Are you considering a Florence to Lucca day trip? This is an extremely rewarding day trip by train and, with a little forward planning, you can see the highlights of Lucca like a travel ninja.
But what is the easiest way to do this and what are the best things to see in Lucca in one day?
As a two-time visitor, this is where I can help you. Hit the ground running with my guide to taking a Lucca day trip from Florence which includes how to get there, how to get around, what to do and a self-guided walking tour map.
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Day Trip from Florence to Lucca by Train at a Glance
- Distance from Florence to Lucca: 38 miles
- Journey time: From 1 hour 20 minutes one-way
- Cost of train ticket: €8 one-way
Is One Day in Lucca Enough?
One day in Lucca is plenty of time to explore its charming historical centre, climb the Torre Guinigi, visit its monumental Duomo and stroll along its walls. With two days or more, you can delve deeper into Lucca’s history and culture, visit its museums and sample more of its delicious cuisine.
How to Get from Florence to Lucca by Train
Lucca demonstrates how easy it is to travel around Tuscany without a car.
The best way of getting from Florence to Lucca is by train. Alternatively, there is a bus service between the two cities or you can drive.
For an effort-free option, take an organised tour from Florence to Lucca.
Getting from Florence to Lucca by train
Frequent direct trains leave Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station (Firenze S.M. Novella) bound for Lucca. The journey time is 80 minutes and in 2023 a one-way ticket costs €8.
As this is a regional train, there is no advantage in booking your train ticket for Lucca in advance.
Getting to Florence Santa Maria Novella Train Station
Santa Maria Novella train station is a ten-minute walk from Florence’s Duomo or the Ponte Vecchio.
Getting from Lucca Train Station
It’s a five-minute walk from Lucca train station to St. Peter’s Gate (Porto San Pietro) at the southern end of the historic centre. Head towards the city wall as you exit the station and hang a left. From this city gate, it’s five minutes on foot to the cathedral.
Getting from Florence to Lucca by bus
Although you can take the bus between Florence and Lucca, I do not recommend this.
A regional bus operated by Autolinee Toscana runs between Florence and Lucca train station. Although the journey time is around the same as the train, you need to take a tram to the bus’s starting point at Porta Al Prato and the services are less frequent.
Getting from Florence to Lucca by car
A word of warning if you are planning to drive to Lucca; don’t risk a hefty fine. Access to much of the historic centre is limited to locals with permits.
If you drive from Florence to Lucca, your best bet is to leave your car outside the city walls. This is not only less hassle but you also have a better chance of parking your car for free.
You can find more information on parking in Lucca here.
Visiting Lucca on an organised tour from Florence
Alternatively, why not let someone else make the arrangements for you? Day tours are a good option if you are nervous about navigating public transport in Italy or are short on time and want to see more than one destination in a day.
For example, you can join an 8-hour guided tour of Pisa and Lucca from Florence which includes the famous leaning tower and a tour of Pisa Cathedral.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
Getting Around Lucca
Lucca is a dream to get around on foot.
Most of the places of interest are in its compact historic centre and much of this area is pedestrianised. It will take you 20 minutes to walk from one end of town to the other. If you are unsure of where you are, you can use the city walls to get your bearings.
Or do as the locals do and navigate Lucca on two wheels. Lucca is famous for being bike-friendly and I spotted many people cycling along its city walls.
There are a number of places in Lucca from where you can rent a bike for the day, particularly around Piazza Santa Maria, or you can organise it in advance here.
What to Do on Your Day Trip to Lucca from Florence
Based on my experiences, here are the best places to visit in Lucca, which you can use as a loose framework to hang your day.
If you like to map it out, here’s one that I prepared earlier. For an interactive map, click here or on the image itself. To save it to your Google Maps app, click on the star icon.
If you find it helpful, you can use this as a Lucca self-guided walking tour. It covers a distance of just under two miles but I encourage you to wander off-piste to make your own discoveries.
San Martino Cathedral
Work began on Lucca’s Duomo in the 11th Century and was completed in the 15th Century, resulting in a hodgepodge of artistic and architectural styles. Whilst it can’t hold a candle to the cathedrals of Florence or Siena, you should still include it in your Lucca itinerary.
For me, it was better on the outside than on the inside. Its elaborate Romanesque façade is an explosion of candy-striped columns and features Christian teaching scenes.
