Tuscany on a Budget: Insider Secrets to Affordable and Authentic Experiences

Experience the beauty of Tuscany's rolling hills, medieval cities, and world-famous wine without breaking your budget.
Written By: Andrea Spallanzani
Reviewed by: Rick Orford
How & Why We Created This Article

This article has been written, reviewed, and fact-checked by Rick and I. We live in Italy and travel throughout the country to help you make the best choices for your trip. We wrote this piece to help you have the best trip possible on your next trip to Italy. Portions of this article have been written using assistive AI tools to help with tasks like research, spell-checking, grammar, and translation.

Last Updated March 22, 2024

In this article, you'll learn how:

  • Stay outside of Florence to save money on accommodations. Florence is expensive but you can still visit for day trips.
  • Take self-guided walking tours in cities like Florence and Lucca to explore on your own schedule and budget.
  • Book wine tastings and tours in advance for discounts. The Chianti region is perfect for affordable tastings.

With good reason, Tuscany is one of the most visited areas in Italy. Visitors may enjoy some of the best art, architecture, and cuisine in the globe, in addition to the stunning rolling hills and Cyprus trees that dot the landscape. However, having such an experience when traveling doesn’t have to be pricey! For that reason, we’ve put together our budget-friendly Tuscany travel guide.

We go through every aspect tourists should consider when visiting Tuscany on a tight budget, from lodging to transportation and, of course, meals. Let’s discuss how to tour Tuscany on a budget.

Where To Stay In Tuscany That Won’t Break The Bank

Farm stay in Siena Tuscany

The majority of your spending in Tuscany will probably go toward lodging. Tuscany is a large region with several must-see cities and attractions, but Florence is the most prominent (and well-liked) of these.

So what is our top suggestion for an inexpensive place to stay in Tuscany?

Do not stay in Florence!

We’re not saying to avoid Florence! You should at least visit the city because it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.

However, if you decide to base yourself on the most popular tourist destination in the area, your expenses will unnecessarily and quickly increase!

There are plenty of additional possibilities for lodging in Tuscany, from Lucca to Pisa to less famous but no less stunning cities like Arezzo (which has excellent train connections).

So what’s the point?

There are a ton of places to stay in Tuscany other than Florence that will allow you to stretch your budget further and pay for more significant activities, like wine tastings.

You’ll need to do some advance planning for day trips and excursions, as is typical with budget travel. But the excellent train connections throughout Tuscany won’t be too difficult!

Not sure where to begin looking for lodging? See our article on where to stay in Tuscany for some great possibilities.

Experience Cheap Things to Do in Tuscany

There are various tours in Florence, Siena, Pisa, and other cities (and wineries). If you’re on a tight budget, consider taking a self-guided tour instead!

And, in case you’re wondering, here’s the scoop about Italy’s drinking age!

There are some towns, particularly the less visited ones, where taking a tour makes sense and is fun. However, we also believe that seeing Tuscany alone is simple and worthwhile.

Take a Guided Walking Tour in Lucca

This 2-hour guided tour is the finest way to experience the delights of Lucca’s old town, whether traveling alone, with friends, or with family. See intricate Roman cathedrals, the city walls, and other significant landmarks.

You will discover Lucca and its primary landmarks after meeting your guide at the tourist information office in the city’s heart. Spend two hours exploring the downtown area with your qualified, certified guide.

The beautiful ancient city of Lucca

Visit the Church of San Michele, a magnificently intricate Roman Catholic basilica that dates back to 795, among other places. Observe the church’s 4-meter-tall statue of the Archangel Michael, who serves as its patron. View the church’s less complicated but impressive interior architecture by entering it for free. You’ll also stroll along the city’s 16th-century walls, providing a nice ramble among the trees on the outskirts of the old town.

The journey concludes in Lucca Cathedral, a magnificent Roman Catholic building with a stunning façade. Pay the nominal entrance charge to continue the trip with your guide; they will show you the inside and continue to impart their knowledge. You can also relax by drinking at a café or exploring the city on a budget.

Discover Florence On A Self-Guided Audio Tour

florence italy
Firenze from Piazzale Michelangelo

An excellent digital self-guided tour will let you learn about over 80 areas of interest in Florence. Combine high-quality audio narration with public transportation and walking tours. As you tour this historic city, make the most of your time and save money.

