BEST THINGS TO DO IN SIENA IN ONE DAY, ITALY

WHAT TO DO IN SIENA IN 1 DAY

If you visit Tuscany, there are some must-see places like Florence and Pisa. Siena is another famous and popular city. And if you have been wondering about the best things to do in Siena in one day, then this post is for you. 

Siena is a perfectly preserved medieval town that should be on any Tuscany itinerary with a historic center declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As lovely as Siena is, most of us only have a limited amount of time to spend in Tuscany, and one day in Siena is good enough to see the main attractions and stroll the city. You will still have enough time to sit down and enjoy La Dolce Vita. 

view of the historic city of Siena, Italy _
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR ONE DAY IN SIENA

The old town of Siena is the place where we will spend most of our time. So, whether you do a day trip to Siena or stay overnight, these tips should help you planning your Siena trip.

  • Because of its location, Siena is easily reachable from other places in Tuscany by car, train, or bus. 
  • Like most of the town centers in the region, Siena is traffic-free. You cannot drive into the town, but you can park your car just outside the city center, walk or get there by bus/train, and walk from the train station to the old town or take a bus.
  • I stayed at a charming, small hotel with amazing views close to the old town. The design is unique, located just outside the city walls. But I could not have asked for more value for my money (and dogs were allowed, so it was the perfect choice for my puppy and me). Find out more about Hotel Santa Caterina in Siena here. I could walk to the old town from my hotel within a few minutes.

FUN THINGS TO DO IN SIENA, TUSCANY

Let´s talk about the best Siena activities.

Piazza del Campo

Start your day in Siena at the Piazza del Campo. It is the heart of the city, and a unique, shell-shaped piazza with many interesting buildings and restaurants, and shops.

As mentioned in previous posts, I often judge cities and towns based on their market squares – so Siena is a lovely town.

Piazza del Campo a must-see in 1 day in Siena
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On July 2 and August 16, a famous horse race – Palio di Siena – takes place twice a year. But most of the time, it is a nice and lively square where you can do a lot of “normal sightseeing.“

The Fonte Gaia, the largest fountain in the city, was originally decorated with Jacopo Della Quercia’s sculptures

Here you’ll find some of the most interesting buildings in Siena – including the Palazzo Comunale (or Palazzo Pubblico) and the Torre del Mangia.

The Palazzo Comunale is a palace and the town hall, but it also houses the Civic Museum that is a popular place to see.

Torre del Mangia

If you are about views – or some more physical exercise – then it is time to climb the Torre del Mangia. It stands at 87 meters and apparently offers some of the best views of Tuscany. With one day in Siena, you surely have enough time to do get up and see it for yourself.

Siena tower, looking up
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Unfortunately, the tower was closed during my visit. Otherwise, I would have loved to climb more than 400 steps – even though they are narrow and climbing towers in Italy can be tiring.  The 360-degree views are surely worth it. Now, the tower is open again, so make sure to plan in some time for the 400 stairs.

  • Entrance tickets are around 10,00€

Civic Museum

Tip: If you want to visit the Civic Museum and the Torre del Mangia, you can buy a combined ticket for around 13€ (available only at the ticket office of the Tower). Depending on the time, you can then have an espresso or drink at the piazza before continuing your journey to the next main place in Siena.

Piazza del Duomo

Now it is time to head to the next piazza: Piazza del Duomo.

View of Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) and Piazza del Duomo in Siena. Siena, UNESCO a World Heritage Site
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You’ll have several attractions here. The Cathedral, the Crypt, and the Piccolomini Library – so you will probably spend a few hours here, too. 

  • Buy the fast pass entrance ticket for the Siena Duomo, Baptistery, Crypt, Libreria Piccolomini, Museo dell’Opera, and Facciatone. 
  • The new guided tour, “Gate/Door of Heaven,“ is not included in this pass.

Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta

Let’s start with the Cathedral. I am not sure, but the cathedral looks pinkish to me. But since I have not seen this pinkish color highlighted in other blog posts, it might not be the case.

