Nestled in the heart of Tuscany lies Siena. The historical centre of this medieval city is surrounded by a formidable red brick wall whose gates house a thousand years of history. Even though Siena is a relatively small city, it packs a punch. It’s filled with history, culture and culinary delights. If you chose to spend one day in Siena, you’ll need to be organised. Read our Siena itinerary to ensure you’re doing Siena right.
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How Many Days in Siena?
When visiting any destination in Italy (large or small), you’ll always be left wanting more. Any true Italophile could spend months wandering through Siena’s cobbled alleyways and feel as though they’d only just discovered Siena’s delights.
That being said, just one day in Siena will give you just enough time to scratch Siena’s surface and explore the city’s main attractions. With a day trip to Siena offering the perfect amount of time to do it all.
However, if your trip has some flexibility, then a few extra days (maybe two or three) would give you plenty of time to dig beyond the brick walls and the beaten path.
Getting to and Around Siena
From Florence, there are several ways to arrive to get to Siena. The easiest and most efficient way to execute a Siena day trip from Florence is arriving by car.
In Florence, you’ll be able to hire a car from the airport (if you’re landing there), or in the city centre (just make sure you’re insured to do so). The drive from Florence to Siena takes a little over one hour. You can browse options here on Rentalcars.com.
For various reasons, you might be unable to hire a car and prefer to use public transport. If you’re in this camp, then you have two options for a Siena day trip from Florence.
The first form of public transport is the bus. The bus departs from Florence bus station to Siena-Via Tozzi (a street a short walk from Siena’s historic centre). The buses are more like coaches, so it’s a comfortable journey. Tickets should be purchased in advance.
Another way to arrive in Siena for one day is by train. A return ticket on the train will set you back around €20 for a journey taking over one hour. Board the train at Florence central station and depart at Siena. You can view schedules and book here.
Siena’s train station is in the northeast of the city and is a 2km walk from the historical centre. It’s a 20-minute walk into the heart of the city. If you can’t face the walk, hop on a local bus.
Even though the train station is a little further north, the majority of Siena’s attractions are within close proximity to one another and easy to walk between.
But if you want to explore other parts of the city that are slightly further afield (and can’t be reached by foot), you’ll need to navigate Siena’s bus network. Tickets for the buses should be purchased before boarding the bus and bought from a tabacaria. These tickets will cost around €1 for a one-way journey.
Finally, it is also possible to go on an organised day trip from Florence with options including this full-day tour to Siena, Pisa & San Gimignano or this full-day tour that visits Siena, Monteriggioni & San Gimignano.
1 Day in Siena itinerary
Now you’ve seen how easy it is to embark on a day trip to Siena, you’ll be itching to make the most of your time in this tiny Tuscan city. If you’re only able to spend one day in Siena, then you’ll need to be organised.
To see the most of Siena in a day, read our itinerary so you don’t waste a second of your time. If you want to explore with a guide, you can take this walking tour to get a great introduction to the city.
Piazza del Campo
If you’ve travelled into Siena via the train, head south from the train station on foot until you’ve arrived in the beating heart of Siena: Piazza del Campo.
Piazza del Campo is the city’s gently sloping square. As you wander across the red, cobbled courtyard, you’ll notice a semi-circle of exquisite brick buildings.
The Piazza is surrounded by the city’s main streets: Banchi di Sopra, Via di Citta and Banchi di Sotto. So, in Siena, the phrase, ‘every road leads to Rome,’ seems to be true, for Piazza del Campo at the very least.
As Siena’s public square, many tourists use this historical centre as a place to relax. Some will sit on the square’s cobbled floor, while others will drink an espresso at a cafe, grab an ice cream from a gelateria or stop for an apertivo at a bar.
If this sounds like something you’d like to do, be sure to bring extra cash as bars and restaurants are a little on the pricey side in this Piazza.
You’ll notice that Piazza del Campo is divided into nine sectors. These sectors represent the members of the council of nine. Situated in the upper part of the square is Fonte Gaia – a stunning fountain.
In the lowest part of Piazza del Campo lies the elegant Palazzo Pubblico (also known as Palazzo Comunale). This is Siena’s town hall and is still used as the municipal offices of Siena.
On the ground floor of the Palazzo Pubblico lies the Civic Museum of Siena (Museo civico). Inside the museum are stunning frescoes that showcase some of Siena’s history.
While some of the frescoes are badly damaged and only show part of the story, it’s still well worth a visit. Tickets can be booked in advance here.
Torre del Mangia
Standing tall right next to the Palazzo Pubblico is the looming structure of Torre del Mangia. Constructed between 1325 and 1348, the tower stands at 102 metres high. It was built in the typical terracotta-coloured brick and white travertine – a staple part of Siena’s architecture.
After you’ve ogled at the outside of the tower, you need to climb to the top for the best panoramic views of the city. But climbing the tower can be a little tricky. The stairwells are narrow and can be a little intimidating with tourists trudging up and down in both directions.
Even though it may seem like a doddle to climb, you’ll build up a sweat. We recommend taking your time and peering out of every window as you work your way up.
