If you’re flying into Pisa’s airport and then getting from Pisa to Florence Italy, you have several options, all of which are pretty cheap and pretty fast. However, if you want to take advantage of your time in the town to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, there’s really only one way to do it. Here’s how (and why it’s worth the time):
From Pisa International Airport (PSA), also called Galileo Galilei Airport, you’ll need to go to the bus ticket window/newsstand directly past the baggage claim, in the arrivals area. This booth can sell you bus fare for the Rossa (red) line, that goes from the airport to Pisa Centrale railway station, the city’s biggest train depot. It’s a five minute ride, and costs just a few euros, but from the rail station, the Rossa line continues through town, to the Leaning Tower.
Note: bus rides are FREE all morning in Pisa, with fare only needed after noon. During our visit, we started our bus ride in the morning, but returned in the afternoon, so we bought one-way fare. If your trip will be all in the afternoon, buy return bus fare from this booth as well.
Step outside with your tickets, and you’ll see the bus stop directly across the small parking lot (this is a small airport). Look for a red circle on the front of the bus. They are being literal when they say it’s the Rossa line.
Once on the bus, note the stop at Pisa Centrale, because you’ll want to get off here on your return from the tower, in order to get to Florence. But for now, stay on the bus. Unfortunately, we were given incorrect information on another website, and thought we needed to get off the Rossa line here and access the tower via the trains. Not so.
Stay on the bus another few stops, until you get to the Torre stop. There’s usually an outdoor market directly in front of the tower complex, called Piazza del Duomo, partially obscuring your view. We didn’t even see the tower the first time we got to this stop, and thought it was the wrong one! (We had all sorts of navigational issues this day!)
At Torre, get off the bus and walk through the marketplace to the gate to the tower and cathedral. You’ll clearly see it at this point. It’s free to walk around the base of the Leaning Tower and into the cathedral. A funny note: the tower began leaning during construction, but they kept on anyway!
You can buy tickets online to go inside the tower…you can even climb to the top and see the view from outside. We didn’t have time for this, as we were due in Florence at a certain hour, but if you budget a few hours at the piazza, I recommend going up the tower and into the cathedral. There’s a baptistry as well. Of course, you’ll also see plenty of vendors with booths of touristy souvenirs.
Once you’re ready to depart, take the same Rossa bus line back to Centrale. This bus line goes in a loop, so you can’t go wrong. Once at Centrale, go to the ticket sales window and ask for the first train to Florence. They typically run every hour or so, so we didn’t find any reason to book ahead of time. At the time of our visit, tickets were approximately €18 for adults and half that for kids. You’ll need to be at the correct platform for your train 10 minutes before departure.
Note: Be sure to validate your train ticket once you’re on the platform. You’ll see green validation machines. There’s a steep fine if you’re caught with an unvalidated ticket, though we never saw anyone checked during our trip.
The ride on TrenItalia to Florence took under an hour, and we were able to charge devices and access WiFi onboard. We took TrenItalia many times in Italy, and found it comfortable and convenient every time. We ate lunch on the train, finding several food options at a food court at the Centrale station.
The kids couldn’t help showing off their favorite train snacks!
Once in Florence, get off at the main station, Santa Maria Novella. Almost every point in the city center is walkable from this station, which is lovely! Enjoy Florence!
Worth noting: if you do NOT want to stop in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, you can take either TrenItalia to Florence exactly as we did from Centrale, or you can buy cheaper bus tickets for buses that depart directly from the airport. We were even given the option of buying these tickets onboard our plane. They are approximately five euros each (one euro more if bought once you land), and by far the cheapest route to Florence. However, the bus takes longer and you miss out on Pisa.