Within the beautiful Tuscan region, you’ll find the idyllic city of Siena, Italy. Known for its medieval buildings and winding streets that you could get lost in for days, it’s a must-visit place.
To help you plan your visit, we made a list of everything you don’t want to miss while traveling through Siena in Italy. So let’s dive into it.
Where to Stay in Siena
How To Get To Siena
A fantastic thing about Siena is that you don’t need a car to get there. You have three nearby airports in Florence, Pisa or Rome. Additionally, there are buses and trains connections (with Italo and Treni Italia) from those cities to Siena.
Once in Siena, we recommend exploring the city on foot. With an area of 45.56 square miles, it’s not too overwhelming, and most of the must-see sites are within reach.
Places To Visit in Siena
Below we take you through a few of the must-visit places while in Siena, Italy.
Torre del Mangia
Torre del Mangia is a 102-meter (334-foot) tall tower overlooking the Piazza del Campo square. It was built between 1338 to 1348 and is one of the main attractions in Siena.
The tower is slender and stands at the end of the Palazzo Pubblico. It was built alongside the palace, so the two share a similar design.
If you’re up for the challenge, it’s possible to get to the top of the tower. From here, you can bask in the breathtaking views of the square and city below. Although you’d have to climb over 200 steps to get there, we highly recommend it.
Another must-visit site while in Piazza del Campo is the Palazzo Pubblico. This is a renowned structure, famous for its superb architecture and, of course, Torre del Mangia at the end.
It’s a medieval building, built in the 13th century where it was the house of Siena’s republican government. The structure dons an Italian Gothic design with its two-tone colors and several arched windows.
Inside, you’ll find stunning paintings and decorations in almost every major room. You can book guided tours of the palace, which generally also include Torre del Mangia.
Piazza del Campo
The main square in Siena is the Piazza del Campo. It’s an open area, hosting some of the most stunning architecture.
What’s so intriguing about the area is how the buildings curve around the square, creating a friendly, enclosed space. From the court, you can visit both the Palazzo Pubblico and Torre del Mangia.
However, it’s also booming with shops, cafés, and restaurants, which is one of the reasons why people begin their Siena tour here.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is a prime example of the city’s, if not Italy’s, stunning Gothic architecture. It’s an impressive structure, with an even more sublime interior.
It was constructed during the 13th century and has been an icon of Siena for hundreds of years. The exterior dons white stone, marble features, and a plethora of breathtaking paintings and decorations.
Walk inside, and you’ll see decorations practically everywhere; anything from striped polychrome marble arches to its ornate golden dome, and of course, the frescos above the altar.
While inside the Siena Cathedral, there’s a hidden treasure known as the Biblioteca Piccolomini. This is a small, humble room, filled with some of the most awe-inspiring frescos in the Tuscany region.
The walls, ceilings, and arches are clad in an immensely detailed painting, painted by Pinturicchio and his team. Notice that the painting depicts 10 different scenes, all relating to the life of Pope Pius II.
Besides the painting, you can read some of the historical manuscripts placed on display. Just be careful not to touch.
Baptistery of Santa Maria Assunta
Before we move on, we recommend visiting the Baptistery of Santa Maria Assunta. This part of the Cathedral wasn’t added until the 14th century, and it remains incomplete, with only half of the structure carrying the iconic polychrome marble.
Still, inside, you can find additional stunning decorations and the baptismal font, designed by Donatello.
Church of San Domenico
In the western part of this historic city, you’ll find the Church of San Domenico. The town built the church between 1226 to 1265. However, in the 14th century, they decided to add to it, leading to its immense size and mixture of design.
The exterior isn’t as impressive as the Siena Cathedral, but the interior does have lavish decorations, like the Chapel of Santa Caterina.
Piazza Salimbeni is a small square located in the heart of the town center. It features three sides of three different palaces, the Palazzo Salimbeni, Palazzo Tantucci, and Palazzo Spannocchi.
Initially, it included a garden to the Salimbeni palace, but it was later replaced with patterned tiles and a marble statue.
What’s interesting is the contrasting architecture surrounding the square; each palace has a different exterior, with one being orange with white-framed windows and the other light yellow.
If you’re visiting Siena on either the 2nd July or 16th August, a must-see event is the Palio. It’s a horse race between the different city districts that only occurs two times a year. The event happens within the main square, which the city transforms into a sand track for the occasion. This is a must see event if you are in the area during that time.
When in Siena, you must try some of its traditional dishes, one of which is pici. This form of pasta is very similar to spaghetti but fatter and is usually served with either pepper and cheese (cacio e pepe) or in tomato and garlic sauce (pici all’aglione)
La Lizza Market
Wednesday is market day in Siena, which hosts Tuscany’s largest markets at La Lizza. It’s open from 8.30 am to 1.30 pm, and you can buy anything from food, souvenirs to clothes. However, come early as the market fills up quite quickly later in the day.
As you can see, there are ample places to visit and things to do in Siena, Italy. We recommend going on foot when exploring the different sites but do take advantage of guided tours when possible. For more free tips and advice on the best places to visit in Italy check our latest articles here