The Italian city of Pisa is known for its world-famous Leaning Tower located in the Piazza dei Miracoli. But anyone who's visited this vibrant city knows there's more to Pisa than just the tower. Like all Italian cities, the historic center of Pisa is overflowing with great restaurants and a lively atmosphere, especially in high season. Easy to reach from the even more popular city of Florence and other destinations throughout Italy, Pisa is close to the legendary Cinque Terre, some of the most beautiful villages in Tuscany, and all of Italy. Plus, the famous church of Santa Maria della Spina with its stunning Gothic architecture and the gorgeous Piazza del Duomo all help to make Pisa well worth visiting.
And unlike some of Italy's other classic bucket list destinations, Pisa is relatively small, which makes it easy to get around. Whether you're looking to get a classic Leaning Tower selfie photo or are planning to take part in some of the unmissable things to do at night in Pisa, the city's public transit network can make it happen. But before you go jumping from train to bus while visiting Pisa, don't forget to drop off your luggage at a Bounce luggage storage. The less you carry, the easier it will be to get around the city and enjoy everything it has to offer.
How to get around Pisa by train
Pisa Centrale Station is the main train station in the city. Located just to the south of the River Arno, Pisa Centrale Station is conveniently located close to the city centre and some of the city's top attractions. If you're the type that likes to walk, the Leaning Tower is a little over 20 minutes from Pisa Centrale on foot, and along the way, you'll visit many of the main sights of the city. However, if you'd like to spare your feet, there are other options. For instance, Pisa Centrale has plenty of taxi stands outside, and hiring a taxi here is generally a better idea than trying to hail one on the street.
Pisa Centrale is a major rail hub for the region and connects Pisa to the rest of Tuscany and Italy. A train to Florence takes less than an hour, so you can visit one of Europe's cultural hubs on an easy day trip from the city. At the same time, many passengers from Florence change trains in Pisa to reach La Spezia and the iconic fishing villages of the Cinque Terre. That makes Pisa Centrale Station a busy place.
Luckily, like nearly all Italian railway stations, Pisa Centrale is operated by Trenitalia, the government-operated railway company. This means that train tickets are generally relatively inexpensive, at least by European standards. It also ensures that the network is reliable and easy to navigate since you only need to buy tickets from a single supplier. You'll find ticket machines throughout Pisa Centrale, and if Italian isn't your forte, the machines have options for the English language too.
If you're arriving in Pisa by train as part of a larger Italian adventure, you're bound to end up at Pisa Centrale at some point. However, if you fly in to Pisa airport, the train station may also end up being part of how you get around while visiting Pisa. Pisa Airport is remarkably close to the train station, with the two only a little over a mile apart. They are connected by the PisaMover, an automated rail system that runs every five or six minutes from 6 AM until midnight. The trip takes around five minutes, including a stop along the way at the large airport car park. A ticket costs only €2.70, and with transit between the airport and the train station being so quick, cheap, and efficient, there's really no need to consider hiring a taxi or a rental car just to get into the city itself. The simplicity of this airport connection makes it by far the most popular way to reach the city centre.
Once you're in the city itself, however, you won't be traveling by train. Pisa is too small to have a subway system and small enough that you can reach most of the major sites by walking. With no subway or streetcar system, the bus is your best bet for getting around Pisa.
How to get around Pisa by bus
Pisa's network of city buses can get you just about everywhere you need to go. The main company operating the city's bus line is called CPT, but you'll also see buses operated by Linee ad Alta Mobilità, or LAM for short. These buses operate as express routes to some of the city's most popular attractions. For instance, the red LAM route connects the Leaning Tower and Piazza dei Miracoli to both Pisa Centrale and Pisa airport.
Interestingly, you can buy bus tickets in Pisa with your mobile phone. Sending a text message to 4883882 lets you buy a ticket that you can display on your phone. In order for the service to work, you'll need an Italian cell phone provider. However, SIM cards in Italy are easily available and cheap, so it's not a bad idea to switch your phone to an Italian provider while visiting Pisa.
