What’s the best base for exploring Tuscany? Anyone planning to visit Tuscany in Italy, would like to know which is the best base to discover it! Where is the best location for a base in Tuscany?
Best Base for Exploring Tuscany: Florence or Siena?
Often many travelers ask me which one between Florence and Siena is the best base to travel the region and visit its main sights. That makes sense as Florence and Siena are the 2 most beautiful and major art towns in Tuscany.
However, other Tuscan towns and destinations can be great as a base. I think to the panoramic Cortona, the beautiful Montepulciano, or the medieval San Gimignano for example, but we need to say that Siena, and Florence in particular, are the best locations to reach most of the top sights and attractions in Tuscany, including Tuscany best areas, also considering their central location in Tuscany and the possibility to use public transportation more easily.
Both Florence and Siena are incredibly beautiful and amazing art towns in Tuscany, and you should definitely visit both, wherever your base. Generally I recommend staying in Florence in case you are not going to rent a car, on the contrary, I always suggest staying in Siena or its surrounding beautiful countryside (Crete Senesi, Val’Orcia or also right near Siena) if you are going to rent a car and can move more freely.
A good alternative to Siena and its countryside, but still using the car, is also the beautiful Chianti area, located between Florence and Siena. Chianti is a great base to explore Tuscany, but also the famous medieval hill town with towers, San Gimignano, is a very good base to visit Tuscany.
Florence and Siena are both incredibly wonderful, though very different from each other, the first being mostly a Renaissance town, while the second entirely medieval. Florence is more chaotic and tends to be overcrowded, while Siena is more peaceful.
In case you have a limited time to spend in Tuscany, like just few days, Florence can be the right choice, considering its central location in Tuscany and the convenience to reach most of the sights by train or bus. All means of transport, from bus to train, are to be found centrally in town, in the area of Santa Maria Novella Train Station.
You may well also take advantage of one of the many organized tours leaving from Florence and taking you to visit the main attractions of Tuscany, like Chianti, San Gimignano, Siena, Pisa, and Lucca.
If you have instead more time to spend in Tuscany, like one week or two, you may even split your journey, and make Florence or Chianti your base for the first part of your vacation, and Siena or its countryside for the last part of it.
From Siena and Florence you can start making fantastic day trips! Have a look:
Please also find my suggestions for one week Itinerary in Tuscany and for a two weeks itinerary in Tuscany! These 2 itineraries are particularly useful if you’re not willing to stay in the same place all the time, but want to explore and discover Tuscany at its best 🙂
Cortona as a base to visit Tuscany and Umbria
Coming back to Cortona as a base for your trip to Tuscany, I consider it a very good alternative, especially if you‘re going to move by car. However, you can move quite easily also using public transports; the train station of Cortona Terontola is located near Cortona’s town center; and from there you can reach Florence and Siena. Cortona may be well considered as a good base to visit some of the best and most important sights not just of Tuscany but of Umbria as well, been right on the borders between the two regions. Take a look to the best day trips from Cortona, so stay tuned!
Enjoy your trip 🙂 If you need help planning your Tuscan trip contact me!