Iconic places to visit in Tuscany for first-timers

Tuscany is a dream destination for many people and going there for the first time can be quite overwhelming. How many days to stay? Which places to visit in Tuscany? Where to stay? This Italian region has rich cultural and historical heritage and it offers amazing cities with a lot of museums, breathtakingly beautiful landscapes with cypresses and wine-yards, tiny medieval villages, where time has stopped. Find out which are the must-see places in Tuscany (Italy) if you are visiting for the first time.

Tuscany is the perfect destination for history and culture fans! Find out here which are the best places to visit in Tuscany if you are travelling there for the first time!Click To Tweet


How many days to stay in Tuscany?

There is no simple answer to this question, but the longer you stay in Tuscany, more places you will see and the better you will know the region. If you enjoy more to travel slowly and savour the place, I would recommend somewhere between a week and two weeks. Thus, you will be able to visit the big cities and some of the villages and perhaps take a tour to the wine yards. Of course, you can always take a city break to Florence, for example, of let’s say 3-4 days, with a day trip or two in the region.

hills with wine yards and cypresses and some houses, Tuscany
Breathtaking Tuscany

When to go to Tuscany?

Each season has its own beauty. So, whenever you go there, you won’t regret it. The summer (July and August) tends to be busy and hot. If you can’t stand hot weather and you want to escape the crowds, then you should probably visit off-season.

Which places to visit in Tuscany?

We went to Tuscany for our summer holidays and spent there 8 days. We loved the hot weather, and although some places were quite touristy, we found others that were less crowded. Here are my suggestions for the best places to visit in Tuscany for first-timers.

On the Google map below I have marked in red the places, which we had visited during our 8-day stay in Tuscany. With purple are marked bigger cities and with yellow smaller villages to visit, if you are staying longer in Tuscany. See below for the suggestions.


San Gimignano – the city of beautiful towers

I’ve chosen San Gimignano as a base for our Tuscan holiday. We stayed outside of the city walls, thus we were able to escape the crowds and still enjoy the place.

medieval houses and a medieval tower with a bright blue sky on the background, San Gimignano in Tuscany Italy
San Gimignano with the medieval towers

San Gimignano is an absolute must-see in Tuscany and you will notice from quite a distance why – the skyline with medieval towers is second to none. From the 72 towers that were built until the 14th century, there are only 14 left today. Some of them were used as houses, which was quite popular in the Middle Ages. The centre of San Gimignano is a UNSECO World Heritage Site. For one of the most amazing views in Tuscany, climb Torre Grossa. Take a walk around the city walls for more beautiful views and visit the Collegiate Church (Il Duomo) to admire the frescoes of Domenico Ghirlandaio.

Read more: The towers of San Gimignano – medieval frenzy or architectural genius – to find out why there are so many towers in this hilltop town in Tuscany.
towers of San Gimignano with a bird view to the fields in Tuscany Italy with wine yards and cypresses
A view from the top of Torre Grossa

Volterra – the city of alabaster

Volterra is one of Tuscany’s hidden gems. If you are a history geek, or just curious about the past, Voterra won’t disappoint you. To learn who the Etruscan were, visit the famous Guarnacci Museum or the Etruscan tombs. To find out why Volterra is called “city of alabaster”, visit the Ecomuseum of Alabaster. Volterra is quiet and less touristy compared to other places in Tuscany. Take your time to walk around and enjoy its medieval charm. Do not miss the remains of the ancient Roman Theatre, as well.

Read more:  Volterra – Italian charm and Etruscan heritage – a complete city guide of this beautiful medieval city.
remains of a Roman theatre with columns, city wall with medieval city
Volterra with the Roman Theatre and the medieval houses

Florence – the cradle of Renaissance

When in Tuscany, you can’t skip Florence. This Italian city is practically an open-air museum of the Italian Renaissance and it deserves more than a one-day visit. However, if you are going to Tuscany for the first time, you can’t see everything, but a glimpse of Florence will make you fall in love with it, so that you come back and explore each corner of this amazing place. The Uffizi Museum is the must-see place for all art lovers. Botticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian – are only a few of the names of famous Renaissance artists whose works can be admired in the oldest art gallery in the world.

houses churches and towers and some hills, Florence
Florence, Tuscany

Another eye-catcher in Florence is without doubt the Cathedral (Il Duomo) with the Baptistery and the Bell Tower. The dome is designed by Brunelleschi and the bell tower by Giotto. It’s no surprise why the historic centre of Florence belongs to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you want to see the original David of Michelangelo, then head to the Gallery of the Academy (Galleria dell’ Accademia). Take a walk on the famous Ponte Vecchio and if you want to learn more about the greatest poet of Italy, follow the Dante route and visit his house. If you are into beautiful gardens (just the way we are), then you should not miss the Boboli Gardens with the Pitti Palace.

