Siena is one of the most visited cities in the Tuscan region and has a ton of things to do and see. Even if you’re only spending a day in Siena, here’s a list of things we recommend to make it a great tourist experience. Find out here what to see in Siena in one day. You can visit Siena in summer with us!
Essential: Visit the Plaza del Campo
Located right in the city’s historic quarter, you’ll find the Piazza del Campo and one of Siena’s main tourist destinations and a must see in Siena in one day. Overlooking the expansive fan-shaped piazza is the Palazzo Pubblico, and its bell tower’s lofty shadow transforms this unusually shaped “square” into a sundial as its shadow marks the hours of the day. The bell tower is so tall that, if you’re a student and decide to climb the tower, you may never end up graduating because you’ll still be climbing!
You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to the Renaissance era as you walk down Siena’s medieval, darkened, narrow stoned streets and finally onto the Piazza del Campo, laid out before you in its sunlit glory. That sight alone, as you gaze across the piazza to the Palazzo Pubblico, is one that will truly stick in your memory.
It’s also a great place to take a lunch break and short rest. Plenty of tourists take this opportunity to observe the scenery and the people. There really is nowhere better, especially with a piece of pizza in your hand.
See the Siena Catedral when in Siena in one day
The Siena Cathedral, also known as Duomo di Siena, is truly the architectural jewel of the city. Initially designed in part by Italian Gothic Architecture master Nicola Pisano, and later undertaken by his son Giovanni, the cathedral has a history of complexity in its façades and design. The cathedral’s outward appearance is striking, characterised by its stripes of alternating white, black and red coloured marble, as well as its impressive bell tower and baptistery.
Made with honey, almonds and dried fruits, the Panforte is an exquisite dessert and is closely associated with Siena. It can be ordered and enjoyed primarily from midmorning to mid-afternoon and is particularly excellent when accompanied with a cup of coffee – or a nice glass of wine, if you prefer. When in Siena in one day you HAVE to try this.
Visit the Palazzo Pubblico when in Siena in one day
The Palazzo Pubblico itself is the historic seat of Siena’s city council and has an impressive facade of brick and white marble to match its importance. It has excellent city scape views all around from its Torre del Mangia too.
Get great cityscape snaps from the Torre del Mangia
As mentioned previously, the Torre del Mangia is part of the Palazzo Pubblico. From the tower, you can see Siena’s “iconic colour” – rustic orange roof tiles – a true city staple. Broken only by the Siena Cathedral and with its chic black and white striped exterior, the cityscape appears as a scenic sea of its rustic aesthetic. This is another must visit when in Siena in one day.
Want to make your visit last? Visit San Gimigniano!
If even after all that, you still don’t want to rest, then take the opportunity to visit the charming town of San Gimigniano, only an hour away by car. This medieval originated town is a great place to sightsee with its array of towers and cuisines. If you’re also planning to visit Florence during your trip, you’re in luck as the town is practically halfway on the way from Siena to Florence and vice versa. You’ll have no excuse to be bored then.
And to top it off in Siena in one day…
If you’re choosing to visit Siena in autumn or winter, then you must try the famous Ribollita Toscana. An absolutely delicious regional soup of primarily regional vegetables, it is truly a delight to sample. Pair it with a glass of classic Tuscan wine and you’ve got the best medicine to fight off any fatigue and continue your unforgettable trip through Siena.
Translated and Adapted by Amelia Carter, Leeds University Student