Things to See and Do in Florence Italy

Florence and surroundings between villages and scenarios of great charm

April 7, 2021
day trip from Florence

Florence and its surroundings are certainly one of the favourite destinations for travellers. If Florence represents one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the province not only enjoys reflected light but also represents one of the most beautiful and richest places to visit.

Choosing among the villages near Florence or the many points of interest that characterize the province is extremely difficult. Art, history, nature, sports, food and wine tours, adventure or fun: nothing is missing in the surroundings of Florence. These places can be easily reached by public transport or by private car.

In this guide, you can find ideas on things to see near Florence with ideas for an excursion or a trip out of town during your next holiday in Tuscany.

Plan visits departing from Florence. They range from the most popular destinations to lesser-known villages full of priceless treasures.

We hope you enjoy our selection and invite you to leave comments and questions at the bottom of this article. Our concierge will be happy to answer.

Siena

what to visit near florence italy

71 km away – about an hour by car from Florence (about an hour and a half by bus – there is no railway station).

A destination can be easily visited on foot because the sights of Siena are all within easy reach. Not to miss:  the famous Piazza del Campo where the Palio di Siena takes place, the Palazzo Pubblico with the Civic Museum of Siena inside, the Torre del Mangia with a breathtaking view from the top of its 88 meters high, the Cathedral of Siena, the Museum of the Opera del Duomo di Siena which is accessed from the right of the Duomo, the Baptistery of Siena located behind the Duomo, the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena with important paintings.

The villages and sites of artistic and cultural interest in the province of Siena are a valid alternative for a day trip from Florence.

San Gimignano

what to see near florence italy

About an hour’s drive from Florence – 53 km – to be reached by bus or car.

It has been called the Manhattan of the Middle Ages for its extraordinary skyline made up of 72 towers (of which only 13 remain today) and is the perfect destination if you are looking for panoramic places near Florence.

To visit:

The Cathedral of San Gimignano with its simple facade but with important works inside and the wonderful Chapel of Santa Fina da San Gimignano with frescoes by Ghirlandaio,

The Piazza del Duomo with the Palazzo del Popolo, which houses the Civic Museum of San Gimignano. Moreover:

In the same square you can admire and visit the Torre Grossa, the Loggia del Comune, the Torre Rognosa. The Chigi Tower, the Salvucci and Ardinghelli Towers;

the Piazza della Cisterna on the top of the town with its octagonal well in the center and the presentation of the unmissable Gelateria Dondoli, known all over the world and award-winning;

The Church of Sant’Agostino with the frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli and the Rocca di Montestaffoli, almost completely destroyed, but a privileged panoramic view.

Pisa

things to see near florence italy

At about 83 kilometres from Florence (75 minutes by car or train).

The ancient Maritime Republic is known throughout the world for its Leaning Tower.

To discover Piazza del Duomo with the architectural complex of Campo dei Miracoli which collects the main monuments of the city:

– the Leaning Tower of Pisa which leans because the ground has already given way in the early stages of construction but which will never fall because the vertical axis that passes through its centre of gravity falls into the support base;

– The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta or Cathedral of Pisa in Romanesque style;

– The Baptistery of Pisa by the architect Diotisalvi and works by Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni;

– The Monumental Cemetery of Pisa where illustrious Pisan personalities are buried is a sacred place because the crusaders brought the holy land here from Mount Golgotha, just outside Jerusalem.

We also recommend visiting:

– the Lungarni of Pisa including, the best known, the Medici Lungarno with important historical buildings and the Lungarno Gambacorti with the Gothic church of Santa Maria della Spina;

Piazza dei Cavalieri where there are the Palazzo della Carovana, seat of the Scuola Normale di Pisa, the Canonica, the Palazzo del Consiglio dei Dodici, the church of Santo Stefano and that of San Rocco and in the centre of the square the statue of Cosimo I;

– The Murales by Keith Haring “Tuttomondo” a few meters from the Pisa station;

Borgo stretto, characteristic street in the centre with arcades and shops and Borgo largo (Piazza del Pozzetto).

Lucca

florence italy and surrounding cities

It is 81 km from Florence (about 1 hour by car and about 1 and a half hours by public transport).

