Florence is the very heart of Italy and is home to some of the most incredible museums and galleries in the world.
You could spend a week wandering from the Uffizi to the Ospedale degli Innocenti, from the Galleria dell’Accademia to the Bargello Museum and still only scratch the surface of the artistic and scientific heritage preserved in this magical city.
Once you have ticked off all the major sites and landmarks then it is time to broaden your horizons and venture a little further afield.
Being at the very centre of Italy makes Florence a great base from which to explore the rest of the country.
Let’s explore the best day trips from Florence:
Chianti is one of the most unique winemaking regions in the world.
Famed for the squat wine bottles held within a straw basket, known as a fiasco, no budding sommelier will pass up the opportunity to explore this phenomenal wine region.
You can explore the Chianti region by drive or if you like to be more active, by bicycle.
The smooth, winding roads are perfect for road biking and splitting up the journey with wine tasting here and an olive oil sampling it’s nothing shy of perfect.
Chianti is home to some of the best restaurants in all of Italy, many serving quintessentially Tuscan dishes with a modern twist.
2. San Gimignano and Siena
A visit to San Gimignano covers your morning and come the afternoon you’ll be suitably relaxed enough to saunter onwards to Siena, the ideal Tuscan adventure.
San Gimignano can be found along the rolling hills of Upper Val D’Elsa and is the home of the famous Vernaccia di San Gimignano wine.
Saffron and exquisite Santa Fina pottery are also famous exports of this typically Tuscan town.
A visit to Siena brings an architectural element into the day trip and sees you visit the Siena Cathedral and the Palazzo Comunale which are both in the Piazza del Campo.
The Piazza del Campo is also the venue for the Palio horse race which runs twice each summer and is quite the thrill to observe.
Cortona is one of Tuscany’s classic hill top towns and is enchanting and charming with its historical stone walls and meandering streets.
Sitting atop of the hill means that Cortona offers incredible views of the sprawling valley below and the magical Lake Trasimeno features in the panoramic vista.
You may have read about Cortona in Frances Mayes’ book ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ or perhaps seen footage of the town in the movie adaption of the book starring Diane Lane.
It is every bit as captivating in person as it is on film.
A day trip to Cortona allows you the opportunity to experience Tuscany at its most authentic and certainly get to grips with the relaxed pace of life in the region.
Montepulciano is another prime example of Tuscany’s true beauty.
A medieval town set high upon a hill that is home to Renaissance palaces, a labyrinth of cobbled streets, dozens of perfectly preserved churches and more.
Elegant yet rustic, Montepulciano is not to be missed.
Wine lovers will want to add a visit to Contucci to their day’s itinerary and perhaps lovers of the great outdoors would factor in a stroll on the Natural Reserve Lucciolabella.
Surrounded by vineyards that span as far as the eye can see Montepulciano is the embodiment of what travellers dream about in the run up to their trip to Italy.
If you are short on time it is possible to couple a half day trip to Montepulciano with a half day visit to Cortona.
5. Cinque Terre
Not a singular place, Cinque Terre is a collection of ancient coastal villages on the Italian Riviera.
There are five towns and villages that created the Cinque Terre which are Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza and each is distinctly different from the last.
Each settlement is precariously perched on cliff edges that sweep jaggedly downwards towards the coast of Liguria.
The settlements of Cinque Terre are fairytale-like in their construction and placement.
The Cinque Terre area is best known for being the home of pesto.
You simply cannot leave without having sampled some of this world famous sauce and perhaps purchase some to take away and use at home.
Known best for its sea caves and incredible dive sites Portovenere is a popular tourist village on the Ligurian coast.
Look over to the rocky, rugged headland to see the chief landmark, Church of St Peter.
It is possible to take a stroll around the restored church and take in the breathtaking views of the writhing sea below.
If you need to stretch your legs after the drive from Florence then a hike though the Parco Naturale Regionale di Porto Venere is a great option.
Offering incredible views of the jagged coastline below.
You can team a visit to Portovenere with Cinque Terre should you be seeking a jam packed day trip.
The medieval village of Montalcino is one of the gems of Tuscany.
Famed for its wine production, specifically the Brunello di Montalcino.
The Abbey of Sant’Antimo is a beautiful old abbey with a wonderful bookstore that adds a tranquility to a day trip from Florence.
