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How to Plan a Day Trip from Florence to Lucca

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Planning a day trip from Florence to Lucca? In this guide, we are sharing all you need to know, including a detailed itinerary, restaurant recommendations, and a transportation guide.

Lucca is one of Tuscany’s most charming cities, and it’s only a little over an hour away from Florence by train. With our day trip itinerary, you will be able to see most of the main sights, including take a bike ride along the city’s historic walls.

Lucca is a charming town tucked away in northern Tuscany. Surrounded by the Apuan Alps and Tuscan hills, the setting of this rustic, medieval town is exactly what you imagine Tuscany to look and feel like.

Often overshadowed by its popular neighbors – Florence, Pisa, and Cinque Terre – Lucca is an underrated destination and is well worth a visit, even just for a day.

We visited Lucca on a recent trip to Tuscany and based on our experience, we felt like one day was just enough time to see the main attractions. With a mix of history, cuisine, and activities like biking the city walls, you will love your time in Lucca with our day trip itinerary.

How to Get from Florence to Lucca

Lucca is located 76km (47 miles) to the west of Florence. You can get here by train or car. We recommend taking the train, as it’s the most convenient option.

Florence to Lucca by train

Take the train from the Florence Santa Maria Novella station in the center of Florence to Lucca. The direct train takes between 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes.

There is an alternative route that includes a stopover in Pisa, but it takes much longer and the direct route is cheaper anyways.

We suggest booking an early morning train and arriving to Lucca by 9:30am to make the most of your day trip. The walk from Lucca train station to your first stop is only 8 minutes.

Booking train tickets in Italy

The train between Florence and Lucca is a regional train, so prices shouldn’t fluctuate too much.

Book your train tickets online in advance using the Trenitalia website or mobile app. We always use the Trenitalia app to book our trains in Italy. It’s easy to use and the tickets are downloaded straight to your phone.

You can also purchase train tickets at the station on the day of departure.

Florence to Lucca by car

Do you have a rental car and want to drive to Lucca? Driving to Lucca from Florence is actually quicker than taking the train, but you will have to pay tolls and parking fees.

The drive takes between 55 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes depending on traffic.

On our day trip to Lucca, we were staying in a town outside of Florence and opted to drive here with our rental car. Make sure to have cash on hand in case the toll booths don’t accept your credit/debit card. We’ve had issues with this in the past.

There is a parking lot outside of the old town called Parcheggio Carducci. It’s a pay-per-hour lot but the price is reasonable. This is where we parked, and it’s just a short walk to the city’s entrance gates.

Tip: I do not recommend renting a car if you are staying in Florence because parking is difficult to find, and the streets are busy.

Renting a car is a good option if you are staying in the countryside, or in a small town outside of Florence.

Florence to Lucca Day Trip Itinerary

Lucca’s Renaissance Walls

From the train station (or parking lot), make your way to Porta San Pietro, the entrance gate into Lucca’s old town. Surrounding the city are tall defensive walls that were built during the Renaissance period.

The walls are 4.2km (2.6 miles) all the way around, and one of the most popular things to do in Lucca is to bike or walk along the top of the walls.

We suggest renting bikes at the tourist center, just a short walk from Porta San Pietro. They have bikes available to rent by the hour for a reasonable price.

We rented bikes for an hour and slowly made our way around twice. It took us about 20-30 minutes per lap, which included many stops along the way.

The views of the historic old town are spectacular throughout the ride! Enjoy the views of the Medieval towers, the Romanesque churches, and the charming Tuscan streets.

If you prefer to walk around the walls, it’ll take you about an hour to go around once. You can also walk a small portion of the walls – instead of the entire circumference.

Duomo di Lucca

The Duomo di Lucca, or Church of San Martino, is located about 10 minutes from Porta San Pietro, where you entered into the city. This is a stunning, Romanesque church that dates back to the mid-11th century.

This church doubles as a museum and an archaeological site. We recommend purchasing tickets to visit both the history museum and the ancient Roman ruins.

Additionally, you can climb the bell tower for great views of Lucca’s historic center. But it’s better to save your physical strength, as there is a more unique tower you’ll be climbing later in the day.

Practical Information: The Duomo di lucca is open Monday to Friday from 9:30am-5:00pm. Saturday from 12:00pm – 4:00pm. Sunday from 12:00pm to 6:00pm. The museum, bell tower, and Roman archaeological site are open Monday to Friday from 10:00am – 5:00pm and weekends from 10:00am – 6:00pm.

Ticket prices vary. It costs €3 to visit the cathedral but if you want to visit the museum and climb the bell tower, it’s a total of €10. For all prices and opening hours, visit the official website.

San Michele in Foro

Located in Piazza San Michele, in the heart of Lucca, the Cathedral of San Michele in Foro is another Romanesque-style church that resembles the Duomo in Pisa.

Fun fact: Piazza San Michele is built over an ancient Roman Forum. Picture this square as the bustling heart of a Roman city over 2,000 years ago.

