Best things to do in Siena

The Siena Cathedral (Duomo Di Siena)​

Welcome to Siena, a beautiful city in Tuscany that’s full of surprises. From its amazing cathedral and famous square, Piazza del Campo, to its old streets and great views from Torre del Mangia, there’s a lot to see and do here. We’ve picked the best things to do in Siena to help you start exploring.

Siena is a great place to visit for a day, especially from Florence. It’s easy to get to and is often included in tours around Tuscany.

You can also stay in Siena to get to know Tuscany. It’s a fantastic spot to stay while you visit other places nearby. In this guide, we’ll tell you about the best spots in Siena, and give you tips on where to stay, eat, and how to make the most of your trip, including a day trip from Florence.

How to get to Siena

Reaching Siena is relatively straightforward, whether you’re coming from within Italy or abroad. Here’s a guide on the best ways to travel to this Tuscan gem.

Plane to Siena

The nearest major airports are in Florence and Pisa. From there, you can rent a car or use public transport to reach Siena.

Train to Sienna

From Florence: Direct trains are available from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station. The journey takes about 1.5 hours.

From Rome: Trains from Rome to Siena typically involve a change at Chiusi or Empoli and take around 3 hours.

Bus to Siena

Buses from Florence are often faster than trains and bring you directly into Siena’s historic center. The journey takes about 1.25 hours.

Car to Siena

Siena is well-connected by the Italian motorway system. From Florence, take the Raccordo Autostradale Firenze-Siena, a direct route that takes about an hour.

If you’re coming from Rome, the A1 motorway is the most direct route, with a journey time

Parking in Siena

Parking can be challenging in Siena, especially during peak tourist seasons and for first-time visitors. Understanding the parking system and knowing where to park can make your visit much smoother.

Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL): Siena’s historic center is a ZTL area, meaning vehicular traffic is restricted. Non-residents are not allowed to drive or park within these zones without a permit. These areas are monitored by cameras, and fines are hefty for violations.

Parking Lots Outside the ZTL: The best approach is to use one of the several parking lots located outside the ZTL. These are well-connected to the center by public transport or walking paths.

You can read more about driving in Italy in our ultimate guide

Recommended Parking Lots:

  • Santa Caterina/Fontebranda: Located near the escalator leading to the historic center. Ideal for visiting the Duomo and Piazza del Campo.
  • Il Campo: A larger lot with easy access to Piazza del Campo.
  • San Francesco: Close to the Basilica of San Francesco, with escalators leading to the center.

Parking Costs

Parking rates vary, but most lots charge around €2 per hour. Some offer daily rates, which can be more economical for longer stays.

Free parking can be found further from the center, but spaces are limited and often require a longer walk or bus ride into the city.

Some parking lots offer “park and ride” services, where you can park your car and take a shuttle bus into the center. This is a convenient and stress-free option.

Rent a car Tuscany

RENT A CAR Tuscany

The best way to experience Tuscany is to rent your own car! We recommend booking well in advance using price comparison sites like rental cars if traveling in the peak summer season.

What to do in Siena

The Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena)

The Siena Cathedral (Duomo Di Siena)​

As you stroll through the charming streets of Siena, the majestic Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) commands your attention. An epitome of Gothic architecture in Italy, this cathedral is not just a religious edifice; it’s a symbol of Siena’s historical and artistic grandeur.

Constructed in the 13th century, the Cathedral stands proudly in the Piazza del Duomo. Its striking exterior, a harmony of white stone and marble, is a visual feast adorned with intricate paintings and sculptures. The façade, a masterpiece in itself, invites you to explore the wonders within.

Stepping inside the Cathedral is like entering a different world. The interior, with its polychrome marble arches and golden dome, is a testament to the artistic genius of the medieval era. Your eyes will be drawn to the elaborate marble mosaics on the floor, depicting biblical and allegorical scenes – each piece tells a story, a narrative crafted meticulously over centuries.

