What to Visit in Siena In 1 or 2 Days?

There is a lot of sights to see in Siena

What to see in Siena in 1-2 days or more? Main attractions and unique places of interest to visit, prices 2024. Where is better to stay and go in the surroundings, how to get to Siena from Rome or Florence – in the article of good Time for Trip.

In Siena, the big by the standards of Tuscany and (surprisingly) lovely city, travelers don’t stay long. 1 day, maximum, two they set aside for a visit. More of their time foreigners, exploring of Italy, usually don’t intend to spend on some kind of “province”.

Why, if their plans include such cities as Rome and Milan, Florence and Venice?

And this is unfair. Moreover, it’s just wrong, as there are a lot of unique places you should to see in Siena.

As maybe you know, this city was once the influential republic, the powerful competitor of Florence and leader of banking in Europe. Original churches, rich houses and palaces once were built here, art and trade flourished.

Today, one of the prettiest Tuscan cities is in a kind of tourist vacuum. Which, however, not so bad!

As it allowed to keep a lot of buildings in almost pristine condition. As well as preserved the wonderful peaceful atmosphere of antiquity.

Therefore – don’t hesitate, come to see Siena for 2 or more days. And then linger just as long – this medieval fairy tail definitely treats mental injuries and restores energy reserves no worse than an elite resort.

Top Attractions of Siena

In general, they are listed on hundreds of pages on the Internet and, in principle, they are widely known. However, not all of them – again, the majority of tourists visiting Siena in just 1 day are simply not able to see much.

As well, I have been to this city more than once and have made my own opinion of what to visit here firstly and secondly. And let me begin from the unusual point –

Basilica of San Domenico

that is located in the northwest corner of the local old town, right on the border of the so-called Siena Restricted Area or ZTL. Looking quite simple but grandiose building of this church stands in 8-10 minutes’ walk both from Piazza del Campo or Siena Cathedral, which, as anyone know, are the main Siena’s attractions.

Basilica San Domenico, Siena

But I insist – start you acquaintance with the Tuscan city from the Basilica of San Domenico or just Cateriniana. The strong, rude, fair building of the pure Gothic style which amaze everyone  – the brick hulk, almost lacking of architectural delights, makes a colossal impression with its size, power and… asceticism.

Inside, everything is different than in Siena Cathedral or other main Italian temples: a lot of free space and a minimum of columns

Only the ceiling soars high and candles crackle softly. There are especially many of them in the chapel of St. Catherine, the Patron Saint of Siena and Europe as a whole.

A 3-5-minute walk is the Medici Fortress, built according to all the canons of fortification art – their walls inspire respect with their thickness. But it isn’t so easy to find an entrance which hides on the right side of the fortress, if you go from from the Basilica of San Domenico.

There is nothing to look at inside: only the square where once parades and divorces were held, and beautiful fountains that no longer beat. Though, admission is free and you can relax on the benches admiring Siena’s panoramas and gold-green Tuscan hills on the horizon.

Siena’s (Other) Churches

Next advice – don’t pass by old churches that are literally everywhere here. If you see an open door – go inside, in many cases it’s absolutely free!

There are usually few, if any, visitors inside most of Sienese churches that are not advertised by guidebooks. But there is a wonderful, soothing atmosphere, literally the aura of a place that you will probably meet only in Italy. Where even today, they revere deeply rooted ancient traditions here.

Rows of wooden benches, Gothic pointed arches that are hundreds of years old, sun gilding walls – it’s worth it to linger for an extra time. The statue of the Madonna, Christ on the cross in the center of the altar, glowing candles – no one and nothing will prevent you from communicating with God and looking inside yourself. And to come out a little different, a much more integral person…

Siena Cathedral

After that (or before – it all depends on your itinerary) it’s time to pay a thorough visit to the Cathedral of Siena. After all, it is fundamentally beautiful, a kind of giant handmade jewelry box outside decorated with white and pink marble.

Such an architectural solution is not original for Tuscany. For example, the same Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence is covered from the base to the roof with white-green marble.