Make your way inside of the church and walk around for a minute. The interior decoration is quite simple, so it doesn’t take too long to visit.

One thing to look out for is the mummy of San Davino on display in a glass case near the altar. The mummy is of an Armenian Pilgrim that died in Lucca around the mid-11th century.

Tip: There is a wonderful little bakery in Piazza San Michele called Buccellato Taddeucci. They make a traditional bread called Buccellato di Lucca, which is made with raisins, anise seed, and orange zest. I highly recommend getting a loaf to snack on – it is delicious!

Torre Guinigi

On the way to your next stop, see if you can see the Torre Guinigi in the distance. This 125-foot tall tower is easy to spot. Why? Well, because it has a grove of oak trees at the very top of the tower.

No one knows for sure when or why the trees were planted on top. But it’s neat to experience for yourself!

Dating back to the 14th century, this Medieval tower was built and owned by the Guinigi family. They were once the rulers of Lucca and earned their wealth from the prosperous silk trade during this time.

One of the most incredible views of Lucca is at the top of the Guinigi tower. Climb the 230 steps to the top for wonderful 360° views of the entire town. You can even see the beautiful Apuan Alps in the distance.

Practical Information: Tickets cost €6 per person. Reserve tickets online in advance during the high season (June to September).

Piazza dell’anfiteatro

Piazza dell’anfiteatro translates to Amphitheater Square. That’s because this oval-shaped piazza was once the site of an ancient Roman amphitheater dating back to the 1st century AD.

Imagine gladiator fights, performances, and other Roman games taking place here. It’s pretty wild to think about.

Because of its location outside the original city walls, the amphitheater was closed off and fortified for security reasons in the 6th century. As you walk around, notice some of the archways as you enter into the square. This would have been part of the original amphitheater.

Today, the piazza is a great spot to enjoy a casual drink or to have a nice meal.

Lunch

For lunch, we suggest making a reservation at L’Angolo Tondo, located in the Piazza dell’anfiteatro. This highly-rated restaurant serves up local pasta and meat dishes.

You can call ahead to reserve or message via Whatsapp, we suggest doing this a few days before your day trip to Lucca.

If you’re looking for a cheaper and quicker alternative, then you can check out Ciacco, which is a gourmet panini shop. Their sandwich combinations are completely unique to the restaurant and they offer vegetarian options too.

If pizza sounds good, then Pizzeria SUD is a good option and isn’t too far from your next stop.

Basilica di San Frediano

Basilica di San Frediano dates back to the 6th century, making it one of the oldest churches in Lucca. Above the main entrance is a beautiful Byzantine mosaic depicting the Ascension of Christ.

Walk up closer to get a better look at this incredible artwork.

The church’s interior has been rebuilt several times and what you see today is mainly from the Middle Ages. There are a couple noteworthy items worth checking out inside:

  • Baptismal Font: This 12th century baptismal font, located near the entrance, is a true Romanesque Masterpiece. Notice the carvings at the base of the font, which depict “The Story of Moses.”
  • Mummy: Inside of the church, you’ll see a mummy of an Incorruptible Saint, St. Zita. She died in the year 1272 and was naturally mummified.

Palazzo Pfanner

Photo credit: frankix from Getty Images

If you are visiting between the months of April and November, then a quick visit to the Palazzo Pfanner is a must.

This 17th century palace was bought and sold by various families over the years. From wealthy silk merchants to nobles, until finally being purchased by the German Pfanner family in the 19th century.

The Pfanner family owned a brewery and moved the headquarters to this palace in Lucca. It eventually closed in 1929.

Today, the palace is still owned by the Pfanner family. You can visit some of the rooms inside, including the main hall and some bedrooms.

The gardens are groomed with tall green hedges and flowers. They are wonderful to walk around, especially on a warm sunny day.

Practical Information: The palace and gardens are open between April and November from 10:00am – 6:00pm. Prices for both the garden and palace cost €6.50 per person. For up-to-date hours and prices, visit the official website.

Wander around the city

Spend the next hour or so wandering through the city’s Medieval streets. Via Fillungo is the main shopping street. Pop into some of the local boutique stores or grab a gelato.

There are plenty more churches to visit, such as Chiesa di San Francesco or Santa Maria Corteorlandini.

If you’re visiting on the 3rd Saturday or Sunday of the month, there is a huge antique market that takes place around the city’s squares, such as Piazza Napoleone. It’s considered one of the best antique markets in Tuscany.

Our visit to Lucca coincided with the market and we enjoyed spending some time looking at the antique homewares and furniture. If only I had a home in Tuscany!

Finally, you can stop by the botanical gardens, located near the city walls, which are lovely to walk around.

