What to see in Siena in a day

Siena is a must-visit destination for fans of medieval history and Tuscany in general. Situated in the heart of the region, it is the ideal destination for an excursion: although there are many attractions, when you are short of time it is important to concentrate on the most interesting places. So, let’s find out what to see in Siena in a day.  

Siena in a day: everything you should see 

If you are planning a trip to Tuscany, the city of Siena is a must. Its mediaeval origins still characterise the historic centre and the townscape: narrow streets and 14th-century buildings combine to offer you a memorable experience. 

Its diminutive size makes it comparable to a jewellery box. If you can only spend one day here, it is important to select the itinerary with care. Ideally, we strongly recommend taking several days to visit all the beauties this city has to offer. Here, then, is what to see in Siena in one day. 

Siena Cathedral

As soon as you arrive in Siena, walking towards the historic centre, you come across the marvellous Gothic complex of Siena Cathedral. Built between 1214 and 1263, its structure features the typical Latin cross base of Gothic churches, a dome and an adjacent bell tower. Inside are numerous beautiful features and artistic works of great value, created by internationally renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Pisano and many others. The exterior of the cathedral is composed entirely of white marble blocks, alternating with the characteristic bands of black and green marble. 

By purchasing a single ticket, at a cost of only 15 euros, in addition to the interior of the Duomo, you can admire the Libreria Piccolomini, the Cathedral Museum, the Facciatone, the Crypt and the Baptistry, a group of must-see Gothic structures that is quite unique. 

Visit ‘The Gate of Heaven’: not to be missed,

The Siena Cathedral Museum Complex also offers the option, from March to October, to book a special guided tour, costing 22 euro per person, to visit a series of rooms that have never been open to the public. 

The ‘Gate of Heaven’ tour includes an itinerary that takes you up to the roofs of the Duomo, walking among the vaults created by the great Sienese artists. With this visit, you will be able to enjoy impressive views of the interior and exterior of the cathedral. After all, it is called ‘Gate of Heaven‘, as it is also possible to climb the Facciatone and observe Siena from above,  in all its beauty. 

Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo is Siena’s central square, best known as the place where the Palio di Siena is held annually in July and August. Piazza del Campo is part of the historic centre of Siena and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the whole city, famous especially for its characteristic shell shape. 

Although in the past it was used to host the town market, today it represents one of the most characteristic urban planning creations of the entire medieval period. The three main streets of Siena open up from Piazza del Campo: Via di Città, Via Rinaldini and Via del Porrione, offering shops and taverns where you can taste typical Sienese dishes, such as pici with wild boar ragout or Sienese gnudi. 

Torre del Mangia and Palazzo Pubblico

Two of the most important buildings in Siena overlook Piazza del Campo: the Palazzo Pubblico and the adjacent Torre del Mangia. The former has always been the seat of the civic institutions of Siena, ever since it was built in 1297, while today it houses the Museo Civico, a veritable treasure trove of Sienese and Tuscan art. With a single ticket costing 14 euro, you can visit all of Siena’s municipal museums and admire unique artistic masterpieces, such as Simone Martini’s Maestà in the Sala del Mappamondo and Taddeo di Bartolo’s Famous Men cycle in the Sala dei Nove. 

From the top of this building, one can admire an impressive panorama of the entire city and the surrounding rolling hills. 

National Art Gallery

The Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena is one of the most important museum complexes in Italy. Located in the Palazzi Buonsignori and Brigidi, it was inaugurated in 1932 and visitors can admire the collection of 14th- and 15th-century Sienese ‘fondi oro’ paintings. 

A visit to the Pinacoteca begins on the second floor of the building, where paintings by the greatest Sienese and Tuscan artists of the time are displayed, such as Duccio Buoninsegna, Simone Martini, Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti and many others. The cost of the ticket is €8 per person and, with this, you can participate in a guided tour of the entire museum. 

Caterinian Basilica of San Domenico

The historical centre of Siena is not the only place where one can find breathtaking buildings and monuments; in fact, just a few steps from the centre, the Caterinian Basilica of San Domenico  dominates the valley from the top of the hill where it stands. 

It is one of the most important churches in Siena, located in the square of San Domenico and Via della Sapienza, and was erected in the 13th century. Although the exterior of the façade may look basic and unfinished, the interior will take your breath away, especially the Chapel of the Vaults, linked to the story of St Catherine of Siena. Did you know that, in the very chapel where her relics are today, St Catherine is said to have performed some of her most important miracles?

In addition, inside the Caterinian Basilica of San Domenico you can admire the works of important artists such as Duccio Buoninsegna, Guido da Siena, Matteo di Giovanni and many others. Admission to the Basilica is free of charge and guided tours can be organised by contacting the Basilica office directly by e-mail.

Visit Siena in one day 

It happens very often that, as the day in Siena draws to a close, you may be seized by a sudden melancholy. This is precisely why, in most cases, those who come here on a day trip then decide to stay one or more nights, enjoying a weekend of culture and good food.

A one-day visit to the city of Siena only allows you a fleeting taste of the wonders that this city has been offering tourists for hundreds of years, while planning a tour of the city in two or three days allows you to visit the main sights at leisure, savouring all its features. At the same time, this provides the opportunity to try different local restaurants and taverns where you can sample the typical products of the area and the gastronomic tradition of this wonderful town and its surroundings.

I Comuni di Terre di Siena