Things to Do in Tuscany: A Comprehensive Travel Guide

Melina Thalassinou
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Table of Content
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Key Takeaways

  • There are countless things to do in Tuscany based on your interests and preferences
  • Explore historic cities, hill towns, and coastal regions
  • Immerse in cultural experiences and local cuisine
  • Plan your trip around Tuscany’s diverse and picturesque landscapes

couple in florence gardensCouple strolling the gardens of Florence - credits: Alex_Mastro/Shutterstock.com

Tuscany offers a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that captivates every traveler under the Tuscan sun.

From the bustling streets of Florence with its renowned art museums to the tranquil landscapes of Val D'Orcia, there's something for everyone.

The best things to do in Tuscany include visiting historic cities like Florence and Siena, exploring charming hilltop towns, and indulging in the local wine and cuisine.

Every corner from northern to southern Tuscany tells a story.

Siena's medieval architecture and Piazza del Campo transport visitors back in time, while Pisa’s iconic Leaning Tower continues to impress.

The region’s diverse landscapes, from the rolling vineyards of Chianti to the sandy beaches along the coast, offer countless opportunities for exploration.

Travelers seeking relaxation will find the serene countryside of Val D'Orcia an ideal retreat.

San Gimignano, known for its medieval towers, and the charming town of Lucca, enclosed by well-preserved walls, promise unforgettable experiences.

Whether planning a brief getaway or an extended itinerary, Tuscany's blend of art, history, and nature ensures a memorable visit.

Explore Florence

FlorenceFlorence Duomo - credits: Alexander_Peterson/Shutterstock.com

Florence, the heart of the Renaissance, offers breathtaking art, historic landmarks, and unforgettable cultural experiences.

Visit the Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most renowned art museums globally, housing a vast array of Renaissance art.

Visitors can marvel at masterpieces by Botticelli, such as 'The Birth of Venus,' and works by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

The gallery's layout enables an immersive journey through art history, spanning from the Middle Ages to the modern period.

Located along the Arno River, the Uffizi also offers scenic views of Florence.

Make sure to book tickets in advance to avoid long lines.

For a better appreciation of the collections, get audio guides or join a guided tour.

Climb the Duomo

Climbing the Duomo, or the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, offers panoramic views of Florence.

Brunelleschi's dome, an architectural marvel, requires climbing 463 steps to reach the top.

Each step provides insights into the structure's engineering, adorned with frescoes like Vasari’s “The Last Judgement.”

Once at the summit, the cityscape unfolds, revealing landmarks like the Palazzo Vecchio and the winding Arno River.

Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for narrow staircases when you visit. The descent offers another opportunity to absorb the intricate details of this historic structure.

Stroll through Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria serves as Florence's political and social hub. Home to the Palazzo Vecchio, this square is filled with art and history.

The Loggia dei Lanzi houses famous statues, including Cellini’s 'Perseus with the Head of Medusa.'

Nearby, the Fountain of Neptune stands as a significant Renaissance work.

The piazza is vibrant with cafes and restaurants, offering a pleasant spot for people-watching and soaking up the city's ambiance.

Visitors can also enjoy street performances and various outdoor exhibitions that frequently take place here, adding to the lively spirit.

Walk Across Ponte Vecchio

Walking across the Ponte Vecchio provides a unique experience in Florence.

This medieval stone bridge is famous for its shops, which historically belonged to butchers but now host jewelers and art dealers.

The Vasari Corridor, an elevated passageway that connects the Uffizi to the Pitti Palace, runs above the shops.

The bridge offers picturesque views of the Arno River, especially around sunset.

It’s an ideal spot for photographs and a leisurely stroll while exploring the artisan boutiques. The bridge's history and charm make it a must-visit landmark in Florence.

Discover Siena

siena tuscanyWoman in Siena - credits: RossHelen/Shutterstock.com

Siena, located in the heart of Tuscany, offers a captivating blend of medieval history, vibrant culture, and architectural marvels. From its iconic piazzas to its towering cathedrals, visitors will find a wealth of experiences awaiting in this timeless city.

