siena vs florence view of city rooftops and top of doumo

Siena vs Florence: Which City Is Better? Tuscany’s Duel [2023]

Planning a trip to Italy and can’t decide between Siena or Florence? Well, you’re in luck because I’ve been to both cities and am here to help you make an informed decision!

Siena vs. Florence: which city is better, which city should you make your home base, or which city do you have to add to your must-see list?

Both cities are incredibly beautiful and rich in history and art, but they do offer different experiences for travellers.

That’s where I will compare Siena and Florence side by side, highlighting their unique charms, cultural attractions, and must-see landmarks.

So are you ready as we embark on this friendly debate to determine which city might suit your preferences better – Florence or Siena?

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Siena vs Florence: Which City is Better?


IT Siena vs Florence 9


Siena, with its timeless charm and medieval splendour, offers a captivating array of attractions that transport visitors back in time. There are two main attractions in Siena that are a must-visit.

Piazza del Campo: Picture this – an expansive shell-shaped square adorned with medieval architecture and bustling cafes – welcome to Piazza del Campo in Siena! This iconic square serves as the vibrant heart of the city. Marvel at Palazzo Pubblico’s lofty tower, which offers panoramic views over the terracotta rooftops. Every year in July and August, witness an exhilarating horse race called Il Palio where different contrade (neighbourhoods) compete for glory amidst thunderous cheers from spectators.

🎟️Admire 13th-century frescos as you tour the inside of the Palazzo Pubblico with this entry ticket

Duomo di Siena: Prepare to be awestruck by one of Italy’s most magnificent Gothic cathedrals – Duomo di Siena. Its exterior showcases intricate marble work while its interior houses artistic masterpieces by renowned artists such as Donatello and Michelangelo. Climb up its majestic dome for breathtaking vistas or descend into its crypt to discover hidden treasures from centuries past.

🎟️Be sure to grab your all-access pass to the Duomo and its incredible buildings like the Crypt, Baptistery, Piccolomini Library, Museo dell’Opera, Oratory, and the Facciatone viewpoint.

Florence is a treasure trove of art, architecture, and cultural landmarks. The sheer number of attractions this Tuscan city offers will keep you busy for days. Let’s start with the iconic Florence Cathedral, also known as the Duomo, with its magnificent dome by Brunelleschi, standing tall as a symbol of the city’s grandeur.

🎟️Get special access to the Cathedral, Duomo Museum, and Baptistery through this Tour – check prices and availability!

Florence’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a living museum in itself, with architectural marvels such as the Palazzo Vecchio and the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge adorned with shops and offering breathtaking views of the Arno River. The many piazzas in Florence are perfect for people-watching and soaking up the lively atmosphere.



When it comes to architectural beauty, both Siena and Florence shine but just in different ways.

Siena‘s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, transports you back in time with its Gothic marvels, such as the magnificent Siena Cathedral. The intricate details of its facade and the breathtaking frescoes within make it a masterpiece in its own right. The medieval mystery mood in Siena makes it a unique city to visit.

Meanwhile, Florence, the city that nurtured the Renaissance, unveils a mesmerizing blend of styles. The iconic Florence Cathedral, with its magnificent dome by Brunelleschi. The Ponte Vecchio, spanning the Arno River, evokes a sense of romance with its enchanting architecture, while the Palazzo Vecchio emanates an air of power and history.


Art & Culture

Siena‘s art scene pales in comparison to Florence, but it showcases its cultural legacy through its famous Palio di Siena, a thrilling horse race held in the Piazza del Campo twice a year. The city’s strong medieval traditions and the passionate rivalry between its 17 contrade (districts) is one of the top things to see if the timing is right.

Art enthusiasts find themselves in paradise as they step foot into Florence. The Uffizi Gallery houses an unrivalled collection of masterpieces, including Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.” Meanwhile, the Accademia Gallery is home to Michelangelo’s immortal statue, the “David,” a sublime work of art that leaves visitors awe-inspired.

🎟️Be sure to grab your skip-the-line access to Uffizi Gallery

🎟️Get your skip-the-line Michelangelo’s David entry ticket


Green Spaces

When it comes to pretty gardens, Siena and Florence each offer their own escapes from the urban bustle.

In Siena, the Giardino La Lizza lies just outside the historic walls of the city centre and aside from the garden it offers panoramic views of the city. It’s a great spot to grab a gelato and rest your feet.