There are countless wineries and vineyards to explore each with a distinct flavour and productions process.
You could easily spend a day hopping from one phenomenal winery to another.
Perhaps hire a driver in that case.
Exploring the Chiesa della Madonna del Soccorso is a lovely non-alcoholic addition to a day trip to Montalcino.
The renaissance heart of the Montalcino region is Pienza and this small town offers breathtaking views of Val d’Orcia from all angles.
The major draw to Pienza is San Biagio and Piazza Pio II, as well as the Pienza Cathedral.
A cultural wonder, Pienza is also home to the Piccolomini Palace the former summer home of Pope Pius II which features a blossoming roof garden and of course spectacular views of the Val d’Orcia valley below.
Pienza is in fact a UNESCO World Heritage Site as such is perfectly preserved and so you feel as if you’re stepping back in time.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy, if not all of Europe.
Naturally the first thing to do in Pisa is to visit the ornate tilting tower but once you’ve snapped your shot there is a whole host of other cultural gems to explore.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is situated in the Piazza dei Miracoli which itself is worthy of your explorations.
The Pisa Cathedral is mighty impressive with is white marble facade and heavy bronze doors.
A visit to Knight’s Square is often shunned in favour of more time at the Piazza dei Miracoli but well worth visiting too.
The Tuscan city of Lucca is home to a number of wonderful Italian architectural and historical gems that provide fascinating insights into Italy’s past.
The Guinigi Tower is one of the most unique structures in Italy.
The man made elements are nothing particularly special, bar the fact they have stood the test of time, but it is the holm-oak trees that stand proud atop of the tower that really set the building apart and must be seem to be believed.
In the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro you will find a local market and dozens of classic Tuscan cafes serving local wine and traditional dishes.
A small town in the Chianti region, Greve is an off the beaten track day trip from Florence.
Coupling history with culture and plenty of wine Greve is a little hidden gem.
Top wine tasting spots include Fattoria Montecchio and Ca’ di Pesa.
There are dozens of artisan shops in Greve to explore and sauntering from one boutique to another is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
The main square in Greve is encompassed by cafes and coffee shops galore.
If you’re seeking a relaxed day with cultural experiences in abundance Greve may just be the place.
12. Val d’Orcia
When we talked about Pienza we mentioned the incredible views over Val d’Orcia.
The valley is best explored during a day trip all of its own and can be easily accessed from Florence city centre.
A valley known the world over for its wine and cheese production there’s no need to have a hearty breakfast an excursion to Val d’Orcia is all about the food.
The famous Pecorino Romano cheese is a hard and salty cheese only made in this area of Italy and is created using sheep’s milk.
Throughout the day you can talk with producers about the processes involved in making the cheese or even meet some of the sheep.
Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world and can be easily accessed within a day trip from Florence.
Featuring over 100 islands and a labyrinth of canals Venice is unlike any other city in the world.
There are no roads here, only canals and as such the Grand Canal can get pretty hectic during peak hours and the summer season, it’s all part of the fun.
Must visit spots include Piazza San Marco and Saint Mark’s Basilica.
Doge’s Palace is one of the most iconic Gothic-era buildings in all of Italy is a real marvel.
Venice is one of the most expensive cities in Italy so if you’re on a tight budget then a day trip is the best option.
Volterra is a traditional Tuscan town that is a little more off the beaten track and is well worth a visit.
It is a walled, mountaintop town that is home to just 11,000 people.
Volterra is a town steeped in mystic folklore and will be of definite interest for avid followers of the ‘Twilight’ saga.
Chat to locals about the vampire stories that originate in this town that have spread around the world.
The Alabaster Museum is a must-visit and houses the precious stone that put this town on the map.
Volterra has a number of wonderful restaurants serving traditional Tuscan cheese that are not to be missed.
The Italian capital city lies just 3 hours away from Florence and if you’re prepared for an early start makes for an epic day trip.
Rome is home to some of the most impressive architecture in all of the world.
Travellers come from across the world to marvel at the magnificence of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and of course the Trevi Fountain.
A bustling city it is possible to tick off all the major sites in the space of one day and not feel rushed.
St Peter’s Basilica will be of particular interest to those of the Christian faith and lovers of Fine Art and architecture too.
A city that has inspired countless artists and musicians, Rome is a must-visit once in every lifetime at least.