2-Day Loire Valley Itinerary Without a Car

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Planning your Loire Valley itinerary?

I recently spent a couple days exploring this charming region of France and definitely recommend a visit here. The Loire Valley is overflowing with impressive chateaus and beautiful towns.

While you could easily spend a week or more making your way through them all, I was able to see a fair amount within a couple days – enough to start to get a feel for the area. 

So, if you’re short on time but eager to visit the Loire Valley then this 2-day Loire Valley itinerary is for you. It covers how to get to Loire Valley, things to do without a car, where to stay and when to visit. Read on!

Planning a trip? Use my favorite resources:

 Two Day Loire Valley Itinerary: Quick View

Here is the high-level itinerary, based on my own experience. I’ve also included additional things to do, below, so you can swap out activities based on your preferences:

Day 1: Château du Clos Lucé, Lunch, Château Royal d’Amboise or Wine Tasting
Day 2: Day Tour of Chenonceau & Chambord Chateaus, Drinks With a View, Dinner

Want to skip the planning? Book this private, 2-day, all inclusive tour from Paris to the Loire Valley for a curated experience with a dedicated guide. Accommodations, meals, transportation and admission tickets for all activities included!

Full Two Day Loire Valley Itinerary

Note that I arrived on “day 0” and departed on day 3. However, you could also arrive early morning on day 1 and depart at night on day 2. Personally, I was able to dedicate 2 full days.

Day 1: Château du Clos Lucé, Lunch, Château Royal d’Amboise or Wine Tasting

In Amboise, where I recommend you stay, are two chateaus worth a visit:

Château du Clos Lucé 

Open-air corridor in Chateau Clos Luce on a clear day, a stop worth adding to your Loire Valley itinerary

Start your morning here, where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last several years of his life. After a long history, including serving as a summer house to various Kings of France, this estate became da Vinci’s home while he worked on projects for one such King. 

As an Italophile myself, visiting Château du Clos Lucé was at the top of my list of must-dos. And it was time well-spent. You’ll see da Vinci’s work spaces, tools, artwork and diaries. You’ll also see replicas of many of his inventions. 

It’s truly remarkable to see how diverse his inventions were, and how they set the foundation for many that we still use to this day. 

Along the way, there is a creperie bar and a Renaissance-inspired restaurant if you feel inclined to fuel up. 

After exploring the Château itself, you’ll find yourself in Leonardo’s sprawling park. There is plenty to see and overall, you could easily spend at least a couple hours if not longer exploring this Château.

One of da Vinci's designed bridges in the outdoor garden behind Chateau Clos Luce

I recommend starting your day early and arriving right at opening time. You can book your tickets in advance or once you arrive.

👉 Get Tickets for Château du Clos Lucé 

Lunch at Master of Art

Lunch consisting of buttered noodles, leafy greens and tender, baked chicken legs in an orange sauce

After exploring da Vinci’s French home, I was ready for lunch! I was lucky to stumble upon a lovely little place on the corner, very close by, called Master of Art. It had great reviews on Google maps, so I decided to check it out. 

I got there just in time. 

The restaurant isn’t very large at all, although it is clean and pretty. One side of it was completely taken up by a big family, enjoying brunch. As a solo traveler, I was sat at a table on the other side but shortly thereafter requested to move as another family came in and space was limited. 

It wasn’t ideal, but I didn’ mind. Especially when I saw that anyone else who tried to enter got turned away because just like that, they were at capacity! Several others came by while I was there, locals, to try to get a table and were told to return again later. 

I can understand why. I ordered the special of the day, which was chicken in a sauce of actual oranges. My mouth is actually watering as I write this and recount the experience. 

It was simple – a couple chicken legs in that delectable sauce, some greens and noodles. Simple, and incredible at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and then went happily on my way. 

If you can get in, highly recommend. 

Château Royal d’Amboise

Upward view of the side of the castle, chateau in Amboise on a sunn day

Now, my plan was next to visit Château Royal d’Amboise. After all, it’s the main Château of the city. It’s on practically all the postcards of Amboise, a beautiful sight. And from what I hear, the views from high up within are really something. 

You could definitely spend a couple hours of your afternoon exploring the Château Royal d’Amboise, which remains open until six in the evening. 

