Are you trying to decide if you should rent a car in Pisa?
Pisa, home to the famous Leaning Tower (Torre Pendente in Italian) is also a hub for air travel and rental cars in Italy.
Although I live here and have my own car, I’ve rented cars in Italy since 2003, for my own travels and for work, and I’ve assisted visitors with car rentals.
This article will:
- help you decide if you need to rent a car in Pisa
- give you an overview of locations and companies
- give info and tips on getting to your car rental location in Pisa
- share places you can visit near Pisa with a rental car
- give you alternatives to renting a car
- share helpful insider tips for renting a car in Pisa!
For everything you need to know about Italy car rentals, read our Complete Guide to Renting a Car in Italy!
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Do You Need To Rent a Car in Pisa?
NO, if you’ll just be exploring Pisa (for example, just checking out the Leaning Tower) and then traveling to other destinations in Italy that are easily accessed by train. Pisa has a ZTL, it’s easily walkable (or take bus or taxi). NO, if you don’t want to deal with driving in Italy.
YES, if you’ll be exploring the Tuscany countryside are parts of Italy that aren’t easily reached by train or bus.
You’re landing at Pisa airport, and you plan to see the Leaning Tower before making your way to Florence, Rome, and Venice. In this case, you’re better off using the Italian train network.
You’re landing at Pisa at the beginning of your trip. You’re planning on seeing the small villages of Tuscany and then finishing your trip in Rome. In this case, it’s best to pick up your rental car in Pisa, drive to Tuscany to explore, and then either drive to Rome to drop off your car OR drop your car in Tuscany (Florence or another location) and take the train to Rome.
Main Rental Car Companies in Pisa
The main international rental car companies that operate in Pisa are:
Other companies include:
- Centauro Rent a Car
- Italy Car Rent
- Liberty Rentals
- Ok Mobility
- Sicily by Car
I recommend using a consolidator like DiscoverCars.com (this is the consolidator I use when renting a car here and the one I recommend to visitors).
Pisa Rental Car Locations
In Pisa, you can rent a car at the Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport (PSA) or there are a couple of locations outside the airport (for example, Europcar has a location in the city center on Lungarno Sonnino and Centauro Rent a Car has a location near the airport on Via Darsena).
I highly recommend renting your car from the Pisa airport – it’s the most convenient and almost always has the best rates.
The Europcar in-city location is a little stressful because you have to drive in city traffic when you pick up your car, and when you return your car you need to find a place to park.
The Centauro Rent a Car location is near the airport (quick shuttle) and has excellent customer service. Still, the airport car rental location is the most convenient.
Helpful Tip: You’ll see many addresses listed for rental car locations at the Pisa airport. They’re all the same big location / parking lot. Some of the location’s addresses (remember, these are all for the same rental location):
- Via Asmara, 22
- Piazzale Corradino d’Ascanio
- Galileo Galilei Airport
- Aeroporto Civile Galileo Galilei
- Via dell’Aeroporto, 71
- Piazzale Mario Cobianchi
Pisa Car Rental Availability
The agents I spoke to at the Pisa airport all said that last year was busy, but they were able to supply visitors with cars (they never ran into times when they had to turn a renter away). It’s expected that 2023 will be similar – busy, but manageable.
Still, it’s best to book your rental car as soon as you know you’re traveling to Pisa, especially if you’d like a larger vehicle (like a 6-9 passenger van), a sports car, or an automatic. These vehicles occasionally sell out for a location, or the supply gets to be so low you’ll see a dramatic rate increase.
Agents I spoke to all confirmed they’re able to meet car seat demand, but that the renter is legally required to install it (even more of a reason to have data on your phone – so you can watch a YouTube video of the installation if you need to).
How to Get to Pisa Airport Rental Car Location
Pisa Airport to Pisa Airport Car Rental Lot
You have two choices – take the airport shuttle bus or walk:
- Take the airport shuttle bus. Exit the airport arrivals door and turn right to walk to the ‘Rent a Car Shuttle Bus’ gazebo/tent. Wait there for the next shuttle bus. Shuttles leave every 15 minutes, beginning at 5:30am. The shuttle bus will take you to a large green building, which is the main office for car rental companies. Enter to sign your contract and then get your car.
- Walk to the rental car location. See the map above. Exit the airport arrivals door and turn right, following the red path on the ground. Continue to follow the red path (stay left) to exit the airport and walk on a sidewalk next to the road. The red path turns to a normal paved sidewalk with red paint on the edges. You will occasionally see white paint on the sidewalk that says ‘Rent a Car Terminal Autonoleggio’ with an arrow and the distance remaining (unless the paint has worn off). Follow the path (keeping the airport on your right) to the traffic circle and turn right to continue following the path. Cross the road (crosswalk) to follow the red path to the large green building on the other side of the street. Enter to sign your contract and then get your car.
This is what the red path looks like when you exit the airport’s main doors:
Pisa Centrale Train Station to Pisa Airport Car Rental Lot
You have a few choices – walk, take the PISAMOVER tram, or take a taxi.
