Tuscany is unforgettable! With so many quintessentially Italian landscapes and activities, it’s somewhere you shouldn’t miss. I’m sharing 25 of our favorite things to do in Tuscany.
The idea of visiting Tuscany probably brings to mind rolling hills, sleepy small towns, and an authentic Italian experience. But the region in central Italy is also famous for its stunning medieval towns and for being the birthplace of the Renaissance.
There’s a diverse terrain for outdoor activities, with beaches, mountains, and Tuscany’s famous vineyards and orchards in between. You’ll find great tours you can book, or you can plan your own itinerary and rent a car.
Climb the leaning tower of Pisa, see Renaissance art up close, or enjoy a vineyard-side wine tasting. There are countless experiences to be had in Tuscany, Italy, and it wasn’t easy to narrow done my top picks! Read about some of the most popular and unique things to do in Tuscany.
25 Top Things to do in Tuscany
The Italian region of Tuscany offers a variety of opportunities in the area of art, culture, food, and outdoor activities. Whether you want the traditional tourist experience or want to immerse yourself in true Tuscan culture, you’ll find the chance here! Keep reading for a variety of different things to do in Tuscany.
1. Stay in a Castle or Agriturismo
Ancient castles are scattered across the region of Tuscany, shooting up from medieval towns and lush vineyards. Part of Italy’s fascinating and long history, these impressive structures are today used to house museums, wineries, and even hotels!
It’s a treat to visit Tuscany’s beautiful castles, most of which have been very well preserved and hardly changed since the Middle Ages! Imagine booking a stay at the Castello Banfi, today a stunning luxury hotel. Or you can tour the inside of Castello di Verrazzano in Chianti, which functions today as a vineyard. Tour the wine cellar, enjoy delicious food on the patio, or taste Tuscany’s famous Chianti wine.
If staying in a castle isn’t your thing, check out a stay in one of Tuscany’s incredible Agriturismo properties.
2. Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Some of the best things to do in Tuscany include seeing the 8 breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the region. These are places of interest that have shaped the world and must be preserved and seen! They include the city centers of San Gimignano, Pienza, Siena, and Florence, Tuscany’s capital city.
You could easily plan a full day in each city, with historic cathedrals, towers, museums, statues, and more. All of these historic centers are unique, so don’t think you can see one and see them all! Pisa’s Piazza dei Miracoli is a must-see with 13-century white marble structures towering over orange-tile buildings. Or tour the gorgeous Renaissance-era Medici Villas.
Many offer tours for free and include museums and lovely gardens. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Orcia Valley, or Val d’Orcia, which is home to Tuscany’s finest orchards, vineyards, and Tuscan villages. And in 2021, an 8th site was added when Tuscany’s Montecatini Terme was added to UNESCO’s list of the Great Spa Towns of Europe.
You can even stop and stay for a few days in a Tuscan Agroturismo where you can live like a local, sample wine, harvest grapes and olives, and more. Check out our list of recommended Agriturismo properties recommended by real people.
3. Visit The Leonardo da Vinci Museum
Go to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in the town of Anchiano, near the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci! There are a few Leonardo da Vinci museums in Italy, but I think this one is the best! It’s in a cool old building and is full of models made from his drawings and inventions.
And make sure to climb the ancient bell tower for excellent views of the town! Just keep in mind that it’s not as kid-centric as other da Vinci museums and is only in Italian.
4. Check out The Tarot Garden
One of the most unusual things to do in Tuscany Italy is visit the Tarot Garden. Immerse yourself in the magical world of artist Niki de Saint Phalle. The garden is a large park outside the village of Capalbio that houses fantastical art installations she took almost 20 years to create.
She used iridescent mosaic tiles, shards of glass, found metal, and even old ruins for her massive structures. Among tourist attractions, this one is a hidden gem worth a short visit. Bring a camera, some good walking shoes, and an open mind! Note that the Tarot Garden is now a seasonal park open for visitors from the beginning of April through mid-October.
5. Take a Food Tour with a Local
If you want to truly appreciate Tuscan culture, take a food tour with a local! One of the most fun things to do in Tuscany, you can find private and small group guided tours in major towns and the countryside for different experiences. Head to Florence for a small group walking tour and try all the classics. Visit the San Lorenzo Central Market, a coffee bar, an enoteca, a gelato shop, and more!
Or take a guided tour of Val d’Orcia with transportation. Enjoy a scenic drive through the countryside and try local cheese and wine pairings.
If you want to take a private tour of Tuscany with a history and cultural expert that includes good food and good conversation, this is an amazing private tour of Tuscany.
6. Cooking Class with a Local
If you prefer to get hands-on experience, go with a Tuscan cooking class in a Tuscan farmhouse! From Florence, this small group tour takes you to the San Lorenzo Central Market to pick up all your ingredients. Then, you’ll head to a genuine farmhouse for your full-day cooking class.