In Siena you should see inside Siena Cathedral

Inside, the Siena Cathedral is organized very interestingly: the arches are supported by bundles of 4 black-and-white (these are the colors of the city) columns. To the left, in the course of the visitors’ movement, there is a door through which you can get to the famous Piccolomini library, all painted with frescoes by Pinturicchio, the “Little artist”.

A visit to Siena Cathedral and the library will cost only 7 € (2024) – anyone will hardly find a reason to save – operalaboratori.vivaticket.it/en/tour/complesso-monumentale-del-duomo-di-siena/2589.

Well, now about the main thing to do – in Siena, you should definitely see

Piazza del Campo

is the central square of the city. Not flat, like most of its “normal” colleagues, but a cobblestone amphitheater tilted to the middle.

It is on Piazza del Campo on July 2 and August 16 that the famous Siena Palio, horse races on bareback horses, are held annually. A wonderful and amazing tradition that comes from the depths of the Middle Ages.

By the way, not just jockeys and horses compete in horse racing, but Sienese contrads. That is, 17 urban areas that have not needed to figure out who is better with fists or sticks for centuries

At the base of Piazza del Campo stands the palace of the local (Republican!) authorities,

Palazzo Publico

Rises here and the tower, the bell on which informed the townspeople about all important events, Torre del Mangia.

The palazzo was once the center of city and republican self-government, now it opens for visitors as the museum. Inside have been preserved original interiors and furniture, as well as frescoes of the XIV century!

The ticket costs just 6 €, visitors with children pass on a family ticket for 22 €: museocivico.comune.siena.it (open hours 10 am – 7 pm). A visit to Torre del Mangia is prudently not included in the indicated price. A complex ticket costs 24 (40) €.

You may go inside, even if you planned to spend only 1 day on a trip to Siena – just to see how republican institutions were organized in medieval Italy, admire the frescoes of the Pre-Renaissance period.

But to be honest – it’s not obligatory. As just to sit on the stones of the Piazza del Campo, see Palazzo Publico and Torre del Mangia from outside – absolutely enough to understand – you’re in Siena!

It's obligatory to see Palazzo Publico in Siena

Fonte Gaia

This fountain in Piazza del Campo will attract the attention of any tourist. After all, the “Joyous Fountain”, which is a rectangular pool, is a fine example of architecture of quattrocento, that is, the early Renaissance (the beginning of the XV century).

Of course, I would recommend walking around the square and surroundings streets with a guide. By the way, you can also buy Piazza del Campo some interesting Italian souvenirs. For a slightly higher price, however, than in other, not so touristic, locations of Siena.

Where to Eat

Next, you should reload yourself – with some original Italian dishes, and even pasta. Near Piazza del Campo there are plenty of restaurants where it’s served freat authentique food.

The quality of local eateries is determined simply: if the tables on the terrace are occupied by Italians themselves, feel free to sit!

Pizza Margarita costs there from € 7-8. Homemade pasta, the like of which you will never buy in a store, is about the same. Drinks – from € 5-6 for a bottle of water (1.5 liters) or beer (0.5), € 3-4 a cup of coffee.

Before I continue telling, let me give you another (useful) advice – hope, it will save you a lot of time…

How to Get to the Old Town

Siena stands on the hills, so in order to get to the old town from the train station, for example, you will have to sweat. Well, or to know that there is a (complete free!) travelator that lifts both from the bottom to the top, and descends in the opposite direction.

So right from the train station go to a four-span escalator hidden in the bowels of the nearby shopping complex. It will lift you to the top of the hill in 5 minutes – otherwise you will be climbing up for a long time.

From the upper exit of the travelator to the Porta Camolia, the gate leading to the old town of Siena, less than 5 minutes on foot!

At the exit, just turn to the left and walk some distance along a pretty shady street. After 2-3 minutes, you will come to an ancient arch at a three-beam intersection.

This is the famous Porta Camolia, one of those attractions you must see in Siena. The cherished ancient portal, behind which all the most interesting things of the city are hidden.

On the way, you may go to the other side of the street and try the incredibly delicious Italian gelato. Which is sold directly at a street kiosk at a very modest price.

