In my ongoing series of World Borders, I aim to provide essential tips for crossing borders and immigration checkpoints all over the world. Today we look at the “border” between Italy and San Marino. Yes, San Marino is a landlocked country which is completely inside Italy. Italy seems to like these types of places as it also houses The Vatican City State within Rome, The Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Seborga. Here’s the rundown on how to get to San Marino from Italy. In fact unless you sky dive in, or arrive by helicopter, it is essential to first visit Italy before you can get to San Marino.
First things first what is San Marino?
San Marino is apparently the world’s “oldest republic”, it also is one of the smallest UN recognised countries in Europe (only The Vatican City and Monaco are smaller). It has its own flag and national football team, but uses the Euro as its currency and the people all speak Italian. The population of San Marino is less than 30,000 and it sits at a high altitude with stunning views. The capital city is San Marino City, where I stayed.
How to get to San Marino from Italy
Fly – Sorry, no can do – there is NO airport in San Marino
Train – Sorry, no can do – there is NO train station in San Marino
Boat – Sorry, no can do – San Marino is landlocked therefore there is no harbour in San Marino
Bus – you’ve got it! That’s how to get to San Marino – take a bus from Rimini.
How to get to San Marino by Bus
This was how I did it and is the easiest way to get to San Marino. You need to get to the border town of Rimini in Italy. We arrived in Rimini by train from the east of Italy (our last change was at Faenza). Rimini itself is a popular place to stay, especially in the summer and if you have time to play with you can enjoy its pleasures. However, myself and my travel buddies were on a mission to head straight to San Marino (for an international football match between San Marino and my country, Northern Ireland).
On arrival at Rimini by train, the bus departures are well signposted and obvious, I’d say it was a 2-3 minute walk from getting off the train to finding the correct bus stop for San Marino. You want to know how easy it is? There is a bus stop that says “S. Marino” on it. The bus that pulls up alongside will probably be a comfortable double decker bus and it will have “S. Marino” on the front of it.
How much does it cost to get a bus from Rimini in ITALY to SAN MARINO?
Since San Marino is small and you will probably come out the same route you went in, I’d advise you to save money by getting a return bus, it was around 6 Euros when I did the trip in 2009, but it is now 4.50 Euros each way. It may rise in the summer as Rimini gets busy then. Check this link:
How do you buy a bus ticket to San Marino from Rimini in Italy?
This is simple, you can buy them on the bus. In the unlikely event that the bus is full, just wait for the next one. You can also buy a ticket off the staff at the Tourist Information Office in Rimini. You cannot and should not buy a bus ticket online!
Do you need a Visa to visit San Marino?
No, as long as you are legally in Italy, San Marino has no separate visa restrictions, and you should already be in Italy remember. You can get your passport stamped in San Marino City in the post office. Just call into the Post Office near the roundabout in the city centre with your passport and ask for your stamp!
Is there a Border Checkpoint between Italy and San Marino?
If there is, our bus driver boycotted it twice (we went in and out of the country the same way), but realistically there isn’t. The tell tale sign that you are in San Marino is merely a welcome to San Marino sign and the steep climb up hills (you’ve left Italy once you are on that ascent). There is no need for bag checks, strip searches or any kind of concern whatsoever, on the bus I was sipping beer and enjoying the views. It was snowing and stunning.
How long does the bus to San Marino from Rimini take?
The Bus Company and Tourist Information will tell you 45 minutes. I think it took us 3 hours. If you travel in the snowy season (which is amazing and needs to be seen!) expect delays and even bus breakdowns. I love travelling and bus breakdowns and replacements are all part and parcel of travelling so I wasn’t at all upset by it.
We had a beer and toilet stop half way up the hill to San Marino city and enjoyed a mini snowball fight. It was a beautiful winter wonderland. I have included my videos below which you can check out – we went in February (and yes it was 2009 – exactly four years ago, but when you travel a lot you have thousands of stories unwritten, hence why this is only seeing the light of day now!).
Our bus had broken down and a replacement one was sent, then we got back on the original bus and then the replacement one. It was all confusing and since it was 4 years ago, some of my memory of the journey is sketchy at best. At one point a snow plough turned up to help the bus through the snow and we broke down on a hill as well.
But it was scenic and San Marino is a beautiful country and well worth seeing for a couple of days. A place to relax, enjoy views and even sample a local beer. We stayed in a cosy hostel with outstanding views, it was called Affitta Camere Francoisi:
For the record (and since I haven’t written about San Marino yet), it was all worth it as Northern Ireland won the football match 3-0 in Serravale. I haven’t been to a Northern Ireland away match since, but have managed to visit 36 new countries in the last four years. I also wrote about this bus journey in my Top Scenic Bus Journeys post. It’s a hell of a journey on Don’t Stop Living – I live a lifestyle of travel and through this website, I’m encouraging you to do it too!
My Videos from the trip from Rimini in Italy to San Marino:
Bus Problems and changing buses in San Marino:
A Bus through the mountains of San Marino:
A Bus Stop in San Marino when the bus broke down:
San Marino Bus through snow:
Walking through the snow in San Marino City:
Leaving San Marino for Rimini by bus:
How to get to San Marino from Italy is part of my ongoing series called World Borders – of which there are many more to come, because I’ve crossed a few 😉