The Best Things To Do in Pisa, Italy by

23 Best Things To Do in Pisa, Italy

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Pisa, Italy is known for its leaning tower, but there is so much more to the city than a single sight! In addition to seeing the tower that stands with a slant, we are highlighting the best things to do in Pisa, Italy.


Things To Do in Pisa FAQS

Before we get to our list of what to do in Pisa, Italy, we want to answer a few of the frequently asked questions. Understanding a few of the basics will help you better plan your time in Pisa.


Where is Pisa, Italy?

The first question many travelers have is, Where is Pisa located in Italy? The City of Pisa, Italy is located in Tuscany near the western Italian coast. Pisa is well connected to other cities in Italy – like Rome and Florence.

We share details about how to get to Pisa later in the article.


Are There Things To Do in Pisa for Free?

Yes! While there are several ticketed attractions, there are many free things to do in Pisa, as well. For example, although a ticket is required to climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it is absolutely free to enter the square where it stands – and to take in the view of the tower from all angles.

Throughout our list we highlight the best Pisa activities that are free of charge, as well as the best attractions to see that require a ticket.


Are There Things To Do in Pisa with Kids?

Sure! Families will have no problem finding fun things to do with kids in Pisa. Our list is not necessarily dedicated to family travel, but we do include many kid-friendly sights in our outline of Pisa activities.


Are There Pisa Tourist Attractions besides the Leaning Tower?

When it comes to what to see in Pisa, the Leaning Tower tops the list. That said, there are many more Pisa attractions that travelers can enjoy. We feature the best ones in our list of Pisa, Italy things to do.


What is the History of Pisa, Italy?

Pisa, Italy has a long and fascinating history that can be traced to at least the 5th century BC – although the city is likely much older than that. With its location along the Arno River near the sea, Pisa developed as a maritime port and grew quite powerful.

However, the power of Pisa waned in the 13th century. Several factors contributed to the decline, including a military defeat, a change in the river flow that resulted in Livorno becoming the main Tuscan port and malaria.

In the 14th century, Pisa gained status as a city of culture and the University of Pisa was established in 1343. The university – one of the oldest in Europe – currently enrolls about 50,000 students (which is more than half of Pisa’s population).

One of the fun facts about Pisa, Italy is that it is the birthplace of Galileo. In fact, he even conducted an experiment on the theory of gravity from the top of Pisa’s Leaning Tower.


Is Pisa Worth Visiting?

Many travelers may wonder, Is Pisa worth it? We absolutely think that it is! The city is compact and easy to navigate – and all of the top Pisa things to do are within walking distance from the train or bus station.

As a matter of fact, all of the attractions on our list of Things To Do Pisa can be ticked off in a single day of sightseeing. We think planning a day trip in Pisa is one of the best ways to visit the city (and we share details of planning day trips to Pisa in the Travel Tips section later in the post) – but Pisa could make a great base for travelers, as well.


How Many Days in Pisa, Italy?

Determining how many days to visit Pisa is a big decision. Personally, we think one day in Pisa, Italy – or even a half day in Pisa – is enough to see the highlights. However, we know that fellow travelers may plan a weekend in Pisa or may even decide to stay for 3 days in Pisa, using the city as a base for regional exploration.


Planning a Trip to Pisa, Italy

Figuring out Pisa sightseeing is just one facet of planning a Pisa trip. Travelers visiting Pisa also need to consider how to get there, what to eat and accommodation in Pisa, Italy (if staying in Pisa for longer than 1 day).

To help fellow travelers effortlessly plan a Pisa trip, we share need-to-know details at the end of the article. Also check out our complete Guide to Planning at Vacation to Europe.

Travelers visiting other Top Destinations in Tuscany can read our helpful guides to the region:


As you begin making plans and booking reservations, staying organized is key! We recommend using a trip planner – like our Trip Planning Printables – to ensure you stay on top of all the pertinent details!

