Lucca Italy – Your 2022 Guide to the Walled City

Lucca Italy – a charming, relaxing city inside medieval walls. When to visit, what to see, helpful tips, and map.

Lucca is famous for its wide walls, topped with greenery, and a cycling and hiking path that’s visited by locals daily.  

Good To Know: Lucca was named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its well-preserved walls.

It’s also the birthplace of the famous opera composer Giacomo Puccini and you’ll see references to him throughout the city.

Lucca is an easy town to visit and soak up everyday Italian life. 

Our family loves visiting Lucca and we’re sure you will too!

HOW TO PRONOUNCE LUCCA

Lucca is pronounced LUKE-kah.

Listen to it here:

WHO SHOULD VISIT LUCCA ITALY?

Lucca is worth a visit for:

  • Those looking to visit an Italian city at a relaxing pace
  • Families with small children
  • Walkers and casual cyclists
  • Music lovers
  • Architecture and church enthusiasts

WHERE IS LUCCA ITALY?

The city of Lucca is located in the province of Lucca in the region of Tuscany.  It’s in central Italy, near Pisa and the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. 

Lucca Italy Map

Distances to Nearby Towns and Attractions

City/AttractionDistanceTime (by Car)Highlights
Florence90 km1 hr 10 minUffizi & Accademia Galleries, bistecca fiorentina, shopping
Pisa20 km30 minLeaning Tower
Beaches90 km1 hr 10 minSun, sand, swimming
Pistoia45 km40 minZoo, underground, charming city center
San Miniato45 km50 minHip aperitivo and dinner scene
San Gimignano80 km1 hr 25 minTorre Grossa climb, gelato, wine, views
Siena140 km1 hr 30 minCathedral, Palio, ricciarelli
Chianti100 km1 hr 20 minWine, cycling, gorgeous views
La Spezia (Cinque Terre gateway)80 km1 hrCinque Terre hiking, pesto

HOW LONG TO SPEND IN LUCCA

You can ‘see’ Lucca in an afternoon or full-day visit.  We often visit on a day trip from Florence or we drive to Lucca for the afternoon after the kids get out of school – it’s enough time to cycle around the walls, get ice cream, climb the tower, and play in the park. 

However, if you want to get a feel for life in Lucca (or in a small Italian city), try to spend a night or two in town.  This will allow you to slow down and not worry about checking things off a list. 

Stroll down Via Fillungo and browse its shops.  Stop into a little café and read a book while you sip your coffee.  Go for an early morning walk along the city walls. 

You could also stay a week or longer and make Lucca your base for visiting other parts of Tuscany. 

BEST TIME TO VISIT LUCCA

Lucca can be visited year-round.  It’s a living, breathing Italian city that doesn’t survive on tourism alone. 

It’s most enjoyable in pleasant weather so you can enjoy the walls and the green spaces like the botanical gardens. 

The best months to visit are April through October.   We like April because it’s still fairly quiet, but know that the weather can be iffy and you might see a lot of rain.  If you’re coming with kids (and need to be able to spend time outside at playgrounds, etc), May through October are the best months. 

Summer can be very hot, but Lucca has plenty of shady areas and excellent gelato.  And, you’re close to the sea!

Weather in Lucca

MonthHighLow
January53°F (12°C)37°F (3°C)
February55°F (13°C)37°F (3°C)
March60°F (15°C)41°F (5°C)
April65°F (18°C)47°F (8°C)
May73°F (23°C)53°F (12°C)
June80°F (27°C)60°F (15°C)
July86°F (30°C)65°F (18°C)
August86°F (30°C)65°F (19°C)
September79°F (26°C)59°F (15°C)
October70°F (21°C)54°F (12°C)
November61°F (16°C)46°F (8°C)
December53°F (12°C)39°F (4°C)
Source: TimeandDate.com

THINGS TO DO IN LUCCA ITALY

Cycle or Walk the City Walls

Boys cycling on top of the walls in Lucca, Italy.

If there’s one thing you must do on a visit to Lucca, it’s this.  Either rent a bicycle (there are bike shops throughout the city, especially along the walls) or use your two feet and make your way up to the path along the walls – the Via delle Mura Urbane

Check out our post on our favorite Things to Do in Tuscany!

Fun Fact:  The base of the walls is 30 meters wide and the walls are 12 meters high.

The entire loop is about 4 kilometers and you can ride or walk at a leisurely pace and stop to enjoy the view or have a coffee at a café. 

You’ll see locals jogging and walking, kids playing in the small play areas and people picnicking and relaxing in the grass. 