Inside, there are frescoed Gothic arches, Renaissance paintings and 19th Century stained glass. Volto Santo di Lucca, the cathedral’s legendary wooden crucifix, is revered by locals.
More information about opening times and tickets is here.
Piazza del Giglio
The landmark building of this small but perfectly formed square is the Teatro del Giglio, Lucca’s number one cultural venue. At its centre is a marble statue honouring Giuseppe Garibaldi, one of the heroes of Italian unification.
Adjacent to Piazza del Giglio is a square named after the despot who took control of Lucca in 1799. The large building on the right was formerly the seat of the pre-Napoleonic Republic of Lucca, and many consider Caffé Ninci to serve the best coffee in town.
Church of San Michele
Piazza San Michele, the centre of town since it was the Roman forum, is dominated by the Church of San Michele.
Much like San Martino Cathedral, I found this more striking on the outside than inside. However, it is well worth visiting to take a peek at Filippino Lippi’s Four Saints altarpiece (1483).
The exterior of the church glorifies the saintly and the secular. Its summit is crowned by a 4-meter-high statue of Michael the Archangel, to whom the church is dedicated. The faces of some of the heroes of the Italian independence and unification movement are perched above its columns.
Piazza Citadella & the Puccini Museum
Linger in Piazza Citadella to learn more about Lucca’s favourite son.
Giacomo Puccini, one of the greatest opera composers of all time, was born in Lucca in 1858. His birthplace is now home to a museum dedicated to his life and work.
Connecting Piazza San Michele and Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is Via Fillungo, Lucca’s main pedestrian drag. What I loved about this street were its shops.
Don’t get me wrong; to me, retail therapy is an oxymoron. What makes these shops stand out is that while they may have changed function over the years, the original frontage has been preserved, reliefs, mosaics and all.
You will also find Torre delle Ore (Clock Tower) on Via Fillungo. This is one of Lucca’s tower houses that you can climb (you need to buy your ticket from the Guinigi Tower; check seasonal opening hours here).
This oval-shaped piazza of the architectural ghost of Lucca’s Roman amphitheatre. Before the fall of the Roman Empire, this amphitheatre seated 10,000 people and lay just outside the original city walls.
A complete ellipse of medieval houses now stands where the grandstands once were. Gladiators slugged it out in the piazza itself.
Today’s attractive square, the only secular piazza in Lucca, is home to cafes, restaurants, shops and restaurants.
Basilica di San Frediano
Shimmering in the sun, the Church of San Frediano stands in a pretty piazza with lovingly-tended flower beds and a few cafes.
Built by the pope in 1112 to trump the Bishop of Lucca’s cathedral, the façade of the Church of San Frediano is glorious. Pure grey-white marble frames a stunning mosaic of Christ with two angels and his 12 apostles.
Torre Guinigi (Guinigi Tower)
Are you for a spot of tower climbing? If so, ascend to the small fragrant garden at the top of Torre Guinigi for the best views in town.
Take the series of stone steps before huffing and puffing your way up a spiral metal staircase all the way to the top. It’s an easy climb but not ideal if you are claustrophobic.
From the top, pick out Lucca’s landmarks, including Piazza dell’Anfiteatro to the north and the clock tower to the east.
It’s among the best 5 Euros I have spent in Italy.
Lucca City Walls
Before taking the train back to Florence, stroll along Lucca’s Renaissance wall or ramparts. This 16th Century wall stretches for 2.5 miles and replaces a medieval one which in turn replaced a smaller Roman wall.
Its 11 heart-shaped bastions, designed to beef up the city’s defences, are now attractive picnic areas and you can venture into its tunnels at San Paolino Bastion or San Martino Bastion.
If you have time, visit the Botanical Garden of Lucca. Occupying more than two hectares, it was founded in 1820 by Princess Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, the sister of Napoleon.
It is open in the warmer months of the year. Check opening hours here.
Is Lucca Worth Visiting?
Lucca is dreamy, historic and doesn’t suffer the tourist hordes of other Tuscan cities. It is worth visiting for all of these reasons.
One of Italy’s most beautiful cities, Lucca’s charming streets and squares betray its Roman origins. It is home to a clutch of stunning churches and is famous for its remarkable city walls, one of the longest in Europe.
As lovely Lucca is an easy day trip from Florence by train, it’s the perfect addition to your Tuscany itinerary.