Getting Around Tuscany Without a Car: All You Need to Know!

Get the lowdown on getting around Tuscany without a car, from how to do it to the best places to stay.

I’m not going to dress it up. In terms of convenience, flexibility and accessibility, it’s hard to beat exploring Tuscany by car. However, this is not for everyone and is certainly not for me.

The good news is that getting around Tuscany by public transport is easy, affordable, reaches the region’s main attractions and is user-friendly. And for the places that are more challenging to visit, there are always day tours or private drivers.

The key is knowing how to do it and identifying the best places to stay in Tuscany without a car.

Leave your driver’s licence at home and start planning with this guide to a car-free visit to one of Italy’s most enchanting regions. 

rolling green hills of tuscany in italy with trees and a farmhouse

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TUSCANY WITHOUT A CAR AT A GLANCE

How to get around Tuscany without a car

  • Train
  • Bus
  • Day tour
  • Taxi / private driver

Where to stay in Tuscany without a car

  • First choice: Florence
  • Good alternatives: Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Viareggio

Recommended day tours

Is a Car Necessary in Tuscany?

You do not need a car if your itinerary is confined to the major Tuscan towns and cities. However, a car is convenient to experience the rolling landscapes and vineyards for which the region is famous. 
 
Convenient, yes. But not essential. Buses and trains serve most places in Tuscany and for the rest, there is a good choice of day tours from the main hubs.
 
Having a car in Tuscany’s towns and cities is of little value. Driving in the historical centre of many towns, including Florence and Siena, is either prohibited or restricted. Finding a legal parking spot can be challenging and it may cost a premium to park near your hotel or apartment.
 
For me, one of the biggest disadvantages of not driving is that it puts a quintessential Tuscan experience out of reach.
 
Staying in an agriturismo is still on my Italy bucket list. However, unsurprisingly, these are usually not close to a town and not served by public transport.
 
Although this is also the case with wineries, you can usually pick up a day tour if a vineyard visit is on your agenda.

bunch of red grapes on a vine

Getting Around Tuscany Without a Car

Broadly speaking there are four ways of getting around Tuscany without a car:

  • By train
  • By bus
  • On a day tour
  • By taxi / private driver

Over the years, I have tried all of these transport options. 

Exploring Tuscany by Train

red and grey trenitalia high speed train in italy

All of Tuscany’s cities and major towns, not to mention some of its smaller towns, are connected by rail. For example; Pisa, Lucca and Siena all have direct rail connections to Florence, meaning you can visit them as day trips

When planning your car-free Tuscany itinerary, the rail network map and train timetables are your best friends. There are two rail companies in Italy: Trenitalia and Italo.

Trenitalia

The state-owned Trenitalia is your best bet for getting around Tuscany by train. You can check train times here. For planning on the go and to book and download your ticket, grab the Trenitalia app here.

Most of your train travel in Tuscany will be on the regional services. There is no advantage in booking your ticket in advance. The ticket price is fixed and as a reservation is not necessary – or even possible – the train can never ‘sell out’.

Booking your ticket in advance is advisable for the high-speed Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca & InterCity services.

Italo

Italo has cherry-picked the most lucrative Italian train routes. However, in my experience, it is of limited value when travelling in Tuscany.

Although Italo is a useful option for getting to and from Florence – I have used it for getting from Rome to Florence – it does not serve other stations in Tuscany.

Exploring Tuscany by Bus

For the parts of Tuscany that trains do not reach, there is usually a bus. They are especially useful for reaching most of the region’s hilltop towns – Montepulciano and Volterra, for example –and its smaller towns and villages.

view of tuscan countryside from the stone walls of the hilltop town of montepulciano
Montepulciano

Identifying bus routes in Tuscany can be challenging. Several bus companies move people around the region and your best bet is to use Google Maps, Omio or RometoRio to identify your options.

Fares are based on the distance travelled and it can be cheaper to buy your tickets in advance.

Florence is the best place to base yourself if you plan to travel around Tuscany by bus. Many of the bus companies use Florence as their hub and the services stop close to Firenze Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s main train station.

Day Tours of Tuscany

Even as an independent traveller, I am a huge fan of day tours.

Not only do they get you to places that are difficult to reach but you also benefit from the knowledge of a guide. A day tour allows you to squeeze more than one place into your day’s itinerary and there’s much to be said for letting someone else take care of the arrangements for you.

Day excursions are a stress-free way of exploring Tuscany’s cypress tree-studded landscape and visiting its many vineyards.

bunch of red grapes on a vine

Here are a few examples of day tours that would fit the bill:

Tuscany Day Trip with Lunch at a Chianti winery

This tour from Florence packs a lot into one day. There’s a guided tour of Siena, free time in San Gimignano and Pisa, and lunch and wine tasting at a vineyard in the Chianti hills.