When you’ve had enough, walk down one of the ramps and make your way into Lucca to explore the city.

Good To Know:  We like to rent from Tourist Center Lucca Bike Rental in Piazzale Ricasoli.  It’s just in front of the train station, so it’s easy to rent from if you’re arriving by train.  There are also parking lots and spaces nearby, so it’s also easily accessible if you’re visiting with a car.

Climb Torre Guinigi

It’s not the only tower in town that you can climb, but it’s the most recognizable – it’s the one with the oak trees on top.

The towers of Lucca were built by wealthy families to show their power and status.  The Guinigi tower was owned by the Guinigi family until they donated it to the town. 

The climb isn’t difficult, but the last section may be difficult for those with vertigo.  There’s a narrow section of steps.

The tower is about 45 meters tall and you’ll need to climb about 230 steps to get to the top.  Once you’re on the rooftop, enjoy the incredible views of Lucca and the Apuan Alps and the countryside!

Good To Know:  If you enjoyed the climb and want to do another one, climb the Torre delle Ore on Via Fillungo.  It gives you a close-up look at the clock tower and its inner workings, along with more spectacular views of Lucca.

Fun Fact:  The trees on top are remnants of the old kitchen garden (the kitchen was originally on the floor below).

Attend a Festival or Event

Macklemore concert in Piazza Napoleone at the Lucca Summer Festival in Lucca, Italy.
Macklemore at the Lucca Summer Festival in Piazza Napoleone

Lucca is home to a few great festivals and events:

Lucca Summer Festival – In June and July, big Italian and international groups and singers play for small but lively crowds in Lucca.  We’ve been and love it – with and without kids.

Good To Know:  If you plan on bringing small kids, pay extra to book a seat in the stands.  You’re still close but your kids will be able to see, and you won’t have to worry about crowds. 

Lucca Comics and Games – Europe’s biggest (and the world’s 2nd biggest) comics festival takes place at the end of October here and draws crowds from around the globe.  A big hit with many teens.

Lucca Antiques Market – Every 3rd Sunday of the month (and the Saturday before), over 200 exhibitors display their antiques in the streets and piazzas in the city.

Puccini e la Sua Lucca – Nightly concerts held in the San Giovanni church near the Cathedral.  One of the best experiences you can have in Lucca!

Lucca Christmas Market – Piazza Napoleone transforms into a traditional Christmas market in December.  There’s also an ice-skating rink and carousel.

Puccini Festival – Each summer in nearby Torre del Lago, for two weeks, visitors are treated to Puccini operas in an open-air theater. 

Hang Out in a Piazza

Piazza San Michele in Lucca, Italy.
Piazza San Michele

Have an aperitivo, people watch and see Italian life from morning ‘til night in Lucca’s piazzas.  We love the unique Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the lively Piazza Napoleone (aka Piazza Grande), and Piazza San Michele.

Take a Break in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro

The Piazza dell'Anfiteatro in Lucca, Italy.

Lucca’s most characteristic piazza is the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro.  When you enter the Piazza, take a look at its unusual oval shape.  It stands in the place of the ruins of Lucca’s Roman Amphitheater (anfiteatro).  The colorful square is a fabulous place to grab an outdoor coffee or lunch.

Visit a Church

St. Martin's cathedral in Lucca, Italy.

Lucca is nicknamed the city of 100 churches.  There are quite a few of them!  If you’re looking for a shorter list, some of our favorites are:

St. Martin’s Cathedral (Duomo di San Martino) – Home of the Volto Santo, or Holy Face, one of the world’s oldest statues.  The Lucca cathedral was (and still is) an important stop on the Via Francigena.   Check out the ruins inside the church or climb its bell tower (but if you’re only planning on climbing one tower in Lucca, make it the Guinigi Tower).

St. Frediano Basilica (Basilica di San Frediano) – Despite its many treasures inside, we love the mosaic on the façade the most.  The basilica is close to the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro and worth a quick stop.

St. Michael’s Church (Chiesa di San Michele in Foro) – 11th-century church built on the site of the town’s Forum (foro).  Look for the archangel San Michele on top, with angels on both sides.  Can you find the medieval graffiti on the right side of the church and do you recognize any of the heads on the columns?

Stroll in the Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico)

Even though you never really need to escape any noise or chaos in Lucca, the city’s Botanical Garden is worth a stroll. 

Even if you’re not a fan of flora, if you’re like me, you’ll delight in hearing Italians marvel at the trees and plants saying things like, “Che meraviglia!  Guarda questa quercia!” (“What a wonder!  Look at this oak tree!”)

