Lucca, a charming walled city nestled in the heart of Tuscany, Italy, often finds itself overshadowed by its more flamboyant neighbors like Florence and Pisa. But for those seeking a slower pace, authentic Italian experiences, and an atmosphere steeped in history, Lucca offers an unforgettable escape.
How to Visit Lucca
If you’re seeking a blissful escape in Lucca but don’t want to work out how to get there, our Tuscany Sunrise, San Gimignano, Lucca, and Pisa Day Tour from Florence is the answer. Departing from Florence in the early hours of the morning, head out on a picturesque sunrise drive through the Tuscan countryside. On route, enjoy the breathtaking views, then arrive at the Tuscan town of San Gimignano. After a guided exploration and some free time, reboard the comfortable minibus and head to Pisa to unlock its key sites. Lastly, enjoy the smooth ride to the charming city of Lucca. This tour not only includes seamless transfers around Tuscany but also enables you to beat the crowds with its early start.
Alternatively, make your own way to Lucca. Located in northwestern Tuscany, Lucca is accessible from major cities like Florence (an hour’s train ride) and Pisa (30 minutes by train). The closest airports are Pisa International Airport (PSA) and Florence Peretola Airport (FLR). If traveling from Florence to Lucca, consider taking the scenic train journey through the rolling Tuscan countryside. The views are breathtaking, and the journey itself is a delightful prelude to your Lucca adventure.
How to Get Around Lucca
The historic center of Lucca is mostly car-free, making it ideal for exploring on foot or by bike. Bike rentals are readily available around the city walls and major piazzas. For longer distances, you can take the public bus system or taxis.
While exploring Lucca alone, by bike or foot, is technically possible, it’s highly recommended to navigate the space with an expert guide leading the way. Instead of wasting precious moments checking the street map for directions, simply follow your tour leader who knows the streets like the backs of their hands. On our Lucca half-day walking tour, your guide takes care of the route, so all that’s left for you to do is take in the wonderful sights, soak in the charm, and hear their unique insights. To add some extra magic, go on to explore the local cuisine on our Lucca half-day food tour. Or, combine the Lucca walking tour with a trip around Pisa on our Pisa and Lucca tour from Florence.
Lucca’s historic center is a maze of narrow streets and charming piazzas, each with its own unique character. Some notable neighborhoods include:
- Centro Storico: The heart of Lucca, home to the main attractions, shops, and restaurants.
- San Lorenzo: A vibrant area known for its lively bars and nightlife.
- San Martino: The area surrounding the Duomo, with a quieter atmosphere and several historic churches.
- Guinigi: The neighborhood around the Guinigi Tower, characterized by medieval architecture and artisan workshops.
Food, Drink, & Nightlife
Lucca’s culinary scene is a delight for foodies, offering traditional Tuscan dishes, fresh local produce, and delectable pastries. Don’t miss these specialties:
- Tordelli: Crescent-shaped pasta filled with ricotta and spinach, served with a meat sauce.
- Buccellato: A sweet ring-shaped bread with raisins and anise seeds.
- Olive oil: Lucca is renowned for its extra virgin olive oil, a staple in Tuscan cuisine.
Sample it all with an insider foodie on our Lucca half-day food tour. For an authentic dining experience, head to one of the many family-run trattorias tucked away in the side streets. In the evenings, enjoy aperitivo hour at a local bar, followed by a leisurely dinner al fresco in a piazza. If you’re looking for nightlife, San Lorenzo offers a variety of bars and pubs with live music and a vibrant atmosphere.
Lucca is a haven for shopaholics, offering a mix of high-end boutiques, local artisan shops, and traditional food markets. Look for:
- Antiques: Browse the antique shops along Via Fillungo for unique treasures and vintage finds.
- Leather goods: Lucca is known for its high-quality leather goods, so be sure to pick up a beautiful handbag, wallet, or pair of gloves.
- Olive oil: Bring home a bottle of Lucca’s renowned extra virgin olive oil as an Italian souvenir or gift.
- Food specialties: Stock up on local delicacies like cured meats, cheeses, and Tuscan wines at the Mercato Centrale, a lively indoor market.
Lucca’s rich history and artistic heritage are evident throughout the city. Immerse yourself in its cultural offerings with these highlights:
Le mura di Lucca (The Lucca Walls)
These imposing Renaissance ramparts encircling the city are more than just a defensive structure. Today, they serve as a beloved public space for locals and visitors alike. Enjoy a leisurely bike ride, jog, or stroll along the tree-lined path, soaking in the panoramic views and the vibrant atmosphere.
Ascend the 14th-century Guinigi Tower, adorned with a rooftop garden, for breathtaking vistas of the city and surrounding countryside. This unique architectural feature makes Torre Guinigi a must-visit for any traveler seeking panoramic views and a memorable experience.
This elliptical piazza, built on the remains of a Roman amphitheater, is a vibrant hub for people-watching, shopping, and savoring gelato. Soak in the unique atmosphere of this historical site, lined with colorful cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Lucca’s Romanesque cathedral, Duomo di San Martino, boasts exquisite marble carvings, a magnificent facade, and the intricately designed Guinigi Tomb. This architectural masterpiece is a testament to the city’s artistic heritage and a must-see for any history buff or art enthusiast.
There are a variety of Lucca accommodations to suit all budgets and styles, from charming boutique hotels and historic guesthouses to modern apartments and family-run B&Bs. Consider staying within the city walls for easy access to the main attractions and a truly immersive experience.
What to See Near Lucca
Lucca is an ideal base for exploring the surrounding region of Tuscany. If you’re based in Lucca, make sure to venture out and see some more Tuscan gems. Whether a day trip from Lucca or the next stop on your Tuscan journey, these are some nearby places you shouldn’t miss.
- Pisa: Visit the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa and explore the beautiful Piazza dei Miracoli.
- Florence: Immerse yourself in the art and architecture of the Renaissance capital of Tuscany.
- Cinque Terre: Hike the picturesque trails between the colorful villages perched on the cliffs of the Italian Riviera.
- Versilia Coast: Relax on the sandy beaches and charming seaside towns along the Tuscan coast.
Combine all of the above in one smooth-sailing package and guarantee yourself a carefree journey with one of our multi-day Tuscany packages. With hotels, inter-city transport, and guided tours all taken care of, there’s no better way to see this magical region. However you choose to visit Lucca, you’re sure to be captivated by its charming atmosphere, rich history, and delicious cuisine. So, pack your bags, lace up your walking shoes, and prepare to be enchanted by this hidden gem of Tuscany.