>>> CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

Chianti and Castles Tour with Wine Tastings

This half-day tour from Siena visits two wineries and makes several stops, including Castellina in Chianti. I like that one of the wineries visited is exclusive to this tour company.

>>> CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

There are day tours to fit every traveller, from coach tours to a more bespoke experience with a smaller group. My go-to platform for sourcing and booking day excursions is GetYourGuide which usually offers the reassurance of free cancellation within 24 hours of your tour should your plans change. 

I avoid the larger groups and usually opt for a minibus-sized group at the largest. This is a popular tourist destination and you won’t want to be more lost in the crowd than you need to be. 

Exploring Tuscany with a Private Driver

For a completely bespoke experience, you can hire a private driver. Of course, a private guide is not cheap, but if there are a few of you this may not be much more expensive than joining a group tour.

Best of Tuscany tour from Florence

This does pretty much what it says on the tin. Pisa, San Gimignano, Siena, Monteriggioni and Chianti.

Chianti Wine Paradise Tour

The title says it all. This 7-hour tour in the heart of Chianti includes tasting the region’s delicious wines.

If you want to stay in a more remote corner of Tuscany without a car – perhaps that agriturismo – using a local driver is another option. This is where local knowledge is your best tool and I suggest asking your host who they would recommend.

Currently, Uber and Lyft do not operate in Tuscany.

white vespa parked on street with warm stone buildings

Best Places to Stay in Tuscany Without a Car

Choosing the right base is the key to a successful car-free holiday in Tuscany. Pick a base and stick with it. Vacation time is too precious to waste on changing accommodation every one or two days.

If you stay in one of the larger towns in Tuscany, you can use this as a base to visit other cities, towns and villages by public transport on day trips.

Florence is the best place to stay in Tuscany without a car

fountain of creature shooting water from its mouth with one of the best views of florence in background

Florence is the region’s most important transport hub with frequent trains and buses to all of the best bits of Tuscany, including the great cities of Siena and Pisa as well the smaller gems of Lucca and Arezzo. You can even visit Venice from Florence, or Rome for that matter. 

Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station is an easy ten-minute walk from the city’s historic centre, and Florence has accommodation to suit every budget.

Florence is one of the most attractive and alluring cities on the planet. From the masterpieces of the Uffizi Galleries to the sculptures of Michelangelo, it has a wealth of artistic treasures that are hard to equal.

marble statue of David is one of the Michelangelo sculptures in Florence

Other places to stay to explore Tuscany without a car

If you are a return visitor, you may want to consider other places to stay in Tuscany.

aerial view of siena with its red buildings and bell tower and dome of cathedral

Siena

Florence’s erstwhile Tuscan rival is known for its striking striped Duomo and magnificent shell-shaped Il Campo. This is the setting for the world-famous Palio horse race.

Siena is a good base for exploring southern Tuscany by public transport. The city centre is a 20-minute uphill walk from its train station.

the leaning tower of pisa next to the white exterior of cathedral

Pisa

Although most people visit Pisa to snap a shot of them holding up its tipsy tower, it is much more than this. This historic city is home to many architectural treasures and outside of the tourist-clogged central zone feels like an authentic Tuscan city.
 
Pisa is close to a major airport and is an important rail hub, connected to Rome, Florence, Lucca and the Cinque Terre. Walking from Pisa train station to the Leaning Tower will take you around 20 minutes.

red roofs and ochre buildings of lucca italy set against rolling countryside

Lucca

Lovely Lucca is one of my favourite towns in Tuscany and is a good base for visiting the north of the region. This picturesque fortress city is enclosed by one of the longest intact walls in Europe.
 
Lucca’s train station is a ten-minute walk from the city centre.

narrow channel leading out to sealined with boats at dusk

Viareggio

This charming seaside town has good rail connections to Florence, Pisa, Lucca and the Cinque Terre. It’s an excellent choice if you want to inject some beach time into your Tuscany trip.

It will take you around 20 minutes to walk from Viarregio train station to the town centre.

Tips for Visiting Tuscany Without a Car

I have travelled around Tuscany without a car on multiple occasions. It is easy but there are two caveats:

#1 Pick the right base for your itinerary (but you can’t go far wrong with Florence)

#2 Sketch out an itinerary and, with the help of a timetable and online journey planners, figure out where it will be useful to join a day tour or hire a private driver. To avoid disappointment, organise these before you arrive in Italy.

There is one other option for a stress-free way of visiting multiple destinations in Tuscany.

Small group tours of a week or more can be an excellent way of getting under the skin of a country and offering experiences that would be otherwise hard to come by. For example; well-travelled friends have recommended this walking and wine tour of Southern Tuscany. It would work for me!

Plan Your Car-Free Holiday in Tuscany

I hope this article gives you some pointers on exploring Tuscany without a car. If you have found it useful and need some more information or inspiration to plan your trip to this gorgeous region of Italy, take a look at a few of my other guides:

Happy travels!