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Siena

  • Siena, Tuscany, Italy

Last updated: 09 July, 2024
Expert travel writer: Nicky Swallow

According to many of its citizens, Siena is the most perfect medieval city in the world. A glorious ensemble of red brick buildings and exquisite monuments, it’s famous for its fan-shaped Campo and the twice-yearly Il Palio horse race.

Any visit to the city should begin in the sloping Piazza del Campo, the city’s main square, fringed with cafes that are perfect for a doppio espresso and a spot of people-watching. The square is dominated by the Mangia Tower and the Palazzo Pubblico – and climbing the tower is a great way to start your visit, giving wraparound views of the city and surrounding countryside.

Art lovers should dip into the Civic Museum (Museo Civico) for its dazzling array of paintings by Lorenzetti, Simone Martini and other Sienese masters. There’s another fabulous collection in the National Art Gallery (Pinacoteca).

The ex-hospital of Santa Maria della Scala is another must-see for its brilliant archaeological museum and frescoed Pilgrim’s Hall. The Gothic, zebra-striped Duomo houses a celebrated polychrome floor; usually covered for protection, it’s normally visible in August and September.

Siena is famous for its sweet delicacies; almondy ricciarelli biscuits, aniseed-flavoured cavallucci and the solid, dried fruit-based panforte. One of the best places to sample them is the Antica Drogheria Manganelli in Via di Citta 71-73.

Tours, tickets & transfers

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

  • Florence

There’s more to Tuscany than Florence. Leave the city behind and discover three other enchanting Tuscan destinations on this day trip to Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa. Take a guided tour of beautiful Siena, famous for its bareback horse race and the Gothic Siena Cathedral, and taste typical Tuscan food and wine during a 3-course lunch in a local winery or restaurant surrounded by picture-postcard Tuscan landscapes, where vineyards, rolling hills and olive groves will be your travel companions. Then, enjoy free time to explore San Gimignano, a picturesque medieval village, and Pisa, home to the UNESCO-listed Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Price €65

Min age 0

Rating 4.36 / 5 [3144 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Florence

Discover the timeless allure of Tuscany on an immersive full-day journey! Step into the enchanting past of San Gimignano, often dubbed the "Manhattan of the Middle Ages" for its towering skyline. Traverse its cobblestone streets, steeped in history, and soak in the panoramic views of this captivating Tuscan hill village. Next, delve into the cultural richness of Siena as your expert guide unveils its treasures during a comprehensive tour of the spellbinding old town. Immerse yourself in the traditions and heritage that make Siena an icon of Italy. Explore the quaint Monteriggioni Hamlet (*). Then, prepare your senses for a typical Tuscan lunch, while savoring exquisite wines, each sip telling a tale of the region’s rich viticulture, a perfect finale to your day in Tuscany's heart. Please note that the order of the visits may change (*) November to March, the Tour does not include the stop at Monteriggioni and the return to Florence is approx 30 minutes earlier     

Price €67

Min age 0

Rating 4.19 / 5 [2449 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Florence

A full day tour, taking in the key beauties of Central Tuscany including a delicious Chianti wine tasting. You'll roll through the sweeping countryside to arrive at the jewel of Siena, with its unique Square and Gothic Town Hall. Then you'll take the road for San Gimignano, the Medieval New York, and Monteriggioni - a hilltop castle with breath taking views. But it's still not over! End your visit with a Chianti winery where you savor the best of Italian wines. This is a perfect day-out to relax and replenish your spirits.

Price €55

Min age 0

Rating 4.37 / 5 [1056 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Florence

Enjoy the high quality of this small-group tour - the perfect experience in order to discover art, history, landscapes, food and wine in a comfortable and relaxed way with more personalized attention of a small group. Depart from Florence, see the highlights of Siena through the eyes of a licensed guide, admire the marvelous Tuscan landscape, taste genuine Tuscan food paired with great wines, and finish your day relaxing in the hill top village of San Gimignano.

Price €149

Min age 4

Rating 4.91 / 5 [1011 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Travel advice

When to go

Unless you specifically want to see the Palio, avoid visiting around the two annual race dates, July 2nd and August 16th, when the worst of the crowds jostling along the streets close to Piazza del Campo.

May to September is always extremely crowded. Winter is a wonderful time to visit, but if that’s not possible try and make an early morning start.

Getting there and away

Siena lies around 70km south of Florence, down the toll-free superstrada. Parking is forbidden in the city centre but there are large car parks around the edge. There are good bus and train links; the train station is 1.5km from the city centre, but there is a frequent bus service. The bus station is closer in Piazza San Domenico.

Wandering on foot is the best way to discover the secrets of the Palio; keep your eyes open for the little ceramic plaques with symbols of the 17 contrade (districts) on street corners and buildings.

The main tourist office is in Piazza del Campo; they have details of tours in and around the city plus maps and information brochures.

Getting around

The old town is relatively compact and the best way to explore is simply by strolling through the ancient streets and alleyways.