San Marino: The Complete Guide

San Marino’s origins are rooted in the captivating legend of Saint Marinus, who established the community and republic in AD 301 after seeking refuge on Mount Titano. The sovereignty of San Marino was confirmed after Italian Unification, possibly in recognition of their assistance to Garibaldi, a prominent leader in the Risorgimento movement. With the exception of Vatican City, San Marino is the only city-state completely enclosed by another nation.

Exploring any part of this 61 sq km (24 sq mile) territory offers breathtaking panoramic vistas. However, the most stunning views are found atop the impressive Cesta Tower. From the charming Old Town perched on the slopes, your eyes can wander across the fertile lands of Emilia Romagna, the gentle rolling hills of the Marche region, and onwards to the tranquil Adriatic Sea. San Marino comprises nine ancient citadels, including the capital, San Marino.

Despite its small size, the city-state boasts a rich history, numerous museums, and invaluable architectural treasures. Moreover, a wide array of crafts and souvenirs promise a delightful shopping experience.

The open border between San Marino and Italy, along with the locals’ support for the Italian national football team, may lead you to believe that the territory’s independence is merely symbolic. However, San Marino maintains its own government and a distinct local culture. While Italian is widely spoken, the San Marino dialect has endured, and unique dishes such as white rabbit stew, black risotto, and Cacciatello cake are cherished local delicacies.

In addition to savouring the local cuisine, enjoyable activities include obtaining a colourful stamp in your passport at the State Post Office, visiting the impressive Three Towers of San Marino, and exploring the grand Parliament Building.

Visiting San Marino for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in San Marino on the first visit. Top help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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15 Best places to See in San Marino

This complete guide to San Marino not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in San Marino and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Piazza della libertà, San Marino

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Cezar Suceveanu

San Marino's Piazza della Libertà stands as the Republic's most renowned square. Positioned at the heart of the city, it hosts vital government structures, including the Palazzo Pubblico, the tourism secretariat, and San Marino's philatelic office. Despite its compact appearance, the square is remarkably expansive and imposing. It frequently serves as the backdrop for significant demonstrations, prestigious events, concerts, and local fairs.

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Address: Piazza della Libertà, San Marino | Hours: 24 hours | Price: Free | Distance: 0.00km

Palazzo Pubblico, San Marino

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Terragio67

The Palazzo Pubblico in San Marino, situated at the heart of the historic center in Pianello or Piazza della Libertà, serves as the emblematic and central hub of San Marino's political life. Often referred to as the Government Palace, it hosts grand government ceremonies of the Republic and houses various state and institutional bodies.

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Address: Palazzo Pubblico, Contrada del Pianello, San Marino | Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Included in the 7 State Museums Ticket! | Distance: 0.02km

Basilica del Santo, San Marino

CC BY-SA 3.0 / trolvag

The Basilica of the Saint is the primary sacred structure in San Marino, as it is dedicated to and houses the relics of Saint Marino, the patron and founder of the San Marino community. Designed and constructed starting in 1826 by architect Antonio Serra from Bologna, it was built on the site of the ancient 16th-century parish church, which was demolished to make way for the new basilica. This was a significant loss for art history, as it erased one of Italy's earliest Christian monuments in the pre-Romanesque style.

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Address: Basilica del Santo, Piazzale Domus Plebis, San Marino | Distance: 0.06km

State Museum, San Marino

CC BY-SA 1.0 / Mx. Granger

The State Museum in San Marino has a rich history, having been opened in 1899 in the Valloni Palace and later relocated to Palazzo Pergami Belluzzi in 2001. It houses an extensive collection of nearly 5,000 pieces, including artworks, artefacts, paintings, and objects, many of which are related to the history of San Marino.

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Address: State Museum of San Marino, Piazzetta del Titano, San Marino | Hours: From 6 June to 4 September 9.30am - 6.30pm; From 2 January to 5 June and from 5 September to 31 December 9:00 - 17:00 | Price: € 8.00 (Two Museums) | Website | 7 State Museums Available! | Distance: 0.06km

Cava dei Balestrieri

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Cezar Suceveanu

The Cava dei Balestrieri is a significant historical site located conveniently near the cable car stop in the city's historic center. It has a fascinating history and purpose.

