The Best Things to do in Tuscany, Italy

The 15 Best Things to do in Tuscany, Italy

A haven for foodies, a dream come true for history enthusiasts, and a utopia for nature lovers, Tuscany is an enchanting place that appeals to everyone. This charming region has captured the hearts of travelers for centuries and is one of those places you’ll want to return to again and again. 

It’s practically impossible to run out of fun things to do in Tuscany. From spending your days strolling down beautiful medieval streets to falling in love with the way the golden light brushes the verdant hills to savoring the notes of some of the best wines in the world to soaking your tired muscles in ancient natural springs, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Tuscany.

With so many fun things to see and do, you may find it tricky to know where to begin. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Tuscany. Add these activities and attractions to your Tuscany bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time exploring one of the most stunning parts of Italy!

The 15 Best Things to do in Tuscany, Italy

1. Climb to the Top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Unique Things to do in Tuscany: Leaning Tower of Pisa

Many people visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa while they’re in this part of the country, but few people know you can climb to the top. One of the coolest things to do in Tuscany, heading inside this iconic attraction and working your way up the narrow, winding staircase is an excellent way to see the local area from a whole new perspective.

There are 294 steps to conquer, and the climbing experience can feel a little unusual due to the tilting nature of the tower. But don’t let that put you off! When you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the city of Pisa. Look out for the informative signs around the perimeter – they explain what you can see from several different points at the peak.

The most prominent buildings include the Pisa Cathedral, Pisa Baptistery, and Monumental Cemetery. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to the Arno River and the surrounding Tuscan landscape! 


2. Visit the Vineyards

Fun Things to do in Tuscany: Chianti

Vineyards are one of the top Tuscany attractions. So make the most of where you are and try to visit as many as possible! There’s an almost never-ending number of vineyards in the Chianti region, which lies between Siena and Florence, some of which produce the finest wines in the world.

Chianti is famous for producing the wine of the same name. If you’ve never tried it before, it’s a deep red wine that tastes of red fruit, with slight oaky, herbal, and earthy undertones. Some young chianti wines are light and to most people’s taste, while other aged varieties are more complex and can be a more acquired taste. Visit one of the region’s amazing vineyards and you’ll have the chance to try them all. 

This incredible half-day tour includes a visit to two wineries in Chianti, where you’ll have the chance to meet local winemakers, stroll through stunning vineyards, and sample some of their best wines. You’ll also get to nibble on local cheese, bread, olive oil, and cured meats.


3. Shop Along the Ponte Vecchio

Fun Things to do in Tuscany: Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio that crosses the Arno River in Florence is definitely one of the best sights in Tuscany. As you’d imagine, you can’t really see the bridge when you’re walking over it. So stand far back from the bridge first so you can snap a picture of it. On a clear day, you can sometimes get a fantastic reflection of the structure in the river.

When you’ve got your perfect shot, head closer and walk over the bridge. Centuries ago, the Ponte Vecchio was used as a passageway for the Medici family, who ran Florence during the Renaissance. They used it to travel between their home and their offices in the Uffizi. Today, the bridge isn’t quite as regal, but it’s just as interesting.

Tuscany Bucket List: Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio is now a popular shopping spot, with stalls and stores selling everything you could imagine. From traditional souvenirs, local wine, and hand-painted artwork to gold jewelry, delicate ceramics, and vintage antiques, there’s loads to browse through here.


4. See the Countryside on a Vespa

Best Things to do in Tuscany: Vespa

Renting a Vespa and seeing where the open road takes you is one of the must-do things in Tuscany! Riding over cobblestone roads, past ancient medieval buildings, and around fountains that have been flowing with water for centuries feels like a dream. Driving through the middle of the cities can be a little hectic. If that sounds like too much for you, you’ll have a much better time in the countryside.

