14 Best Things to Do in Siena, Italy for a Magical Vacation 

Are you heading on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Tuscany and looking for the best things to do in Siena? Then keep reading.

Tuscany is one of Italy’s most magical regions known for its endless rolling hills in Val d’Orcia, iconic cypress trees, and thriving wineries. What’s more, it is home to some of the most beautiful villages in Italy such as Siena! 

Siena is a stunning and historic city known for its hilly landscape, medieval architecture, and bursting charm. The city truly feels alive with an unmatched energy that is enough to put anyone under its spell.

things to do in siena

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14 Best Things to Do in Siena

Discover the best things to do in Siena for the ultimate getaway.

1. Enter the Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena)

The Siena Cathedral is one of the most unexpectedly beautiful pieces of architecture in Siena. It is like a hidden gem amongst the winding roads and various hills of Siena, but once you stumble upon this stunning Cathedral you will be awe-struck. Siena Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is both beautiful from the outside and the inside.

This cathedral looks very similar to the famous Florence Dumono with its white and black striped exterior which only adds to its charm. On the inside, you will find paintings, sculptures, and more. Be sure to get tickets in advance to ensure you can go when you want.

2. Roam Around the Historic Centre

One of the best things to do in Siena is to simply roam around the historic centre and immerse yourself in the city’s captivating charm. The historic centre of Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is PACKED with stunning buildings, narrow medieval streets, and vibrant piazzas. 

As you wander through the streets, you’ll see stunning landmarks such as the Siena Cathedral, a magnificent Gothic masterpiece adorned with intricate carvings and stunning mosaics.

The historic centre is also a hub of local life, with markets, boutique shops, and traditional cafes lining the streets. Take your time to soak up the atmosphere, stop for a coffee or gelato, and fully appreciate the city’s rich history.

3. Rent a Scooter and Explore Tuscany

One of the top things to do in Siena is to escape the town for a day or two to explore the stunning Tuscany region. Renting a scooter or car is the best way to explore freely as the roads are very clear and well maintained and this way you can map your own adventures.

There are very few places as beautiful as Tuscany and visiting Siena, some of the other beautiful towns in Tuscany, and the Tuscany countryside is a must! 

One of my favourite places to visit in Tuscany is Pienza. This is a small cute village that perfectly embodies the beauty of Tuscany. There are plenty of things to do in Pienza as well, making it an ideal day trip. 

4. Walk Around Piazza del Campo

Located in the historic centre of Siena is Piazza del Campo, the main public square with a long history. This huge, medieval square is often regarded as Europe’s best and most magnificent. 

Ringed with patio restaurants and cafes, it’s perfect for relaxing with a drink or meal while people-watching. It is best enjoyed for dinner with the most impressive views of the square and all the bustling people.

The square is dominated by the impressive clock tower, reminiscent of the Tower of Arnolfo in Florence. Although it gets hot later in the day, the large open space is ideal for photos.

The sheer size and architectural design make it very unique within Europe where most squares are quite quaint. This one is HUGE! 

5. Admire Palazzo Pubblico

Palazzo Pubblico is a palace and town hall located right in the city’s main square Piazza del Campo. In addition to being very important historically it is also very beautiful. 

It is home to many breathtaking frescoes that are unique in that they were not commissioned by the church but by the government. Admire Palazzo Pubblico from both the exterior and interior for a taste of old life in Siena.

6. Marvel at Biblioteca Piccolomini

One of the best things to do in Siena is to marvel at the Biblioteca Piccolomini, located within the stunning Siena Cathedral. This extraordinary library, built in the 15th century, is a treasure trove of art and literature. 

As you enter the Biblioteca Piccolomini, you’ll be captivated by the frescoes that adorn the walls and ceilings. These magnificent artworks, painted by the renowned artist Pinturicchio, depict scenes from the life of Pope Pius II, a native of Siena. The vibrant colours, intricate details, and storytelling nature of the frescoes create a captivating ambiance.

The library houses a remarkable collection of ancient manuscripts, choir books, and rare texts. The stunning bookcases are decorated with beautiful carvings and provide a glimpse into the rich literary history of Siena.

7. Admire the City Views

One of the best things to do in Siena is head to one of the many high points in the city to admire the stretching city views. Siena from above is pure magic and viewing this city from an above perspective is a must. 

One of the easiest ways to get a beautiful view of the city is by booking accommodation with a view: one great option is Hotel Minerva – a lovely hotel in the heart of Siena with a breathtaking view over the city! 

Some additional places are Facciatone and Vista Siena.

8. Embark on a Wine Tasting Tour

One of the best things to do in Siena is to embark on a wine-tasting tour and indulge in the region’s renowned Tuscan wines. Siena is surrounded by picturesque vineyards and wineries, making it the perfect destination for wine lovers.

