When you’re traveling through Tuscany, it’s really easy to travel from Florence to Pisa. Many visitors will opt to take a day trip to Pisa from Florence, and for one good reason. When you visit Florence, you’re only about an hour away from Pisa. Why not check out one of the most famous landmarks in the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
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While there aren’t a ton of things to do in Pisa, I highly recommend a half day trip to Pisa from Florence. You don’t need to book any kind of trip or tour to get there. It’s very easy to travel by train from Florence to Pisa. We spent three days in Florence, but made it our home base for five nights. One day, we went to Siena, San Gimignano, and Chianti on an all day tour. On another day, Justin and I went to Lucca by train and spent the day there.
While you could easily return to Florence after spending a day trip in Pisa, we continued on our journey to Cinque Terre, five beautiful villages on the Italian Riviera. From Pisa, we ventured towards the village of Riomaggiore with one stop at La Spezia. Anyway, allow me to show you how to travel from Florence to Pisa (and worry about logistics like storing your luggage if you’re stopping en route to Cinque Terre). I’ll also detail all the things to do in Pisa for a half day in the city.
Getting From Florence to Pisa
It’s easy to travel from Florence to Pisa by train. You can travel directly to Pisa Centrale from Santa Maria Novella station in Florence. Our apartment in Florence was closer to Firenze Campo di Marte station, and we took a train from there to Pisa Centrale. Trains depart at least every hour (even more often in some cases!), so it’s easy to hop aboard a train without planning too much in advance.
Not a train travel kind of person? You can book a day tour to Pisa from Florence that includes transportation and a skip the line Leaning Tour ticket.
Taking the Train to Pisa
You’ll have a couple of different options when taking the train from Florence to Pisa. There’s a regional train where it will take about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. It runs all day, and you can buy tickets at the train station that day (no need to buy in advance). The train tickets cost around 9€ for a one way ticket.
There’s also a high speed train that will get you from Florence to Pisa in about 45 minutes. You’ll travel directly between Pisa and Florence. In this case, there’s also a first and second class on the train, depending if you want to have a more quiet or luxurious experience with guaranteed seats.
While it’s no problem to ride second class or on the regional trains (we did it all the time in Italy), it’s really nice to have reserved seating in first class. I recommend buying your high speed train tickets in advance. Train schedules are released 90-120 days ahead of time. The earlier you buy them, the better chance you’ll have of catching a sale or promotion.
Luggage Storage at Pisa Centrale
We traveled to Pisa with all of our suitcases and luggage in tow. Justin and I stopped in Pisa on our way to Cinque Terre. You need to change trains in Pisa anyhow, so it was a great excuse to check out the tower. If you happen to be visiting Pisa on your way to another destination, you can easily store your bags at Pisa Centrale.
Look for the sign at the train station that reads, “Deposito bagagli”. It’s at the end of platform 1. You don’t need to make any reservations in advance. Just show up with your bags. It is a manned desk with security, so you don’t need to worry about anything happening to your luggage. It costs 5€ per bag to store it all day long. This luggage desk is open every day of the week between 08:00 and 19:00.
Getting to Campo dei Miracoli From Pisa Centrale
To reach Piazza dei Miracoli from Pisa Centrale, I recommend walking there. It’s only about a 20 minute walk, it’s free, and it’s great exercise. If you don’t want to walk, there’s a bus that runs every 7-15 minutes from Pisa Centrale to Piazza dei Miracoli.
Catch the LAM Rosso bus (Red line bus) outside of Pisa Centrale, and it takes about 10 minutes. Put the route into Google Maps and you’ll see exactly where to catch the bus and get off it (at the Torre 1 stop). It costs 2€ one way to take the bus. You can use change as you board the bus or get tickets from a nearby news stand.
It’s also possible to take a taxi from Pisa Centrale to Piazza dei Miracoli, if you want to get there even faster without walking. That will be the most expensive option (7€ to 9€).
Continuing on the Train to Cinque Terre
Once you’re done, head back to Pisa Centrale where you can take a regional train from Pisa to La Spezia on your way to Cinque Terre. These trains run every hour or so, and the journey is between 45 minutes and an hour. You can buy your tickets at the station. We transferred at La Spezia to another regional train heading to Riomaggiore. These trains run every 15 minutes, and we bought our train tickets at La Spezia station upon arrival.
