From Florence to Siena: 4 Best Ways to Get There
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Tuscany's second-largest city is famous for its architecture. It's full of Renaissance palaces and medieval and Gothic churches. Siena is located just 85 kilometers away from Florence and makes for a perfect day trip. Getting from Florence to Siena is easy thanks to the many trains, buses, and tours connecting the two cities.
Siena's historical center, Palazzo Pubblico, and Torre del Mangia are just some of the beautiful sights the city has to offer. Siena is also famous for the frescoes inside the Siena Cathedral's Piccolomini Library and the very walkable streets that make exploring the city on foot a fun adventure.
Siena can easily be explored in one day if you plan your trip well. To help you with that, we've put together a list of the best ways to travel from Florence to Siena, regardless of your budget or your interests.
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1. From Florence to Siena by Tour
If you only have one day to explore Siena, a Private Tour of Siena, Pisa, and San Gimignano from Florence will allow you to make the most of your trip.
Rather than spend time planning connections, figuring out timetables, and switching transportation, you'll have the chance of your own transport taking you exactly where you want to go without delays. This special nine-hour tour starts at 8:30am, when your English-speaking private driver picks you up at your hotel in a luxury Mercedes vehicle.
From there, you'll start a quick one-hour drive through the picturesque Tuscan countryside. Enjoy the very scenic view as you cross through green and picturesque towns and villages along the way.
Once you arrive in Siena, it's time to start your self-guided walking tour of the medieval city to discover architectural marvels such as the Piazza del Campo and Torre del Mangia, one of the tallest non-religious towers in the country.
Siena is also famous as the home of many artists - Simone Martini, Duccio di Buoninsegna, and Ambrogio Lorenzetti were all born here. While exploring the UNESCO World Heritage city, you can see some of their masterpieces, such as the Martini's frescoes inside the Palazzo Pubblico and Lorenzetti's work at the Civic Museum within the town hall.
Your second stop on the tour is the hill town of San Gimignano, famous for the medieval walls that surround it and the many examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Stop by the Palazzo Communale to walk through its stone courtyard, then go by the Collegiata of Santa Maria Assunta to admire the 15th-century frescoes.
Your final stop on this tour is Pisa, most famous for being home to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but also filled with other architectural beauties - including the all-white marble buildings surrounding the Piazza dei Miracoli. Explore the city's historic center and many churches, medieval palaces, and beautiful bridges set over the Arno River.
After some time for photo taking and maybe grabbing a piece of Pisa's famous torta co' bischeri (Pilgrim Cake), you'll meet back with your driver for the trip back to Florence.
2. From Florence to Siena by Train
In Italy, taking the train everywhere is usually a better, faster, more comfortable option - but this isn't necessarily the case when traveling from Florence to Sienna. Direct trains between the two cities take around 90 minutes, though many lines require a change along the way, extending the trip to two hours. On the positive side, the views from the train as it rides through the Italian countryside are nothing short of amazing.
There are no high-speed trains on this route, so you'll have to take a regional one. This is still a perfectly fine choice, especially if you want to stretch your legs (the views are better on the trains than if you take the bus). Keep in mind that regional trains might not be air-conditioned, and you cannot reserve a seat in advance, so arrive at the station early during the summer season, when seats could sell out. All trains depart from Firenze Santa Maria Novella (usually twice an hour during the daytime) and arrive at the Stazione di Siena.
Siena's train station is located outside the city walls, at the bottom of a hill. This means a steep, uphill 20-minute walk to the city center or using the Siena train station escalator. The escalator runs from inside the Porta Siena shopping center – right across the train station – up the hill to just outside the city walls. You can then continue walking till you reach Piazza del Campo.
You can also catch a nearby local bus and get off at either Piazza del Sale or Piazza Gramsci. From there it's just a few minutes' walk to the heart of the city.
3. From Florence to Siena by Bus
Taking a bus from Florence to Siena has many benefits. Buses are faster (about one hour and 15 minutes) and cheaper than trains and drop you off in the center of Siena rather than outside the city walls. The one downside: the bus travels on winding, hilly, mountainous roads that can lead to motion sickness if you're sensitive.
Buses depart from the Via Santa Caterina da Siena auto-stazione (bus station) three times an hour during weekdays and slightly less frequently on weekends. While you don't technically need a ticket reservation, it's wise to buy tickets in advance if you're traveling during peak season and want to arrive in Pisa at a particular time. Even if you don't get your ticket in advance, at least get it at the station. There's a 25 percent surcharge if you buy the ticket after you board the bus.
Two local buses cover this route: the Rapida (fast) line 131R and the Ordinaria (regular) line 1310. The Rapida line makes no stops, while the Ordinaria makes two stops in small villages along the way, extending the trip by about 15 minutes. Long-distance bus company FlixBus covers this route in air-conditioned, comfortable buses with free Wi-Fi, but their buses depart from Villa Costanza, on the outskirts of Florence.
In Siena, buses arrive at the Piazza Gramsci, inside the city walls and within walking distance to the center of Siena, so you don't have to worry about transportation. The bus station also offers luggage storage.
4. From Florence to Siena by Car
Renting a car to travel between Florence and Siena could be the ultimate road trip. Just 75 kilometers – about an hour – separate the two cities, though the drive is so scenic and there are so many amazing towns along the way, chances are you'll stop a lot to take photos, have lunch, or just walk around.
The most scenic route is SR 222, often referred to as "the Tuscan Highway," but it does take longer to reach Siena if you go this way – about 90 minutes without stops. For the fastest route, you want the Raccordo Autostradale, which takes just over an hour, but offers fewer stops along the way (though the charming medieval hill town of San Gimignano is along this route).
If you stick to the SR 222, Greve in Chianti (about halfway between the two cities) is a great first stop, offering fun weekend markets. There's also Panzano with great artisans and panoramic views and picture-perfect Castellina-in-Chianti with its many historical buildings.
Italy has a toll system for their motorways. When you arrive at a toll gate, you'll have to stop and pay (cash – Euros only – or card). The longer the route, the more tolls you'll have to pay along the way.