BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN TUSCANY IN 7-10 DAYS
- 1 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN TUSCANY IN 7-10 DAYS
- 2 TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR TUSCANY ITINERARY
- 3 PLACES TO VISIT IN 7 DAYS IN TUSCANY
- 4 MORE PLACES TO SEE IN TUSCANY IN 10 DAYS
- 5 FINAL THOUGHTS ON PLANNING YOUR TUSCANY ITINERARY
Tuscany, the place of rolling hills and beautiful medieval towns and villages, often sits on top of hills and thus comes with great views. The region is known for its vineyards and great wines, and then there are the villas at the end of cypress-lined lanes.
But, of course, it is also known as the Renaissance’s birthplace and was home to geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. There is so much to do and see, and after spending more than one week in Tuscany myself, I finally saw with my own eyes what all the fuss is about!
This itinerary helps you to see the best of in 5 or 7, or even 10 days. So read on to find out more about the most beautiful places to visit in Tuscany plus many travel tips.
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR TUSCANY ITINERARY
Find out what to do and see, where to go, where to stay, and what to visit. Also, this post is mostly about a Tuscany road trip. HOWEVER, while road tripping is fun and easy, there are also other ways to get around.
How to Get Around Tuscany
Many places in Tuscany are very well-connected, and it is easy getting around by public transportation or car. I used public transportation whenever I headed to the main places (like Florence or Pisa) and drove for the rest of the time. Both ways have their perks.
Tuscany Road Trip Tips
I found that driving in Tuscany was fine – most of the time. I cannot deny that I will probably never get used to the way Italians drive, but in general, it was fine. Especially when it came to driving through the vineyards in Val d’Orcia, which was so much fun – the streets might not always be perfectly paved and modern, but it should not be a big problem for an experienced driver.
However, driving in town and city centers is a different story. Most towns and villages (and cities) don’t allow regular cars. So, even if there are no barriers, you are not allowed to drive (keep an eye out for this sign, which means you are only allowed to drive there with a special permit).
Also, I figured out that I should avoid the busy hours – it can be crazy driving in and near main places from 7-9 am and 5-7 pm. It saved me time and stress not driving at these times.
Also, streets can be extremely narrow, and that is why I seriously advise choosing a small car.
Do not let the Italian drivers make you nervous – do not speed unnecessarily (there are many speed cams around).
There are some toll highways in Tuscany, but I only drove them to Tuscany from Liguria. In general, most of the streets here are toll-free. Even some “autostrada” (freeways) are free here (they are generally not in great condition).
Also, parking can be really costly and can eat into your budget over time. With some prior research, you might find free parking spots, but most of the time, I had to pay around 1-2.50€ for an hour near the old towns of Lucca and Siena.
And do not get me started on Italy’s gas prices – the highest I have ever seen in Europe (up to 1.85€ for one liter of gas – and this is self-service). If you find gas for 1.45€, you have found a bargain.
Oh, and be prepared for an abundance of roundabouts in Italy and also in Tuscany. If you have not gotten used to them, recheck the rules, as I find the roundabouts in Italy a bit busy and hectic at times.
I am probably not the first one to openly declare my affection for public transportation in Italy – the train rides, in particular, became a nice way of getting around and a good way to see Tuscany, too.
It is quite affordable, reliable (yes, my trains always ran a few minutes late, but I consider this tolerable) efficiently. If I had to choose one way of getting around, it would be train travel in Italy. However, getting to smaller towns and villages without a train station is a bit trickier.
So, when you have a train station – great. If there is none, then bus transport is fine, too, but not always obvious when it comes to schedules.
TIP: Always, always validate your ticket. Even if you buy your ticket at the ticket counter for the next train/bus, you need to validate it at one of the little machines at the station for trains and in the bus for bus rides.
Best Time to Visit
I visited Tuscany at the end of March/beginning of April, and it was a lovely time to visit. Temperatures were mild (around 16°- 20ºC), but I also experienced a few rainy days. The trees were blossoming, and it was hilly and lush. The places were not crowded (except Florence and Pisa), and I did not have to rub shoulders with other tourists.
I revisited it in July – it was hot and busy.
Personally, I would visit Tuscany next time at the end of April or early May as it gets a bit warmer and the scenery is supposed to be even more colorful and bright.
Or I would pick fall as my travel time – at the end of September and October – when the weather is still good, the crowds are gone, and the hills and trees are still lush and colorful.
If you want to do a beach vacation or plan to spend a lot of time in the cities/towns and popular villages, then summer – July and August – when it gets hot would be a good choice.
