13 Best Day Trips from Florence, Italy

Nadia Nadia

Written by Nadia

Florence
Best day trips from Florence, Italy

Along with Rome, Milan, and Venice, glorious Florence is one of the most popular Italian destinations. It is no wonder that thousands of tourists strive to experience Florence’s immaculate cuisine, stunning nature, rich cultural heritage, and its historic area, which has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

However, if you have checked all the major Florencian sights off your bucket list, it is time to venture towards new experiences. For instance, you may consider visiting nearby cities which also deserve your attention. Luckily, Italy’s compactness allows you to reach many surrounding places in a few hours (or even less).

Below you will find 13 lovely destinations you can get to by train, bus, or car.

Key takeaways


  • The closest cities for a day trip are Arezzo, Pisa, Lucca, Cortona, and Bologna.
  • It will take you a bit longer to get to Cinque Terre, Rome, Venice, and Volterra.
  • Siena is a perfect option for a road trip with six lovely cities along the way.
  • If you have a chance to take a car, choose this option as it gives you more flexibility.

Day trips from FlorenceDistance, milesBy TrainBy Bus or Car
Prato14.927 minutes25 minutes
Pistoia34.235 minutes55 minutes
San Gimignano36.71 hour 30 minutes1 hour 30 minutes
Arezzo47.231 minutes2 hours
Volterra49.72 hours 47 minutes1 hour 10 minutes
Pisa54.71 hour1 hour 5 minutes
Siena54.7n/a55 minutes
Lucca59.01 hour 20 minutes1 hour 45 minutes
Bologna67.11 hour 25 minutes1 hour 20 minutes
Cortona72.11 hour3 hours 58 minutes
Cinque Terre124.32 hours 30 minutes2-3 hours
Venice161.62 hours 14 minutes3 hours 35 minutes
Rome169.61 hour 30 minutes3 hours 15 minutes
Read also: 23 Amazing Art Museums in Italy

1. Pisa

Pisa, Italy
Photo by Alexey Turenkov on Unsplash

Phenomenal Pisa’s Leaning Tower, situated just one hour from Florence, might be the second most well-known European symbol after Eiffel’s masterpiece. This landmark had been one of my dream destinations, and it turned out even more impressive than I expected.

The Leaning Tower is embedded in the architectural complex of Piazza dei Miracoli, which deserves a couple of hours’ walk. Check out the gorgeous Duomo, a medieval Pisa cathedral. Its marble facade, massive doors, and pointed arches show a Byzantine influence, and once inside, you can see an incredible frescoed dome. Generally speaking, if I had to choose only one destination, Pisa would be my top preference.

How to get to Pisa from Florence by train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Pisa Centrale
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour
  • Tickets: from $9

How to get to Pisa from Florence by bus

  • Departure: Villa Constanza Tram T1
  • Arrival: Via delle Fiamme Gialle
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
  • Tickets: from $9

Read also: What to do in Florence in 2 days

2. Lucca

Lucca, Italy
Photo by Andreas Weilguny

Lucca is situated 10.5 miles (17 km) from Pisa – plan your trip in a way to check out both.

As “a city of hundred churches,” Lucca has preserved many religious structures from different eras: gothic, Renaissance, medieval times, etc. It is impractical to visit all of them in one day, so explore the essentials: Lucca Cathedral, Basilica di San Michele in Foro, and Basilica of San Frediano.

While walking in the city center, take a look at Torre Guinigi, a tower with a rooftop garden. The building is tall enough, so the oak trees can be observed from many spots in Lucca.

How to get to Lucca from Florence by train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Luca
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Tickets: from $9

How to get to Lucca from Florence by bus

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Lucca
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Tickets: from $9

3. Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre is the best chance to appreciate the beauty of Italy’s nature. Five villages, isolated from the rest of the world, sit on the coastline west of Florence. The vibrant, cozy, and highly photogenic Cinque Terre complex will no doubt leave you in awe. 

