Best Day Trips from Florence: Lucca, Siena, Val d’Orcia, & More
April 20, 2023
There are a lot of ways to travel and if you don’t want to go it alone Walks of Italy offers a guided Tuscan day trip from Florence that includes city strolls, wine tastings, and an incredible lunch at a Tuscan vineyard. If you prefer to walk your own roads, read on!
Looking for a fantastic day trip from Florence? Luckily, you’ve got lots of options. Whether you’re looking for a day in the Tuscan countryside or the chance to explore a medieval town, it’s all reachable from Florence…
You can easily spend the entire day exploring any of these day trip options. Or, if you want to see as much as you can, you can combine them for a full, rewarding day in Tuscany. (Just don’t forget to schedule yourself time to relax over a glass of local wine!).
Lucca, Florence’s graceful neighbor
Lovely Lucca offers up cobblestoned streets and elegant palaces, elaborate churches and a ring of Renaissance-era fortification walls that have been turned into biking and walking paths. For music aficionados, it also happens to be where the composer Giacomo Puccini was born.
To get to Lucca from Florence: The train takes 1 hour 20 minutes, and since the station is located right outside the city center and easily walkable, this is a very convenient option. By car, Lucca is located 1 hour 10 minutes west of Florence. If you want to spend the entire day in Lucca, check out our full blog on visiting the lovely city of Lucca.
Pisa, home to much more than the Leaning Tower
If you want to get what must be the most iconic photo in Italy, Pisa’s your place. But there’s much more to Pisa than that. Yes, the Leaning Tower is spectacular—even more so in person than in pictures. But the medieval city also boasts an 11th-century Duomo chock-full of gorgeous art, the elaborate Baptistery, and beautiful palaces. The downside, of course, is all the crowds around the Leaning Tower here—which is why we recommend the below schedule. (And if you want to really experience the best of Pisa, our Pisa tour explores the Square of Miracles and includes skip-the-line access to the Leaning Tower).
To get to Pisa from Florence: The direct, high-speed train to Pisa takes just 50 minutes from Florence. It’s then a 20-minute walk from the train station to the Leaning Tower, or a 10-minute bus ride. Driving, Pisa is located 1 hour 20 minutes from Florence.
How to visit Lucca + Pisa in one day trip from Florence
You want to avoid the tour-bus crush of crowds that take over Pisa during the day. To do this, leave Florence on the train by 9am, putting you in Lucca around 10:30am. Enjoy a relaxing walk on the city walls, explore the churches, and have a late lunch around 1:30.
From there, Pisa’s just a 25-minute train ride from Lucca, so if you leave Lucca around 3:45, you’ll be standing at the Leaning Tower by 4:30… just as the tour buses are all leaving. (Be aware that the tower closes at 5pm from November to February and closing times vary throughout the year, so if you want to climb the tower, check the official Tower of Pisa website and adjust your schedule accordingly!). Take as much time as you need to marvel at Pisa’s beauty by dusk. Then grab the direct, high-speed train back to Florence, which takes just one hour.
The Chianti wine country
Tuscany has numerous wine regions and they are all world-class. For a full explanation of them, check out our Guide to Tuscan Wine Regions and Wine Tasting. But If you want to enjoy wine tastings and the Tuscan countryside without going too far from Florence, then your go-to is the region of Chianti, just a 30 minutes’ drive south of the city, is your best bet. (Just remember that it’s proximity to Florence makes it more crowded and touristy than, say, the Val d’Orcia region, below). Small towns like San Casciano, Montespertoli, Gaiole, and Panzano, are lovely, and you’ll see signs for one vineyard after another. Our guided tour also visits two of these stunning farms/vineyards for both wine and a full lunch.
To get to Chianti from Florence: This is definitely a day trip best done with a car. The SS22 heads south of Florence right through the heart of the Chianti region.
Siena, a gem of a medieval city
Florence’s longtime rival, Siena is a gem of a medieval city. Just take its 13th-century Duomo: One of the most stunning cathedrals in all of Italy, it boasts pieces by Michelangelo, Donatello, Pisano, and Bernini, not to mention an incredible, frescoed library that sits alongside the Sistine Chapel as one of the best frescoed spaces in Italy! But that’s not to mention the city’s unique, scallop-shaped main piazza, dominated by a 14th-century tower even taller than the one in Florence. It’s also home to a treasure trove of important art, including Lorenzetti’s seminal frescoes of “Good and Bad Government”, relics like the head of St. Catherine, and the famous Palio horse races. You could happily stay in Siena for a few days or a week. For a comprehensive list on all the things to see and do in Siena, read our guest post for Art Trav on more of what to see in Siena.
