Pisa may be famous for its leaning tower, but this northern Italian city located close to the Tuscan coast is also home to some spectacular hiking trails. If you're looking for the best free things to do in Pisa, don't be afraid to grab your hiking boots and head out for a Pisa hiking adventure to explore this popular region of Italy. A walk through Tuscany will let you discover ancient monasteries, castles, churches, and the fascinating history and beautiful landscapes of this unique country. Plus, exploring the trails of Pisa will bring you into contact with nature in an energizing and restorative way.
Pisa and the surrounding region is blessed with hiking trails suitable for just about every fitness level, so don't be afraid to head out and explore Tuscany. Whether you're new to hiking or an accomplished rambler, you'll find a walk to suit you here.
Of course, it'll be easier to access the great trails in the region if you're not carrying more than you need to. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Pisa, and you'll be ready to discover everything this region of Italy has to offer.
Our Top Hiking Trail Picks in Pisa
Pisa Historic Centre
There's not much point visiting a beautiful city like Pisa and not seeing any of the city itself. Unlike many ancient towns, Pisa is incredibly walkable. In fact, taking a walk is probably the best way to explore the city and take in its unique architecture and atmosphere as you travel to the town's most iconic locations.
You can't really go wrong wherever you go for walk in Pisa, if you want to get to many of the city's most iconic sites, a great place to start is at Piazza dei Miracoli. From there, you can explore the magnificent architecture of Pisa Cathedral and the famous Leaning Tower which is right beside the church. After that, head south to the botanical garden, founded in 1544, and enjoy hundreds of species of plant life in this manicured garden. Then stroll through medieval Knight's Square and travel along the Narrow Street to see the house where Galileo was born and take in the lively atmosphere in this bustling part of town.
Heading further south, Ponte di Mezzo will take you over the River Arno to the Blue Palace, Santa Maria della Spina, and on to the Tuttumondo Mural painted by famous American artist Keith Haring. This walk lets you see some of Pisa's most iconic sites and some hidden gems, and you'll end this 1.9-mile walk close to the train station. Because it travels through the heart of the city, this is a great route to take before enjoying the best brunch in Pisa, and the easy city terrain makes it suitable for any fitness level.
Heading out of the city itself, you can enjoy hiking in many spectacular natural areas of Tuscany. For instance, the impressive ancient village of Volterra lies about an hour away from Pisa and is easily reached by public transit. From Volterra itself, you can take bus number 500 to the San Cipriano stop, then embark on an 11-mile walk through classic Tuscan countryside as you make your way back to town. Along the way, you'll follow gravel paths through rustic farmland and see the rolling hills Tuscany is rightfully famous for.
This hiking route has an elevation gain of around 1400 feet but spread over the length of the route, it's not too challenging, making it a good option for moderately experienced hikers. And once you reach the town of Volterra, it'll be worth it. You'll enjoy incredible views and have plenty of options for places to eat and take a break. You've earned it.
San Miniato to Gambassi Terme
This moderate-difficulty route will take you through the famous Chianti vineyards of Tuscany to explore more of the region's beautiful villages. San Miniato is reachable from Pisa in less than an hour by car or by train, and the 14.5-mile path from there to Gambassi Terme, famous for its glassmaking, offers beautiful views and an intriguing destination well worth exploring. Enjoy the celebrated landscapes of Tuscany as you follow a medieval pilgrimage route, visiting a couple of interesting churches along the way. There's really no better way to see the countryside of Tuscany than this, and when you arrive in Gambassi, you'll be able to get off your feet in one of the many charming trattorias in town and enjoy a glimpse into the life of the region's locals.
From Pisa Centrale, the train runs south along a beautiful section of coastline to the town of Rosignano Solvay. From there, a 30-minute bus ride will bring you to the town of Castellina Maritima. This is the starting point for an excellent hike that starts in the center of the city and leads you through forests, farmland, and vineyards to further explore the beautiful landscapes of Tuscany. Much of the trail is shaded by trees, making this an excellent route to take on a sunny Italian day. The well-marked trail covers a little over four miles, and the ascent isn't particularly challenging, although the terrain can be a little rough and slippery in places, so good shoes are essential. This hiking trail will take you to a popular viewpoint where you'll enjoy stunning views over the countryside before leading you back to town. From there, it's easy to head back to Pisa or stay a little longer in Castellina Maritima and see what the place has to offer.
