Lucca city break – things to do in the pretty Tuscan city

Lucca city break – things to do in the pretty Tuscan cityThis article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info

Where can you go in Italy to experience a small medieval city away from hordes of tourists? We recently visited pretty Lucca on a trip to Tuscany and would love to spend more time there.

In Lucca, the eating, culture and living is charmingly easy. The city is small enough to manage on foot and enjoys the hustle and bustle of a modern city within its beautiful medieval walls.

We had two very different experiences of the city as we visited both with and without children. I can assure you there is something about lovely Lucca that will entice all types of travellers.

Things to do in Lucca, Italy

scenes from lucca italy

In many ways Lucca is a typical Italian medieval walled city with Roman origins. However the architecture is unique due to the Lucchese towers and piazzas developed in the Napoleonic era.

However your first point of call to get your bearings should be the city walls, converted in the 17th century into a 4 kilometre long park that encircles the city. Hire bikes from the tourist office near the station on Piazzale Ricasoli just outside the city walls and ride around the park.  Or simply stroll with a gelato.

I later discovered you can do a 3 hour self guided bike tour or a guided sightseeing tour by bike of LuccaBut it didn’t matter, we enjoyed the easy ride looking Lucca’s points of interest from above.

The walls are the best vantage point to see the beautiful 14th century towers rise above the city. Most famous of the towers is the elegant Torre Guinigi with its tree topped roof built by wealthy merchants of the town.

Inside Lucca’s city walls

After viewing Lucca from its fortifications, venture into the old town and discover the city’s piazzas, churches and typical laneways. You can easily walk around Lucca taking in the sights but if you are in a hurry bicycles are the preferred mode of transport.

Things to do in Lucca - the towers or torre of Lucca

Don’t miss climbing the city’s famous towers or torre. The views over Tuscany are breathtaking. Lucca boasts over 130 towers however the most famous are the Torre Guinigi and Torre Civica delle Ore,  each with their own stories and legends.

Chiesa di San Michele in Foro Lucca - Lucca things to do

My favourite church was Chiesa di San Michele in Foro soaring above the enormous Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro below. Here local children play at dusk and families of all types enjoy their passeggiata or evening walk.

Where to eat in Lucca

Where to eat in Lucca, Italy - spaghetti vongole

This is Italy so of course you will not go hungry. There are so many pasticceria, gelato shops and enticing little cafes to tempt you. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch on the city walls at Ristorante San Colombano one day. I can recommend the margherita pizza in particular. Buona!

One evening we dined at Osteria Tosca in the beautiful little Piazza Cittadella. The restaurant’s terrace overlooks a statue of composer Puccini whose home town was Lucca.

We were delighted to find our favourite dishes there. Melanzane (eggplant/aubergine) parmigiana for me and spaghetti vongole for my husband. Both dishes were simple and delicious.

cantucci from lucca italy

Music and opera in Lucca

Lucca is famous for its music and over summer there is an annual music festival hosting artists such as Bob Dylan, John Legend and  Robbie Williams.

However, as Lucca was the home of famous composer Puccini we felt it only right to experience some opera in the church where he was baptised. Held every night “even if there are only 3 people” the Puccini e la sua Lucca concerts run for an hour and are a lovely stop between aperitivo and dinner. Free concerts are also held over summer in the square that was the Roman amphitheatre.

the cafes of lucca

Lucca for families

Due to its narrow streets and medieval architecture, the city of Lucca restricts the number of cars within its walls. The piazzas and mainly pedestrian streets ensure it is a relatively safe place for children to wander.

We loved riding along the walls of the city in our bicycle or surrey built for four. There are several playgrounds and gelateria en route for those all important play breaks.

Our children love anything to do with water so they enjoyed the city’s fountains. Older children with an interest in history may enjoy this specialist tour for kids uncovering Lucca’s stories and legends.

children looking fountain in lucca

Where to stay in Lucca

We were lucky enough to stay at the delightful La Romea Bed and Breakfast housed in a 14th century palace. Our hosts Giulio and Gaia were so helpful and ready to assist with recommendations about their city.

They shared the best gelato shops and secured some last minute concert tickets for us. Gaia is also my friend Luana’s cousin so it was like staying at a home away from home.

breakfast at la romea lucca tuscany italy

Breakfast at La Romea

I like to think we got special treatment but their TripAdvisor reviews tell a different story. This hospitality is extended to all their guests. La Romea is a wonderful place to stay in the heart of Lucca.