The towns (Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, and Vernazza) are interconnected by the hike paths and trails – climb to the very top for the best view possible! Cinque Terre at night is equally stunning – the lights in tiny windows and the noise of the sea make it feel dreamy. So, consider spending two days in this wonderful area.

How to get to Cinque Terre from Florence by train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Riomaggiore Station
  • Shortest travel time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
  • Tickets: from $16

Helpful tip Depending on the route, you may need to switch trains at La Spezia Centrale and take a 10-minute ride to the village of preference.

How to get to Cinque Terre from Florence by car

Driving from Florence to Cinque Terre will take 2-2.5 hours. However, remember that cars are banned in the Cinque Terre area. So park your car close to La Spezia Centrale and hop on the train.

4. Rome

Rome, Italy

If the Italian capital is not the first place you visit, consider heading towards Rome from Florence. Being a cradle of Western civilization (together with Greece, of course), Rome cannot be overstated, and there are a plethora of things to see and do over the weekend.

The list of sights is long: Colosseum, Pantheon, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica – those are the breathtaking essentials. I recommend reading up on the historical background or taking a guided tour to get a more profound overview. Rome is also a gastronomic center of the country, so try as many pasta variations as possible!

How to get to Rome from Florence by train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Rome Termini
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Tickets: from $10

How to get to Rome from Florence by bus

  • Departure: Villa Constanza
  • Arrival: Autostazione Tiburtina
  • Shortest travel time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Tickets: from $5

5. Venice

Venice, Italy

This destination will take a bit longer to reach, but trust me – you have never seen anything like this before. All of Venice is riddled with canals, and the buildings seem to rise straight from the water – that is why Venice is known as a “floating city”.

Make sure to ride on a gondola, a traditional flat-bottomed boat, to capture the perspective view from below. Visit the magnificent Saint Mark’s Basilica and the basilica-dominated square in the very heart of Venice, and cross Rialto bridge, one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal.

As for cuisine, local eateries exhibit high levels of service and food quality. Try “risi e bisi”, a Venetian dish of rice and peas; and tiramisu, which is said to have been invented here – a real chef’s kiss!

How to Get to Venice from Florence by Train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Venice Santa Lucia
  • Shortest travel time: 2 hours and 14 minutes
  • Tickets: from $13

How to Get to Venice from Florence by Bus

  • Departure: Villa Constanza
  • Arrival: Viale Stanzione 
  • Shortest travel time: 3 hours and 35 minutes
  • Tickets: from $8

6. Cortona

Cortona, Italy

Italy is famous for hilltop towns situated on the hillsides or the very top of hills. Enchanting Cortona in the Tuscany region is a perfect example of such a settlement.

First, do not expect to see enormous cathedrals or well-known museums in Cortona. This city is worth visiting for a different reason – authentic medieval streets, breathtaking views of the emerald valley below, and olive trees scattered throughout the city.

Stop by little churches, such as the Church of San Francesco, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio, and the Palazzo Comunale, which was built in the 13th century. Overall, Cortona is a peaceful, cozy place, perfect for a day trip from Florence.

How to get to Cortona from Florence by train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Terontola Cortona
  • Shortest travel time: 58 minutes
  • Tickets: from $10

How to get to Cortona from Florence by bus

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Terontola Cortona
  • Shortest travel time: 3 hours and 58 minutes
  • Tickets: from $18

7. Siena

Siena, Italy

If in Florence, it is a sin not to explore Siena, an incredible medieval Tuscan city which is just one hour away!

Start with strolling around Siena’s city center, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. You will see how uniform the architecture is: Most buildings, such as Publicco Palace, are predominantly made of brick, so the landscape is reddish brown. No wonder the marble Duomo di Siena stands out for its ivory color.

Siena is also famous for the Summer Palio horse race: I have not had a chance to watch it yet, but this annual event attracts thousands of people from all over Europe.

