Leaning Tower of Pisa: A perfect half day trip from Florence on a budget

It is the symbol of Italy and the world fondly calls it ‘The Leaning Tower of Pisa’. But due to its remote location, will it make it in your Italy itinerary? We say, if you are visiting Florence then it would be unfair not to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Florence is only about an hour away by road or by train. 

There is not just the Bell Tower but a beautiful Cathedral and Baptistery in Pisa too which many don’t know about. 

Best way to see Leaning Tower Pisa from Florence

The view of the tower from the ticket office.

A little flaw in the ordinary bell tower changed the game for Pisa. Now this world-famous tower brings hordes of tourists to Italy. Sometimes accepting your flaws can make you shine more than you think.

Related: Read about the top things to do in Florence in 3 days

Public Transport from Florence to Leaning Tower of Pisa 

You could rent a car or invest in a tour of Pisa from Florence, the tours can cost anywhere from $50-$60 or even more. But we want to tell you that there is a 3rd way of doing it and doing it on a budget.

Take the train from Firenze to Pisa – It takes about one hour by train from Florence Santa Maria Novella station (enter Firenze in Trenitalia official railway website) to Pisa Centrale. Tickets are easily available online or at the ticket counter at the station. If you are headed to Cinque Terre from Florence (as we were), you will have to change trains in Pisa. One way train tickets to and from Florence to Pisa will cost you €8.40

Then take Bus From Pisa Centrale to Leaning Tower – You will find the bus stops outside Pisa train stations, make sure you cross the road and go to the stop on the opposite side of the station. You need to take Bus LAM Rossa (RED Line Bus). Keep some Euro change handy to buy the ticket inside the bus from the driver. It will cost under €2 one way for the bus ride. Alternatively, you can buy bus tickets in any newspaper stand inside the station. You need to get down at the bus stop called Torre 2. You will not see the Leaning Tower from Torre 2 bus stop so do not be looking for that as a landmark. TIP: Do not take the bus on the same side of Pisa station, that bus is headed in the opposite direction of leaning tower (i.e. Pisa airport). 

Luggage Storage in Pisa Centrale Train Station

As we mentioned that we were taking a halt in Pisa to change trains to Cinque, we didn’t want to carry our entire luggage to the Leaning Tower. Luckily most all train stations in Italy have a luggage room. Pisa’s luggage room can hold your luggage for 24 hrs.

Related: Basic travel tips you must know before going to Italy

Things not to miss

Piazza del Duomo in Pisa is the main attraction (yes not just the leaning tower!), which literary mean cathedral square, it is also referred to as Piazza dei Miracoli or square of miracles. The piazza consists of 4 monuments, the Baptistery of Pisa, the Cathedral, the Bell Tower or Campanile and the Cemetery. To keep your expectations real – the architecture of the tower is exceptional but it is not as tall in reality as it looks in photos. 

Half day trip to Pisa from Florence on a budget

Peek a boo with the leaning tower

You are obviously going take cliche optic illusion photos with the tower, we won’t judge you.. we did too! And why not? TIP: Take your creative photos when you are somewhat away from the tower, the closer you get to the tower it appears to be less tilted. But once you are done having fun with all the silly photos, make sure to visit the monuments! Don’t be one of those who return back after taking selfies with the poor tower.

Go on top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Yes, you can go on top of the tower! and trust us, your trip won’t be complete unless you do it. FUN FACT: You will notice dents on the spiral staircase from footmarks, it shifts from left to right as you are tilted while going up. Remember when we visited in the off-peak winter season (January) there wasn’t a lot of people. But if you go in peak seasons like summer then you are bound to find a big line for entry to the top of the tower. For that reason, we highly recommended you to buy your tickets online to skip the lines

TICKETS: You can purchase the tickets from their official website or in person from the ticket office. The tickets are sold in the ticket office behind the cathedral and it costs €18 to go on top of the tower. Make sure to check the opening and closing times on their website as it varies for different monuments and different season. You can find the official timings for Pisa monuments here.