You’ll learn how to make homemade pasta, bruschetta, a Tuscan pork roast, Italian coffee, and tiramisu! Then you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor by enjoying a dinner of everything you just made with a carefully chosen Tuscan wine pairing.
7. Go Truffle Hunting
Truffle hunting season in Tuscany happens all year round with different kinds of truffles found during different seasons. Most people come in the fall when you can find coveted white truffles in the hills around Pisa and Pienza.
The catch to truffle hunting in Tuscany is that trade secrets and how to do it are kept a mystery! I suggest booking a private truffle hunt guide for a fun experience. You’ll meet your guide and their truffle hunting dog in San Gimignano for a lesson before you head to the oak forests nearby.
After a few hours on the hunt, you’ll head to a local winery for a relaxing dinner. Enjoy truffle lasagna as one of your courses while you choose between different wines and olive oils to best complement the truffles!
8. Wine Tasting in Chianti
There are a few different Tuscan wines that the region is famous for, but Chianti is something special. Inside Tuscany, it comes from the wine region of Chianti near Florence. Chianti wine is a beloved dry red wine that goes beautifully with Tuscan cuisine.
You’ll find vineyards available for wine tastings across the Chianti region. If you’re more comfortable with a guided tour with wine tastings, this tour is a quality choice. Meet your trusted guide in Greve, who will take you to a few of the best local wineries. You’ll tour wine cellars and taste flights of genuine Chianti wine, as well as other products of the vineyards.
If you’re coming from Florence, this organic wine and food tour through Chianti is the perfect way to spend a day if you’re interested in green living and organic farming.
9. Taste Fresh Olive Oil
Olives are harvested from the olive groves of Tuscany from September through November, and it’s a huge task! Then, the work begins to process the olives. You could always offer to assist with the harvest if you’re driving through the countryside and see a small farm in need of a hand!
It’s so cool to see how the olives are pressed, and there’s nothing like tasting freshly pressed olive oil. If you’re not so brave, you could book an olive oil tasting, or attend a Tuscan olive oil festival!
December 8 through 11 is the Olive Oil Festival in San Quirico d’Orcia in Orcia Valley. Besides free olive oil tastings, olive oil treks, and talks on olive oil, you can enjoy live music, wine tastings, and cultural experiences. Keep in mind that, while free, some events require reservations. You can book an amazing olive oil tasting tour in Tuscany and visit a cheese farm!
10. Look for Sunflowers
Pictures of fields of sunflowers are the perfect way to top off an iconic summer in the Tuscan countryside. You can find them in farming regions outside of most major cities from central Tuscany all the way to the coast, but it might take a bit of searching.
Hunting for sunflowers is one of the loveliest things to do in the Tuscany countryside. Take panoramic pictures, and always leave things as you found them. The flowers are planted in different fields every year as part of farmers’ crop rotations. But don’t worry!
They’re everywhere. The best time to look is July through mid-August. My suggestion is to head down the Autostrada between Florence and Pisa. Or look along the roads to the coast from either Volterra or Colle Val d’Elsa.
11. Grape Harvesting in the Fall
If harvesting grapes in Italy is on your Tuscany bucket list, you can participate! Often, vineyards readily accept any available help and will let you know when you arrive if it’s harvest season for them. The timing of the grape harvest in Tuscany Italy largely depends on where you are.
Come mid-August through mid-September for the harvest closer to the coast, in Livorno, Lucca, and Massa Carrara. September and October are when Sangiovese grapes for the famous Brunello and Chianti wines are harvested in the region of Chianti.
There are other variables for showing up at exactly the right time. Your best bet is to keep an eye on Movimento Turistico del Vino‘s website. The non-profit keeps a running list of the best vineyards and their harvest offerings for tourists. Some wineries require reservations, and they include fun things like a full picnic lunch or a wine tasting.
12. Attend Carnevale in the Spring
Across the world, spring is Carnival season. But Carnevale in Viareggio is a whole experience in itself, and it’s one of the most unique things to do in Tuscany Italy! Carnival has its roots in Mardi Gras, the celebration during the weeks on either side of Fat Tuesday.
It became its own cultural experience in Viareggio that goes back to the 1800s. Since then, it’s become a tradition to wear costumes, wear extravagant masks, and decorate floats! There are fireworks, 6 different float parades, music, dancing, food, and drinking.
During the day you can attend the parade, which is family-friendly. At the night, things get crazy and the party continues in local clubs and bars! Don’t be afraid to dress up and have fun!
13. Attend a Tuscan Sagra
If you’re looking for non-touristy things to do in Tuscany, head to a sagra. This is probably the best way to immerse yourself in Tuscan culture. A sagra is a festival put on by locals, usually surrounding a specific harvest or a specific type of food.
