Centrally located in northern Italy with great transport links, Florence is the perfect base to explore the rest of Tuscany. Here is our pick of the best day trips from Florence.
One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, there are plenty of wonderful things to do in Florence.
You can easily spend three or four days exploring its treasure chest of art, enthralling Renaissance architecture and vibrant culture. It’s also well located for several excellent day trips.
To the south lies the picture-postcard scenery of Tuscany, with grand villas lined with boulevards of cypresses overlooking world-famous vineyards. Medieval hill towns with tightly packed laneways constricted by ancient walls hark back to another age.
To the west are the grand cities of Pisa and Lucca, in which mighty cathedrals and leaning towers offer fantastic views and a taste of Italian wanderlust. Further on are the colourful fishing villages of Cinque Terre, tucked into the rugged coastline.
Finally, Venice, Rome and Bologna are all a direct train ride away, making a Florence to Tuscany trip the best way to explore so much more of northern Italy.
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IN THIS GUIDE
BEST DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE
1 – SIENA
Siena is one of our favourite cities in Italy and a great day trip from Florence. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its “ideal embodiment of a medieval city” Siena is a moody and mysterious, medieval town.
Tightly packed, narrow, lanes are penned in by towering houses such that barely a ray of light glances the cobbled streets. On a cloudy day, old streetlights peer out of the mist illuminating orange walls and red brick buildings that have seen their fair share of history.
Piazza del Campo is one of the finest squares in Europe and home to the famous Palio horse race. Torre Mangia (tower) offers grand views over the red-tiled rooftops, and the Siena Duomo not only has a beautiful façade surrounded by white and black gothic towers but its interior is lavishly decorated.
GETTING TO SIENA ON A DAY TRIP FROM FLORENCE
By Train / Direct trains take 1 hour 15 minutes and leave from Florence Santa Maria Novella train station.
2 – SAN GIMIGNANO
San Gimignano is a medieval hilltop town with towers that rise above green fields and pointy cypresses. It is the Manhattan of the Middle Ages that radiates under the Tuscan sun.
At one time there were over 70 towers in San Gimignano, today only 14 remain. But what’s left behind is a well-preserved medieval hill town where one can easily picture knights clipping up and down cobbled lanes on horseback as they navigate the main square.
For a small medieval hilltop town, there’s a surprising number of things to do in San Gimignano. The Duomo is ornately decorated with frescoes telling stories that are not quite told the same anywhere else. Climbing up the towers is rewarded with sweeping views over the town and countryside. And don’t miss San Gimignano’s contemporary art scene.
Known for its Vernaccia wine, golden ham and local saffron, San Gimignano is one of the best Florence day trips.
GETTING TO SAN GIMIGNANO ON A DAY TRIP FROM FLORENCE
By Car / San Gimignano is just a 1-hour drive from Florence, making it a great way to enjoy Tuscany from Florence.
By Bus / If you are travelling via public transport, regular buses connect Florence to San Gimignano with a stop in Poggibonsi. All the details are in our guide to visiting San Gimignano for a day.
3 – CHIANTI REGION
The Chianti region is just south of Florence. Known for its squat bottle in straw baskets, wine has been made here for over 700 years. There are few finer pleasures in Tuscany than sharing a traditional Tuscan lunch of sliced prosciutto and local cheeses with a bottle of Chianti surrounded by rows of twisty vines.
The main towns of Chianti are Castellina, Radda and Greve but we have a soft spot for Badia a Passignano. This tiny village has an abbey and three great restaurants all set overlooking a vast sweep of wine and olive groves. It’s the perfect destination for wine lovers and a great option for a day trip from Florence.
The vineyards belong to the Antinori estate who have built a fancy modern home, easily accessible just off the motorway between Florence and Siena. Finished in 2012, Antinori provides wine tasting and cellar tours in their grand design building. Booking in advance is required.
GETTING TO THE CHIANTI REGION ON A DAY TRIP FROM FLORENCE
By Car / The villages and vineyards of Chianti are close to Florence but they are dotted about the countryside so the best way to visit them is in a hire car. This way you could visit Antinori estate, Badia a Passignano and Greve al Chianti all in one day.
By Bus / Without a car, you can get the SITA bus 368 – 370 from Florence Autostazione to Antinori. The stop you need is Bargino and the journey takes around 40 minutes.
By Tour / There are several great organised tours into Chianti. This day tour from Florence has a trip to 2 vineyards including tastings for up to 5 wines.
4 – VAL D’ORCIA
In Val D’Orcia, cypress trees wind up sinuous roads to grand villas sat above rolling hills. The most scenic of valleys in Tuscany, it’s packed with photographic opportunities and gorgeous villages that have made this beautiful part of Italy a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Brunello is a single grape Sangiovese wine, only harvested from vines grown on the hills of Montalcino – a small village that’s a delight to stroll around. Nearby Pienza is often considered the ‘ideal city of the Renaissance.’ This is one of the best regions in Italy for experiencing local wineries in a beautiful setting.
