Sunday, 24 February 2013

How to get from the airport to central Florence

Many first time visitors to Tuscany ask me how to get from the airport to central Florence. And of course I have ask them to specify which airport. Florence is served mainly by Pisa Airport (Aeroporto Galileo Galilei - code PSA) and to a lesser extent by its own small Florence Airport (Aeroporto Amerigo Vespucci, often known as Peretola - code FLR). I have heard but cannot confirm that sometimes long distance passengers have tickets specifying Florence as the destination when in fact they will land at Pisa. Be sure to check that and to check whether subsequent ground transport is included.

Pisa Airport railway station
Pisa Airport railway station

There are three different ways to travel from Pisa Airport to Florence - by train, by bus or by car

By train: The “Pisa Aeroporto” railway station is almost inside the airport, meaning a short walk with your luggage. You can buy your ticket in the airport arrivals area. It takes about an hour and a half to reach the Florence central railway station (Santa Maria Novella, SMN) and costs roughly 5 euros. Sometimes you have to change trains at Pisa Central railway station. Note that changing in Pisa can involved hauling your luggage up and down a lot of steps. Train timetables here.

STOP PRESS 2014 - 2015:  From  15 December, 2013, until the end of 2015, Pisa Airport- Pisa Central Station transfer will be provided by the PisaMover Bus service with a timetable departure of every 10 minutes and  a journey time of just 8 minutes. By the end of December 2015, the new fast and fully automatic connection PisaMover will link Pisa Airport to Pisa Central Station in 5/8 minutes every day, from 6 a.m. to midnight.

By bus: the Terravision bus option is slightly faster than by train (around 70 minutes) and a ticket costs about 5 - 10 euros. Return and children's tickets cost less. Bus timetables here.

The choice between train and bus will very likely depend on the next departure time and whether the train requires a change in Pisa. If you don't want to sit around waiting for the next train from Pisa Aeroporto to Pisa Centrale, take the LAM Rossa bus which leaves from the stop outside the arrivals area. It leaves every 5 to 15 minutes and reaches the central railway station in 5 minutes.

Beware of gypsy and other pickpockets on the airport to Pisa train, and when there is a scrum during boarding of the Terravision bus.

By car: A metered taxi will cost you about 150 euros or more because you have to pay the driver to return empty (that's included in the meter reading - the driver doesn't double the displayed price). There are also fixed-fare NCC minibuses that can be reserved in advance. This latter option costs about the same as a taxi base rate but the drivers are usually more familiar with country accommodations and so provide a good option if your have several people, a lot of luggage and will be staying in the country. Both people and baggage will cost extra with a taxi. NCC drivers can be booked for times when trains, buses and rental car offices are not active. Finally, you can rent a car, but do not try to drive it into central Florence (or Pisa, for that matter) where there are camera-patrolled limited traffic zones and fines aplenty.

Florence airport
Florence airport

There are two different ways to travel from Florence airport to central Florence.

By bus: Florence airport is only 4 km from the Florence city centre and the orange ATAF Volainbus bus shuttle takes about 20 minutes, runs every half an hour and costs about 5 euros. It leaves from the SITA bus station near the SMN railway station and from near the taxi rank at the station itself. Departures from city centre are every 30 min from 5.30 am to 8.00 pm, then after every hour up until 11.00 pm. Check timetable details on the ATAF website. New buses with large rack space inside the passenger compartment have been purchased in mid-2014.

By car: A metered taxi has a fixed price for trips to the airport (currently 20 euros), takes 15 minutes and is obviously a good choice if you are 3 or 4 people and/or want to leave directly from your hotel. Picking up and dropping off your rental car at the airport is generally a good idea because you avoid the limited traffic zones in the city centre.

A taxi will cost 20 Euros, plus 1 Euro for each piece of luggage (maximum 5 Euros). There is also a 2 Euro supplement for Sunday service and a 3.20 Euro supplement for night service (22:00 to 6:00). Consequently, the "break-even" point for using the airport bus is 3 or 4 passengers traveling together.

Secure travel accessories

Some recommended fixed-fare NCC minibus drivers.

Getting around in Tuscany.

Warnings regarding limited traffic zones in Tuscany.

Recommended vacation accommodation in Chianti towns, villages and countryside.

Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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