A land of endless vineyards, picturesque medieval towns, and of course, home to the Renaissance city of Firenze, Tuscany is one Italian region you’ll want to add to your Italy bucket list ASAP. Home to rich red wines and some incredibly stunning vistas, here are 10+ gorgeous, top, and fun things to do in Tuscany!
- What is Tuscany famous for?
- Best things to do in Tuscany
- Relax on the beach
- See (and climb) the leaning tower of Pisa
- Ride a vespa through the countryside
- Admire the many hilltop towns dotted across Tuscany
- Enjoy a foodie tour of Tuscany
- Indulge in a gelato (or two!)
- Go wine tasting in Chianti
- Go truffle hunting
- Explore the hidden gems (and tourist traps) of Florence
- Experience the Italian Alps (Apuan Alps)
- Explore some of Tuscany’s castles
- Stay in the city of Siena
- Discover filming locations
- Learn about marble in Carrara
- Go antique shopping
What is Tuscany famous for?
Tuscany is best known for its rolling hills, which are populated by golden vineyards and can often be found on postcards and prints of Italy. Other famous sights to see in Tuscany include its many medieval hilltop towns, its capital city of Florence (known as Firenze in Italian), and its rich red Chianti wines.
What’s more is that history buffs will soon fall in love with the region on account of the fact that it’s widely regarded to be the birthplace of Italian Renaissance. Even world-famous Leonardo da Vinci was born in a small town close to Florence.
Today, many Renaissance art pieces can be found in museums across the Italian region, the most notable of which are the Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti museums. If you’re planning on visiting the Uffizi and are set on the day you want to go, book your Uffizi Gallery Timed Entrance Ticket here in advance so as to get the time slot you want.
Best things to do in Tuscany
Relax on the beach
Of course, Tuscany is best-known for the city of Firenze and its many vineyards, as opposed to its beaches! However, truth be told many tourists miss out on the beautiful beaches of Tuscany in lieu of the rolling hills and cypress tree dotted landscape that the region is so-known for.
But if you wander a little off the beaten path during your Italian adventure you’ll soon discover that Tuscany has a wealth of beaches worth discovering. For example, Elba island is one of the best islands in Europe and lies just off the coast of Tuscany. As such, the little piece of paradise such boasts features such as crystal clear waters and sandy beaches which are popular among visitors and locals alike.
In total, Tuscany actually boasts some 230 kilometres of coastline. One of the easiest beach day trips from Florence is to Viareggio. Though this is not the best beach in Tuscany, it is close to a train station with direct transport links to Florence and is an hour away from the Tuscan capital.
See (and climb) the leaning tower of Pisa
If you’re wondering what to do in Tuscany in terms of top tourist attractions, if there’s one monument at which many opt to take a ‘cheesy’ tourist photo at, it’s the leaning tower of Pisa (known in Italian as Torre pendente di Pisa). As you might imagine, the tower at Pisa is so-called thanks to the fact that it’s leaning, at around 4 degrees.
The Leaning Tower has actually leaned since its construction at the end of the 12th-century. The soft ground which the foundations were built on could not take the weight of the tower and so, by the early 2000s, the tower was leaning at a staggering 5 degrees.
Restorative work was undertaken so as to reduce the lean and allow the structure to carry on standing for generations to come. What’s also worth noting is that the tower is not the only historical monument worth discovering in Pisa, which can easily be visited as a day trip from Florence.
Instead, visitors should be sure to check out the Pisa Duomo (cathedral) and Baptistery, which are located a stone’s throw away from the tower on the piazza (square) of Campo dei Miracoli.
If you want to make sure to visit all of the monuments that are worth seeing in Pisa, consider booking an all inclusive guided tour of the Baptistery, Cathedral & Tower like this one.
Ride a vespa through the countryside
If you’re looking for a romantic sojourn that can be taken at your own leisure, then you may well consider booking a vespa to drive through the countryside. Tuscany activities can be as independent as you like and renting a vespa will allow you to voyage through the Italian region without the crowds.
After all, travelling at your own pace will allow you to stop at whichever charming village or viewpoint that catches your eye and allows for a non-regimented form of travel that you may end up stuck with if you opt to travel via public transport.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to check out the Tuscan countryside on a vespa but as part of a guided tour, then there are several companies which offer this option.
For example, this guided tour from Florence to the Chianti countryside offers the opportunity to taste local Tuscan products, enjoy a light lunch, and soak up the ambiance of the Chianti countryside. Book the tour now.
