Visit Siena, Tuscany
A living testament to Italy’s medieval past, Siena is Italy’s best preserved medieval city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wonderful showcase of Gothic architecture. Its incredible preservation owes much to historical circumstance and its loss of wealth, power and influence to arch-rival Florence following the city's devastation by the Black Death in 1348. Siena's abrupt decline halted further development and unlike many of Italy’s other historical cities, it escaped the blight of large scale development projects and retains a magical atmosphere that continues to enchant to this day. Easily reached from Florence, it makes a rewarding day trip from the Eternal City.
Italy specialist Caroline
Sometimes overshadowed by Florence, Siena has its own charms. For example, the Piazza del Campo is the setting for the biannual Palio, but it’s also where locals come to relax and eat their picnic lunch.
What to see and do in Siena
One of the finest churches in Italy, Siena's duomo (cathedral) was meant to rival that of nearby Florence, but its intricately decorated interiors surpass it in every way. Siena was Italy’s most important pre-Medici banking hub and wealthy medieval merchants poured money into the project. The intricate floor mosaics, elaborate sculptures and vivid frescoes were completed by the leading artists of the day: the pulpit by Pisano, sculptures by Donatello and a cornucopia of significant works by other medieval artists. Plans to build an even more elaborate cathedral were never completed but you can get the most staggering views from the top of the Facciatone, the unfinished façade of the new building.
Perched across three hills, Siena’s historic core is linked by a trio of thoroughfares that intersect at the stunning red-bricked Piazza del Campo. Il Campo, as it is known locally, is often described as Italy’s most captivating square and was built on the site of a Roman marketplace. On its lower side is the imposing Palazzo Pubblico (town hall) with its towering Torre del Mangia from where you'll get a far-reaching view over the city. Today, the square still acts as a meeting place and its many cafes are a great place to sit and just watch the world go by.
Each year the Piazza del Campo plays host to the historic Siena Palio, a bareback horse race between the city’s rival contrade (districts). The race dates back to the 17th century and each contrade has its own symbols, traditions and costumes making it a glorious spectacle for the thousands of people who come to watch. The event takes place twice a year on 2nd July and 16th August, and the ten riders parade around the square in their costumes before racing three exhilarating laps around a specially-constructed dirt track. It's an electrifying event, keenly awaited by local people so book well in advance.
Suggested itineraries featuring Siena
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Siena, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Siena
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Siena
- San Gimignano 29 kilometers away
- Florence 50 kilometers away
- Pisa 88 kilometers away
- Perugia 89 kilometers away
- Orvieto 93 kilometers away
- Umbria 104 kilometers away
- Assisi 109 kilometers away
- Forte dei Marmi 118 kilometers away
- Bologna 132 kilometers away
- Ravenna 142 kilometers away
- Porto Venere 146 kilometers away
- Modena 152 kilometers away
- Cinque Terre 156 kilometers away
- Parma 184 kilometers away
- Rome 185 kilometers away
- Portofino and Santa Margherita 203 kilometers away
- Genoa 227 kilometers away
- Verona 238 kilometers away
- Venice 249 kilometers away
- Milan 294 kilometers away
- Barbaresco 304 kilometers away
- Alba 306 kilometers away
- Barolo 308 kilometers away
- Como 330 kilometers away
- Blevio 332 kilometers away
- Torno 333 kilometers away
- Laglio 336 kilometers away
- Lezzeno 338 kilometers away
- Bellagio 339 kilometers away
- Tremezzo 343 kilometers away
- Lake Como 345 kilometers away
- Piedmont 345 kilometers away
- Turin 351 kilometers away
- Ischia 360 kilometers away
- Stresa 362 kilometers away
- Verbania 365 kilometers away
- Lake Maggiore 365 kilometers away
- Naples 367 kilometers away
- Herculaneum 375 kilometers away
- Pompeii 388 kilometers away
- Capri 391 kilometers away
- Sorrento 392 kilometers away
- The Amalfi Coast 404 kilometers away
Photos of Siena
Accommodation choices for Siena
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Siena. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
For a taste of the regal charm and lavish surroundings of medieval Siena, the Grand Hotel Continental provides a traditional but indulgent experience in a grand Renaissance building set close to the city's finest attractions.