Getting from Florence to Siena (and Vice Versa)

by Jessica on April 16, 2009

by | April 16th, 2009  

f2s1Whether you’re heading from Florence to Siena on a quick day-trip to this beautiful Medieval city or you’re going to be spending a few days in Siena after staying in Florence, you’ve got a few options for getting from Florence to Siena. And, hold onto your hats, because this is one time when I’m not going to tell you that the train is your best option.

Shocking, I know.

In most cases, especially if you’re visiting tourist hotspots in Italy, taking the train is going to be the easiest, cheapest, and quickest way to go. But that’s not always true – and despite the fact that Siena is one of the most popular stops in Tuscany (and the fact that it does have a perfectly good train station), it’s best to make this trip by bus.

But who am I to tell you what to do? Read through the options below for getting from Florence to Siena, and then make your own choice.

(No, really, take the bus.)

Taking the Bus from Florence to Siena

f2s2As mentioned, Siena has a train station – but it’s located further from the historic city center than the bus station, which is only one of the reasons taking the bus is the better option.

The SITA company runs the buses between Florence and Siena, and the departure point in Florence is just across the street from the city’s main train station, Santa Maria Novella. Siena’s bus stop is at Piazza Gramsci, well inside the old city walls.

The journey between the two cities takes roughly 1.25 hours on the fast bus. This is a direct shot from Florence to Siena, so you’d think it would be the one with the name “diretta” – but no, that name is reserved for the bus that goes from Florence to Siena via a few other stops, including Poggibonsi. Also confusing is the fact that the slower train is also sometimes called the “accelerate.”

So make sure you’re getting on the real fast bus, not just the one with the fast-sounding name.

One other note – the FSBusItalia website lists some of the departure times as being covered by the TRA.IN company rather than the SITA company, but they’re all listed under the fast bus times – so it shouldn’t be an issue. Just don’t get thrown off if you see the giant word TRA.IN on the side of a bus (which is clearly a bus and not a train).

>> Here’s a PDF of the Florence-Siena/Siena-Florence bus schedule.

SITA buses leave Florence for Siena 2-3 times per hour starting at 06:45 and the last bus leaves Florence at 20:15. Fewer buses run on weekends and during holidays, but for the most part you shouldn’t have any trouble getting a bus to Siena just about any time you want to go.

A bus ticket from Florence to Siena costs €6.50-7.00 (I’m finding conflicting reports online, so forgive the range, but it’s in the €7 neighborhood for a one-way ticket).

Taking the Train from Florence to Siena

f2s3Most of the time in Italy, taking the train is going to be way faster than taking the bus. This is one trip where the opposite is true, however. The train trip from Florence to Siena often requires a train change in Empoli, but either way it takes longer overall than the bus. And then, as mentioned above, the train station is further outside of the historic center than the bus station, so you’ll have longer to walk from the train to the pretty part of town than you would from the bus station. The one notable perk of taking the train between Florence and Siena is the view – it’s substantially prettier along the train route than the bus route.

Trains from Florence to Siena leave Santa Maria Novella station roughly once an hour on most days, and a direct train – one that requires no changes – takes about 1.5 hours. The train station in Siena is roughly 2km from the historic center. You can either take a bus from the train station into the city center, which takes about five minutes, or you can walk. If you’re thinking that a leisurely walk through a Tuscan town sounds nice, consider that from the train station into the city center is mostly uphill.

Taking a bus from the train station into town, you’ll look for buses that go to the Piazza del Sale. The walk takes at least 20 minutes, if not more. A train ticket for the Florence-Siena route should be in the €6-10 range (if you’re on the direct train).

Driving from Florence to Siena

f2s4If you’re traveling with a rental car in Italy and you’ve been attempting to drive around Florence during your stay, you’ll no doubt have been thoroughly frustrated several times already. There are plenty of cities that are drive-able in Italy (if slightly challenging), but the historic center of Florence just wasn’t meant for cars, period. In other words, if you can avoid renting your car until you’re about to leave Florence, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.

