Best photo spots in Siena


Siena is a beautiful medieval city and a perfect place for those who love photographing old buildings and squares. It offers a proper mix of historical significance, architectural beauty, and natural landscapes that are hard to find elsewhere. When wandering the city, you will feel like you are in the Middle Ages and living the authentic Italian life.

best photo spots in siena
View of Saint Caterina church in Siena

Siena sports some of the most photographed sights in the world, and you won’t need a map to find them. But apart from Piazza del Campo and the famous cathedral, you will be able to hunt down countless lesser-known churches, museums and sunset spots that are off the main tourist track. Let’s explore the best photo spots in Siena!

A nice sight on its own, the walls of Siena’s Medici fortress are also a great location for panorama shots. From this elevated position, you can compose panoramic shots not only of the San Domenico Church, a striking example of Gothic architecture, but also of the Cathedral of Siena with its distinctive white and black marble facade and a vast portion of the city’s historic landscape. For a close-up of the same panorama, walk onto the rear side of the San Domenico church, which is dedicated to Saint Catherine.

Even without a fancy wide angle, you will be able to pack the cathedral, its never-finished extension and Torre del Mangia into one pick. If you seek a more intimate portrayal of this panorama, you should stroll to the backside of the San Domenico church. Here, even without the luxury of a wide-angle lens, photographers can artfully frame the majestic Cathedral alongside the iconic Torre del Mangia. This trio, set against the backdrop of Siena’s timeless beauty, creates a photographic composition that is both comprehensive and captivating.

Together with Piazza del Campo, Siena’s most famous sights, the cathedral is at its best in the late afternoon when the sun provides the main entrance of the west-facing church with a golden hue. To get an idea of the massive size of the whole complex, climb the Facciatone, the facade of the never-finished expansion of the Cathedral. It is currently accessible with a cumulative ticket which also allows you to visit the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Porta del Cielo, the prized Piccolomini Library, the Crypt, the Baptistery and the Museo dell’Opera.

Spot for photography in Siena
Cathedral in the late afternoon (Image source: Flickr)

From the Facciatone, you will see part of Piazza del Campo and the rolling Tuscan hills. And even if you don’t, the climb has its charm on a foggy winter day too. The Gate to Heaven tour (on reservation only) is a fabulous option for close-up shots of the cathedral’s facade and more Siena from the top views. You will also want to climb Torre del Mangia (as long as you are fit and don’t suffer from claustrophobia) to get the famous bird’s eye view of Piazza del Campo. Get up there in the morning if you want to see why it is one of the best photo spots in Siena. 

For more church facades, walk to the Chiesa di Santa Maria di Provenzano. The July Palio is dedicated to this church, and its white marble facade and blue-grayish dome are always an impressive sight (less so its interiors). You are not allowed to take pics in most of Siena’s museums. However, photos can now be taken in Italy’s state museums. The Pinacoteca Nazionale is Siena’s only state museum, but it’s a great start for a photo tour since you won’t just be able to take pictures of Sienese and Renaissance art but also get some great panorama shots over the Tuscan city from the museum windows.

Museum photos in Siena
Inside Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena (Image source:

Open only in the mornings, the guided tours at the Biccherne Museum offer great panorama views over the Piazza del Campo. And the civic museum in Piazza del Campo isn’t just the frescoes by Lorenzetti and Martini but also the view from the Loggia (a covered balcony on the upper floor of the museum), which spreads over the roofs of the Torre and Onda neighborhood and via the hills of the Crete Senesi all the way to Mount Amiata.

Read more: What is the Palio in Siena?

A stroll down Siena’s backroads is a must because many lovely Sienese details can be found here. And not a single tourist will stand in front of it. You won’t run into as many nuns and priests in Siena as you would in Rome, and the washing lines can’t compete with the ones in Naples or Venice. But you will be granted with countless genuinely beautiful photo opportunities if you slow down your pace to explore Siena’s backroads. 

Vespa in Siena
Lovely Vespa in Siena (Image source: Flickr)

Vintage Vespas are particularly iconic in Siena, embodying the spirit of Italian style and the joy of slow travel. Renting a classic Vespa allows you to explore the region at a leisurely pace and take memorable old-style photos. For those who prefer four wheels, vintage car rentals offer an array of choices, from the beloved Fiat 500 to the stylish VW Beetle. These cars are perfect for cruising through the Sienese hills, and they will look so iconic in your photos.

This is a tricky one because each of Siena’s 17 contrade has plenty of beautiful buildings, churches and some spectacular views for the photo crazy. However, for the traveler, who doesn’t have time to explore every single one, here are our favorite five for two lay-back photo walks: 

  • For sunrise and beautiful morning light, head from Piazza del Campo to Porta Romana via the Torre (tower) and Valdimontone (ram) neighborhoods (great panorama views!) and/or to Porta Pispini into the Nicchio (shell) neighborhood. 
  • During golden hour, walk from Piazza Sant’Agostino to Porta San Marco through the Tartuca (tortoise) and Chiocciola (snail) neighborhoods. Piazza Sant’Agostino is not just another beautiful church but also a great place for a shot of Siena after the rain when the humidity still lingers in the Orto dei Pecci area (see the first photo up on top).

During the walks through Siena’s contrade look out for the symbols of each neighborhood (on fountains, doors, etc.). They make for great photos, help you figure out where you are and kids in Siena will love the improvised treasure hunt.

One of the most attractive aspects of Siena is the way the city blends in with the famous cypress-lined countryside. No better way to call it a day than a few sunset pics from Porta San Marco, Siena’s southwestern city gate. There are several photo spots for those who want to capture Tuscan hills. One of them is definitely the top of Torre del Mangia. Climbing this tower gives you a bird-eye view of the surrounding Tuscan landscape, so you can take high vantage point photos there.

Furthermore, we recommend visiting Fortezza Medicea if you want to photograph the undulating hills and the cityscape with its iconic towers. Basilica di San Domenico also provides a unique angle for capturing the hills, with the added bonus of having the church’s impressive architecture in the frame.

Every photograph enthusiast will have their own best photo spot in this lovely city. We loved Torre di Mangia the most. Up there, you can take numerous photos of the whole landscape around Siena while a light breeze of pleasant wind touches your cheeks. Whichever spot you choose, we believe that you will make wonderful photos that will always keep your memory of Siena alive.

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