Map With Places to Visit in Tuscany
For a better idea of the places mentioned here (and the distances), check out this map with the top places to visit in Tuscany.
Pin me For Later – Tuscany Itinerary
Before talking about the best places to add to your Tuscany itinerary, here is a pin for your future reference (for Pinterest).
PLACES TO VISIT IN 7 DAYS IN TUSCANY
Here are the best places to visit (if you have only 5 days in Tuscany, leave out a few stops that seem the least appealing to you).
Florence – 2 Days
Florence is one of the places that you seriously have to add to your Tuscany itinerary.
This city is one of my favorites in Italy, if not in all of Europe, and it wins the heart of its visitors within minutes and is a must-see as it is one of the most beautiful places in the region.
If you are for one week, then I recommend staying in Florence for 2 days, because there are so many places to visit and things to do. With 5 days in Tuscany, I would stay 1,5 days.
You can do a few things for free, but several fantastic museums and churches need a ticket reservation in advance (if you don’t want to spend hours in line, there is no country in the world where skip-the-line-tickets make more sense than in Italy from April to October).
While Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci still play a crucial role in the city today, there is so much more to do and see.
And even if you are not the typical art fan (believe me, I am not), Florence is different, and I am sure you will not regret adding the city to your Tuscany itinerary.
Things to Do and See in Florence
- Uffizi Gallery – where you will find the original statue of David by Michelangelo (skip-the-line-tickets are essential)
- Cross the Ponte Vecchio Bridge – a medieval bridge that is 312 meters long, houses some smaller shops, and dates back to the 14th century.
- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – oh, what a lady! This stunning place is a beauty. You surely will be impressed by its sheer size if you want to visit the inside (book your ticket in advance).
- Piazza Della Signoria – this lively square is fun and busy. YouwillalsofindtherepliclicaoftheDavidStatueandmanymore.
- The views from Piazza Michelangelo are priceless – it takes a 10-15 minute hike up (not too steep, though), and from there, you have great views and can enjoy the Florentinian skyline for free (also great for enjoying the sunset).
- Pitti Palace – once the Medici family’s home, it is now a Renaissance Palace that houses incredible art pieces. Plan in 3-5 hours for this place and buy tickets in advance.
- Basicila of Santa Croce and the Duomo – located right next to each other. If you have two days in Florence, you can combine these places into one trip.
- The Boboli Garden – located right behind the Pitti Palace, you can stroll this gigantic garden for several hours without getting bored (get a combined ticket for Pitti Palace, Boboli Garden, and more.
So, after one or two days in Florence, you are good to visit more of Tuscany´s gems. Here is a more detailed Florence guide for you!
If you make Florence your base for your whole Tuscany trip, then check out the best day trips to take from there.
Where to Stay in Florence
For the ultimate luxury hotel, check out rates at Florence´s Four Season. This hotel chain knows how to impress, and it seems that it does a great job in Florence, too. Click here to get more information on the rates.
This mid-range hotel is located close to the Boboli Gardens and the Piazzale Michelangelo. It offers free parking. Check out the rates for the Park Palace in Florence.
The Plus Florence is a hostel near some of the main attractions, and you can book dorms or private rooms. Find out more about the hotel by clicking here.
If you prefer staying at an Airbnb, first-time users can save money by using my link.
Lucca and Pisa – 1 Day
From Florence, you can easily get via train, or car, to Lucca and Pisa. It’s up to you which one you opt for first (Lucca is closer to Florence).
Pisa is surely mostly known for one attraction, but it is a bit more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. However, I tried really hard and planned a full day for Pisa, but I figured out that half a day is really enough!
And like Florence, Pisa is busy. At least, it is busy around the Leaning Tower, not so much in other areas.
Things to Do and See in Pisa
- Visit the Piazza del Duomo, where you have the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a 14th-century tower that is probably the most famous tilted building in the world (skip-the-lines tickets are a must if you do not want to spend a lot of time in line).
- But there is also the impressive Cathedral di Pisa, the baptistery, and Camposanto Monumentale. The Duomo is free to visit, but you need to get a ticket center ticket (which is well signed).
- TIP: If you want to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or visit the baptistery or the Camposanto, you need to buy tickets. Keep in mind that Pisa and Florence are extremely busy, and if you don’t buy skip-the-line tickets in advance, you might have to stand in line forever or not even get a ticket at all.
- Stroll the Arno River (such a tranquil place after the busy Piazza del Duomo) and visit the Santa Maria Della Spina – a tiny church with a unique gothic exterior
- On your way to the Santa Maria Della Spina, you should visit the Palazzo della Carovana at Knights´ Square.
