Top Tourist Attractions and Things to do in Pisa (Italy)
A world renown city in Italy and famous for its numerous landmarks, there are other several interesting things to do in Pisa besides visiting its most visited attraction, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. While this iconic landmark is one of the main reasons for people to visit the city, Pisa is rich in various sites and experiences. With historic structures, the River Arno, a good nightlife and great food, you will know what to do in Pisa when you arrive in the city. Birthplace of Galileo Galilei, the famous astronomer, and scientist, the city is today a vibrant hub with a young student population.
When you visit Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will be able to see the striking Leaning Tower of Pisa. The lovely Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the marvelous Baptistery, and the Campo Santo are the prime Pisa tourist attractions situated in the square. Another integral part of the city is the Arno River which has various places of interest along its banks. Pisa attractions also include beautiful churches such as the Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, and Santa Maria della Spina.
If you wish to savor Italian food and the nightlife in Pisa, there are plenty of diverse options. Here’s a comprehensive list of what to see in Pisa when you visit this wonderful city.
Table of Contents
- 1 Experiences and top things to do in Pisa
- 2 Top Landmarks and attractions in Pisa
- 3 Practical information and Pisa travel tips
- 4 Where to stay in Pisa?
- 5 Short on time? Go sightseeing in Pisa on a tour!
- 6 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Experiences and top things to do in Pisa
Experience the Nightlife in Pisa
While you can keep yourself busy in the daytime visiting various sights, you may wonder what to see in Pisa during the nighttime. Well, Pisa has a buzzing nightlife too! If you like clubs and bars, visit Chupiteria for shot drinks or head to the Borderline Club to party. You can also enjoy the night at Bazeel, and Orzo Bruno. If your idea of a night out is the opera, visit the Teatro Verdi.
With so many things to do in Pisa, you won’t have a single dull moment in the city! Explore all of these places to go in Pisa to truly experience this wonderful destination.
Museo Dell’Opera del Duomo
In your list of Pisa activities, make time to include a visit to Museo Dell’Opera del Duomo. Initially, a convent for Cappuccine di Clausura nuns, the Museo Dell’Opera del Duomo with its beautiful cloister is now a place where art lovers can appreciate wonderful works of art and sculpture. These artworks were at one point of time on display at the Cathedral and Baptistery. Take a look at the ivory carving of Madonna and Child by Giovanni Pisano, crucifixes, works by Tino di Camaiore, a bust of Julius Caesar, a bronze griffin, and much more. Don’t miss the views of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from this site!
Visit Piazza Garibaldi
Another wonderful square with historical buildings, Piazza Garibaldi is a vibrant hub of activity. A monument to the Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi stands on the square frequented by students, locals, and tourists. Along with his statue, it showcases events from Garibaldi’s life. One of the highlights of this square is the Casino dei Nobili, a pretty 18th-century palace. Historic hotels, among the first in Pisa, are also located here. Piazza Garibaldi is also a good place to eat and drink. Don’t forget to try the gelato available here.
Have dinner in Santa Maria area
Do you know what to do in Pisa when you are hungry for some good food? Head to the Santa Maria area that is in proximity to the Leaning Tower and other attractions. The streets here have a range of restaurants that serve scrumptious Italian food, that definitely ranks among the most enjoyed Pisa attractions. You can chomp on a pizza or relish pasta and other dishes at these eateries. Taste some great Italian classics at Osteria i Santi for reasonable prices. Other good restaurants include Pizzeria Trattoria Toscana and Il Peperoncino. Enjoy a great evening out with dinner, drinks, dessert and more!
Spend an interesting evening on the banks of the Arno River
Built around the waterways of the Arno River, Pisa’s connection to the river is an integral part of its character. You can see various places of interest including houses and structures with wonderful architecture along the embankment as you walk alongside it. Due to the River Arno, Pisa was once a maritime power with major trading links. You can see palazzos including Palazzo alla Giornata, and Palazzo Reale. Other landmarks along the Arno are churches including San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno, and Santa Maria della Spina. There are several other attractions along the Arno making it one of the top things to do in Pisa. Take your time to appreciate the beautiful landscape and feel at peace in the surroundings.
