With only three days in Tuscany, you won’t be able to see everything in the region, as you might imagine.
- My recommendation is to stay in an area close to your airport of arrival.
- For this reason, the cities of Pisa, Lucca, and Florence are the best fit.
- However, I have introduced a few exceptions in this guide.
- Pisa is the easiest destination if you fly in the low-cost Pisa Airport.
- Lucca is a surprise, so unique and different from the other Tuscan towns.
- Florence is the most iconic city in Tuscany, and one of the most known in the world, really unbeatable.
Map with Tuscany itineraries and attractions
3 days in Tuscany for art & history: Florence is the place to be for a short stay in Tuscany full of art and culture. It’s not only about the museums, the cathedral, the antique bridges and buildings, but also about the beautiful historical center. Getting lost in the maze of streets and lanes should be your primary goal. Read more below for the art & history 3 days plan in Tuscany
Three days in Tuscany countryside: with just 3 days in Tuscany I highly suggest renting a car if you plan to stay in the countryside. The alternative is to grab a taxi but it will not be cheap. The Chianti Area, south of Florence, is the best place to stay. Read more below for a countryside 3 days itinerary.
For couples: you have two possibilities, based on where your land. The first one is to stay in Pisa, a more economical destination, and maybe visit Florence and/or Lucca on a day trip. The second possibility is to book your accommodation in Florence and explore from there. Also for the family in this case I recommend two options, the amazing Lucca and the iconic Florence. You will have a completely different experience. Read more below on a family short stay.
For a bit of everything: In this plan you will be able to enjoy an array of activities including art, culture, the countryside and of course some wine tasting too. Read below for more details.
If you fly to Tuscany, you will land in either the main airport of Florence or the low-cost airport of Pisa.
- The Florence Airport is well connected to the city center.
- The Pisa Airport is just a few minutes away from the center of Pisa. You can also catch a direct bus to Florence (1h15m) with Autostradale Bus or Sky Bus.
- In addition, you can rent a car to visit the countryside at your own pace.
- I usually book my vehicles on DiscoverCars.com, a price comparison site that offers the best rates (read cheapest)
- As part of every itinerary, I also suggest a few organized experiences.
- Many (if not all) of them offer a free cancellation policy. You might want to consider booking and canceling at a later stage if your plans change.
- My suggestion here is to book well in advance the popular experiences like the Uffizi or the Michelangelo’s David Accademia because the queues can be a real nightmare
3 days in Tuscany for Art and Culture
I wrote a full post of the best areas to stay in Florence, however, in short, with only 3 days, I highly suggest staying in the San Giovanni neighborhood. This is the historical center of the city, easily reachable by foot or public transportation from the Santa Maria Novella Train Station. Keep in mind that Florence is a walkable city and you will not usually need public transportation unless you decide to book more economical accommodation in the Campo di Marte neighborhood (20/30 minutes by bus/foot to the historical center).
I personally suggest focusing on Florence, however, I have also added an alternative day trip in case you want to explore beyond the city.
Day 1: Start big in the morning with a visit to the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most important art museums in Italy, and the world. My suggestion here is to join the Priority Entrance Tour, a great time-saver besides having a fantastic guide that will explain all you need to know in a small group. Have lunch at Panini Toscani and then have a walk to explore the old city center, from the surprising Piazza Antinori to the Basilica of Holy Trinity, then take the narrow medieval Via delle Terme to Piazza della Signoria. Keep walking into the beautiful Borgo dei Greci street in the direction of Piazza di Santa Croce. From there head north towards Piazza del Duomo. It will be an intense afternoon wandering around the Historical center.
Day 2: Another big day starting from Piazza Duomo where you will visit the Cathedral but before doing that I highly suggest the Dome Climb with the Priority Entrance, again skip the main queue, a real time saver. The tour guide is also a big plus to understand so much more about the Cathedral (that you will visit after the Dome) and why it took 2 centuries to build the dome. In the afternoon, have a walk to Ponte Vecchio, the Roman/Medieval arched river bridge, absolutely a must visit in Florence. Oltrarno is the name of the neighborhood on the other side of the Arno River. From there, turn right on the picturesque Borgo S. Jacopo Street up to the St Trinity Bridge. Cross again the bridge to go back to the Historical Center and visit the Gothic Basilica of Holy Trinity. From there get lost in the maze around Borgo Santi Apostoli Street.
Day 3: Visit Palazzo Vecchio in the morning, the 13th-century building home of the Medici family, a powerful family ruled during the Florentine Republic. The building hosts some of the world’s most unique works of art today. I again recommend buying tickets in advance to avoid queues for this tour and you will enjoy a complimentary audio guide which will help a ton. Lunch at Pizza Gustarium. In the afternoon you have a few options. Continue exploring Florence and more specifically the Santa Cros neighborhood (east of San Giovanni) where you will experience more of local life with small markets and local shops. Try making it at the National Central Library (they currently have a free Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, see the website for the latest information). Alternatively, you can go to Fort de Belvedere (free entrance) to the 15th-century castle on a hill with stunning views of Florence and visit art exhibitions regularly.
Day 3 (alternative): Have a trip to Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano and Chianti areas. This is a great day trip that will allow you to cover some of the most beautiful art destinations in Tuscany. It is offered by two tour operators, Tour & Travel (small group) and CAF tour.
Accommodations and experiences:
Florence for families: Olive loft (2Br AirBnb / Holiday apartment), Front station apartment (value for money).
Florence for couples: Hotel Degli Orafi (amazing view), B&B Il Salotto Di Firenze (value for money and great location).
Experiences: Uffizi Gallery Tour, Dome Climb in the Cathedral, Day Tour in Palazzo Vecchio, Siena, and Chianti area with Complimentary Audio Guide.