Ultimate Guide to Tuscany – Travel Blog
My Tuscany Travel Blog has grown so much this year.
In this guide, you’ll find all the details you need to make your Tuscany visit a success. What you will learn:
- The best way to get to and around the region
- How long does it take to visit Tuscany
- How to choose the right area for your trip
- The best Airbnbs and hotels to choose from
- The countryside that you should visit
- Tuscany’s top sights and activities
- Tuscany itinerary options for up to 10 days
- Suggested restaurants in every town
But let’s dig into it
Tuscany Travel Blog – In a nutshell
Arriving In Tuscany
Florence Airport and the low-cost airport of Pisa are the quickest and easiest ways to reach Tuscany by air.
There is a regular bus service between Florence Airport and the city centre (train station).
From Pisa Airport, it takes just a few minutes (tram/light train) to get to the centre of the city.
Tuscany is also very well connected to the rest of Italy by train.
In particular, Florence is connected by fast train to Rome (1h30m), Milan (2h) and Venice (just over 2h)
Moreover, from Lucca and Pisa you can easily take a train to Cinque Terre (1h30m)
Getting around Tuscany
Briefly, you have 3 possibilities to move around.
Renting a car in Tuscany is the most flexible option, especially for visiting the countryside at your own pace.
The streets and lanes can be quite narrow in the historic centre, so driving there can be challenging.
Driving in the countryside is much easier and more straightforward
DiscoverCars.com is an online price comparison website that I usually use to shop for my vehicles. It offers the most competitive prices (read the cheapest)
You can also take the public bus or the train that connects most of the destinations in Tuscany.
This is your best option if you do not feel comfortable driving around Tuscany.
It must be said, that the public transportation works great between the major destinations, however, it lacks in the countryside where you need to rent a car or join an organised tour
You can check out:
- Treni Italia Website, for the latest train timetable and to buy the tickets
- Tiemme Website and the Autolinee Toscane Website for the bus network (both websites are in Italian, however, you can use the Google Translate feature for the English version)
Lastly, you can catch a ferry.
You can go to the Elba Island or Giglio Island using the local ferry.
Elba Island is reachable from Portoferraio (1h10m), Rio Marina (45m) and Cavo (35m) using Moby Lines ,Toremar, Blu Navy and Corsica Sardinia Ferries.
Giglio Island is reachable from Porto S.Stefano (1h) using Toremar and Maregiglio ferries.
How Many days in Tuscany
The longer the better is the easiest answer.
If you have only 3 days, I’d suggest staying in one place and visiting from there.
In terms of accommodation, Florence and Pisa are both a good choice, especially if you do not want to rent a car, since they have good train and bus connections to most of the towns in the region.
You can read all about three days in Tuscany in my post, with 5 detailed day-by-day options based on the type of trip you want to take
If you stay in Tuscany for 4 or 5 days, you can discover more about the region.
For instance, you may want to split your trip between Florence and Siena, where you can visit the historical sites, enjoy the art places and explore the countryside.
On my 5 days in Tuscany guide, I listed five itineraries with a daily plan, based on whether you are looking for a relaxing trip or a more active holiday, visiting only the countryside or also the historical towns, travelling either with kids or only your partner.
In each plan, I highlighted also a day you can potentially skip if you have only 4 days in Tuscany
In 1 week in Tuscany, you can explore a good part of the region.
You can also think to split your trip between 3 main locations and visit also the countryside from there
In my guide on 7 days in Tuscany, I have organised a plan for 5 types of holidays (countryside, only with public transportation, by car, to experience the lot or a more chilled-out vacation). Really all you need to know, with a daily plan too.
With 10 days in Tuscany you can plan an itinerary to visit most of the countryside and the historical towns too.
You will probably miss out on the coast, islands and beaches, but, for that, you need at least 2 weeks or more.
I have organised a guide for 10 days in Tuscany where I published 5 plans, with daily activities, based on your choice to rent a car or use only the public transportation, have a relaxed holiday or more on the go to experience the lot.
