Tuscany is a large region that encompasses very different geographical, historical and cultural realities. Choosing where to stay in Tuscany is therefore strategic in order to be able to organise a dream holiday based on one’s tastes and needs.
You can base yourself in a major city and from there move with day trips to other famous locations, or do the exact opposite, or stay in small villages or rural areas from which you can leave to visit cities of art. The choice depends on where you want to place the emphasis: urban atmospheres or peace? And then, do you want to stay in one place or take a journey in stages?
The good news is that Tuscany has a highly developed and widespread tourism industry, carried out with equal success by small family businesses and international giants. This means that in this region you can find a quantity and variety of hotels, B&Bs and holiday homes that is perhaps unparalleled in Italy.
To help you understand where to stay we have put together a mini-guide to where to stay in Tuscany with the best locations and recommended hotels suitable for different types of holiday.
Florence is a city with a high concentration of artistic works, and it’s not just the quantity that is extraordinary. Michelangelo’s masterpieces, the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo with its unmistakable dome… within easy reach of each other, Florence’s top attractions are among the most famous and admired art wonders in the world.
A must-see for every art and history enthusiast, the cradle of the Renaissance is also an ideal destination for a couple’s holiday. Strolling hand in hand along the characteristic Ponte Vecchio and the manicured Boboli Gardens is one of the most romantic experiences of a lifetime.
If the collective imagination relegates Florence to a past centuries distant, the reality is that of a dynamic city, rich in cultural ferments, events and places to have fun. So yes also to holidays with friends and groups of young people!
Florence’s hotel offer can accommodate a very large number of visitors. This means that the choice of accommodation is very wide, with proposals to suit all budgets and needs.
The centre is the preferred area for most tourists: it is a perfect solution for those who want to have all the tourist attractions at hand, for those who reach Florence by public transport, and for those who stay for a short time. The centre is not necessarily the most expensive area, on the contrary, here you can find excellent cheap solutions such as family-run pensions and hostels.
Those who don’t want to compromise on comfort and those who really don’t mind spending money can choose between luxury hotels, many of which have spas, and elegant flats with splendid views of the city. The most popular are invariably the rooms with a view of the Duomo.
Don’t limit yourself to the centre when looking for your hotel or b&b in Florence. In the areas close to the centre and even in the suburbs it is possible to find good-value accommodation. Particularly if you arrive by car, it may be a good idea to avoid the centre, which is busy and a bit difficult to get around if you don’t know the city.
A completely different atmosphere can be found in Fiesole, a charming little town just 5 km from Florence: a good choice for those who, at the end of a day of cultural sightseeing, want greenery and relaxation.
The wonders of Florence are only a portion of Tuscany’s artistic and architectural treasures. The Leaning Tower in Pisa and the Campo dei Miracoli in Siena are two other iconic images of our Belpaese: a visit to these two cities is a must.
Lucca is perhaps less iconic but deserves to be seen… or experienced, since it is a very lively city culturally; Pistoia and Arezzo are often ignored because they are overshadowed by the fame of the most visited places: they should be rediscovered because they hide interesting surprises.
Although they are smaller cities than Florence, Pisa and Siena also have a long tradition of tourism, so here too the offer of hotels, B&Bs and flats is very good. The historic centres of the two cities are not large and can be easily walked around, so all tourist accommodation is convenient to attractions and services.
The choice of accommodation decreases drastically in Lucca, Pistoia and Arezzo, but good solutions can also be found here. In some cases, moving just a few kilometres from the centre, you can find beautiful farmhouses and villas with swimming pools that allow you to combine a visit to the city with relaxing afternoons in the countryside.
How beautiful the villages of Tuscany are! Also rich in history, and not infrequently in artistic masterpieces, they are a completely different world from the cities of art. Oases of peace, devoted to beauty and the small joys of life.
One could spend a lifetime visiting all the small villages and walled towns of Tuscany: how do you choose which ones to include in your travel programme? The choice is indeed a tough one, but you have to start somewhere. Why not San Gimignano, Certaldo, Colle Val d’Elsa, Montepulciano or San Quirico d’Orcia?
If you want to make a food-and-wine-themed itinerary, the must-see villages are Montalcino, city of Brunello wine, Pienza, city of pecorino cheese, San Miniato, city of truffles, and one of your choice (why not more than one?) among the villages of the Chianti region.
In the best known and most visited villages, such as San Gimignano and Montepulciano, it is not difficult to find hotels and you can generally choose between budget and luxury accommodation; however, these are almost always small hotels, B&Bs and flats. Do not expect to find mega hotels.
The choice is more limited in the small villages usually ignored by mass tourism, but if you are travelling by car there is no need to fear: in Tuscany a good agriturismo is never too far away!
Tuscany boasts hundreds of kilometres of coastline, almost all of it washed by the Tyrrhenian Sea and a small portion to the north washed by the Ligurian Sea. Along the coast are countless beaches, both sandy and rocky, some still wild and others with a long tradition of tourism; to these are added the wonderful beaches of the islands that make up the Tuscan Archipelago.
The main areas into which the Tuscan coastline is divided are: the Maremma Coast, the Apuan Riviera, Versilia, Terre di Pisa, the Livorno Coast and the Etruscan Coast. The most famous seaside resorts are concentrated in the Maremma and Versilia.
Versilia is an approximately 20 km long coastal stretch in the northern part of Tuscany, squeezed between the sea and the mountains of the Apuan Alps. Long sandy beaches stretch along this coastline, behind which are popular seaside resorts.
Among these are Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio, two names that are immediately associated with fun and carefreeness: the first for its famous social life, the second for one of the most famous carnivals in Europe. Other seaside resorts not to be missed in Versilia are Pietrasanta and Lido di Camaiore.
The Maremma is a vast area of Tuscany that includes one of the best known and most popular stretches of coastline in the region, much of which is protected by nature parks and marine reserves. It is an excellent choice for those who love beaches surrounded by greenery or close to romantic villages.
The Tuscan Archipelago manages to hold its own against top seaside destinations such as Sardinia, Sicily and Greece. Many Italians prefer to spend their bathing holidays on the islands opposite Tuscany, either because they are beautiful or because they are much easier to reach.
The record number of tourists comes from the wonderful Island of Elba, a very large island with a varied landscape that lends itself to being visited in all seasons. Its azure-blue sea, luxuriant nature, characteristic seaside villages and fascinating inland trails are an irresistible lure for beach lovers, hikers and romantic souls.
The other islands in the archipelago are also worth discovering, especially the islands of Giglio, Capraia and Pianosa.
Feel like relaxing? When you need to unplug and regenerate, the spas of Tuscany are the ideal destination. Among these, the top destinations are Saturnia, Montecatini Terme, Chianciano and Rapolano Terme.
The first is known for its free thermal baths: these are natural pools of sulphurous waters that reach a temperature of 37.5°. Being very famous, and free, the natural thermal baths of Saturnia are almost always crowded, which is why some people prefer to book a spa hotel with private thermal baths.
Montecatini Terme is history and elegance, Chianciano and Rapolano are more devoted to modern wellness tourism.
All the spa resorts in Tuscany offer a good choice of accommodation. Spa hotels with private pools prevail, but it is also possible to stay in b&b and agriturismi and bathe in the pools of thermal establishments that allow daily admission.
In general, spa hotels are of medium-high category; if you want to spend a little less, move to nearby villages.