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The 23 Best Things To Do in Pisa, Italy

Walking to the Best Things To Do in Pisa, Italy

Now that we’ve covered the basics, we are ready to jump into our list of the best things to visit in Pisa, Italy. We feature the top Pisa highlights – including must-see sights, expansive squares, historic places and green spaces.


#1 Leaning Tower of Pisa

Best View of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Without a doubt, the number one attraction in Pisa is the famous Leaning Tower.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the campanile (or bell tower) for the Pisa Cathedral. Construction of the tower began in the year 1173 – and by 1178, with only 3 stories completed, the tower was already leaning. To compensate for the lean, the five upper levels were designed with one side taller than the other…but that didn’t stop the structure from sinking further into the ground (on one side more than the other!).

The flimsy foundation – set in unstable soil – doomed the project from the start. It would take another 200 years for the tower to finally be completed. The prominent tilt, however, only worsened as the decades wore on…yet it remained standing.

The Pisa tower was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Then, in the 1990s, major stabilization works were undertaken and now the landmark tower is estimated to survive at least another couple hundred years. 


Can you climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Leaning Tower of Pisa really leans in Italy

YES! In fact, climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the top activities for visitors. There are nearly 300 steps to the uppermost level, but visitors who make the climb are treated to spectacular views that stretch over the city’s rooftops.

As making the climb is one of the top things to do at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, there are often long lines. We recommend that you buy tickets for Leaning Tower of Pisa with skip-the-line access – like these tickets that include a tour.


What are Fun Facts of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Leaning Tower of Pisa People Games, Italy

There are so many fascinating facts about the leaning tower of Pisa that we wanted to share a few of the best.

The Pisa bell tower was originally supposed to reach the height of 60 meters (about 197 feet), but since it is sinking, the tallest point only reaches 56.67 meters…and the shorter side is only 55.86 meters tall.

The identity of the original architects of the Pisa Tower is unknown (although the work is often attributed to Bonanno Pisano or Gherardo di Gherardo).

The Leaning Tower was set to be destroyed during WWII to keep Germans from using it as a lookout tower, but the soldiers from the Allied Forces found the tower (and church) to be so beautiful that they left it intact.

Both the Cathedral in Pisa and the Baptistry are also sinking.

Two other Pisa towers are leaning – most notably, the Church of St. Nicola bell tower and the bell tower at St. Michele dei Scalzi Church.


#2 Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles)

View of the Square of Miracles, Pisa, Italy

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located within the dazzlingly beautiful Piazza dei Miracoli – along with several of other top attractions in Pisa, including the Cathedral in Pisa, the Baptistry and the Cemetery. Additionally, visitors will find an ornate fountain, sculptures and two museums on the square.

The square – together with the buildings – are listed UNSECO World Heritage Sites.

View of Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa, Italy

Although the square is confined within walls, it is free to visit. We recommend strolling through the square to admire the architecture, posing for funny photos of the tower along the southern side of the cathedral and lounging on the spacious grass to take it all in.

Do note that entry into the sights within the square – the Leaning Tower, Cathedral, Baptistry, Cemetery and both museums – require a ticket. Basic entry tickets can be purchased on the official website or in person – but guided tours (like this one) offer a much more comprehensive introduction to the attractions.


#3 Cattedrale di Pisa (Cathedral of Pisa)

Exterior view of the Cathedral of Pisa, Italy

The absolutely stunning Cathedral at Pisa (also called the Duomo di Pisa) sits in the center of the grand Piazza dei Miracoli and ranks one of the best places to visit in Pisa, Italy.

Building of the cathedral commenced in the year 1063 and took just 30 years to complete. However, a makeover was already underway by the 12th century and renovations were required after a fire in 1595, giving the church much of its present-day appearance.

Exterior Details of the Cattedrale di Pisa, Italy

The elaborate white and grey Carrara marble façade is fascinating to see (seriously, bring binoculars to view the spectacular details!). The Pisan Romanesque style (which it has come to be called) features arches, columns, mosaics and intricate carvings.