Here you won’t have to share the road with pedestrians and other drivers. Instead, you’ll be treated to wide-open spaces where you’re surrounded by undulating hills, reclining vineyards, and tiny hamlets full of quaint stone houses.

If you’re feeling confident, you can easily rent a Vespa yourself and plan your own route. But if you’d rather someone else was in charge, you can sign up for a guided tour instead. This fun trip includes riding through the Tuscan countryside, followed by a decadent lunch at a local farm, along with delicious Chianti wine.


5. Sample Crostini Toscani

Must do things in Tuscany: Crostini Toscani

When you need a break from all the hectic Tuscany sightseeing, stop by a local cafe, bar, or restaurant and order some crostini Toscani. This simple dish is so popular throughout the region that you’ll find it available almost everywhere you look. It will usually be on the appetizer menu, but it’s perfectly okay to order it as a snack, too.

Crostini Toscani is a thin piece of bread that’s toasted until it’s golden and crunchy. It’s then generously smothered with chicken liver pate. The contrast between the crunchy toast and the smooth pate is incredibly addictive. But because the pate is so rich, you’ll struggle to eat more than a couple.

This classic Tuscan dish was made famous by Catherine de’ Medici. She was an Italian noblewoman who became the Queen of France in the 16th century and brought some of her favorite Italian dishes with her to the country. 

Cibrèo in Florence serves up some of the most incredible crostini Toscani in all of Italy. This upscale trattoria uses house-made bread for the toast and tops it with the creamiest pate you’ve ever had in your life! 


6. Forage for Truffles

Tuscany Things to do: Truffles

Looking for unique things to do in Tuscany? How about foraging for truffles? Tuscany is known around the world for its top-quality truffles (the fungus kind – not the chocolate kind). While it’s great fun to dig into a bowl of freshly-made pasta tossed with truffle oil and truffle shavings, it’s even better to hunt out the prestigious ingredient yourself.

San Miniato is the best place to go foraging for truffles. This famous town, nestled between Pisa and Florence, boasts a beautiful location on the top of three small hills, with fantastic views of the Arno Valley. You can find truffles throughout Tuscany all year round, but they’re at their most abundant during winter. 

What to do in Tuscany: Truffles

On this guided tour, you’ll be led by an expert truffle hunter and his trained sniffer dogs, which know exactly where the best truffles are. You’ll learn how to find top-quality truffles and how to tell the difference between various species. After a tiring morning, you’ll head to a local restaurant, where you’ll be treated to a lavish Tuscan lunch and plenty of local wine. 


7. Witness the Scoppio del Carro

The Scoppio del Carro is one of the most exciting Tuscany activities to witness. This annual event takes place each year on the morning of Easter Sunday in Florence and translates into English as “Explosion of the Cart” – and that’s exactly what it is!

Years ago, the festival began with a simple cart pulled by white oxen that was accompanied by lively music and people dressed in colorful costumes. Today it’s a much more extravagant affair. The multi-story cart is incredibly tall and lavishly decorated. It’s still pulled by white oxen, but even they’re dressed up with fancy robes and wildflower headdresses. 

After the oxen are moved safely out of the way, a mechanical white dove holding a lit torch zooms along a wire that stretches from the cathedral’s altar directly to the cart. If the dove successfully lights the cart (which it usually does), it’s a sign that the new harvest will be plentiful. 

The festival is incredibly loud, colorful, and vibrant. It’s much more exciting and upbeat than many other religious events that take place at this time of year.


8. Visit the Uffizi Gallery

Best Things to do in Tuscany: Uffizi Gallery

Whether you’re an art expert or you’ve never set foot inside an art museum, spending a couple of hours at the Uffizi Gallery is one of the top things to do in Tuscany. Also known as the Pitti Palace, this ostentatious building was once the official residence of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Today it’s the biggest art gallery in Florence and one of the city’s top tourist attractions.

