So you are orientating yourself on a tour of Tuscany? You're right. Tuscany is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy with some world famous art treasures. Do you want to know what not to miss or what the DitIsItalie editors' ultimate tips for Tuscany are? Read the extensive article about traveling through Tuscany on this page. Do you have any questions afterwards? Feel free to ask them on the Italy Forum or send us an email. We are happy to help Tuscany lovers on their way!
Table of contents
- About Tuscany
- Tips for your Tuscany tour
- Tuscany Attractions
- The most beautiful places in Tuscany
- Tuscany: the journey there
- Parking and ZTL
- Tour Tuscany with children
- Accommodations for your tour of Tuscany
- Tuscany: weather and best time to visit
- Group Tours Tuscany
- Tuscany Car Tours
- Blogs about Tuscany
Tuscany is a large region with an area of 22.987 km². That is roughly half of the Netherlands. This makes Tuscany the fifth region of Italy. To the north, Tuscany borders the regions of Liguria and Emilia-Romagna, to the east to Umbria, to the south to Lazio (Latium) and to the west on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Off the coast of Tuscany lies the Tuscan Archipelago with 7 islands, of which Elba the largest and best known. The other islands are Gorgona, Pianosa, Giannutri, Giglio, Montecristo and Capraia.
Livorno and Pisa are the provinces on the coast of Tuscany. where you will find sandy beaches at Viareggio as well as rocky and pebble beaches. From the coast at Livorno it is only a short ferry ride to Elba. You can take ferries to the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago from here and from other places on the coast.
The northern part of Tuscany consists of the provinces of Massa-Carrara, Lucca, Pistoia and Prato. Here you will find forest areas and green hills with cypress trees. You will also find a number of beautiful art cities here. Be sure to visit Lucca and Pistoia. Lucca is completely walled and has a great square built on a former amphitheater. Pistoia is just as beautiful as Florence, but in miniature.
The east of Tuscany is formed by the provinces of Florence and Arezzo. This includes the Chianti region, which is famous for its wines and olive oil. The hilly landscape is colorful with endless vineyards and olive groves, interspersed with castles, monasteries and farms. Wine tasting is possible here everywhere!
The south of Tuscany is the most popular among the Tuscans themselves. Here you will find beautiful rolling hills such as the Val d'Orcia!, the most beautiful thermal baths pristine coast. The main province in the south is Siena, where history, art and culture come together.
Tips for your Tuscany tour
Some of the best tips for your first tour of Tuscany also apply to you first time in Italy. For your convenience, we list the most important tips here:
Don't plan too much in one day
Of course you want to see a lot, but you should enjoy it during your tour through Tuscany the sweet life You can easily plan your trip through Tuscany too full. Keep in mind that the distances are long and that you can't use the highway everywhere. And you don't want to just sit in the car either.
Walk down a side street
Of course you have to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But the real Italy can often be found just around the corner. So just walk into that side street and you'll see what the rest of the tourists don't see.
Don't flop down on the first terrace
There is a good chance that you will end up in a tourist trap. Not a problem of course if you want to pay extra for less quality because you are in that super popular place, but otherwise it is better to walk into that side street. The food is tastier and the service better. avoid it menu tourist.
Be flexible and immerse yourself
Join the local customs. Immerse yourself in the culture and leave the travel guide for what it is. The Tuscans don't eat until about eight in the evening. For that they refresh themselves on a appetizer. And of course no cappuccino after XNUMX in the morning.
If you haven't been to Tuscany before, you probably have some things you want to cross off your bucket list. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, just to name a few. Florence, probably. Perhaps also Lucca and Siena, all equally beautiful. We have listed the most important sights for you below.
The capital of the Tuscany region and well worth a visit. Just because of the huge Duomo with its 500 steps to the top of the dome, the Piazza della Signoria, the Ponte Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti. But there is much more to see and do in Florence. You need at least 3 days to fully discover the city.
How could it be different? If you go to Tuscany, you will want to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Duomo and the Baptistery in Piazza dei Miracoli (the Square of Miracles). But the city center of Pisa on the other side of the Arno is also worth a visit.