Practical Tips

for visiting The Siena Cathedral

Don’t miss the Baptistery of San Giovanni, adjacent to the cathedral. Its octagonal shape and Renaissance art, particularly the bronze panels depicting the life of John the Baptist, are awe-inspiring.

To fully experience the Cathedral’s wonders, consider the OPA SI Pass. This pass offers access not just to the cathedral but also to its crypt, the Baptistery of San Giovanni with its Renaissance artwork, the Museo dell’Opera, and the Facciatone viewpoint, among others. It’s your key to unlocking the secrets of this magnificent complex.

Best Dining Experience Nearby: After your visit, a meal at La Taverna di San Giuseppe is highly recommended. Their truffle pasta is a culinary delight!

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Tickets: €20 for adults; €5 for children aged 7-11. Free for children up to 6 years.
Opening hours: 10:00 am – 07:00 / 05:30 pm depending on the season. You can visit the official website for further information.

Piccolomini Library

Piccolomini Library, Siena

Tucked away inside the Siena Cathedral, the Piccolomini Library is a hidden treasure, a marvel of Renaissance art and architecture that leaves every visitor spellbound.

Commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini (later Pope Pius III) in 1492, the library was built to honor his uncle, Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Pope Pius II), and to preserve his valuable collection of manuscripts. This space is not just a library; it’s a celebration of a family’s legacy and its impact on history.

As you step into the library, you are immediately greeted by the vibrant paintings by Pinturicchio, which adorn the walls. These paintings, completed in 1508, are narrative masterpieces, vividly portraying significant events and characters from the life of Pope Pius II. The attention to detail and the richness of colors in these paintings are a testament to the artistic prowess of the early Renaissance.

The library’s walls are a canvas of history, with ten large paintings depicting various stages of Pope Pius II’s life. From his crowning as poet laureate by Frederick III to his canonization of Catherine of Siena, each painting is a storybook of his life’s pivotal moments. Notably, Pinturicchio and his friend Raphael painted themselves into several panels, offering a delightful ‘find the artist’ game for visitors.

The ceiling vaults of the library are adorned with elaborately detailed paintings , blending classical themes with Renaissance interpretations. Additionally, the library houses a precious collection of 15th-century codices and illuminated manuscripts, showcasing the exquisite art of manuscript illumination.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

From 1 March to 03 November 2024: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
From 4 November to 24 December 2024: 10:30 am – 5:30 pm
From 26 December  to 7 January 2025: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

The Baptistery of San Giovanni

A stone’s throw from the Siena Cathedral lies another architectural and artistic marvel – The Baptistery of San Giovanni. This sacred site is not just a place of worship but a canvas of history and artistry.

The Baptistery, with its distinctive octagonal shape, stands as a symbol of religious significance and architectural ingenuity. Constructed in the 14th century, it harmonizes with the Cathedral’s Gothic style yet asserts its unique identity.

Inside, the Baptistery is a haven of Renaissance art. The highlight is the baptismal font, adorned with bronze panels crafted by some of the most prominent sculptors of the time, including Donatello and Ghiberti. These panels, depicting scenes from the life of John the Baptist, are not just religious representations; they’re masterpieces showcasing the transition from Gothic to Renaissance art.

Look up, and you’re greeted by a frescoed ceiling that tells biblical stories through vivid imagery and rich colors. This ceiling is a visual representation of the artistic evolution that Siena experienced during the Renaissance.


The best time to visit is early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds.

The Crypt of the Siena Cathedral

Beneath the grandeur of the Siena Cathedral lies a hidden gem, steeped in mystery and history – the Crypt. Rediscovered only recently in 1999, the Crypt offers a unique window into the past, revealing secrets that lay buried for centuries.

The Crypt, dating back to the 13th century, was once a vibrant part of the Cathedral. However, it was sealed and forgotten over time, only to be unearthed in the late 20th century. This accidental discovery unveiled a treasure trove of well-preserved paintings that narrate stories from the Bible and Siena’s past.

