Located in central Tuscany is the ancient and quintessential Tuscan city of Lucca. Also known around Italy as the city of 100 churches due to the 100 and more churches making up the walled city. It’s the perfect day trip from Florence to a smaller Tuscany and a great base to spend your time in the region. Read on to create your ideal Lucca itinerary and find the best way for you to spend one day in Lucca, Italy.
How Many Days in Lucca?
When you begin to plan your trip to Lucca, you’ll wonder how many days in Lucca are ideal?
With the medieval old town within the walls of the city being relatively small, you can easily see the city within a day if you’re a traveler that likes to spend the day out without breaks. There is also the province of Lucca which is much bigger but here we will be talking about the old town within the walls.
If you’re staying in Florence, a Florence to Lucca day trip is a great option as it’s close, easy to spend a day in the city, and has a completely different feel to Florence.
If you’re hoping to have a more relaxed trip with breaks throughout the day, as well as the opportunity to see more sights out of the walled city, 2-4 days would be great.
For those looking to spend their trip exploring the region of Tuscany without staying in the larger cities, Lucca is also a great option for this reason. You have great accessibility to the rest of the region while still staying in what feels like a small town in Tuscany.
Getting To and Around Lucca
Getting to Lucca
The city of Lucca can be reached either by train, bus, car, or plane.
By train, you can reach Lucca directly from Pisa or Florence which makes it the most efficient and ideal way to reach the city.
From Pisa, it’s about a 30-minute train ride for 3 euros. From Florence, it’ll take about an hour and 20 minutes to Lucca. This makes it a great opportunity to take a Florence to Lucca day trip. There are frequent trains for each route throughout the day and each station will take you from the center of one city to the other. You can check schedules and book tickets here.
By bus, it’s also quite feasible and easy to reach Lucca from Pisa or Florence. My recommendation is to book ahead with FlixBus. From Pisa by bus, it’s only 25 minutes away and from Florence, it will take around an hour. You can check schedules and book tickets here.
If you plan on driving to Lucca for your Lucca itinerary, keep in mind that the historic old center is closed off to traffic, and many of the areas that allow it are only open for residents.
Pay close attention to the signs upon arrival to know where you can and cannot park to avoid being ticketed. If you need to rent a car, you can browse Rentalcars.com which aggregates prices across a number of rental companies.
If you’re arriving by plane, you’ll likely be arriving at the Pisa or Florence international airports, and both are easily accessible to Lucca. For the most affordable option, you’ll first have to reach the local train stations in each city by bus or local train to then go onwards to Lucca by train.
Finally, it is also possible to go on an organised day trip from Florence. For example, this full-day tour includes both time in Lucca and Pisa, along with transfers from your hotel.
Getting Around Lucca
Due to the small size and flatness of the historic city, it’s very easy to get around Lucca. You can easily walk throughout the city while still being able to take your time and enjoy the sights throughout your Lucca itinerary.
Another great way to see Lucca just like any other quintessential Tuscan town is by bicycle. Lucca is famous for being bike-friendly and visiting as a tourist is no exception.
One of the best ways to explore around the walls of the city is by bike, you’ll experience the most picturesque ride as well as boastful views once you reach the top. Cycle through the hills, vineyards, and olive groves and experience Tuscany in one of the most unforgettable ways.
There are various bicycle rental points throughout the city and prices will vary depending on where you go and the bike you choose to ride. Even if you’re only spending one day in Lucca, you have to experience the city on two wheels. You can organise bike rental in advance here.
1 Day in Lucca Itinerary
With one day in Lucca, you won’t be at a loss for things to do or things to miss. This ancient walled city is full of beautiful walks and views, rich history, and deliciously classic Tuscan cuisine. Lucca will capture your heart and keep you wanting to stay or come back for more of the slow Tuscan lifestyle.
Historic Old Town
One of the best ways to begin your Lucca itinerary is in the cobbled historic old town where you’ll also likely be spending most of your time. With various shops, artisans, and stunning sights from every corner you’ll quickly wish you were spending more time here.