A cosy, intimate city with perhaps the most beautiful square in all of Italy. That's Sienna. If you happen to be there at the right time of year, you can experience the Palio here.
Welcome to the Manhattan of the Middle Ages. Once the towers in Gimignano were almost innumerable, now 14 of them remain. But that too is impressive. You can even visit the Torre Grande, from where you have a magnificent view over the city.
Volterra is a beautiful historic town built on a hill. Here you can stroll around and enjoy the views over the Tuscan landscape.
Walled Monteriggioni with its towers is one of those beautiful medieval towns where time seems to have stood still. During one of our visits we found a wedding at the small church on the main square. But even without a wedding it is a lot of fun here.
A traditional funicular takes you up from the low-lying part of Montecatini, Montecatini Terme, known for its thermal baths. On top of the mountain you will find a village that comes straight out of a travel guide. Sip a languid espresso on a sun-drenched terrace and enjoy the great Tuscan atmosphere.
Pitigliano is located on a mountain of tuff. It is a truly fascinating town with its narrow streets and beautiful views over the three ravines at the foot of the mountain. The history of Pitigliano goes back to the Etruscan-Roman era.
The most beautiful places in Tuscany
The above Tuscany tips are only a small part of all the beautiful things you can discover in Tuscany. If you like everything and have no idea where to start, we would also like to refer you to the preparatory work we have done for you. In In this blog article you will find the most beautiful places in Tuscany.
Tuscany: the journey there
How do you get to Tuscany? Some prefer the speed of the plane. Others prefer the convenience and advantage of their own car. Below we discuss the various advantages and disadvantages if you want to make a tour through Tuscany.
To Tuscany with your own car
Driving to Tuscany yourself? You can do that with your own car. We've done it ourselves several times. Count on a ride of about 1.350 kilometers (from Utrecht to Florence in Tuscany). While theoretically that can be done in one day, it is more realistic to do it in two days. Especially if you are traveling with small children.
The advantage of traveling to Tuscany with your own car is of course that you save a lot on airline tickets and the costs of a rental car. Yes, of course you have to pay for the fuel for the trip to Italy, but if your car is not too energy-efficient, you should be able to do it at a fraction of the cost of a fly&drive to Tuscany.
Another advantage of having your own car is that you are completely used to it. This can come in handy in the chaotic Italian traffic or in the narrow streets of medieval villages.
How do you get there?
By car you can choose several routes to drive to Tuscany. Count on a net travel time of about 13,5 hours if you depart from Utrecht. Although that time can of course vary depending on traffic.
What you should avoid are the black Saturdays in the summer period (July-August). If you have the opportunity, leave the Netherlands or Belgium (very) early.
The shortest route to Florence is the Switzerland route: Cologne, Frankfurt, Karlruhe, Basel, Lucerne, Gotthard, Bellinzone, Chiasso/Como and then via Milan and Bologna to Florence. If you have to be in the western part of Tuscany, you can also cross over to the coast after Milan and drive into Tuscany.
Tip: make sure to get to the Gotthard tunnel early. It may be best to plan an overnight stay in Switzerland and head out early the next day. In high season, the waiting time for the tunnel can be considerable.
An alternative is to drive via Austria. In that case, follow this route: Cologne, Frankfurt, Würzburg, Nuremberg, Munich, Innsbruck, Brenner Pass, Chiusa, Bolzano, Verona, Mantua, Bologna. Of course, the Austria route is a lot further and longer.
Are you traveling from Belgium? Then you can also choose to travel via France, via Luxembourg, France and Switzerland or via Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland. The route via France has the advantage that you do not have to pay a toll for Switzerland. Of course it is a bit longer to drive to Tuscany.
What about the toll?
You need a motorway vignette for both Austria and Switzerland. For Switzerland you pay € 35 for a whole year of access to all highways. For Austria you usually choose 2x a 10-day vignette (round trip). That will cost you twice € 9. You can also purchase a vignette for 2 months or a year, but it is relatively expensive.
