Cycling in Tuscany: a guide to the most scenic routes

Tuscany is a land of diverse landscape and astonishing richness in terms of history, culture, whether it is in the city, the little village or in the vast countryside.

When tourists travel to Tuscany they hardly move from the main cities or they only select a few famous gems to explore, as they are not driving or they feel like they do not have the time to see it all.

There is, however, a unique and incredible way of taking the perfect tour in Tuscany and that is, surprisingly, cycling.

Why should you have a cycling tour in Tuscany?

Tuscany offers an ideal scenario for cycling enthusiasts of all levels, from amateur cyclists to anyone just wishing to pedal calmly while enjoying the beauty of the region. A lot of different itineraries can be chosen for this adventure on two wheels. On paved road for tourists who love racing bikes or off road on mountain bikes to get away from traffic and be surrounded by nature. Every area in Tuscany offers routes rich in interesting places to visit and see as well as extraordinary panoramas.

For example, there is probably no better way of visiting Florence than actually cycling around, whether you are alone or with your family. If you have a couple of days or if you are a more experienced biker, the ideal tour should include venturing out to trails outside the city, heading towards the vineyard of the Chianti region, where you can experience local wine and olive oil tastings.

And from there, what can be better than cycling past cypress trees lining rolling hills, stopping for fresh pasta served with ragu di cinghiale (wild boar stew) and one of those deep red wines of the Chianti region? Tuscany, is like a trip to El Dorado for the cycling, food and wine lovers. Nowhere else can you find such a mix of history, food and – what everyone needs on a holiday – the “dolce vita” attitude.

Best cycling tours in the countryside

As cycling is so popular in Italy, it should come as no surprise that there is a bike rental almost anywhere. There you can find the bicycle that fits your needs, and the route you are willing to take and the places you want to visit.

Cut through by stony paths and alleys, broken sidewalks interrupted by sudden steep climbs, the small medieval villages and towns may be hard to cycle through with a normal bike. However, with a mtb, the ride becomes easier and more comfortable, making you eager to discover what spreads beyond Florence and Pisa.

The stunning walled village of San Gimignano is located just some 40 kilometres from Florence and it is no doubt worth a visit. The historic centre of San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its well-preserved castles, tower houses and both Romanesque and Gothic churches, some of which date back to the 14th century.

A bike tour can start from San Gimignano and then continue in the countryside, heading south-west. Once you have left San Gimignano behind, you should in fact head towards the small walled town of Volterra, located just 25 kilometres away. The town still retains traces of its Etruscan and Roman past, dating back till the 7th century BC, while obviously having the characteristic features of medieval signature.

A route for experienced and tireless bikers should then include the beautiful town of the Palio (the horse race held twice a year), Siena, which is no doubt one of the most wonderful towns in the country.

To rest in Siena not only means gorgeous food and wine, but also wonderful city views and historic sightseeing, let alone easy-to-find accommodation. A day of rest in Siena and then off to the beautiful little Pienza and down south to the exquisite Val d’Orcia.

Tuscany is mainly known for its wine regions, the olive groves, the cypresses and the rugged coastline of the Tirrenean Sea as well as for its art and culture; biking through the region is the perfect way to explore and discover its hidden treasures. The best months for cycling or touring Tuscany on bike are from March to June and from September to October. July and August are hot months and outdoor sports are limited to early mornings or late afternoons, or mainly for mountain bike outings at night.

All you have to do is get a map and start planning according to what appeals to you the most, and to your cycling potential. Piece of advice? Do not venture out up the mountains, steep climbs or rolling hills if you do not feel like it and choose the track and terrain most suited to you!

Cycling along the coast

Another charming route to bike on would be the Tuscan coastline, such as, for example, from Pisa up to the Elba island.

This particular cycling tour perfectly combines the impressive hilly landscape of Tuscany, typical of this region with its amazing mixture of colours and scents, with the striking scenery of the Etruscan coastline.

Stunning cycling paths lead to cultural highlights like Pisa, Livorno, Piombino and several archaeological excavation sites. Breathe in the warm sea breeze of the Mediterranean whilst pedalling along beautiful white sandy beaches and thrilling steep cliffs. To top all that, the tour also leads you into the hinterland relished by any food and wine connoisseur. Fine vineyards and silvery olive trees line the wine route of the “costa degli Etruschi” (Etruscan coast). The crowning glory and highlight of the cycling adventure is a bike trip over to the island of Elba.

Relaxation and enjoyment are the main focus of this cycling trail along the impressive coastline of Tuscany! How can anyone resist and not be allured by all these temptations?

Cycling with children

A great way to get the whole family moving, the exercise and scenery will have you tucking in to a plate of pasta at lunch feeling very satisfied. These are some of the best options for a family day of cycling, with shorter distances and family-friendly itineraries to ensure that little legs do not get too tired.

Why not take your bikes around one of Tuscany’s historic cities for a quick way to take in the main sights?

Cycle the walls of Lucca to witness a lap of walled medieval centre from above. There are a few playgrounds along the route if little ones want to stop for a go on the slides. A short duration of just 25 minutes means it won’t take too much time out of your day to take this trip and it will give you a great overview of the city’s main sights.

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