Last year, Anna and I traveled all over Europe and loved every second of it. One of our favorite places during that trip was Italy. The places we went, the things we saw, the people we met, not to mention the food we ate made us want to return there one day.
We started our trip in a small town called Bolzano. We hiked the stunning Dolomites mountains then headed to Venice and Pisa. This was where we spent some time exploring Tuscany.
Admittedly, we didn’t get to spend as much time exploring this region, as we would have liked. It was only after when we were looking back at our time there and researching on other things to do, did we notice that hiking and cycling in Tuscany should have been top of our list.
Since our travels around Europe, readers have asked what was the best part and what would we have changed. This is one of the reasons I decided to write this. One of things we would have done (even though looking back, we really didn’t have time), was to rent a bike, grab our hiking boots and set off on an adventure.
So for anyone considering doing this I have put together this short guide to cycling and hiking in Tuscany just for you. The purpose – to give you some insight and direct you to helpful relevant websites.
Cycling in Tuscany – The Basics
Cycling in Tuscany is suitable for most levels, from those who have never jumped on a bike before (ok maybe it’s best you stick to just hiking), to those who would class themselves as professionals. You have bike routes that are on paved roads to more challenging off-road mountain biking trails. The choice is really yours.
If you are heading out for a full day of cycling make sure you are relatively fit, as Tuscany is a hilly region. This, however, provides the benefit of seeing some amazing panoramic views.
Don’t worry about breaking down or if you have an accident. There are many others cycling the popular routes, so a helping hand is always nearby. If you prefer to go on a cycling day tour, check out this one.
When to go Cycling in Tuscany?
Different websites say different things but the general agreement seems to be that the best months are March to June and September to October. Avoid going in July and August, as these are the hotter months.
As in most hot climates, sports are limited to early morning or late afternoon so a full day out exploring is off the cards in these months. Plus, I don’t have to tell you not to do this in Winter-you really should know better.
Quick Sample Cycling Itineraries
When looking at cycling routes check out this website. They have a few different suggested routes you can check out which even shows a difficulty score. That along with a detailed map of the routes are really helpful. The route below is sourced from this website.
PA – MTB – Lumiere-Campiglia- San Carlo
Opt for this cycling route if you don’t want a challenging day but instead just want a day of exploring. The route starts by taking you up the coast and then heads inland. The scenery is said to be beautiful and the route has a good mix of paved and unpaved roads. With noted low traffic, if you are near this area, this route would not be a bad choice.
Gino Bartali Resistance Route
Stretching as far as 199Km and finishing in a different location than where you start, this route is probably for the more professional bikers (I mean it does have the word resistance in it!). With many popular sightseeing spots along the way and a range of scenery, this route is a popular choice among riders.
A nice “in between” route choice would be the Poggibonsi. Covering a distance of 41.2 km and again offering great sightseeing opportunities. If you are looking for more of an experience rather than a challenge this one might be for you. This route is known to have a little more traffic than say the first route I mentioned but is more paved and overall a better choice.
More Routes in and around Tuscany
As mentioned I read about these sample routes on Routeyou.com. Check the site out for more detailed information on routes and more options. Some of the routes cover a big distance and require accommodation stopovers.
Now if you are like me, you will either camp or find the cheapest hostel. However, there are more luxurious accommodations in Tuscany, for those that are holidaying there and really want to make this a memorable experience. Otherwise, you can also go on day tours like this e-bike winery tour starting from Sienna.
Go Hiking and experience the Tuscan Landscape
It didn’t take me long to realize there are a lot of different guided trekking tours being offered in Tuscany. Although some people chose to venture out alone and follow one of the many CAI Itineraries (Club Alpino Italiano). Depending on your fitness, confidence and budget, pick what is right for you.
Either way Tuscany has a landscape that will not disappoint. Take in the history as you walk from path to path and experience some of the views I mentioned above. Famous trekking paths such as the Garfagnana, Lunigiana, Casentino and the Florentine hills are all accessible here.
Both beginners and professionals set off for these paths to experience the Tuscan sun, views and the over all experience.
Sample Hiking Paths
After a good look on the web for hiking in Tuscany I came to the conclusion there is just to many hikes to choose from! There is actually a website called 50hikesofTuscany. The hikes that stood out to me were;
- The Chalk Hills
- The Brunello Trail
- Gorgeous Castles, Towns and Gorges Hike
- Isola Del Giglio
I chose these because they seem to combine the right about of history with good scenery, with a challenge. Explore the website yourself to see if you agree.
Overall, I hope you have got something out of my quick guide to cycling and hiking in Tuscany. More than anything, I hope it convinced you to spend a day doing either.
We took silly photos by the leaning tower of Pisa, explored what Florence had to offer but as I mentioned, I wish we had taken some time to hop on a bike and put on our hiking boots. Hopefully, after reading this, you understand why I feel this way.