Across the small towns of Tuscany, and greater Italy, you can find villages hosting sagras throughout the year. Most are in the late summer or early fall, after the harvest. I know there are sagras for cherries, truffles, beer, beef, bread, cheese, and the list goes on!
Besides the main food, sagras have entertainment, family-friendly events, and feasts of good food and wine. It’s a fun, casual time to enjoy a local town with loved ones.
14. Attend the Palio di Siena
Another way to experience true Tuscan culture is to be in Siena for Palio. The Palio di Siena is a horse race that happens twice a year, on July 2 and August 16th. Ten horses race, each one with a rider from a different contrade, or city ward.
Palio is NOT a tourist event, but a special local event that townspeople take very seriously! Part of the enjoyment for you as a guest will be observing and enjoying the passion and traditions of the locals. In the days leading up to the event, you can attend open-air dinners in every city ward that has a rider.
Beautiful silk scarves are for sale that represent different riders (but don’t get caught wearing a scarf of one contrade in a rivaling contrade!). And the losing ward turns off their lights for the night, while the winning ward parties until dawn!
15. Buy Tuscan Ceramics
Tuscany has a love for ceramics that goes back to the Middle Ages. Tuscan ceramics uses an unusual, time-consuming technique of glazing pieces with a watered-down clay mixture before firing. This gives pieces a distinct look and adds definition to the beautiful designs! T
he designs and styles of Tuscan ceramics vary by artist, but those who collect ceramics recognize them right away. If purchasing Tuscan ceramics in Tuscany is on your Tuscany bucket list, you’re in luck. There are many villages in Tuscany known for being home to ceramic artists. T
he art is less prominent now, but if you drive around, you’ll quickly find a ceramic shop worth visiting. I suggest starting out in Montelupo Fiorentino, which is famous for its ceramics.
16. See Historic Florence
When looking for things to do in Tuscany, you can’t go wrong with a visit to its largest Tuscan city. Florence is stunning and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the best collection of renaissance art in the world.
The Florence historic center is where you’ll find Michelangelo’s “David” inside the Galleria dell’Accademia. The Florence historic center is where you’ll find Michelangelo’s “David” inside the Galleria dell’Accademia. There are also “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli and works by da Vinci at the Uffizi Gallery. But some of the most beautiful sites are the Renaissance architecture, including the massive Duomo with its terra-cotta tiled dome! Check our Florence Museum Guide.
17. Explore Siena
Siena, another large city in Tuscany, is a must-see, with its distinctive red brick buildings on a hillside, historic buildings, and famous slanted piazza. It’s one of the most popular day trips from Florence, and for good reason.
The Piazza del Campo is striking with its fan shape. Go inside the Torre del Mangia just off the square for great views of the city. And nearby, the Opera delle Metropolitana is movingly beautiful with ancient stained-glass windows and white marble statues.
18. Take a Picture with the Tower of Pisa
Fully embrace your tourist status and head to take a picture with the infamous Leaning Tower of Pisa. While the 12th-century white marble tower is known for its 4-degree lean, take time to admire the tower’s architectural details.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built in a Romanesque style with beautiful tiles, a bell tower, and detailed column work. Look for the flower pendants and animal impressions! You can go up into the bell tower for an admission fee.
Located in the Piazza del Duomo in the city of Pisa, the leaning tower is just one of several majestic structures in the city’s historic center! It’s a stunning place, with the marble Tower, Cathedral, Baptistry, and Cemetery all set off by green manicured lawns.
19. See Renaissance Art in Florence
Known as the Birthplace of the Renaissance Movement, one of the best things to do in Tuscany Italy is to see all the Renaissance paintings and sculptures. You’ll find fine examples across the region, but Florence is home to a high number of the best-known works.
Even if you’ve seen them in print, there’s something about seeing these famous pieces in person! Make sure to head to the Bargello National Museum to see Donatello’s David statue or the Medici Chapel for the amazing tomb frescoes by Michelangelo.
The Accademia Gallery holds Michelangelo’s “David” statue, which has to be seen in real life! And take some time to take in Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” at the Uffizi Gallery.
20. Walk the Medieval Walls of Lucca
Though Lucca has been modernized, its main attraction is the city walls which are beautifully preserved and date back to the Renaissance era. Made of earth, stone, and brick, the walls encircle the entire historic city center.
People like to walk the city walls, which go over ancient gates, link large bastions, and feature local flora. Our family opted to ride bikes around the entire city wall. Inside the walled city, you explore ancient piazzas, including the elliptical Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. In the greater city limits, tour pretty villas or check out all the different churches. Learn more about the beautiful walled city of Lucca.
