15 Fun Things to Do in Pisa, Italy

This page may contain affiliate links. More info in our Privacy Policy.

Vastly outshined by its tilted spectacle, Pisa is a city with unsuspecting allure, history, and charm that’s often overlooked. This guide covers all the things best to do in Pisa both before or after visiting the iconic leaning tower.

Pisa Italy

Situated proudly in the heart of Tuscany, Pisa is one of the most significant and influential cities within one of Italy’s most sought-after regions.

Most tourists only consider passing through on a day trip to snap a few photos and make their way to the next destination. However, there is so much more to this charming Tuscan hub than its namesake leaning tower. 

In this guide, I’ve rounded up the top things to do in Pisa, so you can explore more and experience the vibrancy of this unseen city. 

I’ve also included tips for your visit, where to stay, where to eat, and more essential info for your trip to make your time in Pisa extra worthwhile.

Pisa Travel Guide

For more tips and advice for planning your trip to Pisa, jump to the following sections (or just keep scrolling to see it all!).

Top things to do in Pisa

If you have limited time and are looking for the very best things to do in Pisa, here are our top recommendations: 

  1. Take a free walking tour
  2. See the Leaning Tower of Pisa
  3. Explore the Square of Miracles
  4. Take a food tour
  5. Go shopping in the Borgo Stretto district

Keep reading for more detailed information on each of these things and more ideas of fun things to do in Pisa. 

1. Take a free walking tour

Baptisterium Pisa Italy

The worn, cracked, and unmanicured facades of Pisa are often overlooked, but if you venture past the pristine grass of the Square of Miracles, the city limits can be quite the charmer. 

On a free walking tour, you will discover Pisa beyond the lean with a local to truly appreciate it. Soak in the history, myths, and culture as you wander both famed and offbeat sites.

What you need to know:

  • Hours: 2 hours
  • Price: Free, with your choice of tip contribution
  • Location 

What guests are saying

“Alberto is AMAZING! He’s one of the best guides we have ever had. He is knowledgeable and a great storyteller. He covered history, art, myths, as well as gave us great tips on local food and culture. […] I highly recommend taking the tour with him.” – Prathyusha, United Kingdom (May 2023)

2. See the Leaning tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy

What began as an architectural mistake over 800 years ago has transformed into one of the most famous landmarks in Italy.

On any visit to Pisa, travelers flock to the Square of Miracles to experience the gravity-defying construction of the Pisa Tower, famously called the “Leaning Tower of Pisa”.

Most often it’s experienced by snapping requisite photos in a few fashions, mainly holding the tower up or pushing it over. 

But for some euros, you can take your visit a step further (or up in this case) to the top of the tower to truly appreciate its remarkable construction and take in the views over Pisa.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Entrance fee: €27 ($29.30 USD) *includes entrance to all buildings in the Square of Miracles & timed Pisa Tower ticket.

Why is the Leaning Tower of Pisa still leaning?

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

It’s a wonder how, despite leaning for centuries, the Pisa Tower is still standing.

The soil the tower was built on is what caused it to sink and lean in the first place. Ironically, that same soil is now protecting the tower from fatal seismic events across time. 

Most attributed to its preserved lean is the restoration work that started in 1990. At the time, the tower was closed due to high risk for falling from its whooping 5.5-degree tilt (the maximum it was estimated to tolerate was 5.44).

The restoration work brought the tower up by a degree and gave it more stability. With more effort, they very well could have situated the tower vertically, but in doing so it would erase the allure of one of Italy’s most famous sites. And probably cause a massive identity crisis.

3. Visit the Pisa Cathedral

Pisa Cathedral Italy

Built in 1092, the Pisa Cathedral is an ancient marvel whose interior is just as magnificent once you step inside.

Its facade is lined with black and white marble striping, ancient Roman columns, and artwork with a variety of religious scenes. The most impressive antiquity, though, is the Gothic pulpit carved by Giovani Pisano in the 14th-century.

