There’s no question that Florence is an amazing place to visit, but we encourage you to also plan day trips from Florence. You see, Florence can get incredibly touristy (especially in midsummer) and feel more like a theme park than an actual city. Here we’re sharing six classic day trips from Florence so you can explore Tuscany too.
6 Day Trips From Florence
We’ve got you if you feel overwhelmed by the crowds on your trip to Florence and yearning for some quiet. So make like the locals and skip town for a day trip! When I lived in Florence, we would do this on the regular.
Thanks to its central location in Italy, Florence has loads of nearby towns that are easy to access and worthy of a day trip. Each of these towns is in Tuscany, yet each has its own character, history, and culture so you could day trip to all of them and get a different perspective on the region with each trip.
Here are six Tuscan towns that are worthy of a day trip from Florence:
Greve in Chianti
A small town in the Chianti wine region, Greve in Chianti is located along one of the most popular roads in Tuscany. Greve in Chianti has an adorable main square and some charming streets, but the real appeal is how much you can explore nearby.
We recommend you rent a car when visiting Greve in Chianti because it’s as much fun to drive the winding country roads as it is to stop and explore the villages. Plan on making it a full-day trip by departing from Florence in the morning and aiming to return after dinner.
For classic Tuscan food with a side of great service, make a reservation at Ristoro L’Antica Scuderia in the nearby town of Badia di Passignano. If you’re there in the summertime, try to get a spot on the terrace and make the meal into an afternoon affair like many of the locals will be doing.
For a classic wine tasting, make a reservation at the recently remodeled and very modern Antinori winery (pictured above). Then spend the rest of the day wandering the winding hills, grabbing some Instagrammable snaps, or (if you’re feeling ambitious) head to San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, or Siena (all listed below).
This tiny Tuscan town is worth a day trip from Florence if only to get a look at a perfectly preserved medieval Italian town. Also, because Monteriggioni is set up on a hill, it has breathtaking views of the Tuscan countryside.
Monteriggioni is a super small town (a village, really) so there isn’t a ton to do aside from wandering the small alleys, taking photos, and soaking in the panorama. That’s why we’d suggest making Monteriggioni a quick side trip when you visit one of the other Tuscan countryside towns listed here (Greve in Chianti, San Gimignano, or Siena).
By the way, the best way to visit Monteriggioni is by car because there isn’t a direct bus and it’s less than an hour’s drive from Florence.
Another incredible Tuscan town worthy of a day trip is San Gimignano. It’s more touristy than Monteriggioni or Greve in Chianti but it’s a town rich with history.
San Gimignano is nicknamed the “medieval Manhattan” because, in its prime, the town had 74 towers dotting the horizon (each one put in place by an important and rich Italian family). Only 14 or so towers remain today but they’re still impressive as is the teeny but elaborately decorated church in the middle of town.
San Gimignano is also home to delicious traditional Tuscan food and a highly local wine known as Vernaccia so leave yourself time to stop in a cafe and grab a glass (preferably at a cafe with a view)!
We will admit, Siena can be touristy, but that’s because it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany. Some argue it is even more lovely than Florence! While we could never choose a favorite, Siena, compared to Florence, offers more of a time travel experience because it still has much of its medieval architecture.
And, while the Duomo of Florence is breathtaking on the outside, the inside is fairly austere. In contrast, the Duomo of Siena has every single inch decorated and is truly jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
Don’t miss going inside this fascinating church — trust us, it’s worth the wait. While in Siena, also check out the Campo, the large main piazza, and the site of the famous Palio horse races that take place every summer. Also, Siena is an ideal jumping-off point for wine tasting or heading south to the beautiful Val D’Orcia to see towns like Montalcino and Pienza.
For a day trip from Florence that you can do by train, the city of Lucca is perfect. The hour train ride from Santa Maria Novella train station takes you west through Tuscany and hops from towns to the countryside and back again. We love visiting Lucca for its giant, medieval wall, which is so big you can actually rent bikes and ride around on the top of it!
The architecture and art are also noteworthy because there are some really important pieces of medieval and Renaissance art housed in Lucca. Oh, and if you’re an opera fan, you’ll be even more into Lucca because it is the hometown of Puccini. In fact, there is a museum in his original home that is definitely worth visiting. And, though Lucca is a walled-in city, it’s just a few miles from the ocean so you can get great seafood at the local restaurants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some classic day trips from Florence include visits to Greve in Chianti, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano, Siena, Lucca, and Viareggio. Each of these towns offers a unique perspective on the Tuscany region and is rich in history, culture, and scenic beauty.
San Gimignano is nicknamed the "medieval Manhattan" because of its skyline dotted with historic towers. In its prime, the town had 74 towers, each built by influential Italian families. Today, around 14 of these towers remain, making it a picturesque destination with rich history.
Yes! Though Siena can get touristy in high season, it is worth a day trip from Florence. Siena is renowned for its stunning medieval architecture and is often considered even more beautiful than Florence by some. The city's Duomo is intricately decorated inside, making it a must-visit. Additionally, Siena's Campo, the main piazza, hosts the famous Palio horse races every summer.
If you’re looking to clock in some Tuscany beach time and to really relax, head to the seaside town of Viareggio. Only an hour from Florence by train, Viareggio has an expansive boardwalk, full of shops, restaurants, and interesting Art Deco architecture.
If you’ve never been to the beach in Italy before, there is something more you need to know though. Most beaches have a very small (often dirty) slab of “free beach,” while the rest of the beach is occupied by umbrellas and chairs run by establishments.
These “bagni” can cost anywhere from 15 to 45 euros for the day, but we think it’s worth it because they will provide you easy access to snacks, a bathroom, an umbrella, a chair, and a lifeguard. You can look them up ahead of time and call and reserve, or just walk up and ask if they have space.
Viareggio also has a great historic center and a pine forest, so if you find yourself tired of soaking up the sun, there is plenty still to do and see. Additionally, if you find yourself in Tuscany around February through early March, you’ll want to day trip to Viareggio because they have one fo the biggest carnival aka Carnevale celebrations in all of Tuscany.
Don’t Forget Forte Dei Marmi
While these six classic day trips are a must when you’re in Florence, we’d also recommend clocking in a few days at the Tuscany beaches. Our travel clients’ are particularly found of Forte Dei Marmi, which is a chic beach town west of Florence. Read on for more of our tips for a first time in Forte.
Have Us Plan Your Italy Trip
Did you know we’re also a boutique travel agency specializing in Italian travel planning? If you’re looking to plan one of the best trips to Italy, our Italy trip planner services are here to help you plan your perfect itinerary.
Photo Credit: Rowan Heuvel, Fabio Santanelli Bruun, Pepe Nero, Daniela Turcanu, Domenico Loia, Jack Finnigan, Ivan Franco Bottoni