Tuscany is one of the most popular regions to visit in all of Italy, and Siena is one of the best places to go in Tuscany. Known for its great wine, its stunning architecture, and its fantastic cuisine, Siena is definitely one of my favorite places in Italy. It is smaller than all of Italy’s “big cities” but it has a unique charm of its own. Siena is a place where you can see striking Italian architecture and eat mouthwatering food while still enjoying a quiet and peaceful morning in the Piazza.
This post will cover the best things to do in Siena as well as how to get there, how to get around, and more. Hopefully by the end of this post, the answer to the question “Is Siena, Italy worth visiting?” will be pretty obvious.
Best Things to Do in Siena
From stunning architecture to unbelievable artworks, Siena is a very visually appealing city. Some of the most famous buildings in Siena were constructed over 700 years ago, and their beauty still radiates today. Here is my list of the 5 best things to do in Siena.
1. Visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is the postcard image of Siena. It is absolutely stunning, and is often referred to as one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in all of Italy. Both the inside and outside of this 13th century church are gorgeous, and the artwork on display inside is extraordinary. The cathedral is by far the thing that you just can’t miss when visiting Siena.
2. Wander Around the Piazza del Campo
In Italy, a city’s main piazza is its beating heart. In Siena, this is the Piazza del Campo. This square is lined with restaurants and shops that have called Siena home for years. This is one of the best places to hang out in the early morning or the evening, as everyone is out grabbing their morning coffee or their evening aperitivo. There is no better place to go to experience a city’s livelihood and culture in Italy, and this is especially true in a smaller city like Siena.
3. Tour the Palazzo Pubblico and Ascend the Torre del Mangia
Located on one side of the Piazza del Campo is the Palazzo Pubblico, which was the city’s main governmental palace. This 13th century building was constructed for the Siena governmental leaders, and is a very fascinating architectural work. There are tours available of the Palazzo, and you are bound to love the ornate designs and artwork found on the inside. While on your tour, you should be sure to go up to the top of the Torre del Mangia, which is the tall tower that appears in many pictures of Siena. From there you will have sweeping, stunning views of the Tuscan countryside and the city.
4. Admire the Biblioteca Piccolimini
Visiting the Bibioteca Piccolomini is very easy if you are already visiting the cathedral, as the Biblioteca Piccolomini is actually located inside of the cathedral! Off to the side in the church is the entrance to the small little library where you can find some of the best frescoes in all of Italy. Yes, I said that. The paintings in this small wing in the cathedral of this small Italian city are known as some of the best frescoes in all of Italy. If you’re visiting the cathedral, stopping into the Biblioteca Piccolomini is a must.
5. Enter the Church of San Domenico
While the cathedral of Siena is stunning from the outside, the Church of San Domenico is not. The Church of San Domenico is pretty average looking on the outside, to be honest. However, the inside is absolutely stunning. I love visiting different churches everywhere that I go, because I really love to see how much designs can really differ. The interior of this church is magnificent with marble statues, gorgeous frescoes, and ornate golden decorations. This church is definitely worth visiting!
How to Get to Siena
Siena is a large city, but it is not quite large enough to have its own international airport. If you want to fly to Siena, you will need to fly into either Florence or Pisa.
Pisa is your better bet if you are looking to save money, as it is a busier airport with more flight routes. Your chances of finding a quick and affordable flight into Pisa are higher than they are into Florence. Pisa International Airport (PSA) is located about 100km or 60 miles north of Siena, and you can reach Siena easily from the Pisa airport by train.
Florence is your second-best bet, and I definitely advise checking flight options into both cities before booking anything. Florence is marginally closer to Siena than Pisa, and its airport is one of the busiest airports in Italy. Florence Airport (FLR) is located about 80km or 50 miles away from Siena, and like Pisa it connects right to Siena by train. I mentioned in my guide to finding cheap flights that utilizing hub airports is often the best way to find great flight routes and airfare. Neither of these airports are hubs, unfortunately, but Pisa is bigger and probably will offer you more options.
Italy has one of the best connected train systems of any country I have ever visited. If you have the time, getting around Italy by train is always a great choice. You get to see great views of the countryside while riding in very high quality train cars. You can take trains right from either of the airports that I mentioned above right into Siena. I wrote an entire about the Italian train system.
If you are already in Italy and are not going to be flying, trains are still probably a great option for you. Trenitalia (the national train line) has a fantastic website and it is fully functional in both Italian and English. You can simply plug in your origin city, set Siena as your destination, pick a date, and see the options that are available.
Prices vary based on the amount of stops that the train makes. Local trains (regionale) are the cheapest but take the longest. InterCity is the middle option, which costs more than the regionale but arrives much faster. On the high end is the Freccia (arrow) series of trains, which run very direct routes and arrive in a fraction of the time that a regionale takes, but for significantly more money. You can get to Siena from most major Italian cities with no more than one train switch.
How to Get Around Siena
BY FOOT | BUS
Siena is much smaller than most of the Italian cities you dream of visiting, which in many ways is an advantage. Siena can be explored mostly on foot. In fact, having a car in Siena would be pretty much useless and quite literally impossible as no unauthorized vehicles are allowed within the city walls. In fact, our tour guide said that she only recently bought her first car as she moved outside of the city walls. Prior to that she was raised inside the city walls where personal vehicles are not allowed. Getting between all of the cool and interesting parts of Siena is absolutely doable on foot, and you can simply take a taxi if you ever feel like a walk is going to be too far. There is no public transportation other than buses, and the only reason you’d really need to take a bus is to get from the train station to the center of the city, which is about 2km or 1.25 miles.
How Many Days Do You Need in Siena?
I think Siena is a perfect weekend trip, but you can absolutely do the brunt of it in a day if necessary. The necessary things to see can be seen over the course of one day, making Siena a fantastic day trip from Florence, Pisa, or Rome. However, we only recommend this out of necessity. Angel went for a 6 hour day trip with her family and they were all very upset that they didn’t have more time in the adorable city.
We love to experience the culture of smaller Italian cities, and think that is best done in the early mornings over espresso and the late nights over a drink. If you want to really experience the city in that way, I advise going for at least a weekend. A week in Siena is a great way to relax, but would get boring if you are looking for adventure or excitement.
When Is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Siena?
The best time to visit Siena is in the spring, from April to early June. The weather is pretty chilly before April, and the crowds really pile in over the summer. For a nice experience with diminished crowds and warm weather, come during the sweet spot in the spring. If you want the nicest weather and don’t mind dealing with longer lines and larger crowds, the summer is also a great time to visit!
Is Siena Worth Visiting?
After reading this post, I hope the answer to the question “is Siena worth visiting?” is clear to you! Siena is a stunning Tuscan city with a great laid-back culture. The art in Siena is especially rich for such a small city, and the cathedral is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in all of Italy. These reasons are what earned it a spot on my list of the best hidden gems in Italy.
Siena may not be Rome or Venice, but it is definitely on the radar of a lot of tourists and ought to be on yours, too. I always think that the smaller cities are a better window into Italian culture, and that is absolutely the case in Siena!
That’s all we have for you about Siena! I hope this post accomplished its goal of answering the question “Is Siena worth visiting?” If you have any more questions, be sure to drop a comment in the comment section or shoot us an email at [email protected]
If you’re planning a trip to Siena, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have. Otherwise, have a wonderful day and stay present!