Explore Piazza Del Campo

Piazza Del Campo, the historic heart of Siena, is renowned for its unique shell shape and its pivotal role in the city's social and political life.

This piazza hosts the famous Palio di Siena, a thrilling horse race held twice a year.

Dominating the piazza is the Torre del Mangia, a towering structure that provides stunning views of the cityscape.

Visitors can climb to the top for a panoramic view of the red rooftops and winding medieval streets.

Several cafes and restaurants line the piazza, offering visitors a perfect spot to relax and people-watch while enjoying traditional Tuscan cuisine.

The nearby Civic Museum, housed in the Palazzo Pubblico, features beautiful frescoes and artifacts from Siena's rich history.

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Visit Siena Cathedral

The Siena Cathedral, or Duomo di Siena, stands as a masterpiece of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture.

Its intricate facade, coupled with an impressive interior, makes it a must-visit for any traveler.

Inside, the cathedral is adorned with stunning artwork, including the ornate Piccolomini Library.

This library boasts beautifully detailed frescoes that depict the life of Pope Pius II.

The cathedral's floor features an elaborate mosaic of marble inlays, showcasing biblical stories and historical scenes.

Visitors should not miss the Baptistery and the Museum of the Opera del Duomo, which offers another vantage point to admire Siena from above.

The museum houses original sculptures and artworks removed from the cathedral for preservation.

Experience the Palio Di Siena

The Palio di Siena is an exhilarating event that showcases the city's rich cultural heritage.

Held on July 2 and August 16, this historic horse race involves Siena's 17 districts, or contrade, fiercely competing for glory.

The race takes place in Piazza Del Campo, transforming it into a lively and colorful spectacle.

Each contrade is represented by a horse and jockey dressed in traditional medieval attire, and the event is preceded by elaborate pageantry and parades.

If you plan to witness the Palio, make sure to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot.

The atmosphere is electric, with locals and tourists alike sharing in the excitement of the race and the associated celebrations.

Wander through the Historic Center

Siena's historic center, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers a charming blend of medieval architecture and bustling local life.

Narrow alleys and cobbled streets reveal stunning buildings, quaint shops, and hidden courtyards.

Visitors can explore notable sights such as the Medici Fortress and the Basilica of San Domenico, which contains relics of St. Catherine of Siena.

The medieval ambiance is further enhanced by the numerous towers that punctuate the skyline, reminiscent of those in San Gimignano.

Shopping enthusiasts will find a variety of artisan shops selling local crafts, pottery, and jewelry.

For a more immersive experience, consider a guided tour that delves into the rich mix of Siena’s history and culture.

Tour Pisa

PisaPisa - credits: DaLiu/Shutterstock.com

Pisa, a jewel of Tuscany, offers a blend of history, unique architecture, and stunning river views.

Visitors can explore the iconic Leaning Tower, wander through the Piazza Dei Miracoli, indulge in truffle hunting, admire the magnificence of the Cathedral of Pisa, and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Arno River.

See the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is arguably the most recognizable landmark in the city.

Known worldwide for its unintended tilt, this freestanding bell tower boasts an impressive history dating back to the 12th century.

Constructed from white and gray marble, the tower is 56 meters tall and offers panoramic views over Pisa from its top.

Visitors can climb the 294 steps to the top, providing an unforgettable experience. The tower's lean, caused by unstable foundation soil, adds a unique charm.

It's a must-see for anyone visiting Pisa, capturing the perfect blend of architectural beauty and historical intrigue.

Visit the Piazza Dei Miracoli

The Piazza Dei Miracoli, or Square of Miracles, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This expansive green lawn is home to several remarkable religious structures, including the Leaning Tower, Cathedral of Pisa, Baptistery, and the Camposanto Monumentale.

