Julie Italy 13 Comments

Siena is easy to visit if you only have one day since it is a compact city with just a few big sites. With one day in Siena, visit the Duomo, get one of the best views in Italy from the Torre del Mangia, wander the historic old town, and dine at one of many fine restaurants.

Located just an hour and a half south of Florence, many people visit Siena on a day trip from Florence. However, if you spend one night here, you can enjoy Siena at sunset and wander the streets once the day-trippers leave. Here is how to have one perfect day in Siena.

An Overview of Siena

Siena is located in Tuscany, 75 km south of Florence. It is the largest of the hill towns that are scattered among the region here.

Siena is famous for its large square, called Il Campo, winding medieval alleyways, and the Palio, a historic horse race that takes place twice during the summer months.

During your visit to Siena, you will spend most of your time in and around Il Campo, the heart of Siena.

Recommend sites, restaurants, and hotels

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest, hotels, restaurants). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest. If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.


One Day in Siena

9 am: Breakfast in Siena

Siena is the town where my love affair with espresso and cappuccino began. Small coffee shops dot the city streets in abundance here.

You can take your pick from one of the many coffee shops in town, or start off at Nannini, a pastry and coffee shop located just a short walk from Il Campo.

If you are arriving in Siena by bus, it is just a 7-minute walk from the bus station at Piazza Gramsci along Via Banchi di Sopra.

10:00 am: Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena)

Italy is filled with gorgeous cathedrals and the Duomo is one of the best. This church is striped with white and black marble both inside and out, giving it a unique, almost surprising appearance. Tyler and Kara liked to call the Duomo the “zebra church.”

Like many churches in Europe, it took hundreds of years to build the cathedral. Work began in 1196 and over the next 200 years, additions were built and ornate facades were added to the cathedral. In 1339, another massive addition was planned, but the arrival of the Black Death in 1348 halted all further construction on the cathedral.

Take your time when you visit the cathedral. The exterior facades are intricately designed and adorned with large, colorful mosaics.

Siena Duomo One day in Siena

Siena Cathedral | One day in Siena


Inside Siena Duomo One day in Siena

Inside, you can see works of art by Michelangelo, Bernini, and Donatello. Visiting the Duomo is almost like visiting an Italian art museum. This place truly is amazing!

In addition to visiting the cathedral, there are several other worthwhile rooms and museums to visit. The Piccolomini Library (Biblioteca Piccolomini) is filled with vibrant frescoes dating back over 500 years.

At the Duomo Museum (Museo dell’Opera e Panorama), visit the museum, climb the steps to the top of the Panorama dal Facciatone for a great view of the Duomo, and spend some time in the Baptistery. The Baptistery, also called the Battistero di San Giovanni, contains the baptismal font and frescoes by Lorenzo di Pietro.

Recently added (new since our visit to Siena) is “The Door of Heaven (Porta del Cielo).” This is a guided tour of the Duomo, starting on the roof, for one of the best views of Siena. The Porta del Cielo All Inclusive Pass covers the Duomo, the museum, the Baptistery, and “The Door to Heaven.” During the busy summer months, book your tickets in advance because they do sell out.

Depending on your arrival time, you can line up early to enter the Duomo (which opens at 10:30 am) or go first to the Museum and Panorama, which opens earlier, at 10 am.

Hours: Duomo and Baptistery: 10:30 am to 7 pm, reduced hours November through February; Museum and Panorama: 10 am to 7 pm, reduced hours November through February

Cost: The Opa Si Pass covers your visit to the Duomo, the museum, and the Baptistery. Prices are €15 for adults and €2 for children 7 to 11 years old.

The Porta del Cielo All Inclusive Pass (includes that Opa Si Pass sites plus “The Door to Heaven”) costs €20 for adults and €5 for children 7 to 11 years old.

Website: Click here to get updated hours and pricing.

12:30 pm: Lunch in Il Campo

Wander over to Il Campo, one of Italy’s grandest squares. This large, open area is framed by brick buildings, restaurants, and the Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall of Siena.

Siena Square

Il Campo | One day in Siena

Normally, it’s best to avoid the main squares for lunch and dinner. The food tends to be overpriced and mediocre. In this case, we still recommend it because the setting is phenomenal. Keep in mind that these restaurants are more about the view than the food. We are saving the better restaurants for dinner tonight.

