Siena is one of the largest and most impressive cities in all of Tuscany, and with its medieval architecture in the Italian Gothic style, it is also considered one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Nestled in the beautiful hilly landscape of Tuscany, Siena offers a lot of art, culture and Italian history. There is an incredible amount to experience here, but it can also be quite exhausting. Why this is and which Siena highlights you should not miss in any case you can read now in our travel report.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Siena in Tuscany
Siena has about 55,000 inhabitants and is something like the little sister of nearby Florence. While the breathtaking cityscape of Florence is from the Renaissance, the architecture of Siena is from the Middle Ages and therefore seems less sophisticated and more barren and gray. You don’t get to marvel here as much as you do in Florence at every turn.
Nevertheless, Siena is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular destinations in Tuscany and all of Italy. Numerous architectural highlights are waiting to be discovered by you. In addition to art and history, the city also has an intense student life, which is due to the university, which almost 20,000 students attend here.
The imposing old town of Siena is surrounded by rather uninteresting and rather run-down districts of newer construction and is situated somewhat elevated on a small hill. So you can get a wonderful panoramic view of the old town of Siena from outside.
The Best Activities in Tuscany
Tuscany is not only beautiful, but also offers many opportunities for great excursions to get to know the area and the Tuscan way of life even better. Whether wine tasting, city trips or Italian cooking classes. There is something for everyone here.
|Day Trip Pisa, Siena & San Gimignano w/Lunch
|from 78 €
|Chianti Wineries Tour with Food and Wine Tasting
|from 46 €
|Florence: Pizza and Gelato Preparation Class
|from 69 €
|Cinque Terre Day Trip with Optional Hike and Lunch
|from 100 €
The Best Things To Do in Siena
Cathedral of Siena
Opening hours: 10.30 – 18.00 (Mon-Sat), 13.30 – 18.00 (Sun)
Admission: from 9 Euro
Tickets: see below
Siena Cathedral is certainly the most beautiful building in the city and one of the most impressive churches I have ever seen. The Duomo is a magnificent building made of black and white marble and is one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in all of Italy. The cathedral (ital. Duomo Santa Maria della Scala) was completed in 1357 after almost 200 years of construction.
Fun Fact: Actually, construction stopped that year only because of plague and lack of money and simply never resumed. Completed at that time was only the side aisle which was used but from then on as the actual cathedral.
Already from the outside, the cathedral of Siena is incredibly impressive, but that should not keep you from visiting the interior. This is because compared to other cathedrals in Tuscany (such as the cathedral of Florence) incredibly impressive and pompous.
The floor of the interior consists of intricately constructed marble floors on which scenes from the Old Testament can be seen. Unfortunately, most of the marble floor is covered most of the time to protect it from wear and tear, and thus cannot always be viewed.
But even so, there is an incredible amount to discover in the interior of the cathedral and one can hardly get enough of the ornate wall decorations and imposing black and white columns.
Unfortunately, to see the cathedral from the inside, you need to buy a ticket, for which there are several somewhat confusing ticket variants for the Siena Cathedral.
|What to expect
|Get a Ticket
|Siena Cathedral & Piccolomini Library Entrance Ticket
|Book a Skip-the-Line Ticket*
|Opa Si Pass
|Siena Cathedral Complex Pass (OPA SI Pass)
|from 18 €
|Book a Skip-the-Line Ticket*
|Porta del Ciela All Inclusive
|Cathedral + all museums/outdoor buildings + Gate of Heaven
Piazza del Campo
Opening hours: always open
Admission: free of charge
Piazza del Campo is the central square in Siena and one of the most popular sights in the city. It is also probably one of the most famous squares in all of Italy. Many important landmarks are located in this square such as the town hall Palazzo Pubblico with its distinctive tower Torre del Mangia, which can be seen from afar.
Piazza del Campo is surrounded by reddish-brown town houses, which also characterize the general cityscape of Siena. It is not only the largest square in Siena, but also the most beautiful. You feel really free here, because the rest of the old town is rather characterized by narrow streets.
Twice a year, for centuries, the toughest horse race in the world is held here, the Palio of Siena. At all other times, the square is a popular place to stay for tourists and locals and you can see people sitting everywhere on steps or in the cafes, drinking a coffee and enjoying life.
