The Ultimate Pisa Day Trip from Florence

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by Olivia Ellis

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Going on a Pisa day trip from Florence is often one of the top things to do once you’ve explored the highlights of the Tuscan capital.

Home to one of the most famous and unique monuments in the world – the UNESCO-listed Leaning Tower of Pisa – the city is an exciting destination in the divine Tuscan region. Looking beyond the famous tower, you’ll learn that Pisa is so much more.

From deep medieval history and quaint cobblestones to delicious Tuscan food, this itinerary will encourage you to get out of Florence for the day to explore.

Getting from Florence to Pisa

By Organised Tour

While a trip is pretty effortless at just under 100 km away, you may want the most relaxed day possible. Thankfully, there are plenty of organised tours to Pisa from Florence that take the logistics and guesswork out of planning and leave you to enjoy the picturesque, rolling Tuscan scenery and delectable local food.

With a guide, you have the opportunity to learn much more in-depth about the city and region that may be more difficult to learn independently.

If you’re searching for a tour exploring other parts of Tuscany; this full-day tour from Florence not only includes time spent in Pisa but also in other areas of the Tuscan region.

Your day will be spent in the UNESCO-listed medieval hill town of San Gimignano, the idyllic brick-painted city of Siena, along with time at a local winery in the Chianti region.

For those looking to spend a whole day in Pisa, this full-day tour is the perfect option. The price includes transportation to and from Florence, admission into several sites with a guided tour of the Leaning Tower, and free time exploring the city.

If you’re short on time and want to see Pisa, you can also take this half-day tour that is only 3.5 hours total. And for those who want their own dedicated guide, there is also this private half-day tour.

Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa
Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa

By Train

Due to the efficiency of the Italian train system and the proximity of Pisa to Florence, train transportation for a day trip (or even a half-day trip) from Florence to Pisa is a great option.  

From Santa Maria Novella Station in Florence, direct trains run regularly (about every 20 minutes) to Pisa Centrale train station. The station is located centrally in the city of Florence, which adds to the convenience of traveling by train. You can view train schedules here.

On the other hand, Pisa Centrale Station is located about 1.5 km outside the city center, on the other side of the Arno River. So make sure to keep this in mind when you’re planning a train journey to Pisa. The journey time depends on the train line, typically taking between an hour and an hour and 20 minutes.

By Bus

Another option for transportation is to take a bus from Florence to Pisa. The best option for bus transportation is to travel with FlixBus as it’s the only company offering direct bus transportation between the cities.

The journey is around an hour to an hour and a half, making the cost and travel time the same for both bus and train transportation. You can view bus schedules here.

The downside to bus transport is that bus stations are typically outside of city centers, with Florence’s bus station (Villa Costanza) being around 8 km outside of the city and Pisa’s bus station being 2 km outside of the city.

Although transportation from the station to the city is convenient and quick, it still makes it a bit more inconvenient, especially if you only have one day in Pisa to explore.

By Car

If you’re traveling by car for your Florence to Pisa day trip, it’s just a short 1 ½ hour drive from Florence. The drive itself is a special journey, passing through small Tuscan towns and rolling dreamy hills before arriving at your final destination.

This also gives you the option to have a few stops and detours along the way to make an extended day trip and Pisa itinerary. 

With all of that being said, it is important to keep in mind that these are both busy Italian cities, so I recommend leaving and arriving at times that aren’t rush hours as traffic can be dense.

As for parking, it can be tricky to find a parking spot but ​​there are a few car parks a few minutes away from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, with a few of those being free to park in.

There are also a few car parks outside of the city center with shuttles into the historic city to save you the stress of finding a parking spot.

If you need to rent a car for your trip to Italy, you can browse which compares prices across a number of companies.

Baptistery of Pisa
Baptistery of Pisa

Pisa Day Trip Itinerary

Pisa is quite small, giving it more of the feel of a larger town rather than a city, making it easy and enjoyable to visit Pisa in one day.

Unlike a lot of busy touristy cities in Italy, Pisa tends to be less congested, so wandering around the medieval streets and experiencing all of the historical and cultural sites the city boasts, feels more like a breath of fresh air. 

Historic Center of Pisa

Like any other Italian city, Pisa is separated into both old and new. The new area with more modern architecture is where the majority of local Pisans live, and though still interesting to visit, it’s not part of this Pisa itinerary.

