A Wonderful Easy Day Trip to Lucca, Italy

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Planning a day trip to Lucca, Italy? Whether coming from Florence, Livorno Cruise Port, or simply exploring Tuscany, visiting Lucca is well worth your time.

Italy is dear to us, not just because of our ancestral roots but because it feels like home. With its rolling hills, vineyards, and medieval villages, Tuscany offers endless exploration opportunities. However, Lucca stands out with its Renaissance-era architecture, cobblestone streets, and iconic walls encircling the city.

Lucca is perfectly positioned for a wonderful day trip, just 51 miles from Florence and 32 miles from Livorno. It’s also conveniently located for a combined half-day trip with Pisa, making it an ideal option for those cruising through the Mediterranean or exploring more of Tuscany in a single day.

While planning our day trip to Lucca, Italy, we chose to rent a car at Livorno Cruise Port and drive there. It was about a 45-minute drive from the port, and I would absolutely do it again.

This article will guide you on how to get to Lucca from Florence and Livorno and share our top tips for enjoying your day in this beautiful city.

featured blog image with tex | A blog header image with the text "Lucca, Italy in a Day" over a panoramic view of Lucca's rooftops and surrounding hills.Pin

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How to Spend a Day in Lucca, Italy

Located in the heart of Tuscany, the historic city of Lucca truly won us over, just as everyone said it would. If you’ve fallen for Florence, with its stunning architecture and inviting streets, you will feel the same about Lucca. They were right about the similarities—walking around Lucca feels like strolling through Florence, but even better.

Lucca is smaller than Florence, making navigating easier and less crowded. Lucca takes it further if you thought Florence was walkable, offering a cozy, more intimate exploration experience. Spending just a day here won’t allow you to see everything, but it ensures a relaxing, pleasant day soaking in the local charm.

Explore the Underground Tunnels

After parking our car, we followed a path that led us into the heart of Lucca through one of its many entrances—a tunnel beneath the ancient city walls.

One fascinating but easy-to-miss feature of Lucca is its underground tunnels. We stumbled upon one of these entrances purely by chance; had we chosen a different route, we might have completely missed it. Venturing into these tunnels, we had no specific destination in mind, but the thrill of exploring was enough. It felt like stepping back in time, navigating the cool, dark, and slightly damp corridors that ring the city—an atmospheric contrast heightened by the rain outside.

The tunnels, originally constructed as public walkways around the city, offered us a vivid glimpse into Lucca’s historical layers. Although the walk through the tunnels only took about 5-10 minutes, it was a memorable highlight of our visit.

Explore the Cobblestone Streets

Emerging into the old city, the ambiance instantly struck a familiar chord with Florence, making us feel right at home. Perhaps it was the off-season timing or the intermittent rain, but the streets were blissfully less crowded, adding to our sense of discovery.

Make a Stop for Pizza… and Espresso

After a long drive to Lucca, the first thing on our agenda was a jolt of caffeine and maybe a snack—specifically, pizza.

We wandered into a pizzeria that had just opened its doors for the day, the perfect timing for our espresso fix and a much-needed bathroom break. With most shops still shuttered early in the morning, we felt like we’d stumbled upon a hidden gem.

Have you ever experienced the joy of the first slice of pizza from the day’s first pie? As we savored our espressos, the pizzeria began to buzz with the sounds and smells of the first pizza emerging from the oven. The aroma of fresh basil, melting cheese, and ripe tomatoes filled the air, practically irresistible. My husband and I exchanged a knowing look—clearly, we were thinking about indulging in that first slice.

There’s something truly special about the first slice of the day, especially for us, who have spent countless hours in our family’s pizzerias. We shared that first slice and quickly decided a second was in order. It was the perfect mid-morning treat—breakfast or brunch.

My advice? Don’t just rush through your sightseeing checklist. Take a moment to stop and savor—literally, in this case, stop and smell the pizza… and then eat a slice! It will be well worth it!

With about five hours left to explore Lucca, we continued our adventure at a leisurely pace, occasionally dashing for cover from the sporadic rain. This relaxed exploration led us to discover the beautiful St. Martin’s Cathedral.