For the Brenner Pass you have to pay an extra amount in addition to a vignette. The costs for the toll of the Brenner Pass in 2018 are € 9,50 for a single journey. There is no additional toll for the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland.
In Italy you also have to pay tolls to drive on the highways. Usually you take a ticket at a toll booth before entering the highway. When you go off again, you pay based on the ticket you previously took from the machine. If you go to Florence, you pay about € 40 in tolls for a single journey from the border with Switzerland or Austria. So again on the way back.
To avoid these extra costs you can choose to drive via the national and provincial roads, but then you have to take into account that you will be on the road much longer.
Tip: make sure you have a credit card instead of cash to hand, then you can drive past the toll booths much more smoothly.
On the website of the ANWB you will find the current toll rates for the specific routes.
Fly and rent a car
If you don't feel like a long drive to Tuscany, you can of course also board a plane in the Netherlands or Belgium. Within two hours you will land on the Pisa airport. You can easily and cheaply rent one there rental car to start your tour of Tuscany.
Transavia, KLM and Alitalia, among others, fly directly to Pisa. With Ryanair you can fly from Weeze Airport, just over the border at Nijmegen.
An alternative is to fly into Florence airport, although you usually pay a bit more for plane tickets to Florence. You can also easily rent a car from Florence and start your trip through Tuscany.
The so-called fly&drive to Tuscany is very popular, but less suitable if you are going to Tuscany with several children. Then the costs quickly add up.
Tour Tuscany train
Although Tuscany is by far the best option by (rental) car, you can also find your way by train. In general it is fairly easy to travel through Tuscany by train if you only visit the bigger cities.
The connections between Florence and all other cities are good. There are local trains that also serve the smaller cities and fast intercity trains between the major cities. If you combine the train with the bus, you can get practically everywhere. Of course you have to be a bit more flexible than usual in Italy and you have to have time on your side.
Trains through Tuscany can save you a lot of stress. You don't have to drive into busy cities or look for parking spaces. And you almost always arrive in the middle of the city. A disadvantage is that you cannot directly visit the cute medieval villages in the countryside by train.
Tuscany has four main railway lines. The fastest is the Milan-Florence-Arezzo-Orvieto-Rome connection. Another connection is the one that runs along the coast between Genoa, Pisa, Livorno and Rome. The third and fourth main line connect the first two. The Florence-Viareggio route stops in Prato, Pistoia, Montecatini Terme and Lucca. The Florence-Pisa line stops in Empoli and Pontedera.
Do you want to travel between Florence and Siena? Then it is best to opt for the bus.
Parking and ZTL
Pay close attention if you are touring Tuscany with your own car or a rental car. You can't just park or drive in anywhere. You won't have any problems with the smaller places. There you can usually park for free outside the historic center in a large parking lot. Many medieval villages are car-free.
Larger places offer the option of parking on the outskirts of the city or in a parking garage. If you park on the street, it is good to know that you have to pay in the boxes with blue lines. The white-lined boxes are usually free, although it's a good idea to always check this carefully.
In larger cities such as Pisa, Florence and Siena you often come across a Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL). This is a special car-free zone in which only tourists are admitted who, for example, have to come to their hotel. Furthermore, only residents and suppliers are allowed in. Pay attention to the ZTL signs, because the fines for violations are not tender and also know how to reach the Netherlands and Belgium.
Tour Tuscany with children
Are you going to Tuscany with children? Good idea! The kids will have a great time. But when you travel with children, you always have to adapt a bit. We have some specific tips for you for that.
Don't do it with children
What you should not do with children is fill your holiday too full. Leave a little space in the program to take a look at something quietly or to deviate from the route for a while.
Doing things with children
Also plan some rest days. Take children to the zoo or an amusement park during your tour. Is it very hot? Then look for the sea or a swimming pool.
For children it can also be nice to stay somewhere a little longer than just one night. For example, because there are other children with whom they can play. Tip: do a farmhouse.
Accommodations for your tour of Tuscany
Where do you stay when you travel through Tuscany? Of course you have different options, depending on your wishes and the budget you have. If you book a trip it will of course be arranged for you, but if you arrange everything yourself you have to make a choice.