On Il Campo, here are two places to try:

San Paolo Pub. This small pub-style restaurant serves pizza, paninis, and pasta. Get a seat in the balcony and enjoy the view.

Il Bandierino. This restaurant serves pizza and pasta at affordable prices. There is a 20% service fee, so be aware of this before you place your order.

1:30 pm: City Tower (Torre del Mangia)

The City Tower is the tall tower that dominates the skyline of Il Campo. From the top you will have a spectacular view over Siena, if not one of the best panoramic views in all of Italy.

Torre del Mangia

Siena Cathedral

View from the Torre del Mangia | One day in Siena



Looking down on Il Campo One day in Siena

Looking down on Il Campo | One day in Siena


Il Campo One day in Siena

Another view of Il Campo from the Tower | One day in Siena

If lines are long midday, consider saving this until one to two hours before closing.

Hours: March 1 to October 15 10 am – 7 pm; October 16 to February 28 10 am to 4 pm; last entry 45 minutes before closing
Cost: €10; family ticket €25
Website: click here

Civic Hall

Inside of City Hall, you have the option to visit the Civic Museum (Museo Civico). There are more frescoes to see here as well as a history lesson about the start of secular government in Italy.

Hours: March 1 to October 31: 10 am to 7 pm; November 1 to February 28: 10 am – 6 pm; last entry 45 minutes before closing
Cost: Combo ticket with the Tower: €15; family ticket €22

2:30 pm: Stroll through the Old Town of Siena

The heart of Siena is pedestrian-only, making this city a joy to wander through. Explore the city streets, go shopping, and have a glass of wine or coffee at a café.

Siena Streets One day in Siena

7 pm: Dinner in Siena

End your day with dinner and drinks. Consider one more stroll through the streets of Siena to end the day.

Most of the better restaurants are not located near Il Campo, so you will have to walk a short distance to get to some of these places, but it is worth it.

La Taverna di San Guiseppe. This restaurant offers excellent Italian food, a massive wine list, and impeccable service. This is a favorite of the locals and this restaurant has even received one Michelin star. Closed Sundays.

Antica Osteria da Divo. This is a fine dining restaurant that also is a favorite in Siena. A portion of the dining area fills Etruscan tombs dating back over 2000 years ago. It is located near the Duomo. Closed Tuesdays.

Gino Cacino di Angelo. If you are looking for a budget restaurant that serves great food, this is a nice option. This wine bar and restaurant serves paninis and cheese and meat platters. This is another favorite local spot so expect Italian menus and Italian speaking staff. Note: they close at 8 pm.

Italy Travel Guide

With More Time

There is one more worthwhile place to visit if you have an extra day in Siena. Santa Maria della Scala is a medieval hospital located next to the Duomo. It is an underground labyrinth of storage rooms, a museum, an archaeological site, and yet another place to view more frescoes in Siena. Allow 2 hours for the visit.

The Palio

The Palio is a horse race that is held every year on July 2 and August 16. Ten horses and riders compete, each representing their contrada, or neighborhood. Each contrada has its own colors and mascots, which you can see hanging on flags as you walk through the historic city center.

The race is held in Il Campo. It only lasts 90 seconds, as the horse and riders make 3 frenetic laps around the square. People gather on grandstands and in the center of Il Campo. It is a thrilling thing to witness if you are in town during one of these races.

Learn more about The Palio on the Discover Tuscany website.

When to go to Siena

The best months to visit Siena are April, May, September, and October. The weather is pleasant and with that comes large crowds and higher prices.

The summer months of June, July, and August are hot and can be even more crowded than the spring and fall months. In August, many Italians go on vacation, leaving some shops and restaurants closed.

If you want to avoid the crowds and you do not mind cold weather, consider a visit during the winter months.

We spent five days in Siena in mid-July. Temperatures were in the 80’s (27 – 30°C) but it was not unbearable. Every day at 3 pm a thunderstorm would roll through, cooling things down and washing away the crowds, at least for a little bit.