The paintings in the Crypt are a stunning representation of early Italian art, showcasing a style that predates the renowned works of the Renaissance. The vivid colors and expressive figures in these paintings provide a rare glimpse into the artistic trends and techniques of the time.

Walking through the Crypt is an emotional experience. There’s a sense of intimacy and awe as you explore this underground sanctuary. The atmosphere is solemn yet beautiful, a space where history speaks directly to you.

A guided tour is recommended to fully appreciate the historical and artistic significance.

The Cathedral Museum (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo)

The Cathedral Museum, Siena

In the heart of Siena, adjacent to the Cathedral, lies the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo – a museum that is as much a part of the city’s history as the Cathedral itself. Housing an impressive collection of religious art and artifacts, this museum is a testament to Siena’s artistic and spiritual journey through the ages.

The Museum is home to a vast array of masterpieces from the medieval and Renaissance periods. It houses original statues from the façade of the Cathedral, including works by Giovanni Pisano, offering an up-close view of the artistry that adorns the exterior of the Cathedral.

One of the museum’s highlights is the Maestà by Duccio di Buoninsegna, a monumental altarpiece that once graced the high altar of the Cathedral. This work is not just a religious icon; it’s a pivotal piece in the history of Italian painting, marking a transition towards more naturalistic styles.

The museum also offers access to the Facciatone – the unfinished façade of the new cathedral. Climbing to the top, visitors are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Siena and its surroundings. It’s a visual journey that complements the artistic one inside the museum.

Each hall in the museum tells a different story, from the evolution of religious art in Siena to the city’s devotion and artistic patronage. The collection of sculptures, paintings, and manuscripts provides a comprehensive overview of the artistic endeavors that shaped Siena.

The Panorama from the Unfinished Façade (Facciatone)

One of Siena’s most unique experiences is the panoramic view from the Unfinished Façade, commonly referred to as the Facciatone. This architectural marvel, part of the ambitious expansion of the Cathedral that was never completed, now serves as a spectacular viewpoint, offering a glimpse of Siena like no other.

The Facciatone is a striking reminder of Siena’s ambitious architectural plans during the height of its medieval prosperity. Intended as part of a massive new cathedral, the Facciatone now stands as a poignant symbol of unfulfilled dreams, but also as a testament to the city’s historical grandeur.

Climbing to the top of the Facciatone is an experience in itself. As you ascend, the city of Siena unfolds beneath you, offering a 360-degree panorama that captures the essence of the Tuscan landscape. From this vantage point, you can see the rolling hills, the intricate layout of the medieval city, and the stunning Tuscan countryside stretching into the horizon.

For photography enthusiasts, the Facciatone provides a unique opportunity to capture the beauty of Siena from an elevated perspective. The play of light and shadow over the cityscape, especially during sunrise or sunset, creates a magical tableau that is both captivating and surreal.

Standing atop the Facciatone, one can’t help but reflect on the passage of time and the layers of history beneath. It’s a place that not only offers physical views but also a perspective on the historical and cultural journey of Siena.


The climb to the top can be steep and narrow, so it's advisable for visitors to be in good physical condition.

The Oratory of San Bernardino

Located in the heart of Siena, the Oratory of San Bernardino is a jewel in its own right. This oratory, dedicated to Saint Bernardino of Siena, is a nice example of Renaissance art and devotion.

The Oratory of San Bernardino is famous for its exquisite paintings and artworks. The walls and ceilings are adorned with paintings that tell the story of Saint Bernardino and his works. These artworks, created by prominent Sienese artists of the 15th and 16th centuries, are not just religious depictions; they are masterpieces that reflect the artistic vibrancy of Renaissance Siena.

Saint Bernardino, a native of Siena, was a revered preacher and a key figure in the Franciscan order. The oratory, located near the Basilica of San Francesco, serves as a testament to his legacy and influence in the city. It provides a window into the religious and cultural life of Siena during the Renaissance.

It is located close to the Basilica of San Francesco and there’s free entry.

