One Day in Lucca (Best Itinerary + Map)

A complete guide to what to do in Lucca, Italy (+ a map and an itinerary with all must-see sites in one day in Lucca).

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 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.

The best way to discover the Old Town of Lucca is by taking a guided walking tour. You’ll see the most popular sights, including the medieval city walls, Church of San Michele and the splendid Duomo.

At the end of the article, you’ll find a map of the itinerary (with all attractions and restaurants’ websites).

My favourite place to stay in Lucca is Hotel Alla Corte degli Angeli. The location is excellent, right next to the famous Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro (perfect for sightseeing).

Looking for more options? Then check out my guide to the best hotels in Lucca Old Town.

Book tours or skip-the-line tickets with GetYourGuide or Tiqets (you get a mobile ticket + free cancellation). Tickets from attractions’ official websites are mostly non-refundable.

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
Morning

Try some Italian pastries

08:30 AM – 09:30 AM
Start your one day in Lucca with a tasty breakfast at Paniko or Dianda. For some pizza, chocolate croissants and pastries, go to Paniko.

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 columns 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).

Lucca Cathedral

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 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 at the trees. 

Guinigi Tower

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.

Church of San Michele in Foro

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.

Torre delle Ore

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.

Da Ciacco

For delicious fresh pasta, visit In Pasta – Food and Convivio.

Afternoon

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.

Pfanner Palace

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.

Basilica of San Frediano

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro

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.

Piazza dell'Anfiteatro

Dinner

Finish this lovely one day in Lucca with dinner at Buca di Sant’Antonio or Cantine Bernardini.

More ideas for your 1 day in Lucca

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.

Love classical music? Then don’t miss this Puccini Festival Opera concert, that takes place in the fabulous Church of San Giovanni.

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.

Walls of Lucca

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 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

By train

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 planning to travel by train through Italy, book tickets in advance (they are cheaper if you buy earlier). Check timetables and book train tickets online at Trenitalia official website.

By car

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).

By air

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).

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 fewer.

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.


How would you spend one day in Lucca?
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What to do in Lucca in one day

About the author

Avatar Milena Yordanova
I am a full-time traveller and I have visited over 20 countries across 2 continents. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places, cultures and food. I’m an expert in travel planning and I am here to help you plan your dream vacation.

8 Comments

  1. This is by far the best summary and itinerary for visiting Lucca. It was so useful, informative and helpful that I just had to write this comment (usually I never do such things). I visited Lucca today (07/04/2023), I travelled by train and had 6 hours in the city. I did the whole tour, that you suggested (sometimes I moved faster) and I visited everything in the same order as ypu had written it. I even ate the same food for lunch. It was perfect, the whole day was perfect. So thank you very much, you did some excellent, really quality work, that I have not seen before on these types of travel blogs. Thanks again and good luck!

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