St. Martin’s Cathedral | Lucca Cathedral

A visit to St. Martin’s Cathedral, also known as Lucca Cathedral, is a must in Lucca. This architectural gem is nestled in the heart of the old city, facing the picturesque Piazza St. Martin. The cathedral showcases a harmonious blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles and is dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours.

As you step inside St. Martin’s Cathedral, you’re greeted by its stunning interior, marked by arched ceilings and columns dividing the space into two airy aisles. The ambiance inside is serene and awe-inspiring, inviting visitors to pause and appreciate the quiet beauty.

We found ourselves drawn to the center of the pews, where we sat down to absorb it all. It’s a perfect spot to reflect and soak in the intricate details of this historic church.

Climb Guinigi Tower

terracotta colored roofs and tower with trees on top

The Guinigi Tower, or Torre Guinigi, is an iconic landmark in the old city of Lucca. Constructed in the late 1300s by the influential Guinigi family, this tower stands about 45 meters high, making it one of Lucca’s tallest structures.

What sets the Guinigi Tower apart from other towers is its rooftop garden, where Holm oak trees are planted. It’s quite a sight—how many towers have you seen that boast oak trees at their summit?

As you make your way to this remarkable tower, be prepared for a delightful distraction: the enticing aromas wafting through the air will make you hungry. This unique sensory experience might be all you can think about as you climb to the top.

City view of Lucca, ItalyPin

When you reach the summit of the Guinigi Tower, you’re rewarded with a breathtaking 360-degree view of Lucca. You’ll also see the holm oak trees thriving in their unique rooftop garden setting.

Be aware that the space at the top is quite compact, making it a tight fit. It can be difficult to navigate, especially since unintentionally blocking the narrow paths is easy. Mindfulness of others is key in this confined area.

On the day of our visit, the tower wasn’t crowded, but we did encounter a few people who, rather inconsiderately, stayed in their spots and made it difficult for others to pass. I’m not sure how they manage visitors’ flow during peak tourist season. The stunning panoramic views from the top make any inconvenience worthwhile.

Fun Fact: Did you know that families competed for the tallest tower? I have a feeling this is partially why the Guinigi family added a garden of trees.

Eat the Best Foccacia at Forno F. Casali

fresh-baked loaves of bread and a sandwich from one of the best bakeries in Lucca, ItalyPin

Remember that irresistible smell that distracted us on our way to the Guinigi Tower? Once we descended, we followed our noses straight to its source—a fantastic local bakery that almost felt like a hidden treasure.

It was tough, but I’ve decided not to keep this gem all to myself, although the temptation was real! The heavenly aroma of freshly baked goods was too good not to explore. As we stepped inside, a local customer was there to pick up her daily goodies. She told us that this bakery served the best focaccia in town. Given the enticing display and our watering mouths, we didn’t hesitate to take her word.

We opted to share a sandwich made with their freshly baked focaccia for lunch, and it was divine—easily some of the best focaccia we’ve ever tasted. It was the perfect midday meal, rounding out our Lucca experience with delightful flavors.

Tour Idea:
Lucca Food Walking Tour 2Italia [book here]

Sit at a Cafe at Piazza Anfiteatro

dining tables and umbrellas outside of a square surrounding by old yellow buildings in lucca italy

The heart of Lucca’s old city is home to the Piazza Anfiteatro, a vibrant main square built on the remnants of an ancient Roman amphitheater. Standing in the center of the piazza, you can easily imagine the historical grandeur that once filled this space.

The Piazza Anfiteatro is lined with a variety of restaurants, cafes, and unique shops, making it ideal for a break and soaking in the local atmosphere. We took the opportunity to sit back and enjoy an espresso here, a perfect pause in our day of exploration.

The tart was filled with Nutella. It was amazing!

Feeling ready for more indulgence, we stumbled upon a cozy corner cafe without outdoor seating. We settled in with two cappuccinos and a selection of sweets, enjoying the simple pleasure of a slow afternoon in this historic setting.