Siena Italy

Where to Stay

LUXURY: Hotel Athena. This is a 4-star hotel on a stunning property and it is just a 10-minute walk to Il Campo and the Duomo. From their terrace you will have a wonderful view of Siena and Tuscany. If you are traveling by car, this hotel is a great option because they offer free parking.

MID-RANGE: Palazzo Ravizza. This 3-star hotel is located within the historic city center of Siena. Palazzo Ravizza also offers a garden with a terrace overlooking the hills of Tuscany.

BUDGET: Hotel Italia. This is another 3-star hotel but with its location near the train station, and outside of the heart of Siena, it comes with a lower price. This is a boutique hotel offering 65 rooms that gets rave reviews. It’s a 20-minute walk to Il Campo but it is located conveniently near the train station.

Traveling to and from Siena by Public Transportation


To get between Florence and Siena, your best bet is the bus (not the train). Buses are cheaper and faster. From the bus station in Florence (near the Santa Maria Novella train station), take the direct bus to Siena. The journey takes about onehour and fifteen minutes and costs €8. Do not take the local bus because it makes more stops along the way for a total time of 2 hours. You will arrive in Siena at Piazza Gramsci, the main bus terminal.

Buses leave 2 to 3 times per hour and you can buy your bus ticket at the station just before boarding the bus.


By Train. There are no direct trains between Rome and Siena. Most likely you will have to transfer in Chiusi. Tickets range from €18 to €50 and the journey can take between 3 and 5 hours.

By bus. The travel time averages 3.5 hours and tickets cost roughly €22. It is a slight savings over the train, and in most cases, you will arrive in Siena at about the same time. So, it’s more of a personal preference if you travel by train or by bus.

If you have any questions about how to spend one day in Siena, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about Italy:

TUSCAN HILL TOWNS: Check out our detailed guides to Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, San Gimignano, Volterra, and Cortona. We also have a One Day Siena Itinerary.

FLORENCE: If you are planning your first visit to Florence, don’t miss our guide to the 10 Best Things to Do in Florence. We also have a guide to the best rooftop bars in Florence and the best viewpoints in Florence.

ITALY ITINERARIES: If you are just beginning to plan your Italy itinerary, take a look at our 10 Days in Italy Itinerary for four different ways to spend 10 days in Italy. We also have a detailed 10 day itinerary that includes Rome, Florence, the Cinque Terre, and Venice. For those with more time, check out our 14 day Italy itinerary, which covers the highlights of Italy.

ASSISI: In our article Best Things to Do in Assisi, we cover the top experiences to have, plus where to eat and where to stay. In our One Day in Assisi Itinerary, we have a detailed walking tour of the historic city center.

DOLOMITES: In our article Best Hikes in the Dolomites, we cover 15 epic trails in the Dolomites. Which ones do you want to do?

We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, and Puglia.


One Perfect Day in Siena Italy

One Day Itinerary Siena Italy 

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Comments 13

  1. Avatar for Julie Zinger
    Julie Zinger

    Hello again, I follow your family to plan my vacations! I need a bit of help. I’m having a heck of a time finding the direct bus from Florence to Siena. The 131R makes multiple stops from Autostazione Firenze, on the AT bus line. The only direct bus I can find is on the MarinoBus out of Florence station Villa Costanza. I’m staying near the main station. If you could provide the link for the direct bus, it would be SO appreciated. Have spent hours and hours trying to figure this out.


    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      You may have seen this article but it covers how to get from Florence to Siena by bus. I am fairly certain we took bus 131R when we did this in 2014. We showed up at the bus/train station, purchased our tickets right before boarding the bus. Here is the most updated timetable I can find online. If you will be arriving in Florence by train, you could also check the bus schedules here, to get the most updated information. The Villa Costanza bus may not save you anytime. It will be a hassle to get there and take at least 15 minutes, which then is the same amount of time as the 131R bus. Buses can be challenging in Italy, as you can see, since it is hard just to find the schedules online. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Peter A Rasey
    Peter A Rasey

    Thank you for the great post. I recently went to Siena and followed your itinerary for the most part. The Duomo was amazing as the floors were uncovered in this period. We went to the tower in the Museo dell’opera, so we avoided the tower in the Civic Palace. It was just as satisfying, although the line was long and we weren’t quite sure what we were waiting for.
    San Paolo pub was cute and affordable.
    The only miss was Santa Maria della Scala, which was a rather confusing museum, although the famous medicine-themed mosaics were cool. Only if you have multiple days.

