Sanremo is a famous seaside city on the Italian Riviera of northwestern Italy. Best known for its casino and annual Italian song festival, Sanremo is also popular for beaches, boating, and its unusual old town, La Pigna, whose narrow cobbled streets wind up the hill to a beautiful sanctuary and gardens with fantastic sea views. The surrounding area is known for the production of flowers and olive oil.
Plan Your Visit to Sanremo
Sanremo, sometimes written as San Remo, is one of the closest seaside cities to the French border, about 20 miles away. It’s a one hour drive from the airport in Nice, France, and is on the main rail line that runs up Italy’s coast to France. From Genoa the train ride is a little over 2 hours. The train station is near the harbor and is a very short walk into town. Trains and buses run to other coastal and inland Ligurian towns. With its mild climate, the city can be visited almost any time of year.
Where to Stay: Best Western Hotel Nazionale is right by the casino, train station, and beginning of the pedestrian area. Other hotels I’ve stayed at and recommend are Hotel Miramare Continental Palace near the sea and the historic Grand Hotel & des Anglais on a small hill overlooking the sea. Both are easy to access by car and a short walk from the train station, casino, and city center.
- Find and compare more hotels in Sanremo
- See Map of Liguria and the Italian Riviera for Sanremo’s location
- Buy train tickets on Rail Europe
Things to See and Do in Sanremo
- Madonna della Costa Sanctuary, perched on a hill, is the symbol of the city. A 17th century mosaic pathway leads the way to the sanctuary. The interior has an ornate altar and organ and is decorated with 17th – 19th century paintings and statues. The dome, visible from the harbor, was erected between 1770 and 1775. Near the sanctuary are the *Gardens of Queen Elena.
- La Pigna, the Pine cone, is the medieval section. Its tiny picturesque streets and covered alleyways wind up the hill. The tourist itinerary through La Pigna has signs telling about some of the historic buildings, churches, and squares that have been restored. There are a few small restaurants and shops, especially near the bottom of the hill.
- Casino Sanremo, in the city center, was built in 1905 in Liberty Deco style. Its Roof Garden restaurant is known as an elegant dining venue and there are several bars in the gaming rooms. The Casino is also a top place to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
- Via Matteotti is a pedestrian shopping street that runs just above the harbor. This is the best place for shopping for clothing, jewelry, and shoes. There are several bars where you can sit outside and enjoy people-watching while you have a coffee or a drink.
- A walking and biking path runs along much of the harbor area, often filled with yachts and excursion boats. There are several beaches for sun-bathing or swimming in summer and a public swimming pool. Restaurants and nightclubs can be found around the harbor, too.
- The Russian Orthodox Church was built in the early 1900’s when Sanremo was popular with Russians as a winter destination. The church is similar to the church of San Basilio in Moscow.
- The Civic Museum is housed in the historic Palazzo Nota (closed Sundays and Mondays). Exhibits include prehistoric and Roman finds from the area, paintings, and a multimedia presentation about the city’s history and art. On the second floor is the Salone del Consiglio Comunale, a room covered with frescoes.
- Villa Noble is a 19th century villa that was the retirement home of Alfred Noble, chemist and creator of the Noble prize. The beautiful villa is now a museum (closed Mondays and Tuesdays) with displays of personal items related to the works of Alfred Noble. It sits in a large park with exotic plants. Nearby is the large park of Villa Ormand.
Italian Riviera Travel Books:
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Italian Riviera
- Food Wine The Italian Riviera & Genoa by David Downie
- Bradt Travel Guides Liguria