Another 15 kilometres past Pienza, Montepulciano is an interesting walled town with winding medieval streets on top of a rocky cliff face. The central square is surrounded by imposing facades and terraces that look out over miles of sweeping Tuscan countryside.
GETTING TO VAL D’ORCIA FROM FLORENCE
By Tour / Seeing all the sights of Val D’Orcia by public transport is hard, so the best option is to join a tour. This one visits Pienza & Montepulciano and includes wine tasting.
By Car / If you want to really get to know the area, a great option is to hire a car and take your time. We recommend 2 days in Val D’Orcia.
5 – LUCCA
The charming walled city of Lucca is a relaxing break from the busyness of Florence.
Known as the city of 100 churches due to its plethora of religious buildings, you can cycle the walls, join a walking tour, take a tipple in the intimate oval ‘square´ and stare up at the remarkable frescoes of the Duomo di San Martino.
When you have finished exploring on foot, head up Guinigi Tower for remarkable views over the medieval streets of the city centre with red roofs reaching towards the surrounding countryside of Tuscany.
The individual sights are not quite as grand as other places in Tuscany. But what Lucca offers is the ability to stroll through a lovely Italian town, soak up the quiet ambience, admire beautiful architecture and hang out in charming local squares.
Set under the Tuscan hills, a day trip to Lucca leaves many travellers wanting more.
HOW TO GET TO LUCCA FROM FLORENCE
By Train / With direct trains from Florence, Lucca is one of the easiest Florence day trips. Trains leave from Florence Santa Maria Novella train station and take 1 hour 20 minutes.
By Tour / To relax and enjoy this amazing part of Tuscany, this day tour visits both Lucca & Pisa and includes a taste test of Buccellato, Lucca’s delicious cake.
6 – PISA
Pisa has a nice city center stretching along the banks of the Arno River. But most people head here for the remarkable collection of buildings on Piazza dei Miracoli – or Square of Miracles.
Sitting side by side on the grass are Pisa Cathedral and its bell tower (the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa), the Pisa Baptistry, the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery) and a museum. Altogether they make one of the finest architectural complexes in the world.
The highlights are the massive bronze doors and Pisano’s elaborately carved pulpit in the cathedral; the baptistery which at 55 metres high is the largest in Italy; and the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa. No matter how many times we visit, standing on the summit of the leaning tower and taking in the views over Pisa is an experience that still seems as exciting as the first time we did it.
HOW TO GET TO PISA FROM FLORENCE
By Train / To see the famous sights of Pisa, direct trains depart from Florence Santa Maria Novella train station and take 1 hour 10 minutes.
7 – CINQUE TERRE
Cinque Terre National Park lies at the eastern end of the Italian Riviera, where the mountains meet the sea. These five colourful fishing villages perched on the rugged Ligurian coast, have become the iconic symbols of this beautiful area.
Connected by windy paths over the cliffs, hiking between the villages is an excellent day out. Stop for lunch sitting over the harbour at Manarola then jump in for a refreshing post-lunch dip.
Regular trains run between the villages, so you can easily hop from one to the next soaking up this unique setting. One of the best ways to see the villages is on a boat tour where you can see the colourful buildings wedged between the ocean and the mountains.
HOW TO GET TO CINQUE TERRE FROM FLORENCE
By Train / It takes about 3 hours to get to Cinque Terre by train with a stop in Pisa.
By Tour / If you intend to see Cinque Terre on a day trip from Florence and you don’t have your own car, we’d recommend a private tour so you can relax on the way there and back. This tour includes an optional guided hike and train tickets between the villages.
Our Itinerary / To see a different side of Europe plus some popular attractions like Cinque Terre, read our 2-week Europe itinerary.
8 – BOLOGNA
Bologna is an authentic Italian city with a bold individual character. Unlike many places in Tuscany, Bologna feels like a place that locals know better than tourists. And it feels like that’s the way it’s always going to be.
None of this, however, means it’s not worth a day trip. With centuries of history and a population of 85,000 university students, Bologna is old enough to be charming and young enough to be exciting. By day stroll through its miles of porticoes, popping into medieval churches and climbing narrow soaring towers.
In the evening join connoisseurs sampling wines from age-old enoteca’s, tuck into hams and cheeses on tightly packed lanes or join the young and boisterous enjoying aperitivo. The best Florence day trip for foodies and being only half an hour away you can even make it a half-day trip.
GETTING TO BOLOGNA FROM FLORENCE
By Train / Direct trains take 35 minutes and leave from Florence Santa Maria Novella station. More information is on our guide to the best things to do in Bologna.