The best time to visit it is in the late morning or early afternoon for the best natural light to view the paintings.

Santa Maria della Scala

Standing opposite the Siena Cathedral is Santa Maria della Scala, a monumental complex that traces its origins back to the 12th century. Initially one of Europe’s first hospitals, it has now been transformed into a museum, offering a deep dive into the art, history, and humanitarian legacy of Siena.

Santa Maria della Scala was more than a hospital; it was an institution that cared for the poor, pilgrims, and abandoned children, playing a pivotal role in the city’s social fabric. 

Today, the museum houses an impressive collection of art and artifacts. From Etruscan and Roman finds to medieval and Renaissance masterpieces, each exhibit tells a part of Siena’s rich history.

One of the highlights is the Pilgrim’s Hall (Pellegrinaio), adorned with paintings that depict the hospital’s history and its role in caring for the needy. These paintings , created by famous Sienese painters, offer a glimpse into the life and social conditions of the time.

The museum is well-equipped for visitors with mobility issues.

Piazza del Campo

Piazza Del Campo​, Siena

Piazza del Campo is a shell-shaped square that is not just the physical center of the city but also its cultural and social hub. Known for its architectural integrity and beauty, the Piazza del Campo is a place where history, tradition, and modern life seamlessly intertwine.

The square’s unique fan shape, divided into nine segments representing the Council of Nine who governed Siena in its medieval heyday, is a marvel of urban planning.

Twice a year, this peaceful square transforms into the exhilarating racetrack for the famous Palio horse race. This traditional event is not just a tourist attraction; it’s a deep-rooted cultural phenomenon that embodies the spirit of Siena’s contrade (districts) and its historical rivalries.

On regular days, Piazza del Campo is a place to relax, sit on the warm bricks, and watch the world go by. It’s a meeting point for locals and visitors alike, a perfect spot to enjoy a gelato or a cup of coffee while soaking in the vibrant atmosphere.

The square is dominated by the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena’s town hall, and the soaring Torre del Mangia. Climbing the tower offers a stunning view of the square and the city, a perspective that highlights the architectural genius of the Piazza del Campo.

The surrounding streets offer a variety of dining options, from casual eateries to upscale restaurants.

Don't miss the Fonte Gaia, the beautiful fountain at the higher end of the square.

Fonte Gaia

Fonte Gaia, Siena

In the upper reaches of the Piazza del Campo, you’ll find the Fonte Gaia, a magnificent fountain that is not just a source of water but a symbol of life and art in Siena. Its name, meaning “Joyful Fountain,” reflects the celebration and relief it brought to the citizens of Siena when it was first unveiled in the 14th century.

Originally designed by Jacopo della Quercia, one of the most prominent sculptors of his time, the Fonte Gaia is a masterpiece of Gothic sculpture. Although the original sculptures have been replaced with replicas to preserve them from the elements, the fountain’s artistry remains undiminished.

Palazzo Pubblico & the Civic Museum

Piazza Del Campo​, Siena

Dominating the Piazza del Campo with its impressive facade is the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena’s historic town hall, which houses the Civic Museum. 

The Palazzo Pubblico, built in the 13th century, is a fine example of Italian medieval architecture. Its bell tower, the Torre del Mangia, is one of the tallest in Italy, offering spectacular views of the city and its surroundings.

The Civic Museum inside the Palazzo is home to a wealth of art. It includes famous paintings like Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s ‘Allegory of Good and Bad Government,’ a masterpiece of medieval secular painting, and Simone Martini’s ‘Maestà,’ among others.

Torre del Mangia

Torre del Mangia​, Siena

The Torre del Mangia is one of Siena’s most iconic landmarks. Standing adjacent to the Palazzo Pubblico, this tower is not just a symbol of the city’s historic pride but also offers one of the best panoramic views of Siena and the Tuscan countryside.

