After you’ve spent 3 days in Florence, it’s time to branch outside the city and explore the best of Tuscany. There are many great day trips from Florence that you shouldn’t overlook on your trip to Italy.
The influence of Florence on Italy cannot be understated. Most important, arguably, is the Italian Renaissance, which was born and nurtured here before going on to take over the rest of Italy and Western Europe.
While the influence is tangible, the Florence of today is like looking into a vault of history and culture. The Historic Center of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city features many galleries and museums – the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti are world-renowned examples. But when the tourists of Florence begin to be too much and you feel like you need to get out of the city, we’re here to offer you some of the best day trips from Florence.
There is a whole host of day trips from Florence, from wine-tasting to ancient villages, the whole of Tuscany is yours to explore.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Italy (Travel Guide)
10 Best Day Trips from Florence
Before the Romans came the Etruscans. A civilization whose historical homeland roughly corresponds to the modern-day region of Tuscany.
In fact, the word ‘Tuscany’ is derived from the Latin, Tuscanus – ‘land of the Tusci’ (the Latin word for Etruscan people).
Arguably the best place to see some of the finest examples of the surviving architecture is the ancient port of Populonia.
The modern part of town is located within just a small portion of the vast walled acropolis that used to make up this ancient city. It’s here where you’ll discover tombs from 500 BC.
A fortress and glittering pieces of iron slag are evidence of the astonishing industrial past of Populonia.
Wandering around the open-air museum here is a real step back in time, and something different than the usual Roman history you find in Italy.
Get to know Populonia through tasting its wines and visiting its ancient Etruscan port on this full-day tour from Florence. With a small group of just 15 people or fewer, learn about “super Tuscan” wines from your guide.
This Tuscany region, aside from its culture and history, is well-known for one product in particular: wine. To be more specific, Chianti wine. The region of Chianti in the heart of Tuscany was set by the early 18th century.
Though dating as far back as the 13th century, today’s Chianti is based on a recipe devised in the mid-19th century by Baron Bettino Ricasoli, combining three grapes (70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 15% Malvasia Bianca).
Luckily for wine connoisseurs and the curious alike, this wine-producing region can be visited on an easy day trip from Florence, with its principal town, Greve-in-Chianti, only 45 minutes away by car.
Wine-tasting alongside the traditional feel of a rustic village makes this a luxurious and romantic experience.
It’s not just about Chianti in Tuscany. There are many more types of wines, including two particularly famous varieties that hail from Montalcino, just more than an hour’s drive from Florence.
Both wines are made from 100% Sangiovese grape, and the more famous of the two is Brunello di Montalcino, often cited as Italy’s most expensive wine.
Rosso di Montalcino (established in 1984), is only required to spend one-year aging in total and often costs a third to half the price of Brunello.
The driest area of the Tuscan wine-producing region, charming Montalcino itself is an ancient town first mentioned in 814 AD, and as such, features a few medieval buildings.
Discover some of the highlights of Tuscany on this day trip from Florence by coach.
Visit historical hill towns Pienza, Montalcino, and Montepulciano; admire the gorgeous, vineyard-covered scenery of Orcia Valley (Val d’Orcia); and enjoy cheese and wine tastings as you stop at local wineries and other venues. It’s a great day out in the Italian countryside.
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4. Vespa Ride in the Tuscan hills
Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out riding on a Vespa in the country where this iconic brand was created? We think so.
What better place to do so than in the Tuscan hills: the rolling landscape dotted with swathes of grapevines and poppy fields, tree-lined avenues snaking through the greenery, farmland and resplendent nature joining together.
Seeing this all from the saddle of a Vespa, particularly a vintage PK model (no longer in production), would be an excellent way to spend a day trip from Florence.
The countryside opens up outside of the Tuscan capital and provides a world of freedom away from the crowds that can sometimes clog up the city.
Ride a vintage Vespa through Tuscany on this tour from Florence. A local guide leads the way up through the scenic hills, where you pass the famous Piazzale Michelangelo and the Church of San Miniato al Monte.
Afterward, head back to Florence for a traditional Italian meal to top off your journey.
One-hour-thirty minutes from Florence by car, or a mere 34 minutes by train, will take you out of Tuscany and into the region of Emilia-Romagna and its capital, Bologna.
This is one of those day trips from Florence which doesn’t cross many people’s minds but is totally attainable, and it’s so worth it.
The distinctive food culture of Bologna begins with the ubiquitous tomato-and-meat sauce (ragù alla bolognese) and ends with Lambrusco wine.
In between features cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano (aka parmesan) and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena D.O.P, balsamic vinegar that’s aged for a minimum of 12 years.
Aside from its wealth of delicacies, Bologna is the ninth most populous city in all of Italy. It is filled with its own history, including its own 11th-century twin leaning towers.
Follow your senses on a full-day culinary tour of Bologna’s famous food region. Visit local factories and family-run producers for a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of products enjoyed around the world, including Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Modena balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, and wine.
