Market at Piazza Colombo Sanremo Italy, sunny Italian courtyard filled with people shopping at open air market

Sanremo is the perfect first stop in Italy. Just across the border from Spain, this charming seaside town has a laid back vibe and has been a popular holiday destination for over a century. Not only that but it has an eclectic mix of free things to do. With such a wide variety of activities available, you’re sure to find a few things that will peak your interest! In this Sanremo travel guide, we’ll show you the 12 best free things to do in Sanremo Italy.

Top free things to do in Sanremo Italy

We love a good bargain, and there’s no better bargain than getting something for free! For ease of reference, here is our list of the top free things to do in Sanremo Italy.

  1. Pista Ciclabile Area 24
  2. Bussana Vecchia
  3. La Pigna neighbourhood
  4. Santuario della Madonna della Costa
  5. Corso Giocomo Matteotti
  6. Tre Ponti beach
  7. Giardini di Villa Ormond
  8. Corso Imperatrice
  9. Forte Santa Tecla
  10. Piazza Bresca
  11. Giardini Nobel
  12. Mercato Bisettimanale di Sanremo

Keep reading to find out more about each destination.

Best free thing to do in Sanremo Italy: Pista Ciclabile Area 24

About the Pista Ciclabile Area 24

Bike Hire Pista Ciclabile del Parco Costiero della Riviera dei Fiori Sanremo Italy
Bike Hire Pista Ciclabile del Parco Costiero della Riviera dei Fiori Sanremo Italy

Pista Ciclabile Area 24 is a 24km (15 mile) long bike path which runs between San Lorenzo and Ospedaletti and also passes through Sanremo. The bike path is on the location of a disused former rail line. The trail is mainly flat and runs along the waterfront. It’s a beautiful ride with amazing views. For those without a bike, you can also walk along this path.

Why visit Pista Ciclabile Area 24

Sanremo is host to one of the most prestigious one-day cycling events in the world – the Milan-San Remo Spring Classic. Therefore, it’s no wonder Sanremo is also home to a world class cycling path. Pista Ciclabile Area 24 is a beautiful waterfront bike path with unbeatable views. It is perfect for anyone that enjoys cycling. Furthermore the flat path means its suitable for most levels of fitness. There are plenty of bike hire stores around, hiring all types of bikes including recreational bikes as well as more serious road bikes.

Cyclists Sanremo Italy
Cyclists Sanremo Italy

How long to spend at Pista Ciclabile Area 24

We recommend spending a couple of hours taking a leisurely walk or cycle along this bike path.

Opening hours for Pista Ciclabile Area 24

This free thing to do in Sanremo Italy is open at all hours. However we recommend visiting during the day.

If you have money to spend in Pista Ciclabile Area 24

Hire a bike to cycle along this bike path.

Pista Ciclabile Area 24 address

18038 Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

International artist hub in medieval village near Sanremo Italy: Bussana Vecchia

About Bussana Vecchia

Bussana Vecchia is a former ghost town that has subsequently become an International Artists Village. It is located just 8km away from Sanremo. This medieval village was abandoned after an earthquake in 1887 made the buildings uninhabitable. The villagers moved down the hill to what became Bussana Nuova (“New Bussana”) and the ghost town was renamed Bussana Vecchia (“Old Bussana”). For decades the town lay vacant, with stones from the buildings used as a source of building materials.

In 1947, immigrants from southern Italy tried to settle in the village, but they were evicted by the police. In order to deter settlement, the authorities destroyed the first floor stairways and rooftops in the village. However in the 1960s a Sicilian painter Vanni Giuffrè along with other artists settled in the village. Despite the basic living conditions and disputes with police and with descendants of the original inhabitants, these artists have remained. They are technically still living there illegally and are under an eviction notice, but this has not been enforced. Over the past 60 years they have managed to rebuild part of the village. It is now a thriving artist community and a popular tourist attraction.

Why visit Bussana Vecchia

Bussana Vecchia is a unique and fascinating place to visit. It has a thriving international art scene and its set in a medieval village.