View more reviews about La Romea on TripAdvisor and check availability and prices on Booking.com

Lucca – a base to explore Tuscany

I would love to return to Lucca. The city would make a great base for exploring Tuscany. The city is close to Florence and Pisa  by both train and car and is surrounded by the Tuscan hills.

Lucca is a beautiful, compact and accessible city with a fascinating history and attractions both within and beyond its famous walls.

More posts about Italy

Top resources for planning your dream trip to ItalyItaly off the beaten track in BresciaPretty towns of the Italian Riviera | Fireflies in Tuscany: nature’s fairy lights


This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission if you click through to a site I mentioned and make a purchase at no additional cost to you. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I only recommend products and services I genuinely enjoy.


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23 Comments

  1. 23rd February 2016 / 11:48 AM

    I agree with you that Lucca is lovely. And I should go more often as it’s really not that far from where I live, only about 4 hours’d drive (but then there are just sooooo many gorgeous places about 4 hours’ drive from us, the problem is finding the time to go to them all!) #citytripping

    • 23rd February 2016 / 7:52 PM

      Sigh! Too many places, not enough time. We would definitely return to Lucca though.

  2. 23rd February 2016 / 7:57 PM

    This is beautiful. I’ve never even come across Lucca before, but it looks just as I imagine a lot of this part of Italy to be, with its lovely buildings and history (and gelato). I am very overdue a return to Italy I think! #citytripping

    • 23rd February 2016 / 8:07 PM

      Thank you! We fell in love with the place. My husband’s family is Italian and so while we are in Europe we will be there every year – hooray!

  3. 24th February 2016 / 10:58 AM

    great photos! I’ve been here:) #city tripping

    • 24th February 2016 / 11:14 AM

      Thanks Tanja, lovely isn’t it ?????

  4. 24th February 2016 / 2:07 PM

    I love Lucca! Small and perfect. I wish I’d been able to go to one of the concerts – I’d have really enjoyed that. The city walls are great for a walk and I really liked the restaurants. Great post! #citytripping

    • 24th February 2016 / 2:45 PM

      Thanks Clare. My favourite little city so far in Italy I think.

    • 24th February 2016 / 3:07 PM

      Right back at you Christy ?

  5. 25th February 2016 / 4:00 PM

    We spent a week in Chianti and unfortunately never made it up there to Lucca. But I agree, the whole area is just marvelous. I’m on my way to Rome tonight.. can’t wait to get back to Italy. #citytripping 🙂

  6. Wander Mum
    25th February 2016 / 6:27 PM

    Sounds a delightful Italian city – with a good mix of history, culture, food and drink. The festival and concerts sound brilliant. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • 25th February 2016 / 6:49 PM

      Thanks Elizabeth. You really can’t beat Italian food and wine can you? Lucky for me my hubby is Italian ?????

  7. 27th February 2016 / 1:45 PM

    Ah, Lucca – a place I have never been as we flipped a coin between Livorno and Lucca when we had a few hours to spare at the end of a trip to that part of Italy. We definitely picked the wrong one 🙁 #citytrippping

    • 27th February 2016 / 2:40 PM

      Oh no Rosie! Is Livorno not very nice? Mind you I can usually find something to love about Italy ????

  8. 22nd June 2016 / 7:47 AM

    Hi Katy
    it’s my first experience to visit on your blog & I really like your blog with amazing post.

    • 23rd June 2016 / 4:55 PM

      thanks Sonali 🙂

  9. 13th August 2016 / 8:13 PM

    Hi Katy

    We are going to stay in Lucca for three weeks and do day trips to many beautiful Tuscany sites. Any recommendations for unique places?

    Many Thanks

    • 14th August 2016 / 9:35 AM

      Hi Alex, Lucky you! I am so jealous. I would definitely recommend a trip to Bagni di Lucca – a series of villages along the Lima River. Napoleon used to holiday here and it is an extremely beautiful area. You must not miss the 12th century Ponte della Maddalena. We also enjoyed visiting Castelnuovo di Garfagnana another small town of the region. I’ll be sharing some more on the blog this week also. Have a wonderful time

  10. 14th August 2016 / 2:57 AM

    Lovely post on beautiful Tuscany. Tuscany is such a lovely region and promises so much to the traveler. I have not been able to explore much of this region but would love to make up for it.

  11. 14th August 2016 / 12:54 PM

    Tuscany is somewhere that I really want to visit! Italy in general has been high on my list for a while now! Great Post!

    • 14th August 2016 / 5:11 PM

      You will love Italy Tom ?

  12. 15th August 2016 / 4:18 AM

    Tuscany is absolutely gorgeous and the food… oh… so inviting!

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