The drive time from Florence to Siena is roughly 1.25 hours on the Autostrada, and covers a distance of about 70km. The Autostrada, while not the most beautiful kind of road in Italy, does sometimes cut through pretty parts of the country – and the one between Florence and Siena runs through Chianti.

You’ll have a much more scenic drive if you take the curvier back roads, but if you’re going to do that I highly recommend getting a really detailed road map of the area (a Michelin map of the whole country isn’t always detailed enough to catch all the little back roads in rural Italy, so pick up a regional road map in Florence before you leave) or opting for a GPS unit with your rental car.

>> And before you leave home, be sure you’ve read all about the rules of the road for driving in Italy.

Flying from Florence to Siena

f2s5Does Siena have an airport? Yes. Kind of. It’s 9km outside the city.

Does Florence have an airport? Oh, yes.

But should you fly from Florence to Siena? Oh, no.

In fact, it’s such a ludicrous idea that there aren’t even any flights that connect the two cities. If that doesn’t answer your question, nothing will.

And now that you’re in Siena…

You might just be making Siena a day trip from Florence, in which case you’ll just need a list of things to do. Or you might be staying the night in order to fully appreciate this lovely city. Either way, here are some links to help you.

  • Here’s a Siena travel guide, including a list of some of the top attractions in the city.
  • If you’re visiting Siena during the summer, be aware of when the Siena Palio is run – it makes the city incredibly busy, and can make it difficult to find a place to stay or get around.
  • Looking for a place to stay? Search for and book cheap hotels in Siena or Siena hostels if you’re traveling on a more strict budget.
  • Quick search for cheap hotels in Siena:

original photos, top to bottom, by: Beat, Thomas.L, ryangs, kmkuehler, PPoHio

{ 31 comments }

Wanderlust Women April 16, 2009 at 10:06 am
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Very useful tips and I have traveled by both train and car and still prefer to drive around Tuscany’s back roads, maybe because I am a seasoned city driver. Getting lost is part of the adventure. As to the GPS from a car rental place, they overcharge you. Better to D/L the app. to your phone or bring a pre-programmed unit from the States. It’s my new best friend.

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kamiar May 19, 2009 at 12:19 am
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hello i want some information about bus travel between bari and rome.please mail me

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Jessica May 25, 2009 at 3:41 am
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Hi, Kamiar – Unfortunately, getting from one region to another in Italy (like getting from Bari to Rome) by bus is really difficult. Here’s my article about bus travel in Italy, where you can look up the various regional bus lines and information about regional bus travel, but to travel between Bari and Rome you’re probably better off taking the train.

http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/bus-travel-in-italy.html

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Fran April 8, 2010 at 9:05 am
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Jessica,

I love this site! You provide so much useful information. You have answered so many questions for us. Going to Italy the end of June, planning it with your help has bee so much fun. So THANK YOU!

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Jessica April 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm
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You’re very welcome, Fran, and thank YOU for leaving such a nice a comment. :) If you have any questions about your trip, don’t hesitate to let me know!

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Lisa April 26, 2010 at 2:31 am
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I was just wondering if you thought I should take a tour (by Bus) to Siena and San G with a group from my hotel (in Florence) or if you think going ourselves by bus is better.
THank you,
Lisa

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Jessica April 26, 2010 at 7:44 am
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Hi, Lisa:

If the group tour from your hotel covers everything you’d want to see in Siena and San Gimignano and the price is right, that’s probably easier. But if you want more flexibility about how long you stay in each town then going on your own is the better option. It depends quite a bit on what the schedule and price of the organized bus tour is.