How long to spend at Bussana Vecchia

Allow one hour to explore Bussana Vecchia. If you want to stop for a meal or a drink allow extra time.

Opening hours for Bussana Vecchia

This free thing to do in Sanremo Italy is open at all hours. However we recommend visiting during the day.

If you have money to spend in Bussana Vecchia

There are restaurants, cafes and bars in the village. You can also buy artwork or locally made goods from one of the local artists.

Bussana Vecchia address

Bussana Vecchia, 18038 Province of Imperia, Italy

Historic neighbourhood in Sanremo Italy: La Pigna neighbourhood

About La Pigna neighbourhood

The La Pigna neighbourhood is an old neighbourhood Sanremo full of narrow alleyways and interesting looking buildings. Its name means pine cone, in reference to its shape. The neighbourhood winds its way up a hill, so comfortable walking shoes are a must for exploring the area.

Why visit La Pigna neighbourhood

Visiting the La Pigna neighbourhood is like taking a step back in time. This neighbourhood is steeped in history with its narrow streets and its charming old houses. There are no cars as the narrow paths and staircases don’t allow it. It’s a great place to get lost in. The neighbourhood also has shops and restaurants to discover.

How long to spend at La Pigna neighbourhood

To walk the full stretch of La Pigna neighbourhood takes the best part of an hour. We recommend spending a few hours meandering around the neighbourhood, enjoying the atmosphere and the views. Make sure you bring your camera is there are plenty of great photo opportunities!

Opening hours for La Pigna neighbourhood

This free thing to do in Sanremo Italy is open at all hours.

If you have money to spend at La Pigna neighbourhood

There are a number of shops, restaurants and cafes in the neighbourhood.

La Pigna neighbourhood address

La Pigna di Sanremo, 18038 Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Plus Code: RQ9G+H3 Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Hilltop church in Sanremo Italy: Santuario della Madonna della Costa

About Santuario della Madonna della Costa Italy

Painted Ceiling of Santuario della Madonna della Costa Sanremo Italy, dome ceiling Italy
Painted Ceiling of Santuario della Madonna della Costa Sanremo Italy

Santuario della Madonna della Costa, is a Marian sanctuary on a hill overlooking San Remo Italy. From the outside of the church there are panoramic views over the city and the surrounding countryside. The foundations of the building dates back to the 14th or 15th century. However the current Baroque style building was built in 1630. Additionally, the dome was built between 1770 and 1775. Inside, the church has marble, sculptures and frescoes. The sanctuary is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and as such the feast of the Assumption (August 15) is the main celebratory day of the church. Historically, there was also the “feast of chains”, where locals would walk to the sanctuary dragging chains to celebrate emancipation from the Doria family (a noble family from Genoa).

Why visit Santuario della Madonna della Costa Italy

This is a grand church that is stunning on both the inside and the outside. The opulent architecture makes for great photos. It’s a very peaceful place to visit.

Belvedere della Madonna Della Costa Sanremo Italy
Belvedere della Madonna Della Costa Sanremo Italy

How long to spend at Santuario della Madonna della Costa Italy

10-20 minutes is sufficient time to visit the church and take a few photos.

Opening hours for Santuario della Madonna della Costa Italy

Daily: 9am-6:30pm

Santuario della Madonna della Costa Sanremo Italy
Bring me the head of John the Baptist!

If you have money to spend in Santuario della Madonna della Costa Italy

The church accepts donations.

Santuario della Madonna della Costa Italy address

Piazzale Santuario Assunta, 15, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy

Plus Code: RQCF+J7 Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Main shopping street of Sanremo: Corso Giocomo Matteotti Sanremo Italy

About Corso Giocomo Matteotti Sanremo Italy

Corso Giocomo Matteotti (also known as Corso Matteotti and Via Giocomo Matteotti) is the main shopping street of Sanremo Italy. This pedestrian street is filled with international and boutique shops as well as restaurants and cafes. It is one of the busiest areas in Sanremo. Happy shoppers and holidaymakers fill the street both day and night. There are a number of prominent landmarks in Corso Giocomo Matteotti. Of particular note is Ariston Theatre, home to the famous Sanremo Music Festival. The street was named after Italian socialist politician Giacomo Matteotti who was murdered by fascists in 1924.

