Looking through a large wine barrel at the countryside and vineyards in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy.

Tuscany Without a Car – Transport Options + Where to Stay

Are you dreaming of a visit to Tuscany but don’t want to drive? 

Tuscany, one of Italy’s loveliest (and most popular) regions is really made for driving… zipping around in a FIAT 500 over rolling hills, and past vineyards, charming hilltop villages, beach towns, and incredible cities like Florence and Siena. 

But, if you don’t want the stress of parking, getting gas, paying tolls, navigating, and avoiding ZTLs (phew, that’s a lot!) – Don’t worry, there are plenty ways to get around Tuscany without a car! 

You’ll also need to be strategic with where you stay in Tuscany if you’re not planning on moving around by car.  In Tuscany without a car, you have both city and countryside accommodations options, and each have their pluses and minuses.

Let’s take a look at:

  • Transport options in Tuscany without a car
  • The best places to stay in Tuscany without a car

When you’re done reading, you’ll have a good idea of where to base yourself in Tuscany for your travels here without a car.

Why listen to me?  I’m a mamma of three who lives in Tuscany.  I’ve been immersed in the Tuscan landscape since 2003 in many ways – as a traveler, a cycling and hiking guide, a vacation planner, and a mom.  These are my personal recommendations, based on my experiences and those of visiting clients, friends, and family. 

Andiamo – Let’s go!

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How to Get Around Tuscany – The Most Common Ways

Rocky wall and green vineyards in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy.

There’s not a perfect way to get around Tuscany – each method has its pluses and minuses.  Let’s look at the most common ways of moving around Tuscany.

 ADVANTAGESDISADVANTAGES
TRAINFast; inexpensive; last minute okNot door-to-door; limited route options in countryside
BUSInexpensiveLimited route options in countryside
PRIVATE DRIVERCustomize your itinerary; English-speaking guides are a cultural connectionExpensive
DAY TOURCan be inexpensiveUsually not private or customizable
RENTAL CARFreedom and flexibilityHave to worry about driving, gas, tolls, parking, ZTL (zona traffico limitato – limited traffic zone), etc.

Good To Know:  Cycling is another amazing way to move around Tuscany.  You can go on a multi-day trip on your own (bring or rent a bicycle), with an organized group like Backroads, or take a day tour.

Good To Know:  Don’t want to drive but don’t want to book a private driver?  You can also use a taxi to get you to and from a day trip destination.  This is often a good last-minute option, but be sure to check rates, and make sure you have a return ride (with the same taxi or a taxi in your destination).

How to Travel Around Tuscany Without a Car

Use the Train to Travel Around Tuscany

Regional train at the track at the Florence Santa Maria Novella train station in Italy.

One of the easiest ways to see Tuscany without a car is by using the train.  Many Tuscan towns and cities are well-connected by train, including Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Viareggio, Pistoia, and Arezzo. 

You’ll be taking slower (scenic!) trains that connect the cities, and you can buy a ticket for these trains last minute, so trains are a nice option if you don’t want a strict Tuscan itinerary.

Keep in mind that you won’t be able to take trains to smaller villages (like in Chianti).  And, you may need to take another form of transport to get to your final destination.  For example, if you take the train from Florence to Cortona, you’ll need to take the bus or a taxi from the train station to the town center.

Read more about Train Travel in Italy

Travel Around Tuscany by Bus

Back view of a bus in Florence, Italy. It's at a bus stop and people are getting on.

Bus travel in Tuscany is comfortable and fairly reliable.  Buses are a handy way to reach some of the special destinations in the Tuscan countryside that don’t have train service.  But, you may be tied to a rigid schedule – some destinations may be served only once or twice per day. 

I recommend using buses as a complement to other methods.  For example, if you’re based in Siena, you could:

  • Take a day trip to Florence by train
  • Take an organized day tour to Pienza and Montepulciano
  • Take the bus to Monteriggioni
  • Take the bus to Chianti villages

Good To Know:  Our main bus company is AT – Autolinee Toscane (used to be SITA).  But, there are also smaller companies in some places.  I find the best way to know which bus company and route to take is to look at a Google Map of the route.  You can even follow along while you’re on the bus to make sure you get off at the right place (I do this).

Hire a Private Driver to Travel Around Tuscany

Black van in a parking lot in Chianti, Tuscany.

If it’s in your budget, hiring a private driver is an excellent way to see the parts of Tuscany you want to see, when you want to see them.  You can organize your day(s) to fit your group, and if your driver speaks English, you can ask questions and learn about life in Tuscany.

Prices vary greatly by season, destinations, and length of tour. 

A private driver in Italy is called an NCC – noleggio con conducente (rental with driver).  These drivers have a special license and you can see an NCC decal on the back of their vehicles next to the license plate. 

