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10 Best Day Trips From Florence, Italy (From an Expat)

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After falling for an Italian, I packed up my bags and left my quiet hometown in Northern England to move to Florence. Living in Florence really has been a dream come true but it's hard to forget the beauty that surrounds the city.

Whether you plan to move to Central Italy like I did or are visiting the area on vacation, there is so much to see and do within Florence and around it. Given the fantastic location in the country, there's a lot more than just rolling hills and vineyards (although we have plenty of that) that you can enjoy in a single day.

While I could talk for hours about the beauty of this region and the places you need to visit while in Florence, I've done my due diligence to narrow it down to 10 of the best day trips from Florence I'd recommend to anywhere, local, expat, or traveler.

My 10 best day trips from Florence, at a quick glance, in no particular order:

  1. Saturnia thermal springs (2h30 by car)
  2. Pitigliano (2h30 by car)
  3. Lucca (1h20 by train)
  4. San Gimignano (1h by car/1h40 by bus)
  5. Fiesole (25 minutes by bus)
  6. Chianti (1h by bus, slightly less by car)
  7. Pisa (1h by train)
  8. Cinque Terre (2h30 by train)
  9. Siena (1h30 by train)
  10. Volterra (1h30 by car)

Things to Know Before You Go

A narrow alleyway in a traditional cobblestone town in Central Italy
Photo by depositphotos.com

Before we dive into the good stuff, there are a few things to know that'll help you plan your trips from Florence (and to Florence) with ease.

I know just how easy it is to look towards the big hike, bucket list city, or beach of my dreams and forget about all of the little things in between that’ll make your trip run as smoothly as possible. Be sure to take into consideration these few things before you go to make sure you get all the good bits of your trip without the stress. 

  • The best times of the year to visit are between March-May and September-October. It’s off-season but still warm enough to enjoy the sunshine - nothing like the 40+ degrees in July and August, with much fewer tourists so you can get a better feel for the city of Florence and its surrounding towns.
  • Make sure you have travel insurance. A good travel insurance, like SafetyWing, will ensure you’re covered in case of emergencies. While you will have to pay upfront for your doctor or hospital costs, unless it’s for a pre-existing condition, you can file a claim and should be reimbursed. For any Americans reading this, fear not, healthcare in pretty much every other country is far more affordable than ours, even if you’re paying out of pocket. 
  • Do your best to learn a few local phrases in Italian. No, I’m not expecting you to be able to have a fluid conversation with locals at the bus stop if you’re just visiting their country for a week but knowing your numbers (for prices), how to order something (“I would like…”), and basic greetings really will take you a long way. Mondly is a great app for phrases and vocabulary. 
  • Book any popular tours you want to do in advance. I’m really not a great planner and I’ve made this mistake more times than I can count. I plan a trip to a destination knowing that I want to do a sailboat trip or food tour and wait until the day before to book only to realize it’s not available the day I’m in town. Don’t make that mistake - if there is something you know you want to do - book your tour in advance.
  • Same thing goes for rental cars. If you want to rent a car to cover more ground in a country (or to even be able to access of all these day trips from Florence), do it in advance. Prices will be more affordable and that way you’re guaranteed to have your wheels waiting for you. 
  • Before you start booking your flights, hotels, and tours, consider opening up a travel credit card. Thanks to our Capital One Venture card, my husband and I have gotten countless free flights just by gaining points on everyday expenses. This tip certainly isn’t mandatory but it is helpful.

Where to Stay in Florence

Whether you're moving to Florence or there for a trip, you'll need a great place to stay. Even for those moving to Florence, I'd recommend you get a good hotel to stay while you apartment hunt. This will give you a chance to get a feel for the city to see which area you'd like to live in and to see the apartments in person before you sign any contract.

For those visiting Florence, I recommend staying in Old Town or close to the train station if you plan on doing a lot of the day trips from Florence that are on this list.

