Best places to visit in Tuscany based on the town of your stay
In this guide, you will find the best places to visit in Tuscany based on where you actually stay.
It makes no sense to suggest a place you have to drive six hours to get to.
Besides being an extensive region, Tuscany has a lot of winding roads that increase travel time
If you stay in Florence, for example, I wouldn’t recommend a visit to Saturnia, a unique but remote SPA town. The return trip alone by car will take at least 6 hours and by public transportation easily over 10 hours.
I think you get the point. This is not just a simple undoable list; it’s a list that you can use to plan your trip.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best places to visit in Tuscany – in a nutshell
- 2 Places to visit from Florence
- 3 Places to visit from Pisa
- 4 Places to visit from Siena
- 5 Places to visit from Arezzo
- 6 More places and hidden gems to visit in Tuscany
You can read also
- Where to stay in Tuscany (best towns, villages and countryside)
- Where to stay in Florence – The best (and worst) areas
- The Ultimate Guide to Tuscany (really all you need to know)
- Best itineraries of Tuscany, from 3 days to a 2 weeks stay (with maps and detailed daily plans)
- Differences between agriturismo, farmhouses and hotels
Best places to visit in Tuscany – in a nutshell
The map below shows all the places I describe in this post in Tuscany.
It’s a great resource that I suggest saving and keeping for future reference.
If you are still struggling to decide where to stay, you may want to look at my recommended Tuscany itineraries, as well as my suggestions for the best areas to stay in Tuscany based on your type of holiday, a very helpful resource.
Following are quick answers to the common questions I regularly receive, however, I encourage you to continue reading for more information about every single experience and attraction in Tuscany.
- Best historical and art places: Florence is without a doubt the must-do experience to have in Tuscany, where you will find a limitless amount of art treasures. The Old Centre of Siena is so beautiful to be fully UNESCO protected. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is unique in the world and today safe to walk up. San Gimignano, with its 14 towers built by wealthy families 900 years ago is also in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And then, there are medieval villages scattered all around the region, with Montefioralle in the Chianti region being one of the most picturesque ones.
- Most popular tourist attractions: almost impossible to name only a bunch, there are just so many that I have listed below in this post. Having to pick only 5 of them, I would say the Uffizi in Florence, the Leaning Tower in Pisa, the Piazza del Campo in Siena, the Chianti Area and the Val D’Orcia.
- Places to visit in Tuscany by car: It all depends on how many days you have and how many hotels you want to switch. Hiring a car in Tuscany will open up so many options, besides the well-known destinations. You can browse all my suggested itineraries based on the type of experience you want to have.
- Places to visit in Tuscany without car: the public bus and train transportation in Tuscany is actually very good and efficient, between towns and cities, less so if you want to visit the countryside. In that case, I suggest joining an organised tour (plenty of them available in the major towns, listed also below), or why not renting a Vespa for a tour in typical Italian style. This guide has been organised based on the town you will stay in to make planning much simpler.
- Places to visit in Tuscany from Florence: once you exhausted the Florence attractions, you definitely want to check out the Chianti Area, south of the city. Another easy train trip (1 hour) is to Pisa and its Leaning Tower. Another great destination is the historical SPA town of Montecatini Terme (1 hour by train). If you rent a car, you can think also to drive to San Miniato, the capital of the White Truffle, and the lovely San Gimignano (50 minutes). Keep reading below on places to visit from Florence
- Attractions to visit from Pisa: the renaissance town of Lucca is only 30 minutes by train and Florence can be easily done on a day trip (1 hour by train). The coast town of Viareggio is only 15 minutes away, perfect for a swim and a stroll on the famous Viale Regina Margherita (the esplanade). With a car, you can also think to visit the Chianti Area, San Miniato for its white truffles and the SPA towns of Montecatini Terme and Bagni di Lucca. Keep reading below on places to visit from Pisa
- Best places to visit near Siena: this is one of the most popular towns in Italy. So full of character, so picturesque, so historical. It has, however, a drawback. Most of the attractions around Siena are not well connected by public transportation, which means you will have to either join one of the few available organised tours or rent a car (or why not a Vespa) for a trip on your own. The medieval towns of Montepulciano (1 hour by train) and San Gimignano (1 hour by train + bus) are the only two cases where you can use the public transportation, however, you will miss out on the wineries and the beautiful countryside during your trip. From Siena you can easily visit the northern part of the Chianti Area and the picturesque Val D’Orcia, with its rolling hills that surely you have seen in many photos. By car, you can also visit one or more of the few free thermal areas as the Terme di Petriolo, the Bagno Vignoni and the Bagni San Filippo, or the more organised Chianciano Terme, San Casciano dei Bagni and, of course, Saturnia. But there is so much more that you can read below.