Ciao,
Jessica

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World Wonderer July 13, 2010 at 6:56 am
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Right down to pointing out the fact that the walk from the station to city center is uphill is like you’re reading my mind and giving the most useful and direct info I could hope for as a lone traveler. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Robbie August 10, 2010 at 5:16 am
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Hi Jessica,
We (wife, 16 year-old son and self) are spending 15 days in Dec-Jan in Italy. This will be our first visit and we would appreciate some help.
From Venice, we are visiting Florence and were wondering whether to stay over at Siena for the night instead of Florence. We were also unsure of whether to head for San Gimignano the following day (if we stay over at Siena) and return to Florence for the night or skip San G. and head for Pisa and from there to Naples (back-tracking to Florence to catch a train)
Another question was whether to visit Positano or give it a complete miss (it being Winter) and return to Rome from Naples?
We were hoping that someone with local knowledge could advice us.
Thanks,

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Jessica August 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm
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Hi, Robbie:

I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but here’s my “perfect 2-week Italy itinerary,” with suggestions for alterations if you’d like:

http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/italy-itinerary-the-perfect-two-weeks.html

And here are my tips for creating the perfect Italy itinerary for you, no matter what’s on your must-see list:

http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/how-to-create-the-perfect-italy-itinerary.html

It sort of depends how long you were planning to be in Florence whether I’d say an overnight (or two) in Siena or San Gimignano might also be worthwhile. Also keep in mind that both Siena and San Gimignano are best (or only) accessible by bus – assuming you’re not driving a rental car? – and if weather’s an issue in Dec/Jan that could complicate things.

Also depending on how long you were planning to be in Naples, you could do a day trip exploring the Amalfi Coast, regardless of the weather.

I hope that helps,
Jessica

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Tushar November 21, 2010 at 12:46 am
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Hi Jessica,

I love your website. Lots of information. I will be visiting Italy shortly for my honeymoon. Do you think I could cover Pisa & Siena in one day? I mean just for a quick visit. Snaps around the Leaning Tower and such. If your answer is affirmative, can you also tell me what would be the best means and sequence of travel? I want to cover as many places as possible. Thanks. :-)

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Jessica November 22, 2010 at 5:21 pm
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Well, I wouldn’t recommend doing both of those cities in one day, partly because they’re in two different directions from Florence – assuming you’re using Florence as a homebase for this trip. You can read a little bit about the trip between Florence and Pisa in this post:

http://www.italylogue.com/featured-articles/getting-from-the-cinque-terre-to-florence.html

Pisa only takes about two hours total to visit, but in Siena you could easily spend 6-7 hours (at least). So if you’re dead set on the idea, you could probably do both in a very long day. I don’t know the bus/train schedules offhand, but I’d check on a train from Florence to Pisa, then a bus from Pisa to Siena, and a bus from Siena back to Florence (again, assuming you’re basing yourself in Florence).

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Igor November 26, 2010 at 12:21 am
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very good and informative site and useful answers

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Glenda Kyle March 28, 2011 at 9:29 pm
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Thanks for all this information. We are about 45 days from making our short trip to Rome, Florence (and advised to do a day trip to Siena) Genoa and Milan with 5 days in Cinque Terre as well. I have already booked the 4 of us on trains from Rome to Florence – Florence to Genoa and Genoa to Milan because we like to pay for as much as possible before we leave and HATE spending valuable tourist time buying tickets when we get there. So I will take you bus option for the day trip to Siena…

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susan Pienaar April 19, 2011 at 11:15 am
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My Daughter and I will be travelling to Italy from the 19 to the 29th May. We will attend a wedding in Lucca and plan to travel to Florence and would like to rent a car in Florence and travel via the S222 to sienna. could you please advise us if this would be a wise option versus a bus trip?

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Jessica April 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm
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As indicated in the article above, I prefer the bus for that trip, mainly because driving in both Florence and Siena city centers is a hassle (not to mention the parking). If your goal is drive through the countryside, that’s one thing – but solely to get from city to city, I’d stick to public transportation.

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Edel May 1, 2011 at 5:41 am
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Very informative website! My friends and I are going to Italy in two-weeks, and this website has been my “go-to” site for info!

And thank you for providing a link so I can make train ticket and seat reservations in one! It makes planning a lot easier!

One question though, after reading one of your articles, we’ve decided to take a bus from Florence to Siena. Is it easy to buy bus tickets on the day we’re leaving or should I buy them in advance? Thanks!