- Walk from the Pisa train station to the airport. It’s an easy 20-minute, 1-mile walk – if you don’t have a lot of luggage.
- Take the PISAMOVER. It’s a quick 6-minute ride on the PISAMOVER tram from the Pisa Centrale train station to the airport. There are two intermediate stops. It runs every day from 6:00am to midnight, every 15 minutes (and as often as every 6 minutes during busier times). 2023 price – €5.
- Take a taxi from the Pisa train station to the airport. CoTaPi (Cooperativa Tassisti Pisani) run the Pisa taxis. The rate from the train station to the airport is fixed at €9 (2023).
Driving to the Pisa Airport Car Rental Lot (at the end of your rental)
The Pisa Airport car rental location isn’t marked well with signs. The easiest thing to do is follow the signs for Parking P5 ‘Rent a car’ – the signs have a blue square with P5 in white inside the square. You will turn onto Via Cariola, and when you see the large green building on the left, you’ve arrived.
Follow your company’s instructions for the return of your car.
Tips for Renting a Car in Pisa
Rent your car from the Pisa Airport car rental location. It’s the most convenient and has the best rates.
Skip the airport shuttle and walk the 500 meters (follow the red path) to the car rental offices. If you have a large group or a lot of luggage, have one person (the driver on the rental car contract) walk to the car rental lot, sign the contract, pick up the car, and drive back to the airport to collect everyone. You can park free for 10 minutes.
Good To Know: If you have a second driver, that person must also come to the rental office with his/her appropriate documents.
At the airport car rental location, stop first at the large green building on the right (instead of continuing ahead to your rental car company’s area. Then you can get your car at the individual company areas. If you head to the individual company first, they’ll send you back to the green building to fill out your paperwork.
The main green building at the Pisa airport car rental location has a bar and bathroom. You can also have your group wait there while you get the car, inspect it, install car seats, etc.
Use a consolidator to check for the best rates. I personally use (and recommend) DiscoverCars.
When you’re driving out of the airport rental car location, at the first roundabout, follow the BLUE sign for Firenze if you want to go to Florence or Tuscan towns. This sign will take you to the FI-PI-LI (Florence-Pisa-Livorno), a superstrada that runs between Florence and the coast. Otherwise, follow the GREEN signs for Autostrada for other Italian destinations.
Be prepared for a lot of traffic if you’re driving in Pisa or nearby roads during commute hours (until about 9:00 am and from 4:00pm-7:00pm, Monday through Friday). While there is commuter traffic in all major Italian cities, I find Pisa’s to be particularly bad, especially if you’re trying to get on the Autostrada toward Genoa.
If you’re planning on visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Campo dei Miracoli, you can park your rental car in a parcheggio custodito (guarded parking) or a free lot.
Important: If you are leaving any luggage in your vehicle, park your car in a guarded lot or garage. There are too many break-ins in the free lots (or along the street). Even if your luggage is ‘hidden’ in the trunk, thieves see the new license plate and break the windows to look for valuables. If you have an empty car (for example, you’re visiting on a day trip), you can park in a non-guarded lot at your own risk. I’m often asked what we do – we park our empty car in the free lot and I don’t leave anything in it (valuable or not valuable).
If you’re returning your car to Pisa, make sure you fill up your gas tank (if it’s in your rental contract). There are multiple stations near the airport – enter stazione di benzina into Google Maps or your navigation system. The best gas station for you will depend on where you’re coming from.
Remember to have all the necessary documents for renting a car in Italy:
- Home country driver’s license
- Passport (International ID)
- International driving permit (for non-EU residents)
- Credit card
Destinations Near Pisa to Visit with a Rental Car
- Beaches – some of our favorites in the area, like Forte dei Marmi
- Tuscan villages like those in the Val d’Orcia (Montepulciano, Montalcino, Pienza, Bagno Vignoni, San Quirico d’Orcia) and Chianti (Gaiole, Panzano, Greve, Radda, Castellina)
You can also begin your exploration in and around Pisa and go on to explore anywhere in Italy by car. Some of our favorite places to visit with a car are:
You may want to read more about Driving in Italy!
Alternatives to Renting a Car in Pisa
If you’re not convinced that renting a car in Pisa is the right choice for you, here are some alternatives:
Take Public Transport During Your Italian Vacation
Italy has an extensive train network, and you can also reach many places by bus, plane, ferry, or tram.
Hire a Private Driver in Italy
This is a costly alternative (it’s basically a rental car with someone to operate it for you) but takes away the driving so all members of your group can relax and enjoy the scenery. You can also try to find a driver that speaks English so you can learn about the area you’re visiting.
Rent a Car in Another Part of Italy
If you’ll just be visiting cities (with good train/bus access) in the area, use public transport. Then, when you’re in a part of Italy that’s best visited with your own car, rent one there.
Take a Guided Tour
Instead of driving a car in the Tuscan countryside, you could make day trips from Pisa, Lucca, or Florence with guided tours. There are many options available, from private wine tours to bus tours to small group Vespa tours.
Enjoy your time driving in Italy!