I simply didn’t have it in me, because I had already been traveling for a week by this point in my trip. And because I knew I had two more vast chateaus to frolic through the next day. 

There’s only so much chateau-viewing I can do, but if you can stand it then I’ll bet this one is worthwhile to include in your itinerary, too. 

Wine Tasting

A yellow street in Amboise with shops on either side and a clock tower up ahead

Alternatively, you can spend your afternoon wine tasting. Walk over to Caves Ambacia for a cellar tour, tasting and food pairings. English tours are offered at noon, 2pm and 4pm and you can book online

For around $20 USD, it’s an affordable way to get to know some of the regional wines and learn about their history. 

If you’re not able to make it to a formal wine tour, Caves Ambacia is still a great place to visit for a drink and a bite to eat. 

👉 Book a Caves Ambacia Cellar Tour & Tasting

Alternatively, you can book a full-blown afternoon wine tour to vineyards and sample wines of the Tourraine region! 

👉 Book an Afternoon Loire Valley Vineyards Tour

Prefer beer to wine? Check out the Art is an Ale Brewing Taproom instead!

Day 2: Day Tour of Chenonceau & Chambord Chateaus, Drinks With a View, Dinner

It is common for visitors to rent a car to drive to various chateaus in the Loire Valley. If, like me, you prefer not to drive around a new city then you’ll love this day tour. It’s the one I went on, here’s how it went: 

Château de Chenonceau

Chateau Chenonceau side view, over river

I was picked up from the Amboise tourism office by a spacious minivan, complete with our driver / tour guide. I was the only one on this tour picked up in Amboise, and the rest were staying in Tours (more on where to stay and why, in a bit). 

Our first stop of the day was Château de Chenonceau, also known as the Ladies Castle because women largely influenced its design and architecture. Our guide took us to the best viewpoint, offered to take photos of each us and told us about the interesting history behind the property. 

Once inside, he continued to tour us around for a bit and share interesting stories and historical facts. Then, he gave us some guidance and let us explore on our own. We set a time to meet back at the van, and were set free. 

I LOVED this setup. 

As a solo-travel lover, I appreciated that this tour balanced guided portions with free time so I could go at my own pace. 

View of Chateau Chenonceau from the green garden, with fountain in the foreground

I spent my time exploring more of the chateau and a bit more of the gardens. Then, I went to the cafe on the property to grab a bite to eat. It was pricey and not very good, but it did the trick. 

I got a cappuccino to go and took a leisurely walk away from the chateau grounds, past the parking lot where our minivan was parked and into the tiny town beyond. 

Pink flowers along the street in the town of chateau chenonceau

After stopping at a recommended pastry shop to grab an eclair, I wandered a bit and sat on a bench to enjoy it. Then, I made my way back to the van feeling ready to rejoin the group and head to our next stop. 

Château de Chambord

View across the river of Chateau Chambord

Next, we went to Château de Chambord. Chenonceau and Chambord are two of the most popular chateaus in the Loire Valley, so I was glad this tour covered them both. 

The two chateaus are quite different, both on the exterior and interior. We learned why when our guide shared their differing histories, and reasons for being built.

Once again, he led us to the best photo spot before guiding us inside and giving helpful tips about how best to explore this chateau. Then, he set us free. 

I moved quickly through this chateau, prioritizing making it to the top to get up close and personal with great views and some of the more stunning architecture. I loved this chateau! 

Close up of the towered structures on the roof of chateau chambord

Others in my group spent the entire time exploring this chateau in detail. 


I made my way to a creperie nearby to enjoy a coffee and snack while catching up on IG stories and texts from my family. Once again, I felt grateful for the space to go at my own pace. 

Crepe filled with homemade dark chocolate, with a cup of coffee on the side

Then, we all gathered back in the minivan and I was dropped off first in Amboise before the rest of the group headed back to Tours. 

Drinks at Le Shaker

View of Amboise city and chateau from across the river, at Le Shaker's

You’ll arrive back to Amboise, most likely, around 5pm. Make your way to Le Shaker for dinks with a view. 

This restaurant is located on the central island part, halfway across the bridge into Amboise. It directly faces the river, and the Château Royal d’Amboise across the way. 

