The central Italian region of Tuscany is rich with culture, history and stunning scenery. Here is where you’ll find an incredible landscape bursting with an abundance of vineyards, dense olive groves, crumbling castles and medieval hilltop towns which boast dramatic views.
Tuscany’s landscapes and rustic villages are romantically charming: small, narrow lanes inside walled towns hide hotels housed in medieval buildings, old piazzas where locals gossip, and decadent, antique villas all add to the classically Italian atmosphere. Tuscany’s spectacular towns and cities offer travelers a glimpse into an Italy of the past through world renowned iconic landmarks, such as the leaning tower of Pisa and the open-air museum feel of Florence with its awe-inspiring architecture.
Map of Tuscany
The region is rich in distinct Tuscan culture, each area has something unique for visitors to discover – and taste. Much of Tuscany is taken up by farmland, meaning local cuisine is ingrained with tradition and flavor, along with a fair few famous wines that are produced in the hills of the area. With all this and its endless rolling vistas, captivating architecture and a depth of culture and history, it’s hard not to be charmed by Tuscany’s beauty. The only thing left is to choose where to stay in Tuscany – but don’t worry: we’ve got you covered.
Florence is a world-famous center for history and art. A cultural capital, Florence is the third largest city in Italy, and is where you want to be if you are visiting Tuscany to learn more about its depth of medieval and Renaissance art. But Florence is more than its past: in the evening the city comes alive with people sitting outside eating and drinking and enjoying the convivial atmosphere.
If you want to travel to other cities in the Tuscany region, you can use Florence’s great public transport links to take day trips to nearby attractions; there is a bus service to Siena, or you can take the train to places such as Pisa and Lucca. Accommodation across the city ranges from basic budget lodgings to luxury hotels housed in historic buildings. If you are planning on making day trips to other cities, choosing to stay close to the Santa Maria Novella train station will mean hassle-free travel.
Famous the world over for its leaning tower, Pisa attracts millions of visitors a year from all over the world. Choosing to stay in Pisa will mean you get to see the famous tower in the Square of Miracles after many of the day visitors have left and the area is much less crowded. In the evening the tower is also impressively illuminated, which makes for the perfect setting for a romantic Italian getaway.
Away from the main tourist areas, students from the town’s university make up more than half of Pisa’s inhabitants. Because of this large student community the evenings here include many cultural events alongside a fun, young atmosphere around the bars and restaurants. It’s easy to reach Pisa by train and you can use the local bus network to explore the city. If you are traveling on a budget you can opt to stay in one of the city’s hostels, or if you want to splurge why not choose to stay in one of the hotels housed in old villas.
The small city of Siena is packed with character and beauty – with its incredibly preserved medieval buildings, the people of the city are rightly proud of their home and heritage. Siena, although popular with tourists, remains authentic in its culture and traditions and lends itself to more than just a couple of nights. Take your time to soak in the medieval art, intricate frescoes and gothic paintings that are everywhere among the ancient Sienese architecture.
The center of the city is pedestrianized, but most of the main sites are in walking distance from each other – especially if you stay in one of the historic hotels in the city center. Alternatively, if you like a bit of nature, you could choose to camp at one of the campsites outside of the city and take the bus into town.
The perfect family-friendly Italian city, the walled city of Lucca boasts green spaces and quiet streets. Luca’s local population are friendly and welcoming to visitors which makes it a pleasant town to stay in. Being protected by an old wall means Lucca’s architecture remains well preserved; explore the old city on foot and wander around the exceptional examples of Gothic era architecture.
Lucca is much less touristy than its more famous neighbors of Florence and Pisa, so accommodation in the city is plentiful and less costly. If you are traveling on a tight budget, feel at home at one of the clean and convenient hotels, otherwise there are many great mid-range options.
Just outside of Siena in the Tuscan countryside lies San Gimignano. Famous for its tall, elegant towers, the Tuscan hill town sits proudly inside the protection of its 13th-century medieval walls. Popular with day time visitors who are drawn there to take in its sights, you can easily reach San Gimignano by bus or train.
Staying in the town is the best way to learn more about local culture and soak in the local way of life. Choose accommodation inside the walls of the town and imagine yourself in medieval Tuscany; there are some stunning mid-range and luxury accommodation options in the town, housed in ancient buildings among a wealth of history.
If you want to check out some Tuscan beaches then the Italian riviera town of Viareggio is for you. Just a quick train ride from famous historic cities such as Pisa, vibrant Viareggio boasts beaches with calm waters that are fantastic for swimming. Take a stroll along the seafront promenade and stop for lunch at one of the many cafes and bars serving freshly caught seafood.