Dinner

If you have time to eat dinner before heading back to Florence, here are a few restaurants options to choose from:

  • In Pasta | One of our favorite restaurants in Lucca. All of the pasta noodles are freshly made and the dishes are fantastic. My personal favorite is the ravioli stuffed with ricotta and bread crumbs and topped with honey, pistachios, and lemon and orange zest – Ravioli di ricotta, grana e miele in burro agli agrumi.
  • Osteria dal Manzo | A small family-owned restaurant with a variety of pasta, meat, and fish dishes.
  • Trattoria da Giulio | One of the best places in Lucca to try a variety of traditional Lucchese dishes at a very reasonable price.
  • SottoSotto | A good restaurant with a variety of Tuscan dishes, such as Testaroli with pesto.
  • Ristorante Giglio | A one star Michelin restaurant serving a modern take on classic Italian dishes. If you’re looking for a more affordable Michelin-star restaurant experience, this is a great option.
  • Buca di Sant’Antonio | A Michelin guide restaurant, this fine dining establishment offers a delicious take on traditional cuisine.

Have more time on your day trip to Lucca?

If you’re left with some extra time in your day and you’d like to see a couple more sights, we recommend these two below:

Puccini museum

Puccini is one of Italy’s most celebrated opera composers and is from Lucca. The museum is located in his childhood home, where he was born in 1858.

Throughout the different exhibits in the museum, you can discover Puccini’s life through various objects, musical scores, and even his piano that he used to compose Turandot.

Opening hours and tickets: Full-price tickets cost €9. Opening hours vary throughout the year, make sure to double check online at the official website.

Aqueduct of Nottolini

Located on the opposite side of Lucca’s train station, just a 6-minute walk away, is the Aqueduct of Nottolini. This is a 3km (1.8 mile) long aqueduct that was built in the 19th century.

It was used to bring water into the city from the nearby hills. You can walk along the aqueduct and enjoy the views.

Is a day trip to Lucca worth it?

Yes! A day trip from Florence to Lucca is very doable. One day in Lucca is plenty of time to see the main sites, bike (or walk) the city walls, and enjoy a fantastic traditional lunch.

To make the most of your day trip, arrive in Lucca no later than 9:30AM and leave after 7:00pm.

When is the best time to visit Lucca?

The best time to visit Lucca is between April and October. Early spring and late fall are ideal if you want to avoid the peak travel season.

Every summer, in June and July, the town hosts the Lucca Summer Festival, which is a huge music event. The event brings in famous musicians – this year Ed Sheeran is performing – for a summer concert series.

Make sure to plan around this if you are visiting in the summer, as the city will be especially crowded during this time.

We went to Lucca in mid-September. The crowds were slim and the weather was absolutely perfect.

How to get around Lucca?

You can easily walk everywhere in Lucca. Most of the major attractions are within a 3-8 minute walking distance.

Additionally, the train station is close to the city and is just a short walk from the old town.

Map for your day trip

This map includes all of the best things to do on your day trip to Lucca from Florence, including restaurants and the top attractions.

To save the map to Google Maps on your phone or computer, click on the star next to the title. Once you do this, you’ll be able to find the map in your “saved maps” list on your phone.

To see a list of all the items on the map, click the box with arrow on the left. To enlarge the map, click the box on the right.

Lucca Tour Options

Taking a tour in Lucca is a wonderful way to learn about the history of the city from a local guide. Here are some of our tour recommendations

  • Bike and Food tour | Take a guided bike tour of Lucca’s old town and walls. You’ll stop for some snacks at a few local shops on the way.
  • Pasta Cooking Class | Opt out of dinner at a restaurant and learn to cook your own pasta instead. this 3-hour, small group cooking class takes you into a local’s kitchen where you’ll learn how to prepare a couple of different pastas and tiramisu.
  • Private Pisa & Lucca Full-Day Tour | Short on time? This highly-rated private day tour from Florence takes you to both Pisa and Lucca with an expert guide. You’ll visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and some of the highlights of Lucca.

Tips for Visiting Lucca

  • Catch the early morning train : To make the most of your Florence to Lucca day trip, try to arrive in Lucca by 9:00-9:30am. Direct trains leave frequently from Florence in the morning, so you should have a few options to choose from.
  • Avoid Monday mornings: Many shops and a few sites are closed on Mondays, particularly in the morning. If you can, try to avoid visiting on a Monday.
  • Book restaurants In advance: To make sure you get to eat at your restaurant of choice, reserve a few days in advance. You may have to call, but some allow Whatsapp text reservations.
  • Visit on the 3rd weekend of the month: Every third weekend of the month (Saturday & Sunday), there is a flea market around Lucca. If you’re a fan of antique shopping or browsing, plan your visit around this weekend.

More Information for your Trip to Italy

ITALY TRAVEL PLANNING GUIDE

Italy Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for Italy? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out Travel Insurance Master to find the best plan for you.

Italy Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in Italy? Yes! We’ve rented a car in Italy too many times to count, and it’s definitely the most convenient way to get around the countryside. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.

Italy Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Italy, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to Italy, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. It’s easy to download and you can even top up via the app if needed.

Italy Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for Italy? We’ve been reserving all of our hotels through Booking for years. Their messaging tool makes it easy to communicate with the hotels, and there are endless options to choose from.

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