Opening times vary throughout the seasons. For example, in the winter months, it’s open between 10am-4pm. While the opening hours are extended by a further three hours in the summer, so it’s open for tourists until 7pm.
Duomo di Siena
Once you’ve descended down from the tower, walk through Piazza del Camp and along Via dei Pellegrini to the Duomo di Siena. Built on the site of an earlier structure, construction of the cathedral started in 1196 and it was completed in 1263.
While this cathedral has some Romanesque elements, it is actually considered to be one of Italy’s great Gothic cathedrals, and with good reason.
Before dashing off inside, take a might to marvel at the might of the cathedral’s facade. The exterior of the building is adorned in white, green and red marble.
If you want to venture inside the cathedral, you’ll need to purchase a ticket. Tickets to the cathedral include entry into Piccolomini Library (more on this later).
You can also purchase an Opa Si Pass that includes access to Siena Cathedral and Crypt, Piccolomini Library, San Giovanni Baptistery, Opera del Duomo Museum and a Panoramic view from the facciatone. We recommend purchasing tickets online in advance here, as they’re likely to sell out of the day.
As you enter the cathedral, you won’t know where to turn. The white and green marble facade is continued on the inside of the church, but this time in the form of columns. If you look up, the ceiling is covered in paintings. But the inside’s most striking feature is its floor.
The marble mosaic floor is only on display during the busier, summer, months. To catch a glimpse of the storytelling masterpieces, it’s well worth putting up with the hordes of other tourists to peer over the barriers.
The cathedral houses other riches too including: the bronze sculpture of St. John the Baptist by Donatello.
Another major treasure in the cathedral is the Piccolomini library. The library is situated halfway inside the cathedral.
Pope Pius III constructed the Piccolomini library in memory of his uncle (Pope Pius II and Enea Silvio Piccolomini), and as a place to house a collection of rich manuscripts. But you don’t need to want to admire the manuscripts to want to visit the library.
Instead, you’ve visited the library to ogle over the gold frescoes by Pinturichio. Take your time to gaze over each and every panel because they’re all equally breathtaking.
From the Piccolomini Library take a short walk around the corner to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
If you’ve purchased and Opa Si Pass for the day, entry into the museum is included in your pass. This art museum houses both art and architectural artefacts. Once inside, make a beeline for the 12 statues of the prophets and philosophers sculpted by Giovanni Pisano that once decorated the cathedral’s facade.
The museum also houses several other key attractions too, including a rich collection of tapestries and manuscripts.
Panorama del facciatone
End your day trip to Siena by seeing some unforgettable views of Siena’s unique landscape at the top of the Museo dell’Opera.
You’ll need to haul yourself up another 131 steps to the top. Follow the narrow, corkscrew-like stairway to the top of this unfinished facade. Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll find yourself standing atop a narrow rectangular slip of red brick (don’t worry, there are barriers!).
As one of Siena’s tallest structures, you’ll be able to truly soak up your final moments of your one day in Siena.
Have 2 or 3 Days in Siena?
One day in Siena will give you the opportunity to visit all of the top things to do in Siena and those all-important bucket-list destinations. However, if you have two or three days in Siena, there’s still plenty more to discover in this small Tuscan city.
Spend your extra couple of days visiting the Santa Maria Della Scala – a former hospital-turned-museum. It is now home to yet more breathtaking frescoes and a network of underground tunnels.
You might want to visit the church of San Domenico too. It is perched atop a hill and is a slightly more peculiar choice of attraction because it houses the mummified head of Saint Catherine.
If you’ve had your fill of frescoes, churches and museums, then that’s ok! Siena is home to some of the best culinary courses in Italy, so why not learn how to cook fresh pasta? You can book this Tuscan cooking class in advance.
If cooking isn’t up your street, you could always try learning a language at one of Siena’s many language schools.
Where to Stay in Siena
If you’ve decided to spend more than a day in Siena, you’re going to need to find a place to spend the night in this Tuscan city. There are plenty of lovely accommodation options to choose from that can suit all kinds of budgets and travel styles. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Siena, make sure to browse through these suggestions:
B&B La Coperta Ricamata – Located in the centre of Siena, this comfortable bed and breakfast is an excellent option for mid-range travellers. They have a number of air-conditioned rooms on offer and there is breakfast available each morning at a nearby bar. Click here to check availability
Hotel Certosa Di Maggiano – This converted monastery located just a bit outside of the historic centre is the perfect place for those looking for a luxury getaway in Siena. They have a range of rooms and suites with breakfast included and there is also a swimming pool and tennis court. Click here to check availability
Porta Pispini Residence – If you’d like to have your own flat in Siena, this modern aparthotel is a great option. Centrally located, there are a number of apartments to choose from that can suit many budgets and group sizes. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to check other options in Siena!
One day in any city is also too short and a tad exhausting. However, if you’ve followed our Siena itinerary then you’ll be able to say you’ve done Siena in one day, and you’ve done it well. Just make sure you save some time to sample a glass of wine or two and enjoy one of the most beautiful places in Tuscany!
Are you planning a visit to Siena? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!