The city has some excellent examples of Liberty-style villas, some of which are now beautiful hotels. If you want to stay along the beach, there are many resorts with private beaches and great amenities to make your holiday comfortable.
The hilltop city of Arezzo may not be one of the classic Tuscan cities, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. Perfect for a base from which to explore what Tuscany has to offer, Arezzo is just an hour’s train ride to Florence. The town was once a medieval commune and remains a tight-knit, proud community.
Stay in the charming city and discover its many old churches and piazzas as well as its Roman amphitheaters; you should try out the famous Arezzo cuisine too. Accommodation in the town ranges from modern hotels that are outside the ancient city to beautifully decorated mid-range traditional buildings closer to the city center – although everything in the town is in easy walking distance.
A haven on a hilltop, Montepulciano is famous for its wine production, especially the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The town is also famous for its historic architecture – no major construction has taken place inside of the town’s walls since 1580 meaning that it is one of the best preserved historic towns in Italy.
Stay in medieval buildings at one of the towns divinely decadent Tuscan hotels with views from rooms that look out over the surrounding countryside, across a patchwork of time-old vineyards and farmland. It’s easy to reach Montepulciano on the train and bus from major cities in the region.
The small town of Lido di Camaiore, which translates as ‘Beach of Camaiore’, is a stunning example of classic Tuscan landscape. The town has been enticing creative and fashionable italian visitors for years with its sandy beaches and sumptuous sunsets. Nowadays, the old town and seafront promenade is lined with restaurants and bars for a fun atmosphere.
With easy access by train, cities such as Pisa make easy day trips; you can opt to stay in one of the many boutique hotels in the art-deco buildings in the centre of Lido di Camaiore. The town also has many family-friendly coastal resort hotels for visitors to choose from.
Volterra’s oldest attractions date back to 4th century B.C: take a tour of the city’s grand old walls, well-preserved city gates, an Etruscan acropolis and the remains of ancient temples. The historical centre is full of Roman remains and, as you walk the old streets of Volterra, you can still feel an ancient atmosphere. Sample the local cuisine in the street-side eateries or stop off at the local Sunday market for fresh produce.
You can take the bus to other popular cities but Volterra itself is compact enough to walk around. Many of the hotels in the city centre can be found in ancient stone buildings, but you can also choose to stay a little further out of the city in large luxury villas with sweeping scenic views.
The tiny village of Pienza is set in the enchanting valley of Val d’Orcia, with beautiful landscapes and rolling hills. The village itself sits high on a hilltop and has fantastic views of the surrounding valley. Known as the “ideal city of the Renaissance”, the village was created by Pope Pius II in his attempt to turn his hometown into a utopian city. The result is a town made up of harmonious architecture that makes for the perfect place for your Tuscan getaway.
You can reach other towns in the region by catching the bus from Pienza. Enjoy the village’s depth of incredible food and tradition by staying in one of the many breathtakingly beautiful luxury hotels.
Situated 600 meters above sea level the charming city of Cortona has incredible panoramic views of the surrounding landscape as far as Lake Trasimeno. The town is so attractive that it became the setting for the popular book Under the Tuscan Sun. The popular book has attracted an increased number of visitors to wander the small, steep lanes. The town itself is protected by stone walls, inside a depth of ancient history seeps from every building and monument.
Although popular, Cortona isn’t easy to get to but there is a local bus that runs from Camucia station. Staying in the dreamy town will reveal hidden gems and treasures, there is a lot of budget accommodation on offer but further out of town in the countryside, but inside the town visitors have many elegant, mid-range hotels to choose from.
Famous for its Brunello di Montalcino wine, Montalcino is an enchanting hilltop town with breathtaking views which stretch out over the valleys of Tuscany, across the silver olive orchards, vineyards and farmland. You can reach Montalcino from Siena and it’s worth the journey. Inside magnificent Montalcino’s old walls, history unfolds in the well preserved medieval buildings and the rare pentangle fortresses.
Stay inside the walls of the timeless town in one of the medieval buildings, complete with luxury decorations and swimming pools, where you can spend your evenings sampling glasses of that famous Montalcino wine.
If you love the sea, and fashion, then this chic Tuscan town is for you. Known for its beaches, Forte dei Marmi is edged by the Apuan Alps and was once a holiday destination for Italy’s elite. This is the place to stay if you like Italian fashion labels and living a luxurious lifestyle on the Mediterranean. The town itself is named after the fort in the city center which dates back to the 18th century.
Spend your days discovering the ruins of the hill top fort, with its castle and panoramic views, or simply laying on the beautiful beaches and dining in the decadent restaurants and historic bars. Hotels in the area are high-end and attract Italy’s top earning football players and socialites.