In Florence, the Boboli Gardens is a sprawling haven of terraced landscapes, elegant statues, and enchanting fountains from the 16th and 17 centuries. Come here in the morning to watch the sun rise over the city.

🎟️Get your reserved entrance ticket to Boboli Gardens



In the culinary realm, both Siena and Florence tantalize taste buds with their distinct gastronomic delights. You’re in Italy after all, and there isn’t a bad meal to be had.

Siena is well known for its pici pasta, a rustic homemade spaghetti that can be served with a hearty ragu for meat lovers or cacio e pepe for vegetarians. This delicious dish pairs perfectly with a glass of the renowned Chianti wine.

Recommended restaurants in Siena for lunch or dinner:

Florence is famous for its mouthwatering Florentine steak which will satisfy any meat lover. Exploring the bustling Mercato Centrale, the gourmet food hall is a must for every foodie. Both Siena and Florence also offer traditional dishes like ribollita and irresistible gelato.

Recommended restaurants in Florence for lunch or dinner:


Getting to City

Both Siena and Florence are easily accessible and well-connected. Siena, located in the heart of Tuscany, can be reached by train or bus.

But as a major tourist hub, Florence boasts its own international airport, as well as excellent rail connections to major Italian cities, making it a convenient starting point for exploring the region.

🚗My go-to for car rental is AutoEurope and 🚅for RailEurope for train travel


Getting Around the City

Exploring the streets of Siena and Florence is a delightful experience, thanks to their compact sizes and pedestrian-friendly layouts.

The old historic centre in Siena is closed to traffic, allowing visitors to freely wander its enchanting medieval streets. The city centre in Florence is equally walkable but does have more access points for cars.



Siena is full of charming streets lined with boutique shops, offering unique and artisanal goods that make for perfect souvenirs.

But nothing competes with the shopping found in Florence. It is famous for its luxury shopping, with the elegant Via de’ Tornabuoni, where high-end fashion brands and designer labels tempt fashion enthusiasts. Moreover, Florence’s leather goods, from handbags to jackets, are renowned for their craftsmanship, making it a mecca for leather lovers. I still have my leather jacket and suede boots from Florence.



If you love experiences, then I’ve found some that you’re going to love! These are all unique fun ways to enjoy either both cities.

Siena Experiences

#1 Top Pick
countryside winery on florence vs siena day trip


Brunello di Montalcino Guided Wine Tour W/ Lunch

✅4.9⭐️ & 129 reviews

✅ 9 hours

✅ Tour the Montalcino Hill, and 3 different Brunello wineries

#2 Pick
glass of white wine with citrus fruits on day trip from siena or florence

Educational Wine Tour & Tasting

✅ 4.9⭐️ & 113 reviews

✅ 3 hours

✅At an organic winery, learn all about wine over lunch and tasting.

#3 Pick
homemade pasta with wooden rolling pin in siena

Small Group Pasta and Tiramisu Class

✅ 4.9⭐️ & 36 reviews

✅ 3 hours

✅ In a local home, make pasta and tiramisu and enjoy

Florence Experiences

#1 Top Pick
lunch table with countryside view of hilltop town in siena or florence


Tuscany Day Trip with Lunch at Chianti winery

✅ 4.8⭐️ & 2,512 reviews

✅ 12 hours guided group tour

✅ Visit Siena, San Gimignano, and Pisa

#2 Pick
church with grand piano and frescos on trip to florence and siena

Santa Monaca Church Italian Opera Concert

✅ 4.7⭐️ & 251 reviews

✅ 65-120 minutes

✅ Listen to live performances of Verdi, Puccini in 15th C church

#3 Pick
fishing boats, colourful houses on rock cliff on day trip from siena vs florence

Day Trip to Cinque Terre

✅ 4.3⭐️ & 971 reviews

✅ 12 hours

✅ Visit 5 towns by coach, train, and boat



When the sun sets, Siena and Florence cater to different tastes of nightlife.

Siena, with its strong sense of community and smaller size, offers a cozy and intimate atmosphere for an evening out. A late night dinner followed by a charming wine bar to enjoy a glass of local wine is a quiet way to spend the evening. Everyone gathers in the Piazza del Campo transforming into a lively social hub, with the outdoor cafes and bars offering a lively ambiance, especially during the summer months.

On the other hand, the nightlife in Florence does offer the same experience, but if you are looking for more, Florence is the city to visit, reflecting its larger size and cosmopolitan vibe. The city offers a wide range of options, from trendy bars and cocktail lounges to bustling nightclubs that keep the party going until the early hours of the morning.