These are the best places to stay in Florence to set you up for an incredible time in this historic city.

  • Budget Option: Ognissanti Flat: Steps from the train station and still walkable to Old Town, this apartment rental has room for 4 people and has a kitchen.
  • Mid-Tier Option: Hotel Calimala: Located right in San Giovanni neighborhood, this stylish hotel is in a great location and a desk for those who work remotely.
  • Luxury Option: Portrait Firenze: Enjoy stunning views of the Ponte Vecchio and staying right in the heart of Florence city center.
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Best Day Trips From Florence

1. Saturnia

Two people sitting on the edge of a thermal spring in Tuscany, with a stone building and lush greenery surrounding them.
Photo by depositphotos.com
  • Travel Time From Florence: 2h30 by car
  • Why Visit: For the natural hot springs with therapeutic properties
  • What to Do: Relax in the springs & explore the town
  • Who It's Best For: Those seeking a day of relaxation

You may have seen the Saturnia natural thermal springs grace your Instagram explore feed as this is a much admired destination in the Grosseto area of Tuscany. You will need a car to get there (or someone who can drive you!) as there is no direct public transport service to arrive.

The naturally warm water is very soothing (even if it’s a bit stinky!) and there’s even a spa nearby that you can stay at but the springs pictured here are completely free to access. If you want to take good photos, arrive very early as it gets really busy during the day.

The terme quietens down in the evening and a clear night would be a romantic time to go, with fewer crowds and only the stars above you.

A day trip from Florence to Saturnia offers the perfect opportunity to unwind in the soothing waters, surrounded by the peaceful ambiance of the Tuscan countryside. But, if you want the most bang for your buck, combine it with a full-day tour that includes a trip to Saturnia and Pitigliano (the next day trip from Florence on this list).

Pro Tip: Beware not to get your hair in the sulphur-infused water though, as it will make it incredibly dry!

Where to Stay in Saturnia

While it's perfectly easy to visit the Saturnia thermal springs for as a fantastic day trip from Florence, if you want to spend even more time relaxing here, there are a handful of great places to stay.

  • Budget Option: B&B 8380: No frills but only a 10 minute walk to the springs in a quiet and serene environment.
  • Mid-Tier Option: Villa Acquaviva: Stay on a winery with a pool and spa here. This one is a quick drive to the pools but the grounds here makes up for it.
  • Luxury Option: Terme di Saturnia Natural Spa & Golf Resort: Only a 1 minute walk from the springs, you're guaranteed to enjoy them without anyone around if you stay here.

2. Pitigliano

View of Pitigliano, Italy from a far with it's brown stucco buildings
Photo by unsplash.com
  • Travel Time From Florence: 2h30 by car
  • Why Visit: To visit "Little Jerusalem"
  • What to Do: Enjoy the panoramic views, the medieval town, & explore the Jewish Quarter
  • Who It's Best For: History buffs

Pitigliano is a picturesque ‘borgo’ or little stony village, also in the province of Grosseto. Like Saturnia, Pitigliano is about a 2.5 hour day trip from Florence. If you're already planning to visit Saturnia, I recommend adding this town in as a nice little stop along the way.

Pitigliano is a small and tranquil village known as ‘Little Jerusalem’ due to its historically Jewish population. You can take beautiful photos of the Etruscan architecture, surrounding countryside and visit the synagogue in the old Jewish ghetto to soak up some small-town Italian culture.

A day trip to Pitigliano promises a journey through history, where visitors can explore the unique architecture and cultural heritage of this distinctive Tuscan gem.

Where to Stay in Pitigliano

While this small town can be easily explored in just a day, if you want some extra time to combine this visit to also visiting Saturnia, consider staying the night in Pitigliano.

There aren't many hotels here but one of the best is certainly La Casa degli Archi. You won't just have the chance to explore history, by staying here, you'll get to immerse yourself in it.