Pisa Cathedral Italy

Everywhere you look inside is filled with intricate details, so taking your time walking through here is crucial to really appreciate all the Romanesque details.

Hours: Monday – Saturday (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.); Sunday (1 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

Entrance fee: €15 *includes entrance to all buildings in the Square of Miracles except the Pisa Tower. 

4. Discover the Baptisterium (the Baptistry)

Baptisterium Pisa Italy

The Battistero di San Giovanni was built in 1152 and still stands as the largest baptistry in Italy. This very site is also where Galileo Galiei was baptized in 1564.

Stepping inside from its intricate exterior, you’ll find an austere octagonal design that rises up two floors. 

In the center of it all is the baptismal font (basin) sitting on an impressive arraignment of Arab-origin tiles. Rising from each vertice are gray-striped white marble arches and monolithic columns by renowned sculptor, Pisano. 

The details are best admired from the women’s gallery above, where you can also listen to the celebrated acoustics of the building. Every 30-minutes guardians of the Baptistry sing notes for you to marvel at.

View of the cathedral Pisa Italy 2

Insider Tip: Make sure to go upstairs and find the window facing the cathedral for one of the best views (and photos) you can get!

Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Entrance fee: €15 *includes entrance to all buildings in the Square of Miracles except the Pisa Tower. 

5. Check out the Camposanto (the cemetery)

Camposanto Pisa Italy

The last building to emerge from the Square of Miracles, the Camposanto is an elegant old cemetery enclosed in rectangular cloisters.

Ornate statues, frescoes, and arches line the halls where famous professors from the University of Pisa are buried, and even members of the Medici Family. 

It’s loosely recognized as the Pantheon or Sistine Chapel of Pisa as it holds significant local, classical, and medieval history of the city. 

Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Entrance fee: €15 *includes entrance to all buildings in the Square of Miracles except the Pisa Tower. 

6. Explore the Square of Miracles

Square of Miracles Pisa Italy

This sacred architectural complex in the center of Pisa is of highest-regard to the Catholic Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most popular things to do in Pisa, if not THE most popular.

It comprises the four significant monuments I spoke of above: Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa Cathedral, Baptistry, and the Camposanto (cemetery). 

While you should absolutely hit up all the monuments, taking in the scene at the Campo dei Miracoli is an adventure in itself. 

7. Take a food tour

Pisa Food Tour (GYG)
Image source: Get Your Guide

Simplicity and the highest quality ingredients are what make Pisan and Tuscan cuisine truly shine. 

You’ll get to sample these genuine flavors at the city’s most popular and historic eateries on this Pisa Food Tour

Taste Tuscany’s famous cured meats and staple dishes enjoyed by Pisan farmer’s and in trattorias. Plus many others, before finishing the day off with a generous scoop of gelato.

What you need to know:

  • Hours: 3.5 hours
  • Price: $96.61 USD / person
  • Location 

What guests are saying

“We had a great time with our guide Sacha! She was very personable and gave us insight to local foods, culture, and history. Also, the places we had the opportunity to eat at were amazing! […] I highly recommend this tour and Sacha as a guide. So glad we picked this one!” – Kaleeda, United States (November 2022)

8. Go shopping in the Borgo Stretto district

Borgo Stretto district Pisa Italy

Lively alleyways and streets sandwiched between the banks of the Arno River and the Piazza dei Cavalieri create one of Pisa’s main shopping areas.

You can find everything from exclusive Italian boutiques to western chain stores in this boho, chic area. As you shop, you’ll also find yourself among exceptional coffee, cake, and gelato offerings.

Make your way north and be sure to stop at Piazza delle Vettovaglie, an old-fashioned food market.

9. Gaze at the Keith Haring mural

Keith Haring mural Pisa Italy

In the city’s sea of ancient and medieval history, one of the last things you’d expect to stumble upon is a renowned modern art piece… Much less on the back of a 14th-century church. 

