Since 2015, the popular Italian city of Florence has been getting more than nine million visitors per year. So what you don’t see in those lovely selfies on Instagram are the throngs of other tourists taking the very same shots at the very same time. Day after day.
It’s a beautiful city for sure, still a magical place, but you might want to take some trips out of the city while you’re there to see a less crowded version of travel in Italy.
Sure, you can go from Florence to Pisa in a day or take a day trip to Cinque Terre. Neither of those “greatest hits of Italy” stops are going to help you much though if you’re trying to avoid tour buses and large groups following a guide with a megaphone and a flag. Overtourism—especially in the summer—goes well beyond Florence and Venice in Italy.
There are plenty of spots in one of the world’s favorite countries that aren’t so mobbed, however. If you’re looking to get out of Florence for a day to a place where it’s not hard to find a quiet place of your own, consider these lesser-known day trips from the city.
Florence to Siena Day Trip
The city of Siena is only 1.5 to 2 hours away from Florence, so it’s a relatively easy there-and-back trip you can do in one day. The most stylish way is on an organized Chianti and sunset tour, but you can also get there by train on your own, or go by bus to get there a little faster and closer to the center.
Siena is a gorgeous medieval city on a hill, glowing orange at sunset. You can soak it all in wandering the narrow cobblestone streets and visiting the gothic cathedral. Of course you’ll find plenty of places to get a good glass of local wine with your meal.
Florence to Chianti
Speaking of wine, did you know that the heart of Chianti country is a short hop from the busy city? You can leave the crowds behind in the countryside between Florence and Sienna and just listen to the birds chirping as you sip some red wine at a vineyard.
There are organized Florence wine tours of the region, but this might be the best day trip to do in your own vehicle if you’re thinking of renting a car at some point in Italy. You can hit up some wineries when the buses aren’t coming through and maybe stop by one or two that don’t participate in the organized Chianti tour from Florence route. This site has a map of the region and some vineyard suggestions as well.
Florence to Arrezo Day Trip
Arrezo doesn’t get all that many tourists, despite being just an hour away from Tuscany’s main city. Perhaps this is because there are no “must see” things to pose in front of. The main square was featured in the movie Life is Beautiful though, probably because it’s where actor Roberto Benigni grew up.
This city probably was settled five centuries BC and was conquered by the Romans 200 years later. There are still ruins from a Roman amphitheater, but the majority of the historic buildings you can see now are from the 12th to 16th century. This is one of the best day trips from Florence to have a place to yourself, especially as you get away from the main plaza.
Florence to Lucca Trip
Lucca is another almost-perfect Tuscan city that doesn’t get mobbed with visitors, even in the summer. Although less than two hours away from Florence, a day trip here will bring you to a very different kind of place.
Lucca was an independent city-state for around 500 years, second only to Venice in its heyday. It changed rulers many times before and after, but the city walls remained intact and were even expanded as the city grew. Now the walls host a walking promenade. You can traverse the original edge of the city and see the historic buildings from different angles. If you’re going to pick one of these places to spend the night, Lucca might be a good one because you could get sunset photos and then sunrise ones from different locations along the walls.
Florence to San Gimignano Day Tour
San Gimignano is known as the town of wine and towers. So there are lots of places to climb high and get a drone-like view, then back on the ground, drink some good wine at a plaza cafe. Or visit the Vernaccia Wine Museum and have a tasting. These 16 towers have been up for more than 8 centuries, so San Gimignano has dominated the Sienna Hills landscape for a very long time.
This is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Italy and it is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage site. You could certainly find more than a day’s worth of sites and back streets to explore here—including the Medieval Torture Museum—but if you want to come on a day trip from Florence, it’s just two hours, with a transfer in Poggibonsi.
Want to let someone else work out the details? See options for organized day tours from Florence here.