3. Lucca

Travel Time From Florence: 2h30 by car  Why Visit: To visit "Little Jerusalem"  What to Do: Enjoy the panoramic views, the medieval town, & explore the Jewish Quarter  Who It's Best For: History buffs  Pitigliano is a picturesque ‘borgo’ or little stony village, also in the province of Grosseto. Like Saturnia, Pitigliano is about a 2.5 hour day trip from Florence. If you're already planning to visit Saturnia, I recommend adding this town in as a nice little stop along the way.   Pitigliano is a small and tranquil village known as ‘Little Jerusalem’ due to its historically Jewish population. You can take beautiful photos of the Etruscan architecture, surrounding countryside and visit the synagogue in the old Jewish ghetto to soak up some small-town Italian culture.  A day trip to Pitigliano promises a journey through history, where visitors can explore the unique architecture and cultural heritage of this distinctive Tuscan gem.
Photo by depositphotos.com
  • Travel Time From Florence: 1h20 by train
  • Why Visit: To see the well-preserved Renaissance walls & architecture
  • What to Do: Walk or bike the city walls
  • Who It's Best For: History buffs

The walled city of Lucca is a renaissance cobblestone town that you can travel to by train directly from the Santa Maria Novella station in Florence in just over an hour.

You can walk or hire bikes and circle the city walls, or climb one of the two towers, Guingi or Delle Ore, sight-seeing from above. Personally, I love doing the trip around the walls on bike but on foot is a good alternative.

The relaxed atmosphere permeates the city, encouraging leisurely exploration of cobblestone streets, centuries-old churches, and the delightful Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, making it an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of Florence and one of the best day trips you can make.

There are loads of great guided tours in Lucca if you want to explore deeper while on your day trip here. Some of the most fun (and most popular) include: an e-bike tour, a pasta cooking class, a guided winery tour with wine tasting, and a walking tour in the city center.

Pro Tip: September is an excellent month to visit Lucca as they hold several events during Settembre Lucchese, including a religious procession on the 14th, the Holy Cross celebration, starting at the San Frediano basilica and meandering through the candlelit city to the Cathedral of San Martino.

Where to Stay in Lucca

Lucca is on the way both the Pisa and Cinque Terre so if you want to see more of these best places to visit near Florence, stay the night out to enjoy more trips.

  • Budget Option: B&B Corte Toro: Located in the heart of Lucca, get great bang for your buck by booking a stay at this small hotel.
  • Mid-Tier Option: Hotel Ilaria: Located in the walled city near the train station, enjoy a hotel that also has a bar and restaurant.
  • Luxury Option: Palazzo Dipinto: This upscale hotel is located in the perfect area to enjoy all that Lucca has to offer.

4. San Gimignano

San Gimignano, Italy, view from a far with it's medieval towers looming above
Photo by depositphotos.com
  • Travel Time From Florence: 1h by car, 1h40 by bus
  • Why Visit: To see the medieval towers
  • What to Do: Climb the towers & enjoy local wines
  • Who It's Best For: History buffs

San Gimignano, known as the "Town of Fine Towers," has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, and when you see its ancient towers overlooking the walled town you will understand why. In its glory days, San Gimignano is said to have had around 72 towers, but now only 14 remain.

You can climb up the Torre Grossa and have a breathtaking view for miles around. I highly recommend getting your steps in and head up.

Another glorious vista awaits you at ground level, with a visit to the Duomo (cathedral). Experience la vita medievale with the beautiful murals on the church walls dating back to the Middle Ages. These are the original frescoes from the 1300s and their pictures are allegorical in nature, painting the stories of the Old Testament on one side, and the New Testament on the other.

The panoramic views from the towers and the distinct skyline make it a compelling destination for those seeking a journey through Tuscany's medieval architectural heritage. Be sure to pay a visit to a few of the artisanal shops while in town and be sure to drink your fair share of local wine.