But Keith Haring’s “Tuttomondo” has raised the saturation on the back wall of Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Abate since 1989. Since it was completed a few years before his death, it’s his last public work and the largest public mural in Europe.

As you study the mural up close, you’ll notice the meticulous attention to detail and the intricate storytelling embedded within the artwork. Each figure tells its own story, engaging the viewer in a dialogue about themes of equality, freedom, and human rights.

10. Check out the unique Santa Maria Della Spina

Santa Maria Della Spina church Pisa Italy

Sticking out on the bed of the Arno River, the bright, yet gothic exterior of this church adorned with refined statues and stone faces intrigue anyone passing by. 

It was built around 1230 and believed to have been erected to house a thorn from Christ’s crown. 

Although what you’ll find inside isn’t quite as priceless, the main hall with a 19th-century painted ceiling and a prize of Gothic sculpture, “Madonna of the Rose”, are more than worth a stop inside.

Hours: According to Google, the church doesn’t keep regular hours. It was closed to the public when I visited midday on a Friday.

Entrance fee: Free

Fun fact: The believed relic from the crown can be seen in the Chiesa Parrocchiale di Santa Chiara just north of town. 

11. Walk Pisa’s city walls

Pisa Italy city wallls

Pisa’s medieval walls are some of the most ancient, yet best preserved in Italy. As one of the most interesting things to do in Pisa, it’s a wonder how they’re overlooked by most.

Although only 3 km (1.86 miles) are walkable, there are a trove of ramparts, towers, as well as priceless archaeological and artistic treasures to discover along the route. 

The main entrance is at the Torre di Santa Maria and takes you past parks, gardens, and views over the Pisa Tower and Square of Miracles.

Hours: Monday – Friday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Entrance fee: €5 ($5.42 USD) *purchase tickets at the entrance

12. Become a connoisseur of gelato

gelato in Pisa Italy

Littered with accolades, including a whopping 3 cones from the Gambero Rosso guide (the Michelin star of ice cream), Gelateria De’ Coltelli is the best gelato shop in Pisa, and one of the best in Italy.

Since day one, they’ve used the highest quality ingredients and techniques to create gelato and granitas that you’ll seek, but never find anywhere else.

In my experience, the reviews were true! This was some of the best gelato I had in all of Italy (second only to Gelateria Dondoli in San Gimignano).

13. People-watch in the Piazza dei Cavalieri / Palazzo Della Carovana

Piazza dei Cavalieri Pisa Italy

This expansive square is lined with interesting 19th and 20th-century architecture, most notably the massive Palazzo della Carovana guarded by a statue of Cosimo I de’ Medici (the Grand Duke of Tuscany).

It’s known as the “Knight’s Square” as it served as the political center of Pisa and was believed to have been the site of the ancient Roman Forum. 

14. Stroll along the Arno River

Arno River Pisa Italy

Lining the river that traces Pisa are heaps of bars, gelaterias, and dining options frequented by locals. As you walk, pop into what piques your interest and enjoy the serene and picturesque atmosphere.

After the hoards of people at Pisa Tower, this is a refreshing area that few tourists regularly visit. Come for sunset, then stick around when the late night scene blooms.

15. Check out a museum or two

Pisa Italy museum

While the Square of Miracles is an open-air museum in and of itself, there are a variety of museums in or near it that are worth browsing.

  • Museo dell’Opera del Duomo: Paintings, archaeological finds, and treasures from the cathedral and baptistery are on display inside this museum. 
  • Museo delle Sinopie: Before admiring the 14th-century frescoes in the Camposanto (cemetery), you’ll want to venture to this museum to see all the original sketches used in the designs. 

Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. *Sinopie closes at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays

Entrance fee: €10 ($10.85 USD) *includes entrance to all buildings in the Square of Miracles.

Is Pisa, Italy worth visiting?

Pisa Italy

In short, yes! 