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Jessica May 5, 2011 at 11:14 am
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Buying bus tickets the day you’re making the trip is very easy – if you’re at all concerned about it being a problem, go the day before. The buses run frequently enough that even if one of them fills up you can catch the next one.

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Sameer May 10, 2011 at 11:40 pm
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I think you may be confusing Piazza Garibaldi with Piazza Gramsci?

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Jessica May 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm
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Oops! You’re right – I’ve corrected the post. Thanks for the note!

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Hailey June 14, 2011 at 4:39 am
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Hi Jessica,

Firstly let me say…Thank you for all the fabulous information! My partner and I are leaving for a 22 day self guided tour of Italy on Monday. Every time I have needed a question answered you have covered it with your blog!

In saying that I do have 1 question however?

Is there any way to book and pay for tickets from Florence to Sienna with SITA before we leave home? I have been onto the web site and I am having difficulty with this.

Thank you Hailey

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Jessica June 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm
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I’m so glad the site has been helpful to you, Hailey! I’ve looked at the SITA site, and I can’t find a way to book Florence-Siena tickets there, either. It’s very easy to do it in person, though. If you’re at all concerned about making sure you get seats on the specific bus you want (noting that there are several per day), you could go down to the bus station and buy them a day in advance or so.

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Patrick September 19, 2011 at 5:26 am
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Awesome site! Keep up the good work :D

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Cathie Dill January 6, 2012 at 6:56 am
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Found your website to be very informative. Appreciate all the information …. I will be traveling with 5 other ladies to Italy for 12 days (not including travel between the US and Italy) in either June or September …. in your opinion which is the best time to go considering cost and tourist season? Also, we are considering visiting Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome and Sorrento area … we’d like to use train or bus between each destination …. what do you consider the best way to travel? Thanking you in advance for your help …..

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Jessica January 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm
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You can get an idea of what to expect from the different times of year in Italy (both seasons and months) from the articles linked at the top of this page: http://www.italylogue.com/weather

The bottom line is that both June and September are part of the high season in most of Italy now, so cost is likely to be roughly the same. You can focus on things like festivals and weather instead in your decision-making.

As for transportation, I usually prefer trains, but that’s not always the best option – it depends on where you’re going. Here’s more about transportation in Italy: http://www.italylogue.com/transportation

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Kaye February 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm
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Your website is fantastic! We (4 adults) will be travelling from Florence to Sienna by bus as per your recommendation and staying there for two nights, Is there a problem with carrying luggage on the bus as we will be in the middle of a two month holiday and will have a large and small suitcase each. Also can you recommend a good short trip to Chianti as we want to see some countryside as well as Sienna town. Thanks in advance..

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Jessica February 14, 2012 at 11:23 am
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Usually the buses between Florence & Siena are coach-style buses where there’s luggage storage underneath the bus, so that’s not typically an issue. You won’t be the only travelers with luggage on that trip!

Here are some day trip options from Florence – most of them work for Siena, too – that may be useful to you: http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/day-trips-from-florence.html

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Lucienne Breakey June 26, 2012 at 2:35 am
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Remarkable! This website appears precisely like my own one! It’s on a entirely different subject matter nevertheless it really has just about the exact same layout and design. Superb pick of colors!

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Merlyn Dangor July 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm
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Buongiorno!, could you please advise the best and fastest way to get from Siena to Rome. bus or train? and the exact names of the stations, as I was directed to a website and there are several stations in Siena. I guess the easiest for a tourist to find would be closest to the main square? ( San Marco?)

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floranne July 19, 2012 at 6:34 am
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Is it possible to go from Sienna to Lucca by bus without going back to Florence ? I think your web site is fab !

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Debra Edwards December 9, 2012 at 10:59 am
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Hello– Thank you for all the information. Would love to take my two teenagers to Volterra. We will be in Florence and would like to travel to the hill towns on New Year’s Day. Since it is not an easy bus route and on a holiday, is car rental for a day our only real choice?

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