Headwater - Self-Guided Cycling in Tuscany: Pisa to Florence

Traveller ratings
4.5 / 5 from 2 reviews >
Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Self-Guided Holidays
Min age:

Explore the city of romantic Florence

Cycle from the iconic leaning tower of Pisa to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, passing through beautiful Tuscan landscape that inspired artists and composers such as Leonardo da Vinci and Puccini. The gentle cycling is mainly along riverside paths and quiet roads, and there are the opportunities to lengthen the rides, or take the train at some stages to spend extra time at your destinations. Enjoy a free day in the romantic city of Florence and take some time to visit the sights in one of the world's most stunning cities!


  • Visit the famous cities of Pisa and Florence
  • Relax in one of the most famous thermal cities of Europe
  • Gentle cycling through idyllic Tuscan countryside
  • See da Vinci's birthplace and sample some of Italy's finest cuisine

Key information

  • 6 nights 3 and 4-star hotels, 1 night 2-star hotel
  • 5 days cycling (including 1 optional ride) with luggage transfers
  • 88% tarmac, 12% unpaved
  • Mainly flat roads with some undulation
  • Option to choose longer or shorter rides on days 3, 5 and 7
  • Self-guided holiday. Min age 12 yrs
  • Countries visited: Italy

What's included

  • All breakfasts
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • All luggage transfers
  • Route notes and maps
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (compulsory supplement)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Flights from London (available on request)
Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

5 (1 optional ride)

Days of Cycling

The suggested cycling is along quiet, tarmac roads (mainly traffic-free). There are some hilly parts but they do not require any athletic skills.

Day by day breakdown
Day 230.0km/19.0miles
Day 345.0km/28.0miles
Day 550.0km/31.0miles
Day 765.0km/40.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info




There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts are included. However, please note that the typical Italian breakfast is light, and often consists of a cup of coffee and a cream-filled or jam-filled croissant. It is always advisable to visit a local shop or supermarket before riding to pick up water and snacks for the day.

Suggestions of what to do for lunch and dinner are given in the information material provided. Tuscan food is based around the notion of cucina povera, or 'poor cooking'. Simple, inexpensive meals are made using fresh, high-quality, local ingredients to bring out the natural flavours. Dishes are traditionally hearty and you will find mouth-watering soups and stews made with beans and local meats appearing on all menus, paired with a glass of the local Chianti of course! Tuscany is famous for its truffles, mushrooms and homegrown olive oil, and you will also find a variety of delicious breads as an accompaniment to most meals. It is impossible to offer an exhaustive list of suggestions for 'must-try' dishes, but here are a few recommendations: Panzanella - a cold bread salad made using the simple ingredients of unsalted bread, tomatoes, red onions, basil, olive oil, vinegar and salt Lardo di Colonnata - cured meat generally served as a starter Cacciucco - fish stew, or soup Lampredotto - a stew using the fourth stomach of a cow, cooked in a broth and often found served as street food Castagnaccio - a traditional cake made with chestnut flour Wine lovers will be spoilt for choice, and each town generally has its own wine, so if the choice becomes overwhelming, it is simple enough to go for the vino della casa (house wine) which will likely be a delicious Tuscan table wine.


Italy has a good all year round climate, with plenty of sunshine and warm/hot temperatures. The summer departures ought to have daily hot sunshine and temperatures can reach the mid to high 30 degrees Celcius. The earlier and later departures are likely to be cooler with a slightly higher chance of rain. In late summer there is the possibility of heavy thunderstorms (generally in the afternoons), but these are usually short-lived. Please be aware that the hot weather in the summer can make the cycling a little harder.

Weather chart

Weather chart

Is this trip for you?

Cycling conditions
This is a self-guided cycling trip for those who like to cycle independently, but with back up to take out the hard work and planning. We arrange your accommodation, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next.
Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate) 
Please see the introductory pages of the cycling holidays brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading.
Av. daily ride: 48km (30 miles).
No. of days cycling: 5 (including 1 optional day)
Terrain & route: The suggested cycling is along quiet, tarmac roads (mainly traffic-free). There are some hilly parts but they do not require any athletic skills.
Vehicle Support: Bags are transported from one hotel to the next by van. On days 3, 5 and 7 it is possible to take the train to make the route shorter.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journeys as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.