Where to Stay in San Gimignano

If you want more time to enjoy a wine tasting or two in the surrounding area, stay a night at one of these great hotels in San Gimignano. If you do end up staying the night, make your time even sweeter by planning a romantic dinner at a San Gimignano winery.

  • Budget Option: Hotel Leon Bianco: Located right in the center of town, this historic hotel is walking distance to all the hot spots that brought you to San Gimignano.
  • Mid-Tier Option: B&B Palazzo Tortoli: Enjoy sweeping views of the rolling hills while still staying right in the heart of town.
  • Luxury Option: Stylish Luxury Loft: Want more space? This loft sleeps 4 in a super upscale environment.

5. Fiesole

A foggy view of the city center of Florence from Fiesole, one of the best day trips from Florence.
Photo by depositphotos.com
  • Travel Time From Florence: 25 minutes by bus
  • Why Visit: For a quick break from city life in Florence
  • What to Do: Visit the Roman theater & enjoy the views of Florence from above
  • Who It's Best For: Those seeking a day of relaxation

Fiesole is so close to the city center that its protruding clocktower can be seen from the streets of Florence or atop Piazzale Michelangelo, perched between two little hills.

There is a direct bus that stops on a street just next to Santa Maria Novella train station which will take you all the way up, or you can decide to hike or cycle there. The views are astounding when looking down on Florence from Fiesole on a clear day.

When I visited in October 2020, we did a bike tour around Fiesole and the villages nearby such as Settignano, for my birthday. I can guarantee - it was fun for the whole family! And before you say anything about cycling uphill - they were electric bikes so we barely needed to do any work/

Once you get there, be sure to check out the old church and appreciate the serenity of its courtyards before heading back down the hill.

A day trip (or half day trip) to Fiesole offers a tranquil escape with scenic vistas, allowing travelers to explore archaeological sites, stroll through peaceful streets, and appreciate the Roman and Etruscan influences that shape this Tuscan gem.

Where to Stay in Fiesole

I'd only suggest staying in Fiesole if you're looking for a more relaxed trip to Florence but you still want to enjoy the city, otherwise I'd suggest staying at one of the hotels in the city center listed above. Otherwise, these hotels in Fiesole are great options.

  • Budget Option: Camping Village Panoramico: Although it's called a camping village, you can stay in private, indoor accommodations at a low price here.
  • Mid-Tier Option: B&B Le Cannelle Fiesole: You'll feel as those you're staying at someones home (albeit an upscale home) when booking a stay at this B&B.
  • Luxury Option: Villa San Michele: This luxury hotel has everything you could want in a remarkable stay just outside of Florence.

6. Chianti Region

The rolling hills of the Chianti Region, with a curvy road boardered by Cypress trees.
Photo by depositphotos.com
  • Travel Time From Florence: 1h by bus
  • Why Visit: Stunning scenery & world-class wines
  • What to Do: Enjoy wine tastings & explore charming villages
  • Who It's Best For: Wine enthusiasts

You’ve probably seen tons of pictures on Pinterest of boutique weddings in the Chianti region without even realizing it. You know those ones with the long tables in the vineyards? Yep! As both a sought-out wedding location and delicious producer of wine, Chianti has a lot to offer.

Remember seeing those those big bottles on the table at old-school Italian restaurants with a straw covering on the bottle? Usually the bottle was covered in wax drippings after years of serving as makeshift candle holders. That a Chianti bottle, and its called a Fiasco. While there are plenty of other Chianti classifications out there, it's certainly one of the most recognized, albeit not the most delicious.

A day trip from Florence to Chianti is a journey into the heart of Tuscany's wine country, where visitors can savor world-class wines at rustic wineries, dine on local specialties, and meander through picturesque villages like Greve in Chianti.

You can take a Vespa tour through the rolling hills before visiting the vineyards and trying some of the region’s famous liquid produce. Just don’t get too giddy, you’ll have to make it back to your lodgings somehow!  Or, take a guided tour that'll pass you through San Gimignano, Siena, Pisa, and a meal at a Chianti winery.