And then come back to Florence on another occasion. Why not even do a city trip for a couple of days?

Read more: One day in Florence – the perfect itinerary – to plan the perfect day in Florence during your Tuscan holidays.
a church with a red roof-tiled dome and white, rose and green marmer
The Cathedral in Florence

Siena – the medieval icon

Siena is another place where time has stopped somewhere in the 14th century. Everything in Siena revolves around Piazza del Campo and all streets lead there. The famous fan-shaped square hosts twice a year the popular horse racing event – the Palio of Siena. The square is proudly dominated by the Town Hall (Palazzo Pubblico) and its Torre del Mangia. With its 102 m it’s the second highest bell tower in Italy after the one in Cremona.

medieval yellowish houses on a hill with a church with a dome and a bell tower on a hill, Siena in Tuscany Italy
Siena’s skyline, Tuscany

Siena has its very own amazingly beautiful cathedral (Il Duomo) of black and white marble with a stunning façade – a fine example of eclectic architecture with Gothic, Romanesque and Classical features. For the most beautiful views of Siena and the surroundings, go up to the Medici Fortress (Fortezza Medicea). Siena’s medieval centre is also among the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

a cathedral of white, rose and black marmer with a beautiful intricate facade and a high bell tower, the cathedral in Siena
The Cathedral in Siena

Other places to visit in Tuscany

If you are staying longer in Tuscany (for example 2 weeks), then you can add to your itinerary Pisa (check out this post about the hidden gems in Pisa), Lucca, Arezzo or some of the smaller places: Grosseto, Pistoia, Monteriggioni, Montepulciano, Cortona. But remember Tuscany is a no-rush destination and you should enjoy it properly. On the Google Map above you can find those extra places.

a church on a top of a hill with a very small hills behind and some green bushes in front, Tuscany in Italy
Villages in Tuscany

Where to stay in Tuscany?

To get an idea of the life in Tuscany, my suggestion would be to stay either in an agriturismo or a fattoria (small farms with B&B). You should avoid the busy city centres, otherwise you will be in the middle of the tourist crowd, especially in cities like Florence or Siena.

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. If you book your hotel using the Booking.com link below immediately after you have visited my page, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thus, you are helping me to pay for the hosting of this blog, for example. This is not a sponsored post and I have paid all expenses associated with my stay  and travels in Tuscany myself. All opinions are mine.

Villa Alba – San Gimignano

As we were in Tuscany for our annual summer holidays, we stayed in a lovely villa with a swimming pool just outside of the city walls of San Gimignano. It was a quiet place and in less than 10 minutes we could pop up in the historical part, thus we could explore San Gimigniano as much as we wanted, and I should add also day and night. I can say that Villa Alba is one of the loveliest accommodations I have ever stayed in.  The hosts were amazing and each morning we were waking up with this unforgettable smell of warm croissants. I know that I should be supposed to associate France with the smell of croissants, but for me it will be Tuscany because of our lovely hostess and her freshly baked croissants.

red house and a swimming pool in front of it, Villa Alba in San Gimignano
Villa Alba in San Gimignano
a bed with a white cover and cushions with blue flowers in a hotel room, curtains with flowers and a painting
A room in Villa Alba, San Gimignano

You can use the special Booking.com deal finder to book your accommodation in Tuscany.



Read more: Did I succeed in convincing you that Tuscany is just for? Will it be your first time in Europe? Then you should check out my guide on how and what to pack for your trip to Europe. You don’t want to come all the way to Tuscany and discover you’ve forgotten something. But no worries, I’ve got you covered, I’ve created for you a check list which will help you to pack you luggage efficiently and without any hassle. Click here.

Have you been to Tuscany? Which places have you visited there and how long did you stay? Are you going back one day there? Share with us your experiences! Which are the best places to visit in Tuscany according to you? Do you have questions about those places or the itinerary, let me know in the comments and I will gladly help you.

About Daniela

Daniela is the creator and writer of this travel blog. A writer by nature and occupation and traveller by heart, Daniela will take you to all forgotten corners of Europe and even beyond. She travels with her partner, but his only role is to be the greatest fan of this blog. To learn more, check out the About section.

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