As for traditional delicacies, try ricciarelli, almond-flavored cookies that melt in your mouth.

Ricciarelli
Ricciarelli

How to get to Siena from Florence by bus

  • Departure: Florence Villa Costanza
  • Arrival: Siena, Stanzione FS
  • Shortest travel time: 55 minutes
  • Tickets: from $9

How to get to Siena from Florence by car

Siena is 45.4 miles (73 km) from Florence, which is around a one-hour car ride. Take the Raccordo Autostradale Firenze or A1/E35 route and head south.

Helpful tip If you want a weekend road trip, consider stopping by six small cities on the road to Siena: San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Certaldo, San Gimignano, Colle Val d’Elsa, and Monteriggioni.

8. Volterra

Volterra, Italy

Volterra is somewhat of a secret location that few people know about. To estimate how small this off-the-beaten-path city is, Volterra’s population is just 11,000 people.

The city is enclosed within stone walls, meaning it has only one way in and one way out. There are many intriguing historical spots, such as the Roman Theater, one of the most well-preserved in Italy, Duomo Santa Maria Assunta, and the legendary Palazzo Viti, the residence of Giuseppe Viti’s descendants.

Visit the Etruscan Museum to learn about the Etruscan heritage of Volterra as well as Roman and prehistoric art. Finally, do not forget to ask the locals about the vampire myths – this is a crucial part of Volterra’s cultural background!

How to get to Volterra from Florence by train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Volterra Saline-Pom.
  • Shortest travel time: 2 hours and 47 minutes (with one transfer)
  • Tickets: from $16 

How to get to Volterra from Florence by car

The drive from Florence to Volterra is 47.2 miles (76 km), which is approximately a 1 hour and 9 minute ride. Take the Raccordo Autostradale Firenze or the SGC Firenze-Pisa-Livorno route.

9. San Gimignano

San Gimignano, Italy
Photo by Antônia Felipe on Unsplash

This place cannot be confused with any other. Once you see the skyline teeming with fourteen-story high towers from the window, you are approaching San Gimignano. 

The city center is mainly medieval architecture with fortified tower houses. The highest is Torre Grossa – make sure to climb to the top to see immaculate views over the area. Afterward, round the corner to see the triangular-shaped Piazza della Cisterna, a crucial spot from a historical perspective: It used to be a center for festivals and tournaments as well as the marketplace.

While enjoying the cultural heritage, do not forget to try local Vernaccia di San Gimignano wine with citrus fruit flavors!

How to get to San Gimignano from Florence by train and bus

There is no direct public transport to San Gimignano, but you can reach it with one transfer:

  1. Catch a train from Florence Santa Maria Novella Station to Poggibonsi ($8). The ride lasts one hour.
  2. From Poggibonsi, take the 130 or 133 bus to San Gimignano ($3). The ride lasts 20-30 minutes.

10. Bologna

Bologna, Italy

Bologna is mainly known as a historical center of European education: in 1088, the first European university was built here. Besides the institution of higher learning, examine the gorgeous Piazza Maggiore, climb the clock tower at Palazzo d’Accursio to enjoy the bird’s-eye views, and go inside the San Petronio basilica.

For modern art lovers, there is a unique interactive Museo della Storia di Bologna with exhibitions dedicated to the culture and history of the city.

An essential dish to try in Bologna is no doubt spaghetti bolognese – you will find dozens of eateries serving it. Another traditional pasta is tortellini in brodo, rounded-shaped pasta with Parmigiano and pork.

For drinks, visit Osteria del Sole, a wine bar that opened in 1465. I dare say that Bologna is the perfect representation of scrumptious Italian cuisine.

How to get to Bologna from Florence by train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Bologna Centrale
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
  • Tickets: from $10

How to get to Bologna from Florence by bus

  • Departure: Florence Villa Constanza
  • Arrival: Bologna Autostazione
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Tickets: from $2

11. Prato

The closest place worth a day trip from Florence is Prato; it is just a half-hour ride! Prato is a major city in the Tuscany region with a plethora of sights to check out.