For those seeking a quintessential trip under the Tuscan sun, the Chianti region will the best day trip for you.

Where to Stay in the Chianti Region

If you have any interest in doing a wine tour while in Florence, an overnight stay in the Chianti Region will make your time in Tuscany even more memorable. Enjoy sweeping views of green rolling hills and local delicacies.

  • Budget Option: Casa di Palaia: Enjoy the seasonal pool and endless views of the Chianti hills at a stay between Strada In Chianti and Chiocchio
  • Mid-Tier Option: La Pietra del Cabreo: Clean, modern, and with great views, wine lovers will love staying here.
  • Luxury Option: Borgo Del Cabreo: Located just outside of Greve in Chianti, this stunning hotel has a pool, restaurant, and seasonal swimming pool.

7. Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the next door cathedral on a clear blue day, a short and easy day trip from Florence.
Photo by depositphotos.com
  • Travel Time From Florence: 1h by train
  • Why Visit: To see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • What to Do: Take your best picture holding up the tower
  • Who It's Best For: Those who want to see the biggest icons of Italy

Pisa is famous worldwide mostly for the funny pics of tourists trying (and failing) to align their hands with the lopsided structure of the aptly-named Leaning Tower of Pisa which is often seen as the symbol of Italy.

For this reason, one might expect Pisa to be quite a big city, but it is actually rather small, with the main tourist attractions being the tower, cathedral, and baptistery which are all on the same plot. Save and skip the line for your tickets to the Leaning Tower and Cathedral.

I recommend visiting Pisa if you're eager to see Italy's famous icons, as this is certainly one of the most famous. If you're not excited by touristic hot spots though, a day trip to Pisa probably won't be for you.

The river Arno that flows through Florence also flows down to Pisa and then out to sea, so it is possible to get a bus to the beach from Pisa, although it will still take around 40 minutes to get to the coast.

Where to Stay in Pisa

Make an overnight pit stop in Pisa if you want to see the tower and take pictures/videos of it without others in them by getting there as early as possible.

  • Budget Option: Gialel Pisa: Enjoy simplicity in the heart of Pisa at this relaxed hotel.
  • Mid-Tier Option: La Lu Cozy Rooms 2: Located less than a 10-minute walk from the Leaning Tower, these room are clean and chic.
  • Luxury Option: Palazzo Feroci: With stunning decor, panoramic views, and well within walking distance from the hotspots that brought you to Pisa.

8. Cinque Terre

A picture of a row of colourful houses in Riomaggiore, Italy in Cinque Terre
Photo by unsplash.com
  • Travel Time From Florence: 2h30 by train
  • Why Visit: To see the 5 picturesque coastal villages
  • What to Do: Hike between villages & eat delicious food
  • Who It's Best For: Hikers & those who love the coast

Picture-perfect Cinque Terre is not just one charming town, but 5! Cinque Terre literally means Five Lands, and the five cute little towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are painted in vibrant colors, situated on the coast next to each other.

You can hike from one seaside town to another if you’re feeling energetic, or you can get between them more quickly via train. The beauty of the seaside villages has also earned them the status of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Enjoy the beach at Monterosso al Mare, climb up the headland for photo opportunities of Vernazza, visit the gothic church of San Pietro in Corniglia, sample the seafood on offer in Manarola, and hire a little boat to explore the coast from Riomaggiore!

To make it a memorable day trip from Florence, you have 2 options: head directly to one of the towns and spend your time fully soaking that one up or take a guided tour that will give you time in each village before quickly moving on to the next.

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

If you're like I am and think your trip to Cinque Terre will be even better by hiking from town to town, you'll need at least one night here since coming to Florence as a day trip already takes 2.5 hours.