The Uffizi Gallery guards an astonishing collection of Italian Renaissance artwork, including sculptures and paintings created by some of the most prominent Italian artists from that time. Take a look around, and you’ll spot loads of famous creations, including Da Vinci’s Annunciation, Giotto’s Madonna Enthroned, and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. No matter how narrow or broad your art knowledge is, you’re bound to spot a few paintings here that you recognize. 

Even the building the museum is housed in is a work of art. It was designed by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century and boasts a highly-decorated façade adorned with elegant arches, towering columns, and intricate statues. 


9. Soak in the Saturnia Hot Springs

Tuscany Bucket List: Saturnia Hot Springs

Need a break from all the amazing things to do in Tuscany? Then head to the Saturnia Hot Springs for a relaxing al fresco spa experience. These natural wonders are hidden away in Maremma in the south of Italy and are completely free to visit.

If you’ve ever been to Pamukkale in Turkey, Tuscany’s Saturnia Hot Springs will look very similar. Known locally as Cascate del Mulino, these pools are heated by the geothermal activity from a nearby volcano and have a blissfully warm constant temperature of 99°F (37°C).

This popular spot can get really crowded during the peak season, so it’s best to visit early in the morning or around sunset for a peaceful experience. If you’re traveling during the quiet season, you should be able to visit at any time of day and be able to avoid crowds. They’re open 24/7, 7 days a week, so it’s entirely up to you when you go.

Keep in mind that there’s no natural shade and the bottom of the pools are rough. You can take water shoes to protect your feet and an old T-shirt or shawl to protect your body from the sun.


10. Eat Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Tuscany Things to do: Bistecca alla Fiorentina

If you’ve worked up a hearty appetite from a day of exploring, one of the top things to do in Tuscany is to head to a local restaurant and order bistecca alla Fiorentina. This immensely popular dish translates into English as “Florence-style steak,” but it’s much more complex and drool-worthy than it sounds.

What makes this dish so special is that it’s made using a high-quality T-bone cut from a Chianina cow, which is a local breed of cattle. This type of cow has a distinct flavor and texture, which you don’t get with any other breed. It tastes so amazing that the final steak requires hardly any seasoning.

What to do in Tuscany: Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Bistecca alla Fiorentina is most often flavored with a simple combination of sage and rosemary before it’s seared and presented to the table. The portion is absolutely huge and it’s most commonly served rare – but feel free to ask to have it done however you prefer. 

The Michelin-starred Il Latini in Florence is one of the most incredible places to try this dish in all of Tuscany. This fine dining restaurant has an old-school trattoria vibe and serves a sensational bistecca alla Fiorentina! 


11. Spend a Day at the Beach

Fun Things to do in Tuscany: Beach

Picture Tuscany in your mind, and it’s unlikely you think of golden sandy shores gently lapped by aquamarine waters. But head to the coast and that’s exactly what you’ll find. The region boasts a huge number of glorious beaches, as well as a handful of islands that also have gorgeous bays. 

Marina di Pietrasanta is one of the most popular beaches. Here you’ll find all the facilities you need for a great day out – from sun loungers and umbrellas to changing rooms and bathrooms. This stunning beach also features a jetty that stretches out for 656 feet (200 meters) into the sea so you can feel like you’re walking on the waves.

If you’d rather explore a little further afield, spend the day on Elba. This peaceful island is home to a huge coastline that offers everything from sprawling, family-friendly beaches to remote, more intimate bays. The water around this island is wonderfully clear, making it an excellent place for snorkeling and scuba diving, too. 


12. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

Cool Things to do in Tuscany: Hot Air Balloon

When it comes to romantic things to do in Tuscany, it’s tough to beat a hot air balloon ride. With its rolling green hills, vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see, and enchanting medieval towns, Tuscany is one of the most beautiful regions in Europe. And the chance to see this place from a lofty position in the sky is too good to pass up. 

