8 Reasons to Visit the Country of San Marino

rocca della guaita san marino

The Most Serene Republic of San Marino is a must-see destination for lovers of history—and for those who love picturesque panoramas. One of the world’s smallest and oldest republics, San Marino isn’t, technically, Italy. But it is surrounded by Italy’s Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche regions near the Adriatic Sea, making it an easy day trip from cities like Florence or Bologna.

Here are 8 reasons why you should visit San Marino!

Map of San Marino. The total size of the country is 24 sq miles!

Map of San Marino. The total size of the country is 24 sq miles!

1. Founded in the 4th century AD, San Marino prides itself on being one of the world’s smallest, oldest independent states. The country is tiny, with a total population of around 30,000 people ( the city of Rome has more than 2,600,000!) and is home to UNESCO world heritage sites like Mount Titano (San Marino’s highest point), San Marino City and Borgo Maggiore..

2. Whether as a day trip or weekend getaway, San Marino is easily reached from central Italian cities like Rimini (30 mins), Bologna (1.5 hours) and Florence (2.5 hours) by bus or rental car.

San Marino panorama

The view from San Marino

3. Like its name,  “Most Serene Republic of San Marino,” implies, the tiny country is a green oasis—the perfect place to relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Complete with unspoiled land, rolling hills, wineries and fortresses, San Marino is a great (and less crowded) alternative to the Tuscan countryside. On a clear day, you can even steal a view of the nearby Riviera Romagnola beaches!

4. Looking for a deal on Italian brands or a great souvenir to bring home? Head to San Marino for tax-free shopping! Despite its tiny size, the country boasts hundreds of chic shops and boutiques, malls (Atlante and Azzurro) and outlets (San Marino Factory Outlet and Queen Outlet) with a wide range of electronics and clothing for men, women and children.

Piadina: wrap stuffed with cheese, cured meats and vegetables. A popular dish in San Marino!

Piadina: wrap stuffed with cheese, cured meats and vegetables. A popular dish in San Marino!

5. The San Marino cuisine is simple and delicious, with flavors from neighboring regions mixed with local herbs and ingredients. Look for faggioli con le cotiche (bean and bacon soup) rabbit stew and torta tre monti (chocolate and hazelnut layer cake). Make your meal complete with delicious local wine and tilus, a truffle infused after-dinner liquor.

6. Hopping over from Italy to San Marino is quite easy: There is no border control, so you don’t need your passport to enter… but you can ask for a stamp in the tourist department as a souvenir! The local currency is the Euro and the official language is Italian, although most shops and restaurants speak English (check out our most useful Italian words and phrases for travelers as as a handy guide!). 

7. San Marino boasts a wide range of museums… from traditional paintings to more quirky collections! Highlights include the State Museum (large collection of paintings, coins and archeological objects), San Francesco Museum (16th century paintings), Museum of Ancient Arms, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Wax Museum, Museum of Curious Objects and the Ferrari and Abarth Museum.

Changing of the guard ceremony

Changing of the guard ceremony. Photo by lanzate (Flickr)

8. As an independent state, San Marino has its own military—one of the smallest in the world! The fascinating tradition of the changing of the guard is kept from April to September, every half hour from 8am to 6pm at the Palazzo Pubblico.

Have you ever visited San Marino? Tell us about your favorite sights in the comments!

Rocca della Guaita, one of San Marino's gorgeous castles, is just one of the many reasons to visit San Marino. Find out what makes this republic so special on the Walks of Italy blog.

8 Comments

  • When visiting the Republic of San Marino one can experience the feelings of going back to Medieval times, yet the country and citizens are very modern.
    The historical district and the various Castelli have many old monuments and buildings.

    Taking a walk up the Rupe (from Borgo Maggiore to Citta`) is an exciting brief journey “back in
    history.”
    Go to the summit, you will not be disappointed!

    Did you know Abraham Lincoln was an honorary citizen of this tiny Nation?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      We had the same impression of San Marino, Gloria. Thank you for sharing your experience and interesting facts about the Republic!

  • marino pazzini says:

    I was born in San Marino back in 1948..Came to America in 1958,San Marino as always been in my heart..we visit there now and then,but never enough..when ever we arrive in San Marino
    I just get the greatest feeling to say that I’m part of this beautiful land scape…
    This little country as so much to offer. The shops are so beautiful with all the different souvenirs. and most of all the people are so nice and beautiful…

  • Ulysses says:

    Do you guys have any tour from Rome? let me know, ulysses777@gmail.com

  • This is fantastic! I’ve only been living in this place for a year, and have yet to go to Hotel good to know its free to travel residents on those days!

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