With a helpful and educational digital tour, you can explore Florence’s grandeur, culture, chic shopping districts, and quirky, magnificent hidden jewels. This cutting-edge, self-guided sightseeing app combines public transportation and walking tours with high-quality audio narration available in 6 languages, rich visuals, practical text, and offline navigable mapping to turn your smartphone into a wise assistant and dependable travel companion.

Florence Fontana del Porcellino

You can explore the city at your leisure and learn more than any guide could possibly share with you. Thanks to local storytellers, you may explore more than 80 locations of interest in the city and find the best photo opportunities and free Wi-Fi hotspots.

Chianti Wine Tasting Trip

wine tasting in Tuscany

On this guided wine tour, which departs from Florence in a van, you can fully immerse yourself in the famed wine-making culture of Italy. As you depart the city, take in the stunning scenery and travel through the Tuscan countryside. With your tour leader, you can visit two local wineries, partake in wine tastings in each, and learn from locals about the wine-making process.

Winery in Montalcino Tuscany

Visit one of the area’s historic vineyards after arriving in the picturesque village of Radda in the Chianti region. Enjoy a tasting of three local wines before having the chance to buy them. Spend some time at leisure wandering the town’s winding streets.

Hills of Chianti, Tuscany

Head in the direction of a vintage farm and vineyard. Discover how wine is made, from the fruit to the glass. Then take part in another taste of three Chianti wines and regional goods. Lastly, sit back and unwind as you return to Florence.

An Affordable Day Tour In Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano, and Chianti

Pisa Piazza dei Miracoli

For those looking to indulge their senses in the sights and flavors of Tuscany on a budget, we recommend this ideal day tour that visits Pisa, San Gimignano, and Chianti.

An excursion to Pisa will be your first stop in the morning. Be sure to admire the cathedral, the baptistery, the historic cemetery, and the renowned Leaning Tower. Then, proceed to a traditional winery in the San Gimignano-area Chianti Hills.

Discover the medieval San Gimignano, sometimes known as “Medieval Manhattan,” after lunch. Here, you may wander through the labyrinth of cobblestone streets, little squares, and numerous local craft shops.

Hills of San Giminiano Tuscany

In Siena, your knowledgeable guide will take you to the most significant squares, from Piazza del Campo to the cathedral, while traveling through the most picturesque countryside that defines this city. Afterward, enjoy a panoramic view of the Chianti region.

After the guided tour, enjoy a cup of coffee or a panforte (a famous cake in the area) and shopping. A stunning sunset will be the backdrop of your trip back to Florence.

How to Travel in Tuscany, Italy, on a Budget

Is anyone up for some public transportation?

Carrying your baggage on buses, trains, trams, subways, you name it, says it all: “I’m a budget traveler!” And let’s face it, it gets pretty exhausting, and sometimes you’d give anything for an Uber, cab, or private driver. How great would that be?

But those on a tight budget should take advantage of the convenient public transportation available in Tuscany (and throughout Italy)!

You can travel there for a reasonable price. That is unless you take the bus; they are not always on time, as we will discuss!

Buses in Tuscany

Bus travel is by far the least expensive method to explore Tuscany. For instance, a bus from Siena to Florence will only cost you about 8 euros and take about one hour and a half. Italian buses, meanwhile, are only sometimes dependable.

Our instance?

A bus once arrived more than 30 minutes late. The “organization” apparently gave the driver incorrect information, putting him in the wrong city.

Our lesson is never blindly to trust Italian buses, regardless of what transpired. Our mishap is one of many we’ve heard of with an Italian bus.

However, private operators like FlixBus are more dependable, especially when traveling to more well-known destinations like Florence, Siena, Pisa, etc.

Trains in Tuscany

In Tuscany, the train is perhaps equally as inexpensive as the bus, and we favor this means of transportation.

You can go from Siena to Florence by rail for around 10 euros in one and a half hours. When you travel to Tuscany, trains might be much more dependable.

The trick with trains in Tuscany is to look at tickets two to three months ahead of your trip to see if you can acquire a discounted ticket for your journey, especially if you want to go a longer distance. Long-distance travel can have some relatively high prices!