9 – VENICE
If Florence has competition for the most beautiful city in Italy then it comes from Venice. Built on 117 small islands connected by beautiful bridges across lovely canals, it’s a bewitching city full of ornately decorated buildings and grand piazzas.
The centre is compact enough to see many of the highlights in just one day, so it’s the perfect day trip from Florence. Walk over the Ponte di Rialto to see the Grand Canale; explore Saint Marks Square heading into the basilica and up the campanile; and wonder at the Doges Palace and seafront.
Venice is quite a long way from Florence but a fast direct train means you can get there in just over 2 hours. While the city deserves more than just a day, if you are using Florence as a base to explore, it makes for a truly memorable day trip.
GETTING TO VENICE FROM FLORENCE
By Train / Direct trains take 2 hours 15 minutes and leave from Florence Santa Maria Novella station.
By Tour / If you would like to join a tour, this guided tour from Florence includes a transfer and free time to wander around by yourself.
10 – ROME
The capital of an ancient empire and a key player in the development of Renaissance Art, Rome is one of the greatest cities in the world. Still the beating heart of Italy, Rome is also a modern, engaging epicentre and a great place to visit from Florence.
The city itself deserves three or four days to explore all the main sights, but the train from Florence takes under 90 minutes so you can pack some of the highlights into one day. You’ll need to be selective about what you want to see, but a morning exploring St Peters and the Vatican museums; an afternoon at the Roman Forum and Coliseum; and an early evening dining in Trastevere would be an excellent day trip from Florence.
Alternatively, pack an overnight bag and head back to Florence the following day.
HOW TO GET TO ROME FROM FLORENCE
By Train / Direct trains take 1 hour 25 minutes and leave from Florence Santa Maria Novella station. With the traffic in Rome, the train is definitely the best option from Florence.
11 – MILAN
Italy’s fashion capital, Milan is an elegant city with promenade-style streets, a magnificent cathedral and buzzing restaurants enthusiastic about local wine, truffle and all things deliciously Italian.
Strolling around the cobbled streets and stopping to admire the world go by at Piazza del Duomo is one of the best ways to experience this northern Italian masterpiece.
Even if you don’t have time for an opera, it’s well worth getting tickets to tour the Teatro La Scala; the opulent interior will leave you mesmerised. Alternatively, you can just stroll through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to be equally as impressed, completely free of charge.
Milan deserves much more than a day trip from Florence, but there are enough tops sights that you could pick one or two wonderful things and see them properly.
HOW TO GET TO MILAN FROM FLORENCE
By Train / The high-speed train from Florence Santa Maria Novella station takes just under 2 hours to reach Milan. Just enough time to soak up the incredible views on the way while you plan your Milan day.
DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE BY TRAIN
Italy has an excellent train network, so a day trip from Florence is a great way to see more of the surrounding area. The best destination to visit from Florence by train on a day trip are:
- Siena – 1 hour, 15 minutes
- Lucca – 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Bologna – 35 minutes
- Pisa – 45 minutes
The high-speed rail network puts destinations that are a little further away in easy proximity for a day trip from Florence. However, if you are using Florence as your base and you’re not pushed for time, we’d recommend adding an overnight stay for these destinations.
- Rome – 1 hour, 25 minutes
- Milan – 2 hours
- Venice – 2 hours, 15 minutes
BEST DAY TRIP FROM FLORENCE BY TOUR
For the towns that aren’t connected to Florence via a direct train line, tours are a great way to organise a day trip from Florence if you don’t have your own car. This way, you can see more of the remote hill towns or combine multiple destinations in one day trip. The Chianti Hills, Val D’Orcia and San Gimignano are all great options to see on an organised tour.
If you want to combine multiple destinations on one day trip, here are some tours you could consider.
BEST DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE BY CAR
Despite Italians having a reputation for being a little crazy behind the wheel, Tuscany is a relatively easy place to drive. Although the small towns are not made for cars, most have very easy parking on the outskirts which makes driving yourself a very easy experience.
Having your own car also gives you the flexibility to stop off and enjoy the incredible views at your leisure.
The best day trips from Florence in your car are Chianti, so you can visit several of the wine estates of your choosing; Val D’Orcia so you can stop for photo opportunities as you see fit; and San Gimignano which has easy parking and no direct train line.
We recommend rentalcars.com for your hire car. They compare prices across all the major car rental companies so you can select a provider you are happy with.
MAP / DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE
As a centrally located city in northern Italy, Florence is a perfect base to explore Tuscany. To help get you to plot your day trip, we have included all the locations listed in this guide on the below map.
Located in the north of Italy, Florence is an excellent base for exploring more of the country. With some exceptional hiking and exquisite lakes, here are some more of our guides from the region.
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