Go inside the Cathedral and Baptistery 

You will be amazed by how brilliant it is. What’s more, it’s FREE to visit the Cathedral. You just need to collect a time slot ticket from the ticket office. I felt really bad after seeing Pisa cathedral for not knowing about it until we got there. Feels like redemption for passing along this information to you guys 😀

Fun Facts About the Leaning Tower of Pisa

  1. The construction of the tower began in 1173 and the topmost bell chamber was completed in 1372. Yes, it took almost 200 years due to various reasons including, wars, battles, engineering negligence etc.
  2. Made out of white marble, the tower was perfectly straight for the first five years as it only had two floors then. It was only when the third floor was added that the tower began to start shifting. The reason for this tilt was identified as engineering miscalculation on the foundation.
  3. This is not the only leaning tower in Pisa! Are you as surprised as I was? Here’s why – The city of Pisa is known for its loose underground subsoil. So naturally, any tall tower built in Pisa would tend to lean a little due to sinking foundation in the soil. 
  4. It almost escaped complete demolition by American army during WWII. 
  5. Mussolini, the Prime Miniter/dictator of Italy, saw the tower as an embarrassment to the nation. His unsuccessful attempt to rectify the tilt of the tower in 1934 cost it to lean another few inches.

Related: Learn basic Italian words and phrases before going to Italy for the first time

Return Journey

You will get the bus to return back to Pisa Central on the opposite side of the road from where it dropped you. Don’t be afraid to ask people around if you think you are lost. Take the train back to Florence or continue to your next destination. The train frequency to and from Pisa is excellent but we’d still recommend keeping a train timetable handy.

You need approximately 5-6 hours to completely see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and other monuments including travel time from Florence. 

We hope this post was helpful. Do share along if you liked this post.

Happy Traveling!

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18 comments on “Leaning Tower of Pisa: A perfect half day trip from Florence on a budget

  1. We have been to Italy a couple of times now, but haven’t made it to Florence yet. When we do, we’ll definitely take your advice and take a day trip this way. I’ve heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, of course, but I had no idea there was so much to see inside it. That’s really cool!!

    • Thanks Sarah! I know.. I felt so dumb when I reached there and saw the baptistery and cathedral almost kind of overpowering the leaning tower. I had no clue there were these monuments around as well. Perhaps I blamed it somewhat on the photos where we only see the tower by itself (should’ve done my research!) 🙂 But seriously I loved every bit of Florence (you will too!) and when you go, do visit Pisa as well.

  2. I also took this trip as a half day on my way to Florence! It is fun and worth the trip! I’m a little sad we didn’t go to the top of the tower though!

    • Uh-oh, was the tower not open to the public when you went? Or you just didn’t have the time to go? More than the view from the top it was the experience of going up on a leaning tower that excited us. You can definitely feel the shift of gravity due to the lean as you go up 🙂

  3. OMG this is perfect!! We’ll be in Florence in June and we were wondering about details for a day-trip to Pisa. And I had NO IDEA you can do inside the tower!! Amazing post, thank you so so much <3

  4. This is such a great post, definitely saving this for my trip to Pisa. It’s amazing how much you squeezed into in a half day! That’s my go to travel style – on a budget! LOVE it.

    • Thanks! Honestly, it’s not a lot of sightseeing to squeeze, ha! They are all located right next to each other 🙂 You just have to account for the travel time mostly on that half day.

  5. Thank you so much! This post is super helpful. I am actually going back to italy in September and will have to stop by since I am planning to go to Florence anyway. I also love that you gave me trbasportation tips as well as other things to do besides the tower. Also had no idea it was so close to Florence!!

    • Thanks a lot Apeksha!! It was very tough but I managed to avoid posting some other ridiculous poses with the tower here 😉 Have fun while you are there!

  6. Awesome and thorough guide! I went here almost 10 years ago… insane how time flies. Such great tips, and they make me wanna go again!

    • Thank-you so much Christina 🙂 There is so much to see in the world and yet even I find myself drawn to places I have been to a long time ago.

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