Where to Stay in Pisa
In case you want to stay overnight, here are some well-rated accommodations:
This luxury hotel is rated one of Pisa’s best ones – find out more about the Allegroitalia Pisa Tower Plaza.
This B&B is surely no budget-friendly place, but its location is amazing. Check out rates for the B&B 7 Rooms.
Then it is time to head to Lucca.
Lucca is a popular, though not overly crowded, a town between Florence and Pisa.
Things to do in Lucca
You can walk the huge Renaissance walls that offer nice views and are a good place to rest. Seriously, I have never seen such big city walls. From there, you can make your way to the historic city center and visit other main attractions.
- The Duomo di San Martino (entry about 3€, which was nice, but you can skip it if you’re on a budget). You can climb the tower there (the views are not as great as from the other tower, but if you are in the mood to climb towers and don’t mind paying another 3€, this is a good place to enjoy the views).
- Then there is the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro with its many cafes and restaurants.
- Climb to the top of the Guinigi Tower – it has centuries-old trees at the very top; climbing the 270 steps will cost you about 4€
- Visit the St. Martin Cathedral (Chiese di San Michele) with its unique exterior.
- Visit the Basilica of San Frediano
While it seems like there is much more to see in Lucca than in Pisa, Lucca is very walkable, and despite the number of attractions, you can see all these places in half a day. If you enjoy guided walking tours, check out this affordable Lucca walking tour.
With 5 days in Tuscany, I would probably skip Lucca but with one day, add it to your Tuscany itinerary.
Tip: Those who do not road trip Tuscany – check out this guided tour of Lucca and Pisa in one day from Florence.
Volterra and San Gimignano – 1 Day
For a perfect Tuscany itinerary, you have to have these two villages: Volterra and San Gimignano.
Driving to Volterra and then to San Gimignano was one of the best driving experiences: great views and nice streets. However, since these are mountain streets, keep in mind that they are narrow, and it might not be everyone´s cup of tea.
I visited Volterra on a rainy day, and despite the weather, it still charmed me.
Volterra is a small but cute hilltop village with great views, cute streets, and even cuter doors and houses.
Things to Do and See in Volterra
- Piazza dei Priori – The piazza is located in the center of the town. You will also find the Palazzo dei Priori (city hall), the Council Chamber, and the bell tower (both open to the public) there.
- Piazza San Giovanni, where you will also find the Cathedral and the Baptistery
- Walk the Etruscan Gate that is close to the Piazza San Giovanni and built in the 4th century.
- Visit the Etruscan Acropolis, which is located within the Archeological Park.
- Enjoy the views
San Gimignano (1 Day)
From there, head to San Gimignano – surely anything but a hidden gem. This small-walled medieval town near Siena and Volterra is one of the most popular tourist hotspots in Tuscany.
It gets busy, especially in the summer. However, it holds a few great attractions that make it worth a visit.
Things to Do and See in San Gimignano
- Climb Torre Grossa – the tower stands at 54 meters and dates back to the 13th century. The admission fee is about 5€, but the view is probably well worth it (I visited on a rainy day, so I skipped it).
- Check out Porto San Giovanni – the door was finished in the 13th century and is a highlight of the town.
- Piazza del Duomo – the heart of San Gimignano also houses the cathedral, the Palazzo del Podesta, the Palazzo del Popola, and more.
If you road trip or organize your day yourself, a day visiting both places should be fine. There are also guided tours that will show you both towns in one day.
Val d’Orcia (incl. Montepulciano) & Wine Tasting in 1 Day
South of Siena is one of the most beautiful sceneries, and you will see the Tuscan countryside at its best! I enjoyed driving here the most. Though the streets are winding, it is open, and you have great views wherever you look.
The lush, green hills and yellow fields in between (and in the summer, you can expect red poppies and fields of sunflowers) make it one of the most beautiful places in Tuscany.
The Val D’Orcia is another region in Tuscany famous for its stunning landscapes and its red wines. While I, personally, don’t drink wine and thus don’t care about it, it is still a great place for wine tasting – and I was in love with the views there.
One of my favorite towns was the hilltop village of Montepulciano. Spend a few hours there, and if you have time left (I wish that I had), then visit Montalcino or Pienza as well.
Here are some tours that include wine tasting that I have found online – because some people just come to Tuscany for food and wine.
Val D´Órcia – Wine and Cheese Tasting Tour – from Florence
Montalcino, Pienza, and Montepulciano – Check out this full-day wine tour.
