If you’re in Tuscany, it would be a huge shame to NOT visit Pisa and Lucca. Luckily, from Florence, a Lucca and Pisa day trip is super easy and SO worthwhile. These two Tuscan cities are incredibly charming and so easy to fall in love with. Here’s how to have a perfect Lucca and Pisa day trip, and all of the information you NEED to know!
Train from Florence to Pisa
To get to Lucca, you need to transfer in Pisa. This is a perfect opportunity to see Pisa. Train tickets from Firenze S.M Novella (Florence’s main train station) to Pisa Centrale cost €8.70 one way and take roughly an hour. Some regional trains take up to 2 hours, so avoid those!
How to spend your time in Pisa
I would give yourself two in Pisa. It takes 20 minutes to walk from the train station to the leaning tower, which is what brings most tourists to Pisa. If you want to climb UP the leaning tower, you’ll need to make reservations, at latest, the day before.
The leaning tower is known for, well… leaning. Construction started in 1173, and when the builders were at just the third story, they noticed the lean from the soft ground. And I guess they just decided to continue with it? When the tower was fully constructed, Galileo’s famous experiment of dropping two spheres of different masses occurred from the top of the tower.
Next to the leaning tower is the duomo and the baptistry. These are both really beautiful buildings that are often overlooked!
Walk through the centre of town – it’s so lovely and worth strolling around.
We only gave ourselves one hour in Pisa, and though we left feeling like we’d seen everything we wanted to, we were a bit rushed, so go with two hours!
On your way back to the train station, check out the beautiful mural Keith Haring painted on the side of a church.
From Pisa to Lucca
Trains from Pisa Centrale to Lucca cost €3.60 one way and take half an hour. The train ride goes by some lovely scenery and the 27-minute journey goes by pretty quickly.
How to spend your time in Lucca
First things first: Bike rental!
Lucca is a HIGHLY underrated city in Tuscany. It’s full of the sweetest cobblestone streets, many of which are pedestrian-only. Bikes are a popular mode of transport and the whole town keeps that old-renaissance feel.
Start your time out in Lucca by renting a bike. We rented from right next to the train station, at the Tourist Center. We paid €14 for three hours on a tandem bike. Prices here are good but the bikes are old, however, they get the job done and Lucca is very flat, so you don’t need a nice bike with 36 gears. Tandem bikes are kinda tricky but they’re also a great laugh. Normal bikes are also an option.
You can also rent quadricycles (think of a little car but powered by foot). They’re super fun for families and offer a LOT more stability than a bike, so if you don’t know how to ride a bike, this is the option for you.
There are loads of places to rent bikes in Lucca, just follow the city walls and you’ll come across a few shops.
Cycle along the city walls
Lucca is surrounded by city walls, which now have turned into a beautiful path. It’s 4km around and it is amazing to cycle or walk around. You’ll see couples strolling, friends jogging, and tourists cycling around.
Cycling around the walls will reward you with great views of the city and it is SO much fun.
Get lost in Lucca’s many alleys
My favourite part of visiting Lucca was literally just getting lost. There are the crowded, touristy streets, filled with cute shops and sights, and then there are the little residential streets, less popular with tourists but equally, if not more, charming than the other streets.
You’ll inevitably end up in Piazza San Michele, where the beautiful Chiesa di San Michele is. This church’s facade is stunning, and when we were there, there was a parade, with residents of all ages dressed up in traditional clothing, throwing flags, holding crossbows or baskets of fruit, and playing drums and trumpets. So beautiful.
There are tonnes of cute places to eat in Lucca, but what struck me most was the amount of GOOD GELATO. I’m not talking those cheap (still delicious, but of lesser quality) gelaterias; I’m talking REAL gelato.
There are so many places to get good gelato in Lucca, just have a wander and look for places that sell their gelato in small batches, from metal tins, and without crazy colouring. We actually went with a novelty kind of gelateria, the Gelatarium Lucca. Here you served yourself soft-serve gelato and added all the toppings you wanted to your cup. Your cup was weighed at the end, and you pay based off of weight. It was like one of those frozen yoghurt places, but with really nice gelato instead.
Back to Florence
You’ll have to transfer in Pisa again. The journey takes roughly two hours, so you could break up your trip by grabbing an aperitivo or dinner in Pisa.
The ticket will cost €12.30 to get back to Florence. And that’s your wonderful Lucca and Pisa day trip!
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