Why stay in Siena?
Siena is one of those lovely medieval Tuscan towns that, once you see it, you will love. It positively oozes charm, especially at night when the day-trippers have left, and is only completely overrun during the horse race called the Palio which takes place twice each summer. Siena is a side trip from Florence that's well worth the effort.
Once an independent state, Siena was ultimately bested by its neighbor and rival, Florence. Today, its people are no less proud of their city - the annual Palio events are less about a horse race and more about neighborhood solidarity. The roots of the Palio are so strong, in fact, that it has literally nothing to do with tourism. Certainly many visitors flock to the city during the famous race, but they're absolutely an afterthought - Il Palio is for the Sienese.
Much of Siena is as much for tourists as for locals, however, as it's a city that thrives on tourism. The Piazza del Campo, where the Palio is run, is a great people-watching destination any time of year. Locals stroll there in the evenings with their after-dinner gelato, and young people treat it like a city park on nice days, sprawling out on the red bricks. Siena's cathedral, the Duomo, is equally incredible inside and out - there are beautiful marble stripes on the facade and in the interior, and you can get a peek at the gigantic cathedral the city was planning to build when the plague stopped all construction. Really, although there are churches and other sights worth visiting in Siena, the best thing to do in the city is just wander its medieval streets and soak in the culture.
Siena's historic center is easily walkable, but staying within the old city walls is often prohibitively expensive. Staying in Siena's modern city, outside the city walls, will likely be much cheaper. Also, like much of Italy, there aren't many traditionl "hostels" in Siena like there are in other major cities. Instead, you're likely to find things called "agriturismo" (rooms for rent, usually inexpensive, in working farms), and guesthouses. These are more like B&Bs, often with better rates than hotels. Should you find a hostel, keep in mind that "hostels" are no longer only for young backpackers (even if it has "backpackers" in the name!) - they're ideal for any budget-minded traveler who's interested in meeting other travelers. A few Siena hostels worth mentioning are highlighted here.
Fattoria di Cavaglioni ("fattoria" is a farm, not a factory - you won't be slave labor) is in a fortress dating back to the 13th century, a 20 minute bus ride from Siena. Le Fonti di Pescaia is a 20 minute walk from the Piazza del Campo in a Tuscan villa.
Albergo La Perla is a short walk from both the Piazza del Campo and the cathedral on the second floor of a medieval palace. There are 13 rooms. YHA Youth Hostel Guidoriccio is three kilometers from the city center and has plenty of doubles and triples and one dorm-style room.
Don't worry if none of these hostels sounds like it's perfect. There are other Siena hostels listed here which you can choose from. Keep reading the descriptions until you find the right one.
What else do you need for your trip? Whatever it is, you'll find it here! You can look for international airfare to Italy (Florence would be closest) and book it today. You can also read more about what to do and see in the city in our Siena Travel Guide.