Tour Ideas:
Lucca Bikes and Bites with Food Tastings for Small Groups [Book Here]

Keep a Lookout for the Canal of Lucca

small canal among italian renaissance buildings in luccaPin

While wandering through Lucca, we stumbled upon an unexpected delight—a charming mini canal in the middle of the historic city. It was a delightful surprise, adding a unique touch to our exploration. While it may not be as grand as the River Arno or as famous as the canals of Venice, discovering this quaint canal was a special moment in our day. Its presence enhanced the picturesque quality of Lucca, making our stroll through this European city even more memorable.

Explore the Old City Wall

Exploring the historic city walls is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Lucca. Originally constructed for defense, these walls have been beautifully transformed into a scenic park that encircles the old city. Now lined with lush trees, foliage, walking and biking paths, and benches, the walls offer stunning views over Lucca’s landscapes.

Unfortunately, we only made our way to the walls towards the end of our day, just as we were heading back to our car. The experience was so lovely that we instantly regretted not allocating more time for this adventure. The views and the serene paths were perfect for a leisurely stroll or bike ride, especially on a crisp October in Italy.

So, when you plan your visit, make sure to prioritize the city walls. Allow yourself ample time to appreciate this unique feature of Lucca fully. It’s a perfect spot to experience the city from a different perspective and enjoy some peaceful moments away from the city center.

How to Get to Lucca, Italy?

long dirt road with cypress trees in italyPin

Getting to Lucca from Livorno, Italy

Cruisers arriving at the Livorno cruise port have a few travel options:

  • Option 1: Rent a Car
  • Ideal for those who prefer the freedom to explore at their own pace.
  • Recommended car rental: Avis or Rentalcars.com
  • Note: A shuttle from the cruise port to Livorno town is required, followed by a 20-30-minute walk to the station.
  • Option 2: Take the Train
  • Route: Livorno Centrale Railway Station to Lucca (transfer at Pisa Centrale).
  • Duration: Total travel time is approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes.
  • Note: A shuttle from the cruise port to Livorno town is required, followed by a 20-30-minute walk to the station.
  • Advance booking is recommended. Train schedules and info.
  • Option 3: Book a Private Driver or Guided Tour
  • Tour ideas:
    Round-Trip Transfer Service to Lucca and Pisa from Livorno [book here]

Getting to Lucca from Florence, Italy

  • Option 1: Take the Train
  • Direct Route: From Stazione di Santa Maria Novella in Florence to Lucca.
  • Duration: Total travel time is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Advance booking is recommended. Train times and info.
  • Option 2: Rent a Car
  • Drive Duration: Approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • Duration: Total travel time is approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes.
  • Note: An international driver’s license is required, which can be obtained from AAA.
  • Consider renting a car from a local agency in Florence.
  • Option 3: Book a Guided Tour
  • Tour ideas:
    Pisa and Lucca Day Trip from Florence [book here]
  • Private Half-Day Excursion to Lucca from Florence [book here]

Arriving in Lucca by Train

  • The train station in Lucca is conveniently located just outside the city walls, making it easy to start exploring soon after your arrival.

Parking in Lucca, Italy

  • Parking is not permitted inside the historic city walls.
  • Options include free and paid parking lots outside the medieval walls.
  • For more parking information, visit this site.
woman standing in front of old wooden door and archway made of stones with a yellow facadePin

Is Lucca worth a day trip?

Yes! Lucca is worth a day trip and perhaps even a longer stay. It’s filled with century-old buildings and charming cobblestone streets. You can also explore its Renaissance walls, which are unique with their underground tunnels. Moreover, the paths atop the walls have been converted into green paths that have become a part of the locals’ everyday life.

How much time do you need in Lucca?

While this post is about a day in Lucca, considering what this wonderful historic city offers, you can easily spend more than 2-3 days there.

What to do in Lucca in half a day?

With half a day in Lucca, we recommend exploring the city walls and then sitting at a cafe in Piazza Anfiteatro for an espresso or an aperitivo.