Visit Pisa Baptistery – Battistero di San Giovanni
An impressive structure that stands out amidst of the lush green grass at the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Baptistery is one of the top things to see in Pisa. Standing almost 55 meters high, it is the largest baptistery in Italy. Made of marble, the baptistery is a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles. One your tour, you can see the marble pulpit showcasing scenes from the New Testament. A highlight of the baptistery is the double dome that creates a chamber with superb acoustics. To check out the acoustics, go with a custodian to the Upper Gallery of the baptistery. The effect is quite incredible!
Explore Piazza dei Miracoli
Piazza dei Miracoli, one of the best places to visit in Pisa, gives you a chance to see four fabulous structures. Situated on lush green grounds, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Pisa Cathedral) is a splendid 11th-century church with an amazing façade and interiors. Its bell tower known to the world as the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a major tourist draw. The tower took almost 200 years to be completed due to disruptions in construction. You can also visit the Pisa Baptistery with its remarkable dome and design. Camposanto Monumentale or the holy field is the fourth place of interest on this square. It is a burial ground built around sacred soil from Calvary (Golgotha). Combined, these structures are said to represent birth, life, and death.
Top Landmarks and attractions in Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa
One of the most famous landmarks of the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is situated in the Piazza dei Miracoli. It is the bell tower (campanile) of the Pisa Cathedral. While there are several exquisite towers around the world, this bell tower became even more famous because of its tilt caused due to a weak foundation and unstable ground at the time of construction. The seven-tiered beautiful tower is one of the unmissable places in Pisa. You can climb more than 250 steps to reach the top for a superb view of the city. Book your tickets online or reserve them at the ticket offices of the Piazza del Duomo (Piazza dei Miracoli) in Pisa. Children under eight are not allowed in the tower for safety purposes.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
With a striking marble façade that includes three bronze doors and four tiers of open galleries decorated with cornices, the cathedral is among the top Pisa tourist attractions. Its interiors are magnificent with wonderful paintings and frescoes. Take a look at the fabulous wooden ceiling embellished with gold leaf. You can also the see the inside of the dome decorated with a lovely painting. Another highlight of the interiors is the pulpit with amazing design and sculptures. A ticket to the other structures on the Piazza dei Miracoli, gives you free admission to the cathedral. You can also get free entry by selecting a specific time for a visit.
A large complex that contains burial grounds, the 12th-century Camposanto Monumentale is located at the Piazza dei Miracoli. An outer wall and an inner court with arches built amidst the green grounds contain tombs and Roman sarcophagi. The site also has three chapels. The complex was built around the holy field (Campo Santo) that consisted of sacred soil from Golgotha/Calvary. Buried here are noblemen from Pisa. The site also has more than 80 Roman sarcophagi, sculptures, and urns. You can take a close look at the beautiful frescoes here some of which date back to the 14th century. These were damaged during World War II and subsequently restored.
The Capitoline Wolf
Although it is not a major attraction, the Capitoline Wolf statue is something that you should see when you visit the Piazza dei Miracoli. Located close to the Leaning Tower, this is one of the many Capitoline Wolf statues that can be seen in various parts of the world. The statue shows a she-wolf suckling the twins Romulus and Remus. The twins were abandoned, then rescued and raised by the wolf until they were found by humans. This story refers to the founding of Rome and is depicted on the Capitoline Wolf statue.
Piazza dei Cavalieri
Besides the Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa sightseeing also includes other prominent squares. Piazza dei Cavalieri (The Knights’ Square) is today a hub of education but was a political center back in the day. A major attraction here is the 16th century Palazzo della Carovana that is now home to the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa – a place for higher education. The palazzo was once the headquarters of the Knights of St. Stephen. The grand building has an ornate façade with a wonderful double-sided staircase that leads to the entrance. Other attractions in the square include the Palazzo dell’Orologio, and the Church of Santo Stefano. Put this square on your list of what to see in Pisa.
Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri (Church of Santo Stefano)
A lovely church established for the Order of Knights of St. Stephen, Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri is located on the Piazza dei Cavalieri. This 16th century church with a bell tower has a nice marble façade and lovely interiors. The Order of Knights of St. Stephen was founded to fight Saracen pirates, and the interiors of the church reflect the naval encounters with a display of trophy banners and flags. Look above and you can see paintings on the ceiling as well. They also depict events of that time. The pulpit is adorned with paintings, and the main altar has statues on a throne, and paintings
Palazzos are among the interesting places to see in Pisa, and Palazzo Agostini, a red brick building is a great place to visit. It was bought by the Agostini family in the 15th century from previous owners. Today, it is famous for the coffee shop Palazzo dell’Ussero founded in the 18th century. It immediately became a hub for intellectuals. Even now, it is the hangout for the intellectual crowd including students, and a meeting point for artists. Grab a coffee or enjoy interesting conversations on your visit to this coffee shop situated on the ground floor.