Piazza del Duomo Siena Cathedral, Tuscany, Italy
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Tuscany, Siena cathedral
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Either way, the Cathedral is stunning. It is a beautiful example of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture and one of the main tourist spots.

The current Cathedral was built atop an ancient church around the 9th century and was consecrated in 1179. While it looks pretty from the outside, it also looks great from the inside.

Interior in Siena Duomo, martinho Smart, Shutterstock.com
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Martinho Smart, Shutterstock

The interior is decorated with white and dark green marble, which reminded me a lot of the Cathedral in Genoa – one of my favorite places in Italy, by the way.

Inside, you can also see works of art by Michelangelo, Bernini, and Donatello, making it more like a museum. 

I have not done a tour, but apparently, there is a new guided tour that you can take called “The Door/Gate of Heaven” that allows you to see the Cathedral from the top, enjoying the great view, which makes it one of the best things to do in Siena in 1 day.

Facciatone

With the Fast Pass ticket, you can then head to the Panorama dal Facciatone and climb the spiral staircase for great views of the Duomo.

Siena,view of the Del Mangia tower from the Cathedral's Facciatone belvedere
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The time at the top is limited, so enjoy the views and take pictures before heading back down.

Piccolini Library

The next stop is the Piccolomini Library, which was built in the early 16th century and dedicated to Pope Pius II. The library is inside the Duomo and is mostly known for Pinturicchio frescoes.

Crypt

The Crypt is located underneath the Cathedral and worth a visit.

Interior of crypt of Basilica of San Domenico or Basilica Cateriniana in Siena. John_Silver, Shutterstock.com
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John Silver, Shutterstock

The Crypt is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in recent years – it was just discovered in 1999.  You’ll find many 13th-century frescoes that are worth visiting all on their own.

Then, it is time for the next stop.

Baptistery

The Baptistery of San Giovanni is dedicated to San Giovanni (St. John) and was built in the early 14th century when it was decided to enlarge the Duomo. Still, the facade has never really been finished.

Baptistery of Saint John ceiling interior in Siena Cathedral complex.Hani Santosa, Shutterstock.com
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Hani Santosa, Shutterstock

Inside, you will find many beautiful frescoes, and it is included in the Fast Pass ticket for the Cathedral – so don’t miss out on that one. Though it is connected to the Cathedral, you enter through a different entrance.

Opera del Duomo Museum

The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is one of the oldest private art museums in Italy, and you’ll find it on the south side of the Cathedral.

Stained Glass in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Vjacheslav Shishlov, Shutterstock.com
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Vjacheslav Shishlov, Shutterstock

You can find many of the original works from the Duomo here, from Giovanni Pisano, Duccio da Buoninsegna, and Donatello.

Santa Maria Della Scala

If you have time and energy left (visiting all these places can be exhausting), visit Santa Maria Della Scala’s complex. 

It is one of Europe´s first hospitals and one of the world’s oldest still-surviving hospitals, where pilgrims, as well as the poor and abandoned children, were welcomed. Now, it is a museum that is open to visitors.

Wander the Streets

One of my favorite activities in towns and cities is: to get lost.

Streets of Siena in 24 hours
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Shops in Siena
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Stroll the pretty streets of Siena and enjoy the (almost completely) car-free town center with its many side streets and numerous little shops and cafes. 

I am not into drinking wine, but if you are, pick one of the restaurants on the side streets, order a glass, and enjoy La Dolce Vita. Or as I would do, order a lot of gelatos and end your day this way.

Are you in Italy for two weeks? Then check out my Italy itinerary.

FINAL WORDS ON VISITING SIENA IN 1 DAY

Siena is a beautiful and charming city – it is probably one of the best medieval cities in Italy.

1 day in Siena will allow you to see the main sights. The city is one of the biggest in Tuscany, and you could probably spend much more time here. But after I had spent a bit more than one day in the town, I was ready to explore other areas in Tuscany. 

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Top things to do in Siena, Italy, Arzo Travels
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