Where to stay in Tuscany – Best Areas
Those looking for a holiday in Tuscany will find areas, towns and countryside for any type of getaway.
Are you after the best countryside? The Chianti Area and the Val d’Orcia are what you are looking for.
Would you like to stay somewhere romantic with your partner? Arezzo and Siena are both great towns. Montalcino or Montepulciano are two lovely and charming villages.
If you are travelling with kids then Lucca (small kids) and Florence (grown-up) are perfect destinations, however, if you are after a few spectacular free thermal SPAs than you should stay in Siena or directly in the Val d’Orcia.
The list could go on and on. It could also be a luxury/budget trip or a hiking adventure or one that includes plenty of relaxing time.
In my article on where to stay in Tuscany, I went into much greater detail about the best (and worst) areas based on your type of holiday, as well as suggested hotels/Airbnb, local restaurants, and activities you can do once there.
Best Hotels & Airbnb in Tuscany
The following is a short list of some suggested accommodations in the region.
I have, however, outlined more options in my dedicated guide to the best areas, towns and villages of Tuscany
- Florence Apartment: Olive Loft (2Br AirBnb/Holiday apartment), Front Station Apartment (value for money)
- Florence Hotel: Hotel degli Orafi (amazing view), B&B Il Salotto Di Firenze (value for money and great location)
Check out my guide to the best areas and places in Florence for more options
- Grand Hotel Continental (exclusive 5 star)
- Hotel Palazzetto Rosso (amazing interior design)
- Hotel Italia (great value for money)
- Relais Lorebian (a great value accommodation)
- The Casa Paolina (great property, 1 and 2-bedroom apartments, with all you need for a short stay with kids)
- Hotel Alla Corte degli Angeli (characteristic)
- Antica Corte dei Principi (value for money)
- Castello di Bibbione (yes, a real castle)
- Viticcio (a great agriturismo)
- Villa La Coccola (if you are travelling in a group or a family)
- Agriturismo Il Rigo (amazing view)
- Palazzo dei Diavoli (great value for money)
- Villa Montalcino (if you are travelling in a group or a family)
Best of Tuscany Countryside
Tuscany is famous for two things, the historic towns/cities and the gorgeous countryside.
There are two areas that absolutely stand out: Chianti and Val d’Orcia
The Chianti Area, between Florence and Siena, is the most known countryside of Tuscany.
What I like the best is the hilly landscape and the great selection of wineries, castles and small villages that you can visit.
To explore the area, take the RS222 Chianti Road that goes from Florence to Siena.
Along the route, you have a few stops, like the towns of Greve in Chianti, Montefioralle, the Panzano Castle and more.
I featured the Chianti Area in my guide of the best places in Tuscany. You can read there more information, including a few wineries where you can meet the winemaker.
The Val d’Orcia is located south of Siena and it is the most picturesque area of Tuscany
In fact, most of the photos of the characteristic rolling hills come from there.
If you ever watched the movie Gladiator, you may remember Maximus Decimus Meridius famously pictured between cypress trees and never ending green fields.
It was filmed from this glorious viewpoint of Val d’Orcia.
Montepulciano and Montalcino are two must-see medieval villages famous for their wine, highly ranked in the world.
An than, the picturesque town of Pienza, the Radicofani Fortress and the few free thermal streams SPAs (bagni) in a beautiful natural setup.
I featured the Val d’Orcia in my guide of the best places in Tuscany. You can find there a list of places to experience, including amazing viewpoints and the list of the bagni on a map
Other places to experience
The south of Tuscany is probably one of the least visited countryside.
The main reason is that the drive there takes a bit of time, and the public transportation is not an option.
The town of Pitigliano should be on everyone must-see list as well as the natural SPA of Saturnia.
The islands of Elba and Giglio are also amazing places to visit with a lovely landscape and some of the best beaches of Tuscany
The Giglio Island is one of the best spot for trekking and mountain biking too.
