About San Marino
Ancient, beautiful and proud, with a fascinating history, welcome to the third smallest country in Europe, San Marino. Covering an area of only 61 square kilometers and surrounded by Italy, this Republic has it’s own laws and Government. Originally built as a fortress on top of Mount Titano, San Marino has truly incredible panoramic views especially from the castles and historic buildings that are one of the main draws for travelers. Tourists and travelers alike have plenty to entertain themselves with despite it’s diminutive size (still, larger than Vatican City and Monaco). Markets, arts and crafts shops, outdoor cafes, museums and art galleries are in abundance in this charming and picturesque country.
San Marino Travel Info
Language: The official languages of San Marino are Italian and the Sammarinese dialect. Although English is commonly spoken fluently by many locals and conversational English is spoken by most.
Visa: Although San Marino is not a member of the European Union it still shares an open border with Italy; therefore Schengen Visa rules should be followed. Foreign travelers planning to stay for more than ten days must attain a valid permit while in San Marino.
Electricity: The standard voltage in San Marino is 230 V with a frequency of 50 Hz. The power sockets are mainly two types, type F and L. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
San Marino Festivals & Celebrations
Medieval Days: Tourists who have a great affection for history must visit San Marino in July to experience this Medieval inspired festival. Locals don medieval costumes and participate in various events to revive the past even if just for a day; the most famous event at this festival is the crossbow competition. Cultural performances, traditional food and wine are some other highlights.
San Marino Day: Every year on September 3 is the celebration of San Marino’s Saints and the anniversary of the Republic. The recitation of “Bando” signifies the start of the celebration. Visitors get a chance to witness a range of activities, including a another crossbow competition. The day comes to an end with a firework display and is much loved by locals and tourists.
Christmas: The most awaited festival on the San Marino calendar, like most European countries. Celebrating Christmas in San Marino is a magestic, fairytale experience with every every single street and shop front decorated to the nines. The San Marino Christmas market opens from the 1st of December until the 6th January and here you can buy local festive foods and handicrafts.
Safety In San Marino
Just like most European countries, San Marino is a very safe place to visit with an exceptionally low crime rate. Still, always be mindful of the possibility of pickpockets and bag snatchers whenever and where ever you travel. Based on my own travel experiences in Europe I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit San Marino.
Top Things To Do In San Marino
Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta
Maybe the most acknowledged of all San Marino’s attractions are the two fortresses, Rocca Guaita and Torre cesta, situated at the highest point of Mount Titano. The two towers are a part of the official flag of San Marino. Visitors can take a tour of both the magnificent towers and bask in the beauty of the medieval era. The older of the two is Rocca Guaita dating back to as old as 13th century. The top offers pleasant views stretching from the nearby Apennine Mountains to the Dalmatian Coast.
Torre del Montale
The third tower on the top of Mount Titano, followed by Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta, is Torre del Montale. You can reach Torre del Montale by taking a little walk from Rocca Guaita and Torre Cesta. Unfortunately this tower is not open to the public, but despite this you still photograph the spectacular and picturesque panoramas of San Marino while en route to this tower.
Apart from the path leading to all three towers, you will find rugged walking trails taking you through scenic and abundant woodlands offering an entirely different view of the crowded city center just below. Old stone benches intersperse like dots across the mountain where you can sit and absorb the beauty of the landscape and breath in the fresh air. Since Mount Titano is at an altitude of 750 meters above sea level, the air is very crisp and invigorating. Be prepared for a much cooler climate up here and bring a sweater.
San Marino Museums
The Museums in San Marino are impressive, and one or two are rather unusual, anyway if you are an exhibition enthusiast, San Marino’s will keep you entertained for a day. The specialty of the city is a museum on quirky topics and other than the National Museum, there are many other niche museums to explore. Among the quirky ones is the museum of Torture which has an array of torture devices on display. The display is a bit gruesome but entertaining.
Visit the town of Montegiardino
The University of the Republic of San Marino is in the town of Montegiardino. It’s believed to be the most beautiful town in San Marino and has a peaceful and ‘bookish’ ambience, common in most small university towns throughout Europe. The town is neck deep in history and also has some excellent cafes and food joints to keep the students (and tourists) happy.