- Best places to visit near Arezzo: this is one of the most underestimated medieval towns in Tuscany. So romantic. From Arezzo you can easily visit the picturesque Cortona, where they filmed the 2003 “Under the Tuscan sun” (30 minutes by train+bus). Sansepolcro is also 50 minutes by bus and Perugia, the Umbria capital, is only 1 hour by train. If you have a car, you will be able to easily reach both the Chianti Area and the Val D’Orcia. Keep reading below on places to visit from Arezzo
- Tuscany hidden places: in this section I have included two remote parts of Tuscany that are not as popular with travellers. The first one is the Isola del Giglio, a beautiful and secluded island reachable from the coastal town of Porto Santo Stefano. It’s highly suggested for people looking for an isolated spot, with plenty of sunbathing and swimming opportunities, great also for some trekking or cycling. The second place I suggest is the region of Garfagnana, north of Lucca, in the mountains for amazing walks and the historical Bagni di Lucca. Keep reading below for more ideas
- Top 5 rated countryside viewpoints: the SP18 Viewpoint, the Cipressi di San Quirico, the Cipressi di Monticchiello and the Gladiator Point, where Maximus Decimus Meridius, the main character in the movie Gladiator, is famously pictured between cypress trees. Another great viewing spot is at Podere Il Casale, where you can have your lunch in the heart of the Val d’Orcia.
Places to visit from Florence
You can easily spend a week in Florence and see every day something new.
Plenty of history in the amazing centre, and lots of museums related to art, fashion and science. Cathedrals, churches, bridges, you name them.
I personally suggest spending at least 2 days in the capital of Tuscany.
Here below 2 great walks to go through the most iconic attractions
It comes as no surprise that Florence is a popular place with travellers.
For this reason, I highly suggest booking your attraction tickets well in advance, all with the skip-the-line option to avoid wasting time (sometimes hours) in the queue
A special mention goes to the ultra-busy Uffizi Gallery (Priority Entrance Tour is essential), Cathedral with the Dome access (Skip-the-line Ticket) and the Palazzo Vecchio with complimentary audio guide,
From Florence, you can organise many day trips to visit the below places
You can visit the Chianti Area by renting a car in Tuscany or joining an organised tour.
Unfortunately, public transportation (bus/train) is not an option.
The area is not covered very well and the runs are rare and far between.
Besides, you would not be able to properly experience the countryside and the wineries.
If you decide to rent a car, you should check out DiscoverCars.com, a comparison site that usually provides the best rental rates.
Start your trip from Florence on the RS222, the Chianti Road that connects the Tuscan capital to Siena.
The most iconic town in Chianti is Greve in Chianti.
Start your exploration of the town from the historical centre and Piazza Matteotti.
You can browse through the wine shops and taste some wine in the meantime.
I highly suggest lunch at Il Vinaio where you can sample more wine.
Also, you should check out the Azienda Agricola Manetti Leonardo, just a few hundred meters from the centre, where you can sample more local wine with the winemaker explaining the Chianti soil and wine production process.
Other attractions and destinations that you should add to your drive in the Chianti Area are:
- the medieval town of Montefioralle, so picturesque, still surrounded by the original walls and just 10-15 minutes from Greve in Chianti.
- Panzano, to visit the Castello di Panzano in Chianti and have lunch
- Castellina in Chianti, another charming medieval village on the RS222 Road. This is also where you can visit the Chianti Area Archaeological Museum to understand the history of the region, besides, of course, sampling a few Chinati wines (from different wineries and years), to taste the difference and progress through the years.
- the Albola Castle
- the Brolio Castle
- the Chianti Sculpture Park
- the Monterinaldi Winery
- the Cantina Castelvecchi Winery
- the Brancaia Winery
- the Cantalici Winery
- the Fattoria Casa Sola Winery
- the Tolaini Winery
There are, of course, many wineries around.
You will find all of the above suggested sites in the map below. That is my personal and shared Google Map of the places to visit in Tuscany that I update with every new trip.
If you do not feel like driving a car, I highly suggest joining one of these tours:
- From Florence: Tour in the Chianti Area
- From Siena: Castle of Brolio and Radda in Chianti Tour
- From Pisa: Chianti Wine Tour
The great thing about the organised tour is that you can taste, and drink, as much wine as you want because someone else will drive the car.
Located halfway between Florence and Lucca, Montecatini Terme is famous for its Thermal Baths that date back to 1773.