The first stop is the remarkable Duomo di Prato. Its construction dates back to the 10th century, making it one of the oldest cathedrals around. To experience the authentic atmosphere of the town, go to the Piazza Mercatale, one of the largest in Europe. Besides cute yellow houses with bright shutters, you will see an oval park, perfect for walking or having a little picnic.

Historically, the textile industry was the main source of Prato’s revenue – you can learn more about it in the Prato Textile Museum. Finally, the best delicacy from Prato would be biscotti, a crunchy biscuit filled with nuts, berries, dried fruit, or other fillings. You can find the greatest selection of biscotti in the Mattei shop next to Museo di Palazzo.

How to get to Prato from Florence by train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Prato Centrale
  • Shortest travel time: 27 minutes
  • Tickets: from $3

How to get to Prato from Florence by bus

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Prato Centrale
  • Shortest travel time: 25 minutes
  • Tickets: from $3

12. Arezzo

Arezzo’s charm lies in the absence of crowds, its architectural beauty, and many shopping spots. It is a great example of a non-touristy place, yet with many things to do.

Arezzo is famous for two gorgeous pieces crafted by significant Italian masters: a loggia in Piazza Grande designed by Vasari and frescos in the Church of San Francesco created by Piero della Francesca. Arezzo Cathedral is another important spot; it may seem modest from the outside, but the inside design is precisely exquisite.

As for shopping, Arezzo is a perfect place to find some bargains – jewelry, antiques, and fabrics. The largest antiques fair in Italy is held on the first weekend of every month.

How to get to Arezzo from Florence by train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Arezzo
  • Shortest travel time: 31 minutes
  • Tickets: from $9

How to get to Arezzo from Florence by bus

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Arezzo
  • Shortest travel time: 2 hours and 2 minutes
  • Tickets: from $9

13. Pistoia

Pistoia, Italy

Charming Pistoia offers a lot to see, do, and taste. First of all, the city is rich in culture and history. Piazza Del Duomo brings together the essential sights: The baptistery, Palazzo Comunale, and the cathedral. You can check out all of them in one day.

Pistoia is perfect for foodies who love Tuscan cuisine! Order schiacciato (a Tuscan flatbread), ribollita (a soup made from re-boiled vegetables and cabbage, served with bread), and pappa al pomodoro (a thick Tuscan bread soup with tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and basil). Each eatery has its own recipe, which makes it even more exciting to try.

How to get to Pistoia from Florence by train

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Pistoia
  • Shortest travel time: 35 minutes
  • Tickets: from $5

How to get to Pistoia from Florence by bus

  • Departure: Florence Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Arrival: Pistoia
  • Shortest travel time: 55 minutes
  • Tickets: from $5

Frequent Questions

How long will it take to get to most towns?

It depends on the destination of choice, but the average ride will take one-and-a-half hours.

How expensive is an average ride?

The ticket price varies from $3 to $18, depending on the type of transportation and the city. The cheapest one is Bologna; the cheapest round trip is only $4!

What cities are the closest to Florence?

The closest cities are Prato, Pistoia, and Arezzo.

What cities deserve a 2-day trip from Florence?

I would spend at least two days in Rome, Venice, and Cinque Terre. The first two are richer in terms of sights, and Cinque Terre is a bit longer to get to, but is gorgeous at night!

Final Thoughts

Considering the size of Italy, it would be a crime to only visit Rome, Florence, and Milan. There are many towns with authentic culture and architecture, delicious cuisine, and fabulous nature that deserve your time. Some places will cost you $2-$3, which is insanely cheap.

So, try to expand the boundaries and explore tiny places which no one knows about – sometimes, they tell you much more about the country than the touristy spots!

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