Constructed between 1338 and 1348, the Torre del Mangia stands at an impressive height of 88 meters. It was built to be the same height as the Siena Cathedral, symbolizing the balance between church and state power in Siena.

Reaching the top of Torre del Mangia is a journey in itself, with over 400 steps. Once at the summit, you are greeted with breathtaking views. The red rooftops of Siena, the winding streets, and the rolling Tuscan hills unfold in a stunning panorama, offering a new perspective on this medieval city.

Explore the Historic Heart of Siena

A visit to Siena is incomplete without wandering through its historic heart. This section of the city, a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys, is where the true soul of Siena lies. 

The historic heart of Siena is home to a multitude of architectural wonders. From grand palaces like Palazzo Salimbeni to the quaintest of medieval homes, the diversity of structures is a visual feast.

This area is also where you’ll find some of Siena’s best local shops and cafés. Take time to explore these small businesses – whether it’s a shop selling traditional Sienese crafts or a café offering a taste of local cuisine.

Tucked away between buildings are small squares and gardens, often overlooked by tourists.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of exploring Siena’s historic heart is the opportunity to engage with locals.

Sometimes, the best discoveries are made when you let yourself wander without a strict itinerary.


City Gates of Siena

City Gates of Siena​

As you explore the outskirts of Siena’s historic center, you’ll encounter the ancient City Gates, the entry points to the city that have stood since medieval times. 

One of the most famous gates, Porta Camollia, is the traditional entrance to the city from the north. Inscribed with the Latin phrase ‘Cor magis tibi Sena pandit’ (Siena opens its heart to you more than this gate).

Each gate has its own story and architectural style. For instance, Porta Pispini, with its imposing structure, and Porta Romana, the main southern entrance to the city.

Some guided tours focus on the city’s medieval defenses and gates, offering in-depth historical context.

Basilica of San Domenico

Basilica of San Domenico,​ Siena

The Basilica of San Domenico is a beacon of spirituality and history in Siena. Known locally as Basilica Cateriniana, it holds a special place in the hearts of Sienese and visitors, particularly for its association with Saint Catherine of Siena, one of the city’s patron saints.

The Basilica, built in the 13th century, is a striking example of Gothic architecture. Its robust and unadorned façade, made of red brick, exudes a sense of strength and simplicity. Inside, the spacious nave and minimalistic interior draw attention to the stunning art and sacred relics it houses.

Perhaps the most significant treasure of the Basilica is the Chapel of Saint Catherine. It contains several relics of the saint, including her preserved head and thumb, making it a site of immense religious and historical significance.

The Palio of Siena

The Palio of Siena​

Held twice a year in the Piazza del Campo, The Palio is a spectacle that brings the entire city to life, showcasing a tradition that has been

The Palio is held on July 2nd and August 16th, turning the Piazza del Campo into a vibrant racetrack. Ten horses and riders, representing ten of the city’s seventeen contrade (districts), race around the piazza in a display of skill, courage, and competition.

Each district has its own colors, emblem, and passionate supporters, creating an atmosphere of intense excitement and community spirit.

The event is preceded by a spectacular parade, featuring elaborate costumes, flag bearers, and drummers. This historical procession harks back to Siena’s medieval past, adding to the event’s allure and festive spirit.

If you are there, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Take a Day Trip from Siena

Day trips from Siena can lead you to enchanting towns, stunning landscapes, and unforgettable experiences in the Tuscan countryside.


Chianti Wine Region

Just a short drive from Siena, the Chianti region offers rolling hills, vineyards, and picturesque villages. It’s the perfect destination for wine lovers, offering numerous vineyards and wineries where you can indulge in wine tasting and learn about the wine-making process.


San Gimignano

Known as the ‘Town of Fine Towers,’ San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture and tower houses. A stroll through its streets is like stepping back in time.


Montalcino and Montepulciano

These two towns are not only aesthetically beautiful but also famous for their wines – Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Visiting their vineyards and tasting rooms is a delightful experience for any wine enthusiast.