The area is known for its stunning architectural unity and historical significance.

Visitors can wander through the square, take in the serene ambiance, and appreciate the intricate designs of the buildings.

The serene setting and awe-inspiring structures make it an essential stop on any Pisa itinerary, offering a look into the city's rich architectural and religious history.

Explore the Cathedral of Pisa

Standing majestically in the Piazza Dei Miracoli, the Cathedral of Pisa, also known as Duomo di Pisa, is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture.

Built in the 11th century, the cathedral features a grand facade adorned with marble and mosaics. The interiors are equally impressive, showcasing intricate artwork and a stunning gilded ceiling.

Visitors will find highlights such as the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano and the bronze doors by Bonanno Pisano.

The cathedral, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, serves as a testament to Pisa's religious and cultural heritage. Exploring its grand halls provides a deep connection to the city’s historical roots.

Walk Along the Arno River

The Arno River winds through Pisa, offering scenic views and a tranquil walking path.

Stretching through the city, this river provides a peaceful setting for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing spot to sit and enjoy the surroundings.

Both locals and tourists frequent its banks, particularly around the Lungarni, the streets that run alongside the river.

As you walk along the Arno, you'll encounter historic buildings, charming bridges, and vibrant street life.

This walk is perfect for taking in the more relaxed, everyday side of Pisa away from the more crowded tourist spots.

The river's calm ambiance and beautiful vistas create a perfect backdrop for quiet reflection or a leisurely evening walk.

Wander Through Lucca

Lucca TuscanyLucca - credits: ecstk22/Shutterstock.com

Lucca, a charming medieval city in Tuscany, offers a variety of historical and cultural experiences. Visitors can explore its ancient architecture, scenic views, and vibrant local culture.

Walk or Bike the City Walls

The city walls of Lucca, dating back to the Renaissance period, are among the best-preserved fortifications in Europe.

The walls, which stretch around 4 kilometers, offer a unique perspective of the city. Tourists can walk or rent a bike to traverse the tree-lined paths atop the walls.

From this vantage point, visitors can view the red-tiled roofs and medieval architecture of Lucca.

Several entry points along the walls provide easy access to different parts of the city, making it a convenient way to explore.

Visit Lucca Cathedral

Lucca Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of San Martino, is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture.

Situated in the heart of the city, the cathedral features an intricately designed facade with detailed carvings and statues. Inside, visitors will find stunning frescoes and a renowned wooden crucifix known as the Volto Santo.

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the works of art by Nicola Pisano and Tintoretto that adorn the cathedral.

The calm atmosphere inside provides a serene retreat for those interested in history and architecture.

Explore Piazza Dell'anfiteatro

Piazza Dell'anfiteatro is a remarkable elliptical square that was once a Roman amphitheater. This unique piazza retains its ancient shape and is surrounded by colorful buildings.

The area is bustling with cafes, restaurants, and shops, making it a perfect spot to relax and people-watch.

The piazza's history as an entertainment venue adds to its charm. Despite its transformation over the centuries, one can still sense its historical significance.

It’s a lively hub that reflects the essence of Lucca’s vibrant community.

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Enjoy a Concert at Puccini's Birthplace

Giacomo Puccini, the famous opera composer, was born in the walled town of Lucca. His birthplace has been converted into a museum that celebrates his life and work.

The museum houses various artifacts, including original scores and personal belongings of the composer.

Music lovers can enjoy concerts held in Puccini’s honor. These concerts often feature his most famous operas and are staged in intimate settings, offering a unique experience for visitors.

The events provide an excellent opportunity to connect with Lucca's rich musical heritage.

The museum and concerts are not just a tribute to Puccini but also an illustration of Lucca’s cultural legacy.

Experience the Chianti Wine Region

grape harvest chianti italyGrape harvest in Chianti - credits: Lukasz Szwaj/Shutterstock.com

Nestled between Florence and Siena, Chianti captures the essence of Tuscany with its rolling hills, endless vineyards, and charming medieval towns.