  • Budget Option: Le Giare Rooms: Enjoy ocean views from Riomaggiore, one of the best Cinque Terre day trip destinations.
  • Mid-Tier Option: La Torretta dei Merli With Views: In Vernazza, this is a studio that sleeps 4 people, has a kitchen, and spectacular sea views.
  • Luxury Option: Alla Marina Affittacamere: Just steps from Castle of Riomaggiore, you'll be hard pressed to find a more fantastic location to soak up this stunningly vibrant town.

9. Siena

The Duomo di Siena, a white and black Cathedral, on a clear day
Photo by depositphotos.com
  • Travel Time From Florence: 1h30 by train
  • Why Visit: To enjoy it's incredible architecture
  • What to Do: Explore the city center & experience the famous Palio Horse Race
  • Who It's Best For: Those who love vibrant town squares

The beautiful city of Siena with its semi-circular Piazza del Campo and black and white Duomo is not to be missed. Save time waiting and get your skip the lines ticket before you visit.

Every year, the Palio di Siena, a bareback horse race, is held on the 2nd July and 16th August in this piazza. There are 10 horses picked from the 17 neighborhoods of Siena so it is a very competitive event for locals and attracts spectators from all over the world.

You can’t not visit Siena’s Duomo (cathedral), a gorgeous specimen of Italian Gothic architecture, with elements of Classical and Romanesque styles, too. Inside you will find the black and white striped marble surrounded by mosaics and statues crafted by Italian renaissance sculptors and artists.

The city's rich history, Gothic architecture, and vibrant cultural scene make Siena a compelling destination for those seeking a taste of medieval Tuscany. I'm positive, just walking through this city will inspire the artist within you.

Where to Stay in Siena

Want to stay in the heart of Tuscany but in a historic town rather than among the rolling hills of Chianti? Siena is a smart choice.

  • Budget Option: Domus il Palio B&B: Just a few minute walk from the train station, you'll be a short walk from the heart of town but in a convenient location to come and go.
  • Mid-Tier Option: Relais degli Angeli: Located in the historic city center, the hotel offers a breakfast buffet and remarkable frescoes.
  • Luxury Option: Grand Hotel Continental: Want opulence? You want this hotel situated right in the center of Siena.

10. Volterra

A glimpse of the brick town of Volterra, from a balcony covered in purple flowers.
Photo by unsplash.com
  • Travel Time From Florence: 1h30 by car
  • Why Visit: To see its Etruscan origins
  • What to Do: Visit the Etruscan museum & explore the medieval streets
  • Who It's Best For: History buffs

Volterra is now infamous for being in the Twilight Saga, but even without sparkly vampires it still holds plenty of charm. A private walking tour is one of the best ways to soak up the best bits of Volterra.

The Tuscan hilltop town encompasses historic artifacts of centuries gone with their Roman theater and baths, Etruscan museum, and medieval architecture. They also have a museum of torture!

The town's archaeological richness and timeless ambiance make Volterra an intriguing destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking a quieter, off-the-beaten-path experience in Tuscany.

I stayed in a beautiful agriturismo not too far away with my family a few years ago. An agriturismo would be called a farm stay in English, a great way to travel sustainably as you’re helping farms to stay in business and get to enjoy the produce of their agriculture in return! If you have the time to turn this day trip into an overnight trip, I'd highly recommend it.

Where to Stay in Volterra

Want to extend your Volterra day trip? Book a night! Just know that the accommodation options in Volterra are limited so I suggest not waiting until the last minute to book it. Albergo Etruria is a great place to stay to be in the heart of town.

Which Day Trip From Florence Will You Take?

While Florence is synonymous with Tuscany and fantastic wines, there's more to Central Italy than just that - although those two things alone will leave you speechless. Even those that aren't wine connoisseurs will love visiting local wineries to enjoy a once in a lifetime wine tasting but after that, make your way to the coast or ancient towns oozing with history.

Whether you take just one or all 10 of these best day trips from Florence, we're certain you'll fall in love with the region. Even so much that'll you want to move here like I did!

Hero photo by Unsplash.

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