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Have a free day in Tuscany? These 4 day trips from Florence are only two hours away

Apr 14, 2023 by Emily Houston

Siena, Lucca, San Gimignano, and Pisa all clock in at under two hours away from Florence, and we visit each locale on our Florence tours. Whether you want to admire the Florence countryside during a wine tasting or bike along tree-lined ramparts, these cities offer the perfect daylong escape for every type of traveler. With the Renaissance City as your home base, set out to take any (or all!) of these day trips from Florence.

1. Siena

Around one hour from Florence

In the Renaissance era, Siena and Florence were fierce rivals. Today, the two cities complement one another, with Siena being one of the best day trips from Florence. We have an entire guide on how to spend free time in Siena, but here are a few more recommendations to add to the list.

What to do on a day trip from Florence to Siena:

  • Step inside the black-and-white marble duomo. The city’s 13th-century cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece, boasts a 56-panel marble mosaic floor. Completed over a span of almost 200 years, it’s only displayed in its entirety between August and October each year. Plan your day trips from Florence to Siena accordingly to see it in its full glory.
  • Look up at 16th-century frescoes in the Piccolomini Library. This library, which was built for Pope Pius II, is conveniently located inside the Siena Duomo. Here, you can marvel at Pinturicchio’s brilliantly colored frescoes. The images painted on the wall are flanked by columns, creating 10 scenes that visually speak to pivotal moments in the pope’s life.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth by trying ricciarelli. This chewy, almond-flavored cookie was created in Siena, so there’s no better place to eat one. Think of it like a flattened macaroon with tiny, powder-dusted fault lines spidering across the top. Pop into any pasticceria, or bakery, to dig in during day trips from Florence, Italy.
  • Walk through the Campo. This sprawling square is the center of civic life in Siena. Pop into one of the trattorias lining it for a wild boar meat sandwich, a specialty of the region. Then, enjoy it while sitting in the piazza like a true Italian.

How to visit Siena: Many of our Florence tours include a trip to Siena. You could also add the Siena & San Gimignano: Tuscan Hilltowns excursion offered on some of our Florence tours.

Explore Siena

2. Lucca

Around one hour from Florence

With its Renaissance-era walls, medieval churches, and awe-inspiring towers, Lucca is one of the most underrated cities near Florence. Come here on day trips from Florence, Italy for active adventures and a whole lot of history.

What to do on a Florence-to-Lucca day trip:

  • Bike along Lucca’s tree-lined ramparts. Do you want to know what makes Lucca one of the best day trips from Florence? You can join a local guide on a bike ride along a section of the almost-500-year-old walls. The path is flat, paved, and carless. Prefer to walk? You can do that, too! Whether you’re on two feet or two wheels, you’ll take in impressive views of Guinigi Tower, as well as the red-tiled rooftops and cypress trees below.
  • Descend into the town center. If you’re looking for Florence day trips to places where you won’t run out of things to do, look no further than Lucca. Here, the city’s icons are just waiting to welcome you. There’s Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, the central plaza, offering easy access to nearby sites like the Basilica of San Frediano and imposing Guinigi Tower. Head further into town to get a peek at the Lucca and San Martino Cathedrals.
  • Walk around the exterior of San Michele in Foro. Day trips from Florence to Lucca aren’t complete until you visit this 11th-century basilica. Its intricately inlaid facade is what travelers come here to see—complete with sculptures, arcades, and loggias, the exterior is chock full of tiny details all harkening back to the roots of Romanesque architecture.
  • Eat lunch at an agriturismo in nearby Colle Verde. Head just outside of Lucca on our Medieval Lucca & Farmhouse Lunch excursion to learn how olive oil is extracted and refined. Then, enjoy a tasting of wine and olive oil produced on the farm before sitting down for lunch to savor more locally made products.

How to visit Lucca: A handful of our Florence trips include tours of Lucca. You can also opt to add the Medieval Lucca & Farmhouse Lunch excursion on our Food & Wine: Flavors of Tuscany & Umbria tour.

