There's no questino that Florence is an amazing place to visit. Between the art, food, dreamy views and all the shopping, there is never a shortage of things to do. However, this gorgeous Renaissance city is very much known, which means that Florence can get incredibly touristy (especially during midsummer) and feel more like a theme park than an actual city.
If you feel yourself overwhelmed on your trip to Florence and yearning for some quiet, we've got you. Thanks to its central location in Italy, Florence has loads of nearby towns that are all 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 drive from Florence.
Another incredibile 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 to day but they're still impressive as is the teeny but elaborately decorated church in the middle of town. San Gimignano is also home to 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 most beautiful cities in Tuscany. Some argue it is even more lovely than Florence! While we could never chose a favorite, Siena, compared to Florence, offers more of a time travel experience because it still has a 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.
If you're looking 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 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.
If you're looking to clock in some beach time and 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 euro for the day, but we think it's worth it because it 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.
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More Italy On Salt & Wind
- Forte De Marmi Is One Our Favorite Tuscan Beach Towns
- Our City Guide To Florence, Italy
- The Classic Italian Cocktails You Need To Try
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Photo Credit: Rowan Heuvel, Fabio Santanelli Bruun, Pepe Nero, Daniela Turcanu, Domenico Loia, Jack Finnigan, Ivan Franco Bottoni