There are few places in the world like Tuscany region in Italy. Tuscany has it all: the most beautiful rolling-hills landscapes, medieval historical towns, Renaissance art, Italy’s best wineries, amazing food and good weather.
No trip to Italy would be complete without visiting Tuscany and at least some of its most enchanting towns. There are so many beautiful towns and villages in Tuscany, one more beautiful than another, but how do you decide where to go if you only have limited time in Tuscany?
The good news is that the most beautiful towns of Tuscany are located within a relatively short driving distance from each other and so you can see a lot without having to spend too many hours in a car.
You can find a suggested one-week Tuscany trip itinerary here. But first let’s take a look at what you can expect to see when visiting Tuscany.
Find out which towns are not to be missed in Tuscany, what to see and do in each of them and where to stay in order to get the most out of your trip to Tuscany.
Must-See Most Beautiful Towns of Tuscany
Florence is one of Italy’s most charming cities. It’s the culture capital of Italy with a great collection of some of the most famous art in the world.
What to see and do in Florence in one day
Duomo of Florence
Start your day with a visit to Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo, since it gets very crowded during the day. Visit the cathedral, go up inside its spectacular dome and check out Campanile – the bell tower.
San Lorenzo Market
Whether you have the whole morning or just a few minutes, San Lorenzo market is a great place to explore for the whole family. The market is comprised of two separate markets. An indoor market, Mercato Centrale, is a food market. The outdoor market is where you’ll find leather, clothing and souvenirs.
The Galleria deli Uffizi hosts works of art by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raffaelo and Leonardo da Vinci, just to name a few of the most famous artists. Perfect place to escape the heat of the day in summer.
Piazza della Signoria
Admire the architecture and many beautiful sculptures.
Florence’s oldest bridge, the 14th century Ponte Vecchio is more impressive from the distance. Apparently, Ponte Santa Trinita is a good place to take pictures of this famous medieval bridge.
Piazzale Michelangelo, located in the Oltrarno district, is the most famous square of Florence with a magnificent panoramic view of the city
Piazza Santo Spirito
The perfect place to end your day in Florence is Piazza Santo Spirito. With many cafés, bars and restaurants it comes alive every evening. It’s more of a local’s place with reasonable food prices, live music and great atmosphere in the evening. Don’t miss!
Where to stay in Florence
Tuscany’s second city, Siena, is more intimate than Florence, yet it has so much to offer. The historic centre of Siena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is never as busy as its rival Florence, but it’s still one of Italy’s most visited towns, so be prepared for the crowds.
Must see in Siena
Piazza del Campo
Piazza del Campo (also Il Campo) is the principal town square of Siena, Tuscany, Italy and is regarded as one of Europe’s finest medieval squares. Il Campo is the heart of the city. It’s the place to relax, take in the views, sit down for some cappuccino or Italian gelato. You can climb the bell tower of Torre del Mangia for beautiful views over the historic city centre.
Il Palio, the world’s most famous historical horse race, is held on Piazza del Campo. Twice a year, 2nd of July and 16th of August, Il Campo is transformed into a horse racetrack, just as it has been for centuries, since 1644. If you are coming for Il Palio, you may want to come for 3-4 days as there is so much to see and do in the days before the race.
Duomo di Siena – Siena Cathedral
Beautiful cathedral of Siena has no equal in the whole of Central Italy. It’s stunning; both, on the inside as well as on the outside. If you visit one Church in Tuscany, make it this one!
Historic city centre of Siena
Stroll around the historic city centre of Siena and admire its many Renaissance buildings, visit the library – Biblioteca Piccolomini or one of its fine museums.
Where to stay in Siena
Lucca is our favourite town in Tuscany. It’s hard to explain why, because other towns are just as beautiful from touristic point of view. It just has such a great atmosphere, I guess you have to experience it to understand.
What not to miss in Lucca
City walls of Lucca
Whether you do the whole 4 km of panoramic walkway overlooking the city of Lucca or just walk a part of it, the 16th century walls surrounding the old town of Lucca are not to be missed. They are so wide that you can even explore by bike (there are many bike rental shops offering cheap hourly or daily rates).
Families with children will love the playgrounds and recreation areas with picnic tables in the shade just outside the city walls.
Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the oval square built around the elliptical structure typical of Roman amphitheatres, is a not-to-be-missed jewel from Roman times. It’s a lively place with shops and restaurants and various events and concerts.
The Guinigi Tower
Have you ever seen a tower with trees growing on top? Don’t miss the famous Torre Guinigi which stands out over other buildings in Lucca. Climb the tower for the beautiful views over the city.
Delle Ore Tower
Another tower you should visit when in Lucca is the medieval clock tower, Torre Delle Ore. If you climb just one tower in Lucca, I’d go for the latter. It’s less busy than the Guinigi Tower and provides magnificent views, also of the nearby Guinigi Tower.
Churches of Lucca
Lucca is sometimes also called the city of 100 churches. Obviously, it’s impossible to visit them all, but don’t miss the cathedral, Il Duomo, Basilica of San Frediano and San Michele in Foro.
Where to stay in Lucca
There is much more to Pisa than the famous leaning bell tower. The tower of Pisa is just one of the many monuments of the Miracle’s Square. Make sure to also visit the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the graveyard.
The number of tourists decreases exponentially the further you go from the Miracle’s Square. Escape the crowds and take your time to explore the old town centre of Pisa. It’s really worthwhile!
What to see in Pisa, other than the Pisa tower
Borgo Stretto, an ancient shopping arcade is a nice lively (with locals) place to have lunch or do some shopping.
Make sure to take a walk on the Arno promenade following the Arno river.
A tiny picturesque church of Santa Maria Della Spina is also worth a short detour.
Where to stay in Pisa
San Gimignano is famous for its fourteen medieval towers rising above the Tuscan countryside. Originally there were 72 towers in San Gimignano, all built by the patriarch families competition to display their wealth.
What to see and do in San Gimignano
Stroll around the old town, don’t miss Piazza della Cisterna and climb to the top of the Torre Grossa. Dating from 13th century and 54 meters high, this is the tallest tower in San Gimignano, and the only one that is open to the public.
If you happen to visit on Thursday, come early as it’s a market day and the small town centre tends to get very busy.
Where to stay in San Gimignano
Volterra is a charming medieval town that is also worth a short visit. Stroll down the historical town centre – it has a great atmosphere, especially in the evening.
What to see in Volterra
The medieval wall surrounding Volterra was built in the 13th century and six gates allow entry through the wall into the center of the city. Don’t miss Porto All’Arco.
Take a quick look inside the Cathedral and the Baptistery. Palazzolo dei Priori, Pinacoteca and Museo Civico are worth a visit as well.
Acropolis houses several buildings and the foundations of two ancient temples. There are many Roman remains to visit as well, like the Roman Theatre and the Medicean Fortress.
Where to stay in Volterra
Tuscany has much more to offer than these 6 most beautiful towns. But if you are visiting for the first time and want to see the very best of Tuscany, you cannot go wrong with any of these places.
You may also like our post Best of Tuscany – Trip Itinerary from One Central Location
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