Wander around, relax on a bench, and read a book. 

Even little ones will enjoy the garden.  Our kids love the turtles in the pond, the cacti, the small fountains, the fish, and choosing their favorite plant or flower.  The shady, grassy areas are perfect on a hot, summer day.

Shop on Via Fillungo

Make your way down Via Fillungo and cross piazzas, pass by churches, and shop in Lucca’s boutiques.  You’ll find a variety of goods, from souvenirs to clothing to leather to comics. 

Get a Gelato at Gelateria Veneta

Boy with cone looking at the gelato display at Gelateria Veneta in Lucca, Italy.

Yes, Italy is full of gelaterie, but you shouldn’t miss this one – it’s one of the best!  Grab a scoop (… or two… or three) and sit in front of the shop, wander the streets, or head up to the wall path.

Visit a Beach Near Lucca Italy

Even though Lucca has plenty of shady, green areas, on a hot summer day, there’s not much better than a dip in the sea!  Lucca is only a 30-minute drive to the coast, where you’ll find beach clubs, wild beaches, and beach towns. 

Read all about the Best Beaches Near Lucca!

LUCCA ITALY RESTAURANTS

Lucca has some excellent restaurants scattered throughout the city.  A few of our favorites are:

Pizzeria da Felice (via Buia, 12) – You can’t go wrong with a slice (or three) from family-run da Felice.  Perfect for a snack, quick meal, or to take away and eat in one of Lucca’s parks.

Ristorante Trattoria L’Angolo Tondo (Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, 51) – Simple Tuscan cooking in a beautiful setting on the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro.  Stick to the classics like pappardelle al ragu and the house ravioli.

L’Imbuto (Piazza del Collegio, 8) – The restaurant’s name translates to ‘the funnel.’  Creative cooking in Palazzo Pfanner.  Dine here if you’re looking for something different than the traditional Tuscan food served in most restaurants in the city.

Ristorante Giglio (Piazza del Giglio, 2) – Lucca’s Michelin-star restaurant serves modern cuisine in a palace just off of the lively Piazza Napoleone.

Finish your meal with a gelato at an excellent gelateria:

Gelateria Veneta (via Veneta, 74) – high-quality, homemade gelato.  The fruit flavors can’t be topped – we love the melone (cantaloupe), pera (pear), and cocco (coconut).

Food to Try in Lucca

While you’re wandering the city or dining in one of its restaurants, try to sample one or more of these specialties:

  • Cecina (chickpea flatbread/pancake)
  • Tordelli lucchesi (fresh filled pasta tossed in ragu)
  • Zuppa di Farro (farro soup)
  • Matuffi lucchesi (dish of layered polenta and ragu)
  • Cacciucco (seafood stew)
  • Baccalà (salted cod)
  • Scarpaccia lucchese (dense, savory zucchini cake)
  • Fagioli rossi di Lucca (red beans from Lucca)
  • Rovelline lucchese (veal cooked with tomatoes and veggies)
  • Tortellini in brodo (small filled pasta in broth)
  • Buccellato (sweet bread)

HOTELS IN LUCCA ITALY

If you can, stay within the city walls.  You can get your coffee at a bar with locals, walk the walls in the early morning or evening, and experience the city when the day-trippers are gone. 

Palazzo Dipinto – elegant and modern 4-star hotel on a quiet street within the city walls.  Kind and helpful staff, on-site parking garage, and spacious rooms.

Hotel Palazzo Alexander – 4-star hotel in the center of Lucca, but in a quiet area.  Friendly and helpful staff.

VISITING LUCCA ITALY WITH KIDS

Lucca is an easy day or half-day trip with kids.  

It’s also the perfect small Italian city to use as a base if you want to have a relaxing place to just ‘be in Italy’ with babies and toddlers and small children.  There are plenty of things to do with little kids (playgrounds, green spaces, big piazzas, mostly car-free city center) and it’s easy for mom and dad. 

Breastfeeding in Lucca

There are plenty of outdoor places to breastfeed in Lucca.  You’ll find benches in shady areas everywhere – all along the walls, in piazzas, at playgrounds, and in the Botanical Garden.

You can also breastfeed in restaurants, museums, and anywhere else.

Italians are very supportive of breastfeeding and you’ll see Italian mothers feeding their children everywhere.

Baby Supplies

You can find formula at Lucca’s grocery stores or pharmacies.  Hotels and restaurants are happy to heat liquids for you.

If you need diapers, wipes, diaper cream and toiletries, or baby food – head to the grocery store or pharmacy.  