A gem in the Val d’Orcia, Pienza is known for its Renaissance architecture and its pecorino cheese. The town offers stunning views of the Tuscan landscape and is an ideal spot for enjoying local cuisine.

Where to eat in Siena

Siena is famous for its delicious Tuscan cuisine, characterized by fresh, local ingredients and simple yet flavourful dishes. 

1. Te Ke Voi?

Te Ke Voi is a gourmet fast food restaurant located in Siena, Italy, just a short walk from the Piazza del Campo. It offers a variety of sandwiches, salads, and other dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and it is a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
If you are looking for a delicious and affordable meal in Siena, Te Ke Voi is a great option.
Address: Vicolo S. Pietro, 4, 53100 Siena SI, Italy

2. Osteria La Mossa

Osteria La Mossa is a cozy and authentic Italian eatery where you can savour traditional dishes like pici pasta with wild boar sauce and ribollita, a hearty Tuscan soup. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, making it a perfect spot for a romantic dinner.
Address:  Via di Pantaneto, 105, 53100 Siena SI, Italy

3. Antica Trattoria Papei

This family-run trattoria offers classic Tuscan fare in a charming setting. Try the pappa al pomodoro (tomato and bread soup), the Chianina steak, or the Sienese almond biscuits for dessert. The attentive service and historic ambiance make it a delightful dining experience.
Address: Via di San Pietro, 32, 53100 Siena SI, Italy

4. La Taverna di San Giuseppe

This charming restaurant, located near the Siena Cathedral, serves delectable Sienese cuisine. Don’t miss their signature dish, pici with cacio e pepe, a simple but incredibly satisfying pasta dish. The extensive wine list complements the menu perfectly.
Address:  Via San Giuseppe, 62, 53100 Siena SI, Italy

5. Gino Cacino

Gino Cacino is a local favourite and a must-visit for those who appreciate high-quality, innovative Italian cuisine. The menu is a fusion of traditional and modern dishes, and the knowledgeable staff can suggest wine pairings to enhance your meal.
Address: Via di Salicotto, 11, 53100 Siena SI, Italy

Where to Stay in Siena

Florence boasts historic palaces converted into luxurious hotels, such as the St. Regis Florence and the Hotel Savoy. These opulent establishments provide world-class service and a taste of Renaissance elegance.

For a more intimate experience, consider staying in boutique guesthouses like the Ad Astra or the Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni. These charming accommodations offer a personalized and cozy atmosphere.

Budget-conscious travellers can find affordable hostels and guesthouses throughout the city. Hostels like Plus Florence provide a comfortable stay with a social atmosphere.


1. What is the best time to visit Siena?

Spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) are ideal, offering pleasant weather and fewer crowds. July and August can be hot and crowded.

2. Do I need to buy tickets in advance for Siena’s attractions?

For popular sites like the Siena Cathedral and the Palio, it’s advisable to purchase tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

3. Can I drive in the city center?

Siena’s city center is a Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL), restricted for non-residential vehicles. It’s best to park outside the ZTL and explore on foot.

4. Is Siena suitable for a day trip?

Yes, Siena can be explored as a day trip, especially from cities like Florence. However, staying longer allows you to experience the city more fully.

5. What are some must-try foods in Siena?

Try local specialties like pici pasta, ribollita soup, and panforte, a traditional Sienese cake.

6. Are there guided tours available in Siena?

Yes, there are various guided tours available, ranging from historical walking tours to food and wine tours.

7. Is Siena child-friendly?

Siena is generally child-friendly, with many open spaces and attractions that appeal to younger visitors. The hilly terrain may be challenging for strollers.

8. What should I wear when visiting Siena?

Comfortable walking shoes are a must. Dress modestly if you plan to visit religious sites.

9. Can I use credit cards in Siena?

Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s good to have some cash, especially for smaller shops or rural areas.

10. How can I respect local culture in Siena?

Be mindful of local customs, especially during events like The Palio. Learning a few Italian phrases can also go a long way in showing respect.

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