The north of Tuscany, and more precisely, the Carfagnana Valley is another amazing hidden corner of Tuscany, along the Serchio River.
Its mountains and lakes will leave you open mouth
What to do, see & experience in Tuscany
It is difficult to describe all the things to experience and places to see in Tuscany, there are just so many.
As we discussed earlier, consider visiting at least the countryside of Chianti or Val d’Orcia
Of course, Tuscany is famous for its historical towns, and here Florence and Siena are among the must-sees.
The unique villages such as San Gimigliano and Montalcino should not be missed either
The free thermal SPAs are in my opinion also unmissable, try to visit at least one of them or make it to a thermal resort for an exclusive experience
The car is essential if you want to visit the countryside on your own, because the public transportation is not an option.
Alternatively, you can always use buses/trains to move between the major towns/cities and from there, join an organised trip.
I also highly suggest booking in advance the skip-the-line tickets to the major attractions (for example, the Uffizi in Florence) to avoid wasting time in the never ending queues.
Here are a few organised experiences from the major centres:
- Florence Experiences: Uffizi Gallery Tour skip-the-line, Dome Climb at the Cathedral skip-the-line, Tour in the Chianti Area
- Siena Experiences: Duomo Cathedral skip-the-line, Castle of Brolio and Radda in Chianti Tour, Brunello di Montalcino Full-Day Wine Tour, Cooking Class in the countryside, Tour with a Vespa in the Tuscan Hills
- Pisa Experiences: skip-the-line ticket at the Leaning Tower, Self-Guided Bike Tour in Pisa
I also ended up writing a dedicated post on Tuscany highlights, including a few little gems (with a map too).
This is an excellent resource for building your own must-see list.
Best Itineraries in Tuscany
Depending on the length of your stay, you will have different itinerary options.
With 3 days base yourself in one accommodation (Florence and Pisa work great) and explore from there.
With 4/5 days you can already think to change two accommodations, Florence/Pisa/Lucca and Siena for the historical sites and day trips to the countryside
In 7 days you can think to build an itinerary to include Florence/Pisa, Siena and even Arezzo, all by public transportation. Alternatively, you can rent a car to explore even more towns and villages.
With 10 days you could plan even an itinerary to explore most of the historical towns/cities and the countryside too, including both the Chianti Area and Val d’Orcia.
With 14 days you may be able to add also a few days in one of the islands, Elba or Giglio.
I wrote a dedicated post to possible itineraries in Tuscany that is the best starting point to build your own trip, with detailed daily plans
Best restaurants in Tuscany
The choice in Tuscany is so wide that it is impossible to make any kind of specific recommendation.
Having said that, I have created my own list that I would like to share with you.
Obviously, it isn’t exhaustive. Come back to this post regularly for the latest findings on this list.
- Florence: Panini Toscani (great sandwiches for lunch), Degusteria Italiana (great local food at a reasonable price in an elegant environment), Gustarum (pizza), Osteria Antica Casa Torre (beautiful hidden restaurant with a cozy atmosphere)
- Siena: Tigella Emilia (lovely handcrafted pasta), Osteria Permalico (one of best places for the typical Tuscan dish Pici), Piripi (great pizza), Du Versi (wine bar with pizza and appetisers, well priced)
- Pisa: I Porci Comodi (a small bar with amazing sandwiches and cured meats), Capatosta (great for lunch but also for dinner, small selection, however, very authentic), La Cantina Di Tipì (traditional food, great choice of wines)
- Lucca: Bistrò Corte Campana (for a special night), L’Anciüa – Pesce Povero (specialised on fish, great value), Da Felice (for a quick pizza)
- Arezzo: Ciò che Piace (family run restaurant cooking local food at a great price), Teorema del Gusto (great local food, well priced), Officina della Pizza (a bargain)
- Countryside: Il Vinaio (in Greve in Chianti), Podere Il Casale (in Val d’Orcia, unique view), RiccaPizza (in San Gimignano), Le Vecchie Mura (in San Gimignano, great view)