6 reasons to visit San Marino, Europe's fastest-growing tourist destination you've probably never heard of

MikeNG/ShutterstockThe Three Towers of San Marino on Monte Titano.
  • San Marino is the fifth smallest country in the world, yet its tourism industry is growing rapidly.
  • Situated on the northeastern portion of the Italian peninsula, San Marino saw a 31.1% rise in international tourist arrivals between 2016 and 2017, according to data released by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in September 2018.
  • Over 78,000 people visited the country in 2017 – that’s more than double the size of its population.
  • There are plenty of reasons to visit the Italian-speaking country.
  • San Marino has a beautiful mountainous landscape, a number of medieval castles, and unique food influenced by northeastern Italian cuisine.

At 24 square miles, the Republic of San Marino is the fifth smallest country in the world, yet its tourism industry is growing at a faster rate than the rest of Europe‘s.

An enclave situated on the northeastern portion of the Italian peninsula, San Marino saw a 31.1% rise in international tourist arrivals between 2016 and 2017, according to data released by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. In 2017, over 78,000 people visited the Italian-speaking nation – more than double its reported population of approximately 33,623 residents.

There are plenty of reasons for the tiny country’s popularity. For example, it’s home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Monte Titano, a number of well-preserved medieval castles, has a unique cuisine, and a vibrant sports culture.

Below, learn more about why tourists are flocking to San Marino.


San Marino’s public spaces are full of art and history.

ET1972/ShutterstockThe Statua della Libertà is located in the City of San Marino, the Republic’s capital.

The Statua della Libertà is one of many examples of neoclassical art and architecture that line the streets of San Marino.

Located in the Piazza della Libertà, a public square in San Marino’s capital, the sculpture was made by Italian sculptor Stefano Galletti and donated to the country by a German countess in 1876 as a symbolic gesture.

Now an iconic landmark, the statue is even depicted on the Republic’s two-cent Euro coin.


The country has a vibrant sporting culture.

Paul Gilham/Getty ImagesThe San Marino Grand Prix was held annually from 1981 to 2006.

San Marino and its neighbouring regions have a rich history in hosting and supporting major sporting events.

From 1981 to 2006, people from all over the world gathered in Imola, Italy – a city near the Republic – for the San Marino Grand Prix. The famous Formula 1 championship race was named after San Marino since there was already an Italian Grand Prix hosted in Monza, Italy.

Similarly, the currently-held San Marino and Rimini’s Coast motorcycle Grand Prix also takes place in Italy but was named after the Republic because there was already an Italian motorcycle Grand Prix.

Racing aside, soccer is another popular sport in the country, according to San Marino’s official tourism website.


Visitors can explore numerous well-preserved medieval citadels and castles.

SimoneN/ShutterstockThe fortress of Guaita is one of three medieval towers located on Monte Titano.

One of San Marino’s most famous attractions, the Three Towers of San Marino are situated on the highest peak of the Apennine Mountains within the Republic’s borders.

Remnants of San Marino’s medieval past, the towers were formerly home to armaments and prisons. According to San Marino’s tourism site, the oldest of the three structures, Guaita, dates back to the 10th century.


San Marino also has a variety of religious architecture.

SimoneN/ShutterstockThe Basilica di San Marino is the main church for the City of San Marino.

One of the many examples of the country’s ornate religious buildings, the Basilica di San Marino serves as the main church for the Republic’s capital city.

The Catholic church also houses the Church of Saint Peter, a religious altar that dates back to the 16th century and is a meaningful site for religious tourists and history buffs alike.


Sammarinese food is influenced by northeastern Italian cuisine, and has its own one-of-a-kind dishes.

ChiccoDodiFC/ShutterstockPiadina is a popular dish in northern Italy and San Marino.

According to San Marino’s official tourism website, popular dishes in the Republic include piadina (a thin, flat bread often eaten with meats, herbs, and cheeses), polenta, and pastas like tagliatelle, strozzapreti, ravioli, and gnocchi.

Visitors can also enjoy several dishes unique to the microstate including bustrengo (a polenta-based cake made with figs and apples), fagioli con le cotiche (a bean and bacon soup traditionally consumed during Christmas), and torta tre monti (a circular wafer cake covered in chocolate that pays homage to the Three Towers of San Marino).


Visitors can enjoy world-class views thanks to San Marino’s mountainous landscape.

Davide69/ShutterstockTake in views of the city from a cable car to the Three Towers of San Marino.

The Republic is jam-packed with natural beauty, making it a great getaway for people who live in metropolitan areas, especially in nearby European countries.

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