Why visit Corso Giocomo Matteotti Sanremo Italy

Corso Giocomo Matteotti is the most popular street in the city and a must visit in Sanremo. This is the heart of the city and is always brimming with people. The street is lined with beautiful shops, restaurants and landmarks which makes it a great place to get holiday photos. Throughout the year Corso Giocomo Matteotti is host to wide range of events and activities and it seems like there’s always something on. Moreover it is a busy commercial centre and it is conveniently close to many other landmarks in the city.

How long to spend at Corso Giocomo Matteotti Sanremo Italy

We recommend spending a couple of hours here to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.

Opening hours for Corso Giocomo Matteotti Sanremo Italy

This free destination in Sanremo Italy is open at all hours. It is a great place to visit both day and night.

If you have money to spend in Corso Giocomo Matteotti Sanremo Italy

There’s no end to the amount of things you can spend your money on in Corso Giocomo Matteotti. We recommend visiting one of the restaurants or cafes for a meal. You may also enjoy shopping for souvenirs. Also keep an eye out for any events that might be on when you visit.

Corso Giocomo Matteotti Sanremo Italy address

Via Giacomo Matteotti, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy

Plus Code: RQ8F+35 Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Best free beach in Sanremo Italy: Tre Ponti beach

About Tre Ponti beach Sanremo Italy

Tre Ponti beach is a free public beach in Sanremo Italy. It’s a sandy beach and the water is generally fairly calm. On a windy day there may be some waves.

Why visit Tre Ponti beach Sanremo Italy

Tre Ponti beach is the best free beach in Sanremo Italy. It’s a nice place to go for a swim.

How long to spend at Tre Ponti beach Sanremo Italy

Between half an hour and a couple of hours is a good amount of time to spend at this beach.

Opening hours for Tre Ponti beach Sanremo Italy

This free thing to do in Sanremo Italy is open at all hours. However we recommend visiting during the day.

If you have money to spend near Tre Ponti beach Sanremo Italy

Shop ‘til you drop! There are also a number of restaurants and cafes nearby.

Tre Ponti beach Sanremo Italy address

Str. Tre Ponti, 60, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy

Plus Code: RRF5+5R Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Hillside gardens with beautiful views in Sanremo Italy: Giardini di Villa Ormond

About Giardini di Villa Ormond Sanremo Italy

Giardini di Villa Ormond (or the Garden of Villa Ormond in English) are lush gardens that stretch up the side of the hill near the waterfront in Sanremo. Villa Ormond is at the top of the hill with views out to the sea below. The “room” structure design of the gardens segments it into areas such as an olive grove, palm grove and cedar grove. There is also a Japanese style garden in honour of Sanremo’s twin city Atami.

Villa Ormond was the home of Swiss businessman Michel Louis Ormond. He and his wife commissioned the house and did extensive work on the gardens. Many famous people from European high society visited the house over the years. The Municipality of Sanremo now owns the garden and the garden is a public space. The villa is used for exhibitions and conferences and also holds the offices of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law.

Why visit Giardini di Villa Ormond Sanremo Italy

Giardini di Villa Ormond are beautiful gardens and the many different sections provide a lot of interesting areas to explore. The views from the villa at the top of the hill are spectacular.

How long to spend at Giardini di Villa Ormond Sanremo Italy

Half an hour to an hour is a good amount of time visit this Sanremo Italy free attraction.

Opening hours for Giardini di Villa Ormond Sanremo Italy

Daily: 7am-8pm

If you have money to spend in Giardini di Villa Ormond Sanremo Italy

Buy a picnic lunch and enjoy it in the gardens.

