A half day Florence to Pisa Tour

posted in: Europe, Florence, Italy, Pisa | 93

When in Florence, you must do this half day Florence to Pisa tour. Pisa is the host to one of the great architectural wonders of the world – the Leaning Tower. And hence, it is every one’s dream destination. Pisa is located quiet close to Florence, to be precise, just about 85 kilometers. And there are multiple ways to embark on a Florence to Pisa tour. That include taking one of the frequent local trains that take just around an hour to reach Pisa, frequent bus service and even guided tours as well in groups big and small. When we visited Florence during our recent trip to Europe , Pisa had to be a part of the itinerary.

48 hours in Florence

Our half day Florence to Pisa tour

After looking at the distance, time taken to reach and other factors, we decided half a day was sufficient to visit Pisa. We instructed our travel agents to book train tickets to Pisa and entrance tickets to the leaning tower. But unfortunately, they didn’t follow our instructions. They instead booked for us a round bus trip for our Florence to Pisa tour. Nevertheless, after having done a beautiful walking tour of Florence the day before and another one right in the morning the next day, we were in high spirits to start our half day Florence to Pisa tour.

However, there was a little initial drama before the start of the trip. The tour operators did not clearly mentioned the location from where the bus left. So, we struggled a little before we finally locating our bus at the end moment. And thereafter, began our Florence to Pisa tour, which, by all means, we were on the verse of missing (more on it some other time, but the zest is that book your own tickets and head conveniently on your Florence to Pisa tour).

Through the scenic Tuscany on Florence to Pisa tour

The beauty of Tuscany is well known across the world. However, still it stuns you when you see it for the first time. And the same happened with us. As our bus left the premises of Florence and embarked on a journey towards Pisa. Soon, we were confronted with beautiful green farmlands, small clusters of houses making tiny villages on the foothills and green meadows stretching all the way from the hills to the highway. It’s difficult to capture the beauty of the tuscany countryside in words.

Florence to Pisa Tour

On our Florence to Pisa tour, we passed through several small settlements, factories and nurseries. Each village seems to have a major occupation of it’s own. And the guide on-board the bus was telling us about each one of them as we passed through them. There is one village blessed with a long lifespan. Where almost every elder person is now celebrating their post 100th birthday. And then there is yet another one that is marked with beautiful nurseries and flower fields. This one supplies blooming plants to all over Italy and different parts of Europe. We also crossed a small airport, a car manufacturing unit and several other remarkable spots before entering into the town of Pisa.

The beautiful town of Pisa

Pisa is a small town. It is beautiful. As you enter in the premises of the town, you will clearly be able to make out the difference from Florence, Rome and other bigger cities of Italy. The houses here are very tastefully done. There are a few beautiful eateries lining the main streets. And as soon as you are a little inside the main town, you will start seeing the dome of the cathedral of Pisa.

The lanes of the town are mostly empty. Soon we arrived at our designated parking lot for visiting the leaning tower of Pisa. From here, we all moved in a group towards the Cathedral of Pisa. As we arrived at the gates, we waited a little, while our guide went ahead and got the tickets for us. Once we got our tickets, from now on we were free to embark on our journey inside and explore the whole premises.

Into the campus of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

As we entered inside the campus, I couldn’t help but notice the vast green lawn that stretched in the front. There was a crowd. And a part of it was resting in this ground. Some after having explored the premises. And some others before starting the journey. I also decided to rest here for a while before embarking on further journey. And took up the most difficult of my tasks for the day – that of making my little one eat some snacks. It was quiet nice and relaxing here. I will recommend you bring your own little bag of picnic stuff. And then you can have a great time here. You can sit in the grass, even lay down. Have some food, have some rest and just gaze at the massive structure in front of you.

The Pisa Cathedral

Florence to Pisa Tour

Next began our journey to the Pisa Cathedral. It is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral. It is like a white wonder from outside and a colorful, magnificent cathedral from Inside. While It was developed in 1063 AD. Yet, it reflects a lot of different architectural styles including the classical, Lombard-Emilian, Byzantine, and Islamic. As the Pisan merchants used to travel far and wide, interacting with different cultures. So, the reflection of all those cultures can be seen in the architecture of the Cathedral. While the exteriors of the cathedral consist of primarily marbles, they also include bronze and mosaic. At the same time the interiors are equally beautiful, intricately done in different color stones, metals, wood and glass.