Inside the cathedral, columns line the central nave with grandiose gold leaf ceiling overhead. The magnificent dome, Corinthian columns, carved pulpit and intricate mosaics – as well as the relics of St. Rainerius, are other things to see inside the Pisa Cathedral.


#4 Battistero di San Giovanni (Pisa Baptistry of St. John)

View of the Battistero di San Giovanni, Pisa, Italy

Another one of the top things to do in Pisa is to visit the Baptistry, which sits directly across from the main façade of the Cathedral.

Construction of the round Baptistry in Pisa began in the year 1152 and took more than 200 years to complete. Today, at 180-feet-tall and boasting a diameter of 112 feet, the St. John Baptistry stands as the largest baptistry in Italy.

Exterior Details of the Battistero di San Giovanni, Pisa, Italy

While the Romanesque architectural style mimics that of the cathedral on the lower levels, the upper levels transition to the Gothic style and is decorated with pointed gables, statues and exquisite engravings.

Want a fun fact about the Baptistry in Pisa? It is where astronomer Galileo was baptized.


#5 Camposanto Monumentale di Pisa (Monumental Cemetery)

Often referred to as the Old Cemetery, Campo Santo is one of interesting Pisa, Italy tourist attractions.

It is said that the soil used for the foundation of the cemetery was brought to Pisa from Golgotha (the place where Jesus was crucified). Construction then began in the year 1278, but was not finished until 1464.

The cemetery, which marks the north side of the Pisa Cathedral Square, is a long, rectangular structure with a garden in the center. The graves – and their elegant tombstones – are located within the arcade and the walls are covered in frescoes that depict stories from the Bible. Altogether, the site resembles more of an open-air museum than a burial ground.

While visiting a graveyard might seem like one of the more unusual things to do in Pisa, Camposanto is a superb sight.


#6 Fontana dei Putti (Fountain with Angels)

View of the Fountain of Miracles, Pisa, Italy

While, perhaps, not a must-see in Pisa, the marble Angles Fountain in Pisa is worth a quick stop when admiring the sights on Piazza dei Miracoli.

Dating to the 17th century, the fountain served an actual purpose – not just an aesthetic one: It was a main water source for the people of Pisa.

Everyone knows that one of the best things to do in Pisa is to snap photos of the Leaning Tower – and capturing the Fontana dei Putti along with it is a good photo op.


#7 Mura di Pisa (Old Pisa City Walls)

Walking the Old Pisa City Walls, Italy

Since Medieval times, the city of Pisa has been encircled by protective walls – and those walls still stand today, (mostly) intact. The 35-foot-tall, preserved walls stretch for nearly 2 miles around the city, providing elevated views of the Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa neighborhoods and parks.

A look at the Mura di Pisa, Italy

Visitors looking for activities in Pisa that offer a different perspective and an escape from the crowds can climb atop the Pisa walls and go for a walk.

There is a small fee to climb the walls in Pisa – and the walk is enhanced when you download the app for information along the route.


#8 Orto Botanico di Pisa (Botanical Garden Pisa)

The lovely, little Botanical Gardens of Pisa provide an excellent respite from the congestion of Piazza dei Miracoli and the narrow lanes of Pisa. The plant collection was established in the 16th century for the purpose of study at the University of Pisa, as it is still used today.

Garden visitors can wander the paths, alongside ponds and through greenhouses to see the great variety of plant species.

As the Botanic Garden is one of the Pisa top attractions, there is a small fee to enter.


#9 Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knights’ Square)

People in the Piazza dei Cavalieri, Pisa, Italy

The beautiful and historic Piazza dei Cavalieri is one of the best things to see in Pisa, Italy. The square is surrounded by architectural gems and once served as the city’s political center and a gathering place among locals.

The Palazzo della Carovana is the square’s most attractive structure. Built in the mid-1500s as the headquarters for the Knights of St. Stephen, the palace façade features sgraffiti (although the current paintings only date to the 20th century). The palace now houses the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, a public university.

Details of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Statue, Pisa, Italy

Standing in front of the palace is a statue of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de Medici.

