As frequent travelers, exploring the world gives us innate joy and fulfillment. In September of 2019, we decided to spend two weeks in Italy. While this was our 12th time visiting Coco’s motherland, we decided to explore a few parts of the country that we had never seen before – and even a few parts of new countries! While researching the country, we noticed that there was a landlocked country inside of Italy – San Marino. We immediately started Googling photos of San Marino and we were amazed at the fairytale like castles and the pristine beauty of this mountainous country. Just like a child spins a globe and picks a place to visit wherever the globe halts, we decided to look at a map, take our chances, and choose San Marino. We didn’t know much about this country prior to our visit so we thought, “why not?” Let’s see what the landlocked country of San Marino is all about.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Italian
  • Currency: Euro
  • Transportation: Taxi, car, bus
  • Closest Airports: Bologna, Rimini, Florence, Pisa, Venice
  • Population: 33,400

The History

Italy has 21 different regions, but San Marino isn’t one of them.

This landlocked country is known as the oldest republic in the world, dating back to the 4th century.

It is the smallest independent state in Europe after Monaco and Vatican City and it is one of three landlocked countries in Europe.

During the Second World War, San Marino was a neutral state and it hosted over 100,000 refugees from all over Italy. It has survived multiple wars and is now one of the wealthiest republics in the entire world.







San Marino Sunset

How To Get There

While Italy has a wonderful train transportation system through parts of the country, it unfortunately doesn’t connect to San Marino. But don’t worry – there are other ways of entering this beautiful country. The closest airports are Rimini Airport and Bologna Airport. From there, one could take a train or bus to Rimini and then take a bus up to San Marino.

We chose to rent a car from Florence and drive three hours to San Marino. After a few hours on the Autostrada, we finally approached the country of San Marino. The windy, yet stunningly beautiful road, zigged and zagged us up the mountain to the top of San Marino. It was difficult to keep our eyes on the road as the Adriatic Sea came to view and the castles above us beckoned us to keep going.

Note: Parking is limited in San Marino, but many hotels offer free parking in lots surrounding the city. The main downtown of San Marino is a restricted area to cars so unless your hotel has given you a permit, do not drive into the center of the city or you’ll receive a ticket.


Where to Stay

The hotel options in San Marino are limited when it comes to luxury. There are no grand, five-star hotels, but there are plenty of charming accommodations to choose from.

Hotel Rosa: We chose to stay at Hotel Rosa, a three-star hotel in the center of the city. It has a small roof deck and some of the best views in all of San Marino (the main reason why we chose it). We chose a triple room because it had a private balcony that overlooked the city of San Marino as well as the countryside below. The downside of this hotel is definitely the comfort of the beds and the overall noise level of the hotel. If you’re booking a stay at the Hotel Rosa, we would recommend asking for a room away from the elevators.

Other hotel options in San Marino include the Hotel Cesare, Titano Suites, and the Hotel La Grotta.


How Long Should I Stay?

Many people visit San Marino just for a day trip, but we think it truly shines at night. We stayed in San Marino for two nights and that was the perfect amount of time. During the daytime, the streets are littered with day-trippers and the city seems to lose its authentic vibe. However, at night, the city is nearly empty and it felt like we had San Marino all to ourselves.

Evenings in San Marino start with an aperitivo during sunset (Aperol Spritz anyone?), continue with a low-key dinner, and then conclude with a walk around its many castles. Minus a few chatch-ka shops, the city looks like it has been preserved in time. Its rocky formations, cobblestone streets, and castles make it seem like the perfect setting for an episode of Game of Thrones 🙂


What To Do

  • Get a Passport Stamp: While San Marino is not in the EU, you don’t need a passport to enter the country from Italy. However, if you’re a passport stamp hoarder like us, the San Marino passport stamp is a must! To acquire a passport stamp, you simply need to visit the Tourist office and request this stamp. Each stamp costs 5 Euro and it was a highlight of our trip!
  • Visit The Three Towers: There is a massive fortress on the top of San Marino comprised of three towers. The fortress was built in the 1200’s and you can understand why this republic was impenetrable throughout time.
  • The Public Palace: The Public Palace is located in the center of town and it’s a beautiful structure where you can watch the changing of the guards.
  • Go Hiking and Biking: There are plenty of hikes and places to bike around San Marino. Because of its hilly location, adventurers will love the plethora of trails around the city.

Where to Dine

After dining in places like Florence and Modena, it was a tough sell to impress us in San Marino, but we can confidently recommend these two restaurants:

  • Hotel Cesare: Known to be a little pricier than its San Marino counterparts, the Hotel Cesare has a beautiful restaurant overlooking the city of San Marino.
  • Ristorante Il Beccafico is in the center of the old town of the Republic of San Marino. It has a beautiful view of the valley, delicious pizzas (we recommend the truffle pizza!), pasta, and great house wine.