This year we were lucky to go on a 3 week European vacation – visiting Rimini, Bordeaux and Sitges near Barcelona. To say that experience was amazing is an understatement; we’ve stayed for about a week in each country and were able to take in the food, culture and un-rushed travel around each destination.
Here, I wanted to share a 5 day itinerary for a family-trip, as we shared the experience with our 11 year old son and tried to make sure that he enjoyed it as much as we did.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Stay: L’hotel Rimini
- Eat: Ristorante Carlos, Da Roberto, Osteria de Borg
- Travel: bike, taxi, bus, train (if travelling to nearby cities outside of this itinerary)
- Visit: Rimini Centrale, Borgo San Giuliano, San Marino, Santarcangelo, Aquafan
Day 1: arrive to Rimini (we flew into Bologna as there are a lot more flights coming into Bologna, the night before and took a 1 hr. train from Bologna into Rimini). Checked into a hotel. Our choice was a budget boutique hotel a block from the beach – l’Hotel Rimini and I would highly recommend it based on our stay. While the rooms were small, but nicely updated and clean, it was the service and the personal touch that made our stay really special. We’ve received great recommendations for local restaurants and reliable taxi company, had incredibly friendly and helpful staff confirming our itinerary and even making a birthday reservation in a restaurant that’s really hard to get in. We enjoyed a great breakfast buffet, late night bar and a nice little pool in the shade when the heat outside was too much to be at the beach. On arrival date I would suggest to have a bite at a restaurant across the street – Ristorante pizzeria Carlos. Check out the beach less than a block away – the beach stays open even though all the services are closed and there is barely anyone on the beach after 6 o’clock. The water looks like a mirror surface. It’s not clear or see through – but it reflects the clouds and the sunset. Gorgeous, warm and peaceful. I enjoyed the ocean in the evening the most. Do note that we’ve been travelling in August during the heat wave, so the water temperature was incredibly warm and crowds were heavy during the day. To finish off the day I would suggest to walk along the Viale Regina Elena – just to get the idea of what a touristy street is right there nearby and take in the sight of all the souvenir, shops and fast food and mini-markets. Personally least favorite of all the visits, but was good for a short walk. Also some great gelato places along the street for a quick night treat.
Day 2 – Rimini Centrale – historical part of town that I would break up into two days of visits if you have the time. We took a taxi into town, but later discovered that there is a really easy 20 minute bike ride along the waterfront that would get us there just as easy. A lot of hotels offer free bikes – although I would only ride bikes with family on the designated bike lanes. Bike traffic along with car traffic is chaotic and looks crazy to an untrained polite and risk-averse Canadian eye. So go into town as early as you can – it’s beautiful when the stores just start to open and crowds are just gathering. Find a nice coffee shop to people watch – there is plenty and many have tiny patios with a couple of tables. Do remember that coffee in Italy is a tiny cup of super-strong espresso and Americano is served with a separate cup of boiling water. Most of the Must-see in Rimini Centrale are located next to each other and are easy to see in one day walking by foot. Walking around Arco D’Agusto, Tempio Malatestiano, Domos Del Chirurgo, Piazza Cavour, Museo Della Citto di Rimini, Piazza Tre Martiri – all of the incredible historical sites are connected byl cobblestone streets, cafes and interesting shops along the way. The best thing is to wander around and explore each block without rushing.
Day 3 – Grand Hotel Rimini and Borgo San Giuliano – take a bike ride along the beach – our hotel l’Hotel was right across Bagno #61 beach area – the bike lanes take you right to the end of the marina, along about 60 beach sites and merge into the boat commercial marina all with a dedicated bike lanes. There is a nice stop along the way to explore the Grand Hotel Rimini. Enjoy the views of the classical architecture, Venetian and French antiques, white marble, beautiful gardens as you take a break from biking. Grand Hotel Riminl became famous through the Federico Fellini films and is part of Fellini’s storied biography as an inspiration to his work. After a short walk through Fellini park and exploring hotel grounds continue on the bikes along the marinas towards Borgo Giuliano. This is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Rimini located just across the Tiberius Bridge from central Rimini. It is gorgeous in the evening when many restaurants and cafes open for the dinner service. We’ve booked Osteria de Borg for a birthday dinner and what an experience it was. One of the best cooked meats we’ve tried in Rimini, generous appetizers, the magic of the outside patio – blending with local family celebrations, kids playing right in the middle of the most unique and vibrant neighborhood, celebrating Fellini’s works with multiple paintings right on the walls. There are two other sister restaurants owned by the same group as Osteria de Borg – Trattoria La Marianna (best seafood) and Nude e Crude (famous for their piadinas)
Day 4 – day trip to San Marino. San Marino is an independent republic located about 45 minutes from Rimini on the top of the hill. But in reality it’s the fastest transition into a fairytale castle, medieval dream – it’s the biggest highlight of our trip. We splurged on a cab to get there and back without any hassle. I wished we stayed for a night or two to really take in the magic. Cobblestone streets, picturesque piazzas, breathtaking views, castle towers, museums, little parks with incredible sculptures, shops after shops since there is no tax on purchases, corners, windowsills with flowers – it has an air of adventure and magic. The day flew by so quickly, we all wished we did not have to leave in the afternoon. If you have a chance to do San Marino – do it – you will not regret the trip!
Day 5 – Santarcangelo and Aquafan. Santarcangelo is another little town located within 35 minute drive from Rimini. One word – caves – the whole town has a network of tunnels underneath the ground and there is a tour that will take you through a small portion of it. We were blown away by the scale of the tunnel infrastructure, the overall small town feel and some great food bites we came across while at Santarcangelo. We visited in the morning to take advantage of the cooler temperatures, missing some of the cool romantic restaurants that looked like they were carved into the cave tunnel.
In the afternoon we went to explore the Aquafan water park – another 35 minute drive away. I’m a big fan of outside water parks and of course is our 11 year old son. We were lucky to spend a couple of hours doing the rides and then the park was closed down for a dj party at the wave pool. A different kind of the memorable experience –but it was really awesome – a crowd in the pool dancing and splashing to the dj beats. Kids, parents, teens – it was an all age party and it was a perfect finish to our time in Rimini.