BEST DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE – BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO VISIT NEAR FLORENCE
- 1 BEST DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE – BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO VISIT NEAR FLORENCE
- 2 Where to Stay in Florence
- 3 How to Get Around
- 4 Day Trip to Pisa
- 5 Day Trip to Lucca
- 6 Day Trips to Pistoia and Pescia
- 7 Day Trip to Porto Venere
- 8 Day Trip to Siena
- 9 Day Trip to San Gimignano
- 10 Day Trip to Arezzo
- 11 Day Trip to Rome
- 12 FINAL THOUGHTS ON FLORENCE DAY TRIPS
Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, so it’s no wonder so many people flock here each year. Florence has something for everyone – whether you are on a budget or splurging, whether you are an art enthusiast or a novice, whether you are a fan of the outdoors or prefer to stay in, you won’t be disappointed by Florence.
There is so much to see and do, it would be easy to spend your entire trip in this city. However, you would then miss out on some of the amazing nearby towns of Florence and cities of Tuscany that are worth a visit. Taking day trips from Florence is a great way to spend your trip, as you are close to some of Italy’s most famous places – like Rome, Cinque Terre, and Porto Venere.
This post will let you know the best day tours from Florence. You won’t be disappointed with these fun, colorful, and historical villages and cities once you see them!
Pssss, also make sure to check out my Florence itinerary.
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Where to Stay in Florence
If you make Florence your base, find the best accommodation for your trip!
Luxury Hotels in Florence:
For the ultimate luxury hotel, check out rates at Florence´s Four Season. This hotel chain knows how to impress and it seems, that it does a great job in Florence, too. Click here to get more information on the rates.
Mid-Range Hotels in Florence:
This mid-range hotel is located close to the Boboli Gardens and the Piazzale Michelangelo. It offers free parking. Check out the rates for the Park Palace in Florence.
Budget Hotels in Florence:
The Plus Florence is a hostel that is located near some of the main attractions and you can book dorms or private rooms. Find out more about the hotel by clicking here.
If you prefer staying at an Airbnb, first-time users can save money with using my link.
So, enough talking, let us talk about the best day trips.
How to Get Around
Italy has a pretty good public transportation system – especially in the Tuscany region, I have only had positive experiences with using the trains in Italy.
Especially for the Florence day trip, I recommend using trains. The prices are very reasonable, reliable and clean.
Driving in Tuscany is not too bad, streets are mostly in a good condition and I have seen worse streets and drivers in Italy. However, parking will be a challenge – many town centres are car-free and you might have to park quite far away. Also, prices for parking will add up and petrol is very expensive in Italy.
So, you will probably save money using public transportation – and there will be less headache if you do not drive yourself.
Day Trip to Pisa
How could it be any different? Pisa is famous for its Leaning Tower, and you can’t visit Tuscany and skip the tower and it is probably the most famous day tour from Florence.
You can get to Pisa from Florence by either train or car, but I don’t recommend going by car. Train tickets are quite cheap and the trains run frequently. By train, you’ll be in Pisa within the hour.
Once you arrive, your first stop should be the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is located in the Piazza del Duomo, and you can actually climb to the top (there are 400 steps) for 18 euros. It’s best to visit here between April and the end of September, even October. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance, and get skip-the-line tickets.
There’s more to do though. Visit Cattedrale di Pisa, which is a very impressive church in front of the tower, with marble striping, Romanesque, bronzed doors, and carved pulpits. See Camposanto Monumentale – a cemetery located in the Piazza del Duomo, which you will also need tickets for.
The Pisa Baptistery is another great place to stop, with panels by the renowned sculptor Pisano. Also, see Santa Maria della Spina, a little church with a unique exterior on the Arno River. Stroll the banks of the Arno, visit the night square, and see the Italian art in the Palazzo Blu museum, located by the river.
Find out about guided tours from Florence to Pisa – here is the best-rated day tour to Pisa.
If you prefer a shorter trip to Pisa, check out this tour.
Day Trip to Lucca
Lucca is a popular town that is easy to get to from Florence. Despite being situated between Florence and Pisa, it is not overly crowded with tourists.
There are quite a few attractions for you to enjoy on your day trip to Lucca. First, you should see the huge Renaissance walls and walk atop them. They offer some amazing views. Then, head to the historic city center.
Here you’ll find the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro and its cafes and restaurants if you’d like to stop for a bite. After that, check out the Duomo di San Martino for 3 euros – you can climb the tower for another 3 euros if you like. The views are very nice.
If you’re in the mood for climbing, you can also go to the top of Guinigi Tower, where you will see centuries-old trees once you climb the steps – the cost is 4 euros. You can also visit the Basilica of San Frediano, and St. Martin Cathedral, which has a unique and interesting exterior.
Take your time because, despite the number of attractions in Lucca, they are not that far apart and walkable, so you have time to linger.
For more information of a guided tour – combining Lucca and Pisa – check out the rates for this tour.
Day Trips to Pistoia and Pescia
Pistoia and Pescia are two wonderful towns that you can combine for one day trip. They are easy to get to from Florence and slightly off the beaten path. Both towns are underrated in my opinion, especially pretty Pistoia, which has an authentic medieval feel to it.
Pistoia is bisected by a river, so some of its attractions are on one side, like the Piazza Mazzini and City Hall, and some are on the other, like the Cathedral of San Zeno. You will see lots of gorgeous architecture here with none of the crowds of more popular cities.
Make sure you see the Spedale del Ceppo, the Piazza del Sala, the Basilica of our Lady of Humility, and the church of Sant’Andrea. Then, stop for lunch and make your way to Pescia nearby.