How to Spend a Half Day in Pisa
Looking to spend a half day in Pisa? The majority of things to do in Pisa Italy all centrally located at the Piazza dei Miracoli (aka Square of Miracles, aka Piazza del Duomo). This includes the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistery, Opera del Duomo Museum, Sinopie Museum, and Il Camposanto Monumentale.
You can buy tickets to any attractions from the ticket office on site, but I recommend purchasing tickets online in advance. The tickets to climb the Leaning Tower are timed and limited. They likely sell out during the busier seasons.
I suggest buying tickets from the official website, including timed tickets to climb the Leaning Tower. It costs 18€ to climb the tower. If you’d like to visit any other monuments, it costs 5€ for one monument, 7€ for two, or €8 for three. A visit to the cathedral is free with any ticket purchase.
The two of us chose to check out the Leaning Tower, the Baptistery, Il Camposanto, and the Pisa Cathedral. We skipped the museums as we had a limited amount of time, and we had got our museum fix in Florence. If a small group guided tour is more your style, choose this Pisa guided tour to the Cathedral, Baptistery, and skip the line Leaning Tower climb.
Things to Do in Pisa: Leaning Tower of Pisa
When traveling from Florence to Pisa, the main attraction I’m sure you want to see is the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. Out of all the Pisa attractions, I’m sure it tops your list of the must see in Pisa. After all, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the architectural masterpieces in the city square.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the bell tower for the Pisa Cathedral. Construction started in 1173, and it was completed in 1372 (200 years later!). While the tower was meant as a showy piece to display the wealth of the city, it became known for its lean. The city of Pisa lies on marshy soil, and its loose underground subsoil caused the tower to lean due to a sinking foundation on one side.
Engineers tried to correct the lean over the years, which caused the tower to lean in different directions. At last, in 2001, engineers managed to stabilize the building for at least the next 200 years. For the first time in history, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has managed to stay in place, even though it’s still technically leaning.
To reach the top, you must climb all 269 steps spiraling around and around. From the top of the tower, you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area. Then, you’ll need to climb down using a separate winding staircase. You cannot bring any bags up the tower with you. There’s a free and secure storage area for all personal items in the northeast corner of the Square of Miracles complex. You are allowed to bring your camera or your phone with you to take photos from the top.
One of the highlights of your Pisa half day tour might involve taking some cheesy tourist photos “propping up” the tower from down below. You’ll see so many people posing in this way, and it’s pretty hilarious. While at first I giggled, I ended up joining in on the fun myself. After all, when in Pisa, right?
Pisa Cathedral (Duomo di Pisa)
Another one of the best places to visit in Pisa is the Pisa Cathedral. If you’ve bought a ticket for any other attraction, you can enter the cathedral for free at any time of the day. You’ll just need to head to the ticket office to collect a timed ticket to enter, as they only permit a set amount of guests at a time.
The Pisa Cathedral is an impressive church in Italy where the exterior is made from intricately carved white marble. The cathedral’s construction began in 1063, and it was once the largest cathedral in Italy. Inside the cathedral, there’s a highly decorative gold ceiling, as well as elaborate paintings. One main attraction within the cathedral is the carved marble pulpit by Giovanni Pisano.
Pisa Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni)
If you’re looking for what to do in Pisa, don’t miss the Pisa Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni). This circular building has two floors to explore, so I suggest wandering up to the second floor for alternate viewpoints. It’s the largest baptistery in Italy, and it’s almost as tall as the Leaning Tower.
The Baptistery predates the Leaning Tower, and work started in 1153. Although it’s not noticeable, the Baptistery has a very slight tilt, too. Its full name is Battistero di San Giovanni because it is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. There are carvings inside that detail the life of Saint John.
Il Camposanto Monumentale di Pisa
The Camposanto Monumentale was probably our favorite place to visit out of all the things to do in Pisa in one day. First, this is the monumental cemetery of Pisa, and it dates back to 1278. It’s home to beautiful medieval and early Renaissance frescoes that were carefully restored after they were damaged during World War II. The architecture of the building is brilliant, too.
Justin and I loved walking around the Camposanto Monumentale because it was so quiet and peaceful. There were very few tourists here with us, and we practically had the whole place to ourselves when we visited in mid-May. If you only have one day in Pisa or you’re taking a half day trip to Pisa from Florence, we suggest that you include the Camposanto on your Pisa itinerary.
