Florence is one of the most popular Italian destinations, with many things to do and see, particularly appreciated by couples. Even though you won’t get bored in the city, many might also prefer to take advantage of the time spent there and go on some day trips from Florence.
Driving through the hills of Tuscany, visiting hilltop stone cities, learning everything there is to know about one of the most famous wines in the world, savoring Chianti wine or Brunello di Montalcino wine, and much more. These are only a few of the things worth doing while in Tuscany.
Due to its location and great connections, you can easily get around by train, but I strongly suggest renting a car for at least a day or two. It will give you the freedom to simply get lost on the winding roads in between vineyards and old Italian mansions, and take some of the most stunning pictures. I’ve always dreamt of renting a Fiat 500 and driving around Tuscany!
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But before we get started, here are a few useful things you might need for your trip, no matter where you end up going after all:
- Discover Cars is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for renting a car during your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. They have a pretty good Cancellation policy that would give you options in case your flight or travel plans change. Choose the best price here!
- Omio is your getaway to trains, buses, and flights. All in one place. I suggest using it especially for booking train tickets for Italy or Germany. Calculate your train fare here!
- Day trips and experiences can be easily booked through GetYourGuide – they have a wide selection of tours and a great cancellation policy that will offer you a full refund if you cancel up to 24 hours before the tour. Explore perfect tours here!
- Don’t forget about insurance – at AardvarkCompare.com you can compare from over 30 insurance plans and find your best option. Compare insurance options here!
Day trips from Florence you will want to take!
By Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers
A day trip from Florence to Siena, one of the most beautiful towns in Tuscany, is a must.
Start your day at the medieval square, Piazza del Campo, where you can access several attractions. The shell-shaped square in itself is unique and one of the most beautiful in Italy. When you’ve seen the Fonte Gaia, visited the Palazzo Pubblico, and the Civic Museum, climb the 400 steps for a bird’s eye’s view of Siena from Torre del Mangia.
Have your lunch at one of the many restaurants on the square or wander into the cobblestoned streets to find a small hidden restaurant.
After lunch, you should visit the Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta, Siena’s spectacular Romanesque-Gothic cathedral. The combined complex consists of the cathedral, the crypt, Museo dell’Opera, the Libreria Piccolomini library, and the astounding Baptistery of San Giovanni. If you have any time left after this, you should spend it getting lost in the medieval streets of the old town. It is so charming everywhere you go. Get a gelato or a pizza on the go if you get hungry.
If you prefer to, you can also go on a city walking tour and learn everything about Siena’s history while admiring the city’s most beautiful sights.
Siena can be reached by car from Florence in just over an hour. But the two cities are well connected by public transport too. You can take the direct train in 1 hour 30 minutes. Direct buses take only an hour.
Omio is a great tool where you can check train and bus timetables and book the best one for your trip. Check it out here!
By Jackie of Jou Jou Travels
Venice is a beautiful city in Northern Italy comprised of 100 small islands. By high-speed train, you can reach Venice from Florence in two hours and fifteen minutes making it a great option for a day trip.
The city is a great walking city as no cars are allowed to roam due to the many canals and winding streets. It’s the perfect place to wander and get lost and can be explored in a day or even a weekend if you have more time. The must-see spots include St. Mark’s Basilica, the most famous church in the city, and Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge spanning the Grand Canal.
For a unique find, be sure to visit the Libreria Acqua Alta, a library with many pretty books stacked all along outside and featuring unique interiors. If you fancy being more of a tourist, take a gondola ride through the many canals and admire the stunning architecture that surrounds you. Indulge in the fantastic food, specializing in seafood.
Try Osteria alla Staffa for an affordable meal. If more time allows, be sure to visit Burano, the most colorful place in the world possibly. It takes a 40-minute boat ride to get there.
Read also: The complete 2 days in Venice itinerary
By Martina & Jürgen, PlacesofJuma
A visit to Arezzo is certainly one of the excursions from Florence because this small town is a real hidden pearl of Tuscany and should not be missed on any roundtrip! This beautiful medieval town is only 1 hour’s drive south-east of the Tuscan capital and can therefore be reached easily and quickly by car, but also by public bus. Guided tours are also available if you want to join one.