Failing that, it's important to know that as in the rest of Italy, you need to buy bus tickets before you get on board the bus. Tickets are available from newsagents called tabacchi or from ticket offices in major transit locations like the train station. You'll need to validate your tickets when you board the bus using the machine provided. A single ticket gives you 70 minutes to make your trip, and you can change from one bus route to another during that 70 minute validity period. A single ticket will cost you one euro, while a day pass will cost three euros.
Pisa's main bus station sits right outside the train station, so it's easy to go straight from a train or the PisaMover onto a bus. The LAM Rossa runs from the station to the Leaning Tower, stopping along the way at Piazza del Duomo, so this is perhaps the most useful of Pisa's bus routes. Alternatively, you could use the hop-on hop-off tourist buses to take you everywhere you need to go. There are two different lines, A and B, that run all through the summer and conduct tours in a variety of different languages so you can learn more about the city while you explore. This is a great way to get to all the top attractions, and although tickets can be expensive at €15 for adults, they are valid for 24 hours and let you explore at your own pace.
How to get around Pisa by car
You'll find companies willing to rent you a car at Pisa airport and in the city itself. However, Pisa is a small enough city that it isn't really necessary to drive a car. And in an ancient city like this, it's probably not a good idea. Pisa city centre offers very little parking, and the narrow and twisting medieval streets create anything but a relaxing drive. Because the city is not built for car travel, you can expect to sit in traffic just about anywhere you go. That's why both locals and tourists alike generally choose to walk around the city.
If you do insist on driving to Pisa, it's a good idea to take advantage of the large parking lot close to the airport. From there, you can take the PisaMover to the train station or jump on the red LAM bus to take you all the way to the famous Tower along with other destinations. Having a car can make for a useful way to explore the rest of Tuscany on your trip, but it's better where possible to park it outside the city and visit Pisa via public transit or on your own two feet.
Can I get around Pisa on foot?
The ancient cities of Tuscany long predate cars and taxis, so they are generally highly walkable. This is certainly true of Pisa. You can pick up maps at the tourist office or embark on a guided tour if you want to know where the best places in Pisa are. Alternatively, download a map to your phone and find your own way through town. In many ways, strolling through Pisa and letting yourself get lost is one of the most enjoyable things to do. Wandering through the city center will expose you to some of the best shopping in Pisa as well as excellent food and all the historic monuments of the city. Plus, an evening stroll along the Arno River with some gelato handy is hard to beat and will give you an unforgettable experience of Tuscany.
Another option to get around town is by taking advantage of bike rentals. Bikes are an ideal method for getting around this crowded town, and you'll be getting some exercise while you explore. Or if you really want adventure, you could rent a Vespa scooter and travel through the city in true Italian style. Pisa's small size makes it ideal for exploring on two wheels, with iconic locations like the Ponte di Mezzo only four minutes by bike from the Leaning Tower.
Whether you choose to bike or walk during your visit, you'll find it a great way to keep the cost down while you explore this region of Tuscany. And traveling at street level means you can stop off wherever you feel like and explore that quirky store, cool cafe, or delicious-looking restaurant whenever you feel like it.
From the moment you arrive in Pisa, you'll soon see it isn't hard to get around town. Choosing centrally located accommodation certainly makes it easier, but the town is small enough that you can get to just about anywhere from anywhere else. Bus and train fares are reasonably priced, too, but walking through the city is free, and in many ways is the best option for getting around.
Whether your trip to Pisa is part of a larger exploration of Florence and Tuscany or you've come to Pisa just to see this particular city, you'll find it's a place literally designed for walking. So drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Pisa and set yourself on course for a great trip. Once you've captured that obligatory Leaning Tower photo, you'll find this often underrated city has plenty to offer. And being as easy to get around as Pisa means you won't have to worry about navigating your way through this charming location.