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Address: Cava dei Balestrieri, Via Eugippo, San Marino | Distance: 0.13km

Museum of St. Francis

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Cezar Suceveanu

The Museum of St. Francis is situated in the historic centre, near the ancient St. Francis gateway. The location itself is worth a visit, as it features a beautiful 15th-century cloister built by the Comacini masters.

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Address: Chiesa San Francesco Via Basilicius, 33 47890 Città di San Marino San Marino | Hours: From January 2nd to June 5th and from September 5th to December 31th 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM | Website | Distance: 0.14km

Porta San Francesco, San Marino

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Cezar Suceveanu

Porta San Francesco, also known as Porta del Paese, is an ancient guard post located in the City of San Marino within the Republic of San Marino. It was initially constructed in 1361 and underwent significant modifications in 1451. Further renovations were carried out in 1581, which included the addition of a front door and the elevation of the original arch. A crenelated tower with machicolations was also added during this phase.

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Address: Porta San Francesco, Piazzale Lo Stradone, San Marino | Distance: 0.14km

Museum of Torture Instruments

CC BY-SA 3.0 / Corradox

The Museum of Torture and Medieval Criminology in San Marino is dedicated to exploring the techniques and methods that humans have historically employed to exert control and power over one another.

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Address: Museum of Medieval Criminology and Torture, Porta San Francesco, San Marino | Hours: Summer: from Monday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Winter: in November and January open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., in December open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. | Price: €8,50 | Website | Distance: 0.16km

Guaita Fortress, First Tower San Marino

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Diego Delso,

The First Tower, also known as "Rocca" or "Guaita," is one of the oldest fortresses in Italy, dating back to the 11th century. It was built directly on the stone of the mountain without any foundations and has a pentagonal base. The tower has undergone several reinforcements and was rebuilt in the second half of the 15th century. In the 16th century, it was covered with a sloping roof.

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Address: Salita Alla Rocca, San Marino | Hours: January 02 to June 06: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. From June 07 to September 5: 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. September 06 to December 31: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Price: € 6.00 cumulative ticket with the Second Tower or another monument of your choice. € 8.00 full visit ticket for all monuments. | Included in the 7 State Museums Ticket! | Distance: 0.26km

Passo delle Streghe

Pixabay / Volker Glätsch

The Passo delle Streghe or Witches' Pass, is situated outside the historic walls of San Marino on the summit of Mount Titano, offers breath-taking views of the Adriatic Sea and the Romagna coast, stretching as far as the valleys of Comacchio. It's an experience that evokes both the medieval atmosphere and a sense of romance due to its captivating vistas.

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Address: Passo delle Streghe 10-4 47890 Città di San Marino San Marino | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 0.33km

Church of San Quirino

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Cezar Suceveanu

The Franciscan Capuchin church of San Quirino was constructed around 1550 on the site of an ancient chapel dedicated to St. Quirinus. It was built in commemoration of Fabiano of San Savino's unsuccessful attempt to occupy the city of San Marino on June 4, 1543, which happens to be the Feast Day of Saint Quirinus.

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Address: Chiesa di San Quirino, Viale Federico D'urbino, 27, 47890 Città di San Marino, San Marino | Distance: 0.36km

San Marino Cable Car

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Eleassar

The cable car of the Republic of San Marino links the Castle of Borgo Maggiore with the one in San Marino City, and it's among the most convenient and popular modes of transportation, especially for tourists, to access the historic city center. The journey lasts approximately 2 minutes, offering passengers a magnificent view of the entire Adriatic coast. The cable car runs every quarter of an hour.

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Address: Piazzale Campo della Fiera, 10, 47893 Valdragone, San Marino | Hours: Winter: 07.45 – 18.30; Summer: 07.45 – 01.00 | Price: €5.00 Round Trip / €3.00 Single | Website | Distance: 0.44km

Cesta, Second Tower & Museum of Ancient Arms, San Marino

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Commonists

The Castle of the Cesta, also known as the Fratta, is situated on the second peak of Mount Titan, the highest point at 756 meters above sea level. It was constructed at the close of the 11th century and shares a pentagonal design, much like the First Tower. The Second Tower served as the headquarters for the guardhouse and also accommodated some prison cells. Towards the end of the 16th century, as it lost its strategic significance, the Tower gradually fell into disuse. However, in 1930, during the modernization of the country spurred by the construction of the Rimini-San Marino railway, efforts were made to restore the medieval monuments, including the Tower. This restoration aimed to attract tourists to the Republic of San Marino.