Arezzo is famous in Italy above all as a ceramics and metal city. Handicrafts and jewelry have always been produced here in town, which has brought the city great prosperity and wealth. Hard to believe, but ten tonnes of gold are processed here every single month. A stroll through the town reveals countless shops selling the finest jewelry and beautiful ceramics, such as the world-famous Aretin vases.
In addition, a visit to Arezzo’s old town is a must-do, because the center is full of interesting sights. Particularly pretty and a real highlight is the Piazza Grande, a breathtakingly beautiful main square and popular photo motif. It slopes down at an angle, creating an almost surreal backdrop.
Also worth seeing and visiting are the countless museums and churches, where art treasures and masterpieces by famous artists such as Piero della Francesca or Giorgio Vasari can be admired.
By Miriam from Miry Giramondo
One of the most beautiful day trips from Florence is the city of Ferrara declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, a jewel rich in history and art. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the old town is not very big so you can visit it on foot.
The city’s history is strongly connected to the Este family, who ruled in Ferrara for centuries, in fact, the monument symbol of the city is the Este Castle built in the sixteenth century and arrived today in perfect condition. Another important monument is the Cathedral of San Giorgio, renowned for its splendid white marble architecture adorned with Romanesque columns and Gothic arches and the interior design. It is difficult not to notice the Palazzo dei Diamanti with its characteristic external rusticated façade, reminiscent of rows of faceted diamond points.
Do not miss a walk in the medieval streets including Via delle Volte, which takes its name from the numerous suspended passages that cross it and that connected the workshops to the warehouses along the river.
In this area there are many inns still authentic atmosphere where you can taste the local specialties including pumpkin cappellacci that are seasoned with meat sauce or butter and sage or another typical dish is the macaroni pie.
Ferrara can be reached by train from Florence, the fast train takes 1 and 10 minutes and is the fastest way to get to the city. By car, the journey takes just over two hours.
Book a walking tour in Ferrara and see the city’s highlights!
By Michela Sieman at She Goes the Distance
Pienza is the poster child for the Tuscan countryside, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is nestled in the Province of Siena in the picturesque, instantly recognizable Val D’Orcia with its tree-lined, winding roads. This small hilltop village retains all of its character despite growing in popularity with tourists as an off-the-beaten-path destination.
While the town is tiny in itself, it boasts a larger-than-life history. Pienza was the birthplace of Pope Pius II. After becoming a pope, he redesigned and reconstructed the entire urban center as a new Renaissance town.
Main sights in Pienza include the Duomo that dominates the main square. You must also take a walk along the town’s perimeter, specifically the Camminata Panoramica path, to enjoy the views of Val D’Orcia. Stroll the inner parts of town and the narrow streets to discover the artisanal, local shops of Pienza, including the Antichi Sapori di Pienza.
Pienza is a 90-minute drive by car from Florence. It’s easiest to reach by car, as you’ll need to use a convoluted combination of buses or buses and trains to reach this tiny countryside paradise with public transportation (which can take over three hours in total.)
Because the town is so small, even just a few tourists can feel like a lot. Visit in the off-season months like April and May or September and October to enjoy cooler weather and emptier streets while exploring Pienza.
About two hours by train from Florence, there is Padua, the city of the Saint which is a very rich treasure chest full of treasures to be discovered. Art, culture, history and gastronomy, imposing squares, alleys and shops, nothing is really missing.
Our route starts from the Scrovegni Chapel: if you arrive by train, just walk along Corso del Popolo for about 700 meters.
The Scrovegni Chapel is one of the most precious jewels of Padua as it houses a famous cycle of Giotto’s frescoes. It was built in the area of the ancient Roman arena, purchased in the fourteenth century by a wealthy Paduan family of bankers, the Scrovegni.
PRATO DELLA VALLE
Prato della Valle is the largest square in Padua and Italy, as well as the second-largest in Europe: it boasts an area of 88 620 square meters.
Inside there is a green island, which takes the name of Isola Memmia (from the mayor who commissioned the work) and is surrounded by a canal decorated with statues depicting famous characters of the past.
THE BASILICA OF SANT’ANTONIO (BASILICA DEL SANTO)
The Basilica of Sant’Antonio, known as “del Santo”, is a truly unmissable stop: every year millions of pilgrims come to Padua just to visit it. It was built starting from 1232 to house the remains of the Franciscan friar.
