San Remo is undoubtedly the most popular tourist destination on the Riviera dei Fiori and one of the most renowned in all of Liguria, thanks to its exceptional climate, enchanting sea and lush vegetation growing in its gardens.
Since the end of the 1800s, international tourism, especially the English and Russian ones, have elected this wonderful land as a favorite tourist destination. Evidence of this golden age can still be seen: lavish villas, lush gardens, rows of palm trees and international notoriety.
Since then Sanremo has been transformed and today, in addition to being an ideal city for summer and seaside tourism, it is one popular destination all year round.
In addition to the extraordinary climate that unites it to the whole Riviera of Flowers and the many things to see, Sanremo is the scene of famous international events.
San Remo, in fact, has a significant cultural history and hosts the annual Italian Song Festival, known as the Sanremo Festival, the most important musical event in Italy, held at the historic Ariston Theater in February each year.
Music fans from all over the world flock to the city to watch performances by various Italian artists and take part in this unforgettable experience.
In this guide and in the insights, you will find out everything you need to know about Sanremo for a pleasant stay: the best times, the beaches, what to visit and points of interest, all the events and other useful information.
What to see in Sanremo
San Remo is really rich in points of interest and things to see: for a complete visit to all the wonders of the city surely one day will not be enough.
A thorough visit to San Remo needs at least a weekend or perhaps a little more.
Among the historic district’s intricate carugi, beautiful gardens, elegant villas, and Sanremo Festival venues, time flies!
The most interesting part of the city runs from the old town, the so-called Pigna, down to the sea: in Matteotti Street, you will admire the Casino and other beautiful buildings. Beautiful villas with their gardens await you along the Aurelia road. On the coast you can relax on golden beaches and enjoy some healthy fun.
Via Matteotti is not just a street: it is the heart and soul of San Remo, a microcosm of the city’s life and charm. Extending through the city center, it presents a vibrant floral bouquet of restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and, of course, people: locals and tourists alike flock to the ubiquitous charm of Matteotti Street.
This dynamic promenade showcases luxury brand stores conveniently nestled among quirky local boutiques. It is a unique shopping paradise where high fashion blends with traditional Italian craftsmanship. Whether you prefer Prada’s glossy windows or prefer handmade pottery from a local artisan, Via Matteotti is for you!
The Ariston Theater, the famous venue of the iconic Sanremo Festival, is located right on Matteotti Street. This street also offers easy access to the medieval old town (La Pigna), the municipal casino, Palazzo Borea d’Olmo, and the sparkling beaches along the coast.
Casino of Sanremo
In the heart of San Remo, nestled along the beautiful blue waters of the Ligurian Sea, stands an iconic symbol of glamour and intrigue: the San Remo Casino. A testament to the city’s rich history and culture, this majestic casino radiates grandeur and elegance, inviting all who pass by.
The Sanremo Casino is one of the three Italian casinos still in business.
The structure, an architectural masterpiece in the Art Nouveau style, was designed by Parisian architect Eugene Ferret and is an example of the Art Nouveau style.
Its walls echo stories of famous artists, royalty, and celebrities who have graced its corridors.
The San Remo Casino is not just about gambling. This multifaceted facility hosts a wide range of cultural events, from concerts to theater performances and gala dinners.
For those attracted to the thrill of games, the San Remo Casino offers an impressive variety. From French roulette to Texas Hold’em poker, from Punto Banco to Chemin de Fer, gaming enthusiasts will find a myriad of choices to quench their thirst for thrills. This glamorous space serves high stakes and good humor, wrapped in an atmosphere of elegance.
During your stay, a visit to the Sanremo Casino is recommended even just to admire the structure and the gaming rooms up close. free admission but is reserved for adults only.
Sanremo retains all the charm of the Middle Ages in the “old city” district also called the pine cone for its characteristic conformation, a labyrinth of alleys, stairways, arches, covered passages that branch off in concentric rings from the top of the hill and all of its important facing the central Piazza San Siro.
Here, especially during the day, it is curious to get lost in the alleys and climb to the top to visit the Madonna della Costa Sanctuary and admire the view from the Regina Elena gardens.
