Pisa. You probably know it from grade school, since it’s home to one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
I knew very little about this destination aside from the Leaning Tower, and only ended up going on a whim because it was one of the cheapest flights from Edinburgh.
What a lovely afternoon and adorable city!
After my few hours exploring Pisa, it has become one of my favorite days as a traveler and I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know. Here’s all the info you need before heading to Pisa!
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Airport and Train Station Transfers
Pisa is so delightfully small that the airport and the train station are right next to one another, and getting around by taxi takes very little time.
We were staying at an Airbnb outside the wall surrounding downtown Pisa on the northeast side.
When we arrived, we were coming from the airport and hopped in a taxi. Let me tell you, I hate taxis. Most of my negative travel experiences have been in an overpriced taxi with a skeevy driver who’s just after my wallet and is downright creepy about driving a young woman.
Because I was with three other people and we had a checked bag with us, my usual choice (local transportation) wasn’t an option. If you’re traveling solo, there’s a local bus that leaves from the airport and you should have no issues getting it from the airport.
On our way out, we were heading to the train station for an early morning train to Rome. Our Airbnb host scheduled us a taxi for the next morning at 6:30am since our train left at 7:07.
Had I been alone, I probably would have walked since it was just 20 minutes from our Airbnb on foot and the buses don’t run that early. Pisa is very, very walkable.
The only transfer I would consider planning is a short bus ride from the airport to your accommodations. The rest can easily be done on foot!
Where to Stay
We had a great experience at our Airbnb! Our host was very professional and gave superb recommendations for seeing our neighborhood and the entire city. He also had business cards of local restaurants for us to know the best places to eat. I highly recommend a stay at his place! If you’re interested, you can find the listing here.
I noticed that many Pisa area hotels were very expensive for our dates in June, but I’m sure there are many lovely boutique hotels for a better price outside of the high season. I’d recommend checking those out too before choosing a place to stay!
If all else fails and you’re on a shoestring budget, check out the local listings available at Hostelworld. Some of my favorite travel experiences came from staying in hostels!
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
We all know the reason you’re here: you want to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I knew it would be cool to see something in person that I’d seen on TV and in books for so long, but I couldn’t foresee that I’d be so impressed with it in real life.
It leans because the ground under half of the foundation started sinking, and the builders chose to finish it anyway. Out of all the incredible sights I’ve been fortunate enough to experience, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the most well-preserved.
Photos and videos don’t even remotely do it justice! The marble looks brand new. It’s so clean, and it leans much more than it appears in pictures.
If you want to go inside, it costs 17 euros to go to the top. It involves hundreds of stairs and a line to get inside.
I opted to save some money and time instead of doing that. I promise that seeing it from the outside is cool enough! If you want to check out tickets, you can do so at this link.
Other Sights in Pisa
Aside from the Leaning Tower, there are many beautiful things to see in Pisa.
There is a gorgeous cathedral right next to the Leaning Tower, and a grassy area if you want to have a picnic and enjoy the view.
The winding streets are also adorable! You really feel like you’re in small-town Italy when you walk around those side streets of cobblestone and colorful buildings.
There’s a river dividing the downtown from the area where the train station and airport are, so I’d recommend checking out the riverfront as well for some nice photos and a relaxing stroll.
Where to Find the Best Gelato!
Ah, the most important meal of the day! The gelato I had in Pisa tasted better, was more well-priced, and was a bigger serving than any I had in Rome.
After one failed attempt at securing vegan gelato from the most popular gelato place in Pisa and walking out because of very rude staff, I stumbled upon Gelatería Rufus on the main pedestrian street with tons of restaurants.
I am so glad the first place I went to didn’t work out. Rufus beyond exceeded my expectations!
Right down the street from the Leaning Tower, Rufus has color-coded scoops to show which flavors have dairy and which don’t. Their spread on the day of my visit had about half with and half without.
We got a dark chocolate with mulled wine and nutmeg. The flavors blended in such a sophisticated way and created this sensation of sweet and spice. I loved it.
The girl working there during our visit was so kind and let us sample whatever we wanted before picking. Just make sure you have cash on you–most places in Europe don’t have card readers, including this one!
Get a cone of heaping deliciousness and enjoy!
. . .
After my most recent visit to Italy, I must admit that I have a newfound love/hate relationship with Rome. I’ll elaborate on that more later.
However, Pisa was a joy!
I love the size of the city, they have the best gelato I’ve ever eaten, and the Leaning Tower was 110% worth seeing in-person.
This visit proved to me that everyone should go to Pisa. If it wasn’t on your radar before, it should be!
Book a trip for yourself, and you’ll see very quickly what I’m talking about. Ciao!
*Cover photo by Davide Ragusa. Thanks, Davide!