Best Day Trips from Florence to Siena, Italy

Ahhhh….beautiful Florence!  I first visited as an inexperienced teen traveler, & completely missed the point of this stunning city.  My friend & I spent most of our time in the train station, because we just couldn’t figure out the dang train schedules!!  But when I returned last year, as a more seasoned traveler: the difference was staggering, & I was blown away by Florence.  In my opinion, it’s far more romantic than even Paris.  And it’s well-worth staying for more than a few days…if only to visit nearby treasures such as  Siena & San Gimignano.  Here, we’ll discuss the best day trips from Florence to Siena ~ & to other popular Tuscan destinations.

Best Day Trips from Florence to Siena, Italy, Girl Who Travels the World

View from the top of Torre del Mangia, the tall tower that sits right on Siena’s main square: famous Piazza del Campo.

Map of Florence & Tuscany

Cinque Terre

Florence

Siena

San Gimignano

Pisa

Best Day Trips from Florence to Siena, Italy

Siena is one of the most popular day trips from Florence, with good reason: it’s just over an hour away, through Tuscany’s idyllic countryside ~ & you can easily add in another destination or two, such as San Gimignano or Monteriggioni (both of which our Ciao Florence tour stopped at).  You’ll want to spend the most time in Siena, which is the largest city in the region besides Florence, & note that if you’re driving a car, you’ll need to park outside of Siena’s medieval walls: as no cars are allowed in the town center. 

From where we parked, it was about a 20-minute walk into the heart of Siena….

Best Day Trips from Florence to Siena, Italy, Girl Who Travels the World

One of my favorite shots from Siena: the Duomo outlined by the silhouette of medieval brick archway…

Best Day Trips from Florence to Siena, Italy, Girl Who Travels the World

More views from the top of Torre del Mangia ~ only 400 short, cramped steps to the top!

Best Day Trips from Florence to Siena, Italy, Girl Who Travels the World

Piazza del Campo (Siena’s main plaza) & Torre del Mangia, as seen from the ground.

Should You Rent a Car or Take a Tour to Siena?

Should you rent a car or take a tour from Florence to Siena?  Both are good options, & each have benefits.  Fortunately, Tuscany is one of the better Italian regions to drive in: the highway between Florence & Siena is similar to highways in the States, with multiple lanes that aren’t super narrow (as sooo many streets in Italy are)!  The most difficult thing about renting a car here will be driving in Florence itself, which is hectic.  But if you’re dead-set on staying in the countryside for a few days, then look for car rental places on the outskirts of town, to minimize city driving. 

The best thing about renting a car in Florence is that you have freedom to visit more off-the-beaten-path spots like Saturnia Hot Springs, which are gorgeous thermal pools about three hours south of Florence, en route to Rome ~ that can really only be reached by renting a car.

How to Get to Saturnia Hot Springs in Italy, Girl Who Travels the World

This is Saturnia Hot Springs in Tuscany!! And virtually the only way to reach it is by renting a car…

But if you only want to visit Siena for a day, like I did: take a group tour.  Options you can book online are: Walks of Italy (recommended by Rick Steves), My Tour in Italy, & Ciao Florence (the company I used).  I booked Ciao Florence’s day trip to Siena, San Gimignano, & Monteriggioni, which included a wine tasting ~ for 55 Euros.  You’d pay at least that much to rent a car, & this way: you don’t need to worry about parking, directions, or drinking & driving!  Plus, if you’re a solo traveler you’ll meet other travelers from all over the world.

Best Day Trips from Florence to Siena, Italy, Girl Who Travels the World

The view from hilltop San Gimignano, which was the first stop on our Ciao Florence tour.

Best Day Trips from Florence to Siena, Italy, Girl Who Travels the World

We finished our day trip with a wine tasting in Monteriggioni ~ an ideal way to end the day in this idyllic region.

Siena Day Trip Itinerary:

  • Leave Florence at 8:45AM; one-hour drive to San Gimignano
  • Spend about one hour touring San Gimignano on your own. 
  • Drive from San Gimignano to Siena, about 30 minutes.  Park outside the city walls & walk into town as a group. 
  • We had about 90 minutes to tour Siena on our own when we arrived (I ate lunch on the Plaza & climbed Torre del Mangia).  We met back around 1:30PM, & received a guided tour of the Duomo & Piazza del Campo from a local guide, then walked back to our bus. 
  • Around 4PM, a 20-minute drive to Monteriggioni followed by a quick, 25-minute self-tour of the tiny town ~ then a short drive to a nearby winery for a 90-minute wine tasting (with some appetizers). 
  • Around 6PM, back to the bus for a one-hour drive back to Florence.  All in all, an 11-hour day of sight-seeing!
20 Photos to Inspire Your Italy Travels, Girl Who Travels the World, Florence

Then it was back to beautiful Florence….

 Other Day Trips from Florence….

Cinque Terre & Pisa are two more popular day trips from Florence.  I think Pisa is ideal to explore on your own, by simply hopping on the one-hour train ride (there are 46 trains per day between Pisa & Florence).  As for Cinque Terre, you can do it as a day trip from Florence: but I don’t recommend it.  Why not??  Because the journey takes 2.5 hours one-way, meaning you’ll be on a bus or train for over 5 hours in one day!!  

And if you’re doing any hiking in Cinque Terre (which you absolutely should), it will feel rushed knowing that you have an almost 3-hour journey back to Florence.  Plus, hiking in large groups has never proven to be particularly fun, in my experience, as ability levels vary greatly & can certainly impact your enjoyment.  Cinque Terre is so breathtaking, I highly recommend spending at least one night there vs. taking a day trip, to fully enjoy the region.

20 Photos to Inspire Your Italy Travels, Girl Who Travels the World, Manarola, Italy

Manarola is one of five picturesque towns along the Cinque Terre coastline. My recommendation: DON’T visit Cinque Terre as a day trip from Florence!!! It involves too much travel in one day & not enough hiking & enjoying of these spectacular views…

Best Day Trips from Florence to Siena, Italy

One final day trip you can take from Florence is the small hillside town of Fiesole, which overlooks the Renaissance city.  Just twenty minutes from Florence, you can reach Fiesole by taxi or bus, & it’s great for an afternoon getaway to soak in views galore. 

I hope this post has helped you identify some of the best day trips in & around Florence.  What’s your favorite place in Italy??  Let me know in the comments below!

Ciao Bella! 

xoxo Noelia 

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