We didn’t plan to explore the Livorno cruise port on our Mediterranean cruise – even though our ship was stopping there. Like many passengers, we planned to go somewhere else. We booked a full day shore excursion to Cinque Terre, so when our shore excursion was cancelled at the last minute and a local transit strike was making passage to Pisa a challenge, we were scrambling to find information on Livorno cruise port. In the end, we had a fun time exploring Livorno on our own. Here are some tips to help you find the best sites when you’re exploring the Livorno cruise port.
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Related: Find out what happened when I was trapped in a bathroom in Rome! (A humorous post based on a true story.)
Getting From Livorno Cruise Port to Downtown Livorno
You can’t walk from the Livorno cruise port to downtown Livorno – not easily anyways. There are canals and fences that turn what would be a short walk as the crow flies into a long ordeal. When we asked the concierge onboard our MSC cruise ship, they said there was no free shuttle at the Livorno cruise port, so we purchased a roundtrip shuttle bus ticket for 5 euros each directly from the ship. The shuttle took us from the Livorno cruise port to downtown Livorno.
The Shuttle We Didn’t Know About
We found out afterwards that there was a free shuttle that ran every half hour from the Livorno cruise port to Fortrezza Vecchia, one of the key sites to see in the city. It’s an easy 15-minute walk from there to the central part of the city. We even ended up riding the free shuttle back to the ship. If we had waited until we were in the cruise terminal building to buy the shuttle tickets, we would have found out about the free shuttle. Another option is to catch a cab. If transit busses are running, that might also be an option, but there was a transit strike when we visited.
Why You Should Explore Livorno Cruise Port
There was a time in the 18th century when Livorno was on the must-see list of every European traveler. In 1571, the Grand Duke of Tuscany had his architects transform the small fishing port into the ideal Renaissance city. With free port status, Livorno became a thriving international city with wonderful historic architecture. Unfortunately, the city was heavily bombed during WWII and many of the most historic structures were damaged. Nowadays, much has been rebuilt and there’s more to see than you might think. Best of all, you should have time to visit nearby Pisa and explore Livorno cruise port all in one day.
Livorno is a great city for walking. Wear good walking shoes and bring a day pack to carry water, snacks and a jacket in case it rains. If you decide to climb Mastio de Matilde at Fortezza Vecchia, a tripod and a selfie stick might be useful. Here’s a cool selfie stick that also works as a tripod, so you only need to carry one extra item.
Getting to Pisa from Livorno Cruise Port
Trains from Livorno central station to Pisa are frequent. It only takes 15 minutes to get from Livorno to Pisa Aeroporto. Plan on taking around 45 minutes to and from Pisa Aeroporto including changing trains at Pisa Centrale. ATL also runs buses direct from Pisa Airport to Livorno and back.
What to See at Livorno Cruise Port
Local bus transportation services the entire city, but we found it to be very walkable. Here are some of the key sites we explored on foot near the Livorno cruise port.
The New Fort was constructed in the mid to late 1500’s and provided additional defenses for the city and the Livorno cruise port. The fort is an imposing pentagonal shaped structure surrounded on all sides by canals. You can wander through it and see the ancient gun ports and relax in the beautiful gardens and grounds inside it. When Livorno was bombed in WWII, many locals took refuge in Fortezza Nuova – with the last residents leaving in 1968. If you only see one site in the city of Livorno, make it this one. Exploring the fort is free.
New Venice or Piccola Venezia (little Venice) is one of the prettiest areas of the city. The series of canals dates to the Medici era. With canals, bridges and boats. You can wander around and stop at one of the little cafes that are near the port.
Mercato Centrale Market
For a slice of local life, visit the Mercato Centrale market off Piazza Cavour, which runs every morning from Monday – Saturday. Nearby in Via Buontalenti is the clothes market, where you’ll find everything from pants, skirts and shoes to handbags. If you’re fortunate enough to be in Livorno on a Friday, you can also explore the street market in Via dei Pensieri. The street market has a bit of everything – produce, food, clothes and household items.
One of the busiest and most productive ports in Italy, the port accommodates a mix of recreational and commercial vessels of all sizes. It’s fascinating to wander around the port and watch boats and ships coming and going. Along the edge of the cruise port not far from the old port, we came across a fish market where local fishermen sell their wares – another fascinating place to watch in action.
Via Grande is one of the most important streets in Livorno. It runs from the roundabout next to the port to Piazza della Repubblica, one of the largest squares in the city. You’ll find shops, restaurants and monuments along this street. The Piazza Grande and the Cattedrale di San Francesco are in the middle. The Via Grande is a good starting point for a tour of the Livorno cruise port.
Located close to Livorno’s waterfront, the Fortezza Vecchia was constructed in the 16th century on the site occupied by an 11th century castle. It’s one of the oldest structures in Livorno and you can see massive cracks in its ancient walls. You can walk along the exterior walls and climb to the top of Mastio de Matilde to take in stunning views of the port and the city. There’s a café inside where you can stop for refreshments. There is no charge to explore Fortrezza Vecchia.
Livorno Cruise Port – Useful Information
For more information on Livorno, visit the Livorno page of the official tourism website for Tuscany Tourism.