This region is famed for its wine, rich history, and stunning landscapes.

Wine Tasting Tours

Chianti is renowned for its wine, particularly Chianti Classico. Visitors can embark on wine-tasting tours that meander through the picturesque countryside, offering opportunities to sample various vintages.

Many wineries, such as Castello di Ama and Badia a Coltibuono, provide guided wine tastings. This allows guests to savor robust red wines with locally produced cheeses and meats.

This experience illuminates the labor of love that goes into each bottle.

Visit Castello Di Brolio

Castello Di Brolio, a historic castle and winery, offers a unique blend of history, architecture, and viticulture.

Situated amidst sprawling vineyards, this castle has been owned by the Ricasoli family since 1141.

Guests can explore the ancient fortress, visit the family chapel, and tour the cellars where the famed Barone Ricasoli wines are aged.

The views from the castle grounds over the Chianti countryside are breathtaking, making it a must-visit landmark.

Explore Greve in Chianti

Greve in Chianti serves as a bustling hub for wine enthusiasts and travelers alike.

The main square, Piazza Matteotti, is lined with shops and restaurants offering local delicacies and wines.

The town hosts the Chianti Classico Wine Festival in September, drawing crowds for its extensive tastings.

A visit to the Wine Museum provides a deep dive into the region’s winemaking heritage, while the surrounding vineyards offer serene trails for exploration.

Enjoy the Scenic Drives

Indulging in a road trip through Chianti unveils a landscape of rolling hills, verdant vineyards, and olive orchards.

Routes such as the SR 222, known as the Chiantigiana Road, offer stunning vistas and access to more than one tiny village.

Each turn presents a new panorama, with opportunities to stop and take in the beauty. These drives capture the heart and soul of the Chianti region, inviting travelers to slow down and savor the journey.

Visit San Gimignano

san gimignanoSan Gimignano - credits: canadastock/Shutterstock.com

San Gimignano, a picturesque medieval town in Tuscany, Italy, is renowned for its historical architecture, towering landmarks, and exquisite local gelato.

This section highlights the essential experiences you must not miss.

Climb the Towers

The towers of the hilltop town of San Gimignano offer a glimpse into the town's medieval past. The most prominent is the Torre Grossa, standing at 200 feet. Built in 1311, it is the tallest tower in the town.

Climbing this tower rewards visitors with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside.

Located adjacent to the City Hall, Torre Grossa is a must-visit. Legend even suggests that Dante himself may have stayed here. Remember to bring your camera for some stunning photo opportunities.

Visit the Collegiate Church

The Collegiate Church of San Gimignano, also known as the Duomo di San Gimignano, was completed in 1148. This beautiful church is famous for its impressive frescoes from the Florentine school.

Notable works include San Sebastiano by Benozzo Gozzoli and Episodes from the Life of Santa Fina by Domenico Ghirlandaio.

The church’s structure, built around three naves, houses exquisite wooden statues by Jacopo della Quercia.

It stands as one of Tuscany’s most precious cultural treasures and provides an intimate look at medieval art and architecture.

Explore the Medieval Streets

Walking through the medieval streets of San Gimignano feels like stepping back in time.

A notable spot is the Campatelli Tower and House, an 18th-century building that showcases the lifestyle of a wealthy Tuscan family in the 1800s.

Another interesting stop is Museo San Gimignano 1300.

This museum features detailed models that illustrate the urban layout and daily life of the town in medieval times, including a large ceramic model of the city as it appeared in 1300.

Exploring these sites offers a deep dive into the rich history of San Gimignano.

Enjoy the Local Gelato

No visit to San Gimignano is complete without trying the local gelato. The town is famous for its award-winning gelato, particularly from Gelateria Dondoli located in Piazza della Cisterna.