Even if you decide not to grab a drink or a bite to eat here, it’s worth the short walk over for the view and some great photos. 


If you don’t end up eating at Le Shaker, there are plenty of other choices for dinner. While I didn’t end up making it to try these ones in person, I did carefully select and favorite them in my maps app with the intention to do so. 

Try La fourchette for tapas or Baalbeck for lebanese food, and please report back to let me know how it was if you do! 

Additional Things to Do in the Loire Valley

Have even more time in the Loire Valley? Or, want to swap out something from my itinerary to something that’s more your style? Consider these activities:

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Especially in warmer months, you’re sure to see majestic hot air balloons floating over the picturesque Loire Valley. Even in February, when I visited, we managed to see a couple floating by in the sky. 

Taking a hot air balloon ride is a popular Loire Valley experience, and one you don’t need a car for either. You’ll get picked up from your hotel and driven to the launch site in a 4×4. 

After a safety briefing, you’ll take to the skies for a gentle adventure. Enjoy a glass of champagne when you land, and receive a flight certification as a souvenir!

👉 Book a Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the Loire Valley 

Bike Tours

Another popular way to explore the Loire Valley is by bike. This e-bike tour to Chambord is great for those who want a more active way to get around. It includes a visit to Chambord, as well as an impressive family property. 

Or, stay closer to Amboise with this other e-bike tour that covers Amboise highlights, including a visit to Clos Lucé and a wine tasting.

Getting to the Loire Valley

a train station in France

You can easily arrive in the Loire Valley by train from Paris, or elsewhere, like I did. It’s an easy walk from the Amboise train station into town, and most likely to your accommodations. Or, see if you can arrange a pickup with your hotel or Airbnb host. 

When my time in the Loire Valley was done, I was able to take the train to Bordeaux as well. Overall, the train station is pretty well connected but you’ll likely have to make at least one transfer. 

👉 Book Train Tickets to the Loire Valley

Where to Stay in the Loire Valley

I went back and forth on where to stay, as in which town to stay in. I’d found a lovely accommodation in Bloise that really called to me, but I ultimately realized that without a car it wouldn’t be the best base. 

Then, I considered the city of Tours. Ultimately, I landed on Amboise. Many tours depart from both Tours and Amboise, and as I wasn’t planning on having a car it was important to have easy access to such experiences. 

Tours is a slightly larger city, and might have more to do if you’re visiting in the off season. Amboise, however, is a charming small town with plenty to offer as well. Although, during off season it can feel a little too quiet at times. 

If you’re looking for a well-located place to stay within Amboise, consider Maison Hulotte or Chambres D’hôtes Les Ambaciales.

When to Visit the Loire Valley

The best time of year, from a pleasant-weather perspective, would be summer months. I’d also consider visiting in early fall. 

My own visit was in February. The benefit of visiting at this time of year was the availability of tours, affordable places to stay and little crowding. 

But, the weather was chilly of course. And in Amboise, sometimes it felt like there wasn’t much to do or a lot going on. 

FAQ: Visiting the Loire Valley

As you consider the details of your visit, keep in mind:

How many days do you need in Loire Valley?

You could easily plan out a longer itinerary, probably a week-plus, to explore the Loire Valley’s various towns and chateaus. But if you only have a couple days, like I did, you can still see plenty and get a good taste of what the region has to offer. 

What is the most picturesque town in the Loire Valley?

In my opinion and from what I’ve seen, Amboise is the most picturesque town in the Loire Valley. But if you have a different opinion, I’d love to learn more! 

Is it worth going to the Loire Valley?

Yes. The Loire Valley wasn’t on my radar until recently and that’s a shame. It’s a beautiful part of France with a lot of history and fairytale-like charm to offer. 

Is Tours a good base for the Loire Valley?

Absolutely. Tours is a bit of a bigger city, with plenty to do while also being well connected. Many guided tours pick up participants from this city, and you’d also be well-connected for train travel on your own. 

Final Thoughts: Loire Valley Itinerary

If you’re considering a visit to the Loire Valley, go. Worried about having enough time? Hopefully this 2-day Loire Valley itinerary helps you see that it’s definitely possible to cover a lot of ground there in even a short amount of time. Enjoy your visit to the Garden of France!