As soon as you enter the winding cobblestone alleys of La Pigna, you will immediately be transported to another time, a bygone era when life was simpler and steeped in tradition. Prior to the arrival of the Romans, the labyrinths of La Pigna have witnessed the passage of time, enduring through the centuries while retaining their undeniable charm.
Walking through La Pigna is an architectural adventure that allows visitors to savor the extraordinary fusion of medieval buildings, Baroque-style churches, and traditional Italian houses. The streets are adorned with beautiful arches, lined with colorful houses painted in pastel shades, each with its own unique historical significance.
A visit to San Remo is not complete without exploring the soul of this ancient city and discovering the stories hidden within its walls. When you leave La Pigna, be sure to carry some of its magic in your heart, because there are few places left in the world that can evoke such a connection to the past.
Welcome to a place where grandeur meets serenity: the Empress Promenade in San Remo, a promenade that embodies the essence of the Belle Époque. A walk along this famous walkway offers breathtaking views of the sun-kissed Ligurian Sea against a backdrop of picturesque gardens, elegant hotels and villas, and towering palm trees.
Originally built at the end of the 19th century, the Empress Promenade is named in honor of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, mother of the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, who was captivated by the extraordinary beauty of the San Remo coastline during her stay at Villa Magnolia.
The Empress Promenade is renowned for its lush vegetation, particularly its rows of impressive palm trees. Symbols of the tropical microclimate of San Remo and the Riviera dei Fiori, these majestic palms impart an innate sense of luxury, transporting visitors to a tropical paradise.
Some of the palm trees that make this Promenade unique are still those that the Tsarina decided to donate to the city of Sanremo to thank during a pleasant stay on the Riviera.
Nestled in the lush greenery of San Remo, you can discover the majestic Villa Nobel, the first residence of the famous inventor and philanthropist Alfred Nobel. Known worldwide for the coveted Nobel Prize, his extraordinary legacy survives not only through the prestigious award, but also through the exquisitely preserved Nobel Villa.
Purchased by Alfred Nobel in 1891, Villa Nobel was more than just a home for the distinguished scientist; it was an oasis of inspiration where he spent the last years of his life. Nobel was attracted to San Remo’s unique microclimate, natural beauty, and opportunities for seclusion, which are still evident in the tranquility surrounding Villa Nobel.
A testament to the Moorish architectural style, Villa Nobel is a symbol of eclectic glamour. Originally built in 1870 by architect Louis Barbet, the villa has features of classical Renaissance and Byzantine styles, evident in its distinct arches, domes, and towers. Today, the villa is meticulously maintained, preserving its original aesthetic appeal and representing an architectural marvel for the modern visitor.
Inside, Villa Nobel has been transformed into a museum, inviting guests to travel through Nobel’s extraordinary life. Carefully curated exhibits offer glimpses into his inventions, achievements and personal life. Of particular interest is Nobel’s laboratory, maintained in its original state, which offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the scientist’s extraordinary mind.
A must-see feature of Villa Nobel is its majestic gardens. Exuberant, colorful and sprawling, these gardens were beloved by Alfred Nobel, who had a soft spot for botany. The gardens still contain several exotic species of plants, including palm trees and orchids, reflecting San Remo’s role as the “City of Flowers.” As you stroll, let the floral fragrances and vibrant colors capture your senses.
Co-cathedral of San Siro
The Cathedral of San Siro, proudly nestled in San Siro Square, is one of San Remo’s oldest structures, dating back to the 12th century.
According to tradition, the bishop of Genoa Siro, who later became a saint, used to celebrate mass here.
The cathedral’s exterior, characterized by its simple but strong Romanesque style, captivates potential visitors from afar. The oldest parts of the church are the two side doors with their bas-reliefs.
The magnificence of its architectural style continues inside. From the richly decorated wooden ceiling to the intricate marble altar, the Cathedral is a treasure trove of artistic and architectural details that immediately amaze visitors.
Works by Anton Maria Maragliano are featured, including a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. Another interesting work is the black crucifix by an unknown 15th-century author.