The area that you’ll be most intrigued to visit is the “centro storico” or historic center of Pisa, located North of the River Arno. This area is just like any other Italian town or small city, with exquisite piazzas, medieval churches, and magical corners tucked away off of the city’s alleyways.

Wandering through the historic center is one of the best things to do in Pisa and it almost feels like something out of a classic Italian movie, taking in sights of locals going about their day, the warm Italian sun determined to melt your luscious gelato, and old buildings lining narrow streets on every corner.

If you want to learn more about the history of Pisa and have travelled to the city independently, you can book a guided walking tour here that includes the option to buy Leaning Tower tickets.

Piazza dei Cavalieri 

Within the historic center of Pisa, the biggest and one of the most important squares is the Piazza dei Cavalieri or “the Knights’ Square”.

Since 1406, this round and traditional Tuscan square in quintessential Renaissance style has been the political heart of the city and to this day holds strong importance for the city and its people.

The Palazzo dell’Orologio or “Clock Palace”, located in the square is a key part of history with it once being the seat of the government in medieval Pisa and is an integral and interesting part of Pisan history to witness during your visit.

Knight's Square in Pisa
Knight’s Square in Pisa

Borgo Stretto

Every city has its main shopping street, and Pisa is no different, with the Borgo Stretto or “Narrow Street” spanning the center of the city. Borgo Stretto is quite literally its name, a narrow street full of all sorts of shops, restaurants, and cafes.

The street is mostly pedestrian and still mostly has small artisan shops and independent restaurants, unlike many other places all with the same high street shops.

It’s a delight peeking into the windows of the shops on the Borgo Stretto, whether it’s an old book store, a stylish boutique, or a local artisan selling handmade leather goods.

Off of the Borgo Stretto, make a point to wander down the small alleys as most of the time you’ll find yourself in small Tuscan piazzas in the middle of everyday Pisan life. 

Botanic Gardens

If you’re a traveler keen to find nature while traveling in a city, the Botanical Gardens of Pisa are located within the historic center and just a few minutes walk from the Knights’ Square.

Founded in 1543 by physician and botanist Luca Ghini, the Botanical Gardens are a lovely oasis with plants to discover from pretty much every part of the world, all in the center of medieval Pisa.

There is an admission fee, but every first Sunday of the month is “Green Sunday” with free entry if you’re lucky to visit on one of those dates.

Pisa Botanical Gardens
Pisa Botanical Gardens

Piazza dei Miracoli

The most easily identifiable landmark in the city of Pisa is the Piazza dei Miracoli or “Square of Miracles”.

With the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Duomo di Pisa, the Baptistery, and Campo Santo all in one spot, the Square of Miracles is pretty much an outdoor museum in itself, making it no surprise that the square itself became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

All three components of the square are supposed to make up the stages of human life and it’s truly a remarkable and unique complex of monuments and sacred sites in the center of Pisa. 

For admission tickets aside from the Cathedral with free admission, you can purchase individual or combination tickets for any of the sites within the Square of Miracles. To save time when you arrive, you can also purchase tickets in advance here for the Leaning Tower or a combination ticket here.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Undoubtedly the most visited and famous part of Pisa, the Tower of Pisa is more than just an independent tower, it’s the bell tower adjoined by the neighboring Cathedral of Pisa.

As the tallest bell tower in all of Europe, the particular and famous leaning design of the tower was actually a mistake and design flaw by mystery architects in 1173.

At 8 stories high, the Tower of Pisa is worth more than just visiting to take a famous picture of it from the outside. The tickets to enter and climb the Tower of Pisa are pricey, though the view from the top offers outstanding views of the city (and don’t worry, you’re completely safe inside, even if it is a bit lopsided!).

Opening hours for admission to the inside of the tower vary depending on the time of the year that you visit, so make sure to check opening hours in advance.

Pisa Cathedral & Campo Santo

Next to the Tower of Pisa at the Square of Miracles is one of the most astonishing churches in Tuscany, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and no visit to Pisa is complete without seeing this incredible building.

In 1063, architect Buscheto designed the grand cathedral in a new combination of styles from Eastern architecture, Byzantine features, and Lombard decoration. From the marble exterior of the cathedral and the bronze doors guarding the front of the cathedral to the gold ceiling of the interior, I highly suggest visiting inside the Cathedral during your time in Pisa.

