San Marino is one of Europe’s tiny countries – like Luxembourg, Vatican City, Andorra and Liechtenstein, if you blink you might just miss it. Completely contained within Italy, San Marino is its own independent republic – in fact, it states it is the oldest republic in the world and can be found just inland from the eastern Italy coast. Whether you want to visit because you like counting countries or you’re looking for something a little different for your European or Italian holiday, read on to discover how to get to San Marino (spoiler alert: it’s pretty easy!)
Suggested read: The most Instagrammable places in San Marino.
Where is San Marino?
As mentioned above, this independent country is entirely encompassed by Italy. Sitting on the Eastern side of Italy from Florence, underneath Bologna and above Rome, you can see where this republic sits in the world on this Google Maps link. San Marino is found approximately 20km inland from Rimini, which is the main point of access for this country.
How to get to Rimini
As San Marino has no international airport within its own country, to get to San Marino you must first get to Rimini. Your two main options to get to Rimini so are to fly or get the train.
Fly into Rimini
Rimini is serviced by Federico Fellini Airport – which is both a domestic and international airport. This airport is also known as Rimini and San Marino International Airport. This airport is very small but there is a public bus that will take you to and from this airport to the Rimini Train Station (Stazione di Rimini). Please note that you need to buy the bus ticket for this service before getting on the bus and then validate the ticket on the bus. You can buy the bus ticket in Rimini from here.
In addition to Federico Fellini Airport, you can also fly into Bologna Airport and catch the train or coach to Rimini. Bologna is about 75 minutes away by train so this is also an easy option to get to Rimini by air – plus flights into Bologna tend to be quite cheap (and more frequent than flights in and out of Rimini’s airport.
Train to Rimini
Rimini is serviced by its own train station called Stazione di Rimini. This is a very helpful entry point in as Italy is well connected with train services. Due to the frequent departure of trains, you could stay in Bologna and still visit San Marino for the day if you are happy to catch a train first to Rimini and then catch onward transport (read on to learn more) onto San Marino.
How to get to San Marino from Rimini
Once you’re in Rimini, you need to work out your onward travel. There are no trains that service this small country, so your two options are private car, bus or private transfer/taxi. If you choose to drive, the roads are easy and well-maintained. There is a number of paid parking facilities in this country (including in the city at the top of the hill). To find out more about what is required to drive in San Marino please see here or check further websites. A taxi is an option for you as well; however, it is likely to cost upwards of €60 each way.
I took the bus to San Marino which was very easy and stress-free. Unlike what I had read on many reviews online, I found the bus a great way to get to this tiny country.
How to get to San Marino by Bus
Bonelli Bus provides the bus service between San Marino and Rimini. The bus operates every day – although there is an amended timetable on Sundays and public holidays. You can find information on the bus timetable here and the bus timetable was also advertised at the bus stops and when buying tickets.
The Bonelli Bus stop in Rimini is found just across and slightly down the road from the Rimini Train Station (which makes it easy for those who are visiting San Marino from Bologna). You can find its location here (but please be sure to check with Bonelli Bus website in case this has changed from time of writing – also please note that other buses stop here, hence why the Google Maps name mentions a different bus transfer company). If in doubt, the bus stop is just beside Hotel Napoleon but the bus stop is well signed posted as you can see below.
How to purchase bus tickets for San Marino
Purchase your bus tickets for San Marino from a nearby ticket office. You can purchase your ticket there as well as your return bus (even if you are returning on a different day). You can find the ticket office to buy bus tickets for San Marino here – the same location as buying bus tickets to the Rimini Federico Fellini Airport. When I visited bus tickets were €6 each way. You are also given a print out of the bus timetable. When I visited, I did see it was possible to buy tickets from the driver – however, the bus to San Marino wasn’t doing this (or saying they had no change if you didn’t have the exact amount) while the bus to Rimini was accepting payment on the bus. I would play it safe and pre-purchase your bus ticket so that there aren’t any issues when boarding (especially when the next bus can be over an hour away).
How busy is the bus to San Marino?
Reading the online reviews about the bus to San Marino stressed me out! I’m not sure if these were from particularly busy weekends, before 2020 or because I was in the shoulder season, but they did not match my experience at all – which I am thankful for. While reviews online said the bus was so crowded people had to stand, could get left behind and everyone crowded to the bus door when the bus arrived, I found that both going to San Marino and returning to Rimini that the bus (which is a large coach) was almost empty. In fact, there were only 4 people on my return bus to Rimini when we first took off (we picked up and dropped off more people along the way). I visited on the 26/27 September, which was a Monday and Tuesday and both times took the first bus of the day (at 810am). Therefore due to it not being the prime summer season, not a weekend and earlier in the morning , this may be why I experienced a much more relaxing journey than I anticipated but due to the multiple bus stops along the route, I don’t think the bus is likely to be overcrowded super often (I hope not!).
Where is the bus stop location in San Marino?
When returning to Rimini, the bus stop location in San Marino city (the last stop on the bus route) is at the same location as where you get dropped off when you arrive, which makes everything very easy.
The bus journey from RImini to San Marino
Overall the bus journey is pleasant and lasts between 50-55 minutes. It makes a very easy day trip from both Rimini and Bologna or you can follow in my lead and stay overnight to really soak in this country (plus the sunset views are fantastic!)
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