21. Visit Film Location Sites
There’s a good chance your favorite movie set in Italy was filmed in Tuscany, and you can visit many film sites today! Think of movies like Under the Tuscan Sun, which had locations in Cortona. Or Tea with Mussolini, with sites in Florence and San Gimignano.
A fun way to see film locations is to take a guided tour with transportation. On this guided tour, you’ll see sites from a handful of different movies including Gladiator and Twilight. Your guide will share the storyline that played out at each location! After your tour, you’ll top things off with a wine tasting in a Tuscan winery.
22. Soak in Hot Springs
One of my favorite things to do in Italy is visit the hot springs and natural thermal baths found across the country. Thermal spas are popular with Italians, but not so much with American tourists, so it feels less touristy.
Scattered across Tuscany are both full spa experiences naturally fed by underground hot springs, as well as hot springs open to nature that you can visit for free! Saturnia Hot Springs is a local favorite free spring, with its tiered baths and scenic location in Cascate del Mulino.
Bagni San Filippo in Val d’Orcia is another free spring in the middle of the woods that you can visit. Or visit the city of Montecatini Terme, with 3 different complexes for a unique experience. Book a treatment at the Terme Excelsior Spa or visit Terme Tettuccio to drink the thermal waters and see the stunning architecture.
23. See Tuscany from a Hot Air Balloon
During the warmer months, an exciting way to see Tuscany is from a hot air balloon! You can find tours across the region, including this one just outside of Siena. Imagine flying over the lush rolling hills, patchwork vineyards, and orange-tile Tuscan towns. It’s a special experience to see the ancient castles, duomos, and villas from the air, where you can almost touch the tops! Rides usually start around sunrise for the best experience. After driving to the launch point, enjoy a picnic breakfast. You’ll help inflate your balloon and then it’s time for the 1-hour ride of your life! When your feet are back on the ground, everyone will toast with a glass of champagne.
24. Count The Fine Towers of San Gimignano
If you prefer to explore Tuscany from land, I suggest visiting San Gimignano. The 13th-century town is a popular tourist destination, and you’ll see why! A great way to spend a sunny day is by walking through San Gimignano, with its medieval walls and interesting vanity towers.
What makes seeing San Gimignano one of the most popular things to do in Tuscany is the sheer variety of the towers! There are 14, but there were once a whopping 72. They span several centuries, and some are shells while you can tour others.
In between is the Piazza della Cisterna with an old well in the center that dates back to Roman times. During the day, squares are lined with vendors selling street food and souvenirs. And at night, you can enjoy rustic Tuscan cuisine at a local restaurant, then walk through the historic center to see the towers light up at dusk.
25. Go for a Hike Through Tuscany
Visit Tuscany for all kinds of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Hikers can find everything from day hikes in nature preserves to 3-day excursions through the Chianti region.
One of the most popular things to do in the Tuscan countryside throughout the year is to go on vineyard treks. It’s easy to do in a day along the defined wine roads that connect the vineyards, orchards, cypress forests, and villages of central Tuscany.
Or for a unique hike, head to the Apuan Alps. Located in northern Tuscany, the Apuan Alps are known for their unforgiving terrain and striking marble quarries where Renaissance artists got their materials. Experienced hikers can find day circuits and multi-day hikes that reward you with remote ancient ruins and scenic alpine lakes.
BONUS: Go on a Road Trip
Many people head to Tuscany on a 2nd or 3rd trip to Italy as a way to soak up the local life and appreciate Italy outside of the big tourist sites. While those big attractions are important to visit, there’s nothing quite like enjoying Tuscany in real life.
And the best way to do it is on a road trip. I suggest getting a rental car and planning a few nights in a few different villages. Some great ones are Montepulciano, Cortona, Pienza, and Volterra. Spend your days discovering hidden side streets, eating delicious meals, and just enjoying a slower way of life!
The region of Tuscany is best known for its beautiful landscape of lush rolling hills, sunflowers, and agricultural crops, especially wine grapes.
I mean, is a lifetime long enough? While I never feel there is enough time in any destination, I think 5 days dedicated to Tuscany is the perfect amount of time.
Most tourists visit Tuscany to enjoy the scenery, wine, agriculture, history, and relaxation.
Many visitors agree the the Val d’Orcia is the most beautiful place in Tuscany, but that’s always up for debate!
This answer is subjective, but I prefer to visit Tuscany between the late summer and early fall when the grapes are being harvested for wine. If you visit between August and October, you are almost guaranteed to witness some grape harvesting during vendemmia.
Visit Tuscany for an Unforgettable Experience
Tuscany means different things to different people, and it doesn’t have to be one kind of experience! I recommend planning 5 days in the region so you can plan on trying a few different things. There are things to do in Tuscany for all tastes.