Francis` Museum, Torture Museum, and the Wax Museum.
San Marino cable car connects Borgo Maggiore to the historical center of San Marino. It`s a short 2 minute ride that offers beautiful views over the surroundings. This gondola is a great way to get to San Marino if you don`t want to drive all the way up to town.
Otherwise, walk around! The narrow cobbled streets are full of surprises and you can go up and down the city to explore. You can climb the city walls and walk along it at places. There are virtually no cars and the streets have a very medieval feel. Especially in the evening when the daytime tourists have left, wandering the city becomes more charming and relaxed.
Italy is the way in, Italy is the way out. You can further explore the Montefeltro region in the south, or visit the sunny coast of Rimini in the north.
San Marino is a year-round destination. In summer, it can get really buys, so if you can, we advise traveling in other seasons. However, there is really no bad to visit, but shoulder season months like September or May are probably the best months to be in San Marino.
All the landmarks of San Marino can be see in half a day to a day and most tourists visit San Marino as a day trip. However, we 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 plan to stay the night, you`ll have one of the most unique places in Europe all to yourself.
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 generally easy.
If you are traveling in Italy by public transport, the best way to get t San Marino is by taking a bus from Rimini. There are no trains going to San Marino. The closest station is found at Rimini, just 10 miles from the heart of the republic.
Once you arrive in San Marino, you`ll notice that the nation is small, so there are only a limited number of public transportation options. There is a limited bus network operating in San Marino. However, the buses in the republic run between San Marino City and Rimini. There are more than half a dozen runs per day, and the return journey generally takes anywhere between 40 and 50 minutes. Buses stop at some 20 different destinations in San Marino and near Rimini, so tourists can use this option for getting around parts of the republic. Also, there are aerial tramways and gondola cable cars that connect the upper conurbations of San Marino to the lower urban areas.
Once you`re inside the walled city, it`s small enough to simply walk around. There are only a few streets on which cars are able to drive (and only if they are small cars). Be warned that almost every street in San Marino is part of a steep hill.
A good way to see more of San Marino (beyond the historic center) is to take a tourist train. It brings you to the places you wouldn`t see otherwise, coupled with 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.
Taxis in San Marino are available and reliable. There are more than half a dozen taxi companies operating inside San Marino. Taxis are not that expensive, generally because they never travel far enough to clock up expensive fares. It is easy to hail a taxi off the street, but your hotel can also call one for you.
The currency of San Marino is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival.
The official language in San Marino is Italian, although most shops and restaurants speak English. Russian is quite popular due to the large number of Russian tourists to the republic each year. We suggest you get a good English-Italian guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.