These must see sights are all easily reachable from Florence with a daytrip!
If you've had your fill of Renaissance art, there are plenty of other places to see in Tuscany and beyond, all reachable within a few hours from Florence. Here are 5 of the best day trips from Florence:
Although somewhat more understated than flashy Florence, it none the less rings of Renaissance-era elegance. Lucca dates all the way back to the Etruscans, and is the birthplace of the Giacomo Puccini, the famous composer of Operas such as La Bohème and Madama Butterfly. If you're looking to get away from the clamour of Florence for a day, Lucca is the perfect choice.
What to see in Lucca:
- The City Walls: A great way to see Luca is by walking or biking on top of the City Walls. The renaissance-era walls that encircle the city remain intact even today and are lined with centuries-old trees. Rent a bicycle or just take a stroll to enjoy the greenery and views of Lucca.
- Duomo di San Martino: The Cathedral of Lucca has a beautiful façade of white arches, and a bell-tower with white marble details. inside you'll find works by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Fra Bartolomeo and Jacopo Tintoretto
- Guinigi Tower: Climb to the top of this tower for an amazing view of the city and enjoy the shade of the rooftop garden.
Getting to Lucca from Florence
Luca is easily reachable from Florence by train (1 hour and 20 minutes) or by car (about 1 hour)
Along the River Arno to the west is Pisa, home of the world's most famous leaning tower. A centuries-old rival of Florence, Pisa is a city rich with history.
What to see in Pisa
- The Leaning Tower: What trip to Italy is complete without a picture of you holding up the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa? After snapping your picture, climb to the top of the tower for a spectacular view of the Piazza dei Miracoli, or "Square of Miracles"
- The Cathedral: The Cathedral of Pisa was begun in 1064, and the marble façade by Rainaldo defines the Pisan Romanesque seen across Tuscany. Inside you'll see famous works of art by artists such as Pisano and Giambologna.
- Camposanto Monumentale: The "Monumental cemetary" may just be the most beautiful cemetery in the world. It is said to have been made on sacred soil brought back from a crusade to Golgotha, the site of Christ's crucifixion. With its original frescoes and ancient Roman sarcophagi, this is a must-see.
Getting to Pisa from Florence
The train to Pisa from Florence is just a 50 minute ride, and Piazza dei Miracoli is about a 20 minute walk from the Pisa train station. You can reach Pisa by car in about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
If you're interested in seeing Lucca and Pisa, take a look at our Pisa and Lucca Daytrip with a private driver and guide!
Another historical rival of Florence, the Medieval city of Siena is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is home to the famous Palio horse race, as well as works of Renaissance and Gothic artwork by artists such as Donatello, Michelangelo, and Pisano.
What to see in Siena
- Piazza del Campo: This unique shell-shaped piazza is home to the Palio horse race, held twice a year in July and August. The clock tower is one of the most iconic sites in Siena.
- The Cathedral: This Medieval cathedral has one of the most beautiful façades in Italy, easily recognizable by it's stripes of white and blackish-green marble that also cover the interior walls and pillars.
- Palazzo Salimbeni: Built in 1472, Palazzo Salimbeni is the Medieval headquarters of the oldest bank in the world, Monte dei Paschi di Siena.
Getting to Siena from Florence
The train from Florence to Siena takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, but remember that the train station is about a mile and half, about a half hour walk, outside of the city center. Another option is the SITA bus, which runs frequently. It is a bit faster than the train and the bus station in Siena is closer to the city center than the train station. By car, Siena is about a 1 hour and 15 minute drive south of Florence.
4. SAN GIMIGNANO
The Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is a striking sight from afar because of its numerous medieval towers that still stand today. Wine lovers will know San Gimignano for its famous white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, grown on the surrounding hillsides.
What to see in San Gimignano
- Piazza Duomo - This is the main square of the historic center where you will find the Collegiate church, Palazzo Comunale and Palazzo Podesta
- Collegiate Church - From the outside this church looks plain and humble, in stark comparison to the ornate marble cathedrals of Florence and Siena. Don't be fooled - inside is a sight to see, decorated colorfully in red and gold, with black and white striped marble arches. Remarkably preserved frescoes depict stories from the both the old and new testaments of the Bible.
- Towers - Most Medieval towers in Italian cities were destroyed by disasters or wars, or were simply taken down as the cities changed. San Gimignano has 14 towers standing today, the tallest of which is the 200-foot Torre Grossa.
Getting to San Gimignano from Florence
To get to San Gimignano from Florence by public transportation, take the SITA bus (across from the Santa Maria Novella Train Station) to Poggibonsi, and then another 20 minute bus to San Gimignano. The drive by Car is about 1 hour south of Florence.
To visit both Siena and San Gimignano, book a KissFromItaly Siena and San Gimignano Daytrip! You'll see all the sights with your own private driver and tour guide.
5. CINQUE TERRE
Venture out of Tuscany to the spectacular Italian Riviera of the Ligurian Coast. The Cinque Terre, or "Five Lands" are a paradise for photographers, foodies, nature lovers, and anyone who can appreciate a beautiful seaside view. The multi-colored buildings set against the rugged cliffs are sure to be among your favorite photos of your whole trip.
What to see in Cinque terre
- Hiking Trails - Between each of the 5 towns are hiking trails along the Ligurian coast. The spectacular views that you see in photos come from spots along these paths, so even if you're not the outdoorsy type, it's worth the effort!
- Via dell Amore - Between Riomaggiore, the southernmost town, and Manarola is a paved pathway called Via Dell Amore, or "Street of Love." Take a stroll with your sweetheart and don't forget to attach a lock with your initials somewhere along the way.
- Monterosso - After enjoying the quaint charm of Riomaggiore, Manarolo, Corniglia, and Vernazza, don't forget to soak in some sun on the beaches of Monterosso, the northernmost town.
Getting to Cinque Terre from Florence
To get to Cinque Terre from Florence by Train you will need to go to La Spezia, with a change in Pisa. In La Spezia you can take the regional train into your desired town, or buy a 10 euro day pass at the tourist office good for the train and all hiking paths. By Car the drive to Cinque Terre from Florence is a little bit over 2 hours
All of these Day Trips from Florence are perfect places to go off the beaten path and add unforgettable experiences to your vacation in Italy! If you have any questions about these destinations or would like help planning your trip to Italy, feel free to email us!