This gelateria has won several world championships, and its innovative flavors, such as saffron and pine nut, are a true delight for the taste buds.

Sampling these unique ice cream flavors adds a sweet finish to your journey. Don’t forget to try more traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla, which are equally exceptional.

Relax in Val D'orcia

val d orcia and montepuliciano from aboveVal D'orcia and Montepulciano from above - credits: Nicola Simeoni/Shutterstock.com

Val d'Orcia in Tuscany offers visitors various activities to unwind—from exploring charming towns to soaking in thermal baths.

The area is rich with picturesque landscapes, vineyards, and cultural heritage.

Visit Pienza

Pienza, often called the 'ideal city,' was rebuilt during the Renaissance by Pope Pius II.

Its well-preserved architecture and layout make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The town is famous for its pecorino cheese and wine. Visitors can stroll through the Piazza Pio II, visit the Pienza Cathedral, and enjoy panoramic views of the rolling hills.

The narrow streets and charming shops create a perfect setting for relaxation and exploration.

Explore Montepulciano

Known for its medieval and Renaissance architecture, Montepulciano is perched on a limestone ridge. The town is renowned for its Vino Nobile, a high-quality red wine.

A visit here wouldn't be complete without a wine-tasting tour in one of the local vineyards or wine cellars.

Attractions include Piazza Grande, the town’s main square, and the Palazzo Comunale, offering breathtaking views of the countryside.

Visitors can also explore historic churches like San Biagio.

Relax in the Thermal Baths of Bagno Vignoni

Bagno Vignoni is a small village famous for its ancient thermal baths.

The village's unique central square is actually a large thermal pool dating back to Roman times.

Visitors can enjoy the thermal waters at the local spa or venture to the natural hot springs nearby. The mineral-rich waters are believed to have therapeutic properties.

The 'White Whale' in Bagni San Filippo, another local attraction, offers a natural hot spring with stunning white calcium formations.

Enjoy the Scenic Landscapes

Val d'Orcia is globally admired for its breathtaking landscapes. The winding roads flanked by cypress trees, expansive vineyards, and gently rolling hills offer iconic views.

Photographers and nature lovers will find plenty of scenic spots for capturing the essence of Tuscany.

Visitors can hike or bike through the countryside to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty.

Val d'Orcia's combination of historic towns, vibrant vineyards, and tranquil natural settings make it an idyllic destination for relaxation and leisure in Tuscany.

Final Thoughts

pienza tuscanyPienza, Tuscany - credits: Jarek Pawlak/Shutterstock.com

Tuscany's allure lies in its seamless blend of history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes.

Whether you're wandering through the art-filled streets of Florence, savoring the serenity of Val D'Orcia, or enjoying a wine tasting in Chianti, the region promises a rich tapestry of experiences that cater to every type of traveler.

Each town and city offers its own unique charm, from the medieval towers of San Gimignano to the vibrant squares of Siena and the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The diverse activities and sights ensure that every moment in Tuscany is filled with discovery and delight.

Planning a trip to Tuscany involves more than just visiting its famous landmarks; it's about immersing yourself in the local way of life.

Enjoy leisurely meals at family-run trattorias, explore artisan shops in charming villages, and take scenic drives through rolling vineyards and olive groves.

Whether you're an art enthusiast, a history buff, a foodie, or someone seeking relaxation, Tuscany's harmonious blend of the old and new, urban and rural, provides a perfect backdrop for creating unforgettable memories!

Our Tailor-Made Trip Planning
Hop on a quick call with a local expert from our team
Receive a tailor-made itinerary for your journey
Fine-tune the details and you're ready to go

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top family-friendly activities in Tuscany?

How can one experience the authentic countryside of Tuscany?

Which are the must-visit historical sites in Tuscany?

Can you recommend some off-the-beaten-path attractions in Tuscany?

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How long would you recommend staying in Tuscany to enjoy the highlights?

Can I combine my visit to Tuscany with another Italian town?

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