Siena is one of the most famous cities in Tuscany . This city is full of historic buildings, museums, restaurants, ice cream shops and churches, but is best known for the Piazza del Campo where Il Palio (the horse race) is held twice a year. The square is the center of the city and you will also find the Torre del Mangia, which you can see from all over the city – and the surrounding area. But what is there to do in Siena? And where are you staying? The coolest tips for this Italian city in a row.
What to do in Siena
The historic center of Siena has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 and for good reason. It is a typical medieval city in terms of architecture and many buildings have been well maintained and kept in their beautiful condition. In Siena, you should not miss the heart of this world heritage site, Piazza del Campo with the Torre del Mangia.
1. Climb the tower in Siena
If you want to climb the tower, it is best to try to get a ticket early in the morning, as it is a popular activity. The tower has about four hundred steps and once you’ve climbed them, the view is well worth the effort. You can look over the entire center and the wider area from this tower.
2. Experience culture in Siena
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta (Siena Cathedral) is also one to see. From the outside alone it is an impressive building with all the statues on the facade and the mother-of-pearl glow that falls over it. The inside of the church is just as beautiful to look at. The Italians have done their best to make it a real eye-catcher.
Opposite the cathedral is Complesso Museale Santa Maria della Scala, once a hospital, but it used to have many more functions. A church, several chapels and an underground system can also be found in this complex. In addition, there are various exhibitions in the building. Not far from the cathedral and Santa Maria della Scala is the Pinacoteca Nazionale. In this museum you will find various works of art by painters from Siena and it is a well-known museum throughout Italy.
3. Lunch and coffee in Siena
In the center of Siena you will find more than enough nice bars and restaurants where you can settle down after your cultural walk. At Bar Caffeteria 4 Cantoni you have a lot of choice from different types of cookies, cakes and cannoli, but you also eat focaccia or pasta. . A little further outside the center on Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, is Bar Pasticceria Nannini Posta. Here you can drink a nice coffee, get an ice cream or choose one of the many types of sweets in the display case. Fancy lunch? Then go to Via Camollia or Via dei Rossi and choose one of the many restaurants for good food.
4. View Historic Buildings
On the west side of the center are a number of monumental buildings and historical places that are well worth a visit. You will find the Fortezza Medicea, an old fortress of which remains can still be seen. From this place you also have a nice view over the city. Close to the fortress is the impressive Basilica di San Domenico, which is beautiful both inside and out. Next to the church is a lookout point that offers a view of the city. Afterwards, walk past the Fontebranda, the largest fountain in Siena.
5. Walking in the green
Siena not only has many beautiful buildings and cute streets, but there are also many parks in this city. For example, go to the two parks in the south of the city: Orto Botanico and Orto de’ Pecci. The Orto Botanico is a large, landscaped botanical garden next to the city’s university. Along the paths are different kinds of exotic plant species and here and there are benches where you can sit and enjoy the view over the garden.
6. End of the afternoon: Aperitivo
In Italy it is time for aperitivo at the end of the afternoon: a cocktail with some small snacks. You can go to various bars in the center for this. For example, go to Chigan Art Café, Meet life café or to La Bottega del Caffè or to one of the bars in Via Pantaneto. In the evening you can dine at Trattoria Papei or Ristorante La Fontana in Piazza del Mercato, at Salefino or at Osteria Di Kamollia.
7. Siena and the surrounding area
Siena is a perfect city to stroll through, discover the little streets and stop in every now and then for a gelato or a drink. Are you in town for a little longer? Then a trip to San Gimignano (city of many towers), Monteriggioni (medieval town) or Colle di Val d’Elsa (known for Pinocchio and its crystal glass) is certainly fun. There are also several places in the Siena region where you can taste wine, such as at Il Colombaio di Santachiara.
Spend the night in Siena
Looking for nice places to stay? Here are a few recommendations:
I Tetti di Siena
A holiday without a nice overnight stay is of course not possible, so if you want to sleep in Siena you can, for example, go to hotel I Tetti di Siena. This hotel is located in the city center and all rooms have a private bathroom. The most famous attractions are within walking distance of this hotel and you have a nice view of the city from the rooms.
Also centrally located in Siena, Hotel Minerva has a garden with panoramic views. The rooms have a private bathroom with air conditioning and some rooms have a balcony or terrace with city views. There is also a covered parking space and breakfast is included in the price.
Hotel Santa Caterina
At Hotel Santa Caterina you spend the night in a villa from the eighteenth century and you have a terrace with a view of the beautiful Tuscan landscape. So have breakfast outside and enjoy this nice place. The hotel is a fifteen minute walk from the center and the rooms are authentically furnished. They all have a private bathroom and air conditioning and there is a secure private car park at the hotel. Hotel Santa Caterina is located near Porta Romana, one of the medieval gates of Siena.
B&B 1550 Residenza d’Epoca
Bed & Breakfast 1550 Residenza d’Epoca is certainly also a nice place to stay. This accommodation is very centrally located, close to Piazza del Campo. All rooms have a private bathroom and air conditioning. The rooms are very stately furnished and that fits nicely with the historic building in which you are staying. At this B&B you can also rent bicycles, so that you can explore the surroundings of Siena.
There is a lot to do in Siena and during a holiday in Tuscany you really have to visit the city!