Florence's location in the region of Tuscany makes it a great base for day trips. Tuscany offers visitors beautiful scenery, charming towns, and delicious food and wine. For many day trips, a car or tour is beneficial, but for some of the more popular towns it's easy to get around by public transit. Below is a list of some of Florence's most popular day trips.
Pisa is a popular day trips from Florence. It's famous, of course, for the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but the city itself has a lot to offer. The tower is a white marble bell tower that was supposed to climb 185 feet high but started to lean during construction. Other popular sites in Piazza dei Miracoli are the cathedral and the baptistery.
It's easy to take the train from Florence to Pisa. Regional trains leave about every hour or half hour, takes around an hour, and cost about €10 one way. The Pisa centrale train station is near the city center and it's about a 1.5 kilometer walk to the Leaning Tower, or public buses are available.
Siena is one of the most popular day trip destinations from Florence. It's a beautiful city and the town center has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many historic sights worth visiting including the cathedral, the Palazzo Civico, and Torre del Mangia. Siena is also famous for its Palio. This is an annual two day horse race that attracts visitors from around the world.
The best way to reach Siena is by bus as there is no train station. The bus takes a little over an hour and can be caught at the SITA bus station on Via della Scala near the Santa Maria train station in Florence. It will drop you off in the middle of Siena near Piazza S. Domenico. The main square, Piazza del Campo, will be about a five minute walk.
For a slightly smaller and less visited day trip, head to Lucca. It's a charming town with fascinating sights including Piazza dell'Anfiteatro. This square is actually an oval and surrounded by houses that are built into the walls of the Roman amphitheatre. Also makes sure you visit the Duomo of San Martino and Palazzo Guinigi. You can also walk along the old walls of the city. The views are best around sunset.
Both trains and buses travel between Florence and Lucca. The train is more direct with better views and leaves about every half hour from Florence. It costs about €8 one way and takes an hour and twenty minutes or an hour and 45 minutes depending on the train. The Lucca Train Station is just a couple of blocks outside of the city's walls. The closest door is Porta San Pietro.
This area, including Siena, Florence, and the towns and countryside in between, is famous for its beautiful landscapes, excellent food, and world class wines. Many visitors spend a full day exploring the area, dining on the food, and sampling the wine. It's a foodie and photographers dream, and not to be missed if you love the Tuscan countryside.
For the best experience, you really need a car to visit this area. If a private vehicle isn't an option, there are buses that travel to many of the small towns. If you're going to book a tour, then this is the place to do it. Let someone else drive so you can fully enjoy the experience.
San Gimignano is a charming village between Florence and Siena. It has 14 medieval towers and many cobblestoned streets that you can wander around. The ride between Florence and San Gimignano is also beautiful with vineyards, olive groves, and farms along the way.
There's no train station near the city center so it's best to take the bus or drive. Buses operated by BusItalia Nord Company leave about once an hour from the Santa Maria Novella bus stop, right beside the train station. There are no direct buses, so you'll have to change buses in Poggibonsi, about an hour away. It's usually about a 15 minute wait time for the second bus, which will take you to Piazzale dei Martiri. You can enter the ancient town through the Porta San Giovanni.
This is another charming town that's found between Florence, Pisa, and Siena. It has Etruscan roots but also a Roman Theatre. This town was made famous by the Twilight series. If you have a private vehicle, you can combine this town with a day trip to San Gimignano, or there are tours available.
This is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Italy and was even mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy. It's accessible by bus or car, but there is no train station.
Val dOrcia is a beautiful part of Tuscany that is protected as a natural park. Within the area you'll find villages, castles, and farms. The most well known town, Pienza, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a beautiful place to visit. You really need a car to explore the area, which is about two hours outside of Florence.
Arezzo is a wealthy Italian city with a beautiful Duomo. You should also visit the Church of San Francesco and the town's antique fair, which takes place the first weekend of the month.
It's anywhere from a 45 minute train ride to 1.5 hrs from Florence depending on the train you choose. Trains leave every half hour to hour. and tickets cost about €9 one way. Make sure you get a ticket to Arezzo (not Arezzo Casello 1 or Arezzo Pescaiola, which are both outside the city center).
This town is a little less chaotic than some of the more popular destinations. It's an Etruscan walled town with many narrow streets, nice palaces, and churches. Giardini Parterre is also a a beautiful park worth visiting.
You can take a train from Florence to the Camucia-Cortona station, about 3 kilometers outside of town. It's a long walk up hill so a bus is recommended. Buses leave every half hour. The direct train takes about 90 minutes and costs about €11. Don't take the Terontola-Cortona train, as it takes longer and requires a transfer.
This is an area with great views and delicious food. You really need a car to experience Mugello to its fullest, but there are buses to several towns like Borgo San Lorenzo or Scarperia. Many visitors like to take bike tours as well.
This area is known for its Tuscan cuisine, beautiful landscapes, and long hikes. Visit the Poppi Castle and leisurely dine at a local cafe. There's a bus that makes the scenic drive, but a car offers more flexibility and lets you explore at your own pace.
This city on the sea offers a bit of everything. It's a resort town with a rich history on the Tyrrhenian Sea. If you're looking to relax and chill for a bit, then this is the place, but if you're still craving culture and history, make sure you check out Fortezza Vecchia (the old fortress near the port), Quartiere La Venezia (a quaint neighborhood with bridges and canals), and Terrazza Mascagni (considered the most beautiful terrace in Tuscany).