Montecatini Terme is the only Italian town in the 12 Great Spa Towns of Europe UNESCO list (added in 2021)
The town is divided in two areas:
- a more modern one where you find the thermal baths (4 of them, Excelsior, Tettuccio, Redi and the Salute), the Contemporary Art Gallery, the beautiful Parco delle Terme and Termeland, a great playground with jumping castles for the little ones.
- a medieval part, called Montecatini Alto, connected by the oldest working cable car in the world, dated back to 1898. This is the most charming and picturesque part of the town, with a castle that is a must-visit.
One of the oldest towns in Tuscany, with origins in the Etruscan era.
Today is a beautiful medieval village known for the Tower of Frederick II, the Cathedral, and the lovely churches and buildings.
But that is not the main reason to go to San Miniato.
This town is famous for its white truffles, among the best in the world, sold for 2-3,000 euro/kg
Even if you have never tried them, you should visit San Miniato on the last 3 weekends of November for the famous National White Truffle Exhibition.
Today, you can find truffles in many areas of the world, however, the white truffle is ranked as the best of the best, with the black truffle (typical in Umbria) as a close second.
As you can imagine the local food you can have in the restaurants of San Miniato is dominated by truffles flavours.
Places to visit from Pisa
Pisa is a city that you can visit in a day, starting in the morning from the iconic Leaning Tower and the Cathedral.
It’s highly recommended to purchase a skip-the-line ticket to avoid standing in long lines at these popular, however unmissable, attractions.
Alternatively, you can book a fully guided tour and then add the Leaning Tower at the end of the tour, skipping once again the usual long queue.
A great spot for lunch is I Porci Comodi in the old town, a small bar that serves fantastic sandwiches and antipasti dishes made with local products and cured meats.
Pisa is a great base to visit other attractions nearby, like Montecatini Terme and San Miniato, both between Pisa and Florence and described in the section above.
Here below other places to visit in the north of Tuscany, close to Pisa.
Lucca is only 30 minutes by train to Pisa, and it can be easily visited on a day trip.
It’s a great lovely town, so different from any other town in Tuscany.
It’s flat with plenty of pedestrian areas, which work great for a family stay.
The town was designed in the Renaissance era with a grid layout.
You will also find the old medieval wall all around Lucca, in perfect condition, freely accessible and re-organised as a gigantic pedestrian area where you can walk without the worry of the traffic, great for kids.
Here below is a lovely walk starting from the Piazza Napoleone with the 15th-century Ducal Palace.
Then keep going to the Tower Delle Ore, Guinigi Tower, the oval Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the boutique Domus Romana Lucca, ending at the entrance to the Medieval Wall.
Bagni di Lucca and the Carfagnana Valley
Although you can go to Bagni di Lucca by train (1h and 30 minutes), I highly suggest renting a car and make the entire day exploring the Carfagnana Valley, along the Serchio River, in a beautiful lush greenery area.
In Italian, “Bagni” is a word that means a bath, a thermal bath. A morning of thermal treatments in the town’s SPA dating back to the Roman era would be a great way to start your day.
Would you describe yourself as more of an action person? Then you should experience the adrenaline rush of Canyon Park.
No matter what you choose, add a walk-over Chains Bridge to your list, one of the oldest iron bridges in the world (still working).
Once finished exploring Bagni di Lucca, you can drive north on the SR445 road direction Castelnuovo di Carfagnana
This is where you can see the Ariostesca Fortress and the maze of small medieval lanes inside it.
If you have still time and you would love to add some trekking, then head to Vagli di Sotto.
Incredible nature, charming lake and the unusual submerged ghost town of Fabbriche di Careggine, that you can see only with low water (mostly in summer)
Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio
These are the quintessential beach towns of Tuscany.
Forte dei Marmi is a posh destination, with a nice vibe, well-known also as a surfing spot (small waves, mostly in spring and autumn)
Head down to the long Pontile (pier) for a great view of the coast and the town.
Wednesdays and Sundays are the days for the local market where you can find fashionable clothes at a fraction of the original price.
Great spot in summer if you are looking for swimwear.
Typically, the beach is private and you will have to access it through a Bagno, which in this case means a place offering sun umbrellas and sunbeds but it is not going to be cheap. They have facilities and sometimes volley beach and other sports activities.
For a public beach, head to Le Dune, but remember to take your sun umbrella. Cafes and restaurants are nearby.
Viareggio is a trendy destination, famous for its Via Marconi passeggiata, the lovely esplanade walk with fashionable shops left and right.