Forgot to pack something for your baby or toddler? Lucca’s shops have you covered!

There’s a huge Esselunga grocery store about a 10-minute walk south of the walls.

Dining in Lucca with Kids

Play and picnic area on the walls in Lucca, Italy.
One of many picnic / play areas on the city walls

We usually grab a slice of pizza or a sandwich and eat in a park or playground, but there are plenty of casual restaurants in Lucca for a quick bite to eat with kids. 

A fun thing to do in Lucca is make a picnic (or grab some takeaway) and head up to the city walls on bicycle or foot.  There are plenty of shaded areas and you can visit one of the small play areas on the walls after you eat. 

Good To Know:  The walls aren’t fenced in, so don’t let your little ones climb up to the edge.  If you’re nervous about the edges, have your picnic at one of Lucca’s playgrounds.

Best Things to Do with Kids in Lucca

Our must-dos on each Lucca visit:

  • Cycle the walls, stopping along the way to play, look at birds, etc. 
  • Get a gelato at Gelateria Veneta
  • Climb the Guinigi Tower
  • Stop at a playground

Where to Stay in Lucca with Kids

We don’t sleep in Lucca, but friends and family who have done so have preferred hotels to apartment stays.  Why?  Lucca is such an easy, walkable city, and there are plenty of kid-friendly places to eat. 

Playgrounds in Lucca

Kids playing at a playground in Lucca, Italy.
Giardino degli Osservanti playground

There are small play areas dotted around the city wall path, but we prefer visiting one of the larger kids’ playgrounds:

  • Porta San Donato playground (next to the tourist info office)
  • Alessandro Bertolucci playground (just north of Porta Elisa)
  • Giardino degli Osservanti playground (our favorite and a fun spot to play with kids from Lucca)

Read more in our post about Visiting Lucca with Kids!

GETTING TO LUCCA

Arriving by Car

Parking area outside the walls of Lucca, Italy.
Parking is plentiful outside the city walls

Even though it’s a city and Italian cities aren’t fun to drive in, Lucca isn’t that bad. 

Lucca is easily accessible from all directions.  Exit off of the A11 Autostrada and in a few minutes you’re at the southern outer walls of Lucca.

You can park along the outer walls and walk in.

We usually park in the Piazzale Risorgimento lot or nearby.    

Park in the blue spaces and pay (by coin or credit card) in the machines and display your ticket on your dash.

The center is a ZTL (zona traffic limitato – limited traffic zone) and you can’t drive in if you don’t have permission.  If you’re staying at a hotel in town, contact them to find out the procedure to make sure you don’t get fined.  They will need to register your license plate with the authorities.

Read about Italian driving rules and norms in our post on Driving in Italy!

Traveling to Lucca by Train

Another easy way to access Lucca is by train.  It’s a 25 min ride from Pisa and a 1 hr 20 min ride from Florence.

The train station is on the southern part of the city, just outside of the city walls. 

If you don’t have a lot of luggage, you can walk to your hotel, but if you’re staying on the northern part of the city or you have a lot of luggage, grab a taxi at the station.

Nearest Aiport to Lucca Italy

Pisa International Airport (PSA) is only 20 kilometers by car using side streets.  If you take the Autostrade (toll roads), it’s around 30 kilometers and takes around 30 minutes.

You can also take a direct bus (50 minutes) or take a bus to Pisa and from there take a train to Lucca (45 minutes total).

Florence International Airport (FLR) is 70 kilometers by car (50 minutes).  You can also take a direct bus from the airport to Lucca and it takes about 1 hr.

FAQ

Why is Lucca Italy famous?
Lucca Italy is famous for being the birthplace of the great opera composer, Giacomo Puccini.  It’s also well-known for its surrounding walls, which are loved by cyclists and pedestrians.

Is Lucca Italy worth visiting?
Lucca, Italy is definitely worth a visit!  It’s lively but not too busy and has a mostly car-free center.  Rent a bicycle and cycle on its surrounding walls, climb one of its towers, and dine on delicious Tuscan fare.

What food is Lucca known for?
Lucca is well-known for its cecina (chickpea flatbread/pancake), tordelli lucchesi (fresh filled pasta tossed in ragu), scarpaccia lucchese (dense, savory zucchini cake), fagioli rossi di Lucca (red beans from Lucca), buccellato (sweet bread),and rovelline lucchese (veal cooked with tomatores and veggies).

Is Lucca a nice place to live?
Yes, locals love their hometown and visitors dream about living there.  It’s large enough to have all of the conveniences of a big city, but its walled center is quiet, walkable, charming, and full of green spaces.