In Piazza San Martino proudly sits the Duomo of Lucca. Although it is no comparison to the Duomo of Florence, it’s still somewhere that you can’t miss on your Lucca itinerary. With a truly remarkable façade and design, just visiting the duomo you will be transported back to the 11th century when construction first began.
Something you’ll notice that is of the most interesting parts of the Duomo is that the grand bell tower is only half-finished, the rest of it remains exposed brick. It’s interesting to see it and wonder how and why that happened – and if it will ever be completed.
Piazza Del Anfiteatro
About an 8-minute walk from the duomo is one of the most famous images of Lucca; Piazza Del Anfiteatro. The name lends itself to what it was once upon a time in history, a Roman amphitheater. While none of the original structure still exists, the shape of it is still in true form by the buildings that make up the piazza.
With bright-colored buildings and green window shutters, spending time in the Piazza Del Anfiteatro is truly a joy. It is also the perfect place to take a break and enjoy a meal while people-watching. My recommendation is to head to “L’angolo Tondo” and savour the tagliatelle with Tuscan wild boar ragù with a seat in the front.
If you’re traveling with children, this is also the perfect place for the little ones to run around and let out some steam, play games or blow bubbles in this beautiful square.
Torre delle Ore
Like any other town or city in Italy, there is no better way to take in the splendor and beauty of the place than from above. The historic towers throughout the country thankfully now give us a convenient way of learning about the past, stepping into history, and also bringing us to the top to give unrivaled views of the city.
Built in the middle ages and rising 50 meters above the city is the Torre delle Ore or Tower of the Clock. In the middle ages, Lucca had over 150 towers and today only two still exist; one being the Torre delle Ore and the other the Torre Guinigi. From inside, the actual clock is visible and to this day is still known as one of the most unique clocks still working in Europe.
To reach the top of the tower, you will climb 207 stairs on the well-preserved original staircase and then be brought to the top. From above you will be offered the advantage of seeing the most spectacular views of Lucca above, the gardens, the winding cobbled streets, the walls of the city, and the rolling hills & greenery from beyond it.
Entry tickets cost 5 euros but can be combined with the Torre Guinigi for 9 euros.
Located just a three-minute walk from Torre delle Ore, is the other tower still standing, the Torre Guingini. The Torre Guingi was built in the 14th century and funded by one of the wealthiest families in Lucca at the time, the Guingi family. It’s the other last remaining tower in the city of Lucca and is very impressive.
The tower was designed in typical Romanesque-Gothic architecture with local embellishments, but one feature makes it stand out; the garden on the top. The Guinigi were inspired by the renaissance in the construction of this garden and wanted to represent rebirth. For this reason, they planted Holm oak trees on the top to further represent their ideals of renewal and rebirth.
Plan to spend an hour visiting the Torre Guinigi as the stairway to the top consists of 233 steps and you’ll want to take in the views and garden once you reach the top. From above, you can enjoy the little garden and look beyond to the Tuscan countryside and greenery that make this region so famous.
Tickets are 3 euros for the tower and 9 euros to combine with a visit to the Torre delle Ore.
Maybe afterward grab a deliciously cold gelato at I Gelati di Piero.
With just one day in Lucca, a great way to see the town and learn about it along the way is by walking tour. Many companies are offering different tours depending on your budget, as well as your interests and what you would like to learn the most about in the city.
Some options include this two-hour walking tour of the city centre, this food tour where you get to sample some of the cuisine, this evening aperitivo and wine tour or this 3-hour e-bike and wine tour if you prefer to get a taste of the countryside.
Wander Around the City’s Walls and Gardens
Although the historic old town within the walls of the city is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Tuscany, there is an entirely different world outside the walls and also underneath them. With a brilliantly historic underground tunnel system and luscious gardens in and around the walls, make sure you take advantage of these unique spots on your day trip to Lucca.
