Florence is a popular base for a holiday to Tuscany, thanks to its nearby airport and abundance of activities to do at any time of the year. Fortunately for the adventurous vacationer looking to explore at bit more of Tuscany, there are plenty of day trips close to Florence. Whether you’re looking for medieval hilltop town or a beach, the countryside or another famous city, here are our top 9 day trips from the Renaissance city!
Pisa is a must in Tuscany. Famous for its Leaning Tower, the city actually boasts much more to see. After snapping some photos of Italy’s most popular bell tower, stroll along the streets to find hidden places, like Keith Haring’s mural Tuttomondo or Palazzo Blu, a top place for art exhibitions. You can get to Pisa from Florence’s main train station, Santa Maria Novela, arriving directly to Pisa Centrale. There’s even a fast option that takes less than one hour. Read this post about Pisa to find out more.
The main feature in Lucca is its Renaissance defense walls, which are lined with trees and bike and walking paths. The city also has many gems that aren’t to be missed, like the unique Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, Torre Guinigi – even topped with a garden – and at least 100 churches! The Cathedral of San Martino is one of these, as is the Church of San Michele in Foro, both of which are an absolute treat for the eyes. To reach Lucca, the best option from Florence is the train, which takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. For some ideas about what to see in Lucca, check out this post.
For a wine tour or simply to enjoy some of the best countryside in the world, a day trip to the Chianti, in the hills between Florence and Siena, is a great option. The area is known for its vast green landscapes and country roads leading to unique hilltop towns. There are also many wineries and restaurants selling traditional products. The Chianti is just a 30-minute drive south of Florence, and the best way to reach it is by car, offering the possibility to stop wherever you prefer. You can also reach towns like Greve in Chianti by bus from Florence’s main bus station, next door to the train station. Read more about the Chianti here and here.
When you think of Tuscany, does the thought of medieval hill towns come to mind? Then San Gimignano and Volterra is for you. Both are wonderful with their ancient cobbled streets and old buildings. San Gimignano is also known as “the city of the 100 towers,” boasting an unforgettable skyline, which is earned it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Volterra, on the other hand, dates to the Etruscan era, and the heart of the town is situated in piazza dei Priori with its wonderful Palazzo dei Priori and Palazzo Pretorio. You should also visit the Romanesque cathedral and the Roman amphitheatre. The best way to reach these towns is by car. Read more about San Gimignano and Volterra.
Another medieval gem, another place not to be missed. Monteriggioni is so famous that it was even mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and it’s not hard to understand why it’s one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Italy. Monteriggioni vaunts exterior defense walls and fourteen towers, making it truly unique. The best way to reach Monteriggioni is by car or by bus, but the nearest train station is four kilometres away. Read more about Monteriggioni here.
Siena needs no introduction. One of the most beautiful cities in Italy, it boasts medieval origins and was Florence’s rival for many years. Siena never ceases to amaze with its many treasures, like piazza del Campo, with an unmistakable shell shape, the cathedral, Torre del Mangia, and much, much more! Check out this post about Siena to find out more about what to do in this stunning city. You can reach Siena by both train and bus or by car, but take note: the train station is about 3 km from the historic centre; you can take a taxi or walk from there.
What if we told you that that postcard image that made you choose Tuscany for your holiday exists just to the south of Florence? The area of Val d’Orcia is brimming with Italian’s landscape stereotypes: rolling hills, endless greenery, cypress-lined roads, vineyards as far as the eye can see and villages nestled in the hills…. You can visit Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino and Bagno Vignoni, and the best way to do this is by car. Read this post to learn more about these towns.
East of Florence, there are two excellent options for day trips: Arezzo and Cortona. Arezzo was the birthplace of two brilliant minds, Giorgio Vasari and Piero della Francesca, meaning the town is undoubtedly full of their art. Start your day in piazza Grade and follow our tips. South of Arezzo, you’ll find Cortona, a millennia-old city Etruscan in origin. Visit the town centre on foot and enjoy the great views of the surrounding areas. You can reach Arezzo by train and Cortona by bus or car.
Maybe you need a bit of relaxation after all those days spent doing long walks in busy towns. Heading southwest to the beaches in the Maremma could be a good option. Read our list for some ideas about which beaches to choose.