Tuscany is always on trend. From the rolling emerald countryside to the world-class cities and cuisine, there are endless sights to tempt every type of traveller. If you love beautiful photo opportunities, stylish eats and treats, and non-touristy ideas, these stunning, unique things to do in Tuscany are for you!
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This list includes all the big-ticket items such as Florence, Siena and Chianti wine tasting, as well as some less obvious choices such as (free!) thermal springs, and the chic, discreet coastline of Maremma.
I’ve also included some info on where to stay, how to get there, and how to get around Tuscany. At the bottom of the guide, you’ll find more FAQs to help you plan your trip.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into…
15 Unmissable and Unique Things to Do in Tuscany
1. Visit Thermal Springs
For a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, head to one of Tuscany’s thermal springs.
Tuscany’s thermal springs have been gaining notice in recent years, going viral on Instagram thanks to their vivid turquoise waters. Dotted around southern Tuscany, the most well-known choice is Terme di Saturnia, a show-stopping terraced waterfall of springs backed by a Tuscan stone building.
The downside to Terme di Saturnia is that they are so busy, it makes it very difficult to relax (or get any decent photos!). They are also located over 3 hours south of Florence.
Instead, I recommended Terme di Petriolo (pictured above), a much smaller natural hot springs surrounded by beautiful countryside. They can be reached within 90 minutes of Florence and just 30 minutes from Siena.
You can simply park up on the road alongside the river, and wander down to the springs, where you’ll find a handful of steaming blue pools cascading into the crystal river below.
Soak in the mineral-rich waters and enjoy the therapeutic benefits while taking in the stunning views. Be sure to go early in the morning to have the pools to yourselves! Otherwise, you may have to share with a few friendly locals or fellow savvy travellers.
2. Go to the Beach
You might be surprised to learn that Tuscany boasts a stunning coastline with beautiful sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Often overlooked for the beaches to the south, these undiscovered seaside towns are authentically Italian; chic, scenic, and charming. It’s definitely worth a day trip, as most can be reached within an hour or two from Florence.
Visit popular beach towns like Viareggio, Forte dei Marmi, or Castiglione della Pescaia for a day of sun and sea, with all the amenities you need close at hand. Alternatively venture a little further south to discover the classy coves of Maremma, where candy-striped parasols are dotted lazily in front of sugary sand dunes.
For romantic seclusion, try Collelungo Beach, where you might be lucky enough to spot a timid deer among the driftwood. A more family-friendly option would be the wide, sandy Marina di Alberese. Meanwhile the more intrepid can take a short hike through the olive groves to reach Cala di Forno, which feels as though it’s from another planet entirely.
3. Find the Best Photo Spots in Tuscany
If you’re looking for the best photo spots in Tuscany, who better to show you around than a professional landscape photographer? Learn the art of landscape photography in the breathtaking Val d’Orcia, with a one or multi-day workshop. This is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Tuscany!
From poppy-filled wildflower meadows to the charming Vitaleta Chapel and winding, cypress-lined roads, many of the most iconic photo spots in Tuscany are found within this region. You’ll learn to get off auto mode and bring home not only show-stopping images for Instagram but also the skills to capture incredible scenery wherever your travels take you.
You can choose sunrise sessions for a sorbet-hued sky, enjoy the famous Gladiator landscapes at golden hour, and even get tips and tricks for editing and finishing your photos. Check out this Photography Day tour, and this five-day Val D’Orcia photo tour.
4. Go on a Vespa Tour of the Countryside
There is something so classic and cool about exploring the beauty of Tuscany’s countryside on a Vespa.
There are many group tours departing from Florence that involve an epic journey through the rolling hills, vineyards, and picturesque villages. You’ll likely get to stop off at a vineyard for lunch, and sample some local olive oil. In fact, you could likely combine a Vespa tour with any of the most popular things to do in Tuscany – you’ll find them going to all the hot spots such as Chianti and San Gimignano. Browse a range of certified tours here.
Alternatively, you could hire a classic Vespa for as little as 60 euros a day, and head off on your own adventure. Be sure to download any maps and driving instructions you need in advance so you don’t get lost! Vespas can generally be rented from Florence and Pisa and should be booked in advance. Rent yours here.
5. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Thought Hot Air Balloons were just for Cappadocia? Think again. The romantic, whimsical appeal of the hot air balloon pairs perfectly with Tuscany’s fairytale countryside and is especially stunning at sunrise or sunset. It’s one of the more expensive unique things to do in Tuscany, but worth the splurge if you’re celebrating a special occasion!
Don’t forget your camera for the incredible views and a warm jacket. Things can get chilly when you’re floating at 45000 feet! Find Tuscany hot air balloon tours here.
6. Check out the Birthplace of Carrara Marble
If you’re into interiors, this one is for you! Both classic and contemporary, Carrara marble is a beautiful crisp white stone that never goes out of style. It’s thought Michelangelo came to Carrara to find the marble he used to create the Statue of David, so it’s one for the art aficionados too!
Head to Carrara in the foothills of the Apuan Alps (100km north of Florence), and you’ll be able to see the incredible quarries where Carrara marble is mined. Journey inside the crisp white caves on a 4×4 tour to learn more about how mineral deposits create this sensational stone, and how it is cut from the ground to craft the world’s most elegant kitchen worktops.
Film buffs will also be in for a treat as the Carrara quarry was also the filming location for the opening scene of James Bond’s Quantum of Solace.
7. Chase Waterfalls in Colle di Val d’Elsa
There are hundreds of charming little towns to explore in the region, but Colle di Val d’Elsa was one of my favourites. This little gem is located just a short drive from Siena and is best known for its glass and crystal production. It offers beautiful views, a historic Duomo and a medieval old town, but look a little closer, and you’ll find the real magic of the ‘Valley above the Elsa River.’
After you’ve checked out the Museum of Crystal in town, you can enjoy one of the most unique things to do in Tuscany with a hike to the tumbling Diborrato Waterfall. The 4km Sentierelsa Trail takes you through enchanting forests alongside the Elsa River until you reach the turquoise falls, which look especially beautiful on a summer’s day. Don’t forget your camera!
8. Go truffle hunting
Tuscany is famous for its truffles, and going truffle hunting is one of the best unique things to do in Tuscany for foodies. Join a truffle hunter and their trained dog to search for these aromatic forest treasures. Learn about the different types of truffles, and their cultivation, and indulge in a truffle-tasting session afterwards, often including a wine tasting or pairing.
An absolute must if you love truffles, getting outdoors, and sampling local specialities among scenery to die for! Also a great choice if you love hanging out with friendly pups. Check out this 5-hour Truffle Hunting Tour at Tenuta Torciano, a historic estate located halfway between Florence and Siena.
9. Visit the Mystical Tarot Garden of Capalbio
If modern art and colourful gardens are more your thing than Renaissance paintings, then you will love the whimsical Tarot Garden in Capalbio. Located in south Tuscany just beyond the beaches of Maremma, this stand-out sculpture park reminds me a little of Antonio Gaudi’s Park Guell, with crazy colourful mosaics that make you feel like you’ve stepped straight into a fantasy world.
These psychedelic structures were dreamed up by Niki de Saint Phalle in 1955, after she left her husband and children to pursue her passion for art. She was gifted the land for the sculpture park by some friends, and spent the better part of 20 years creating the park, which is open to the public throughout the summer months. There are 22 sculptures to represent the different decks from fortune-telling playing cards, and it takes about an hour and a half to discover them all.
10. Relax and Unwind on the Secret Giglio Island
Okay so you’ve heard of Scicily and Capri, but did you know Tuscany boasts its very own charming island known as Isola del Giglio? With aquamarine waters, wonderfully wild landscapes and surprisingly chic hangouts, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind away from the bustling cities of central Tuscany. Harry Styles has even been spotted in this unspoilt paradise!
You can reach Giglio Island with a short ferry ride from Porto Santo Stefano, which is a couple of hours south of Florence and Siena. Spend time languishing in the sun on the sandy shores of Spiaggia delle Cannelle or the secluded Caldane beach, and enjoy expansive views of the entire Tuscan archipelago from the hilltop town of Castello.
Want an island with a bit more going on? You can try Giglio’s more popular cousin, Elba, which is reachable by ferry from Piombino.
11. Spend 24 Hours in Florence
As the capital city of Tuscany, Florence is a gorgeous gateway to the region. It has a busy international airport, so ideally you will land here to start your enchanting Tuscan escape.
I recommend staying at least one night; check out this detailed guide on how to spend 24 hours in Florence in style! This is the perfect guide for you if you love insta-worthy cocktail bars, and style-led boutique hotels, and appreciate pretty art and architecture (but don’t like spending hours inside galleries and churches!).