Another notable palace on the square is the Palazzo dell’Orologio, which is recognizable by the arch that runs through it. Originally separate dwellings, the palace was enlarged by joining two buildings in the year 1554.

Exterior of the Chiesa di Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, Pisa, Italy

The Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri dates to the 1500s and was purposely built for the militaristic Order of St Stephen (whose job was to fight pirates in the Mediterranean). The order was founded by Cosimo de’ Medici.


#10 Chiesa di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria (Church of St Catherine of Alexandria)

Exterior view of the Chiesa di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, Pisa, Italy

Built in the second half of the 13th century, the Santa Caterina d’Alessandria Church in Pisa is a quaint church that is tucked along a spacious city park.

Interior details of the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria, Pisa, Italy

The ornate and bright façade – built in the 14th century in the typical Pisan Romanesque style – is in stark contrast to the vast and dimly lit interior. That said, it remains one of the interesting places to visit in Pisa due to the artworks that are housed inside.


#11 Bagni di Nerone (Baths of Nero)

What's left of the Baths of Nero, Pisa, Italy

Although little more than a shell of its former self, the ruins of the Baths of Nero are an intriguing archaeological site and one of the interesting Pisa places to visit for fans of ancient history.

With careful excavations and examinations, it has been determined that the baths date to the 1st century AD. The building was likely a sauna room, but little else is currently known about this historic Pisa site.


#12 Porta a Lucca (Lucca City Gate)

View of the Lucca City Gate, Pisa, Italy

Porta a Lucca (sometimes also called Porta Parlascio) is an old city gate that sits just beyond the Nero Baths ruins. As one of the top places to see in Pisa, it is worth a quick look, especially for visitors who are interested in how Pisa functioned as a walled city in Medieval times.

The brick, arched gate was first built in 1157 and was the largest gate in the city, opening onto the road that connected Pisa to nearby Lucca. The gate was designed with lookout towers and enhanced with even more protective measures in the 1500s.


#13 Borgo Stretto Shopping Street

View of Piazza Garibaldi leading to Borgo Stretto, Pisa, Italy

The picturesque Borgo Stretto is the city’s best shopping street – and a Pisa must see district. Boutique shops and grand, old-fashioned cafes line the atmospheric lane from Piazza dei Cavallieri to Piazza Garibaldi on the Arno riverside.

Sweet treats from Salza, Pisa, Italy

Visitors can walk in the shade under the arcades, stroll down alleyways and stop for a sweet treat or coffee along the route. The historic Salza makes decadent pastries and Caffe Settimelli is prime for people watching!


#14 Chiesa di San Michele in Borgo (Church of Archangel Michael)

Exterior view of the Chiesa di San Michele in Borgo, Pisa, Italy

Travelers making their way along Borgo Street while sightseeing in Pisa, Italy should pop-in to see the Church of San Michele in Borgo. Like other Pisa churches, the façade (which dates to the 14th century) features an upper tiered loggia.

When the church was built in the 10th century, it was located outside the early city gates. The Pisa church was founded on the site of an old temple that had been dedicated to Mars – and is said to have a crypt with remains from a previous church, as well.


#15 Ponte di Mezzo (Middle Bridge)

View over the Arno River, Pisa, Italy

There are many bridges that straddle the Arno River in Pisa, but Ponte di Mezzo – which connects Piazza Garibaldi in Tramontana to Piazza XX Settemre in Mezzogiorno – is a local favorite. One of the top things to do in Pisa, Italy is to cross the bridge, pausing along the way to take in the river views.

The Ponte di Mezzo (also called Ponte Conte Ugolino) is not an old bridge, as it was constructed in 1950. However, it marks the site of the city’s first stone bridge, which was built in the year 1035. Due to floods and war, the bridge had to be rebuilt several times.

When the current bridge was rebuilt after World War II, it was recognized as a symbol of Pisa’s resilience.


