Rome is an amazing holiday destination. You can book a full week trip to Rome and still feel like not seeing it all. You might also get a little bit wary of all the historic ruins as it happens to many tourists. Many people feel like this after the first few days of sightseeing as the Ethernal City overwhelms with history. If this happens to you, one way to take a break is a Rome to Siena day trip.
Siena is an ancient city in Tuscany. In fact, it’s pretty much everything that you have in your mind when you think of Italy. Narrow streets, old buildings, beautiful churches, and a town full of life. If you think you can carve some time out of your Rome itinerary then a visit to Siena is definitely recommended.
Why do a day trip to Siena from Rome?
Let’s hear from our writer Maxim why he thinks a day trip to Siena is worth it.
First time I was in Rome I was a little bit underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, I still think everyone must see Rome in their lifetime. The major attractions definitely don’t disappoint. However, the city was too much of a metropolis. Being my first time in Italy I expected something else.
A few years later I have managed to book a vacation to Tuscany. I first visited Firenze which was a bit like Rome, but still smaller, more romantic, and more like the Italy I had in my mind.
In my itinerary, it was Siena after Firenze. As I stepped out of the train and into the station taking the stairs up to the city I was not aware of how much my mind will be blown away. I had my hotel right at the city center and already while walking towards it I could tell: this is the Italy I have always imagined before visiting.
The whole old town is pretty much the same as it was hundreds of years ago. What used to be paths for horses and carriages are now for cars, but the narrow streets see little traffic. This means everyone walking in the middle of the cobblestone streets and there isn’t even a sidewalk.
I absolutely fell in love and I think you will too. Especially going directly from Rome. It’s a place that’s worth visiting if you want a glimpse into historic Italy.
How to get from Rome to Siena?
You can either drive yourself or go to Siena by train. Both options are valid depending on your budget.
Getting to Siena from Rome by Train
One of the best ways to do a Rome to Siena day trip is by train. Generally speaking the train system in Italy is pretty good and it only gets better in Northern Italy. Regardless, won’t be able to travel directly to Siena. You’ll have to do a change.
There are two options here, with both taking around 3 hours to 3 hours and 30 minutes. This is purely depending on how you can catch a connection.
Rome – Chiusi – Siena
The first and cheapest option is from Rome to Chiusi then Chiusi to Siena. This usually costs around $24 for one trip so you can get a really good price. The only problem this trip might have is the long waiting time for your connecting train. You might need to wait for up to an hour before your train to Siena comes.
This route also has another downside: you will need to get up early. We’ve found that usually, the trains from Rome to Chiusi that have great low waiting times between connections leave early in the morning.
In case you got some time in Chiusi then we recommend Bar Pasticceria Margottini. Here you can grab breakfast and drink a cappuccino.
Rome – Firenze – Siena
The more reliable option from Rome to Siena by train is through Firenze. This route will almost always take 3 hours and 30 minutes. The downside of this one is the fact that tickets can run up to $66 for one way.
The high price is due to the Rome – Firenze train. It’s a high-speed connection so you’ll generally need to pay more. Due to the price difference, we definitely recommend that you try to catch the Chiusi connection.
How to get train tickets?
In both of the cases, you will need to depart from Roma Termini station in Rome. It’s a huge station and there are plenty of machines or tellers where you can purchase a ticket.
You can purchase tickets online as well. The ItaliaRail website will have all the latest schedules and you can purchase through them. It’s especially great to get your tickets one day early so you don’t have to hurry in the morning.
Getting to Siena by car
Should you choose to rent a car you can find Siena pretty easily. The trip takes around 2 hours and 42 minutes so you are not actually saving that much time compared to the train.
You have to follow the highway that goes to Firenze. Leave the highway at the Valdichiana, Bettolle – Sinalunga exit. After exiting the highway you will already have a direction sign for Siena, which will take you right into the city.
What to do in Siena for one day?
All right now that you have got your trip booked and your plan ready let’s take a look at all the great things that you can do in just one day of sightseeing in Siena. You will arrive sometime between 9 AM to 1 PM at the train station. This should give you enough time to enjoy this magical city and catch the evening train back to Rome.
Getting to the city center from the train station
The adventure begins at the train station. You will find it extremely uncommon to get from the train station just to street level. We are in Tuscany now, so hills and hilltop towns such as Siena are expected. Yet the train runs in the easiest path below the hill.
This results in a weird situation where you have to take around 5 escalators just to get to street level. Luckily the building has windows so at the very least you can marvel at the Tuscany landscape on the way up. After you arrive on the street level you have to turn left and follow the main road until you reach Porta Camollia, the door of the Old Town and your gateway to another Italy.
Step Through History
Going through the gate of the Old Town is always a magical experience in Siena. You are instantly transported back in time a few hundred years. If it weren’t for the cars and people dressing in modern clothes you wouldn’t be able to tell which time period you are in!
Some of the streets are full-on pedestrian areas meanwhile others have car traffic. Although the traffic is very light make sure to keep your eyes open for any upcoming vehicles.
Piazza del Campo
The main square of the old town. It’s a very memorable square due to its half-circle shape. Even better it’s sloping down towards the middle so you can find places to sit around the square. It’s almost like a little amphitheater.