No matter how well you plan, seeing everything on a day trip is impossible. The beauty of day trips lies in sampling a destination—perhaps focusing on just a few sites while enjoying the overall atmosphere. If you find yourself overwhelmed, consider the few key spots we recommend in this post.

In Lucca, don’t feel pressured to do everything in one day. We kept our itinerary flexible during our travels, which included five cruise stops and a week in Barcelona and Girona, Spain.s.

Remember, time is limited on a cruise. While exploring the broader Tuscan region is tempting, focusing on Lucca can be equally rewarding. If a Tuscan road trip intrigues you, consider saving it for another visit.

Read More: How We Spent Three Days in Tuscany

Tour Ideas:
Discover Lucca’s Secrets on a Guided Walking Tour [book here]

Walking Tour and Exploration of Lucca [book here]
Lucca Highlights Private Walking Tour [book here]

I Love Lucca, Italy

During our brief visit, Lucca quickly captured our hearts, and we even started picturing ourselves living there one day. My husband soon chatted with locals about real estate, the economy, and their daily lives, curious about the city they call home.

We found it amusing when several locals told us, “It’s funny because Americans want to live here, and yet we would love to be in America.” They cherished their homeland, of course, but were just as fascinated by life in the States as we were with Italy.

And honestly, who wouldn’t want to live in Italy? Politics aside, with its stunning European towns like Lucca, which are rich in architecture and history and have some of the best cuisine in the world, it seems like a perfect fit for us.

We also met a delightful Canadian woman who owned property in Lucca and migrated several times a year. Her joy was evident as she shared how much she loved it there, enough to buy a property. Her story added to our enchantment with Lucca.

Don’t Miss: Inspiring Quotes About Italy – Your Next Foodie Destination


Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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  1. “Stop and smell the pizza.” I am in stitches. Girl, that is my favorite picture EVER of you. I love it. That should be your new profile picture for everything. 200% YOU and what you are about. You might love your pizza more than Lauren. I hope she sees this and comments lol!

    I’m actually so glad that you wrote this post. As you already know, we visited Lucca–but we didn’t see most of this. You brought me back to Lucca. Thank you! And, you showed me even more.

    For us: We happened to be on this awesome tour of Tuscany (wine tasting in Chianti as part of it, whoo hoooo!). Our guide had moved to Italy years ago and told us about Lucca. We decided to skip the lines of everything in Florence (like the Uffizi–David be damned) and head to Lucca to see these famous walls. Our guide had won us over at the sound of bike riding. We looked at train timetables and were outta there.

    We ate some amazing salted fish in town, hit the local bike shop, and then we rented two bikes for half the day. We spent all of our time riding along the walls. One of my favorite travel memories of all time. As you know, the background is stunning. It’s super romantic too.

    I love that you went in the fall. I can only begin to imagine how beautiful it looked with the foliage. Loving that picture too.

    We didn’t go inside any of the cathedrals, so I am thrilled to see you did; I had no idea that most of that was there. I was such a sucker for lovers’-trysts-spying on those sexy walls.

    We, too, stopped for espresso. It’s a must. Plus, you have to people watch.

    That little street art is SO cute and 100% correct. I’m also drooling over that sandwich!

    P.S. I love the new blog theme. Blessing in disguise. Love the IG widget! Your shirt ad is perfection, and how the heck did you get these adorable dotted lines for your comment box? It’s amazing. I know how hard you worked–and it paid off. LOVE IT!!!

    Gotta run. Blogging bestie pinning time. And time to tweet it. HEHE.

    I want more from you. What’s next? The upcoming island trip? (Don’t want to out you here lol).


    1. Um, I may now need to change my profile because you said so. I love that picture too. Thank you, hubby!

      I LOVE the spontaneity in your story. Instead of wondering what all the fuss was about Lucca, you took control and bought train tickets. Go you! Seriously, that’s what travel is about. Sometimes you just gotta forget your plans and go. I love the sound of bike riding on the city wall, and you know me, I am not a bike rider but I’d totally bike here. Next time. Also love how casual your day in Lucca went, not in a hurry to see everything but simply enjoying a small part of it.