Giardini di Villa Ormond Sanremo Italy address

Corso Felice Cavallotti, 113, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy

Plus Code: RQFR+24 Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Best walking area in Sanremo Italy: Corso Imperatrice

About Corso Imperatrice Sanremo Italy

Woman walking along Corso dell'Imperatrice Sanremo Italy
Corso dell’Imperatrice Sanremo Italy

Corso Imperatrice (also known as Corso dell’Imperatrice) is a wide promenade on the waterfront of San Remo. It is named after Empress of Russia Maria Alexandrovna, who spent time in Sanremo and also gifted the city money for palm trees to line this street. There used to be a railway below the Corso, but it was turned into a cycle path.

Why visit Corso Imperatrice Sanremo Italy

Corso Imperatrice is a lovely walkway that is popular with both tourists and locals alike. This free thing to do in Sanremo Italy is one of the most famous waterfront promenades in Europe. It is a wide walkway that is lined with palm trees. On one end it is a pedestrian street with lots of shops as well as restaurants. The promenade continues along the waterfront where there are also flower beds and a statue.

How long to spend at Corso Imperatrice Sanremo Italy

It’s possible to walk from one end of Corso Imperatrice to the other in ten minutes, however we recommend spending a couple of hours exploring the area and enjoying the atmosphere. There are plenty of shops to look at and it’s also a nice area to have a meal or a drink.

Opening hours for Corso Imperatrice Sanremo Italy

This free thing to do in Sanremo Italy is open at all hours.

If you have money to spend in Corso Imperatrice Sanremo Italy

There are plenty of restaurants and shops along Corso Imperatrice. Alternatively you can hire a bike and cycle around here.

Corso Imperatrice Sanremo Italy address

Corso Imperatrice, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy

Plus Code: RQ7C+P9 Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Historic fort in Sanremo Italy: Forte Santa Tecla Sanremo Italy

About Forte Santa Tecla Sanremo Italy

Forte Santa Tecla Sanremo Italy
Forte Santa Tecla Sanremo Italy

Forte Santa Tecla (or Fort Saint Tecla in English) is an historic fort near the port of Sanremo. It was built in 1756 in response an uprising from the locals against the Genoese government. The intention was for the building to be used in the event of any future uprisings and also to act as a deterrent in order to keep the population under control. However by the end of the 1700s, Napoleonic forces took control of the fort after freeing Sanremo from Genoa’s control. In the subsequent years, the area became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and the fort was used as an army barracks. Following unification it was mainly used as a prison with brief periods as a seaplane base and also an ammunition depot. The fort is currently closed due to renovations, but will become an event and exhibition space as well as a cultural centre.

The fort has a triangular layout with bastions at the corners. It is one of the few remaining forts from that era on the Ligurian coast.

Why visit Forte Santa Tecla Sanremo Italy

Forte Santa Tecla is one of the most prominent landmarks in Sanremo Italy. This historic fort is now a cultural centre and also an events and exhibition space. While there is an entry fee on most days, it has free entry on the 1st Sunday of the month.

How long to spend at Forte Santa Tecla Sanremo Italy

Allow 30-40 minutes to visit the fort.

Opening hours for Forte Santa Tecla Sanremo Italy

Fort Santa Tecla is currently closed for renovations.

Monday: Closed

Tuesday-Sunday: 10:30am-1pm, 3:30pm-6pm

If you have money to spend near Forte Santa Tecla Sanremo Italy

On days other than the 1st Sunday of the month the entry fee is 4 euro for adults (price as at 2022).

Forte Santa Tecla Sanremo Italy address

Giardini Vitt. Veneto, 34, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy

Plus Code: RQ7H+V5 Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Public square in Sanremo Italy: Piazza Bresca Sanremo Italy

About Piazza Bresca Sanremo Italy

Piazza Bresca (or Bresca Square in English) is a charming public square a short walk from the port of Sanremo. The square is full of both palm trees and orange trees. There are a number of restaurants around the square, and in particular fish restaurants. It is also a popular nightlife spot in Sanremo. Piazza Bresca was named after Captain Benedetto Bresca, a sailor from a local Sanremo family.

