Tips on moving around Pisa to get to Piazza dei Miracoli and to the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Essentially, if you're looking at how to move around Pisa, it means you're interested in getting to the Leaning Tower of Pisa (and to the Square of Miracles, although you might not yet know that's the name of the piazza where the tower is located).
Let's cover most of the possibilities - by foot and bus once you arrive at the train station (whether from the airport or from another city in Tuscany):
If you arrive to Pisa for a day trip to see the Leaning Tower (consider whether to book tickets to climb the tower, too!), either from Florence, Siena or Lucca, the best solution is to arrive by train.
The main train station in Pisa is called "Pisa Centrale" but the "Pisa San Rossore" train station is actually closer to the Leaning Tower. The station is at the corner of Via Giunta Pisano and Via Andrea Pisano (Google Maps has it on the wrong point) and it is only 400m (5 minutes walking distance) from the door/entrance along the walls that brings you to the Square of Miracles.
But the station is small so not all trains stop there. You might have to arrive in Pisa Centrale, then wait around 15-30 minutes to catch the next train to San Rossore. If that's the case, I recommend considering alternative ways to get to Piazza dei Miracoli (walk, bus or taxi, if time is limited).
Check train timetables on Trenitalia to see if you can take a direct train to San Rossore or not. From Florence, there are actually 3 trains in the morning (and 4 in the early afternoon) that go direct to San Rossore and do not require you to change trains in Pisa Centrale. The trip takes less that way! Otherwise, use Pisa Centrale as your starting point.
Hotels in Pisa
If you're arriving in to Pisa late by air, consider spending your first night in Pisa before moving on to your next destination.
From Pisa Centrale, I would recommend you follow the route in the map below: it takes you straight from the station toward the Arno river passing through the main shopping streets in Pisa, then across Ponte di Mezzo (in June, this is the site of the Battle of the Bridge). From there, you pass through the remaining streets in Pisa that have retained their medieval feel to arrive in Piazza dei Cavalieri (home to the Palazzo dell'Orologio and to the Scuola Normale Superiore, part of the university system in Pisa and housed in a Renaissance palace, Palazzo della Carovana, which dates back to the 1560s) before arriving in Piazza dei Miracoli. The walk takes around 30 minutes and I recommend it as a way to see a little bit more of Pisa than just the tower and the monuments there. If you have the time, please consider spending a whole day there: read our 1 day itinerary recommendations!
From Pisa Centrale, you can find bike rentals inside the station offered by Profer Cooperativa, the same ones that also offer a baggage deposit service (€5 per bag, if you're interested in making a stop in Pisa before heading elsewhere). Bike rentals are 10€ for all day (or less if you're interested in just a few hours). You can see a few more details on the official site.
You might notice there is a bike sharing program in Pisa with stations across the city (as seen in the photo above of the entrance to the San Rossore station). Those are part of the CiclOpi program and it is perfect for anyone who regularly visits the city as the first half hour is always free. To use it, particularly just for a day, is complicated so I don't recommend it. You need to register online and then pass by an office to pay for the daily pass which is just 5€. I would not recommend it for anyone in the city just one time but would if you often go to Pisa.
You can also catch a bus from Pisa Centrale to get to Piazza dei Miracoli. From in front of the station, catch the LAM "ROSSA" bus heading toward "Park Pietrasantina" (not toward "Ospedale Cisanello" as it is in the opposite direction). Get off at the "Torre" stop, you'll see it as it is right after you've passed the gate into Piazza dei Miracoli at Piazza Manin. It is likely the bus will always make the stop there in any case, considering how popular the stop is.
Make sure to buy your bus ticket before getting on the bus directly at the Pisa Centrale station from the automatic machines. You can always buy a ticket from the bus driver but it costs more and you need exact change to buy it. Cost at the machines is €1,70 and the ticket is valid for 70 minutes from the time you first use it. You need to stamp the date and time on the ticket as soon as you get on the bus the first time (yellow machines for this are right by the door of the bus as you get on).
From/to the airport: PisaMover shuttle + bus
The best way to get to Piazza dei Miracoli from the airport is to first catch the PisaMover shuttle to the Pisa Centrale station and then from there catch the ROSSA bus to Piazza dei Miracoli, or walk or bike, as indicated above.
If you have luggage and are not staying in Pisa (stopping to just see the main sights and continuing on to Florence or Siena), you can leave your luggage at the Pisa Centrale baggage deposit service run by Profer Cooperativa (the same ones that offer bike rentals). You can also leave it at the airport but then you need to go back to the airport to pick your luggage. It makes sense depending on your plans, so make a note of it.
The PisaMover shuttle runs every day from 6:00 AM to midnight at 5-8 minute intervals. You can read a brief intro on the service I wrote when it was about to start (March 2017) and check the official site for more details.
You buy tickets for the PisaMover shuttle from the automatic machines located both at the airport and at Pisa Centrale, cost is €2,70 each way.
If you drive to Pisa, then read this article which has details on where to park in Pisa.
If you are planning to rent a car, plan to get it at the Pisa airport so that you can use the free shuttles to the car rental agencies from the arrivals area and from there take advantage of the article linked above to see where to park. Check out tips on car rentals and search for deals here.
If you have luggage that cannot be hidden from view in your car, leave the luggage at the airport (info on the luggage deposit service at the airport on this page). I DO NOT RECOMMEND you leave suitcases or valuables (such as laptops) in your car while you make a quick stop to see the Leaning Tower. Unfortunately, car parking lots near Piazza dei Miracoli are targeted by thieves looking in at every car to see if you've left luggage inside and break in to the car and steal everything they can. So please, do not leave luggage in parked cars near the Leaning Tower!
Taxis in Pisa
Taxi service in Pisa is operated by Cooperativa Pisana Tassisti. CO.TA.PI. Taxis provide service 24 hours a day at the airport and train station. At the airport, the taxi stand is in front of the airport on the arrivals side. Otherwise, you need to call a taxi to come pick you up. The number is 050-541600. Fares go by the meter, the driver is obliged by law to start the meter at the start of every trip. Taking a taxi is recommended if your time in Pisa is limited and you want to make the most of the time you have.
Some sample fares include (from the official website www.cotapi.it):
- Pisa Centrale - Piazza Duomo: €9,00
- Pisa airport - Piazza Duomo: €12,00
There are extra surcharges for each piece of luggage, for nights and holidays as well as for the call pickup. There are taxi stands at Pisa Centrale and Piazza Duomo.
How to get to to Florence from Pisa
If you're planning to use Florence as your base, I recommend you use the train to get to Florence from Pisa and not rent a car (you won't need it at all while in Florence). There are 2-4 trains every hour from Pisa Centrale to Florence throughout the day and take from an hour to an hour and a half to get there. Check train timetables on trenitalia.com.
The last train of the evening is at 10:30pm (arriving in Florence at 11.50pm) so if you miss the last train, or are arriving late in to Pisa, plan on spending the first night in Pisa. Check out lodging in Pisa to book your hotel or B&B.
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