However, my answer is a bit more complicated…

If you only have half a day to stop in and snap a photo of the Leaning Tower—sure it may be worth it to you, but I think you’ll find the hordes of tourists around the tower to be less than charming. In my opinion, I’d skip it. 

I think the real Pisa (beyond the tower) is worth more time to explore and get a feel of what it’s like when all of the day trippers depart. If you have a couple days to dedicate to exploring the charm beyond the Square of Miracles, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. 

How many days do you need in Pisa?

Many people visit Pisa as a half or full day trip and feel satisfied with their visit.

If you only want to see the leaning tower and wander the Field of Miracles, a half day is just enough time. Allot a full day or 2 days if you want more time to explore the art, food, and architecture.

Pisa also makes a great base camp for exploring the rest of Tuscany, which is another thing to consider when planning your trip.

Best time to visit Pisa

Pisa Italy

You can visit Pisa any time of the year, but some seasons render better than others.

Peak season in Pisa is from June to August. This is when prices, crowds, and temperatures are at an all time high, so I recommend avoiding this season if you can.

Mid-April to May and September to mid-October are the sweet spots to visit Pisa when the summer crowds have thinned, prices are cheaper, but the weather is still favorable.

You can visit Pisa in the winter, but moody rainy weather may impact your experience. Although, the cheap prices and lack of crowds is a huge plus.

Psst! Find out the best time to visit Italy based on seasonal weather patterns in each region and your personal travel style.

How to get to Pisa

train in Italy

The easiest way to get to Pisa is by train, generally from Florence, but you can catch a ticket from other major cities and towns. 

Alternatively, there are buses available from Florence and other cities to Pisa for affordable prices as well using Flixbus

Finally, you can fly into the city through the Pisa International Airport from elsewhere in Europe. 

We have an entire article on how to get from Florence to Pisa that details each of the modes of transportation and everything else you should know.

Transportation in Pisa

Pisa Italy

Pisa is quite small, and most of the sites are close together, so walking is the best way to get around

If you need to go a further distance, the city buses are useful and cheap. The main company is called Compagnia Pisana Trasporti (CPT) and they operate the basic urban city buses, plus a faster line called Linee ad Alta Mobilità (LAM).

Rideshare isn’t available in Pisa, but you can use the SIXT App to hail a taxi, or just flag one down on the street. 

Tips for visiting Pisa

Pisa Italy crowds
This is how crowded it was for us during midday on a Friday in May… and it was raining! (Which usually deters at least some tourists from coming out.)

These are some must-know tips to keep in mind when visiting Pisa. 

  • Visit the tower in the early morning or just before sunset. These hours tend to have the fewest crowds, but know it’ll still be busy. 
  • See more than just the tower. Many gloss over the other buildings in this historic piazza, which are just as, if not more fascinating than the tower itself.
  • Purchase your entrance tickets in person on your mobile using the QR codes on signs around the Square of Miracles for the fastest transaction. 
  • Respect the rules. Especially in a crowded space like the Square of Miracles, with so many visitors trying to get the same photo at once, things can get quite chaotic. It’s important to respect the local rules and DO NOT walk on the grass. 
  • Pickpocketing is common. Especially in the Square of Miracles since it’s a public space and many people are distracted getting their cheesy tower photos. Be sure to keep an eye on your bag and valuables!

Where to eat in Pisa

Pisa Italy

Local delights and Tuscan cuisine are found on menus all over Pisa. Here are some of the top recommended restaurants in the city.

  • Trattoria Sant’Omobono: Authentic and locally-loved eatery with fantastic food and atmosphere.
  • Osteria Dei Cavalieri: This highly awarded and Michelin guide recommended is acclaimed by locals for steak and seafood.
  • La Pergoletta: Inventive Tuscan dishes with an exceptional wine list are highlights of this veteran restaurant.
  • La Buca 2: The place to go in Pisa for fresh and quality seafood.
  • Trattoria da Stelio: Family-run trattoria with original, home cooked Italian food.
  • Gusto Giusto: Simple and local restaurant most acclaimed for their create-your-own sandwiches.
  • Pane e Vino: Small restaurant that serves local and regional ingredients alongside excellent wines.
  • Gelateria De’ Coltelli: The best gelato spot in Pisa with handmade and vegan flavors.