Siena – 1 Day
Siena is another beautiful town that is worth a visit.
Siena sits over three hills and is a perfectly preserved medieval town and a shrine to Gothic architecture. There is a beautifully maintained historic center that’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
You can start your day at the central piazza. The huge Piazza del Campo is the heart of the city and where most of its important events have been held ever since.
Twice a year, on July 2 and August 16, a famous horse race takes place. But most of the time, it is a nice and lively square where you can enjoy the Dolce Vita.
Things to do and See in Siena
- Visit the impressive Duomo die Siena, a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral with mosaics – the exterior looks a bit pinkish.
- Climb the 400 steps of the Tower of Mangia (it was closed at the time of my visit but is supposed to offer some of the best views in Tuscany) – located on the Piazza del Campo
- Admire the Pubblico Palace that is the town hall building in gothic style and located on the Piazza del Campo
- Stroll the old town and be ready to find some cute houses around every turn
If you have less than 5 days in Tuscany, check out this organized tour that allows you to see several towns in Tuscany – including Siena.
Where to Stay in Siena
I stayed at a charming little hotel with amazing views. The design is more unique, and it is located just outside of the city walls, but I could not have asked for more value for money. Find out more about Hotel Santa Caterina in Siena here.
Arezzo and Cortona – 1 Day
One of my most favorite towns in Tuscany was Arezzo. I was a bit exhausted and forgot what the town was about. Due to bad research – or better yet, due to a lack of research – I expected another hilltop village and was surprised that it isn’t a typical medieval town in Tuscany.
The town square is indeed uphill, but not all of the towns, and as I was spoiled with great weather, I fell in love almost immediately. So, if you are 5 or 7 days in Tuscany, make visiting this small town a priority.
Things to Do and See in Arezzo
- Visit the Piazza Grande – the market square is home to several beautiful buildings, cafes, and restaurants.
- Visit the Arezzo Cathedral
- Stroll the Fortezza Medicea
- Visit the museum of the Fraternity dei Laici (located directly on the Piazza Grande, and for only 3€, you will also get access to the panoramic terrace)
If you have more time, you can add a visit to Cortona, which is quite close by (it is one of the few places I wish I had made a priority), and visit the Villa Bramasole, the Diocesan Museum, or the Santa Margherita Cortona.
Fancy a cooking class in Italy? In Arezzo, you can take a cooking class at a local´s home.
MORE PLACES TO SEE IN TUSCANY IN 10 DAYS
With 7 days in Tuscany, you should be able to see all the above-mentioned places. If you have only 5 days, you might have to skip a few places. Of course, you can see what works for you and change days as you like, but logistically, it makes sense to combine two or three places each day. Only Florence will take much more time to explore.
If you have more than one week in Tuscany, then here is what you can do also.
Pistoia and Pescia – 1 Day
These two places are quite unknown and very underrated in Tuscany. Pistoia, in particular, is a charming town with an authentic medieval touch.
Pistoia is divided by a river; on the left side of the river, you will find the Cathedral, and on the right side, you will see the main square (Piazza Mazzini) as the heart of the town and the City Hall.
Places to visit and things to do: The Cathedral of San Zeno, the Spedale del Ceppo, the church of Santándrea, the Piazza Della Sala, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Humility.
It was one of the least busy places I have come across, and it is the perfect place to visit if you want to see beautiful architecture with interesting buildings but want to escape the crowds. I would plan in half a day, eat lunch at the square, and after a nice lunch, head to nearby Pescia.
Pescia, too, was a little beauty – strolling the town (and river) will take less time than visiting Pistoia, though.
Saturnia (Thermal Bath) – 1 Day
I forgot about this! Can you believe it?! I forgot I wanted to visit the Saturnia Thermal Baths and remembered when I was in the east of Tuscany – and then I could not be bothered to drive all the way back!
Anyhow, the Saturnia Thermal Bath is something that is not typical for many Tuscany itineraries, but personally, I think that the thermal waters at Saturnia are a great way to relax and see the other side of Tuscany. You can also visit the town of Saturnia after hopping in the free thermal springs!
It sounds like 10 perfect days spent in Tuscany!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON PLANNING YOUR TUSCANY ITINERARY
While I did not do my trip to this itinerary, this is how I would do it now that I know better.
However, even if you change the route or some places, this post hopefully has helped you create your perfect one-week Tuscany itinerary.
Sometimes I felt like I had visited a village already as some towns and villages are “similar,” and the scenery did not always dramatically change. However, it was a great experience, and while 5 days in Tuscany is the minimum, you can easily spend much more time there without getting bored.