The walls of Lucca are likely one of the most defining features of the city that makes it the unique place to visit that it is today. Behind the walls of Nicosia in Cyprus, the walls of Lucca are the second-longest in Europe at 2.6 miles long.
There have been 4 different sets of walls in Lucca dating back to Ancient Rome, but the walls we know and see today are the ones of the Renaissance. Because of these walls, the inner historic city has been preserved and today we are lucky enough to take advantage of its beauty and distinctiveness.
A great way to see the walls is to spend time walking or biking around them. Lush greenery and trees surround the majority of the walls and its pathways and wandering are a prime way to spend one day in Lucca.
Another great way to learn more about the history of the walls on a day trip to Lucca is to take part in a guided tour with an expert in the field. You can book a tour here.
Underground the Walls of Lucca
While there is nothing underground the direct walls of the city, underneath 4 of the bastions is a world in itself. Beneath the bastions of San Martino, Santa Croce, and San Paolino are different fragments of history left behind showing the different ways that these spaces have been used throughout time.
Within the underground of San Paolino, there are also regular art exhibits and installations that are usually quite interesting and worth the visit.
Another great option to experience the underground of the bastions is by guided tour. With a guided tour you will learn in greater depth the history and how these unique places have changed over time.
If you’re looking to spend time in one of Lucca’s many gardens during your Lucca itinerary, the Botanical Garden of Lucca is a great starting point. Founded in 1820 by Duchess Maria Luisa of Bourbon, the garden is located in the heart of the city and spans over two hectares, giving you plenty of space to relax.
The garden consists of thousands of species of plants, from centuries ago and also from different places all over the world.
The Botanical Garden of Lucca is also a great place to visit if you need somewhere accessible – there is a guided path for the visually impaired as well as a handrail and signposts in braille.
Have 2 or 3 Days in Lucca?
If your Lucca itinerary is more than a day trip to Lucca, there are many more things to do within the old town as well as beyond the city walls.
The Acquedotto del Nottolini or Acqueducts of Nottolini are another interesting spot to visit. Here you can take in the grand architecture of the ancient Roman aqueducts and also enjoy the surrounding countryside and greenery of the area. This unique structure was used to bring water from the mountains into the city of Lucca and contains over 400 arches!
If you’re staying longer in Lucca and looking to head further out of the city and into nature, the Parco Alpi Apuane is a magnificent spot. In northern Tuscany and about an hour away from the city of Lucca, is this grand area of protected natural beauty with numerous mountain peaks – something you likely wouldn’t expect in Tuscany.
For music and opera lovers, visit the home and birthplace of the famous composer Giacomo Puccini. The opera composer’s home has now been converted into a museum that you can wander through and find yourself directly at the place where numerous operatic masterpieces were written. You can even book tickets to a concert or a musical walking tour with entry to the museum.
Where to Stay in Lucca
If you’re visiting Lucca for more than a day trip, you’re going to need to find a great place to stay in the city. If you’re wondering where to stay in Lucca, then have a look at these suggestions:
Antica Corte dei Principi – Situated in the centre of historic Lucca, this hotel is an excellent place to base yourself in this Tuscan city. They have a number of clean and comfortable double rooms available and there is also breakfast included each morning. Click here to check availability
Palazzo Dipinto – If you’re after some luxury during your trip to Lucca, then this hotel is a fantastic option. They have a range of rooms suitable for couples on a romantic getaway or families looking for some comfort. Rooms are equipped with modern facilities and breakfast is included in the nightly rate. Click here to check availability
Casa Paolina – These apartments are a great option in the heart of Lucca if you prefer self-catering accommodation. There are a variety of apartments including some that can accommodate larger families. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to check other hotels in Lucca!
Lucca may not be as visited as Florence or Pisa but is worth the visit as you’re given the chance to experience slow and small-town Tuscany. Whether you are spending one day in Lucca or 3 days in Lucca, you’ll certainly be captured by the charm of this classic Tuscan city.
Are you planning of visiting Lucca? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!