      I saw your comment on Twitter about church fatigue and can totally relate because I feel like this half the time on these trips. I normally refuse to go in and then I’m forced in for some reason, like this time it was rain. Then I was pleasantly surprised at the interior. I do love architecture and that’s what I like going to the cathedrals for. And, Hubby likes to light candles lol

      Thank you for your blog comments. Still working on it and honestly going to slowly build another theme on the side because I can’t figure out how to make edits to things like my shop. It’s driving me crazy. BUT, I will tell you that I got these dots by investing in the Design Pro Palette for Genesis and was able to format things like these boxes lol. Was it worth the money? I don’t think so. Was it worth my time? Sure.

      Writing about Nice, France next! Don’t think it will be a long post though lol

      Btw: I will give the award of who loves pizza the most to Lauren. She wins! Hands down! My love for pizza in Italy will always be forever. Pizza + Italy = ❤

  2. Ahhhhhhh!!! I love your posts SO much!! I love feeling like I’m there while reading. Looks so beautiful! That tunnel looks so cool. What a great way to enter a town.
    And haha when you mentioned a wonderful smell I was like What was it!? Tell me! Don’t leave me hanging! Seriously, I almost (illogically)thought you might forget to say. Breeeaaaaaad!! It’s the best smell ever. I used to have a commute to work where I passed a bakery and was taunted by that smell.
    I want that focaccia! If you guys move to Lucca, I’m visiting!!! We’ll eat all the pizza, focaccia bread, drink all the espresso and did you say Nutella tart? God! Amazing!

    1. Haha, you’re so funny! I meant to leave you hanging so you would keep reading. Glad you did and found out what it was. Seriously, the aroma was so distracting. I even forgot to take pictures of the tower because I just wanted to follow the smell. It was soo good! We seriously load up on carbs when we’re in Italy.

      We have big dreams of spending lots of time in Italy in the future. Let’s see how that pans out. And of course, you can tag along! The more, the merrier! Wine, focaccia and pizza for all!

  3. I want to eat everything and see everything now! I can almost smell that Foccacia baking. I know that when I finally make it to Italy I will be coming to you for advice! Your trips always look amazing, and I like to eat my way around a new place like you do.

    By the way, your new blog theme looks amazing!

    1. You’re so sweet! Hope you make it to Italy soon and don’t hesitate to ask. If I don’t know, I will gladly point you to the right blogs to check. Like Jella’s (AsianaCircus), she has blogged about some amazing finds in Italy. I can’t wait to get back and personally explore her tips.

      Means so much to me that you stopped by and commented. Thanks for the blog theme love! I’ve been literally pulling my hair out with it and go back and forth between loving it and hating it. I guess the pipdig saga was a good thing in the end.

  4. I am so so glad that you posted this. We are going back to Italy in November and we’ve never been to Tuscany and I want to go somewhere different. This place seems amazing. And the info is invaluable and the pics, amazeballs. I agree, that picture is super cute! Also, you had me at pizza that is my favorite food in the world and Italy is my favorite place. I can’t wait to visit Lucca. This post could not have come ata better time as we are making our travel plans now.

    1. Hi Dee! I’m so excited for your trip to Italy and I can’t wait to read all about it. Italy is my favorite place in the world and I absolutely love hearing about it from other people’s POV and learning of new places to explore and eat.

      Lucca was so nice! I really love the vibe there. I didn’t get to explore it as much as I wanted to with the limited time, but I hope you do.

      Have fun on your trip and let me know when you post!

  5. Spent several days in Lucca spring 2019. Hubby and I were on a tour of France and Italy and Lucca was one of our favorite towns. We had pizza by the slice and had the best meal at a small osteria. Wandered around on the walls and saw the little canal. Watched a artist build a sand sculpture in the square and families out in the evening. Much slower pace than Florence-Just lovely

    1. Your time in Lucca sounds so incredible. It’s exactly how I’d love to spend my time in Lucca the next time we are there for a longer length of time. We have done that in Florence, but it is definitely busier there than Lucca. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience. Now I’m missing Italy all over again. Can’t wait to return.