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Tuscany is one of Italy’s most beautiful provinces with a huge amount to see and do – but how do you actually get around when you’re there? Fortunately, for both Expats and locals, the regional public transport system is excellent with superb coverage and low prices for tickets. However, you can also travel of your own accord by car provided you have the correct driving license.
What Do You Want To Do While in Tuscany?
Depending on what you want to do or see then the best travel option will vary. In some situations, you’ll need a car to reach your destination while in many cases the public transport option might be the most convenient.
Travelling by Train in Tuscany.
The public network of trains in Italy is extremely good and allows you to travel quickly between the major cities of Tuscany, and the country as a whole. Travelling by train is a fantastic way to see the scenery, catch up on some work or just doze and get some sleep.
Taking the train is the perfect way to transit between the cities however the rural coverage is not as good as in other parts of Europe. Nonetheless, the prices of tickets are very reasonable and if you book your seats in advance you can often get even lower prices than if you buy them at the station.
High speed trains are more expensive but you can take the slower ‘regionale’ intercity trains if you’re on a budget. Trains are a great way to see the country and get around although you should be aware that many of the smaller towns don’t have a train station while others are located several miles from the town centers.
For instance, even in the hill town of Sienna, which is a major tourist hotspot, the train station is around 2km out of town and in Montepulciano the station is over 5km from the town center! However, you can easily catch a taxi from the station or, if you prefer, you can walk into town.
Pros of Train Travel in Tuscany.
- Low cost and efficient way to travel between the cities.
- There’s no stress while relaxing on a train compared to driving yourself.
- You can get some great deals on tickets if you book in advance.
Cons of Train Travel in Tuscany.
- Some of the smaller towns do not have a train station; while in other towns the station is a fair distance from the center.
- You have less flexibility when travelling by train with some of the regional lines having very few stops on their routes.
- There’s no way to stop along the way to take photos or explore an area on a whim.
- Trains can be delayed which can ruin your plans – although this is quite rare.
Travelling by Car in Tuscany.
Discovering Tuscany by car is one of the most leisurely ways to find the hidden treasures of the province. You will need to learn how to drive on the often quite dangerous Italian roads – where motorists often pull across lanes and drive with very little consideration for the other cars on the road. However, once you get out into the countryside and the roads are not so busy you can really start to enjoy yourself.
You can easily rent a car if you don’t want to buy one although in the long term it will be far more cost effective to own a car than to repeatedly hire one. The roads in Tuscany are well maintained and the toll highways are not too expensive. If you are a bit nervous though you can stay on the secondary roads, which are also free to drive on. Most of the coastal roads are double laned as are the intercity routes, although in the more historic towns the roads are quite narrow.
Pros of Travelling by Car in Tuscany.
- 100% freedom with the choice to pull over and take a photo, have some lunch or visit a winery at any time.
- It’s fun to explore the nooks and crannies of Tuscany which can’t be accessed by public transport.
- You can create your own itineraries and decide where you stop for the night.
- There’s no delays to worry about nor will you have to rush to catch a train.
Cons of Travelling by Car in Tuscany.
- Driving in Italy can be quite stressful at times – particularly on the toll highways and narrow country lanes.
- Parking can be hard to find. Do you have experience parking on narrow roads in hill towns when you are driving a manual shift?
- Some town centers are closed to traffic so you’ll have to park outside of the central zone and walk or take a bus to get there.
- Not all the roads are very well marked and sign posted so if you don’t have a good GPS then it can be easy get lost.
Travelling by Bus in Tuscany.
Publicly run buses connect the smaller towns and rural regions to the major cities and provide an excellent service. The bus routes cover most places that you might want to visit and when used in conjunction with the train services you can travel around Tuscany with ease.
One of the complaints that you hear from people about the buses in Tuscany is that the timetables often change without warning and it can be hard to find out what the current bus schedule is!
The buses in Tuscany are clean and modern with comfortable seats that are often better than in the trains. Touring Tuscany by bus is a lovely way to enjoy the scenery but be prepared to take a lot detours through the small towns where the buses pick up and drop off customers.
Pros of Travelling by Bus in Tuscany.
- Cheap and reliable way to get around.
- Comfortable seats.
- Frequent buses throughout the day.
- Easy way to access the smaller towns in Tuscany.
Cons of Travelling by Bus in Tuscany.
- Can be slow travelling by bus as they stop frequently to pick up and drop people off.
- Bus schedules often change without warning.
- Limited freedom while you travel by public buses compared to driving yourself.
Travelling by Ferry in Tuscany.
If you want to visit the Tuscany islands then you’ll need to take a ferry to get there. The islands of Giglio and Elba are hugely popular with tourists and locals alike and the ferry takes between 45 minutes and an hour to reach them. The ferries operate several trips per day from the ports of Moby and Torremar throughout the year but run more frequently during the summer months.
In most cases you can take your car onto the ferry with you however if not you can leave it in the port where there’s cheap parking facilities.
Pros of Travelling by Ferry in Tuscany.
- Fun and enjoyable way to reach the Tuscany islands.
- Frequent ferries throughout the day.
- You can take your car on the ferry.
Cons of Travelling by Ferry in Tuscany.
- Can be quite costly.
- During the summer only residents of the island can take their cars with them on the ferry.
- You are very limited in where you can travel to in a ferry. You cannot come an visit me in Volterra in a ferry, can you?
Travelling in Tuscany on Foot and By Bike.
If you really want to experience Tuscany in a close up and personal way then you may want to walk and cycle around the province! It will certainly take you longer than driving or going by train but it will let you notice all the little details of the scenery that you couldn’t see if you were driving by.
Of course for long, regular trips it’s not practical to rely on walking or bikes but for a holiday or a weekend it’s a wonderful option to consider. Also, while you are in the cities then you can actually get about by bike quite easily, especially in the smaller hill towns.
You’ll have to be careful about the traffic in the cities because the drivers can be very inconsiderate towards cyclists but when you’re out in rural parts of Tuscany it’s perfectly safe and enjoyable to walk and cycle.
Pros of Walking and Cycling in Tuscany.
- Cheap, low cost way to travel around.
- Fun, healthy and enjoyable.
- Great way to see the countryside up close.
- Convenient in the cities.
Cons of Walking and Cycling in Tuscany.
- Can be dangerous to cycle in traffic in the cities. It has to be mentioned that in countries where bicycling is very popular, like in the Netherlands or in the major American cities, the bicyclists themselves are the primary threat to pedestrians.
- Slow form of travel.
- Not practical for regular longer journeys.
Tuscany – The Best Ways to Travel and See The Sights.
Tuscany is one of the jewels in the Italian crown and is possibly the most famous province in the country – and for good reason! The stunning scenery, fabulous cultural heritage and the diversity of towns and cities make it a favorite with both tourists and Expats.
The public transport in Tuscany is excellent and you can manage entirely by only using this. However, you will need to learn the timetables and keep up to date with the frequent changes in schedules, particularly with the buses, so you don’t miss your ride! Buses can be pretty slow as they weave through the countryside, stopping in every small town, but the views are fantastic and if you’re not in a hurry you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
However, if you want a bit more freedom then you may need to hire or buy a car so you can take full control over where you stop, when you travel and the routes you take. Ultimately, the best way to travel will depend on your personal circumstances and requirements but the good news is that the options are all available for you to choose from.