Santa Maria della Spina
With its scenic setting on the left bank of the River Arno, the Santa Maria della Spina, a gorgeous small church should be included in any list of where to go in Pisa to see charming churches. This 13th-century church got its name ‘spina’ meaning thorn from the presence of a thorn relic. It is in reference to the crown of thorns placed on Christ during the crucifixion. Today, the thorn is located in another church but the stunning architecture of Santa Maria della Spina is a good reason to visit this place. It has a unique-looking façade that is highly remarkable with doorways, gables, arches, rose windows and tabernacles on top. In contrast, the interiors are simple with a painted ceiling and sculptures.
San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno
If you wish to see another pretty church, make your way to San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno. The church was built and modified between the 11th and 12th centuries. It was initially attached to a monastery. Tour the interiors to see a 13th-century crucifix, frescoes and a tomb from the Middle Ages. Another remarkable sight on the property is the tiny St. Agatha Chapel situated behind the church. An octagonal chapel made of brick with a unique pyramidal top built in the 11th century, it makes for a very appealing sight.
Practical information and Pisa travel tips
Why should you visit Pisa?
To many tourists, Pisa means the iconic Leaning Tower but besides this, there are many other monuments to explore. If you visit Pisa, the beautiful city of Italy you should also explore other artistic architectures during your trip. Pisa Cathedral, Baptistery, and Campo Santo are some of the top attractions and located close to the Leaning Tower. All top landmarks in Pisa are part of Fіеld оf Mіrасlеѕ or Cаmро dеі Mіrасоlі, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can explore all sights in the city by walking. There are also many local restaurants and shops nearby Fіеld оf Mіrасlеѕ to eat delicious Italian cuisine and shop.
When is the best time to visit Pisa?
- Summer (May to August)
- Summer is the highest season and you can expect big tourist crowds around this time of the year
- The weather is too hot in July
- June to September is the good time to visit
- Many local events, festivities, and street parties takes place during this time
- The average temperature is 23°C
- Autumn (September to November)
- September to October is the best time to enjoy your trip in Pisa
- The weather is warm and pleasant
- Towards the end of autumn and the beginning of winter starts to be a bit rainier
- Expect a fewer crowd of tourists
- Winter (December to February)
- The weather is cold, cloudy
- You can expect heavy rainfall
- There are lesser crowds as this is the low season for this city
- Spring (March to April)
- April is also the best time to visit Pisa
- The weather is warm and pleasant
- Trees are starting to bloom
Do you need a visa for Pisa?
Italy is part of the Schengen area and citizens of EU group of countries can freely enter while citizens of USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia can enter the country just with their passports and stay for 90 days. You can check our complete guide on how to get a Schengen visa and as well to see if you’re eligible to enter the country with just your passports or if you’ll need to apply for a visa prior entry.
Where to book your flights to Pisa?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you need an insurance?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need a travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Where to stay in Pisa?
NH Pisa is a 4-star hotel and offers all modern facilities and comfort to their guests. All rooms are well decorated and furnished. The location of the hotel is perfect for all kind of travelers. The Central Train Station and the Pisa International Airport are very close to the hotel. Both the Cathedral and Leaning Tower are almost 2 km away from the hotel. This is a pet-friendly hotel.
The 4-star Hotel Bologna is located in the center of Pisa city. The hotel offers comfortable rooms and standard facilities during your stay here. The Central Train Station is just within a walking distance of Hotel Bologna. Both the Cathedral and Leaning Tower are 1.5 km away from the hotel.
Grand Hotel Bonanno
The 4-star Grand Hotel Bonanno offers all modern facilities and services to their guests. All rooms are well decorated and equipped with modern amenities. Both the Cathedral and Leaning Tower are 1.5 km away from the hotel. The hotel is 4.3 km away from the Pisa International Airport. Pets are allowed.
Short on time? Go sightseeing in Pisa on a tour!
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