Immerse yourself in this city of class and sophistication by going shopping on Via Roma, sampling exquisite cocktails at rooftop bars and seeking out the iconic wine windows of Florence. Take a stroll across the picturesque Ponte Vecchio and indulge in delicious Tuscan cuisine at the local trattorias.
If art and history are more your thing, you can check out the iconic marbled cathedral known as the Duomo, and visit Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Florence? Check out the hottest new five-star hotel in town.
12. Go Wine Tasting in Chianti
Tuscany is renowned for its world-class wines, and Chianti is the heart of the region’s wine production. There’s something so gorgeously romantic about rolling vineyards, as far as the eye can see! If you’re a red wine fan, you’ll be in heaven here.
Take a tour of the picturesque vineyards and wineries, sample the exquisite Chianti Classico, and learn about the winemaking process. Most wineries are located on historic estates, offering endless photo opportunities, from driveways lined with cypress trees to olive tree groves and vines stretching to the horizon.
We went to the Madonnabella Winery, just outside Siena. They offered a fantastic package that included tasting four different wines paired with appetizers. The appetizers were huge, so no need to eat lunch before you go!
We love the wine here so much that we even purchased a bottle to take back to our accommodation.
13. Visit Siena for the Day
Siena, known for its medieval charm, is a striking walled city. I like to think of it as the crowning jewel of Tuscany! Located on top of a hill, it can be seen for miles around, and makes for an impressive day out. Time it just right, and you may even witness the famous Palio di Siena, a thrilling horse race held twice a year in the Piazza del Campo.
Siena isn’t too big, so you can easily manage all the sights in one day, especially if you’re not too fussed about going inside all the churches. I suggest starting with coffee and a pastry in the magnificent seashell-shaped Piazza del Campo. You can climb the famous Torre de Mangia for a bird’s eye view of the city and the rolling countryside beyond – be sure to book your tickets in advance or book your time slot as soon as you arrive in Siena!
I actually think the alternative viewpoint at the Siena cathedral is better because you get the same incredible views with the tower and the Duomo both in the skyline. Again, queues to buy tickets for entrance to the Duomo are ridiculously long on the day. Be sure to book your tickets in advance!
We actually weren’t organised at all and turned up on the day without tickets, however, we did discover a little hack to skip the queue. When we visited, it was still possible to buy tickets on our phones for entry the same day. These tickets allowed us to walk straight to the front of the queue! Honestly, I’m still scratching my head to understand how no one else had figured this out.
Make sure you buy tickets that include a climb to the top of the Facciatone, which is where you will find the panoramic viewpoint picture above. You can then visit all the other areas of the cathedral and adjoining museums and crypt at your leisure. Book your tickets here.
14. See a movie Under the Stars at San Gimignano
Step back in time and explore the medieval town of San Gimignano, often referred to as the Town of Fine Towers. This is one of the more popular things to do in Tuscany, but still makes for a unique and unforgettable day out!
Marvel at the 14 remaining medieval towers that dominate the skyline, and wander through the narrow cobblestone streets lined with charming shops and artisanal boutiques. Don’t forget to try the local speciality, saffron-flavoured gelato.
Of course, you can climb the 13th-century skyscraper known as Torre Grossa and explore the local wineries and leather-making shops, but one of the more unique things to do in Tuscany is the outdoor cinema here!
Among the ruins of the La Rocca di Montestaffoli, a 14th-century fortress, you’ll find roving musicians and artists by day during the summer months. By night, you can watch classic films under a twinkling sky with an incredible Tuscan backdrop.
15. Take a Cooking Class in the Countryside
Another one for the foodies and one of the most versatile things to do in Tuscany, why not immerse yourself in local cuisine by taking a cooking class? Available all over Florence, Siena, Pisa and scattered throughout the countryside, you can learn to prepare traditional dishes like fresh pasta, ribollita (a hearty vegetable soup), and tiramisu under the guidance of a skilled local chef.
Unique Things to Do in Tuscany: FAQs
Where is Tuscany, Italy?
Tuscany is a region located in central Italy, bordered by the Ligurian Sea to the west. It is known for its beautiful landscapes, historic cities, and cultural heritage.
What are Some Non-Touristy Things to Do in Tuscany?