Feel free to contact some of my Recommended NCCs in Tuscany.

Take a Day Tour in Tuscany

Red vespa sitting against a wall in Tuscany.
Guided Vespa tours are popular in Tuscany

Day tours are less expensive than private drivers, but you lose the option to customize your tour, and you’ll be traveling with others. 

Day tour experiences vary – some are large bus tours, other times you’re in a small van, and sometimes you’re on a bicycle or a vespa.  It’s important to read the fine print and contact the tour operator if you need clarification on what the tour entails.

Although I prefer independent travel and private tours, I sometimes sign up for organized day tours.  Why?  Because they’re easy and you can meet other interesting people, and as long as you have the proper expectations, they can be a lot of fun!

You can book day tours through travel agents or using online resources like GetYourGuide or Viator. 

Where to Stay in Tuscany Without a Car

While you can stay anywhere in Tuscany without a car, here are a few suggestions that are popular and work well, based on my experience planning trips in the region.

I’m listing both city and countryside options.  As you read through them, keep in mind some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of stay:

 ADVANTAGESDISADVANTAGES
CITYPlenty of transport options Better train connections Usually less expensive transport options More accommodation options Better access to grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.More crowds, noise
COUNTRYSIDEMore space, better views Quiet, tranquil Easier to find accommodation with a poolMay not be able to take train More expensive to use private drivers May not have access to organized day tours

Good To Know: You can reach most places in Tuscany (even many small villages) by public transport, but you may spend all day doing it.  I’m only including places that are easy to reach by train or bus.

Florence (City)

View of Florence, Italy's Ponte Vecchio bridge on a sunny day. You can see puffy white clouds and there are buildings on both sides of the river.
Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Stay in the birthplace of the Renaissance and the capital city of Tuscany – Florence.  You’ll have plenty to do in Florence – like visiting Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia, strolling across the Ponte Vecchio with a gelato in hand, and walking up to Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset –  and you can also take day trips (or overnight trips) into the Tuscan countryside. 

From Florence, you can take public transport to many places, and utilize private drivers, buses, or day tours to access other destinations.  For example, some places you can easily visit include:

Train – Lucca, Pisa, Siena, Pistoia, Viareggio, Arezzo, Cortona (with quick bus ride up to town)

Bus – San Gimignano, Siena, Greve in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti

Day Tour – Tons of options, like this Chianti Wineries Tour or this Val d’Orcia

Tour that includes Pienza, Montepulciano, and Montalcino.  Check out GetYourGuide or Viator for tours in Tuscany – from wine tastings to city walking tours to cooking classes.

Private Driver – Anywhere in Tuscany! 

Helpful Tip:  If you’re planning on taking day trips into Tuscany by train, book your Florence accommodation in a neighborhood near the Florence Santa Maria Novella train station (aka Florence SM Novella or Florence SMN).

You may want to read about
Where to Stay in Florence
Best Views in Florence
Best Day Trips from Florence

Florence in December
Day Trips from Florence with Kids
Florence with Kids – Complete Guide

Siena (City)

Checking out the view of Piazza del Campo from the clock tower.

Siena, home to the famous Palio horse race, is quieter than Florence, but it’s gorgeous and you’ll find plenty to do in the city while you’re not out exploring Tuscany.  Hang out in the Piazza del Campo, climb the Torre del Mangia, and check out the striking Duomo of Siena (and the Piccolomini Library’s incredible frescoes and illuminated manuscripts). 

Siena was left off of the major train and road routes, so instead of experiencing growth like Florence, it’s maintained a small city feel. 

While you won’t have as many train or bus options as you have in a larger city like Florence, you are closer to some parts of Chianti, the Val d’Orcia and its villages, and even gems further south like Saturnia hot springs and memorable villages in Southern Tuscany like Pitigliano.

Places you can easily visit from Siena include:

Train – Florence

BusMonteriggioni, San Gimignano, Florence, Volterra, Arezzo, Chianti villages (especially Castellina in Chianti and Radda in Chianti)

Day Tour – There are day tour options available from Siena, like this Montalcino Wineries Tour, this Pienza and Montepulciano Tour, or this Val d’Orcia Wine Tour.

Private Driver – Anywhere in Tuscany! 

Lucca (City)

Piazza Anfiteatro in Lucca, Italy.

Most people who visit Lucca are pleasantly surprised by the ‘real’ town with gorgeous piazzas, narrow lanes full of shops and restaurants, the tower with the tree on top, and those famous ancient city walls that you can walk or cycle on(!).

Lucca is a smaller city by the Mediterranean Sea coast, so you’ll have access to Tuscan beach towns in addition to inland countryside towns.

There are both trains and buses leaving from Lucca, so you have options for day trip transport.  And, in the evenings, you can enjoy local Lucca life.