Characteristic city known for the Renaissance walls that surround the historic centre. We advise you to visit:

  • Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, built on an ancient Roman amphitheatre;
  • the Cathedral of Lucca dedicated to San Martino with important works of art, some of which were created by Tintoretto and Ghirlandaio;
  • The walls of Lucca from which you can admire a beautiful panorama of the city. These are very wide tree-lined avenues that surround the historic centre where you can walk or play sports;
  • Torre Giunigi and Torre delle Ore, the only two medieval towers still existing in Lucca. Both can be visited, with over 200 steps to reach the top from which you can admire a beautiful panorama. On the Giunigi Tower there is a hanging garden and in the Torre delle Ore you can admire an ancient clock with manual winding;
  • Piazza Napoleone, the largest square in Lucca where the Palazzo Ducale stands. It is used in the summer to host many concerts of the Lucca Summer Festival;
  • The National Museum of Palazzo Mansi with works by Van Dick, Pontormo, Bronzino, Tintoretto and many others.

The Cinque Terre

florence italy and surrounding area

Many visitors to Florence choose the Cinque Terre as a destination for a day trip. This is the most fascinating stretch of coast in Liguria, with characteristic villages suspended between sea and land, reachable by train or by car in about 2 hours. Among these:

  • Riomaggiore with its typical coloured houses and the starting point of the Via dell’Amore, a pedestrian path carved into the rock that leads to Manarola;
  • Manarola with colourful houses on top of a cliff, with ancient monuments and churches to visit and breath-taking viewpoints;
  • Corniglia also stands on a cliff that is centre meters high and inaccessible from the sea. The small village that deserves to be visited is accessible by a brick staircase or by a single road that leads from the station to the town;
  • Vernazza, a medieval village with characteristic alleys, colourful houses, a beautiful marina, ancient religious and civil monuments;
  • Monterosso with its historic centre and the largest beach in the Cinque Terre, in Fegina.

The Chianti

things to do near florence italy

Another idea on what to visit near Florence is Chianti, an area not far from the Florentine capital, known for its important production of wines known throughout the world. The Chianti hills are an unmissable destination for those who want to enjoy an enchanting countryside landscape not far from Florence. Many visitors choose Chianti to visit the famous cellars and wineries and for wine tastings or to admire the hilly landscape, very pleasant to cross both by car and motorbike. For an “alternative” excursion, we suggest a tour in Chianti in a vintage car.

Do not miss the small historic villages of Chianti Classico (the one between Florence and Siena) such as Greve in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti or Castelnuovo Berardenga.

The Mall Florence Italy

what to do near florence italy

About 39 kilometres from Florence and reachable by car in about 40 minutes or by bus from Florence in about 55 minutes. It is located in the locality of Leccio, in the municipality of Reggello.

An outlet that houses the shops of prestigious Italian and international brands. It is a fun alternative to the artistic and cultural proposals of the surroundings of Florence, to spend a pleasant day of shopping. At the moment, shops are open Monday to Friday from 10am to 7pm, due to Covid restrictions.

Other ideas on towns to visit near Florence, perhaps less known but extremely fascinating, are:

Certaldo

what to do around florence italy

At 42 km from Florence, reachable by car or by private transfer in about 50 minutes.

Certaldo is the city that gave birth to the well-known writer Giovanni Boccaccio and a centre of great artistic and cultural value.

Born from the Etruscan-Roman encampments, it became an important part of the militarized belt that protected the territory of Florence during the Middle Ages: the development of the city and the castle had a significant boost with the movement of the Via Francigena which reached the bottom of the valley at the foot of Certaldo.

The most interesting part is certainly Certaldo Alta where you will have the opportunity to visit a typical and perfectly preserved medieval town, walking through its narrow streets and small and characteristic squares. The main point of interest is certainly Via Boccaccio, famous for being the centre of the social life of the time and for hosting the home of the famous writer of the same name. We must not forget the Palazzo Pretorio and the mighty walls from which you can enjoy a suggestive view of the entire valley below and from which you could even see the distant towers of San Gimignano.

Vinci

florence and surroundings italy

It is also 42 km away from Florence, reachable by car or by private transfer in about 50 minutes.

Vinci is famous for being the birthplace of Leonardo, and where you can discover, in addition to the typically medieval beauty of this Tuscan village, the artist-inventor’s house and the museum where you will find reproductions of Leonardo’s machines.

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