San Marino, the world’s smallest republic, has a reputation for being quite touristy — but the tourists visit for good reason. Ignore the souvenir shops and tourist restaurants and focus on the medieval towers and beautiful stonework of the city, which is perched on the top of a very steep hill.
Get to San Marino by Road
You can drive to San Marino, where there are lots of car parks in and around Borgo Maggiore. The city itself is pedestrianised, so you’ll catch the cable car or bus to the top of the mountain.
A bus runs from nearby Rimini, Italy, several times a day (see Rimini to San Marino below).
Get to San Marino by Train
San Marino’s train line was destroyed in the Second World War, and never replaced, so now the only way to get in is by road. You can catch the train to nearby Rimini, and then bus to San Marino (see below).
Rimini to San Marino
San Marino is popular option for day trips from Rimini. Rimini Airport (RMI) is also the perfect place to fly into when visiting San Marino.
Rome to San Marino
It takes 3-4 hours to travel from Rome to San Marino by car. Check pricing and availability on private transfers.
Using the San Marino Cable Car (Funicular)
The San Marino Funicular runs from Borgo Maggiore to the Città San Marino. Borgo Maggiore is the town at the bottom of the hill; the Città is the Unesco World Heritage site with all the tourist attractions at the top of the hill.
Most transport options, like the bus from Rimini, will take you to Borgo Maggiore, and the Cable Car.
There are plenty of parking lots for the funicular. Local buses also run up and down the hill regularly, but most visitors opt for the scenic views the San Marino funicular offers. It runs every fifteen minutes.
Where to Sleep in San Marino
We couchsurfed during our stay in San Marino, but there are plenty of hotels and a couple of hostels to choose from.
The hostel on 28 Luglio in Borgo Maggiore is conveniently located on the bus route, and there are two walking paths from this lower town up to the Città.
Get around San Marino
Most of the tourist attractions are in the Città of San Marino, which is mostly pedestrian-only. Be prepared for some steep streets!
To get to the top from lower down the hill, you can either drive, catch a bus, hop on the funicular (cable car) or walk. There are plenty of parking lots, and local buses run regularly, but many visitors opt for the scenic views the funicular offers.
If you choose to walk, look for the path near the lower funicular station — it’s on the far side if you’re approaching from Borgo Maggiore town.
It’s divided into cycleway and footpath by a yellow painted line, and will take you through the old train tunnels, which are known as the galerias. This route will take you near the picturesque cemetery — stop in to check out the well-tended grounds and impressive family tombs.
You’ll arrive at St Francis Gate, where you’ll find a tourist cop directing both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
There’s another footpath from Borgo Maggiore to San Marino city, which features shallow steps of cobblestones — it’s better to go down than up. Find it on the north-western end of the city, just after the prayer cave.
Things to do in San Marino
Grab a map from the tourist office (the one in Rimini also stocks them) and explore.
There are lots of museums to choose from, but the biggest attraction are the three towers which are the country’s symbol.
You can get a “red card” ticket for €4.50 which gives you entry to the first two towers; the third can’t be visited. There’s a weapons museum inside the second tower, and information panels in the first, but the views from the ramparts are what’s really worth the entrance fee.
Of course, there’s a lot more to do than just visit these towers — you can also check out the beautiful San Marino Basilica, wander through the forest below the Witches’ Way, or have a leisurely lunch in one of the many restaurants.
If you can, come back after dark for a spectacular view of the lower countryside — the city certainly isn’t full of tourists then!
Read More About San Marino
- How to visit San Marino
- Best Tours in San Marino to explore the city, stories and history
- Micronations podcast: Travel in San Marino, Monaco and Andorra