You can roughly choose from:
Are you going for a luxury tour that may cost a little more? Then you might opt for hotels to stay overnight. Hotels are often in central places and you can search them well in advance based on the reviews of other guests. Do you want something really special? Then take a look at the 10 most luxurious hotels in Italy.
If you go for camping, you are bound to the camping season. Although this now also has an early and late season in Italy. Are you traveling outside the main season? Then you have to take into account that facilities such as the restaurant, the camping shop and the swimming pool are often closed. In the high season, campsites in Tuscany can be quite expensive.
If you choose a camping site, you can also choose between a rental tent, a mobile home or other accommodation or your own tent. Bringing your own tent is of course the cheapest, but if you visit many different campsites you should be able to set it up and take it down easily.
Having an farmhouse is a real Italian phenomenon. It's like 'staying with the farmer', but often in a luxurious and relaxed way. Often several apartments have been made in an old farm. You can also regularly enjoy a swimming pool at an agriturismo. Fun for the kids: usually there are other families too.
Holiday homes via Airbnb, for example
A fourth option for your tour of Tuscany is to book holiday homes on your route. You can do some research for this at home in the Netherlands or Belgium. An apartment through Airbnb can also be useful. With this you rent a house or a room from locals at an often attractive rate. We have regularly opted for such an Airbnb for one or two nights.
Of course you can also choose a combination of the above options for your tour.
As you can deduce from the above options, it is useful if you have mapped out a route in advance, so that you can already reserve the accommodations.
Tuscany: weather and best time to visit
The climate of Tuscany is pleasant throughout the year. You can expect very mild winters and very warm summers. On the coast, the weather can be different than inland, just like on the Dutch and Flemish coast. The Tyrrhenian Sea has a significant influence on the climate.
In winter, the average temperature in Tuscany is about 12 degrees. In the spring and autumn you can count on temperatures around 20 degrees. In summer the average temperature fluctuates around 28 degrees. Of course there are always outliers up and down possible. The most rain falls in the mountain areas of the region, which also have the greatest temperature differences.
The best travel time for Tuscany is May or June, when everything is still green and in bloom and the large tourist crowds at the sights have yet to get underway. But the late season in September or October is also worthwhile. Temperatures are then pleasant, which makes a round trip a lot more pleasant.
Group Tours Tuscany
Would you rather go to Tuscany in a group? There are plenty of group tours you can book, both for seniors and families. Below we list some of the most popular trips.
ACSI camping trip Tuscany & Lago di Bracciano
The varied hilly and mountainous landscape of Tuscany has a unique character and that fits perfectly with the Italian art cities in this region. That makes the stay a feast for the eyes and a treat for the tongue, because Italian cuisine is of course renowned. The second half of this trip you will camp a little further south on Lago di Bracciano. From here you can visit well-known and lesser-known pearls in the area: Civita di Bagnoregio, Orvieto and of course the Eternal City of Rome.
Please note that tour prices can fluctuate depending on when you book.
Tuscany Car Tours
You can plan your own tour of Tuscany all by yourself, but you can also leave it to a tour company. Below we have listed a number of tours through Tuscany for you.
Pharos Travel Tuscany Tour
This round trip of Pharos Reizen consists of 4 overnight stays at different strategic places in Tuscany. The journey starts in the Tuscan hills near the fortified town of Lucca. You will stay in hotel Locanda il Fornello, between the vineyards. The next step is Hotel Le Colline near San Gimignano, right next to the historic center with the towers. Then you will arrive at Villa Ambra with pool and terrace in Sarteano, between excellent vineyards and picturesque towns. As your final overnight stop, head to the beautifully renovated 19th-century city palace La Fortezza in Florence. There you are about a 20-minute walk from the Dom.
Please note that tour prices can fluctuate depending on when you book.
Blogs about Tuscany
We have written quite a few blogs about the popular region of Tuscany in the past. Below you will find a selection of a number of blogs with which you can already have some fun.