The external facade is beautiful and imposing, where a mix of styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Byzantine and Moorish) blend and create perfect harmony.
THE BOTANICAL GARDEN
The Botanical Garden of Padua has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. It is the oldest university botanical garden in the world, founded in 1545 to help students recognize medicinal plants.
By Annabel Kirk at Smudged Postcard
Reachable from Florence in around 2 hours by train, Perugia is a lovely city to explore on a day trip.
Perugia is the capital of Italy’s green heart region of Umbria. The city has an impressive history dating back to Etruscan times. This is reflected in the streets – with the impressive Etruscan arch at Piazza Grimana and also below ground – beneath the cathedral are extensive Etruscan ruins.
As with any Italian city, Perugia’s center can be found in its central piazza. Piazza IV Novembre features elegant palazzos, the city’s Gothic cathedral and the ornate Romanesque Fontana Maggiore by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. The square is a meeting place for locals – lots of them students – and tourists. The square leads on to popular Corso Vannucci, a long street lined with inviting bars and cafes.
Fans of Italian art will be drawn to the National Gallery of Umbria, housed in the Palazzo dei Priori back in the main square. Highlights of the museum include works by local artists Perugino and Pinturicchio as well as art by Piero della Francesca and Fra Angelico.
Perugia is the location of the excellent Umbria Jazz Festival each July. Musicians come from all over the world and fill the streets and squares with live music. There’s a real party atmosphere in the city during this popular event.
If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to check out the Perugina chocolate factory which has tours in English as well as Italian. It’s home to the famous Baci chocolates, a perfect gift for Italy lovers.
By Lori Sorentino at Travlinmad.com
If you’re visiting Florence and want to experience some of Italy’s most authentic cities, there’s no better place to go than Modena, under 2 hours away from the Renaissance City.
Modena is known for slow food and fast cars. In the Motor Valley between Bologna and Modena, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati among other world-class automobile makers are all headquartered here. There are two Ferrari museums worth a visit even if you’re not a sports car fan.
The city’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one visit to the Modena Cathedral and Ghirlandina Tower will reveal what makes these two places so historically significant.
But undoubtedly, it’s the food that draws much of its notoriety. Take a food tour, stroll the downtown and stop in local shops and markets selling rare spices or traditional balsamic vinegar. The Mercato Albinelli is a must-stop, and one of the best local markets in Italy.
Getting to Modena from Florence is easy. Trains run several times a day between the two cities connecting through Bologna, although driving is scenic if you’re up for a long road trip.
By Ruma Dey Baidya at TheHolidayStory
San Gimignano is a small fortified hill town in Tuscany, Italy. It appears like a place from medieval Europe. The town is well-known for its ancient architectural style buildings. Some of these buildings came into being in the 14th or 15th centuries. There is a protective stone wall surrounding the entire city. The historical and cultural influences of this town have certified it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tourists get awestruck when visiting San Gimignano. It’s because of a well-preserved appearance from the Middle Ages in a modern city layout. The primary point of attraction is the medieval center Centro Storico. This place has all the old square towers. At the heart of this is the main center Piazza Della Cisterna. From here, a brick pavement leads to Via del Castello.
The homes of the past nobles and riches are present here. Another square named Piazza Duomo is another square where Palazzo Podesta and Collegiate Church are present. The highest point of the hill is home to the ruins of Rocca castle. The city has fourteen towers still standing tall. The churches in the town have beautiful artworks by the painters of the Renaissance period.
Walking down the antique streets in the evening can be a highlight in your trip. Many visitors opt to climb the towers to see the view from the top. Torre Grossa is the tallest of all and, therefore, the best one to climb. Local handmade artifacts of clay are also quite famous among tourists.
San Gimignano is located just 60 kilometers southeast of Florence. It takes about an hour to reach there by car. Several daily buses and trains also travel between the two places.
By Utkarsh at Journeys from Heart
Pisa is one of the favorite destinations among travelers looking for a day trip from Florence. Home to the famous wonder of the world ‘the leaning tower of Pisa’, the city has a couple of other attractions to visit.
Locater around 52 miles from Florence, getting there would take you close to an hour when you choose to drive, while the train will get you there in a bit less time.
