One of the best things about a trip to Tuscany is taking the time to experience and explore the Tuscan countryside. It really is as beautiful as everyone says – waves of green hills covered in rows of vineyards, cypress trees dotting the landscape and quaint little hilltop towns just begging to be lazily explored over the course of a sunny afternoon.
If you’ve booked one of our luxury villas in Tuscany you’ll definitely be getting acquainted with all that natural loveliness – and chances are you’ll be renting yourself a hire car to get around and see the sights. But is that really the most fun way to travel? There are loads of alternatives when it comes to exploring Tuscany, so we’ve done some digging and found the most exciting ways to do it – and the best routes to follow while you do!
Quirky car hire
Obviously, it can be if you want. But it doesn’t have to be! We’ve already mentioned how much enjoyment can be got out of driving around Tuscany, so why not do it in style? You can go all out and rent yourself a truly legendary Italian sports car with Europe Luxury Car Hire, which offers Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Maseratis to choose from – if you always wondered what it felt like to live la dolce vita as an Italian film idol, this is the only way to do it.
But things don’t have to be so big and bold. If you prefer to take a tour in something with a bit more pedigree, why not rent out a more classic ride? Sprintage has a huge number of classics to choose from including a few nifty little Italian numbers (and rather more exciting Alfa Romeos than the one with plastic trims). Maybe you see renting out your classic car as more of an adventure? No problemo – Ciao Florence’s Grand Tuscan driving tour prides itself on taking you away from the tourist traps to give you a taste of the authentic countryside, all while driving around in a classic Fiat 500!
Take a hike
Walking tours are always going to be popular, and the splendour of the Tuscan countryside adds a whole new dimension if you take one in Italy. Provided you’ve got a pair of good, strong boots (these are more day hikes for serious walkers than a gentle afternoon stroll) there are some unforgettable pathways and trails throughout Tuscany that take in a range of the region’s many sights and sites.
If you’re the kind of walker who feels like a good day’s hiking is more than enough reason for a little pampering, there’s a great trail that runs west from Ripa D’orcia down the Orcia River to Bagno Vignoni, where you’ll find Roman era hot springs to revitalise those weary muscles.
Fancy something with a bit more sand and shoreline? Check out this nifty little trail that takes in all the coastal beauty to the east Procchia, but be warned – the route details are written in Italian!
And where there’s great hiking and walking you know you’re going to find some equally captivating bike tracks. If bringing your own two wheels is a bit daunting (and anyone who’s tried will know how much of a pain in the buns it is) you can always rent from somewhere like Gusto Cycling, who even offer electric cycles for those who find the Tuscan inclines a bit too much of a challenge.
Just south of Siena is a wonderfully evocative stretch of Tuscany – the Crete Senesi, which makes for a great day’s cycling no matter your experience or level of fitness. Around here, the onus is really on traversing the landscape, so if you’re hoping to go hopping from quaint little village to quaint little village, this probably isn’t the ideal choice. It’s still an absolute feast for the eyes at any time of year though.
As with the Fiat 500 tour above, if you like your cycling to be a little more structured there’s a great day-long tour courtesy of I Bike Italy which runs from Florence to Fiesole (and slightly beyond). You need to be pretty confident in your stamina as the carbon-neutral ride doesn’t offer any van or vehicle support, but on the way back you’ll be treated to a visit to a Chianti vineyard and olive grove where the tasting of the produce is very much encouraged.
Don’t fancy two wheels? Try four legs.
Unless you’re very experienced and are best buds with the owner of an Italian stable, it’s unlikely you’ll just be able to saddle up and enjoy cantering around the Tuscan landscape as you please. But that doesn’t mean riding a horse is out of the question when it comes to exploring the Tuscan countryside – it just means you have to do it in slightly more sedate surroundings.
As such, there are a number of places that can arrange horse riding in Tuscany. If you’re looking for something gentle with no experience required (so great for age-appropriate kids) try Fun in Tuscany, whose day-long trip picks you up from Florence and includes an hour and a half on horseback through the vineyards and olive groves of San Gimignano.
For those who want riding to form the crux of their holiday, Equitours is probably a better bet. With half day and full day rides and a huge selection of routes and itineraries to choose from, you can tailor your route (and even the temperament of your horse!) to suit you.
Boating and watersports aren’t exactly the first things that spring to mind when you think of an Italian holiday, and perhaps even less so if you’re thinking of heading to Tuscany. Though it might not be first and foremost in all the brochures, Tuscany still offers a few options if you like messing around in boats.
If you’re an old hand on your sea legs, try chartering a yacht from Folloncia to the islands off Tuscany’s western coast, or for something a bit gentler where you can really enjoy the inland landscapes there’s kayaking in the often-overlooked region of Garfagnana in Lucca – with boatloads of lakes, Garfagnana Adventures can sort you out with everything you need for a day of fun and exploration on the water.
Take to the sky in a hot air balloon!
If you want to enjoy Tuscany from a whole new perspective, there’s nothing better than heading straight up and enjoying a hot air balloon ride. Tuscany Ballooning (as their name suggests) are your go-to guys when it comes to enjoying a hot air balloon ride in Tuscany, offering rides that take off near Florence, Chianti and Siena. If you’re feeling in a romantic mood you can book a balloon just for two, or grab all the family and head off together for an adventure in the air that’s as thrilling as it is memorable.