Alternatively, a road trip (check out our best road trip tips) can also be taken at your own leisure and pace by booking a car. Fiat 500s are from Italy and are the perfect size to navigate the cobbled lanes and narrow streets which permeate many of the smaller medieval villages. Their small size also makes them incredibly easy to park up!
Admire the many hilltop towns dotted across Tuscany
From medieval castles to centuries old churches, Tuscany boasts a wide array of stunning towns, many of which are worth exploring, if only for a few hours. Though many can be visited as a day trip from Florence, most are worth exploring over the course of a couple of days so as to really get a feel for the place.
Some of the top towns in Tuscany to discover include Cortona, a hilltop Tuscany town with a history dating back all the way to the time of the Etruscans and Volterra, a tiny town located just a few hours away from the town of San Gimignano with architectural treasures to enjoy such as a medieval Duomo (cathedral) and Baptistry and the Palazzo dei Priori, which features a belfry offering fantastic views over the town and beyond.
Enjoy a foodie tour of Tuscany
If you truly want to have your tastebuds tickled when in Tuscany, then you’ll want to discover the fantastic foodie scene that this area of the boot-shaped country offers up. Of course, while food in Italy is world famous thanks to its rich flavours and deliciousness, food from the Tuscan region really is the crème de la crème of Italian cuisine.
Wine aside, one of the most famous food and drink exports from Tuscany is that of world-class olive oil. As a result, an aperitivo favourite among Florentians is fettunta, which is a bruschetta rubbed in creamy garlic and drizzled in local olive oil.
Yet another snack which includes olive oil as its star ingredient is that of Castagnaccio, a sweet chesnut cake which is made all the more appealing after is has been drizzled in olive oil and topped with rosemary.
For a greater insight into Tuscan cuisine, book a food tour like this one. On this three and a half hour guided tour, prepare to have your tastebuds tickled as you sample five top foodie spots in Firenze. Book the tour now.
Indulge in a gelato (or two!)
Though we may have already discussed food, there’s one Italian food that deserves its own highlight in this guide to the best of Tuscany. Gelato is a special kind of creamy ice cream which is known around the world for its dense richness thanks to the fact that it typically contains 70% less air than many other types if ice cream.
Creamy and drool-worthy, gelato is actually said to have been invented in Sicily, and more specifically is attributed to Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli who created the delicious dessert in the 1600s.
However, gelato is delicious all over in Italy and Tuscany is no exception. Some of the best places to grab gelato in Florence include Gelateria La Carraia and Carapina.
Go wine tasting in Chianti
If you’re an oenophile then there’s one thing you won’t want to miss during your time in Tuscany and it’s the wine, specifically that made in Chianti. The Chianti region is world-famous and can be found roughly between Florence and Siena. Must see Tuscany doesn’t get much more iconic than this!
The dry tipple from the region has a synonymous name and is also called Chianti. Though you can opt to spend several days exploring the Chianti region, you can also easily visit Chianti as a day trip from Florence.
If you want to maximise the number of activities you can do while in Toscano then it’s probably best to set aside a maximum of one day for your Chianti visit and to go on a guided tour.
In order to be considered a Chianti, each wine must contain at least 70% Sangiovese grape. The wine is rich in flavour and is best tasted and paired together with food. One of the best-reviewed Tuscany tours from Florence is this Chianti Wine Tasting Full-Day Trip with Lunch.
Go truffle hunting
One of the most unusual foodie treasures to be found in the Tuscany region is that of the luxurious truffle. Truffle is translated into Italian as ‘il tartufo’ and, though Italian truffles are available all year ’round in Toscano, they are much more abundant during the winter months.
Truffle hunting is an art form and the reason that the fungus is so expensive is because it is impossible to be cultivated in an agricultural setting and so must be ‘hunted’. To get a glimpse of the process for yourself, you can book this San Gimignano:Tuscany Truffle Hunting with Wine and Lunch tour.
In order to discover even more about this indulgent treat, you might consider booking this Truffle Cooking Class with Wine Tasting at the Tenuta Torciano Winery.
Tuscany attractions don’t get more classic than Florence. Known as ‘Firenze’ in Italian, the city of Florence is the capital of Tuscany and is a must-visit on any trip to Italy. After all, the Renaissance settlement is easily one of the best places to visit in Tuscany.