Riserva Naturale Montenero to San Gimignano
The medieval town of San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a must-visit while you're in Tuscany. The town can be reached by train and bus from Pisa, but if you want to see it the way its inhabitants have for centuries, it's better to travel there on foot. Starting in the Montenero Natural Reserve, you can follow a 13-mile trail through varied terrain that includes forests, vineyards, and ancient villages. The vistas over the hills of Tuscany are impressive enough, but as you get closer to San Gimignano itself, you'll be amazed by this well-preserved gem of Italian history. And once you reach the city itself, you'll have earned the chance to take a break and enjoy some delicious Italian food in this unforgettable location.
Pisa to Lucca
How often do you get the chance to walk along a Roman aqueduct? The trail from Pisa to Lucca covers over 16 miles with around 2500 feet of elevation gain, so it's not for the faint-hearted and requires a decent fitness level to attempt. But there are plenty of interesting places to stop and take a break along this fascinating route between two great Italian cities. Much of the route follows an ancient aqueduct, and you'll also discover ancient water mills, charming villages, and incredible scenery along the way. Keep an eye out for the striking church in the middle of nowhere along the way, and enjoy a side of Tuscany many visitors never get to see.
Passo di Dante
Dante is arguably Italy's outstanding literary figure, occupying a place in Italian literature similar to that which Shakespeare occupies in English. One of Tuscany's most famous sons, Dante is celebrated on this trail that offers incredible views over the region he knew so well. Starting near San Giuliano Terme, this roughly three-mile trail will bring you to the peak of Monte Pisano, offering views that are second to none. Reaching the summit, you may well feel you've attained Dante's paradise in his Tuscan homeland.
If you can't get enough of mountain scenery, or you just want a trail that's going to challenge you, you'll find it when you attempt the summit of Monte Faeta. Right next to Monte Pisano, the trail to the summit of this mountain and back down covers 14 miles and 2300 feet of elevation gain, along with 2600 feet of elevation loss. Therefore, it's a trail that will challenge even people used to challenging hiking. However, the trail offers a chance to immerse yourself in nature and see beautiful wildflower meadows and forests along with gorgeous views over Tuscany. And the challenging nature of the trail means you won't have to worry about running into too many other people as you enjoy the tranquility of Tuscany's wilder side.
Parco Regionale Migliarino San Rossore
When Pisa was established, it was a coastal town. That's not the case anymore; over the subsequent centuries, the land has risen, pushing the city further inland. But Pisa is still close to some beautiful coastal scenery, and you can counter some of it at the regional park of San Rossore.
This protected natural area stretches from the city of Pisa all the way to the coast, and it makes an excellent place to enjoy a walk and take in the beauty of the coastline. Hiking across the park from its eastern entrance all the way to the sea and back again will cover around nine miles, but there's very little elevation gain to deal with. You can take a break at the halfway point when you reach the city and enjoy the crashing waves and sunshine before heading back. It's a fantastic place to see the natural side of Italy without straying too far from the city.
Reaching the Cinque Terre, or Five Villages, from Pisa will take you over an hour by train. But if you're a fan of hiking and you're in the Pisa area, you can't not at least consider making the journey. These five coastal villages are regarded as some of the most beautiful in Italy, if not the whole world, and they are a major tourist attraction on the Ligurian coast. The stunning coastline has been declared a National Park, and you'll find around 75 miles of beautiful trails within this park. You can hike in the hills above the villages or along the thrilling trail that winds along the rocky cliffs of the coast.
The paths from one village to another vary both in length and the difficulty of the terrain, so you can pick the one that suits you best or combine them all for a truly challenging experience. But however you choose to visit this area, you'll leave with unforgettable memories of one of the most beautiful locations in all of Italy.