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Address: Salita Alla Cesta, San Marino | Hours: From 2/01 to 7/06: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. From 8/06 13/09: hours 8 a.m. -8 p.m. From 14/09 to 12/31: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Price: €6 cumulative with the First Tower | Website | Included in the 7 State Museums Ticket! | Distance: 0.54km

San Marino Train

CC BY-SA 2.0 / Aisano

The remnants of the former electric railway connecting Rimini to San Marino have been preserved. Some years ago, a specific segment of this railway was meticulously refurbished, and based on posters, it appears that they occasionally operate the train on this restored section.

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Address: Via del Voltone, 72, 47890 San Marino di Urbino, San Marino | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 0.75km

Montale Tower, Third Tower, San Marino

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Commonists

The Third Tower, also known as the Montale Tower, dates back to the late 13th century. Although it is the smallest in size among the towers, it played a crucial strategic role in defence due to its excellent lookout position. This fortress has a pentagonal plan and has undergone several restorations over the centuries, with the most recent one in 1935. Inside the tower, there is an 8-meter-deep dungeon known as the "bottom of the tower." Surrounding the Montale Tower, you can see ancient large boulders of rock stacked in a primitive manner to form walls.

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Address: Third Tower - Montale, San Marino | Hours: N/A | Price: Free | Distance: 0.84km

Best Time to Visit San Marino

If you’re contemplating the ideal time to visit San Marino, you’ll find that this charming destination is generally less crowded compared to its neighbouring Italian cities. However, the most favoured time for traveling to San Marino is during the summer, coinciding with the peak tourist season in Italy.

For a more enjoyable and less crowded experience, I suggest considering the shoulder seasons just before or after the summer, namely April and May or September and October. During these months, you can still relish the lovely weather without the large crowds that typically accompany the summer months.

At the beginning of April and October San Marino holds their Investiture of the Captains Regent which is not to be missed!

Average Temperatures in San Marino

  • January 12°C 6
  • February 13°C 10
  • March 16°C 8
  • April 19°C 7
  • May 23°C 11
  • June 28°C 6
  • July 31°C 6
  • August 31°C 5
  • September 27°C 8
  • October 23°C 8
  • November 17°C 11
  • December 12°C 7

How to get to San Marino

San Marino is situated just a few miles from the Adriatic coast, and its primary transport connections are via a main road and a bus service linking it with the seaside resort of Rimini, which is approximately 15 miles away. The nearest airport to San Marino is the Aeroporto Internazionale Federico Fellini di Rimini-San Marino, which offers budget flights from the UK operated by Ryanair. This airport is connected to Rimini railway station via an urban bus service. Other nearby airports that can be used to access San Marino include Bologna and Forli.

If you’re not staying within San Marino itself, Rimini is the most convenient base for visiting the small republic. Regular bus services operate from Rimini’s railway station, provided by companies called Bonelli and Benedettini. During the summer months, additional services are available from the seaside area of Rimini. You can obtain timetable information and tickets from the small bus ticket kiosk located outside Rimini railway station. The bus, at the time of writing, departs from the far side of the road, from a clearly marked stop with a displayed timetable. The journey from Rimini to San Marino takes approximately 45 minutes, with the bus making several stops in the modern shopping districts of San Marino before ascending to its terminus just below the city walls.

A funicular connects the town of San Marino with Borgo Maggiore, a settlement located lower down the slopes of Monte Titano.

For tourists, there are several fee-charging parking lots available in San Marino. Additionally, there are facilities for camper vans, some of which are free of charge. If you’re touring the area by car, you can combine a visit to San Marino with other intriguing small towns like San Leo or Verucchio, or explore nearby seaside resorts such as Rimini, Cattolica, or Pesaro.

Tours and Activities from San Marino