Some of the most iconic attractions in Florence include snapping photos of the beautiful Ponte Vecchio (which is covered in buildings), climbing to the top and admiring the view from Giotto’s Campanile, and watching the sun set over the city from Piazzale Michelangelo.
Though Florence remains one of the top destinations in Europe and so you’d think that there is little left to discover there, this is simply not the case. Instead, scratch beneath the surface and you’ll soon discover a marvellous array of Tuscan hidden gems. As such, when it comes to what to see in Tuscany, going off the beaten path is well worth it.
Highlights include the view from the Arnolfo Tower (an off the beaten path alternative from the Campanile) and Giardino Bardini (an alternative to the ever so popular Boboli Gardens), which features fountains, ornate landscaping, and fabulous views of the city. If you can’t make it to Firenze right away, then consider checking out our guide on how to experience Florence at home.
Experience the Italian Alps (Apuan Alps)
Picture the countryside of Tuscany in your mind’s eye. I’m sure that you’re imagining the rolling hills dotted with cypress trees and little medieval towns that are so famous from all of the postcards of the region. As well as beaches, another feature of the Tuscan landscape that shocks many visitors to Tuscany are the Italian Alps.
The Italian Alps in Tuscany are known as the Apuan Alps and are absolutely bursting with hiking opportunities, as well as other outdoor sporting opportunities. The Apuan Alps are best known for their marble which has been quarried since antiquity.
Explore some of Tuscany’s castles
As with much of Europe, Tuscany is no stranger to castles and many fortresses and stunning buildings can be found, dotted across the entirety of the region. Whereas some castles have since been transformed into luxurious hotels (like this one which you can book a stay at), others remain family homes and are still lived in to this day.
Other Tuscan castles again have been transformed into museums and cultural hubs which you can visit as a member of the public. Some of the more memorable castles you may well want to check out include the Castle of Brolio (which is open for visits and dates back to the 11th-century) and the 13th-century castle of Poppi.
Stay in the city of Siena
If you’re looking to complete your Tuscany bucket list, then consider a trip to Siena. The second largest city in Tuscany is that of Florence, though it is often unfortunately overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbour, Firenze. Siena is most famous for its historical city centre, which is of such importance that it is now classed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Another highlight of Siena is that of the Piazza del Campo, which is the city’s main square and around which the rest of the settlement is centred. Thanks to its brick paving stones and brick buildings and the impressively large Fonte Gaia (fountain), you’ll easily know you’re in the right place.
Like many European towns with a medieval heart, one of the best ways to enjoy Siena is to allow yourself to get a little lost in the city, allowing your feet to guide you wherever they may. After all, this will allow you to discover some of the best things to see in Tuscany.
Alternatively, if you prefer a little structure to your day and want to delve deeper into the history of this Tuscan settlement, then you might consider booking a guided walking tour of Siena like this one.
Discover filming locations
If you’re a movie buff, then you’ll already likely know that there are plenty of movies and TV shows filmed in the beautiful region of Toscana. Some of the best movies filmed in Tuscany include Under the Tuscan Sun, parts of Letters to Juliet, and some of the film Inferno, which is based on the book by Dan Brown.
Learn about marble in Carrara
One of the more unusual things to do in Tuscany that many visitors don’t think to discover is to learn about the marble of Carrara. The city of Carrara is located on the Carrione river and is most famous for its white and blue-grey marble, which has been quarried since antiquity and has been used as a material for many famous projects over the centuries.
Indeed, even the iconic David statue by Michelangelo was carved from a slab of white marble hewn from the quarries of Carrara. Today, the ‘white gold’ is still mined. For those looking to learn more about the secrets of Carrara marble, it’s possible to book a marble quarries tour like this one.
If you’re looking for even more inspiration about the boot-shaped country, then be sure to check out our best travel quotes about Italy. And if you need to know more information before heading to the South of Europe, check out our top Italy travel tips.
Go antique shopping
Those searching for beautiful antiques and vintage wares will also be delighted to discover that, on the first Sunday of the month (and the Saturday before it), there’s a fantastic antiques market that is widely considered to be the best in Tuscany.
On this day, up to 500 vendors from all over Italy head to Arezzo to tout their wares. Established in 1968, the Arezzo antique market is the oldest of its kind in Italy. Another antique market in Tuscany worth checking out is that of Cortona, which takes place on the fourth Sunday of the month.
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Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A fan of all things France related, she runs solosophie.com when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She now splits her time between London and Paris! Follow Sophie on Instagram.