The Oltrarno neighbourhood, located on the other side of the Arno River, is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, with its hip bars and live music venues. Florence also hosts cultural events, concerts, and theatre performances that add an artistic touch to the vibrant nightlife scene.



Considerations of cost play a significant role in travel planning. Siena, being smaller and less touristy, generally offers more budget-friendly options for accommodations and dining. Exploring Siena can be an economical choice, particularly for travellers seeking to experience Italian charm without breaking the bank.

Florence, as a popular tourist destination, may have slightly higher price tags due to higher demand.


Is Florence vs Siena Right for You If….

Siena and Florence cater to a diverse range of travellers, each offering unique experiences that resonate with different types of holidaymakers.

chart of comparison of siena vs florence

For Siena, if you’re budget-friendly, a couple seeking romance, a passionate foodie, or a history buff, Siena is your perfect match!

Florence is the perfect city for those looking for a well-rounded vacation- whether you are a family, couple, or solo. If you are an art lover in pursuit of Renaissance masterpieces, a museum-goer hungry for cultural immersion, a shopaholic seeking high-end fashion, a foodie craving delectable Tuscan cuisine, a photographer capturing iconic vistas, or a night owl ready to dive into the vibrant nightlife scene. Florence caters to diverse interests and makes for a great city break.

Best Base for Exploring Tuscany: Siena or Florence?

When it comes to choosing the best base for exploring Tuscany, both Siena and Florence offer distinct advantages.

Siena‘s central location amidst the rolling hills of Tuscany makes it an excellent base for those seeking a more tranquil and authentic Tuscan experience. From Siena, you can easily venture into the charming countryside, dotted with vineyards, olive groves, and picturesque villages.

On the other hand, Florence‘s strategic position and excellent transportation connections make it an ideal base for exploring the wider region. Its extensive rail network and proximity to major highways allow for convenient day trips to other Tuscan gems such as Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, and the Chianti wine region.


My top pick for place to stay in Siena and Florence.

Day Trips

If you want to see many of the Tuscan towns and villages I recommend a car. Many of these are not assesslbe to reach by train and buses take far too long. The alternative is to take a group tour.

IT Siena vs Florence 8



Is Siena or Florence better for history and architecture?

Both cities have a rich history and stunning architecture. Siena is known for its medieval charm and well-preserved historic center, while Florence offers a wealth of Renaissance art and iconic landmarks like the Duomo and Uffizi Gallery.

Which city offers a better food and wine experience, Siena or Florence?

Both Siena and Florence are known for their delicious cuisine and excellent wines. Siena is famous for its pici pasta, while Florence is well known for its traditional Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Is Siena or Florence more crowded with tourists?

Florence tends to be more crowded with tourists, especially in popular areas like Piazza del Duomo and Ponte Vecchio. Siena, although still attracting tourists, generally offers a more intimate and relaxed atmosphere, especially in its smaller streets and squares.

Which city has more cultural attractions and museums, Siena or Florence?

Florence boasts a higher number of cultural attractions and museums, including world-renowned sites like the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia Gallery (home to Michelangelo’s David). Siena, while smaller, offers its own cultural gems such as the Duomo and the Palazzo Pubblico.

Can I visit both Siena and Florence in one trip?

Yes, it is possible to visit both cities in one trip, as they are relatively close to each other. It’s recommended to allocate at least a day for each city to fully appreciate their unique charms and attractions. Be sure to pre-book your entrance tickets to maximize your time.

Which city has better shopping opportunities, Siena or Florence?

Florence is known for its high-end fashion boutiques and designer brands, making it a popular shopping destination. Siena, on the other hand, offers smaller boutique shops and artisanal crafts, providing a more traditional and unique shopping experience.

Is Siena or Florence better for exploring the Tuscan countryside?

Both cities can serve as a starting point for exploring the Tuscan countryside, but Florence offers better access to transportation networks. From Florence, you can easily take day trips to the scenic countryside, including vineyards, hilltop towns, and picturesque landscapes.

Which city is easier to navigate, Siena or Florence?

Siena is relatively compact and easier to navigate on foot due to its smaller size. Florence, although larger, is still walkable and generally easy to explore.

As a Holidaymaker

Siena and Florence have their own unique charm. Ultimately, the choice between these two remarkable cities depends on personal preferences and interests. My recommendation is to see them both.

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