See Lucca on tour

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3. San Gimignano

Around one hour from Florence

San Gimignano (pronounced San Jim-in-yan-o) made our list of charming towns and villages in Tuscany to visit on tour, and we’ll let you in on why. This City of Beautiful Towers is as quaint as it is cultural. Plus, you simply cannot beat the views of vineyard-dappled hillsides that shift from shades of emerald to olive under the blaze of the Tuscan sun.

What to do on a Florence-to-San Gimignano day trip:

  • Set your sights on the city’s towers. During the Renaissance, the rival Guelph and Ghibelline political factions flexed their financial muscle by constructing tall towers throughout San Gimignano. Fourteen of those towers survive today, some of which you can see as you walk through the town.
  • Enjoy a breathtaking view of rolling green hillsides. Right up the hill from the car park, on the edge of Piazzale Martiri Montemaggio and next to Trattoria Rigoletto, sits the city’s most scenic viewpoint. Stop here before walking through Porta San Giovanni, the stone gate marking the entry into town, for better-than-you-could-ever-imagine views of the Tuscan countryside. It’s the perfect way to kick off Florence day trips to San Gimignano.
  • Fill your spoon with some saffron risotto. Of all the Italian dishes that are worth the flight, here’s why this one made the list. “This dish is super creamy and comforting—I tried it in San Gimignano, where saffron is a specialty, and it was by far my favorite dish in Italy,” said staffer Paula after dining at Ristorante Dulcisinfundo.
  • Pour a glass of Brunello di Montalcino. Try this all-star wine on our Siena & San Gimignano: Tuscan Hilltowns excursion, one of the can’t-miss Florence excursions on our Grand Tour of Italy. You’ll sit down at Tenuta Torciano, one of the top wineries in Italy, which is located just outside of San Gimignano. They’ll pour you a hefty glass of their buttery smooth Brunello di Montalcino. They don’t sell their wines to stores or restaurants, so this is your one chance to try it!

How to visit San Gimignano: Some of our Florence trips include tours of San Gimignano. You can also opt to add the San Gimignano: Medieval Sights & Tuscan Flavors or the Siena & San Gimignano: Tuscan Hilltowns excursions offered on most of our Florence tours.

Discover San Gimignano

4. Pisa

Around an hour-and-a-half from Florence

Day trips from Florence to Pisa often pique travelers’ interests for one main reason—to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This monument is the icon to lay your eyes on while in the city, but you’ll find there are some tucked-away treats just waiting to be discovered, too.

What to do on a day trip to Pisa from Florence:

  • Visit Piazza dei Miracoli to see the famed Leaning Tower. Go on and snap that iconic picture. According to our architecture-lover’s guide to Italy, builders hadn’t even begun to build the fourth story of Pisa’s infamous bell tower when the monument started to tilt in the 12th century. As it turned out, soft ground composed of clay, sand, and shells made for a less-than-ideal foundation, but the flaw inadvertently made the tower one of the most famous in the world. Despite its precarious angle, you can still climb the icon’s almost 300 spiral steps.
  • Look up at the Baptistery of St. John. Connected to the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the Baptistery of St. John. Come here on Florence day trips to admire the Pisan Romanesque marble facade of this UNESCO-listed 11th-century cathedral. Then, step inside and gaze up at Nicola Pisano’s Gothic pulpit.
  • Try chocolate from De Bondt Cioccolato. Traveler Doreen loves exploring the world through chocolate and this spot in Pisa is one of her favorites. When you come here on a day trip from Florence, be sure to pair your chocolate with tea. (Yes, tea!) “Several chocolatiers I’ve met, such as Paul de Bondt (of De Bondt Cioccolato) in Pisa, love tea paired with chocolate,” said Doreen. “I love pairing Rooibos tea with fruity chocolate because it complements the fruit notes of the tea so well.”

How to visit Pisa: Our Journey through Italy: Milan to the Amalfi Coast tour includes a visit to Pisa. Or, you can choose to add the Leaning Tower of Pisa excursion offered on some of our Florence tours.

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About the author | Emily Houston
Emily loves the simple travel moments—like watching hours pass by in minutes while sharing a meal and a laugh (or many) with her friends and family. Outside the office, you'll find Emily listening to anything and everything John Mayer, attempting to cook a New York Times recipe, or dreaming up her next trip.

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