Viareggio is better visited by bicycle, thanks to the many cycling paths built all around the town.
The historical town is perfect for a pleasant walk, from Piazza Cavour along Via Battisti, a pedestrian area full of shops
About the beach, similarly to Forte dei Marmi, the entire coast is mostly private and it is not cheap.
There is a small public beach behind the local market (Monday morning). Small but with a few facilities like showers, toilets etc.
The marble, the white gold of this land, is at the heart of everything in Carrara.
Take a walk around Piazza Alberica, the heart of Carrara, where the pavements are decorated with different types of marble, which contrasts with the colourful facades around the square.
Then have a visit to the Duomo di Sant’Andrea, built with marble of different colours; really a unique cathedral.
The Museo delle Cave is an interesting site to understand the history and working process behind the marble, starting from the Roman Empire.
The interesting exploration of a cave can be done only by organised tour.
Places to visit from Siena
Siena is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, and for a good reason, it’s really outstanding.
Try to spend at least a night in town.
This will give you the possibility to explore the lovely Siena in the early morning and the night when most of the day tourists have left.
I always recommend starting the exploration of any town or city from a viewpoint, and there is definitely more than one in Siena.
Start your walk from this point of view and walk down to the Duomo first and to Piazza del Campo, passing by the unusual Museum of Tortures.
Here is a map of the walk with all the places to visit
It will keep you easily busy for the entire day and you will have a superb view and understating of Siena out of it.
I always recommend renting a car in Tuscany to experience the best of the region. In saying that you may find challenging to leave your car once you approach a city, and that is why I have organised this ultimate guide to parking in Siena. It will make your life so much easier!
There are so many places around Siena to visit. I already talked above about the Chianti Area
Here below a few more
Certaldo Alto is one of Tuscany’s finest medieval towns, quieter than San Gimignano, but similar in appearance
The narrow streets and the small squares keep still a sense of authenticity, with old people gathering outside their front doors in the evening for a chat.
Access to the village is through a charming cable car from the more modern town of Certaldo.
Enoteca Boccaccio (named after the famous Italian novelist born in this town) is the perfect wine bar for a pleasant lunch, aperitivo or dinner between locals
Certaldo Alto can be easily visited from both Florence (1 hour by car or train) and Siena (40 mins by car or train)
This is one of the most characteristic villages around Tuscany.
First, it’s again a lovely medieval town, as most of them in Tuscany, however, San Gimigliano has something special, the towers.
The town has a history that dates back to the Middle Ages, however, it became independent only in the 12th century.
That is when the noble families started building their own fortified towers, up to 50 meters high, which were also considered symbols of power and wealth.
At the peak of this “tower race” you could count up to 72 of them.
Today, unfortunately, only 14 are left in San Gimignano, which you will notice straight away once you approach the town.
As a result, the town is also called San Gimignano delle belle Torri (S.G. of the lovely towers)
The second reason is the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, one of Italy’s finest white wines, produced since the 12th century.
Get a taste of the wine in one of the wine shops in the historical centre.
A tour of the boutique winery Tenuta Le Calcinaie (by appointment only) is also recommended.
South of Siena you will find one of the most picturesque areas not only of Tuscany but also of Italy, the Val d’Orcia.
This is where you will experience the famous Tuscan rolling hills that you may have seen already in many photos.
Unfortunately, as I already mentioned previously for the Chianti Area, public transportation is not an option if you want to visit this region.
You need to either rent a car or join one of the organised tours.
Both solutions have their own advantages and drawbacks. Consider, however, that there are many wineries to check out, one of the highlights of the region, of course.
The best rental rates (read cheapest) can be found using DiscoverCars.com, a price comparison website
If you decide to drive, you should start checking out one or more of these viewpoints, a great way to have a 360 degrees view of the Val d’Orcia:
- SP18 Viewpoint
- Cipressi di San Quirico
- Cipressi di Monticchiello
- Gladiator Point, where Maximus Decimus Meridius, the main character in the movie Gladiator, is famously pictured between cypress trees
- Podere Il Casale, is also a great spot for lunch
You can then decide to visit either Montalcino or Montepulciano
The picturesque medieval town of Montepulciano is home to the Nobile di Montepulciano, one of the world’s top wines.
Indulge in some wine tasting in one of the many wine shops in the historical centre.
Once there, you should visit the Vecchia Cantina di Montepulciano.
Be sure to taste more wine with the winemaker and talk about the soil and the wine production process.
The captivating medieval town of Montalcino, is home to the wine-producing region of the Brunello di Montalcino.