Venture into the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside and explore the vineyards that produce some of Italy’s finest wines. Join a guided tour that takes you through the winemaking process, from grape cultivation to fermentation and ageing.

Beyond the wines, you’ll also have the chance to appreciate the breathtaking landscapes and vineyard vistas that surround you. 

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply looking to savour the flavours of the region, a wine tasting tour is one of the best things to do in Siena.

9. Visit The Basilica of San Domenico

The Basilica of San Domenico is one of the most important basilica churches in Siena. It was built in the 13th and 14th centuries and shows a unique Gothic architecture style.

This Basilica stands tall and proud amongst the hilly terrain of Siena and is one of the most beautiful churches in the city. Although it is less popular and famous than the Siena Duomo it is still well worth a visit.

10. Explore the Sanctuary of Saint Catherine

One of the best things to do in Siena is to explore the Sanctuary of Saint Catherine, a significant religious site dedicated to one of the city’s most revered saints. 

Located in the heart of Siena, the Sanctuary of Saint Catherine provides a glimpse into the life and legacy of Saint Catherine of Siena, a mystic and patron saint of the city. The sanctuary is home to the Basilica of Saint Dominic, where you can admire beautiful frescoes and exquisite artwork that depict scenes from Saint Catherine’s life.

Visiting the Sanctuary of Saint Catherine provides a profound and enlightening experience, allowing you to delve into the rich history and spirituality of Siena. 

Sanctuary of Saint Catherine of Siena

11. Enjoy Battistero di San Giovanni

Battistero di San Giovanni is a famous Catholic Church in Siena that can be found in the historic centre. It was built between the years 1316 and 1325 and is well worth a visit both outside and inside.

Easily one of the best things to do in Siena delves into its deep religious history and heading to Battistero di San Giovanni is one of the best ways to do this.

12. Aim to Witness Palio di Siena

If you are lucky, or plan well enough, to visit Siena on/around July 2nd or August 16th then you can witness the historic Palio di, Siena. This is a horse race that occurs twice a year that truly showcases the passion and culture of Siena.

 The race includes 10 horses and riders who are dressed to represent 10 of the 17 contrade (city wards) of Siena.

The race is 3 laps around the famous Piazza del Campo, including some dangerous and narrow parts to the laps like the curve of San Martino. Of course, the first rider and horse to cross the finish line win! The competition between the different Contradas is extremely high and witnessing it in person is a sight you will not want to miss.

Performance of cavalry on parade before start of Palio di Siena

13. Eat a Meal with a View

Siena is home to many amazing restaurants all with their own charm and beauty. Finding a unique place to sit down for a delicious Italian meal with a stunning view is one of the best ways to soak in the culture and beauty of Siena. 

Eating with a view is one of the best things to do in Siena for foodies and architectural lovers combined.

Here are some of the best restaurants in Siena:

14. Gelato at Night

One of the best things to do in Siena is to indulge in a gelato night, savouring the city’s delectable frozen treats. Siena has a ton of gelaterias that offer an array of flavours. Honestly, the BEST gelato I’ve ever had was in Siena!

Where to Stay in Siena

When it comes to choosing where to stay in Siena, there are several options that cater to different preferences and budgets. 

  1. Historic City Center: Staying in the heart of Siena’s historic city center allows you to be close to major attractions like Piazza del Campo and the Siena Cathedral. You’ll have easy access to the main streets, shops, restaurants, and the vibrant atmosphere of the city.
  2. San Gimignano Gate Area: This area is located just outside the city walls, near Porta San Gimignano. It offers a quieter atmosphere while still being within walking distance of the city centre. You can enjoy beautiful views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
  3. Fortezza Medicea: Situated near the Fortezza Medicea, this area provides a more residential feel. It’s ideal for those seeking a peaceful stay while still being within walking distance of Siena’s main attractions.
  4. Surrounding Countryside: If you prefer a more relaxed and scenic setting, consider staying in the countryside surrounding Siena. There are agriturismos (farmhouses) and villas that offer a peaceful retreat, often with stunning views of vineyards and rolling hills.

When to Visit Siena

The best time to visit Siena is From May – October. These months offer the best weather and the most exciting events. 

If you want to avoid extreme heat visit in May – June and September – October. But if you can manage the heat, visiting in July and August to see the Palio di Siena is a must.

With so many amazing things to do in Siena, the adventure awaits!

Author bio
Samantha Karen is the owner and author of the travel blog Sam Sees World, a travel blog dedicated to sharing the world’s most beautiful and unique travel destinations. As a full time traveller she has visited over 50 countries with more on the way. Find her on Pinterest and Instagram.

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