San Marino is a small microstate nestled in the mountains of the surrounding country of Italy. Although it isn’t very well-known in the wider world, about 2 million people visit the small country each year.
While the country is small, it has a lot to offer potential visitors. The main attractions are the spectacular fortresses that tower above the city, such as the Rocca Guaita and Monte Titano.
The country is a beautiful medieval and Renaissance-era place, and a great day can be spent exploring its wandering streets. San Marino is also a popular shopping destination, thanks in part to its duty-free policies.
But while it’s rich in culture, history, and surprises around every corner, is San Marino safe to visit? Here’s our take.
Is San Marino Safe to Visit in 2024?
Yes. San Marino is very safe to visit. The small country has very low crime rates and virtually no threat from other dangers.
While you should still take some precautions and avoid silly mistakes such as leaving your bags unattended, you will likely have a very safe trip when visiting the country.
Most international travel advisories agree in their assessments that San Marino is a very safe country to visit. The New Zealand government doesn’t even issue a specific travel advisory for it.
Some incidents can happen during a visit, such as:
- Bag snatching
Some travel advisories mention the risk of terrorism, but the risk of terrorism is fairly low (more on that later). In general, San Marino is a very safe European travel destination. It’s protected from many of the common problems that you may encounter when traveling to a European destination.
According to CIA data, San Marino has a mild Mediterranean climate. That means that you shouldn’t have to worry about extreme weather during your visit.
It’s cooler than some other Mediterranean destinations thanks to its location in the mountains. However, it may experience some other types of natural disasters.
It’s located on the Italian Peninsula, which is an active seismic zone. Although earthquakes don’t occur often, they can happen. The official San Marino government has a page where it issues alerts if seismic activity is predicted.
Although the page is in Italian, you can read it using Google Translate. Earthquake alerts usually get published in English-language media based in San Marino and Italy as well. Like other parts of the Mediterranean, San Marino is at risk of wildfires in the summer.
Although the fires here aren’t as intense as in other parts of the region, such as arid Sicily, they can still be dangerous. If there is a wildfire in the area, it will be publicized on local news (and you will notice it).
Avoid areas that have fires, and stay indoors if you have respiratory issues, as the smoke can be dangerous. A popular activity in the country is hiking since the small country is blessed with spectacular mountains.
Wherever you go hiking, make sure that you follow basic safety precautions, such as knowing your limits when you go on a trail, packing the right footwear and gear, and always telling someone where you are going. Although hiking accidents are rare in San Marino, you don’t want to be one of the few exceptions.
Crime in San Marino
Many people worry about crime when they prepare to go abroad. Nobody wants to have to navigate filing a police report or shopping for a new phone in a foreign country and a foreign language.
Plus, plenty of people have heard horror stories about people getting pickpocketed in Europe. However, crime is not one of the problems that you have to worry about when visiting. The country has an extraordinarily low crime rate.
Crime against residents and tourists is very rare. San Marino has a very low violent crime rate. For years, its homicide rate has been 0 incidents per 100,000 people. If the homicide rate is this low, then the overall violent crime rate must be low as well.
The overall crime rate, including property crime, is also very low. According to the Numbeo crime index, San Marino scores an 8.33 out of 100 on the crime index.
This is a very low value — one of the lowest in the world, in fact. The only crimes people worry about sometimes are burglary, drug abuse, vandalism, and petty theft. Although people perceive crime as increasing in recent years, that is all relative.
A crime increase in San Marino means very little since the crime rate was low to begin with. Respondents to surveys indicated that they feel very safe walking around during the day and almost equally as safe during the night.
According to The Organized Crime Index, San Marino has one of the lowest criminality scores in the world, at 3.48. It’s occasionally used by foreign organized crime syndicates to traffic and sell drugs, but the drug trade is fairly minor.
The most common form of organized crime is the usage of the country for money laundering. San Marino has fairly loose finance laws (although they’ve been tightening in recent years), making it a destination for dubious financial dealings.
However, this type of crime rarely affects average civilians. There are a few reasons why San Marino has such a low crime rate. One has to do with the country’s size.
It has a small, very close-knit population, making it difficult to get away with crime. It also doesn’t have much opportunity for crime since there are so few people. It is also a relatively prosperous country.
It lacks many of the societal factors that push people towards crime, such as poverty, unemployment, and inequality. For all of these reasons, your personal safety really isn’t something that you have to worry about when you travel to San Marino.