The historic centre has several wine shops where you can try local wines and eat a few snacks.
Is there any time left in your schedule?
The Azienda Tornesi, just outside the town, is a great place to taste and learn more about the wines (make an appointment with the winemaker before you go).
Once in the region, you should also check out
- Pienza, for the lovely historic centre, UNESCO listed
- Horti Leoni, a beautiful garden in San Quirico d’Orcia
- the historic Romanesque Abbey of Sant’Antimo
- the Fortezza di Radicofani, an old fortress with a great view
For some relaxing time, you should instead check out one of these Bagni (Thermal Spas):
- Bagno Grande di San Casciano (free entrance)
- Terme San Filippo (free entrance)
- Chianciano Terme, organised and more trendy
- Terme di Petrolio (free entrance)
I have just finished updating this Google Map with all the places to visit in Tuscany, including all the sites I have been talking in this post
If you do not feel like driving a car, I highly suggest joining one of these tours:
- From Florence: Val D’Orcia: Cheese and Wine Tasting
- From Siena: Brunello di Montalcino Full-Day Wine Tour, Pienza and Montepulciano Small Group
The benefit of the organised tour is that you can sample as much wine as you want since someone else will drive.
Places to visit from Arezzo
Arezzo is one of the most relaxed and chill-out towns in Tuscany, only discovered recently by an increasing number of travellers.
It’s the perfect spot for an easy-going romantic stay, just enjoying the local life, food and wine.
I have below outlined a route through Arezzo’s highlights.
The best place to start your exploration is the medieval Piazza Grande with its church, the Santa Maria della Pieve.
Explore the nearby picturesque Pretorio Palace with its unique facade (make sure to check out the library inside)
Then, visit the Arezzo Cathedral, famous for its glass windows.
Walk down the Via Ricasoli to check out the boutique square of Piazza di Murello.
Lunch at the restaurant Cio’che Piace, just a few minutes from the little square, a family-run restaurant serving locally sourced cuisine.
Walk back through the old centre to check out :
- the Palazzo dei Priori, now used by the council
- the Passeggio del Prato park
- the Fortezza Medicea, a beautiful historic fortress.
Walk down to the end of the Corso Italia, the main shopping area, and on the left side, you will see the Roman Amphitheatre and the Archaeological Museum.
From Arezzo, you can easily visit on a day trip Florence and Perugia (Umbria capital), both so well connected by train.
Here are another two great places to visit in Tuscany easily reachable from Arezzo.
This is one of the most famous places to visit in Tuscany.
There are at least a couple of reasons that explain its popularity.
The first one is that it’s a lovely picturesque village, stuck in the past, inside the intact medieval walls.
The second reason is that this hidden corner of Tuscany was made super popular by the 2003 movie “Under the Tuscan sun”
In fact, I highly suggest watching the movie before you travel to Tuscany, to gather a real inside of the local Tuscan life, although a bit dramatised and stigmatised.
Cortona is easily reachable by car (parking is outside the walls) or by train+bus (30 minutes) from Arezzo.
Either way, start your exploration by entering through the walls using the Bifora Gate (Porta Bifora).
Once in the village, you will soon understand why Cortona is so beloved by the tourists.
Although, in my opinion, the primary goal is to get lost and discover the hidden corners of the village, you should add to your must-see list:
- Piazza della Repubblica, where you will see some of the most historical buildings
- Piazza Signorelli and the Accademia Etrusca
- Piazza del Duomo with the Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral
- the lovely hidden Vicolo Iannelli, with the medieval houses
- Via Nazionale, the shopping area of Cortona
- Fortress of Girifalco, outside the walls, up on the hill
Sansepolcro is one of the most hidden secrets of Tuscany, in the easternmost area of the region, bordering Umbria and Marche.
It’s totally out of the bitten path, which means you will be very likely to share it with just a bunch of other travellers that decided to make it so far.
It’s a medieval town, with a historical centre over 1,000 years old, that joined Tuscany only 600 years ago.
Visit the unassuming Co-cathedral of Saint John Evangelist and head to the unpretentious Aboca Museum, an 18th-century palace with exhibits on medicinal herbalism.
Here is a list of other places that you may want to visit.
You will need, however, a car and a bit of driving in a few cases.
- the town of Grosseto, is so unpretentious
- Terme di Sorano (SPA)
- Saturnia (SPA)
- Pitigliano, is probably the most scenic medieval town of all
- Village of Montemerano
- Monte Argentario
- Giglio Island
- Elba Island
- the very pretentious Capalbio, very popular with the Italian politicians
- the extensive Maremma