Vegan Restaurants in Pisa
Thinking about stopping for lunch when you’re in Pisa? If you’re traveling from Florence to Pisa on a half day tour, you’re bound to get hungry for at least one meal in Pisa. There are a number of restaurants with vegan options to check out while you’re there. Feel free to add any of the following restaurants to your Pisa itinerary.
We ate at Ristorante Pizzeria Duomo, which isn’t a strictly vegan restaurant. But, it’s within close walking distance of the Leaning Tower, plus they have yummy pizza. I’ll also list a couple of vegan restaurants in Pisa for you that we’d love to try on a future visit. Also, if you’re looking for vegan food in Florence, check out our vegan guide to Florence, Italy.
Ristorante Pizzeria Duomo
Justin and I dined on the patio of Ristorante Pizzeria Duomo (Via Roma, 70), just across from Campo dei Miracoli, or the Square of Miracles, where you’ll find the tower. We ordered marinara pizzas with mushrooms as a topping. It’s easy to dine at most pizzerias in Italy as a vegan: simply order a marinara pizza (it comes without cheese naturally) and add vegetables on top.
Vegan Come Koala
We wanted to dine here when we visited Pisa, but Vegan Come Koala (Via L’Arancio, 21) isn’t open on Sundays (the day we traveled there). It’s an all vegan restaurant serving fast food like hot dogs, burgers, and crepes. This will be our #1 place to try when we visit Pisa again in the future.
Clorophylla Veg & Bio Shop
While Clorophylla (Via Vittorio Veneto, 1) is a vegan retail shop, it’s also a deli with prepared and takeaway meals. They serve traditional Italian cuisine gone plant-based, and there’s a little area to dine inside or outside. They also have lots of vegan desserts, too.
Where to Stay in Pisa
While we didn’t elect to spend the night in Pisa, I am sure that the city is much different once all of the daytrippers have left. You might decide to take a slower approach to your trip around Italy. Stay for a few nights in Florence, stay one night in Pisa, and then continue on your way to stay in Cinque Terre or anywhere else in Italy.
If you’re looking for where to stay in Pisa, we’ve done the research for you. These are high rated hotels and properties in Pisa that have fantastic reviews in terms of location, comfort, and amenities. There’s a place to stay for every budget.
Our choice for a luxury hotel in Pisa is the Villa Tower Inn, located in a restored historic home. It’s only 600 meters from the Leaning Tower, and the rooms are both elegant and spacious. Enjoy free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a flatscreen TV, and the buffet breakfast in the morning. Book your stay at the Villa Tower Inn or read reviews by travelers who have stayed there.
Casa San Tommaso is a fabulous budget option in a guest house that will feel like home. Just a short distance (300 meters) from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, your room in this historic home features a private bathroom, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a refrigerator, and charming wood beam ceilings. Book your stay at Casa San Tommaso or read reviews by travelers who have stayed there.
If you love staying at Airbnbs, apartments, or holiday homes, check out this amazing Airbnb in Pisa that’s only steps away from the Leaning Tower. It’s a whole apartment with two bedrooms and one bathroom. It’s within an ancient building that’s recently renovated that overlooks the city walls. There’s also a large kitchen, air conditioning, and a washing machine.
Whether you’re taking a day trip from Florence to Pisa, stopping in Pisa on your way to another city, or spending the night in Pisa, we feel that it’s a worthwhile stop on your dream vacation in Italy.
|Essential Italy Travel Guide|
|Getting There: Italy has numerous international airports and major train stations. When we spent 3 weeks in Italy, we flew into the Marco Polo Airport in Venice and out of Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport. The national airline of Italy is Alitalia, although we flew from Toronto with Air Transat. |
Getting Around: I highly recommend traveling by train throughout Europe. It’s an easy and stress-free way to travel. While you don’t need to book train tickets to some regional trains in advance, I recommend booking all high speed train tickets ahead of time. Most long distance trains open their bookings up between four and five months in advance. I suggest booking them as soon as possible for the best rates. The longer you wait, generally speaking, the more you will have to pay. Here’s where you can book your train tickets to Pisa.
Fast Facts: Euro is the currency. Power voltage is 220 V 50 Hz using Power Sockets F and L.
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Travel Safety: Don’t forget to get travel insurance before your trip. Whether you have an accident, have a flight delay, experience a theft, or need to return home sooner than anticipated, it’s always best to cover your bases. Get a travel insurance quote now for the best rates.
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