This guide to what to do in Lucca, Italy is everything you need to plan the perfect one day trip to Lucca (including a map with all the sights and the best places to eat).
Located in northern Tuscany, Lucca is a perfect day trip destination from Florence or Pisa. The city is very easy to reach both by car as well as train.
Hidden behind imposing Renaissance walls, Lucca will capture your heart with its cobbled streets, beautiful piazzas and medieval towers.
Is Lucca worth visiting
Lucca is a small city with a big heart. With its medieval walls and squares, this lovely city will transport you back in time. Visit the impressive 11th-century cathedral and climb the Guinigi Tower to see the trees growing on the top of it! Not to mention the mouth-watering Tuscany food, that you can sample in the little trattorias.
Also, Lucca is a great base to explore central or northern Tuscany, especially if you’re travelling by car.
Planning to spend a day in Pisa, too? Then take a look at my complete Pisa itinerary, that includes the most popular attractions (plus how to skip the lines for the Leaning Tower).
What to do in Lucca in one day
This Lucca itinerary is suitable for all planning to visit the city on a day trip, as well as overnight visitors. At the end of the article, you’ll find a detailed map with all the attractions, mentioned in the blog post.
What to do in Lucca in one day
- Start the day with some Italian pastries
- Visit the impressive Lucca Cathedral
- Climb the Guinigi Tower
- Church of San Michele in Foro
- Climb the Clock Tower
- Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi
- Tour the Pfanner Palace
- Admire the Basilica of San Frediano
- Piazza dell’Anfiteatro
Looking for more options?
Then check out my guide to the best hotels in Lucca Old Town.
Try some Italian pastries
08:30 AM – 09:30 AM
Start your one day in Lucca with tasty breakfast at Paniko or Dianda. For some pizza, chocolate croissants and pastries, go to Paniko.
If you prefer just a cup of coffee and a pastry for breakfast, Pasticceria Dianda is the place for you.
Visit the impressive Lucca Cathedral
09:30 AM – 10:20 AM
Duomo di Lucca is one of the must-see sites. This impressive 11th-century cathedral is dedicated to Saint Martin. It is also the seat of the Archbishop of Lucca.
There is a legend that explains why all columns of the cathedral’s facade are different. There was a contest for choosing an artist. Every artist took part in it with a handmade column. In the finals, the inhabitants of the city decided not to choose a winner, but to use all the column made for the contest.
To visit the cathedral you have to pay a small fee, €3. You can also buy the combined ticket, that includes the Cathedral, Belltower, Museum, Baptistery and Church of Saints Giovanni and Reparata (archaeological area and belltower).
Climb the Guinigi Tower
10:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Guinigi Tower (Torre Guinigi) is one of the most quaint sites in the city. There are a few hundred years old trees growing on the top of it! This 45 metres tower belonged to the powerful Guinigi family.
Climb the 232 steps to the top of the tower for a closer look of the trees.
Church of San Michele in Foro
11:10 AM – 11:20 AM
Chiesa di San Michele in Foro was built over an ancient Roman forum. A statue of St. Michael the Archangel decorates the top of the church. Although its exterior is truly impressive, the interior deserves no more than 10 minutes.
Try to visit the church before noon, as it is closed from 12 PM to 3 PM.
Climb the Clock Tower
11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
The Clock Tower (Torre delle Ore) is the highest one in the city. As the Guinigi Tower, it dates from the 14th century.
Climb it, even only to see the Guinigi Tower from a distance. In fact, I liked the Clock Tower more. It’s less touristy, too.
Buy the combined ticket for the two towers. It’s cheaper than paying separately for them.
Salami and cheese platter
12:00 PM – 02:00 PM
For some tasty sandwiches (or salami and cheese platter) stop at Da Ciacco or La Tana Del Boia. I loved the salami and cheese platter at Da Ciacco.
For delicious fresh pasta, visit In Pasta – Food and Convivio.
Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi
02:00 PM – 03:30 PM
Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi is a little gem in the heart of the city. The silk merchant Ascanio Mansi built the palace in the 17th century. The house is well-preserved and many of the apartments are restored. You can see the original furnishings, tapestries and some art collections.
Tour the Pfanner Palace
03:40 PM – 04:50 PM
The Moriconi family, famous silk merchants, built Palazzo Pfanner in 1660. Later it was acquired by the Controni family. For almost 200 years the palace was owned by noble Italian families.
In 1846 the Austrian brewer, Felix Pfanner, bought the property to open the first brewery in Lucca.
Although only four rooms of the palace are open to visitors, don’t skip this place. The Italian-style Baroque garden of the palace is wonderful.
Admire the Basilica of San Frediano
05:00 PM – 05:20 PM
Basilica di San Frediano is one of the city’s oldest churches. It is named after an Irish bishop of Lucca, Fridianus (Frediano), who is buried here. Pay attention to the fantastic golden mosaic facade above the entrance of the church.
05:30 PM – 06:00 PM
This lively square used to be an amphitheatre during the 1st century BC. The amphitheatre could hold more than 10,000 spectators.
Nowadays the area is full of small cafes and restaurants. The ideal place to chill with a glass of wine and watch the world go by.
Finish this lovely one day in Lucca with dinner at Buca di Sant’Antonio or Cantine Bernardini.
Take a food tour
There is no better way to explore Lucca than taking an Aperitivo Food and Wine Tour. You’ll sample savoury snacks, artisanal beers and local wines while experiencing the local life.
Church of Saints Giovanni and Reparata
This small 12th-century church worths a visit mainly because of the excavated ruins under its floor. You can see the ruins of the 4th-century church of St. Reparata. In fact, there are four layers of ruins, the oldest one – Roman.
There is also a bell tower that you can climb for awesome views over the city. Buy the combined ticket for this church and the cathedral to save money.
Walls of Lucca
If you want to go for a stroll, do it on the walls of Lucca (Le mura di Lucca). The 4 km long Renaissance city walls are turned into a lovely area planted with trees. It provides an exceptional panoramic point over the city.
You can also rent a bike and explore the city from above.
How many days in Lucca
Is one day in Lucca enough?
One day in Lucca is more than enough to tour the historical centre. You’ll have enough time to climb the Guinigi and the Clock Towers, visit the cathedral and even the two palaces.
I have only half a day, what to do?
If you have less than a day in Lucca, skip the churches (except the Duomo) and climb the Guinigi Tower only. If you have to choose between the Pfanner Palace and Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi, go with the latter. It’s much more interesting and beautiful!
Best time to visit Lucca
The months of April, May, June, September and October are the perfect time to visit Lucca. The weather is warm and pleasant, not hot and tourists are less.
La Luminara di Santa Croce, the biggest religious festival of the year, takes place on 13th September. The festival is dedicated to Volto Santo, a wooden crucifix that according to the legend has come from the Holy Land. There is a traditional candlelight procession through the Old Town. It starts at 8 PM from the Basilica of San Frediano to the Cathedral of San Martino, where the Volto Santo is kept.
Getting around in Lucca
Find a detailed map of the itinerary here.
Lucca is a small and very walkable city. The Old Town is surrounded completely by the medieval city walls. Within the medieval walls, you’ll find all the tourist attractions, located just a few minutes away from each other.
How to get to Lucca
Lucca is easily reachable by train from Pisa (30min journey) or Florence (1h20min journey). The Central train station in Lucca is located just outside the medieval city walls. You’ll be in the heart of the city centre in less than 5min.
If you’re arriving by car, it’s best to park outside the city walls. Car parks are much cheaper and it’s even possible to find free parking. In addition, most part of the historic centre of Lucca is ZTL (access regulation).
The closest airport to the city is Pisa International Airport. To get to Lucca, first, take the Pisa mover from the airport to the Central train station in Pisa. From there take a train to Lucca (30min journey).
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