Tickets and tours for the Siena Cathedral (Duomo) complex with the church, baptistery, crypt, museums, and viewing platforms are cheapest onsite but best bought online in advance.
The Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Siena is one of the finest churches in Italy. Its black-green and white stripy exterior is famous but its interior is absolutely magnificent. In contrast to the rather bare interior of the duomo in Florence, the cathedral of Siena is filled with art from the inlay and graffito floors to the trompe-l’oeil painted cupola ceilings. Admission is charged but absolutely worth it — buy tickets online to skip the lines. Further duomo sights covered by combination passes include the crypt, baptistery, museum with its panoramic viewing platform, and the Gate of Heaven tour that takes visitors up to the roof for a look down into the cathedral. Buy tickets online in advance — the small surcharges are worth the time saved, especially during the high season.
Buying Tickets for Siena Cathedral in Tuscany
Tickets for the Siena cathedral sites are available in the following versions:
- Cathedral-only — basic admission to see the interior of the church as well as spaces only accessible from inside the church itself such as the fabulous Piccolomini Library.
- The OPA Si Pass gives admission to the entire cathedral complex (except cathedral roof tour) within three days of purchase (or pickup for tickets bought online). This ticket includes the church interior, crypt, baptistery, and cathedral museum (Museo dell’Opera) with a viewing platform.
- Gate of Heaven (Porta del Cielo) includes all the sites of the OPA Si Pass plus time-slot admission to the roof of the cathedral.
- Acropolis Pass includes the sights on the OPA Si Pass plus the Santa Maria della Scala — this large museum complex is different from the smaller duomo museum. This pass may be combined with the Gate of Heaven ticket. (Separate tickets are usually also available for the Santa Maria dell Scala museum with prices adjusted for special temporary exhibitions that range from archaeology to modern art.)
Ticket Prices for the Siena Cathedral and Museums
The basic ticket prices for the Siena duomo sights and museums are listed below but surcharges may be added for special exhibitions and when the floor of the duomo is uncovered. Online purchases and time-slot reservations (where available) add a small surcharge too that is usually more than worth the time saved.
Siena Cathedral ticket prices are as follows:
- €5 — Cathedral (duomo) interior including the Piccolomini Library. (€8 when floors are uncovered).
- €13 — OPA Si Pass gives admission to the entire cathedral complex (except cathedral roof) within three days of purchase (or pickup for tickets bought online). (€15 when floors are uncovered).
- €20 — Gate of Heaven (Porta del Cielo) includes all the sites of the OPA Si Pass plus time-slot admission to the 30-minute roof tour of the cathedral.
- €25 — Acropolis Pass (OPA Si Pass plus Santa Maria della Scala complex) — the price sometimes changes according to the special exhibitions.
A surcharge of up to €3 per person is added to most tickets during the period when the floors of the cathedral are uncovered. It is well worth planning a visit to coincide with this period if possible. The exact dates vary from year to year, but the floors are mostly uncovered from the end of June and the whole of July and again from mid-August to mid-October.
Children younger than 7 have free admission to all sights — but do get a €2 time-slot reservation ticket for online bookings. Children 7 to 11 pay €2 for the OPA Si Pass or €5 for the Gate of Heaven ticket. No surcharge is added for the uncovered floors.
Time-slot reservation tickets are essential for the Gate of Heaven tickets and sometimes available too for the duomo itself.
Buying Tickets for the Cathedral (Duomo) in Siena
All tickets are available and cheapest when bought from the ticket office in the Maria della Scala museum directly opposite the piazza on the western side of the cathedral. As passes are generally valid for three days, visitors staying overnight in Siena could buy tickets late afternoon, or early evening when lines are shortest, even if planning to visit only the following day.
When queues are long, it is often possible to buy a time-slot reservation ticket from the express line for a small surcharge. Tickets bought online must also be picked up in person from one of the express lines.
Buying tickets online in advance is a very sensible time-saving investment, especially if traveling during the high season. Oddly, no single company, including the official duomo website, seems to sell all the different types of tickets online.
Buy Siena duomo tickets online as follows:
- Cathedral-only tickets are available from the easy-to-use Tiqets or Get Your Guide.
- The basic OPA Si Pass is available from Tiqets.
- The OPO SI Pass with Santa Maria della Scala is sold by Get Your Guide.
- The Gate of Heaven and the Acropolis Pass are only available from the Opera Duomo — unnecessarily complex and sometimes jumping to Italian but it is the only online site that ensures the time-slot reservation necessary for the roof tour.
Guided Tours and Day-Trips from Florence or Rome
Information inside Siena cathedral is fairly limited so do take a good guidebook or consider a guided tour. Guided tours of the interior of the cathedral are often added to walking tours of Siena but check whether the ticket is included when comparing offers. (The ticket is often extra, which is not a bad option when planning to buy a combination pass.)
Siena is a popular day-trip destination from other cities in Tuscany and even Rome. Some tours include the duomo but otherwise, it should be easy to see the cathedral during free time. From Florence, further sights are often included in Tuscany tours such as San Gimignano and wine-tasting in the Chianti hills. For the more ambitious, some tours add a stop in Pisa on the way back to Florence. For small groups, private tours are often hardly more expensive and better value for money.
It is possible to visit Siena on a day trip from Florence using public transportation. The bus is about the same price and travel time as the train but stops conveniently near the old town center in Siena.
However, day-trippers frequently regret not having more time to spend in Siena. The town is particularly pleasant at night when the masses have departed. Siena has far fewer large hotels than Florence but Tripadvisor users generally seem to enjoy the smaller hotels and guest houses in this lovely historic Tuscan city.
Siena Cathedral (Duomo) Sites and Sights
The Siena cathedral complex consists of the following sites — all require admission tickets that are mostly sold in combination passes. Buying online and in advance is well worth the slight convenience surcharge.
- The magnificent cathedral (duomo) — impressive as it is from the outside even more impressive is the magnificent interior. It is well worth the admission charge, especially during the period when the floor art is uncovered. Don’t miss the magnificent Piccolomini Library with top Renaissance frescoes.
- The baptistry with impressive art including sculptures by Donatello.
- The crypt with important early frescoes but on the whole less interesting to the average visitor.
- The museum is home to many of the original art from the cathedral plus the most magnificent views of Siena from the top of the unfinished new cathedral facade.
- The gate of heaven — a climb and walk around the cathedral roof with impressive views into the church. Well worth the surcharge.
- The Santa Maria Della Scala Museum complex — a former hospital and now an art museum with interesting frescoes. The exhibitions here range from archaeological to contemporary art. If time is limited, many foreign visitors may find exploring the old town sights of Siena more interesting.
- Buy online tickets for the cathedral, combination passes, and the gate of heaven.
- Book tours and adventures in Siena and Tuscany from Get Your Guide.
- Tripadvisor ratings for Siena hotels and guest houses
- Omio for trains to Siena — from Florence the local bus is often more convenient.
- Book day-trip tours to Siena from Florence or Rome.