There is a vast amount to see and do in the historic city of Florence. However, if you are staying for more than a few days you might want to take the opportunity to explore the towns and countryside of Tuscany, or even to venture a little further afield. Here are some of the best day trips from Florence, most of them easy journeys by public transport. (If you are new to Italian train travel have a look at our guide to using the trains in Italy.)
Pisa is famous for its Leaning Tower, but there is a whole load more to the city than that. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Piazza dei Miracoli (of which the Leaning Tower is a part), wander the streets of the medieval town centre, or relax in the Botanic Gardens. Read more: The Bits Of Pisa That Most Tourists Miss.
Pisa is around an hour from Florence by fast train.
2. San Gimignano
The walled hill town of San Gimignano is another of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tuscany. Although small it is stunning, and easy to explore in a day.
The first thing you will notice when you arrive in San Gimignano is the 14 medieval towers, built by powerful families to showcase their wealth. Climb to the top of the Torre Grossa for the views across the town and the Tuscan countryside. Elsewhere in the historic centre you’ll find cobbled streets, medieval buildings and art treasures. And, if you pass through the walls and walk down the hill you’ll discover the aqueducts that once supplied the town with water.
You can either drive to San Gimignano from Florence, or take the bus (about 1 hour and 40 minutes). If you drive, note that you will have to park outside the town walls.
Yet another World Heritage Site is the historic centre of Siena, noted for its medieval atmosphere and splendid architecture. The town is small and compact, and the main sights are close together.
Start with the massive, but beautiful, Piazza del Campo, the main square. From here you can walk to the magnificent cathedral, with its mosaic floor, marble-clad columns and Renaissance art. Along the way you can stop at several other buildings, including the Torre del Mangia (climb to the top for the views).
Siena is an hour and a half by train from Florence.
Lucca is a small but pleasant town not far from Pisa. One of its main attractions is the complete circuit of medieval walls where you can enjoy a peaceful walk taking in both history and parkland. Within the walled area is the old town with its cathedral, shops and restaurants. Read more about Walking The Walls Of Lucca.
The train journey from Florence to Lucca takes approximately an hour and a half.
Although it suffered bomb damage during World War II, there is enough art and architecture in Arezzo to keep you occupied for a day or more. The town is known for its aptly named Piazza Grande (which is both large and grand), and for its churches and museums.
However, the major attraction of Arezzo is the Basilica di San Francesco. Here you will find the 15th century fresco cycle of the Legend of the True Cross, regarded as one of the masterpieces of Italian art. Visitor numbers are limited: make sure you book in advance.
The journey to Arezzo is around an hour by train.
LivItaly have a whole range of small group tours throughout Italy. Readers of this site can get a 5% discount on all of their tours by using discount code BEWITCHEDBYITALY
You could spend several days in Bologna, in the neighbouring region of Emilia-Romagna. However, if time is limited you can get a flavour of the city in a single day trip.
Walk along the arcades for which Bologna is famous (another World Heritage Site) and enjoy the food for which it is equally famous! Then explore the churches, museums and gardens. For more inspiration have a look at this post: How To Spend A Perfect Day In Bologna.
Bologna is 40 minutes from Florence if you take the fast train.
Other Ideas For Day Trips From Florence
If you hire a car you have the whole of Tuscany, with its hill towns, villages and vineyards, to choose from. Alternatively you could take an organised trip, such as this Tuscany with Lunch And Wine or a Wine Tasting Experience.
LivTours offer specialised trips including a Marble Quarry Tour in the UNESCO Creative City of Carrara, or a Chianti Wine Tour. Remember that you can get a 5% discount with LivTours with the discount code BEWITCHEDBYITALY.