    Thanks again!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  3. Avatar for Nora

    Hi! Just wanted to say I’m planning a trip to Italy and your website has been a big help. I love how all the photos in the articles are yours and some of them even feature your family. Really gives the guide a personal touch. Cheers

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  4. Avatar for Kathy

    Hi Julie,
    Your website has been instrumental in our planning for an upcoming trip to Italy with our pre-teens. (At least hopefully upcoming. I am on my third round of planning due to Covid cancellations).
    Do you have any recommendations for drivers for day trips out of Florence? Also, can you provide any rough cost estimates based on your previous experience? (I understand costs may have changed).

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Kathy. I don’t have specific driver recommendations for day trips, but if you have a hotel booked, the hotel staff might be able to make recommendations for you. As for cost estimates for renting a car, that’s tough to answer (it depends on the car size, day of the week, etc). You can get an estimate on Autoeurope.com. I don’t know how much a private driver would cost, but it will most likely be more expensive than renting a car. Another option is to take a tour from Florence like this one offered by GetYourGuide. But if you want to drive around and see the small towns like we did, renting a car is your best option, in my opinion. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Isabelle

    Wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion to stay on for a night after the daytrippers leave. The place really comes into its own then and shows a whole different side. I don’t think I’ll ever forget rounding the corner of the Duomo without another soul in sight, and seeing it illuminated in the twilight…Siena is a very special city!

  6. Avatar for Arpana

    Hi Julie,
    First of all Thanks a lot for detailed description about places which actually helped me plan my Italy trip itinerary.I am trying to follow ur Classic itinerary plan.Just have confusion regarding Florence Tuscany part.I have also read your blog on 10 things to do in Florence.,so my question Is it possible to fit those 10 to see in one day ???awhere do I fit Siena part .do I keep it on second day n then move 3rd day to Tuscany visiting San Gimignano other hill towns.?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Arpana. It’s almost impossible to fit all 10 things in Florence into one day. So, for the Classic itinerary, you have to decide how much time you want to give Florence and how much time to spend in Tuscany. If you take an early train to Florence from Rome, you will have the majority of the first day to explore Florence. This is just enough time to see a few big sites, but if you want to see everything in Florence, you will have to add another full day. That gives you just one day for a day trip into Tuscany…so you can visit Siena or take a tour/rent a car and visit several hill towns. Alternatively, if you would rather spend more time in Tuscany, just fit in what you can on the first day in Florence and then 2 days in Tuscany. Of course, if you really love the idea of spending more time in Florence or Tuscany, you can take out the Cinque Terre or Venice. Hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Renie

    Hi. Our daughter is studying in Bologna and we plan to visit November 15-26 . Was there a few years when kids were little. Flying to Milan. Thinking one night. Want to visit Florence and Venice though saw kids don’t remember; possibly Lido Beach, Verona and Siena. Will return to Bologna to see where daughter is studying. The flying out of Milan She’s got a break and want to travel with her as well. Well rent car from Milan. Loved Cinque Terre and Civita de Bagnoreggio- a hidden gem , last trip. Want some off beaten recommendations as well as good dining and shopping. Love to see Tuscany and possibly Lake Cuomo or Capri. Traveling with17 year old and 21. Thank you. Renie

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Sounds like you have some great spots picked out. If you want to go off-the-beaten-path you could consider adding in San Marino. With your timing, I’d skip Capri since that is so far away from everything else you are visiting and I really don’t know how nice it will be at the end of November. Sounds like it would be a great trip to tour through northern Italy only going as far south as Tuscany. There are tons of great small towns to visit in Tuscany and a few days to road trip through the wine country here would be great. Siena makes a nice home base. There is also a cool day trip from Verona to see the Madonna della Corona. We aren’t big shoppers but I know that Milan is a good place to go. For restaurant recommendations, I don’t have any specific recommendations but you could check out Trip Advisor for the towns you visit. Cheers, Julie

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