To get to Siena from Florence: By car, Siena is 1 hour 15 minutes south of Florence. The direct SITA bus from Florence takes 1 hour 15 minutes; be sure to check the bus timetables. By train, Siena is located 1 hour 30 minutes from Florence, but be aware that the train station is almost 1.5 miles outside the city center and requires either a half-hour walk or a short local bus ride).
How to visit the Chianti countryside + Siena in one day trip from Florence
To do this, you need to rent a car. And be aware that you could also easily spend a whole day exploring Chianti’s vineyards and small towns or a whole day exploring Siena so this should be a combined day trip only for the energetic!
We’d recommend leaving Florence by 9 or 9:30am, making it to Chianti’s small towns and vineyards just as they “wake up” (and open), generally between 10am and noon. Enjoy wine and food tastings, and a relaxing lunch, before heading onto Siena by about 1:30pm. You’ll be there by mid-afternoon, which will give you time for two or three of Siena’s main sites (don’t miss the Duomo!), and perhaps dinner, before taking the 1 hour 15 minute drive back to Florence.
Val d’Orcia, where all of those postcards of the Tuscan countryside come from
Dreaming of cypress-lined roads, rolling hills, and rambling farms and vineyards? Then make your day trip from Florence one to the Val d’Orcia. Possibly the most stunning countryside in Italy (if not the world), it’s even been added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Landscapes. You could easily spend the day just rambling around here, exploring back streets and perhaps paying a visit to Montalcino, Pienza, or, just outside the valley, Montepulciano.
To get to the Val d’Orcia from Florence: Public transport is tough: There’s no train station right near the Val d’Orcia, and while the bus goes from Florence to Montalcino (with a switch at Siena), you can’t then explore the rest of the countryside. So the best way to visit the Val d’Orcia is either to rent a car (the area is located a 2-hour drive south of Florence) or hire a private driver, included in our “Tuscany in a Day” experience.
Montepulciano or Montalcino, perfect for wine lovers
These sleepy, medieval towns are two places to check out if you’re a big wine lover. Montalcino, which is slightly smaller and less visited, produces Brunello di Montalcino, often considered to be Italy’s best wine, while Montepulciano makes Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a DOCG-rated wine that’s been consumed since the Middle Ages and is considered one of Italy’s best. At either town, you can easily spend two or three hours wandering the medieval streets, gazing at the scenery, and, of course, sampling wines, meats, and cheeses. If you like the look of Montalcino and Montepulciano, check read our Guide to the best small towns in Tuscany.
To get to Montalcino or Montepulciano from Florence: Don’t be fooled by the “Montepulciano” listing on the Trenitalia site, as the train station of Montepulciano is actually a 20-minute drive from the medieval town itself! Instead, for either town, you can take the bus from Florence (switching at Siena). Or, especially if you want to explore both towns or other areas around, the best option is to rent a car or use a private driver.
How to visit the Val d’Orcia + Montepulciano or Montalcino in one day trip from Florence
If you’re staying away from tours and private drivers you can still enjoy a fantastic day in the Val d’Orcia! We’d recommend renting a car, leaving Florence by 9am at the latest, and driving the 2 hours straight down to the valley. Have lunch at Pienza, Montepulciano, or Montalcino, and spend the afternoon exploring the towns and roads and tasting the local wines. Just make sure that you bring a lot of patience (along with your GPS), as you will probably get lost at least a few times. But, of course, that’s half the fun!
(Explore Tuscany with us in this fun, and beautiful, #TakeWalks video below!).
Go beyond the Leaning Tower and discover Pisa’s fascinating history and hidden wonders on our Pristine Pisa: Leaning Tower, Cathedral, City Walls Trip from Florence. This carefully curated day trip ensures you make the most of your visit – including skip-the-line access to the cathedral and baptistery.
by Walks of ItalyView more by Walks ›
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