Although it is one of the smallest countries on earth, San Marino has some scenic hiking routes to get lost and explore
Even thought the tiny country of San Marino (61 km²) is not even 1/10 of the size of Berlin (891 km²) and most travelers come by just for a daytrip, this country is considered one of the best places to get a glimpse of the natural beauty in the central Apennine mountains of Italy. Furthermore, San Marino’s topography makes it perfect for hiking and wandering. The country has not a single flat area, which means exploring around equals driving through serpentine roads, cycling up and down through rolling hills and spotting more than one scenic spot while hiking around.
Walks and hikes at San Marino’s capital
San Marino’s most outstanding natural wonder is by far the gigantic Mount Tirano. It is visible from almost any other part of the country and with the three towers of San Marino rising at the top of the ridge, it is the perfect spot for a postcard picture of the country.
Since the capital is also located at the top of Mount Tirano, simple city tours in San Marino turn into a beautiful combination of an old city walk, a fortress visit and scenic views of the whole area.
Your very first hike in this country should be visiting the Three Towers of San Marino (Guaita, Cesta and Montale), as well getting lost in the city center. For this, you can either start at the top of Mount Tirano – this is where San Marino’s capital is located, or at the neighbor village of Borgo Maggiore, which is located at the feet of the mountain.
If you start and finish at Borgo Maggiore, you can take the 300-meter aerial tramway that connects San Marino to Borgo Maggiore.
Mount Tirano and the Sentiero della Rupe
Probably the most famous hiking route of San Marino is Sentiero della Rupe. This scenic trail goes around the Mount Tirano and finishes at Piazzalle Kennedy, from where you can continue to the three towers and reach the old town.
The best way to start this trail is at the town of Borgo Maggiore. Just next to the aerial tramway station, you will find red and white signposts pointing out the direction to the Sentiero della Rupe. This mountain route is also one of the most popular ones among locals, so expect to see many Sammarinese wandering around this area on weekends.
Even though the total trail is only 3,8 km distance, don’t underestimate the route. The total altitude difference is 212 meters and climbing all the way up should take you at least 2,5 hours. With some very steep sections in the hike, this climb should not be taken light – especially during hot days.
But don’t worry, the whole trail is very well signalized and cleaned up. Stairs, metal bars and ropes help travelers with all levels of fitness to complete the climb.
Cycling routes around San Marino
Even though the Sentiero della Rupe is an exciting hiking trail with excellent views of the country. You cannot leave San Marino without having a proper view of Mount Tirano.
The best way to get this view and at the same time appreciate the size of this country and its beauty is by renting a bicycle. It is also a perfect chance to explore San Marino’s countryside in a day. A cycling trip in San Marino can also be combined with other hiking trails – such as the Canepa Trail close to Chiesa di Ca’ Centino or the Castellacio Trail up to Mount Seghizzo.
Other options for cycling are the routes at the eastern side of the country. They might not be the most beautiful in terms of surroundings, but here is where the most beautiful viewpoints of Mount Tirano are easy to find. As you pass by many villages outside the capital, this is also a great opportunity to see how the Sammarinese live.
INSIDER TIP: Even though there are one or two companies offering cycling tours around San Marino’s countryside, San Marino is a very small country and a self-guided cycling tour is in my opinion the best choice to explore at your own pace and spend more time in the places you enjoy the most.
With more than 80 km of hiking routes, San Marino has some hidden paths for anyone to explore. This is one of the few countries where you can walk from east to west in one or two days if you want. Even though most people come here for a day, I decided to stay longer and end up finding out many beautiful unexplored getaways and trails off the beaten path.
Looking for the best sunrise spot in San Marino?
The views from San Marino’s only airfield, Aviosuperficie di San Marino-Torraccia, are the ones you are looking for.
Located at the top of a hill and with 360 degrees of nature, this is by far the best place to see the sunrise. Watch how the suns comes up from the horizon at the Adriatic Sea and wait some minutes until it touches Mount Tirano. It will worth the trip.