The stunning city has clear sunny weather and you can choose to stroll around town, visit its major attractions, or go on a city bus tour. The leaning tower of Pisa is only 1.5 kilometers away from the city’s train station, making it easy to walk there.
Other places that are worth a visit are the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (a medieval Cathedral built in Pisan architecture style), Campo Santo (a Sacred Field), the Cathedral’s Museum (a great place for art and history lovers), or the Palazzo della Carovana (a 1562 palace with great architecture and historical displays).
By Roxanne at Faraway Worlds
If you have an extra day in Florence, heading out to the famous Chianti region in Tuscany is a must. While Chianti has the rolling countryside and distinctive villages typical of Tuscany its claim to fame is, of course, its wine.
No matter where you stay in Florence, you’ll find the region’s dry, red wine readily available (sometimes even in the traditional squat bottles enclosed in a straw basket). The best way to try the wine though is by visiting the vineyards that make it.
While you can take public transport, the best way to explore Chianti is by either hiring a car or by going on a wine tour. It’s only 35km from Florence to Chianti, but expect to spend the day visiting different wineries, and tasting their wine and other delicacies.
The highlight of the day is choosing a winery for a long lunch, where you’ll typically sit outdoors (if the weather is good), overlooking the vineyard and the Tuscan countryside.
Delicious, traditional Italian food is typically on offer, accompanied by the region’s wine, of course. If you want a break from wine, you can also visit some of the charming towns in the Chianti region – favorites include Radda, Greve, and Panzano.
By Rachel from Average Lives
The magnificent city of Bologna is not only the food capital of Italy, but it is also home to the oldest university in the world. Therefore, if you visit Bologna on a day trip from Florence, you can expect to have a truly authentic Italian experience in a vibrant city that is full of life. Indeed, it is incredible to think that even after 1000 years, the city is still exciting because of the university.
As Bologna is a compact city, it means that you can walk to all the main attractions quite quickly, which is excellent news for day-trippers. Some of the best things to see and do include exploring Piazza Maggiore, wandering through the narrow alleyways, and climbing the Torre degli Asinelli for panoramic views over the city. You can also admire Archiginnasio and the Municipal Library and the superb Basilica of San Luca, where you can appreciate the porticos.
Many people visit Bologna for the food, and rightly so. Some of the best places to try include Bocca Buona for the fried puff pastry, Sette Chiese for tortellini, and A 15 for an unforgettable lasagne and tiramisu.
Luckily, there are many fast and convenient ways to reach Bologna from Florence. You can go by train and arrive at Bologna Centrale Railway Station in only 40-minutes. Alternatively, you can catch a bus in 1 hour-20minutes or reach Bologna by car in 1 hour 45-minutes.
By Denise of Chef Denise
If you are looking for the perfect combination of beautiful countryside, charming hilltop villages, Medieval historic sites, and delicious Italian food and wine, head to Val d’Orcia. About an hour and a half drive from Florence, you can explore a good portion of this Unesco World Heritage site in a day.
The Val d’Orcia is a picturesque valley in South-central Tuscany with lush green hills, rolling haystacks, poppy fields, and cypress trees. In fact, there are groups of cypress trees here that are so photographed, they are among the most famous trees in Italy.
One of the other most photographed sites of the area is the tiny Chapel of Madonna of Vitaleta just outside of San Quirico d’Orcia. Sitting alone on top of a green hill with its own group of cypress trees, make sure you walk up and take a closer look.
If you find yourself at the tiny chapel, try San Quirico d’Orcia for lunch. It is one of the smaller towns and worth a stroll through at least. Or visit nearby Pienza for a greater variety of options and a longer stroll. Wine tasting in Montalcino meandering through the narrow streets makes a nice afternoon activity.
Although most are quite small, you cannot see every village in Val d’Orcia in one day, and you should not. To really appreciate Val d’Orcia, go slow, and make sure to admire nature’s beauty.
By fast train, Italy’s capital is less than 2 hours away from Florence, thus the perfect destination for a day trip.
While spending only one day in Rome might not be ideal, since the city has so much to offer, it is still better than not getting there at all. With so many activities and sites to see in Rome, you must carefully choose what tick off your bucket list in such a short time.
Tucked away on cliff edges, with colorful buildings and authentic seafood restaurants, the Cinque Terre are easily seen on a day trip from Florence. Make your itinerary by following this comprehensive guide I have put together.
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