Palazzo Pubblico + Torre del Mangia
Opening hours: 10.00 – 19.00
Admission: from 9 Euro (Museo Civico)
Directly on the largest square of the city, the Piazza del Campo, stands for centuries the City Hall of Siena, the Palazzo Publico in which you can see many famous frescoes. The rather plain building is one of the main attractions of Siena, along with the Duomo, and houses, among other things, the Museo Civico museum. The interior of the Palazzo Pubblico can be entered for free, if you want to go further inside, you have to buy a ticket.
Visible from afar is the 102 meter high tower Torre del Mangia, which stands right next to the town hall and which you can climb up almost 500 steps. The tickets for this cost 10 € and can currently only be purchased on site at the ticket office.
Basilica di San Domenico
Opening hours: 07:30 – 18:30
Admission: free of charge
The Basilica of San Domenico is one of the most important churches of Siena and the construction of this simple basilica took over 200 years. It is located on a hill (Colle di Camporeggio) and from here you have a great view of the Duomo, which is located on the opposite side of the old town.
The church is intentionally kept very simple from the outside, as it is a so-called mendicant church and belongs to the Dominican Order.
There are countless frescoes and other beautiful works of art to see in the Basilica of San Domenico. The entrance is free!
Things to know about Siena
Driving in the old town
Unfortunately (or thankfully?) you cannot enter the old town of Siena with your private car, as it is a ZTL zone. But this does not apply to residents, suppliers and other people with a legitimate interest. As a result, cars are constantly driving down really every little alley in Siena. This was very annoying for us at some point. You could not stroll in peace or stroll along the shop windows without a cab or delivery truck driving by and you had to go to the side.
In contrast, this does not happen in Florence, where the old town consists mostly of pedestrian zones without car traffic.
Parking in Siena
Finding a parking lot in Siena is unfortunately not that easy. There are several parking garages and of course also quite expensive parking lots outside the city. We present you a few, so that you do not have to search for so long.
Parking garage in Siena
The super located parking garage Parcheggio Il Duomo is only 1 km away from the Palazzo Pubblico directly at the edge of the old town. Parking costs 2€/hour and max. 35€ per day. You can find the parking garage here on Google Maps.
Parking on the street
Parking on the street is always a risk in Italy, because Italians don’t seem to love their cars as much as we do. Dents and dings are not uncommon when discarding. Should you still decide to park your car on the street, we can recommend the following area not far from the old town. Here parking costs 2 € per hour and you can easily pay with the app EasyPark and also extend the parking time on the road. You have a spectacular view of the old town from here and walk about 20 minutes to the cathedral. You can find the place here on Google Maps.
Siena or Florence?
We were often asked which city is now more beautiful and which city you have to accommodate on a Tuscany road trip in any case, Florence or Siena.
The answer is of course: both. Both cities are very worth seeing and are so close to each other that both should be visited by you. But of course Florence is far above Siena in the city ranking, at least in our opinion. Florence is much more beautiful, exciting and worth seeing than neighboring Siena. A big disadvantage of Siena, in our opinion, is that cars drive through every little alley in the old town. This is not the case in Florence.
So if you only have time for one city, you should go to Florence.
How long should I stay in Siena?
There is a lot to see in Siena, but in our opinion it is not as nice to explore as Florence because of the traffic in the center. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can visit the highlights of Siena in one day. If you have more time and want to visit museums and galleries, then it can be 2-3 days.
Staying in Siena
There are many nice hotels directly in the old town and also a little cheaper accommodation a little outside. We now present 2 nice places to stay in Siena.
Luxury in the old town of Siena
– located directly at the cathedral
– beautiful boutique hotel
– breakfast prepared with love
Casatorre dei Leoni Dimora Storica | Book Now*
Beautiful monastery hotel just outside Siena
– located in an old monastery
– wonderful ambience with pool and olive trees
– quiet location, but you can reach the cathedral quickly
Hotel Certosa Di Maggiano | Book Now*
The famous horse race Palio
Siena is also famous for a historic sporting event, the Palio. This is a horse race that has been held twice a year since the Middle Ages, where different districts of Siena compete against each other.
This horse race is held in the central Piazza del Campo and still enjoys great popularity. On a screen at the entrance to the Museo Civico at Palazzo Pubblico you can see individual scenes of such a race, which is not without danger for horse and rider.