Piazza della Libertà
The Piazza della Libertà is a city square in San Marino and it’s here that a traditional San Marino ceremony takes place. The changing of the guards at Guardia di Rocca. The Guards have a signature green uniform and wear a red pompom hat. This ceremony takes places multiple times every day and is a sight enjoyed by a large number of visitors. Once you have enjoyed this taste of authentic San Marino custom, walk down the street that leads away from Piazza della Libertà and enjoy the many boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
Visit the National Museum
The San Marino National Museum is located near Palazzo Pergami Belluzzi and contains an assortment of Neolithic pieces, Byzantine and Egyptian historical works and Roman Artifacts. It also has on display artwork from the 17th century and some samples of the old currency of San Marino. The National Museum has about 5000 well preserved and displayed curiosities that will guide you through the history of San Marino and all the nearby towns.
Visit Palazzo Pubblico
You can easily recognize this palazzo because of its Gothic style and its decorated façade. It is the official town hall, and all the major government ceremonies and events take place here. The construction of the building was done in the 1800’s with stones from Mount Titano. When you take a closer look, you will see a square clock tower that stands tall on the top and a staircase inside the building leading to the tower.
Visit the Basilica di San Marino
The Basilica di San Marino got constructed from the left-overs of a Roman Church that dated back to the 4th century. The Basilica is famous as it has the bones of San Marino’s patron saint, Saint Marinus, stored in an urn. It also features a statue of the saint on a high altar. The seven alters of the Basilica are beautifully adorned, and the visitors must take out time to explore the exquisite paintings of the Basilica too.
This Castelli of San Marino is the largest municipality of the Republic with its location at the base of the Apennine Mountains. The town is an old one and earlier it was called ‘The Village of the Elm Trees.’ The Serravalle Castle is the highlight of the city, and the Olympic Stadium is a sample of modern architecture that the city holds.
Other than these top things to do in San Marino, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in San Marino that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In San Marino
When it comes to cuisine, San Marino is very similar to Italy but it this small country does still have some notable local dishes. The quality of the food is here is incredible, locals are proud of their traditional cuisine and take eating very seriously. Here’s some of the most delicious traditional San Marino dishes you should try;
Piadina or Piada: This is a flat bread made of white flour, olive oil, salt, and water. The bread traditionally gets cooked on a terracotta dish however these days terracotta dishes have been replaced by electric girdles and flat pans. Fill your Piadina like you would a sandwich, in San marino it’ll get stuffed with cream cheese, meats and vegetables.
Passatelli: The most famous pasta served in San Marino is Passatelli. Breadcrumbs, eggs, nutmeg and parmesan cheese are the primary ingredients of this pasta. The locals like to have it with chicken broth. This unique and delectable dish is a must try when in San Marino.
Strozzapreti: This is a dried pasta belonging to the Romagna region of Marche. It’s made out of simple ingredients and then stretched with hand, flattened and then cut into small strips. The pasta is smothered in a creamy sauce like ragu.
Nidi di Rondine: Nidi di Rondine means ‘swallows nest’ and is a stuffed pasta dish. The nests are stuffed with bechamel sauce and topped with cooked ham and fontina cheese. This delectable dish has a looks almost too fantastic to eat but rest assured you will eat it.
Torta Tre Monti: The dish is also called the San Marino cake and is a typical popular dessert among San Marino natives. Circular wafers consisting of waffles are stuffed with cocoa, cream and hazelnuts. All these are stacked in five layers and finished with chocolate fondant.
Where To Stay In San Marino
San Marino can be quite an expensive place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation inSan Marino is easy but finding affordable accommodation, if you’re on a tight budget, is the hard part. Luckily San Marino has a hostel or two to make travel here more affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. San Marino is a very popular year-round destination with business travelers and sight-seeing tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in San Marino.
If you’re backpacking in San Marino or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Europe much more affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
San Marino Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit San Marino
The best time to visit San Marino is between April and October, this is if you want mild, reasonably warm weather. If you want to visit San Marino when the weather’s hot and the sky is blue then aim to visit between June and September. Still, expect a few rainy and cloudy days, it is still Europe after all.
San Marino Travel Budget
San Marino can be an expensive city but it’s still generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to San Marino really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 35 to 50 euros a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget about 250 euros plus a day.
- Budget: €35 – €50
- Mid-range: €50 – €100
- Splurge: €150 +
Meal For One
- Budget: €8 – €25
- Mid-range: €25 – €60
- Splurge: €60 +
San Marino Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to San Marino, like most other places in Europe is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for Summer trips and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during Spring, Autumn and Winter. Be prepared for the weather to get extremely cold during the winter. You will need high quality thermal wear and scarves, woolly hats, gloves and a thick winter coat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in San Marino. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to San Marino include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to San Marino check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Europe Packing List For Female Travelers.