How to get to San Marino
San Marino is Europe’s third smallest state and its territory is completely surrounded by Italy. Founded in 301, San Marino claims to be the world’s oldest republic. The position of the old town center atop Mount Titano is nothing short of spectacular. As far as San Marino travel goes, it makes a good day trip from Italy. It’s an interesting stop on its own terms, but much of the appeal for some visitors is simply the novelty of reaching a different country.
San Marino’s historic center is touristy, but don’t let that turn you off. There isn’t much local life here, but the city’s fine collection of old buildings and museums are only overshadowed by the splendid 360-degree views out to the countryside below. The tourism office gives out maps and information on the sights. Make that your first stop. Four to five hours should be sufficient for most visitors to get a good feel for the place.
How to get to San Marino
San Marino is not accessible by rail. Eurail Pass Holders will want to go to Rimini, Italy, on the train. From Rimini, it is a convenient 30-minute bus ride into San Marino. This is the most common way to get to get here. The bus takes you up the steep grade to San Marino’s historic center. Once you reach the bus terminal there, it’s only a short walk uphill to the pedestrian zone with the majority of the sights.
The easy-to-spot Rimini-San Marino bus collects passengers from a specially-designated stop across from the Rimini train station. The bus leaves Rimini at 8:10, 9:25, 10:40, 11:55, 13:10, 14:25, 15:40, 16:55, 18:10, 19:25 with a reduced schedule on Sundays and public holidays. Return tickets cost 9 Euro.
San Marino the country actually encompasses more than just the historic center atop Mt. Titano. Most visitors will only visit the World Heritage-declared old city. Spread out below the mountain is 61 sq km (24 sq miles) of countryside dotted with small urban areas. San Marino is undeniably linked physically and culturally to Italy, but the people are Sammarinese, with almost two millennia of history. The country uses the Euro as their currency, but has their own postage stamps.
What to do in San Marino
Get a passport stamp
Like in Liechtenstein, you can get a stamp in your passport that says you’ve been to San Marino. It’s a good money-making scheme by the Sammarinese, but it’s also a fun souvenir for the traveler. Get your visa stamp for 5 euros at the tourism information office, and while you’re at it, stock up on maps and free information.
Walk around the historic center
Lifts connect the bus park to the historic center, and plenty of paths lead their way up in less than fifteen minutes. A nice walking route would start at the Piazza della Liberta outside the Public Palace, where the Parliament meets. Wind your way up past the Basilica of Saint Marinus before reaching the first of the watchtowers. Take a break from the heat or rain by ducking into the State Museum. There are lots of other smaller monuments to visit in between a plethora of souvenir shops.
Climb the towers and enjoy the view
The first fortress built in San Marino dates back to the 13th century. Here prisoners were kept below while soldiers up in the tower watched over the territory for intruders. The view is still superb today, taking in most of the remainder of San Marino as well as Italy, far out to the Adriatic Sea. The Second Tower, which stands at a slightly higher elevation on Mt. Titano, can also be climbed. This former military fortress is only a short walk away and holds a collection of over 2,000 ancient weapons. The Third Tower is secluded on the far edge of the hilltop, and is without an entrance. But it’s worth the short hike to check it out.
Walk down to Borgo Maggiore
Below Mt. Titano is another district of San Marino called Borgo Maggiore. You can walk down the paved trail to get here in about 30 minutes or take the cable car. In Borgo Maggiore you can walk the old winding residential streets built on the hillside and take a look back up at the old town center. From here you can catch the bus to Rimini already in-route.
It’s feasible to consider making a stop in San Marino without staying the night in Rimini. However you might feel rushed and weighted down by your luggage. There is no luggage storage at the Rimini train station, but the office of tourism in Rimini, located right next to the station, has been known to look after luggage for a small fee. It’s worth inquiring about if you’re pressured for time.