The second half of your day will be in Pescia, which is another little town that is long on lovely buildings, but short on crowds. You can visit the Gipsoteca Libero Andreotti museum and the Pescia Cathedral. Spend the rest of the day strolling through town, walking along the banks of the river, and enjoying a relaxing Tuscan evening.
Day Trip to Porto Venere
If you are staying in Florence, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Porto Venere. Close to La Spezia, this beautiful town can be reached by taking a train or boat from La Spezia. You’ll be there from Florence in about 2-3,5 hours (depending if you drive or take a train) It is quite a long way – I am aware of that. But since train travel in Italy is pleasant and Porto Venere is STUNNING, it is still worth it.
Small and pretty, Porto Venere is a little port town that is overshadowed by its popular neighbors – the villages of Cinque Terre. But it is definitely worth a day trip from Florence to see because it is really quite beautiful.
Because of its size, you can see all of the town’s sights in less than four hours. If you like, you can even take a guided tour. But if you prefer to wander at your own pace, here are some of the highlights that you should see while here.
Visit the medieval Church of Saint Peter and San Lorenzo Church. To get amazing views, go up to the clifftop Castello Doria, a fortress that gives you an overview of the town. Or just stroll the streets and promenades, taking in the colorful houses and fun atmosphere.
If you like outdoor activities, make your way to the Porto Venere Regional Natural Park. This protected land has enough beach area, dive sites, and hiking trails to satisfy any lover of the outdoors.
Here are more travel tips for Porto Venere.
Day Trip to Siena
Here is an easier day trip from Florence: Siena.
Siena is a beautifully-maintained, medieval town and an homage to Gothic architecture. Its historical center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
You can reach this town that sits upon three hills by taking the train or bus from Florence. Once you arrive, head to the central piazza – the Piazza del Campo – where the town’s most important events take place. It is a fun and lively square, and if you happen to be visiting in the summer, specifically July 2 or August 16, Siena’s twice annual horse race will be going on.
Besides that though, there are a few other great sights to take in. Within the piazza is the Tower of Mangia, where you can climb 400 steps to the top. It was closed during my visit, but it supposedly provides some amazing views. Visit the Duomo die Siena – you’ll notice it by its pinkish exterior. This Gothic cathedral has some gorgeous mosaics.
Stop by the town hall building – the Pubblico Palace – which is another example of Gothic architecture in the piazza. After that, you can wander through the old town. There are adorable houses lining the streets, and it’s the perfect way to end your day in Siena.
Day Trip to San Gimignano
Traveling from Florence to San Gimignano only takes about an hour, but you will have to transfer at Poggibonsi if you are traveling by bus or train. If you arrive via car, then no worries, but keep in mind that these are narrow, mountain streets that can be challenging to drive (though if I can do it, you can do it, too and I did drive up there).
So, of course, San Gimignano is very popular, so it can be busy at times.
But regardless of how you get here, San Gimignano is a great day trip from Florence. It offers stunning views and some fascinating attractions. And everyone knows it. This walled, medieval town is a very popular tourist destination in Tuscany. It can get really busy, especially in the summer months.
While you’re here, stop at Porto San Giovanni to see a door that was created in the 13th century and is the pride of the town. If you are looking for a great view, try Torre Grossa. Climbing this 13th-century tower, which is 54 meters high, will give you an amazing look out over your surroundings. Entry is 5 euros. (I actually missed this because it was raining during my visit.)
The center of San Gimignano is the Piazza del Duomo. Here you will find the Palazzo del Podesta and the Palazzo del Popola, two beautiful cathedrals, as well as other amazing pieces of architecture.
Read my Tuscany itinerary – with the best places to visit in 5-10 days in Tuscany.
Day Trip to Arezzo
This town is something different – and unique – from the other medieval towns found in Tuscany. Because of this, it became one of my very favorites. I am talking about Arezzo.
Trains run frequently from Florence to Arezzo, making your day trip an easy one. So, hop on and you will be here within 30-60 minutes.
Like most of Tuscany, the town square is on a hill, though the rest of town is not. There are a variety of attractions to see, from the historic to the natural to the picturesque. I’m pretty sure that you will fall in love with this town.
Visit the Arezzo Cathedral and make sure you check out the beautiful, 15th-century fresco there. The Piazza Grande is also a good place to go and see the interesting buildings, and maybe stop for something to eat at one of the many cafes and restaurants. The Fraternity dei Laici, a museum located on the Piazza Grande, is another place you should see – not just for what’s inside, but because you can have access to the panoramic terrace and its views for only 3 euros.
Day Trip to Rome
How could you miss this city? Rome is just 90 minutes from Florence by train, so you have no excuse not to go. Train tickets are a little more expensive though.
For your day trip to Rome, I suggest starting early. This is going to be a full day with lots of amazing things to see and do. Normally, I’d suggest 2-3 days for Rome, but with just one, you’ll have to pick and choose what best works for you.
Let’s start with some of the most famous landmarks in Rome. While here, I would suggest seeing the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Roman Hills and Palatine Hills, the Spanish Steps, Castello del Angelo, and Monumento Nazionale a Vittoria Emanuele.
Within Rome is Vatican City, the smallest country in the world and home to the Pope (it’s very easy to cross borders). There are some breathtaking sights here that absolutely made my Rome trip, so don’t skip this part.
Some of the best things to see in Vatican City are St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Spiral Staircase, and Raphael‘s Rooms.
With only one day, you won’t be able to fit this all in, but maybe that will give you an incentive to come back to see the rest.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON FLORENCE DAY TRIPS
Tuscany is a beautiful region in Italy, and Florence is no exception. However, there are so many interesting and beautiful places nearby, that it would be a crime not to explore Italy further with a few days trips from Florence.
These towns and cities are well worth the (short) commute, and I just know you won’t be disappointed once you see them.