#16 Piazza XX Settembre (September 20th Plaza)

View of Piazza XX Settembre, Pisa, Italy

Marking the south side of the famous Ponte di Mezzo Bridge, Piazza XX Settembre is one of the best places to visit in Pisa.

The small square has long been a gathering place. On the west side, Palazzo Gambacorti – a palace that dates to the 11th century – is used as the Town Hall. The clocktower on the east side belongs to Palazzo Pretorio, which serves as the local library. The 17th century Logge di Banchi, on the south side of the square, was built as a marketplace for selling wool, silk and other goods – just as it is used today.

Corso Italia is the pretty pedestrian shopping street that leads south from the square to the Pisa train station.

So, why is it called Piazza XX Settembre? Because, September 20, 1870 is the date that Rome was captured by the Italian Army, ending Papal States and uniting Italy.


#17 Palazzo Blu Museum (Blue Palace Museum)

Exterior view of the Palazzo Blu Museum, Pisa, Italy

A top tourist attraction in Pisa, Italy, the Palazzo Blu is a fantastic art museum housed in a 16th century palace. The building’s unique blue color was discovered during renovation and is thought to date to the 18th century.

In addition to the permanent display of Italian paintings and artifacts, the museum hosts a rotating collection of artworks by international artists.

The Museum at Palazzo Blu is not large and, although a ticket is required to enter, it is an excellent stop for art lovers.


#18 National Museum of the Royal Palace

Built for the Medici family in 1583, the Royal Palace sits on the riverside on the north side of the Arno. The reason it is one of the top Pisa, Italy places to visit today is that is houses the National Museum.

The National Museum collection is comprised of artworks collected by the region’s powerful royal families, including the Medici, Lorena and Savoia. The most impressive displays are the historic armor, fine tapestries, historic home furnishings and paintings by masters.

The entry price is fair and visitors could easily spend a couple of hours viewing the collection.  


#19 Lungarni di Pisa (Pisa Riverfront)

View of the Pisa Waterfront, Italy

Although there are many Pisa sights to see, we highly recommend allowing time for wandering in the city – and there is no better place to wander than along the curving Arno riverside.

Both banks of the Arno River feature wide, flat pedestrian paths where visitors can promenade while taking in the river views. Lined with amazing architecture and lovely bridges, the Lungarni di Pisa is one of the best places to go in Pisa, Italy for a romantic walk or family stroll – with a gelato in hand, of course.


#20 Ponte Solferino (Solferino Bridge)

The 3-arched Ponte Solferino Bridge is not a particularly spectacular bridge. It was built in the 1970s (after the previous bridge collapsed due to flooding and the one before that was destroyed in WWII).

That said, crossing the Ponte Solferino is one of the top things to do in Pisa, Tuscany – simply for the view!


#21 Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina (Church of Santa Maria of the Thorn)

Exterior view of the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina, Pisa, Italy

Sitting directly on the south bank of the Arno River, the opulent Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina is one of the best things to see in Pisa, Italy. The Gothic church, which is made of marble, dates to the year 1230. In the 1300s, it housed a holy relic: A thorn for the crown that Jesus wore at his crucifixion.

Church of Santa Maria of the Thorn, Pisa, Italy

The heavily decorated exterior is a festival of artwork and sculptures (although most of the originals are housed in the nearby National Museum of San Matteo). The interior, which is seldom open (typically only for events and exhibitions), features a wooden ceiling.


#22 Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno (Church of St. Paolo)

Yet another Pisa Romanesque church, the San Paolo Church has a history that dates to the 9th century – although the building was renovated and enhanced throughout the centuries (including the addition of the fine façade). For a time, Saint Paolo served as the Pisa Cathedral.

One sight at the church that makes it a must do in Pisa is the Chapel of Sant’Agata. The brick chapel, which is located behind Saint Paolo Church, was constructed in the 12th century and miraculously survived a WWII bombing that destroyed the cloisters and other portions of the church.


#23 Tuttomondo Mural (All World Art Mural, Pisa)

View of Tuttomondo Mural, Pisa, Italy

After seeing the many ancient sights, one of the fun things to do in Pisa, Italy is to seek out Tuttomondo, a modern street art mural by American Keith Haring.

