Lucca Italy is one of the most stunning cities in Tuscany, if not all of Italy. What makes this such a unique destination is the thick medieval walls that surround this circular city. The city has a cozy and untouched feeling because it has been so well protected by these walls over the years.
This historic city is known as the city of a hundred churches due to its many churches. It is also known as the city of ceramics due to its many pottery shops.
Some tours that are available in Lucca include walking tours, food tasting and a glass blowing tour. But my favorite thing to do in Lucca is really just to wander and get lost, which is easy. Walking around this old-world town will make you feel like you have been transported back in time.
Here are my favorite things to do in Lucca Italy
1. Ride Bikes Around the Ancient City Walls
Rent Bikes and Ride Around the City Walls – One of the most unique and memorable activities in Lucca is riding a bike and exploring the ancient city walls. The walls have been, ingeniously, converted into a long circular city park with bike trails and playgrounds throughout. This is a must when visiting Lucca, so don’t skip this. And if you’re not up to bike riding, at least take a stroll along the walls.
If you’re not interested in renting bikes, you can always walk along the walls of Lucca. There are even playgrounds if you’re traveling to Lucca Italy with kids.
2. Walk Around Town to Take in its Charm
One of my favorite things about Lucca is just wandering around town, taking it all in. There are so many hidden gems that you might even miss if you don’t take your time to explore!
3. Visit one or more churches
As mentioned above, Lucca is the city of a hundred churches, so take time to explore the many chapels and cathedrals, big and small. I’ve listed several churches in Lucca below.
4. Take a Cooking Class
A great way to learn about the history of Lucca is through its cuisine. And what better way than taking a cooking class? You’ll experience firsthand how this Tuscan city’s food has been influenced by French, Arabic, and Spanish colonizers over time!
5. Explore the Piazza dell Anfiteatro
Other than Lucca’s iconic walls, this is the most famous site in Lucca. The square, which is actually elliptical in shape, was once a Roman amphitheater. Houses, shops and restaurants line this piazza and it’s the main gathering place in the city. Grab some gelato or pasta and enjoy an evening here. There are often performers and markets in this area as well.
6. Take a Ride on a Carousel
I was surprised to see so many carousels in Lucca! This was great, because I was traveling alone with 4 little kids and it was a fun and affordable way to get in some fun in between churches and towers.
7. Visit the Lucca Cathedral
Located in the Piazza San Martino in the heart of old town Lucca, this iconic Duomo is not to be missed. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings in Lucca. Construction began in the 11th century, making it one of the oldest buildings in Lucca. Be sure to go inside to view the amazing artwork.
8. San Michele in Foro
The Basilica di San Michele in Foro is another stunning church in Lucca. Work on this cathedral was begun in the 8th century. Be sure to check out the carvings of wild animals above the arches.
9. Orto Botanico Comunale di Lucca
You can find the beautiful Communal Botanical Gardens of Lucca in the southeast historic old town of Lucca. These expansive gardens cover a large section of the wall and include greenhouses, and herbarium, ponds, and an arboretum. It’s one of the most relaxing things to do in Lucca, especially if you happen to be there in the spring or summer.
10. Torre delle Ore
This 700-year-old tower stands above the city of Lucca as a watchtower and a clocktower as well. Climb the stairs to the top of Torre delle Ore and catch amazing 360-degree views of the city.
10. Acquedotto del Nottolini
One of my favorite works of architecture to see while in Italy is the magnificent aqueducts. This ancient feat of engineering is truly a wonder to behold. The Acquedotto del Nottolini is located just south of the old city and is worth the trip to see it. In addition to the aqueduct, the nature surrounding it is beautiful.
11. Guinigi Tower
Quite possibly the most iconic structure in Lucca, the Guinigi Tower is easily spotted from nearly anywhere in the city because of its 45-meter height and noticeable rooftop garden. The trees atop the Guinigi Tower are Holm Oak trees, symbolizing rebirth.
12. Piazza Napoleone
One special thing about Italy is all of the many Piazzas. It’s so lovely to have an open-air space to gather, play, and dine, especially in the middle of a city. Piazza Napoleone is a beautiful square surrounded by important buildings. Be sure to check out the statue of Maria Luisa.
13. Basilica of San Frediano
Yes, another church. But this one is worth a visit. Be sure to see the stunning mosaic depicting the ascension of Christ and the belltower.
14. Try all the Food
Lucca is full of amazing small osterias with great food. Some of our best places to eat in Lucca Italy are:
- Osteria Nova
- Osteria Da Pasquale
- Antica Macelleria
15. Eat Gelato all day long
Some of my favorite gelato in Italy is in Lucca. Here are our favorites:
La Bottega del Gelato
Cremeria Opera Naturali per Gusto
Gelaterium (check out the swings inside!)
Lucca, Italy is truly one of my favorite cities in Italy and it’s often overlooked by tourists passing from Florence to Pisa or Cinque Terre. If you’re in Tuscany, but sure to spend at least a day, if not more, in Lucca. You won’t regret it!