Where To Stay In Pisa: The Ultimate Neighborhood Guide
The Italian city of Pisa is a classic bucket list destination. Famous for its tourist attractions including the world-renowned Leaning Tower, Pisa is one of the main cities of the always-popular Tuscany region. And many visitors who only come to the city's historic center to get a cheesy photo with the famous Leaning Tower soon learn that there's much more to the city than a single historic building. The reality is, Pisa has plenty to offer, from the historic buildings and tourist attractions of central Pisa to the fascinating museums, great hiking, and incredible food the city offers, including the best brunch in Pisa.
When you visit Pisa, you're going to need a place to stay. And while a central location within walking distance of all the main attractions in one of Italy's most visited cities sounds just about perfect, it's worth taking some time to learn more about the neighborhoods of the city and figure out what you really want. For instance, those looking for a family vacation may prefer a different part of the city than young backpackers looking for lively nightlife.
Luckily, this fascinating city has a number of different neighborhoods that all offer great places to stay in Pisa, Italy. Named after different saints, the neighborhoods of the city promise a heavenly stay in Pisa. Whether you want to be centrally located close to the iconic tower and historic center or would prefer to be in modern accommodation away from the tourist crowds, a stay in Pisa will be far more enjoyable if you drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Pisa. That way, no matter how you choose to spend your time, you'll know you don't have to worry about early checkouts or baggage restrictions and can enjoy the city to the fullest.
One of the most centrally located areas of the city, Santa Maria runs from the north bank of the River Arno and takes in much of the city's historic center, though it stops just short of Piazza dei Miracoli and the famous Leaning Tower. If you're looking for a central location, Santa Maria is hard to beat. The Pisa Tower, the city's central train station, Piazza del Duomo and Pisa Cathedral, and many of the city's top shopping streets are either in this area or within a short walk of it. Staying in the historic center of the city keeps you close to wine bars, delicious food, and unmissable things to do at night in Pisa. Because of the wealth of historic attractions in this area, it's also the perfect location for history buffs visiting Pisa, since you'll be able to immerse yourself in everything that makes the city so special. If you want your stay in Pisa to be in the heart of the action, Santa Maria is the place for you. Plus, it's home to some of the best Pisa hotels, and you'll find a great market where you can pick up supplies for a picnic or shop for souvenirs.
It may sound like Santa Maria has everything you need for a great stay in Pisa. And if you're the type of person who likes to be right in the heart of things, that is probably true. The trouble is, everyone wants to be centrally located, and so you'll pay more for accommodation here than you would in other areas of the city. That's true whether you prefer a luxury hotel with spacious rooms and a rooftop terrace or are in search of a mid-range hotel or even a budget option. Staying in Santa Maria simply costs more. You can offset some of that cost by walking to everything, but whatever you save on public transportation costs will probably get eaten up by the higher prices you can expect to pay in restaurants and bars in Santa Maria.
Still, if your budget stretches to it, Santa Maria is undoubtedly a great place to stay in Pisa. Being able to walk to attractions like the Leaning Tower means you can beat the crowds and visit at less popular times, for one. But since this is also the most heavily touristed part of the city, you'll have a hard time escaping the crowds. If you want to enjoy some peace and quiet for your stay in Pisa, this may not be the place for you.
Pisa is a city with a lot to offer, but one of the reasons it receives so many tourists is because of what it's close to. Pisa International Airport is the gateway to Tuscany for many international travelers, and Pisa Centrale Station connects the city to other top Italian tourist destinations like the city of Florence and the gorgeous coastal villages of the Cinque Terre.
If you plan to explore more of Tuscany during your stay in Pisa, it might be a good idea to try to stay within walking distance of the train station. Pisa Central Station is located in the San Giusto neighborhood on the south side of the Arno River, bordering Santa Maria and separated from it by the water. Easy to reach from Pisa Airport, San Giusto makes a great base for a stay in Pisa that gives you easy access to the city's central train station so you can enjoy incredible day trips out of town.
Another advantage this area has over nearby Santa Maria is that it's much cheaper. Whether you're looking for a luxurious hotel, a cozy vacation apartment, or a backpackers hostel, you'll find plenty of options for your stay in Pisa that are likely to suit your budget. And while San Giusto may not compare to Santa Maria for attractions like Piazza dei Miracoli and the famous Pisa Tower, the area around the train station is not without its own charm. Check out Keith Haring's huge Tuttomondo mural in this area, and enjoy gorgeous views over the River Arno every time you cross one of the many bridges on your way into the city center. Pisa isn't an especially large city, and you can walk from the central train station to the Leaning Tower in around 25 minutes, passing through some of the city's most charming locations along the way. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the city's public transit network to get around in Pisa.