Legend has it, Captain Bresca was in St Peter’s Square in Rome on the day the great Egyptian obelisk was to be raised. Ropes were used to lift the obelisk into place. This was a delicate task, and the Pope ordered complete silence while the task was carried out, on punishment of death. However Captain Bresca noticed that the ropes were beginning to fray and the obelisk was about to collapse. Using his sailing knowledge, he knew how to avert disaster. He called out “water on the ropes”, alerting the architect to what needed to be done. Thankfully his warning was heeded and the obelisk was safely put in place. To thank Bresca for his timely intervention, the Pope said he could name his own reward. Captain Bresca asked that he and his descendants be able to supply the palms for Palm Sunday to the Vatican each year.

Why visit Piazza Bresca Sanremo Italy

Piazza Bresca is a lively public square filled with great restaurants, bars and clubs. Its proximity to the port makes it a great place for a meal of fresh seafood and it’s known in particular for its fish restaurants. At night the square comes alive with vibrant nightlife and a young hip crowd. It’s a great place to come for an evening aperitif.

Fresh Fish Outside Restaurant Sanremo Italy
Fresh Fish Outside Restaurant Sanremo Italy

How long to spend at Piazza Bresca Sanremo Italy

You can walk through the square in less than five minutes. However this free thing to do in Sanremo Italy is a great place to come for a leisurely lunch, in which case we’d recommend allowing a couple of hours.

Opening hours for Piazza Bresca Sanremo Italy

This free thing to do in Sanremo Italy is open at all hours. It’s a nice place to come for lunch and it’s also a popular nightlife spot.

If you have money to spend at Piazza Bresca Sanremo Italy

Have some fresh seafood at one of the restaurants in the square. If you are here at night, it’s a great place to have an aperitif.

Piazza Bresca Sanremo Italy address

Piazza Bresca, 2, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy

Plus Code: RQ8H+G5 Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Beautiful public garden in Sanremo Italy: Giardini Nobel

About Giardini Nobel

Giardini Nobel (or Nobel Gardens in English) is a beautiful public garden in Sanremo Italy. There is a fountain in the middle of the garden as well as lots of palm trees and benches to sit on. Next to the garden is Villa Nobel, which is the historic home of Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel. The house is now a museum that is free to enter between 10am-12:30pm Tuesday-Saturday and 3pm-6pm Friday-Saturday.

Why visit Giardini Nobel

Giardini Nobel is a nice place to come for a picnic or to enjoy some open space. It’s a very peaceful and relaxing place to visit in Sanremo Italy.

How long to spend at Giardini Nobel

15 minutes to an hour is a good amount of time to spend in this free attraction in Sanremo Italy.

Opening hours for Giardini Nobel

This free thing to do in Sanremo Italy is open at all hours. However we recommend going during the day.

If you have money to spend at Giardini Nobel

We recommend buying a picnic lunch and bringing it to the garden.

Giardini Nobel address

Via Alfredo Nobel, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy

Plus Code: RQCQ+CQ Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Local market in Sanremo Italy: Mercato Bisettimanale di Sanremo

About Mercato Bisettimanale di Sanremo

Mercato Bisettimanale di Sanremo (or Biweekly Market of Sanremo in English) is a local market held twice a week on Tuesday and Saturday mornings in the centre of Sanremo. The market includes a covered food market with fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables and fish. Outside the food market there are stalls selling clothes, home ware and other items. Prices are very reasonable and it has a great community atmosphere. Stalls generally close by around 1pm.

Why visit Mercato Bisettimanale di Sanremo

Mercato Bisettimanale di Sanremo has a fun local atmosphere and a great range of items for sale. This open air market a great place to come and grab a bargain.

How long to spend at Mercato Bisettimanale di Sanremo

Half an hour to an hour is plenty of time to look around the market.

Opening hours for Mercato Bisettimanale di Sanremo

Tuesday and Sunday: 8am-1pm

If you have money to spend at Mercato Bisettimanale di Sanremo

Shop ‘til you drop! There’s a great range of items on sale and prices are very reasonable.

Mercato Bisettimanale di Sanremo address

Piazza Eroi Sanremesi, 18038 Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

Plus Code: RQ8F+WH Sanremo, Province of Imperia, Italy

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