Last Updated on 27th May 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
Famous the world over for its leaning tower and adjacent set of stunning ecclesiastical buildings, there is perhaps no day trip from Florence quite so famous as to that of the Pisa and its Torre pendente di Pisa. Other highlights of the Italian town include its cathedral, botanical garden, and more Medieval buildings than you could possibly count. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to take an easy and delightful day trip from Florence to Pisa via train, or guided tour if you so prefer…
Why you’ll love Pisa during your Northern Italian Visit
Pisa can easily be seen over the course of a few hours, which is just one of the reasons it makes the perfect day trip from Florence. Alternatively, the town can be visited as a stopover between Cinque Terre and Florence. Though Firenze continues to wow visitors with its dazzling Duomo and endless cultural museum experiences, it may well surprise you that once upon a time, Pisa was just as powerful as Florence.
Today, the top highlight of this Northern Italian city are the buildings that litter the Campo dei Miracoli (the piazza where the leaning tower is to be found). Though the collective structures were once hailed as one of the greatest architectural projects of Renaissance Italy, in a somewhat ironic twist of fate, the faulty tower has become much more famous than the equally impressive Pisa Duomo (cathedral) and Baptistery that are to be found nearby.
Step away from the towering Pisa Torre, escape the crowds, and you’ll soon discover that the rest of the city is home to the kind of charm that can only be found if one chooses to step off the beaten tourist track. Pizzerias, cafés, and gelaterias are to be found in abundance, if only you know where to look. One of the best-kept secrets of Pisa is the Santa Maria della Spina, a charming Gothic chapel located alongside the banks of the Arno River.
Before visiting Pisa, you should know that while wandering alongside the perfectly manicured lawns of the Campo dei Miracoli is free, you’ll have to pay a small fee to visit the monuments there, apart from the Duomo, which is free (though you’ll still need a timed ticket to enter)! Due to historic preservation and space limitations, only a certain number of visitors are allowed within each monument at any given time. As such, I recommend booking your tickets well in advance.
If you simply want to climb the tower and learn about the city from a local guide, then you’ll want to reserve this ticket. Next, this Pisa Cathedral guided tour will uncover the secrets of this Romanesque building, as well as an optional Leaning Tower ticket. Finally, for the history buffs, this all-inclusive guided Tour encompasses the Baptistery, Cathedral & Tower, and is an absolute must for those who wish to see everything!
How to get from Florence to Pisa by train
Train travel in Italy is, in general, fast, efficient, and inexpensive. The train between Florence and Pisa is just over an hour and is on a direct route, meaning no pesky train changes and no waiting around to actually reach your desired destination! I don’t recommend the bus as, though the cities are within the same region, the bus interconnecting the two destinations don’t actually go into the city centres but instead service airport- city centre!
The one thing I would caution you on is to validate your ticket in advance. Too many times I’ve seen tourists and visitors fall into the trap of purchasing their ticket and believing that’s all they had to do! Instead, tickets purchased in Italy are usually valid for an entire day, and so validating your ticket at a machine (where it will be stamped by a small reader) is a way of showing that you actually intended to pay the correct fare!
Florence at sunset
Trains depart from the Santa Maria Novella station, which is located in the very heart of Florence. Though you can, of course, buy tickets at the station, there’s always the option of buying tickets online in advance from the Trenitalia website. The journey only takes around an hour from city centre to city centre.
The service is pretty regular, with trains around twice an hour during the week, and at least once every hour during the weekend. From Pisa’s main train station, it’s then simply a twenty-five-minute stroll to the Campo dei Miracoli. En route, you’ll soon see the rest of the historic town!
Florence city centre
Guided tours to Pisa from Florence
For those who wish to pack a little more into their Florentine day trip than just a passing visit to Pisa, a guided tour from Florence should always be a consideration. From quick half-day excursions to full-day stints complete with highlights such as other villages and wine tastings, there’s a tour to suit every preference, as well as every budget. Here are some of the best Florence to Pisa day tours:
Pisa Day Tour with Leaning Tower of Pisa
In search of essential Tuscany? Well, it doesn’t get much more Italian than this! Lasting for six hours, this tour from Florence includes travel to and from Pisa, a guided tour of the city once there, and admission to both the Cathedral and the Leaning Tower. Check prices and availability here.
Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano with Lunch and Wine in Chianti
For a taste of Italian produce to go alongside with a sampling of Italianate architecture, you may well consider booking a tour that combines the best of what Tuscany has to offer. This 12+ hour guided tour includes a visit to the Campo dei Miracoli, a lunch in the Tuscan countryside where there’s the opportunity to sample local Chianti wine (for more Chianti wine tasting tours, check my full guide here). After this, the tour takes you to the medieval UNESCO world heritage site of San Gimignano, followed by a trip to the ity of Siena. Check prices and availability here.
8-Hour Excursion to Pisa and Lucca
History! History, and even more History! Following a visit to Pisa, this tour then takes you to the stunning city of Lucca, where you can wander around the historic city centre in the form of a guided walk. The Florence excursion even includes the chance to sample some local cake from Lucca in a traditional pastry shop. Check prices and availability here.
Pisa and Cinque Terre Full-Day Tour
Desperate to see Cinque Terre (i.e. the five lands) but don’t have oodles of time? Well, this full day tour is jam-packed with the chance to enjoy the Italian countryside and visit both the leaning tower of Pisa, as well as the quaint villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Vernazza, three of the settlements that form the five lands. This tour is specifically geared towards independent travellers who are between 18 and 35. Check prices and availability here.