San Marino is a fascinating place to visit: a small independent state nestled between the Italian region of Marche and the hills of Emilia-Romagna, near the italian city of Rimini. Its rich history is mixed with legend, in fact, San Marino is the oldest Republic in the world, which is one of the reasons why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008!
Its landscape is made up of Castles and Towers, and once you get to the top, you can enjoy the striking view of the Adriatic coast.
Strolling through the alleys of its historic center, immersed in a medieval atmosphere, is like taking a trip back in time, but San Marino is also a land of shopping and modern attractions also suitable for families. So you can alternate a visit to monuments and museums with an itinerary dedicated to shopping malls and outlet stores, activities to do with children and have a look to the rich calendar of cultural events.
If you’re thinking about visiting soon, start your trip here: read on and check out the best things to see in San Marino:
What to see as soon as you arrive in San Marino
- The cable car
- The belvedere of Contrada del Pianello
- The Crossbowmen’s Quarry (Cava dei Balestrieri)
- The historic center with its monuments
The Cable Car
San Marino’s first attraction is certainly its cable car: beloved by the little ones (who ride for free under 120 cm), it is convenient for walking to the historic center from Borgo Maggiore Castle, leaving the car in the nearby parking lot.
The cable car ride is short (just 2 minutes), but the 166-meter drop gives a beautiful view of the valley that reaches the Adriatic Sea and stretches to the coast of the Romagna Riviera.
(It is advisable to always check the dates when the cable car is closed to the public for semi-annual maintenance activities, usage regulations, and fares).
The belvedere of Contrada del Pianello
Arriving at the destination, in front of the cable car, there is a large square with the Monument to Bartolomeo Borghesi and a belvedere offering a splendid panoramic view from which can be seen the Adriatic see. You can admire all the landscape thanks to the coin-operated binoculars present.
Cava dei Balestrieri – The Crossbowmen’s Quarry
A short distance from the cable car is the Crossbowmen’s Quarry. This evocative place is derived from a quarry originally made by excavating the rock to obtain the materials needed to rebuild the Public Palace in the early 19th century. Today crossbow shooting competitions are held here, a sport that represent a strong tradition for San Marino since centuries.
What to see to learn more about the History of San Marino
- The Three Towers
The 3 Towers of San Marino
The three towers are the first image of San Marino that appears to visitors on the road to the Mount Titano (Monte Titano), an unmistakable skyline that represents the symbol of this ancient Republic. The First Tower (Guaita) and the Second (Cesta) can be visited, while the Third Tower (Montale) is not open to the public. The Witches’ Pass is a path that joins the three towers; its name evokes medieval folk beliefs about maidens who danced around the fire on moonlit nights and practiced mysterious rituals.
The small republic offers a great museum heritage: 12 state museums and 6 private ones that tell the story of art, anthropology-ethnography and the history of San Marino through testimonies of the various eras and archaeological finds discovered in the territory. Here you will find all the museums of San Marino and information for visiting them.
What to see with children
If you travel with kids and babies, San Marino becomes a fairy-tale place to dream and have adventures. Here is a complete tour in San Marino for children.
You can get to the top by cable car or you can board a little blue train that passes through historic tunnels and contrade and arrives in the historic center. From here you can start an itinerary full of fun and discoveries: medieval legends, narrow streets and towers to explore, museums (there is also one about zombies and vampires!), but also tree parks where you can climb among the trees…and for fans of comic books and videogames the appointment is with the festival San Marino Comics. Time flies and it will be hard to convince them how much it’s time to go home.
San Marino Adventures Park.
The right place to take your kids in San Marino is the San Marino Adventures park, the trail park suspended between heaven and earth in the largest forest on the Adriatic Riviera and in Italy. It’s also one of the largest adventure parks in Europe! Between breathtaking trails, climbing, games even for the little ones, picnics and softair the activities for the whole family will of course entertain and excite you.
Discover here the top-rated things to see in San Marino: