Every once in a while, I like to go out on day trips from Florence for a more affordable adventure than a longer tour. Day trips eliminate the financial hassle of plane tickets, hotels and rental cars. You can experience all sorts of day trips from Florence with most of them revolving around tasty Italian cuisine and wine tasting (there are over 2,000 grape varieties in Italy).
Since Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region, most of your day trips here will revolve around Tuscany and seeing this fascinating Italian region’s rich culture and traditions. You would describe life in Tuscany as languid and relaxed, which many tourists have come to see as the good life. Wherever you go in the region, Tuscany has an immense cultural and artistic heritage with many of its buildings being well preserved.
I will cover all the best day trips here and where you may want to look for your next adventure near Florence. While Florence is one of the most charming cities in Italy, you want to get out and explore once in a while since the nearby towns offer a great number of experiences.
Tuscany Day Trips from Florence
From Florence to Siena is about 53.25 miles. You can buy a train ticket to Siena for around $11, but I’d recommend the bus instead because Siena isn’t on the main train line. You can’t take a fast train from Florence to Siena, and you would need to take the slower regional trains, which will take 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Siena has two types of buses that you can take to get there. You can buy the Tiemme: Rapida (fast bus) or the Ordinaria (slow bus). The fast bus takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. The Ordinaria will stop in two villages and take 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Insider Tip: During your day trip from Florence, visit the tourist office of Siena, located in Piazza del Campo. They will give you a relatively affordable walking tour where you will learn the history, the sights, and more about the town.
Situated 42 miles from Florence, you can buy a train ticket for about $10 and arrive in this ancient city in 49 minutes. However, how long depends on the train and some take 1 hour and 1 minute to arrive. Trains to Pisa leave every 15 minutes with 46 direct trains leaving every day. I would consider it the most convenient form of travel to Pisa.
You can buy two types of train tickets to Pisa. You can either buy the Diretto, which is the one-hour train, and it will make a minimal number of stops, or you can buy the lunga percorrenza, which is also known as the long-haul train, and takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. It costs about $8 for the train, but you can upgrade to the first-class section for about $14.
Insider Tip: Besides the Leaning Tower of Pisa, check out the Lungarni, which are the beautiful streets right next to the Arno River.
3. San Gimignano
Taking an organized tour to San Gimignano is an especially recommended choice because you can sit back and chill as you watch the Tuscan countryside, famous for its rolling hills, olive groves, and endless vineyards. It takes about one hour to reach it on a day trip from Florence to the Tuscany countryside. I would also recommend taking a car because you can stop and take photos of the stunning views along the way or stop to eat more easily than if you rode public transportation.
Insider Tip: The best places in San Gimignano are the outlying farmhouses in the countryside. From there, you can admire the original skyline of the tower-studded village. Also, check out Gelato Dondoli in the main square for the best gelato you will ever have.
Situated 47.5 miles away, Lucca is one of the worthwhile day trips from Florence. While the train takes 20 minutes longer than driving, it brings you inside the city walls. In contrast, parking in Lucca is severely restricted, and it can pose quite a hassle. Head over to Santa Maria Novella Station in Florence to take the train. It costs $9 and takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. As a side note, you can buy train tickets here, and they will remain valid for over 2 months.
Insider Tip: Head over to the old Roman Amphitheater or where it used to be right around sunset. It’s an oval-shaped courtyard surrounded by shops and restaurants, but it looks incredible during sunset.
5. The Val d’Orcia
You would either take this one by car or by tour because the Val d’Orcia has a lot of great sites to see along the way, and it lets you stop wherever you find interesting spots. Some of the recommended towns to see along the way include Bagno Vignoni, Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano, and San Quirico d’Orcia. You can visit a couple of them in a single day.
Insider Tip: Check out the valley in Val d’Orcia since it influenced several Renaissance artists. It has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Italy has 58 total).
The 47.9-mile train journey from Florence to Arezzo takes about 1 hour and 32 minutes and averages about $23. This train service departs from Firenze S.M.N. and runs 288 trains weekly. Just beware of how the weekend and holiday schedules may vary. You can also take the road from Florence to Arezzo, which would enable you to see other towns like Cortona and Anghiari. Cortona boasts a rich history with famous Renaissance artists like Pietro di Cortona, Luca Signorelli, and Beato Angelico. Anghiari is one of the most beautiful medieval towns with a charming historical center and an abundance of craft shops.
Insider Tip: Head over to Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici and climb the clock tower for some of the best views in Arezzo.
Taking to the Tuscan countryside by car is the best way to go to Chianti. It’s one of those day trips from Florence that you won’t forget with its winding hills and silvery olive groves. You could also take a tour here for extra information about the sites along the way.
Insider Tip: If you’re looking for wine here, try the Chianti Classico. It’s a red wine made only in this region of Italy.
The easiest way to get to Fiesole is by bus using either the San Marco Square in Florence or the SMN Train Station. It takes about 20 minutes. You could even hike or bike here because of its closeness to Florence (3.7 miles).
Insider Tip: Check out the cave paths of Montececeri Park. You might check out Monte Ceceri for one of the most picturesque views of Italy.
9. Medici Villas
You can either take a car or a tour to the north of Florence, and it takes about 30 minutes to arrive. Booking a tour can give you the history of the sites along the way, which will add to the richness of the experience.
Insider Tip: The Medici Villas are another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of the best places to visit near Florence if you want to understand how the Medicis influenced European culture through their patronage of the arts.
The train costs $7, the fastest trains take 43 minutes, and it covers 18 miles. Certaldo only has 14 trains going to it daily, so you need to get there on time. You can buy a ticket at Firenze S.M.N. Trains are usually the best option for direct travel to large and medium-sized cities in Italy because of issues with road traffic and parking in some cities.
Insider Tip: Look for the medieval castle portion of Certaldo. The most remarkable building in Certaldo is Palazzo Pretorio.
Top 3 Day Tours from Florence
The Best Day Trips from Florence to Places Outside of Tuscany
For a day trip from Florence, Bologna only takes 35 minutes by train. You will either choose the Freccia Rossa or the Italo. This is the fastest and most affordable way to get to Bologna from Florence. Trains depart here frequently because of it being a popular route. I wouldn’t recommend a car because it’s difficult and time-consuming to get parking.
Insider Tip: Bologna earned fame from its rich culinary traditions. I would recommend Lasagne alla Bolognese (the real lasagna is green, not yellow or white), passatelli in brodo, torta di riso and polenta. The best of these restaurants will be located outside Bologna and in the Bolognese countryside away from the tourist traps.
The train journey from Florence to Ferrara takes 1 hour and 23 minutes and covers 76 miles. You can get to Ferrara in a little over an hour on the fastest trains. Italo and Freccia Rossa operate on this route, which means you’ll travel in comfort and with room to spare if you carry luggage. It costs about $5 to take the train from Florence to Ferrara.
Insider Tip: Local specialties in Ferrara include cured meat, crunchy bread and stuffed pasta. The crunchy bread here called “coppia ferrarese” was so iconic that Giorgio De Chirico portrayed it in the painting “The Language of the Child.”
13. Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre area includes car-free villages, so you will need to watch where you park, but this is a great way to see the city and the surroundings along the way. It takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes by car for day trips from Florence. One of the best places to stay in Cinque Terre with a car is Monterroso al Mare.
Insider Tip: You may even wish to spend a night in this incredible city. Cinque Terre consists of 5 charming villages that include Monterroso al Mare, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, and Corniglia.
From Florence to Assisi, I would recommend the car since it takes about 2 hours to arrive covering a distance of 107 miles. You will travel on the A1 and E35 routes. You must park outside the town walls since they only let residents park in Old Town.
Insider Tip: Assisi is rife with food, and wherever you walk, just follow your nose. Sit down at whatever restaurant smells the best.
You will arrive in Orvieto in about 1 hour and 30 minutes by car, and I’d recommend taking a car since the regional trains take over 2 hours.
Insider Tip: Try a pigeon dish in Orvieto since that’s the local dish. All the smaller villages in Italy often have a dish associated with them.
What to Consider When Planning a Day Trip from Florence
First, plan ahead because this can make your trip more enjoyable and avoid unnecessary time wasters. Be aware of the popular attractions that may require reservations in advance. Second, consider your transportation options because there’s no wrong way to take day trips from Florence. If you want to travel more leisurely, the train might be for you.
Third, manage your time wisely because Italy has a lot to see wherever you go. You should prioritize the must-see sites to ensure you get to the biggest things, but you may want to leave time to explore freely. Finally, pay attention to any local events and festivals that might be in the area at the time.
FAQs about Day Trips from Florence
Can You Do a Cinque Terre Trip as a Day Trip from Florence?
You could do Cinque Terre as a day trip, but there’s a lot to see, and you may want to take your time in doing so.
Are Rome and Milan Recommended as Day Trips from Florence?
As it turns out, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and trying to see it in a day is no easy task. For a day trip, they don’t make as much sense because Rome and Milan require more than a day to see everything. You may want multiple days to explore and enjoy yourself.