For most days on this trip we have offered the shortest riding distance in these trip notes, but it is often possible to extend this further and the directions will be included in your route notes so you can make a decision on the day.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain an emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. As a guide we have suggested that 12 yrs is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. However, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities.

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.



We use a cosy 2-star hotel in Lucca; other nights are spent in 3 and 4-star hotels, all en suite. The hotels are chosen for their excellent facilities and proximity to the relevant local sites. All rooms have en suite facilities and air conditioning. Please specify whether you would prefer a double or twin room when booking.

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2019
    Timothy Masters

    Overall a great holiday, more about the country than cycling

    This was the first self guided cycling tour we have experienced. The cycling was mainly easy but in one or two places it was better to avoid traffic and push the bikes. The Italian countryside is in places glorious and ever changing. The cities are probably the main event though and a must if you like classical art and history and of course food and drink. The tour guides and maps are very detailed and carefully prepared. The bikes were very good with panniers and water bottles etc. The weather was cool but dry and mainly sunny. In the wet this might not be such a fun trip as there is quite a bit of cycling on gravel tracks. We found it easy to catch the train with our bikes but beware of unscheduled train strikes. The hotels were excellent throughout with plentiful breakfasts. The stops are all in towns and cities so this is not a holiday with stays in the Tuscan countryside.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the best was successfully using some of our few words of Italian learned pre trip! But for me the classical views of the Tuscan hills, olive groves, vineyards, cypress trees and classical villas were captivating and brought us close to the rural life of Italy. Equally the cities have so much to offer, even if it is just enjoying the atmosphere and gentle decay of some of the older centres with their shops and restaurants. Finally there is nothing to beat Italian coffee and ice cream which feel all the more earned after a few hours cycling.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The tour was very literally self guided so you are on your own apart from the initial brief and handover of the bikes. This is where the tour could be improved because a 10 minute chat with a tour guide at the end of each day would have been useful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are a confident cyclist used to traffic and off road there is no problem with this tour because the cycling is easy. The longest stretch of 66 Km is on the last day but is largely on a downward grade. But definitely take a gel saddle cover and padded shorts. This trip could be harder work in high temperatures or windy/wet conditions, but the train is a good option if you are not too bothered about the cycling. Otherwise the hilly sections on day 2 and 4 are a bit more of a challenge and there are some fairly short on road stretches where the traffic is heavy with lorries etc and you need to take care and it is safer to get off and push. In cities there are cycle lanes and parks and we had no problems even though the streets are crowded in places. The directions given are easy to follow and the maps and guidebook are excellent.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you want a cycling holiday this tour may not be for you. But if you want to see some wonderful Italian cities and countryside with comfortable accommodation, without the stress of arranging it all yourself this tour is a very good option.
  • Reviewed January 2017
    James Barlow

    Biking through rural Tuscany

    This holiday takes you through rural and semi-urban Tuscany, on a loop from Pisa through Florence. We started in Pisa, and spent an enjoyable evening in the city, soaking up the mediaeval architecture and open plazas. Cycling from the city, we headed towards Lucca, a splendid walled city. The ambience and beauty of this city does not disappoint, match by a warm welcome from our hosts. Exploring Lucca by night is truly atmospheric - a must! Splendid place for gastronomes also! Heading from Lucca, we took the loop cycle to the hilly outcrop of Collodi. The winding roads require good map skills and care navigating the turns, but this adds to the interest of the trip. Montecatini was the next stop, an old spa town which was rather quiet; the spas are not open all year - if interested in this aspect, we advise checking opening times before you book. We took a day off here, just to relax and unwind. Heading towards Florence is an amazing part of the trip, as excitement builds as you approach the city. Exploring Florence was undoubtedly amazing, and the gentle cycle back to Pisa was the perfect wind down.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling through fragrant Spring meadows teeming with beautiful flowers, out from Lucca, and inhaling the scents of Spring.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Not applicable - self guided

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The season you book is very important depending on what aspects of Tuscan culture and natural beauty you are most interested in. Not all road surfaces are even, with many country lanes and river paths - to us, this added to the experience, but it requires a bit of practice/experience - try a few gentle off-road cycles before you go.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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