The famous mural covers the entire back wall of the Sant’Antonio Abate Church. Haring painted the mural in 1989 with the theme of peace and harmony. Tuttomondo was one of the last public murals that he created before his death in 1990 and one of his most notable works. 

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Pisa, Italy Map of Attractions

Use this link to Google Maps for an interactive version of our Pisa Map. 

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Travel Tips for your Trip to Pisa, Italy

Our Travel Tips for your Trip to Pisa, Italy

Now that you know the best things to do in Pisa, Italy, we have a few travel tips that will help make your trip planning easy.


Getting to Pisa

You can travel to Pisa by plane, train, car or bus (and cruise ships to Pisa dock in the nearby town of Livorno).

Flights to Pisa land at the Galileo Galilei International Airport Pisa (PSA). Cheap flights to Pisa are available from numerous European destinations on Ryanair (check out all our advice for Finding Deals on Flights before you book!). To get from Pisa to the Pisa Airport, a shuttle bus runs every 5 to 8 minutes from 6am to midnight.

We traveled to Pisa from Florence by train. The direct train from Florence to Pisa takes less than 1 hour. You can also travel directly to other regional destinations by train from Pisa Centrale (such as Lucca).

From Cinque Terre to Pisa, there is a direct train that takes about 1 hour. 

The Main Bus Station Pisa is also at the train station. If you’re traveling by bus to Pisa, this is where you will arrive. You can also pick up the E3 Bus to Lucca from Pisa here.

Driving Florence to Pisa also takes about an hour. If you decide to get a car hire in Pisa, Italy, be sure to read all our tips on getting the Best Prices on Car Rentals.

Travelers who decide to drive from Florence to Pisa should keep in mind that car parking in Pisa is limited and often expensive.


Best Place to Stay in Pisa

Best Place to Stay in Pisa, Italy

Travelers who opt to stay in Pisa for longer than one day are tasked with finding a place to stay. We think the best place to stay in Pisa, Italy is near the heart of the city – where attractions are just steps away. 

One of the best hotels in Pisa based on guest reviews is the Hotel Bologna. Located south of the river near Palazzo Blu, Hotel Bologna gets rave reviews for the ideal location, the clean rooms and excellent breakfast. Check rates and availability for your stay!


What To Pack for a Trip to Pisa, Italy

Tips on What To Pack for a Trip to Pisa, Italy

Now that you are almost ready for your trip to Italy, it’s time to pack your bags! We share more of our best packing advice on our Travel Packing page. Need a packing checklist? Get your FREE Packing Checklist here


Good Walking Shoes

While the Pisa things to visit are in close proximity, walking from sight to sight is still required. We recommend wearing shoes that have a slip-resistant sole – and, most importantly, are comfortable. Use our tips for the Best Shoes for Travel to find the perfect shoe for your trip. 


Travel Camera

The sights that are a must see in Pisa, Italy are incredibly photogenic! Rather than relying on your phone for pictures, upgrade to a real camera

We travel with a Canon Rebel and use an 18-135mm lens. The camera is easy to use and affordable – which makes it one of the best cameras for budget travelers


Day Bag

Whether you travel with a backpack or suitcase, while sightseeing in Pisa, you will want to make sure you have a good day pack as well. Zippered pockets are a must. We like to use small, lightweight backpacks – but there is a style for every traveler. We share our top picks in our article, Best Day Bags for Traveling


Italy Travel Insurance

Don’t already have trip insurance? Consider rates and coverage at World Nomads for your vacation to Italy.


Travel Documents for Europe

Don’t forget to pack all of your important travel documents! Store your passport, tickets and your trip planner in a document organizer where there is a place for everything! 


Start planning your trip to Italy! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!


We Want To Know: What are your favorite things to do around Pisa, Italy? Do you have any tips for cool things to do in Pisa that we should add to our list? Tell us in the comments!


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