Visits inside are free, but you must reserve an admission time in advance. With tickets to either the Tower, Campo Santo, or Baptistery, you can visit the Cathedral at any opening time, which is open every day. You can also book a guided tour.

On the back end of the Cathedral, you’ll also find the “Campo Santo”, or the cemetery of Pisa, the youngest of all the monuments of the Square of Miracles.

Historical legends claim that the cemetery was built with holy soil from Jerusalem, and because of this, over time the cemetery has become a holy ground in its own right.

Whether the legend is true or not, it’s a beautiful spot in Pisa to visit; from the well-maintained green area to the stunning frescoes lining the inside walls of the cemetery.

Inside Pisa Cathedral
Inside Pisa Cathedral

The Baptistery

Also located in the Square of Miracles is the Baptistery of Pisa, the tallest baptistery in the world at 55 meters high. Dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, ths incredible building took almost a century to build, resulting in a unique combination of architectural styles, both Romanesque and Gothic style architecture.

If you’re particularly interested in history, the Renaissance mastermind Galileo Galilei was baptised here in 1564, so it’s the perfect place to take a walk through Tuscan Renaissance history.

Make sure to stop by the Baptistery to round up your visit to Pisa’s most monumental and historic square, the Square of Miracles. 

Arno Riverfront 

After spending time wandering through the Historic Center and Square of Miracles in Pisa, a great way to round out your one day in Pisa itinerary is to head to the Arno Riverfront.

While the Arno River holds the most popularity from Florence with its famous painted riverfront views with the classic Ponte Vecchio Bridge, the Arno River actually terminates at the Pisa Marina before flowing into the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Spending time walking along the Arno River is the perfect way to spend time taking in the scenery along this famous Italian river without the masses stuffing in to take photos along the river in Florence.

Walking alongside the banks of the Arno River is a wonderful way to get away from the crowds of the center while admiring the Tuscan beauty of Pisa reflected on the calm river water.

A great spot to enjoy a cocktail and classic Tuscan small sandwich snacks, or, “schiacciata”, is at Dal Mozza Gourmet, located on the northern end of the Arno River.

Arno Riverfront
Arno Riverfront

Have More Time?

If you have more time to spend in Pisa and would like to explore further than the stops mentioned on this itinerary, I suggest heading to one of the various museums that the city of Pisa has to offer.

Located in a medieval monastery beside the Arno River, The ​​National Museum of San Matteo is easily the most popular, with displays of historic ecclesiastical works from Pisa and surrounding areas.

If you’re particularly interested in Renaissance art and classic frescoes from the period, The Sinopie Museum is another solid option, where you have the opportunity to observe the early, original graphic sketch copies of frescoes from back to the Middle ages. 

Both museums have the option to purchase combination tickets with any of the monuments at the Miracles Square, giving a great opportunity to save money on a day trip to Pisa.

Beyond the city of Pisa, if you’re searching to spend more time in the western part of the Tuscany region, the quaint, sleepy Tuscan town of Lucca is just about 45 minutes away by train or 25 minutes away by car.

The home of world-famous opera composer Puccini, some of the best Tuscan leather goods, and a gentle, laid-back attitude, Lucca is an incredibly pleasant town that stands in time. This well-preserved Renaissance Tuscan city undoubtedly deserves a spot on your Tuscany itinerary.

Beautiful Lucca
Beautiful Lucca

Where to Stay in Florence

Hotel Bellavista – This mid-range hotel makes for a great base for both exploring Florence and for heading out on a day trip. They have a range of different rooms available, an option to include breakfast in the nightly rate and a great, central location.

25hours Hotel – This luxury hotel is perfect for those looking for something a bit more opulent and sophisticated while they’re in the Tuscan capital. They have a number of lovely rooms to choose from, breakfast is included in the nightly rate and there is a fitness centre, restaurant and bar on site.

Ostello Bello Firenze – This highly-rated hostel is great for budget and solo travelers to Florence. They have a wonderful location for exploring the city (along with ease of going on day trips) and offer both dorms and private rooms.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Florence

Planning a day trip to Pisa is one of the top things to do when visiting Tuscany. There is so much to see and do in this historic Italian city that you’re sure to wish you had a bit more time!

Are you planning a day trip to Pisa? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Olivia is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Michigan, USA, she is currently living in Athens, Greece exploring Europe and filmmaking. When she’s not travelling or writing, Olivia can be found cooking delicious new recipes from around the world, reading, and spending time outdoors.

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