Check out this map of Bologna for walking around the city: Insight Guides Pocket Bologna (Insight Pocket Guides)
Like many other towns in the Tuscany region of Italy, Siena was founded by the Etruscan civilization, which flourished between 900 and 400 BC.
The city is ancient, as a result, the old center of Siena has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The crowning glory of this center packed with history and heritage is the romanesque-gothic Duomo di Siena – Siena Cathedral.
Completed by the mid-1300s, the brilliant white color, elaborate stone carvings on the facade, plus the intricate mosaics and opulent frescoes of the cathedral’s interior makes for an incredible sight.
Then again, on day trips from Florence like this, sometimes it’s the perfect chance to wander the ancient streets, grab a coffee, and sit among the locals.
Spend a delightful day exploring the hills and vineyards of Tuscany of a full-day tour from Florence. Stroll through the medieval streets of UNESCO-listed San Gimignano, learn the history of Monteriggioni’s imposing fortress and see highlights of Siena including the impressive cathedral and Piazza del Campo.
7. San Gimignano
Just one hour south of Florence is San Gimignano, a historic walled town with a wealth of heritage to discover. Even before you arrive in the town itself, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can see its 14 towers rising up like medieval skyscrapers.
There used to be more of these towers, 72 in total, back when local families competed to show off their wealth by building one taller than their neighbors’.
This is an ancient town, originally founded by the Etruscans, who predate the Roman Empire by centuries; it flourished in the 12th century but was captured by Florence in the 14th century.
The rustic and rural setting of this millennia-old town is partly its charm, if not for the astounding history alone.
Get a taste of the Tuscan countryside on this full-day tour from Florence. Take a guided walking tour of Siena, home to the famous Palio horse race, and explore the medieval hill town of San Gimignano.
Midday, visit a family-owned winery for a lunch of seasonal Tuscan delicacies paired with local wines.
When you think of famous Italian landmarks, you begin to realize that there are actually a lot of iconic monuments that spring into people’s minds when they picture this peninsular country.
None of these is more recognizable than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Not just for the fact that this 12th-century structure is an ornate, medieval version of a modern-day towering building, but for the length of time it has endured.
After the tower’s construction started in the 12th century, people began to notice the tower tilting to one side, due to softer ground on one side of the tower’s base. Today the top of the tower now leans over 10 feet from the original center.
The leaning tower of Pisa is actually a free-standing bell tower accenting the city’s 11th-century cathedral. This beautiful Romanesque building is well worth a visit, too.
Day trips from Florence don’t get much better than this, especially when they’re just over an hour away.
See the iconic Leaning Tower on this half-day trip to Pisa from Florence. Admire Cathedral Square, Campo Santo, and the Pisa Baptistery as you follow an expert guide past the city’s main attractions.
After posing with the UNESCO-listed Leaning Tower of Pisa, some time to explore the area independently.
The walled town of Monteriggioni is a walled city of old. The compact nature of the town misleads how densely packed it is with sights to see.
It is home to multiple piazzas, a pieve (rural church) dating from around 971 AD, the Renaissance-style Villa Santa Columba, and a 12th-century Romanesque abbey, among other monuments.
Most stunning of all though are its walls, at a length of 1,870 feet these amazing walls follow the contours of the hill, which is extremely impressive for something that was built between 1213 and 1219.
This town is so famous for its walls, in fact, that they were even mentioned in Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri’s 14-century Divine Comedy.
Marvel over the medieval castle of Monteriggioni; explore the architectural wonders of historic Siena, and admire the striking skyline of hilltop San Gimignano on a great day trip from Florence.
After exploring, enjoy a light lunch in Siena and finish your tour with a wine tasting at a local winery in the Chianti region.
10. Cinque Terre and Portovenere
Meaning ‘Five Lands’, the Cinque Terre is a group of five picturesque towns strewn down the Italian Riviera.
Made up of Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, Manarola, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore, these are all part of one big UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to the history of these towns and the stunning dramatic landscape that makes up the coastline.
Included within the UNESCO site is also Portovenere, the southernmost city in this group of towns and is definitely one of the prettiest.
In fact, they’re all beautiful: pastel-colored buildings line the coast, sometimes tucked between cliffs, but always with the incredibly blue sea below and usually a pristine blue sky above.
Famous for hiking, history, climbing, and diving, these towns are a complete wonderland for any visitor. You’ll want to try and maximize your time here, it’s a two-hour journey by car to the dazzling coast, so make sure you leave early!
Feel more comfortable taking on a hike in a group? Join this tour experience of the UNESCO-listed Cinque Terre in one day with a guided hike through the five idyllic fishing villages of old-world Italy.
Following the walking trails along the cliffs of the national park, you will see glorious views of this unspoiled stretch of the Italian Riviera.
Check out the highlights and learn about the area as you complete a 3.4-mile (5.5-km) route with your guide.
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