Places you can easily visit from Lucca include:

Train – Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Viareggio

Bus – Collodi (village and Pinocchio Park), Florence

Day Tour – There are limited day tour options that depart from Lucca, like this Self-Guided Lucca to Pisa Bike Tour.

Private Driver – Anywhere in Tuscany! 

Chianti (Countryside)

Corner of pool, grassy area with umbrellas and loungers, and vineyard views at Castello del Nero in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy.
COMO Castello del Nero

Are you daydreaming of a stay in the Chianti countryside and filling your days with wine tasting, lounging by the pool, and exploring the tiny Chianti villages?

Good To Know:  While ‘Chianti’ is a large area, I’m focusing on ‘Chianti Classico,’ a much smaller area – and the zone most people are talking about when they mention ‘Chianti.’

While it’s much easier done with a car, you can manage a Chianti stay without a car.  This type of stay is best if you’re planning on having a lot of relaxing/lounging time at your accommodation, punctuated with occasional trips into the countryside.  While you’ll be able to use buses, depending on where you stay you may need to hire a taxi or private driver to get you to/from your accommodation.  For example, if you decide to stay in one of the villages, you may be able to arrive by bus.  But, for countryside agriturismo stays, you’ll need to hire a taxi or driver.

Your day trip transport options in Tuscany vary greatly depending on where you stay in Chianti.  For example, if you stay in Castellina in Chianti, it’s easy to take a bus to Siena.  Or, if you’re basing yourself in Greve in Chianti, you can easily catch a bus to Florence or Panzano in Chianti. 

When thinking about where you can visit without a car:

Train – Don’t plan on utilizing trains if you’re staying in Chianti.

Bus –There is a decent bus system running through Chianti.  You’ll find many of

Day Tour – Don’t count on having many private day tour options if you opt for a Chianti stay.  Most day tours leave from cities.

Private Driver – Drivers can take you anywhere in Chianti, to villages or other destinations like cooking classes in the Tuscan hills or taking photos of the vendemmia.  Or, a driver can take you into other parts of Tuscany. 

Helpful Tip:  Stay in San Casciano in Val di Pesa.  It’s in Chianti and surrounded by beautiful countryside, and you can easily access Florence, Greve in Chianti, Montefioralle, Panzano in Chianti, and wineries like Antinori Chianti Classico.

Val d’Orcia (Countryside)

Cypress trees line the road in the Val d'Orcia in Southern Tuscany.

When you think of cypress-lined drives and rolling green hills, you’re thinking of the Val d’Orcia (in the spring).  This UNESCO World Heritage Site in Southern Tuscany is one of the most beautiful places you’ll visit in Italy.  In addition to the scenery, you’ll find charming hilltop villages like Montepulciano, Pienza, and Montalcino), excellent wines (like Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano), and one of our favorite hot springs towns, Bagno Vignoni.

The main differences between Chianti (in northern Tuscany) and Val d’Orcia (in southern Tuscany) are the locations and the scenery – Chianti is more closed with vineyards and forested land, while Val d’Orcia has a more open landscape with velvety rolling hills that change colors through the seasons.  Of course, there are vineyards in the wine areas (like around Montepulciano and Montalcino).

Places you can easily visit from Val d’Orcia include:

Train – Don’t plan on using the trains in Val d’Orcia.  You will find train service on the outer edges of the area, like in Buonconvento or Montepulciano. 

Bus – You can use buses to get around the area.  For example, it’s just a 20-minute bus ride between Montepulciano and Pienza… and then another 35 minutes to Bagno Vignoni.  If you’re not interested in a private driver, this is the best way to get around the Val d’Orcia.

Day Tour – Don’t count on having many private day tour options if you opt for a Chianti stay.  Most day tours leave from cities.

Private Driver – Anywhere in the Val d’Orcia and Tuscany! 

I hope this helps you plan out your travels in Tuscany without a car.  Buon viaggio!

You may also want to read about
Visiting the Val d’Orcia
Most Romantic Places in Tuscany
Visiting Bagno Vignoni
One Day in Pienza

Tuscany Without a Car FAQ

Can I use UBER to travel around Tuscany?

The UBER that you know and love isn’t available in Italy.  You can find versions of it in some larger cities (not Florence), but in Tuscany, it’s not a good option yet.

Does Pisa make a good base for exploring Tuscany without a car?

While it’s definitely possible to use Pisa as a base for visiting Tuscany without a car (it’s got great train connections), it’s a larger city and there are more charming options that do the job just as well (like Florence or Lucca).  Pisa makes for a better day trip (gotta see the Leaning Tower!)

Is hitchhiking common in Tuscany?

Hitchhiking is not common in Tuscany.  I do occasionally see someone people with their thumbs out, but I’m not sure how successful they are.  It’s illegal to hitchhike on the Autostrade (toll roads) or their gas stations.