The inside of it’s dome is painted in rare painting techniques.The large mosaic in the apse and the pulpit are famous to have survived a massive fire in the past. There are several other important works of medieval world that are believed to have survived the fire in 1595 miraculously. Apart from it, the whole church is decorated with several paintings and great work of art. Most of them from the medieval times. And depicting the life of Christ. As per historical records, Galelio was baptized here in 1565. Also, the lamp at the center of the nave is called Galileo’s lamp, because a legend says that he formulated his theory of isochronism of the pendulum while watching its oscillations from the roof of the nave here.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Behind the Cathedral of Pisa stands the Leaning tower of Pisa. It is actually a freestanding belltower of the Cathedral of Pisa. As you embark on a Florence to Pisa tour, your imagination will be filled with the envision of this tower. After all, we all have heard so much about it. The white wonder that it is, here are some interesting facts about the tower. Construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa took quiet some time. It was started in 1173 and finished in 1399 (more than 2 centuries!!) . And it is the highest leaning tower in the world with a height of almost 60 meters.

How did the Tower of Pisa lean?

As we look at the marvellous leaning tower, and some of us even step inside it. There is one question that comes to all our minds. How did the bell tower of Pisa become leaning in the first place? Well, the word Pisa itself drives the meaning ‘ marshy land ‘ . The land of Pisa is swampy, and soft. As a result, when the construction of such a huge tower began, it went leaning. In fact, it began leaning as soon as the construction reached towards the third storey. By the time further floors were added and the tower completed, it was quiet evident how leaning it had become. As of today, it stands more than 5 meters off perpendicular!!

Florence to Pisa Tour

Post the realization, there were attempts made by architects and engineers to correct the design by making further floors of lesser height and circumference. But since the issue lay in the foundation of the building and not it’s construction, the leaning couldn’t be avoided. It is believed that even the cathedral and baptistry are also slowly sinking. Hats off to the architects that they still managed to make the building stand, and stand through centuries actually.

Apart from the Leaning tower, Pisa has several other attractions to offer. Checkout what to do in Pisa beyond the leaning tower, by Nicola Bandini of My Travel in Tuscany.

Tips for your Florence to Pisa tour

Commute options

  1. Take a train on your Florence to Pisa tour. Upon arriving at Pisa you can either walk or take a taxi to the Cathedral and the leaning tower. We took the bus. But it was a long weekend. And as a result, we spent far too longer in the traffic, particularly when returning from Pisa.

Food & Water options

  1. Pack your lunch in Florence itself, if you have a particular choice. Also, if you are vegetarian. As we found the options in Pisa limited. There are restaurants lining the road that leads to the Cathedral, but as obvious, they are pricy with limited menu.
  2. There is a Mac’D near the Cathedral premises. But is very very crowded at lunch time.
  3. As usual, keep a bottle of water ready with you. And refill it from the water supply inside the premises of the Cathedral.

Washroom options

  1. The Mac’D is one amongst the couple of restaurants in this area with a washroom available. So, if you have to use the washroom, be ready to stand in a queue here.
  2. However, there are adequate paid washrooms available inside the campus as well, on the left hand side of the Cathedral of Pisa.

Dressing and Shoes

  1. Wear comfortable walking shoes.
  2. When we traveled in April, we did require a jacket and full sleeve dresses. Although it was a sunny day but the chilly wind was blowing.

Shopping

  1. If you want to collect some souvenirs, there are plenty of shops just outside the main campus. These sell different products big and small. The theme is mostly dominated by the leaning tower of Pisa. You can find it’s miniature version in the form of show pieces, key chains, freeze magnets and many others. Besides, wooden toys, key chains, show pieces made of wood and other metals are also there. We didn’t browse extensively so, not sure of the price compared to outside of Pisa.

When you are with kids

  1. Keep minimum half a day apart for this trip. Besides enjoying your time in the Cathedral and the Leaning tower, you might as well like to sit in the lawn and enjoy your day, just lazying around and marveling the structures from a distance. And your kid will also get some rest.
  2. You can’t take smaller kids (perhaps less than 8 years or so) and toddlers inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa due to safety concerns.
  3. You can bring along a stroller if you like. However, you will be navigating up and down the stairs along the Cathedral which might pose a little inconvenience to you.
  4. Keep your stock of snacks to munch on for the kid. The queues to the entrance can be long, so can be the ones for the ticket.