Towering over Piazza del Campo is the Pubblico Palace. This impressive building was constructed in the 13th century. It’s a standout among the palaces in the towns of Tuscany due to its brick facade. Today it’s the home of the Civic Museum.
Next to the palace is Torre del Mangia which is a huge tower built adjacent to it. If you are up to take some stairs don’t miss climbing to the top. The views are absolutely stunning from up there.
Sienna Horse Races
There is another awesome tradition that takes place at Piazza del Campo. The Palio di Siena is a horserace that takes place twice every year at the main square of the town. These days the riders from nearby towns gather to test who is the best. Make sure you get familiar with the schedule. It’s a great spectacle to watch, but the town will be absolutely full in case you visit during the Palio di Siena.
Inside Pubblico Palace
While at Piazza del Campo, you definitely need to pay a visit inside the Pubblico Palace. The Civic Museum is rather small and you can check it out in around one hour. Just what you need for a day trip.
Inside you’ll find amazing frescoes from renowned artists. The inner courtyard is truly stunning. Some people like to compare this palace to the famous Pallazo Vecchio in Florence. Surely this one is smaller, but as the queen of Siena, it’s a must-see from the inside.
Also, after the museum, make sure that you don’t miss the chance to climb the Torre del Mangia. It provides some of the best views around all towns in Tuscany. Trust us on this one.
Duomo di Siena
The Duomo di Siena is another attraction that you can’t miss on a Siena visit. It’s a very impressive church with a unique black-white stripe paint. Almost like a zebra. The huge Duomo is a truly jaw-dropping size considering the small streets and buildings around.
Did you know it was supposed to be even bigger? If you look around the square you can see the black-white paint continuing on some buildings and walls. You can even discover where was supposed to be another big entrance for the church. These parts were all planned to be part of the Duomo di Siena. We can’t even imagine how huge this church would be if it was actually completed.
To fully enjoy the visit to the Duomo you can grab the so-called ‘Opa Si Pass’. This pass will allow you to visit the Cathedral and all the sites and museums connected. Everything is around the Cathedral and you should be able to conclude the full visit of all places in no more than 3 hours. If you think you have the time, it’s a great bargain.
Explore Palaces, Churches, and Narrow Winding Roads
The old town of Siena is a magical place to walk around. We definitely recommend that you do walk around the small streets and explore on your own. There are tons of small shops and souvenir stalls where you can spend time checking out the local craftsmen’s work.
You can explore countless churches and palaces scattered around town. Here is one such self-guided tour that covers all the palaces around town.
Get a good view of the town
In case you can fit a detour into your itinerary, then you should definitely consider getting to the ‘Vista Panoramica de Siena‘. It’s located right opposite the old town and the Cathedral of Siena. The views are dramatic from here and it makes for an excellent spot to take pictures. We recommend trying to come on your way to the train station.
If you visit, we guarantee that you will wonder about the fortress behind the square. It’s called the Fortezza Medicea and is a medieval fortress. It’s quite big and there are some walking trails inside. For a day trip, we don’t recommend visiting as it takes up too much time better spent in the historical center of Siena.
Where to eat in Siena?
Whenever you are on a Rome to Siena day trip we guarantee that you will get hungry. It’s a full day of sightseeing after all. Please take a look at the below restaurant recommendations. We’ll try to recommend a place for everyone, even if you are looking for a quick bite or a full dine-in experience.
Avoid Eating at Piazza del Campo
Let’s start with one simple piece of advice. You should avoid eating at Piazza del Campo. Yes, we can’t deny that the views are unbeatable here but the restaurants all leave something to be desired. Although some of them actually serve good food they are all overpriced and we don’t recommend them.
Te Ke Voi?
Now that we’ve got the Piazza question out of the way let’s start with ‘Te Ke Voi?’. It’s just on the other side of Piazza del Campo so you won’t have to walk a lot if you want to eat nearby. Perfect for both those who want a quick bite to those who want something more filling. From focaccia through sandwiches to nice meat-based meals you’ll get pretty much everything here. It’s nice street food that you can get quickly. Perfect on a Rome to Siena day trip.
GROM – The Place for Gelato
We definitely wanted to include one place where you can get great ice cream. It’s called GROM and it’s very close to the city center. We think they have the best gelato in Siena and if you visit during summer you must get a taste of this.
Osteria Il Rialto
Close to the Piazza del Campo, it’s easy to visit Osteria Il Rialto. We love this place because of its authentic Tuscan cuisine. The menu is actually pretty short. Mostly pasta and risotto. Almost everything is under 15 euros so it’s not a very expensive place. They make great food at a great price and have some amazing wines that you can get along with your meal.
Are you ready for a Rome to Siena Day Trip?
We really hope that this article has helped you towards a decision to a Rome to Siena day trip. The historical city of Siena is an awesome place and it’s everything you could want from Italy. A magical atmosphere and a town that’s very hard to forget. Most people who visit Siena have extremely fond memories of the city and we are not surprised about that.
Rome to Siena Day Trip FAQ
Yes, Siena is a historic town and has an extremely charming atmosphere.
You can travel by train, but you will need to change in either Chiusi or Firenze.
It’s between 3h – 3h30m
It’s $24 and you will have to change in Chiusi.
Yes, you can use ItaliaRail to purchase tickets in advance.
Siena has a compact town center and one day is enough to see almost everything. However, due to the atmosphere, many people want to later return for a longer stay in Siena.