Russian Orthodox Church
San Remo, along with the French Riviera, had been the favorite refuge of Russian aristocracy fleeing the harsh winters of their homeland since the late 19th century. The Church of Christ the Savior, St. Catherine and St. Seraphim, more commonly known as the Russian Church, was built in 1913 to serve this community.
Inspired by traditional Russian Orthodox architecture, the church is a blend of the decorated “Novgorod” and “Moscow” styles, making it a unique masterpiece in the heart of the Ligurian Riviera.
Beyond religious practices, the Russian Church is a testament to the historical ties between Russia and Italy, particularly during the pre-revolutionary Russian era.
Santuario Madonna della Costa
Perched atop the hills, overlooking the bustling cityscape and glittering coastline of San Remo, stands the resplendent Sanctuary Madonna della Costa. It is not only a religious shrine, but also a place to soak in fascinating panoramic views and delve into centuries of fascinating history.
Originally built in the early 17th century, the Madonna della Costa Shrine is dedicated to “Our Lady of the Coast.”
One of the highlights of the sanctuary is its splendid Baroque architecture. The exterior immediately attracts attention with its distinctive bell tower, and as the eyes wander upward, the beautifully conceived dome, adorned with frescoes, paints an equally enchanting picture.
Inside, the shrine is a treasure trove of grandeur and art. The interior is filled with beautiful frescoes, intricate stucco work and sculptures that speak volumes about the craftsmanship of the period.
The real spectacle of the Madonna della Costa Shrine is the visual feast it offers. The view from the sanctuary is nothing short of perfect, boasting stunning views of the city, the coast and the Ligurian Sea. The sanctuary’s elevated location provides a unique and picturesque perspective that is a delight for photographers and nature lovers alike.
Civic Museum of Sanremo
The civic museum of Sanremo is housed in the monumental eighteenth-century building of Palazzo Nota.
This building, which was formerly the residence of the Genoese commissioner and municipal seat, has been restored in all its beauty.
On the first floor the museum preserves ancient testimonies of the Sanremo area since prehistoric times.
On the second floor you can admire the historic Hall of the municipal council with the frescoes in 700 and in the other rooms the art gallery has been set up which houses precious paintings and sculptors from 1600 onwards.
Within the path you can take advantage of engaging multimedia paths.
Regina Elena Gardens
Giardini Regina Elena can be reached by crossing the narrow alleys of the Pigna, the historic center of Sanremo.
This park is certainly one of the most curious and suggestive areas of the city: the garden full of palm trees is just below the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Costa and offers a wonderful view of the city of Sanremo, the port, in an expanse of roofs from which the bell towers of the churches stand out. The blue background of the gulf of the city of flowers makes the panorama unique.
Fort of Santa Tecla
The fort of Santa Tecla is located in one of the most beautiful areas of the city, right next to the Old Port.
This triangular fort was built by the Republic of Genoa to keep the rebellious city of Sanremo at bay.
A bastion is right towards the city and was well equipped with artillery. And this is precisely the oddity, the cannons were aimed towards the rebel city and not towards the sea for defensive purposes.
It was then used as a prison until 1997 and now, after the restoration, it is used by the municipality as a venue for cultural exhibitions.
Sanremo cycle path
With the shift of the railway line behind the city, one of probably the most beautiful bike paths in Europe now passes through San Remo: the Riviera dei Fiori bike path that connects San Lorenzo al Mare to Imperia.
It is absolutely recommended during your visit to the Riviera to dedicate half a day to discovering this wonderful 24 km long walk, perhaps by renting a bike in the many kiosks that offer this service.
Beaches of Sanremo
The beaches are the great theater of the long Sanremo summers.
Along the coast of the city they really are many bathing establishments which offer the classic rental services for umbrellas, sunbeds and deck chairs. Many have a bar and restaurant service, some turn into the liveliest clubs of the Riviera dei Fiori at night.
For those arriving in Sanremo for the first time, finding their way around the numerous beaches is not easy.
The city’s coastline is not unique, but there are several areas to choose from.
Here is how the beach of Sanremo is divided from west to east:
- Foce beach : This stretch that goes from the athletics field to the beginning of the empress is a succession of private bathing establishments along the cycle path.
- Empress beach: this is the stretch of beach that runs along the beautiful promenade of the empress, a stone’s throw from the casino.