Another memorable attraction of Siena on the way to its center is Palazzo Salimbieni, standing on the square of the same name. This palace is the ancestral home of an influential local family. Then it became the headquarters of the large Italian bank – Monte dei Paschi.

This credit institution considered to be the oldest in the world. And quite recently, it was the most influential in Italy. The bank was ruined by the passion for investing in residential real estate – the crisis in this area, which happened at the beginning of the XXI century, instantly turned assets into unsecured and even “bad”.

Piazza del Campo - is the main medieval square of the Tuscan city

Where to Stay

Once again, Siena deserves more than a one-day visit! And if you did not come here by your own or rented car, be sure to stop in its historical center – you will be fascinated by the atmosphere prevailing there.

Yes, this is not a cheap pleasure – a room for 2 in the local hotels will cost from € 80-90 per day. But come on – you can stay just 100-200 meters from Piazza del Campo!

I recommend to pay attention to the guest house Attilio Camere, which is located 2-5 from the main attractions. Its rooms are looking modestly, but they are equipped with everything you need for a comfortable overnight stay. The property also has a shared small kitchen with a refrigerator.

If you’re travelling by car, it’s better to stay a suburban hotel. This is unlikely to save significant sum, but will reward you with an interesting experience of living in the Tuscan “wilderness”.

If you don’t come on Palio days: on July 2 and August 16, the city will certainly charm you with its indescribable aura and soothing tranquility

Everyone should just stroll around medieval Siena. Soak up the atmosphere, eat simple but incredibly delicious foods in local restaurants, drink real Chianti and Remole, overeat gelato – the latter is fantastic here!

Doing nothing can last a day or two or even a week. And I assure – you will remember this episode of your life for a long time!

What to Do Nearby

There are some incredibly romantic old basilicas near Siena. A visit to each of them is like a relaxation – so it heals a soul wounded by everyday running around.

Let’s mention, for example, one of the most significant local churches, the Basilica dell’Osservanza, standing on top of a green hill. It is worth watching and photographing at dawn, when the rising sun paints the brick walls in amazing colors.

Of course, it’s worth driving here a car – the distances here are small, and there is an excellent chance to see Tuscany. The region, which they like to give as an example, talking about “real Italy”

Tuscany is very sunny and extremely sincere place, the most introverted person flourishes here. By the way, such people as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti were born in Tuscany.

The best scenery in Italy can be seen in Tuscany

Going north from Siena to see Florence, a traveler can turn off along the way to pay a visit to San Gimignano. For a reason – perfectly preserved from the Middle Ages “The City of 14 Towers” is UNESCO Heritage Site.

If you will go with a train, it becomes difficult to get there (plus bus). But along the way you can explore the town-station Poggibonsi, literally charming with its simple beauty.

Not so loved by foreign tourist, but also a well-known Montalcino, the small town 40 km south of Siena. No wonder – there is produced the most expensive wine in Italy, Brunello di Montalcino. The medieval town, however, is pretty in itself and definitely worth visiting!

How to Get to Siena

Day tourists arrive in the city mainly by train or bus which is more convenient. It’s also possible to get to Siena by car, but this step requires being a fan of autotravellings – the local roads are too winding and – sometimes – narrow.

Less than 1.5 hours takes the railroad ride to the city from Florence (distance about 70 km). From Rome, a trip will last almost 4 hours, and you to make two transfers: in Order and Chuisi-Chianciano Terme!

The Frecciarossa can save you about 30 minutes, but it’s the quite expensive solution. And, by the way, in any case, first you will arrive in Florence

The most convenient type of public transport to get from Rome to Siena is a bus! As it will cover the distance of about 240 km in 2 hours and 40 minutes, an adult ticket costs around € 30.

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About STen 184 Articles
Traveling is like a life: the further you go, the more understand. I am not a writer or a journalist, but believe that my real & reach experience gained on trips can be useful. The whole Europe and Turkey are enough for me so far... Spent a lot of time in Turkey, lived in Italy and Spain, visited France and the Czech Republic, Greece and Hungary, now I am exploring Montenegro)