Rental Car

parked vehicles

Look into car rental deals if you have a more adventurous attitude and a more flexible budget. In Palermo, we spent $120 a day for car rental. The only costly component was the gas, but as long as you purchase a car that is economical with its use of fuel, you should be able to keep prices low. Although we believe the Sicily deal to be too good to be true, we are positive you can get a very inexpensive rental in Tuscany!

Renting a Car in Italy: Pro Tip

Be sure to take a video of the entire car, inside and out, and don’t forget the spare tire. On a recent trip to Palermo, we rented a car from Europcar in Taranto with the intention of dropping it off in Bari. Unfortunately, the AC didn’t work. The attendant (in Taranto) apologized profusely and quickly switched out the car for another one – an upgraded one to boot!

The car was fine, and fast-forward two days, we dropped it off in Bari. Unfortunately, the attendant in Bari didn’t like what we brought back. First, we were accused of not bringing back the spare tire (it was missing), and second, according to the attendant, the car was returned dirty.

Well, for sure, we didn’t steal or sell the spare tire. And second, the car was already dirty. We tried to explain the situation to the attendant – the car was given to us like this (on a last-minute notice), but she kept pointing to the contract.

This is where Rick became a little grumpy at the situation, and we left the Europcar Bari. On our way back to the hotel, I called Europcar Taranto to explain the situation, and they apologised profusely, and promised to get in touch with the Bari location and sort it out. And they did. Rick is waiting for an apology from Bari – in the meantime, he gave them a 1-star review.

On Foot or By Bike

woman riding white rigid bike

In Tuscany, you can walk from town to town. Many towns have created walking paths that are easy to access and explore.

If you’re going for efficiency, this isn’t the fastest way to get around. Remember that walking takes longer than other forms of transportation and has limitations—you have to be careful not to overdo it or carry too much weight on your back.

City and Attraction Passes

aerial photo of a city

When you have little time to spend in a city yet have a lot to see, city passes (or attraction passes) are smart choices. You could check into these all-inclusive passes that will save you a lot of money, especially in Tuscan cities like Siena or Florence.

To find out if it’s perfect for you, check out Siena’s pass and Florence’s pass (FirenzeCard)!

Avoid purchasing a pass if you don’t plan to visit all the museums and other expensive sites.

Even lesser-known Tuscan treasures like San Gimignano have a pass. Start at the Torre Grossa (Grossa Tower), where you can get a pass. The Duomo, included in the pass, is where we started, but they weren’t selling the pass there.

Although that was frustrating, we suggest constantly being on the lookout for a city/attraction pass in whatever place you visit in Tuscany! It will be better for your budget!

Avoid Eating Out On The Main Plaza In Tuscany

This rule applies to Tuscany, as in every other place in Italy. If you’re on a tight budget, avoid eating near the main tourist areas!

In Tuscan towns, the main piazza is the most desirable location for a quick bite but also the most expensive.

We can appreciate that Siena’s Piazza del Campo is beautiful and that dining there sounds fantastic. However, there are hidden gems all across town and away from the tourist spots, so why pay twice as much for food? Both your wallet and your taste senses will appreciate it!

We chose to get some espresso at one of the eateries on Piazza del Campo – at the bar! Each espresso costs 1.50 euro. But, you can easily find an espresso somewhere for less.

You won’t regret trying restaurants off the central plaza, especially in the more famous cities.

Enjoy Free Activities in Tuscany

What about free activities, considering how many destinations are dispersed throughout the area? In Italy, there are always churches everywhere you look. We always enjoyed them, but free activities are always available if admiring these buildings’ exquisite architecture or artwork isn’t your style.

You can always find a fun thing to do in Tuscany on a budget, whether it’s just strolling down side streets, relaxing in a park, snapping pictures, locating scenic locations, or simply enjoying these historic villages.


When it comes to Italy, Tuscany is the place to be. With its lush landscape, delicious food and wine, and quaint villages, it’s hard to imagine an Italian vacation in this beloved region without a stop. But for travel budget tourists who are still looking for a luxury experience, Tuscany can seem out of reach.

However, with just a little clever pre-planning, travelers in any budget range can discover this beautiful region on a shoestring—without sacrificing any indulgences that make Tuscany such an irresistible destination!