The only problem you really have to worry about when you come to San Marino is petty theft. It’s not that it’s an especially popular destination among pickpockets, but that pickpocketing and other forms of petty theft are common everywhere in the world and some of the hardest crimes to stop.
The large crowds of tourists and day trippers who come to San Marino also provide cover for potential thieves. Many are not local residents but blend in with fellow travelers to take advantage of their casual attitudes toward safety.
Although petty theft happens and is something you should have some awareness of as you plan your trip, it doesn’t happen often enough that you should be constantly vigilant.
In fact, the rate of petty theft is much lower in San Marino than in many other European destinations. The Canadian government mentions the risk of petty theft in its travel advisory (it’s one of the only problems that the government cautions against in its travel advisory).
However, it immediately clarifies that the crime rate is very low in the country. San Marino’s pickpockets are hardly hardened criminals, and basic precautions are more than enough to deter them.
Make sure that you don’t leave valuables, such as your passport and wallet, unattended at any point. The cobblestoned streets may seem like a fairy tale, but you never know who might be watching and hoping for a moment of inattention.
You don’t need to invest in a money belt or anti-theft bag for San Marino (you just may wind up looking silly). However, putting your wallet in a safe place, especially if there are day-tripper crowds around, is a good precaution to take.
In their travel advisories for San Marino, some countries mention the risk of terrorism. The United Kingdom mentions that there is a risk of terrorism and that terrorists may target UK or US nationals and government buildings.
However, is the small country of San Marino really an oasis of terrorist activity? Although countries may mention it in their travel advisories, the risk of terrorism is extremely low.
Even the UK admits in its travel advisory, after advising tourists to be cautious against terrorism, that there haven’t been any recent incidents in San Marino.
In their travel advisories, governments often issue advisories for terrorism based on continent-wide trends, not because a country in particular is at risk (the United States doesn’t even bother issuing a separate travel advisory for San Marino, directing visitors to its travel advisory for Italy instead).
The country of San Marino itself is unlikely to experience terrorism. It’s very small and doesn’t play a major role in geopolitics, making it an unlikely target for radical terrorism. There are also few to no homegrown terrorism cells.
Countries have a duty to warn their citizens about the risk of anything happening, even if the risk is very low. Despite what you may read, there is very little risk of terrorism.
Avoiding Bad Areas
There are no areas that you need to avoid in San Marino. The country is extremely safe, and residents and visitors feel safe walking anywhere, even at night. It’s so small that it’s almost universally safe. You should avoid hiking at night just for the risk of injury, not because of the risk of crime.
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for visiting San Marino (as well as some tips to make your overall experience better):
- Obey local laws. San Marino has very strict drug laws, and even possession can carry heavy fines. Don’t indulge in illegal drugs while in San Marino to avoid attracting unwanted attention from law enforcement.
- Food and water are safe. You don’t need to worry about the tap water or street food while in town. You should have your routine vaccinations up-to-date, but that is true no matter where you decide to travel.
- Be careful when buying souvenirs. Certain souvenirs, such as decommissioned weapons, are legal to sell in San Marino but may not be legal to take to your next destination.
- The best time to visit is during a clear day. You want to be able to get a clear view from the mountains!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions people tend to ask about safety in San Marino:
Is San Marino worth visiting?
San Marino may not have many sites to offer, but it is still worth visiting for the views alone. The mountains offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and as far as the Adriatic Sea on clear days. It’s also a popular destination for lovers of shopping.
Can anyone visit San Marino?
Anyone who can visit Italy can also visit San Marino because there are no hard borders between the two. However, if you need a visa to visit Italy, you will also need one for San Marino.
Can you just walk into San Marino?
Yes, you can just walk into San Marino. However, you need to pass through Italy first, no matter which direction you come from, so make sure that you enter Italy legally.
Why is San Marino cheap?
Visitors are surprised to find that San Marino is much more affordable than many other European destinations. That is because there are no taxes on common consumer goods.
Is San Marino safe for solo female travelers?
San Marino is one of the safest places in the world for solo female travelers. It has such a low crime rate that even women can walk alone at night.
So, Is San Marino Safe to Visit?
San Marino is one of the safest places to visit! It has a very low crime rate, so nothing will stop you from enjoying those beautiful views. Happy travels!