On this hot air balloon experience, you’ll rise up 2,000 feet (610 meters) into the air and gently float wherever the breeze takes you. From deep valleys and ancient castles to tree-dotted fields and towering cathedrals – you’ll see absolutely loads during your adventure.

What makes a hot air balloon ride special is that it’s totally unique. As the wind determines the direction you’ll take, no two rides are ever the same. While you’re enjoying the view, you’ll be treated to a glass of champagne to make the experience even more magical. 


13. See the Festa della Rificolona

Best Things to do in Tuscany: Festa della Rificolona

The annual Festa della Rificolona (Paper Lanterns Festival) in Florence is definitely one of the best things to see in Tuscany. This bright and colorful festival is celebrated on the night of September 8th in honor of the day the Virgin Mary was born.

Years ago, solemn services and processions were held in the Santissimi Annunziata, which is the basilica in Florence dedicated to her worship. Over the years, the religious aspect of the festival dwindled, and it transformed into the fun and vibrant Paper Lanterns Festival that’s celebrated today.

September 8th is when thousands of visitors and locals parade throughout the streets carrying all sorts of paper lanterns. The typical Chinese-style lanterns are the most common, but some people go all out and make their own creative lanterns, too! 

If you’re in town early, it’s worth stopping by the Piazza Santissima Annunziata. On September 6th and 7th, this square comes to life with a huge farmers’ market where you can pick up all kinds of local goodies. This is actually one of the most traditional parts of the festival that dates back centuries when farmers from all over the country would make a pilgrimage to the basilica and sell their goods while they were in Florence.


14. Admire the View from Piazzale Michelangelo

Tuscany Things to do: View from Piazzale Michelangelo

Tuscany is absolutely brimming with gorgeous piazzas. While you’re in Florence, it’s absolutely worth checking out the Piazzale Michelangelo. This is where you’ll find one of the most spectacular views of the city.

From here, you can spot Florence’s historic center, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, the Arno River, and Giotto’s Campanile. If you’ve got excellent vision, you should even be able to see the bronze replica of Michelangelo’s David! Behind the medieval city and all the wonders it holds, you can see the surrounding hills of the Tuscan countryside, which provide a stunning backdrop.

While the view from up here is phenomenal at any time of day, it’s even better just before sunset. If you’re traveling during peak season, huge crowds descend on the piazza around this time. So if you want to snap a gorgeous photo that’s free of strangers, make sure you get there early and grab a good spot. 


15. Try Tagliatelle al Tartufo

Cool Things to do in Tuscany: Tagliatelle Al Tartufo

The food is so incredible in Tuscany that you’ll spend most of your time eating or thinking about what you’re going to eat next! While there are countless superb pasta dishes to try, tagliatelle al tartufo is one you really can’t miss.

This quintessential Italian dish is made up of long ribbons of delicate tagliatelle pasta that have been delicately swirled with rich melted butter, tossed with aromatic minced garlic, and generously sprinkled with decadent truffle shavings and Parmigiano cheese. The flavor combination is almost too heavenly to accurately describe.

The powerful garlic flavor cuts through the richness of the butter, while the creaminess of the Parmigiano cheese is contrasted by the earthy flavor of truffles. After your first bite, you’ll never want your bowl to end.

Locanda del Tartufaio in Siena does an amazing version of this classic dish. If you get a taste for truffles, then you’re in luck. Practically every item on the menu incorporates this luxury ingredient! 

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Tuscany. What’s your favorite thing to do in Tuscany? 


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Author

  • Nicola Quinn

    Nicola is a freelance writer with an insatiable hunger for travel. She swapped her home in the UK for the sunny Canary Islands when she was just 11 and she has been based there ever since.

    From crawling on her hands and knees inside pyramids in Egypt to swimming with baby sharks in Bali and searching (fruitlessly!) for the Northern Lights in Iceland, Nicola takes every chance she gets to explore new places.

    The incredible experiences she has around the world fuels her writing and inspires her to plan even more adventures for the future.

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