What are the best cities to visit on a stay in Tuscany ? It all depends on your interests, whether you travel by car or public transport, and how many days you have. Of course, there is no single answer to this question, but here are our tips and suggestions on how to settle in during your vacation in Tuscany.
Have you thought of Florence for your stay in Tuscany?
Easy answer. If you are in Tuscany to enjoy world-famous art, Florence is the place to be. One of the largest and busiest cities in Tuscany, Florence has some of Italy's best museums of medieval and Renaissance art. Not to mention the state-of-the-art architecture. You could easily fill two whole weeks of art exhibits.
Here's our essential guide to Florence's top 10 attractions and the best things to do in the city in 2019.
The same goes if you are looking for nightlife, or want to experience appetizer culture. Florence is constantly improving its nightlife options, and although it's not a huge city, it does have an interesting scene, especially in the Oltrarno neighborhoods. Shopping is another big draw for the city. You'll find plenty of opportunities here and at nearby outlets accessible by public transport from the city center.
If you are traveling without a car, Florence is one of your best choices. From here you can easily take the bus to Siena and the train to Pisa, Lucca, Pistoia or Arezzo. You can use public transport to get to the smaller centers in the Chianti region or northern Mugello, regardless of the location of your cottage in Tuscany. If you choose to stay relatively close to Santa Maria Novella station, you can arrange stress-free day trips from Florence.
Is Siena the ideal city for your stay!
Siena is small and you can see the main sights in one day. But to really appreciate the main museums and all the details of the city, you should stay longer. This is especially true if you are interested in medieval art. You'll find plenty here, from gothic paintings to amazing frescoes.
In winter, Siena is quieter and arguably more atmospheric. You can easily take public transport between Siena and Florence and Pisa airport. Siena train station is further from the city center than the bus stops.
A stay in Tuscany also does not pass Lucca
Lucca is perhaps one of the best towns in Tuscany to stay in if you are traveling with children. It is quite small and much less crowded than Florence and Siena, even in high season. In addition, the city walls provide green space for cycling or walking, and it is always a pleasure to rest after sightseeing. Lucca is a very pleasant and friendly town which, although increasingly discovered by tourists, retains an authentically Tuscan look.
Lucca is also relatively close to the coast (30 km) and from here you can easily reach the lively coastal towns of Versilia, such as Viareggio or Forte dei Marmi. Alternatively, if you have a bit of patience, you can drive to the small towns of leafy Garfagnana even if you don't have a car.
Pisa, the ideal city as a base for your stay?
For many, Pisa is not the city's first choice as a base. That said, if you want to enjoy the Square of Miracles and its Leaning Tower at your leisure, staying the night will allow you to do so, as the mood improves once the crowds leave. If you spend a night in Pisa, you will have the chance to appreciate this amazing view after dark.
Pisa is a university town, with some good restaurants and bars and a relaxed pace of life. Apart from the Piazza dei Miracoli which attracts legions of tourists, the rest of the town is laid back, and some areas are a bit run down. It's less elegant than Florence and Siena, but it has its own charm and some interesting attractions. Pisa is also very close to the coast and well connected to other major cities, and above all very close to Pisa airport.
Stay in a small town to discover authentic Tuscany. A vacation rentals in Tuscany a few days in a small town will give you a better idea of the real Tuscany. With the slower pace of life and bustling markets, you might enjoy feeling more like a local. If you choose a small town off the main tourist trail, you can really escape the crowds and see something more authentic. What you lose in sights, you gain in atmosphere.
The choice is unlimited. Think San Casciano Val di Pesa, close enough to Florence for frequent daily bus trips, or Certaldo, a gem of a hilltop town. Consider that here the station is in the lower part of the city, so you will have to walk a bit. Pietrasanta is a beautiful artistic town near the Versilia coast. You can also choose Pistoia, a lesser known town with an authentic vibe. It's on the train line between Florence and Lucca, halfway between the two. Or Barga, in the verdant Garfagnana, with less choice in terms of accommodation but many opportunities to enjoy nature. In the Maremma there are many charming little towns, such as Massa Marittima or Capalbio, or you can choose one of the picturesque little towns in the countryside around Siena.
Your mode of travel in Tuscany
If you have a car, the choice is limitless. Choosing a stay in an agriturismo or in a country house can be the ideal solution to enjoy true relaxation, as you will have complete freedom to explore the region and the neighboring towns at your leisure and return to your little haven in the evening. If you are staying in a town or city center for a while, ask your hotel about parking options. Big cities can be very expensive. In smaller towns it's usually easier, but don't always expect free parking.
If you don't have a car, check the public transport situation when choosing a smaller destination. If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, it is certainly best to choose one of the larger cities as your base. This will allow you to move more comfortably on public transport.