What to see for free in Siena

Siena, located in the heart of Tuscany, is one of the most charming city-sized medieval towns in Italy. Characterised by a history that goes back for centuries, it evokes an atmosphere of the past that makes every visitor feel as though time has stood still. That is what makes Siena an unmissable destination, for both fans of medieval history and for tourists who are passing by for the first time. Let’s explore what to see in Siena for free together.

Siena: places to visit for free

If you are planning a trip to the Tuscan hills, Siena is a stop you cannot miss. Known above all for the ancient tradition of the Palio di Siena, it is a medieval village of extraordinary beauty, rich in unique buildings and monuments dating back to the 13th century, that characterise the entire historic centre. Of the many attractions that Siena offers, many can be visited free of charge. Here are some tips on the best places to visit for free in Siena

Piazza del Campo

Siena’s main square, known to all as ‘Il Campo’, is the heart of the city’s historic centre: its peculiar shell shape makes it unique. A medieval architectural masterpiece, Piazza del Campo was built as a venue for Siena’s most important civic events and as a gathering space for the city’s inhabitants. Indeed, it is here that one of the oldest and most famous events in Siena takes place every year: the Palio di Siena. In addition, together with Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia, this square is the universal symbol of the city, defined by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. 

St Dominic’s Catherine Basilica

The Basilica Cateriniana di San Domenico is one of Siena’s main churches and a shining example of Gothic architecture. Its imposing structure, which dominates the entire valley, makes it easy to understand just how important the influence of the Dominican friars was in Siena. Inside, you can admire masterpieces by some of the most important Tuscan artists – such as Duccio da Buoninsegna and Guido da Siena, as well as many more. 


This imposing Gothic complex is best known for its relics of Saint Catherine. Saint Catherine was a young woman who lived in Siena during the 14th century and, as legend has it, performed numerous miracles during her lifetime. A visit to the Basilica is completely free of charge.

Medici Fortress

Moving slightly away from the historical centre of Siena, we can soon reach the Medici Fortress. Built in 1500 by order of Cosimo de Medici I, it is one of the most characteristic places in the city. Also known as Forte di Santa Barbara, it is now home to numerous temporary exhibitions, public events, food and wine tastings and much more. In addition, it is possible to stroll through the beautiful surrounding park and walk along the ancient walls. From this elevated position, you can admire an exceptional view of Siena in all its beauty. 

Palio di Siena 

In Piazza del Campo every year, on 2 July and 16 August, one of Siena’s oldest events takes place: the Palio di Siena. For this equestrian competition, the city’s main square is transformed, becoming a stage where  10 of the 17 contrade of Siena  compete in an exciting horse race. A centuries-old tradition, this event is exceptionally important in the history of the city and its inhabitants. Indeed, winning this race has always been a source of pride and prestige. 

Watching the Palio as a spectator offers the best opportunity to fully immerse oneself in the centuries-old traditions that characterise this city. It is possible to attend the race free of charge, but due to the large numbers of spectators, it is advisable to reach Piazza del Campo at least two hours before the start of the race. This differs by half an hour between July and August and generally takes place between 7 and 8 p.m..

Orto de’ Pecci 

A few minutes’ walk from Piazza del Campo is Orto de’ Pecci, a green corner where you can spend a relaxing afternoon. In the past, this open-air space was part of the Psychiatric Hospital of Siena where patients used to grow fruit and vegetables, hence its name. Today, the vegetable garden is an area that is open to everyone, from adults to children, and especially for those looking for a unique place to relax in peace, just a short walk from the city centre.

Piazza del Mercato

Behind Piazza del Campo is the ancient Piazza del Mercato, a picturesque and characteristic place where the civic market was held for many centuries. In the centre of the square, you can spot a typical canopy with a loggia, called the ‘tortoise’ (‘tartarugone’) by the citizens of Siena, due to its striking resemblance to the animal. In this somewhat lesser-known area, you can find many typical taverns and inns where the oldest Sienese recipes – such as pici with wild boar ragout or ribollita – can be tasted. 

Piazza del Campo, the Fortezza Medicea and the Palio di Siena are just some of the places that can be visited in Siena: the city offers a multitude of monuments that are waiting to be discovered. Visiting Siena  allows you to satisfy your curiosity about this city – but also provides an experience of timeless beauty. 

I Comuni di Terre di Siena