A half day tour from Florence to Pisa crossing the beautiful Tuscany countryside, including the visit to the Cathedral of Pisa, the Leaning Tower of Pisa

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93 Responses

  1. I’ve never seen the inside of the Pisa cathedral – the photos I’ve seen before are always from the outside so you can see the way the tower leans!! It’s great there’s a grassy area where you can relax and take in the whole experience while having a picnic – too often you can’t really enjoy tourist attractions from the outside because you’re too busy lining up, or making sure you get your money’s worth inside. It sounds like a tour that’s worth doing!

  2. This is a dream destination! Super in love with Florence and of course Pisa. The architecture here is divine!!!

  3. Okay, totally my opinion, I felt the leaning tower is a little overrated like most of the ‘monuments’. The Cathedral was amazing. I actually spent more time there. Loved the architecture of the cathedral and its gorgeous ceilings! <3

    • I didn’t feel it was overrated though. Because as you said, the cathedral is beautiful. And the leaning tower is, well, leaning – a wonder of an architecture that has survived centuries in spite of being so leaning. So, they do deserve the crowd that comes to them

  4. I remember that I was disappointed by the size of the leaning tower when I first saw it. The history of the structure, though, is magnificent.

    • The tower is huge for the leaning base..I guess if it were any bigger or taller, it’s life would be even shorter

  5. […] spending this one enchanting day in Rome, we went ahead on a trip to Florence, Pisa, Venice, Switzerland covering Bern, Interlaken, Engleberg, Lucerne and Grindelwald and then […]

  6. I did this tour a couple years ago and it was pretty awesome. Didn’t get to go into the cathedral; the queue was so long but hopefully next time. Definitely planning for a longer visit in the area.

  7. Such a great post!! I love your pics too. Pisa is a spectacular site thats for sure! I never made it inside the Cathedral but looks beautiful.

    • Thanks Kristie! Pisa is a must visit at least as per our experience

  8. I love how they first started off with their own expectations how they want Pisa to be but in the end it wasn’t how it turned out how they want it to be, leaning. Yet, it became so iconic in Italy! It’s fascinating. Love how it still stands to this day!

    • Indeed it is a wonder of an architecture. The great part being, they didn’t really give up when half way through the construction they realized that its leaning. Thats really commendable

  9. Pisa is such an amazing place, not just for the tower but for the city itself! Italian’s definitely know what they are doing when it comes to the architecture. Stunning pieces of architecture can be found throughout the country.

    • You said it right. No wonder Italian architecture and art is world famous

  10. yogensarswat

    Wow ! Beautiful Tour

  11. It sounds like an interesting trip to make. I especially enjoyed your detailed description and tips, firstly taking train instead of bus to save time. Your pictures are awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  12. My boyfriend and I really want to go there someday. Your description is very detailed, I love it! And thanks for the tips, I like the food and water and the washrooms options ones! We always need that when we go somewhere and most people don’t talk about that!

    • Thats true Marie. I visited here with a little one, so absolutely needed easy access to all these options. So, thought putting these will benefit others too

  13. Sounds like you had a great day exploring Pisa. Good to know that the train option is a better way to go instead of the bus. I can imagine the traffic!!

  14. Wow! Pisa is indeed a lovely town. The architecture is so full of life and art in comparison to cold and lifeless contemporary ones. And the Leaning Tower of Pisa…oooh! Are people allowed to climb up there? What if there are too many people on the leaning side? And that river looks so idyllic. Can we kayak there?

    • I am not sure of Kayaking on that river because we crossed it on the way to Pisa. Although the leaning tower is , of course, leaning. But It is a massive and huge structure, made of strong marbles. So, I guess having that many people on it is not at all an issue. But yes, for safety reasons, people are allowed up there a pre allocated amount of time. To not overcrowd I guess

  15. Awesome to read about your Pisa Trip. I too almost a one day in Pisa! Being one of 7 Wonders, it is definitely a must visit in everyone’s wishlist! Indeed the country side of Italy is so gorgeous that it reminded me of Indian countryside!!!

    • The Tuscany countryside is so gorgeous Bhusha! I could take infinite trips to these countrysides randomly

  16. Really beautiful pictures.I love the architecture. Pisa is on my bucket list and hope to visit one day!

  17. Loved the history attached with Leaning tower of Pisa. Thanks for a highly informative post.

  18. Love both these cities! Was here actually exactly one year ago. So beautiful, would love to go back

    • Same here. We would love to go back here numerous times. Both florence and Pisa are so beautiful

  19. gobeyondbounds

    We remember doing Pisa and MIlan together on the way back from Italy to Switzerland. The art and architecture in Florence had left us awestruck but the monuments in Pisa were even more impressive with so much to see and explore in such small square.