- Center beach: This part of the coast remains below the large parking lot in the area of the old station.
- Morgana beach: This beach is nestled within the two ports of Sanremo. It is probably the most spacious in Sanremo and is also equipped with a football pitch and beach volleyball.
- Tre Ponti Beach: Some say it is the beach of Sanremo. Surely the beach of the three bridges is the quietest one with the cleanest water.
- Bussana beach: The easternmost beach of Sanremo, perfect for those seeking tranquility and a slightly deeper seabed.
In Sanremo the beach is mainly of an end golden sand and the seabed drops gently and is also ideal for less experienced swimmers.
To move between the beaches it is advisable to use the convenient bicycle lane , also because, in certain areas, parking is not at all easy.
Where is Sanremo
The center of the Riviera dei Fiori
Sanremo is located in western Liguria right in the center of the Riviera dei Fiori.
In about 30 minutes from Sanremo you can reach the neighboring France , passing through the coastal municipalities of Bordighera is Ventimiglia .
To the east of the city of Sanremo, crossing Arma di Taggia, land of the Taggiasca olive, and other small municipalities, we arrive at Imperia, the provincial capital.
Behind Sanremo there is a rich hinterland , characteristic of the whole Ponente Ligure. The most famous towns around San Remo are Bussana Vecchia and Triora, the town of witches.
When to go to Sanremo
A long summer and big events all year round
Sanremo like the other destinations in Western Liguria is a place to stay 365 days a year.
In Sanremo, however, you need to know what kind of holiday you want to do: a characteristic of this city is the large presence of international events which make it extremely popular, and a bit chaotic, even in periods when it would normally be low season.
If you want to have a totally relaxing holiday, perhaps with few people and without having to book the restaurant in advance, you need to avoid high season and big events.
The high season it starts from mid-June until the end of August. Christmas and Easter are also times when the whole Riviera is quite popular.
The events where it is often sold out are, of course, the Sanremo Festival , the Tenco Award , the Milan-Sanremo , i Flowered wagons .
For these moments of greatest tourist influx it is advisable book well in advance to find more choice of hotels and the best vacation rentals.
If you can choose when to go on vacation, the best times to visit Sanremo are there spring , from April to early June, e the autumn , which is often full of beautiful days.
Events in Sanremo
The Sanremo Festival
The Italian song festival holds you every year in February and is one of the main Italian media events.
During this event the hotels are often sold out and the city comes alive with side events, parties and demonstrations.
The manifestation of the flowered floats of Sanremo is a parade of allegorical floats set up with flowers, created by the municipalities of the Province of Imperia.
The municipalities challenge each other to create the most beautiful float and the infloration, made exclusively with fresh flowers, is carried out only in the night before the parade.
The Milan-Sanremo is one of the most important cycling races on the international circuit and the first great classic of the seasonal cycling calendar.
It always takes place on the Saturday closest to March 19 and that weekend the city lights up and the city center is closed to traffic to await the arrival of the runners.
The first Tenco is one of the most important Italian musical awards which is awarded annually on the occasion of the review of the Sanremo songwriting.
Where to sleep in Sanremo
There is certainly no shortage of places to sleep in San Remo. Here there is a large hotel offer, many B & Bs, guest houses, holiday homes and apartments for tourists.
Most of the hotels are mid-range, but there are also several luxury hotels with impeccable services.
On the other hand, it is more difficult to find cheap hotels, especially in summer and during holidays. To find the best low-cost solutions, it’s best to plan your holidays in advance and book your room right away.
How to get to Sanremo
The easiest way to reach Sanremo is by car with the A10 Genoa-Ventimiglia motorway . After the exit, at the Sanremo toll booth, there is a road that descends from the hill with a beautiful view of the gulf.
Alternatively, you can exit at Arma di Taggia and take the Aurelia bis shortly after the motorway exit.
It is also very simple to get to Sanremo by train : all trains from Milan, Genoa and France stop at the city station.
The airport the closest is Nice and, by car, without traffic, it is about 1 hour. To reach the airport, city taxis (cheaper than French ones) and taxi services are recommended car rental with driver , extremely professional.