If you want to explore off the beaten path, consider visiting the town of Cortona, known for its Etruscan history, or heading to the Tuscan Archipelago for wild and remote coastal scenery. You can also explore the chic, oceanside towns around Monte Argentario, or check out the wildlife-filled Orbetello Lagoon.
Where to Stay in Tuscany
As long as you have a week or more in Tuscany, I recommend spending some time in the city and the countryside. Start your trip with a night or two in Florence for easy access to the city’s attractions. Hotel la Gemma is perfectly located in the heart of the city, and has dreamy interiors inspired by the local architecture. Brand new for 2023, it has caused a stir on the city’s hotel scene with its impressive restaurant and amenities.
Once you’ve had your fill of Florence, choose a countryside palazzo to immerse yourself in the tranquillity of the region’s verdant vistas. Popular areas to stay in the countryside include Chianti, San Gimignano, and the Val d’Orcia region.
If you want to get off the beaten path a bit, we stayed in a tiny village called Stigliano (not to be confused with the Stigliano in Southern Italy!). This location was just 20 minutes from Siena and Chianti wineries and an hour’s drive from Florence. You could also reach a number of south Tuscany’s hilltop towns and was only a 20-minute drive from some incredible undiscovered thermal springs (No. 1 in this guide).
In fact, it was perfectly placed to enjoy many of the things on this list of stunning things to do in Tuscany! Stigliano is up a small hill so you can also enjoy stunning Tuscan views from your accommodation, and even spot Siena in the distance! Complete bliss. Here is the Sitgliano hotel I recommend.
Most hotels in Tuscany are expensive, so if you’re looking for something cheaper, I recommend checking Airbnb. There are lots of little cottages that would make the perfect base, some with access to hotel-style facilities.
Where is the Best Terme in Tuscany?
The biggest and most widely known terme in Tuscany is called Terme di Saturnia and is located in Saturnia in Southern Tuscany. For less crowds, you can try smaller thermal springs such as Terme di Petriolo, Bagni San Filippo and Bagno Vignoni, which are all located a little closer to Siena and Florence.
Which Airport for Tuscany?
The main international airports serving Tuscany are the Florence Airport (FLR), the Pisa International Airport (PSA), and the Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ). Depending on your destination and travel plans, you can choose the most convenient airport to enjoy some of the most unforgettable and unique things to do in Tuscany.
How to get to Tuscany
Most people arrive in Tuscany via air in Florence or Pisa. I’ve been to Pisa in the past and found it fairly charmless compared to other Italian cities! This is why I recommend flying into Florence if you can. The international airport is called Amerigo Vespucci Airport. From there, you can take a short 15-minute taxi to the city centre, or hop on the Vola bus shuttle for just a few euros.
You can also fly into Pisa and then get the train to Florence from there, it takes around an hour. I use WayAway to find the best flight deals, and get cashback on travel bookings!
You can easily reach Florence by train from other major destinations around Italy, including Rome, Pisa, Luca, Siena, Bologna, and Milan. There are high-speed intercity trains as well as regional trains to take you to other destinations in Florence. The main station is called Firenze Santa Maria Novella.
There are also lots of buses that connect Florence to other major cities in Italy, and you can even get long-distance coaches to and from other countries in Europe! The main bus station is located right by the train station at Santa Maria Novella.
How to get around Tuscany
While it is relatively easy to get between large cities via train or bus, I really recommend hiring a car for your time in Tuscany, if you can. Thankfully, we found the roads nowhere near as chaotic as they were on our Amalfi Coast road trip, and car hire from Florence airport was fairly straightforward! Be sure to book your car hire in advance for the best price. You will pay a hefty premium for booking on the day!
Unique Things to Do in Tuscany: Final Thoughts
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a food enthusiast, Tuscany is an incredible destination sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. I hope this list of unmissable and unique things to do in Tuscany has been helpful, but if there is anything else you’d like to know, please ask away in the comments!
I’d love to hear about your Tuscany experiences too!
RECOMMENDED LINKS AND RESOURCES
Booking.com: For the most comprehensive selection of hotels and accommodation in destinations worldwide.
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Get Your Guide: For the best range of tours and activities, rated by previous users.
TripAdvisor: For in-depth reviews of everything from hotels to national parks.
Discover Cars: For rental car price comparison and booking, with no hidden costs and free cancellation.
WayAway: For the best flight comparison platform with cashback on bookings.