    • We didn’t do much beyond the Leaning tower. How was the rest of Pisa? I have heard it is very interesting to explore this small but beautiful town

  20. Amazing level of detail here and learnt so much, I never even knew why the tower is leaning so thanks for sharing Definitely adding this tour to my to do list!

  21. I thought leaning tower was on purpose not by accident. haha wow.
    I’m going to Italy later this month but not going to Florence. Going to Amalfi Coast.

    • Will await to hear your experience Shayan. We wanted to cover Amalfi Coast but couldn’t on this trip

  22. The countryside is beautiful there and I never really knew the story of why the tower is leaning!

  23. A Resort Rendezvous

    THANK YOU for the extra tips about bringing water, snacks, etc. Very helpful when looking at booking tours!

  24. The Leaning tower is one of the most intriguing monuments we have seen. As soon as we set eyes on the gleaming white tower behind the baptistery and flanked by lush green lawns, we fell in love with it. The town of Pisa itself is so quaint and charming and you can spend hours walking around it.

    • Correct. Some people here said they skipped it and some others hold an opinion that it’s a tourist trap. However, I had the same feelings as you. Felt in love with the architecture of both the baptistry and the tower as well as the beautiful lawns.

  25. I love Pisa! I was really pleased to see how clean the leaning tower and surrounding buildings looked. I had expected them to be grey and old looking, but commend the authorities for sandblasting the buildings to be clean and white. I think we spent 2 nights in Pisa and it wasn’t long enough!

    • Thats so true Doreen. They have been really maintained very well. Through centuries, they are still standing tall and shining.

  26. Jessica Flynn

    I was in Italy as a child but don’t remember a single moment of it! Pisa is definitely on my travel list for the near future. So much great information, and photos. Thanks! 😀

    • Oh..thats so sad. Italy is so very beautiful. You must explore it again

  27. I am dreaming of visiting of Tuscany, wow what a beautiful place. Whenever I think of the leaning tower of Pisa, I always wonder if I would subject myself to the touristy act of posing for a picture, pretending to be pushing it hahaha…

  28. I went to Pisa a few years ago and thought it was great – the other is a sight to behold! Amazing to think it still stands really.

  29. I’ve always wanted to see the tower of Pisa with my own eyes! For some reason, I have a hard time believing that it’s really leaning by that much, 5 meters is a lot!! I love your suggestions, thanks for sharing these wonderful tips. I will bookmark for my Italy trip!

    • Janie, until I had visited it, I myself had similar doubts. I always wondered how come if it is so much leaning, it’s still standing !! That’s what makes it a wonder perhaps

  30. Pisa is such an amazing place, not just for the tower but for the city itself! Italian’s definitely have an eye for detail and it is visible in the architecture both here and throughout the country.

    • Thats totally correct. The whole of Italy, including Pisa has such great architecture across all nooks and corners

  31. I had no idea they were so close together! That is so interesting as to why it is on a lean, I thought it was just bad architecture!! When we went there, we found that we got ripped off with the magnets outside, but if we went a little further away, the prices are a bit cheaper!

    • Thats a general story anywhere. You buy something right at the tourist spot and it is bound to be much more costlier. So, we always try to find the general market and buy souvenirs from there

  32. This a great all round post, it’s all the little details you don’t think about when visiting a place. I’d absolutely love to visit Florence – this gives enough reason to go and visit and not get bored.

    • I don’t think anyone can ever get bored in Florence. It is such a magically beautiful place

  33. fleurdelilah

    I didn’t realize Pisa was so accessible from Florence! The cathedral is so beautiful. And great tips at the end—especially the commuting and washroom sections! I’ll have to keep them in mind when I manage to visit.

    • Thanks. Glad you find the post useful. Pisa is very close to Florence. So, when you visit Florence, you can conveniently visit here as well

  34. traveldejavu0

    I spent entire afternoon there but just because way too much crowded there I didn’t get chance to go to the top sadly! but no worries! traveling Italy next month itself! gotta finish it off this time! Cheers!

    • Sure..all the very best!! choose a weekday, perhaps you will get lesser crowd

  35. The Leaning tower of Pisa does leave you awestruck! It really leans. The one thing that I really wanted to do is climb up. SAdly time was not enough and neither had we booked it earlier. Some other time!