Because San Giusto is so close to Pisa Centrale Station and its rapid connection to Pisa Airport, you'll find plenty of tourists here just as you will in Santa Maria. However, the crowds generally head in the direction of Piazza dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower, so you can find some peace and quiet in this area if you choose. Plus, exploring the narrow streets may expose you to bars and restaurants most tourists walk right on by.
The neighborhood of San Francesco sits on the north side of the River Arno just to the east of popular Santa Maria. This means it's not too far to get to the Cathedral and the Leaning Tower, especially if you stay on the western edge of this district. Plus, San Francesco also has some interesting attractions of its own that are well worth visiting during a stay in Pisa, such as the impressive Palazzo Medici, the former home of Tuscany's most influential family. The Piazza Santa Caterina with its famous statue of Pietro Leopoldo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, has an almost equally famous gelato shop on the corner which makes the square a fantastic place to hang out on a warm summer's evening and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
And it's that atmosphere that really sets San Francesco apart. Thanks to the presence of Pisa University, one of the oldest universities in the world, this ancient area always feels brand-new. With the constant influx of young people coming to the city, San Francesco has a lively and youth-oriented vibe that is infectious, no matter how old you may be.
Plus, thanks to all the students in the area, San Francesco is one of Pisa's best nightlife districts. If you want to explore lively bars, late-night restaurants, and exciting nightclubs, San Francesco is where you'll find them. This is where to stay in Pisa if you plan on partying until the sun comes up and enjoying the nocturnal side of the city.
You'll find a range of Pisa hotels in this area, generally at cheaper prices than they would be in neighboring Santa Maria, though not always by much. Luxury hotels can be hard to find in the area, but if your tastes run more toward mid-range or budget hotels, you shouldn't have much trouble finding a place to stay.
Sitting south of the river next to San Guisto, San Martino is also convenient for Pisa Centrale Railway Station and the international airport. It's less convenient for the top attractions of the city center, but if you don't mind a long walk or making use of Pisa's public transport network, San Martino isn't all that far from the heart of the action. And like just about every area of Pisa, San Martino has its share of historic buildings, including the 15th-century Pisa fortress.
If it's your first stay in Pisa, you'll want to be close to the Leaning Tower and all the top tourist attractions of the city. But often once you've done that, you'll want to get to know another side of the city. Maybe you want a glimpse of how locals live. Maybe you're more concerned about enjoying the atmosphere than ticking off a list of attractions. If you want to stay in the coolest neighborhood of Pisa, San Martino is where you need to go.
This southern neighborhood is full of great cafes and restaurants where you can easily spend an enjoyable afternoon or evening taking in the atmosphere. There's always something new going on in this lively area, from live music to art exhibitions to street parties, so it's a great place to stay in Pisa if you want a glimpse of the modern culture of the city. Plus, because it's a little further from the heart of the city, you can find some real bargain hotels here. And with Pisa Centrale train station so close by, this area is also a great choice if you plan on taking advantage of some day trips around Tuscany while you're in the area.
Where should you stay in Pisa if you're traveling with the family? Santa Maria will probably be too expensive and too crowded for families, and San Francesco is too rowdy. Instead, consider Sant' Antonio for a relaxing family stay in Pisa. This often-overlooked neighborhood has plenty to offer vacationing families.
Sitting south of the river, Sant' Antonio is also close to the train station, which will be a relief if you're lugging a family's worth of heavy bags with you that you probably should've left in a Bounce luggage storage. There's also a lot of green space in this area, so you can take a riverside stroll to let the kids burn off some energy while you enjoy the peace and quiet. The public market in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele is a fun place to explore and pick up some great food for a riverside picnic. The area is also packed with ice cream shops that are a guaranteed hit with kids of all ages. If you want your stay in Pisa to be both relaxing and fun, you could do a lot worse than choosing a hotel in Sant' Antonio. And because Pisa isn't a particularly large city, it's not hard to get from this neighborhood to the top attractions or to take day trips from the train station to see more of Tuscany.
Ultimately, choosing a place to stay in Pisa is a matter of personal preference. Wherever you choose to spend your time in the city, you'll have a wealth of historic attractions, interesting museums, beautiful green spaces, and incredible food to explore. Drop off your bags with Bounce and prepare yourself for an unforgettable Italian adventure.