Should you rent a car in PisaItaly>Pisa

The compact city of Pisa might well be world famous for its dodgy engineering, but any visitor to the region is obviously going to want to see a lot more than this, and there is certainly plenty to see within Pisa itself and nearby, without having to travel particularly far. When it comes to transport, Pisa Galileo Galilei airport is actually the main airport serving not just Pisa, but also Florence, the Tuscany region and many other cities between Milan and Rome.

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In Pisa car hire is popular but not always needed.

We’re basing this advice on the assumption that you are arriving on a flight into Pisa airport, and that you are considering hiring a car for your stay. In contrast, our Florence car hire guide assumes you are arriving there by train (as there are few flights to Florence Airport) and not considering getting a hire car, so these two guides are very much interchangeable.

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  • Tuscany — the famous rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany are a natural opportunity for a driving tour, and Pisa is the main gateway for this. However, this kind of road trip is fairly obvious. If you were planning on doing this, there isn’t really much we could add!
  • Flexibility — as with anywhere, a hire car will let you see the places you want to visit at your own space.
  • North and East — don’t forget that there is a lot more to Pisa than just heading south into Tuscany. However, some of these places are much better to reach by train, as explained below.

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  • Cinque Terre – the stunningly scenic Cinque Terre National Park area is often overlooked in the rush to get to the big guns in Pisa and Florence, but this really is a completely unique place to visit. I will have to confess that despite running travel websites now for over 10 years, I only found out about the Cinque Terre within the last 3-4 years, and I kicked myself for leaving it off my last Italian trip, which finished in Pisa. Maybe the Cinque Terre are not as famous as they should be because they have only recently been declared a national park, but either way, this collection of five villages which are all built into steep coastal terrain should be as much of a must see as anywhere else in this region.
  • There are many famous villages in the world which are no-go areas for the private car due to their compact historic streets or inaccessible terrain, but there are very few which are so accessible by main-line train. In the case of the Cinque Terre, they are all linked as part of the train route between La Spezia and Genoa, making this one of the great rail journeys of Europe.
  • You can also travel between the villages via a network of (chargeable) hiking trails or by boat. As villages go, it doesn’t get any less car dependent than this!For these reasons alone, I suggest you should include at least two days into your Pisa trip without a car – although by the time you have added a day in Pisa itself, a couple of days in Florence and a tour around Tuscany by bus or coach, and a day just relaxing, a week is easily up.
  • Pisa city — Pisa is home to a number of renaissance landmarks, particularly around the leaning tower itself, and even if the leaning Tower takes all the glory, you can easily include a day on foot within Pisa.
  • Coast and beaches — don’t forget that around Pisa are a number of beach resort areas, and this is where you will find most of the night-time activity. Plenty of buses supplement local train services around this region.
  • Florence — the natural tendency for people arriving on flights to Pisa is to head to Florence and to spend a few days there. Of course, we must advise you in the strongest possible terms to visit the Cinque Terre aswell, but it is easy to spend several days soaking up the art and architecture of Florence without seeing anywhere near all of it. Regular trains to Florence run from Pisa airport, also calling at Pisa Centrale station. See our Florence car hire guide for more on this.
  • Compact connections — when I visited Pisa in 2009, the first train I planned to catch from Florence was cancelled, so I was running a little short on time. I asked a taxi driver how much he would charge to take me to the airport, and he said €50. This was one of the most blatant taxi rip-offs I had ever heard, as I knew the airport was only about a mile from the Central Station, which in turn was only another mile from the Leaning Tower. As it happened, a bus turned up a few minutes later and the journey only took 10 minutes. You can also start your rail journey around north-west Italy at Pisa airport, which is only 2-3 minutes by train from Centrale station. From here, the airport train continues to Florence, whereas other connections are available to Genoa via La Spezia and the Cinque Terre, and to Bologna.

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Do you need a car in Pisa? Conclusion: If your main intention is to drive around Tuscany and other scenic regions and you only want to make very brief visits into the city centres, then we would advise getting a hire car as you may well have originally planned to do, but for any other itinerary, it is clear that a hire car is not necessary.

Verdict — no

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Author: Carometer

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