    • Same here Ami. We were with the kiddo and we were not allowed to climb with her for obvious security reasons. So, we had to do without it this time..some other time 🙂

  36. Thank you for the tips! Will definitely keep in mind when visiting Florence and Pisa, probably the next year!

  37. siddharthandshruti

    Beautiful photos! We have Florence on our bucket list. The leaning tower of Pisa intrigues us. But it seems a bit too touristy. All the pictures we have seen so far have tons of people in it. Do you know what the offseason is?

    • Offseason will be October onwards when winter starts to set. Summers are peak season. When we visited, it was the easter weekend. So, lots of tourists were expected anyways. Definitely one of the major attractions that it is, so, we can’t expect any day without crowd

  38. I have been to pisa and ended up staying the whole afternoon there. Waited for my turn to climb the tower from 10am to 3pm hahaha. At least I have ticked it in my bucket list.

    • Oh..thats a long wait. Somehow, we didn’t have to wait that long

  39. Louiela Ann Analista

    I know now what to expect when visiting the leaning tower… thanks for sharing your experience including the mishaps, they’re really part of traveling…but somehow leads to another experience.

    • You are right. I am thinking to compile a post about the strange moments in Europe that we had..there were quiet a few

  40. Are there people on top of the leaning tower of pisa? Did I see that right? 🙂 From what I read, the tower has been leaning at a certain level every year until it stopped and found its balance and stayed that way until now? By the way I so love the landscape of Tuscany 🙂 I’d love to take pictures of that. 🙂

    • You are right..those are people who climbed to the top. The tower has been leaning and it goes on leaning. As per my understanding, even now, it leans a little more with the passing years. As the land on which it stands has a loose base

  41. I have been to Pisa for a day, on my way to Florence and I really liked it. I wasn’t impressed by the leaning tower to be honest but I really liked the town itself, with the narrow alleys and the river passing through the middle. I would have loved to spend more time there, getting lost and discovering the secret corners but the train ticket was already booked so I was limited.

    • Can understand Joanna. I liked the architecture of the Cathedral

  42. […] was so difficult to wait for the second one. However, the next day, we also planned to visit Pisa. The trip from Florence to Pisa is not a very long one. We started for it by 12 in the noon. So, we decided to head on our walking […]

  43. gokulr27

    The architecture is so mesmerizing. The sculptures are so intricate and detailed. This is indeed a place for travelers having a love for art.

    • You are right. As one of my readers called it – Florence is like an open art gallery

  44. These photos are beautiful!!! Half day sounds a bit rushed to me though. Italy is definitely at the top of my bucket list and I feel I’d need at least three months to see everything the country has to offer.

    • Believe me, the days were really long when we visited Sunset happened by 9pm. When we visited Pisa, we were there from 1pm to 6pm and it was good enough time to explore the place at our own pace

  45. I really hope I can go to Europe one day! And the Leaning Tower of Pisa is definitely one of the things I wanted to see. It looks so intriguing to me. I seldom hear of the Pisa Cathedral though. And seeing it now from your post, it made me want to visit Pisa more! I love amazing architecture 🙂

    • Thanks Arrianne. This was our first trip to Europe and we covered all the major places that anyone wants to cover on their first trip – Italy, Switzerland, Paris and Amsterdam along with the tulip gardens. It’s just the beginning of the virtual tour. We will be writing more and more..stay tuned

  46. I did Pisa many moons ago and did it in a hour (would have been two hours if the tour up the tower wasn;t full up)l. Away from the sights, I wasnt impressed with Pisa and was so glad to get back on the train to Florence to which I love. I just found Pisa to be a huge tourist trap, and of course with something like that, it is going to bring in the crowds 😀 😀 Reading this be brought back some memories. 🙂

    • hmmm….any specific reasons why you felt it to be a tourist trap? I loved the architecture of both the leaning tower as well as the cathedral. And I enjoyed a relaxing day in the lawns of the cathedral. Was a beautiful day.

  47. Such an informative post! I have always wanted to visit Pisa, and when I was living in Finland they had ridiculously cheap flight there for sometime. I always regretted I didn’t go. From so many blogs I have read that there is really not much to see there, but this post really showed me that there is. Even the cathedral is stunning!

    • Thanks Paula. Hope you will soon be on a trip to Italy and then you can cover Pisa

  48. Pisa’s architecture is very intricate. It mirrors Italy’s love for art and detail. The place embodies the preservation of traditional art with modern living. I should visit this place as soon as possible.

    • You are so right about the architecture of Pisa. It is worth visiting this place at least once in a lifetime just for the sake of it’s beautiful architecture. No wonder, it is a marvel

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