Where to stay in Pisa

There are a handful of key districts in Pisa that are worth basing yourself for a day or two.

  • Santa Maria is most ideal for first-timers as it is just south of the Square of Miracles and hugs the Arno River. 
  • Sant’Antonio is an artistic and down-to-earth area just across the river.
  • San Francesco offers narrow streets filled with hip wine and cocktail bars, trattorias, live music, and small artisanal shops. 
  • San Martino is just next to Sant’Antonio and known for its pastry shops, pizzerias, and after-dark culture.

Budget hostel: Hostel Pisa Tower 

Hostel Pisa Tower (Booking)

This perfectly located hostel is just a few minutes walk from the Pisa Tower, center of town, and the train station. The garden, terrace, shared lounge, free Wifi, and nearby restaurants are massive perks that give you everything you need for a comfortable stay or base camp.

Mid-range budget option: L’Agrumello Secret Garden

L'Agrumello Secret Garden (Airbnb)

Immersed in the ancient and hidden gardens of Pisa, this quaint home is steps away from the Leaning Tower and full of charm. It’s a studio style developed from a medieval building and has everything you need for a comfortable stay and plenty of top-notch bars and restaurants nearby.

Mid-budget option: Bed and breakfast Queen

Bed and breakfast Queen (Booking)

Off the banks of the Arno River just outside of town, this B&B is a 10-minute ride into Pisa from the nearby bus station. It’s an ideal base if you’re spending a few days in the city and want a complete list of amenities. This pretty and peaceful stay has a small kitchenette, private garden, free breakfast, and clean and spacious living areas that make you feel right at home.

Mid-range budget option: Elegant Apartment

Elegant apartment in Pisa (Airbnb)

This spacious and bright apartment makes you feel like a local with its location near the central train station, airport, and Pisa Tower. It’s recently updated with 3 balconies, a full-service kitchen, spacious living areas, and free Wifi. Plus, it’s connected to the airport every 5-minutes by electric shuttle.

Splurge hotel: Palazzo Feroci

Palazzo Feroci (Booking)

Renovated, yet traditional rooms are the highlight of this boutique hotel in the heart of town. It’s near all the main tourist spots, but still feels quiet and away from the bustle of the city. Grab a room with a scenic terrace and enjoy spotless rooms, top-notch service, and endless amenities.

What to pack for traveling to Pisa

While Pisa is generally a quick stop, don’t forget these essentials to make your visit more comfortable.

Be sure to download our complete packing list for Italy! It’s packed with good suggestions and insider tips to help plan your Italy trip. And it’s completely FREE, so why not!?

Italy Packing List Mobile Banner

Round up of the best things to do in Pisa

Here’s a recap of all the best things to do in Pisa so you can see everything in one place.

  1. Free walking tour
  2. Leaning tower of Pisa
  3. Pisa Cathedral
  4. Baptisterium (the Baptistry)
  5. Camposanto (the cemetery)
  6. Square of Miracles
  7. Food tour
  8. Borgo Stretto shopping
  9. Keith Haring mural
  10. Santa Maria Della Spina
  11. Pisa’s City Walls
  12. Gelateria De’ Coltelli
  13. Piazza dei Cavalieri / Palazzo Della Carovana
  14. Stroll along the Arno River
  15. Pisa museums

Are you planning a trip to Italy?

We have lots of resources on travel in Italy and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Italy Homepage for everything you need to know, or start by reading some of our favorite Italy articles here:

Save this article on Pinterest for later!

Things to Do in Pisa | Two Wandering Soles
Things to Do in Pisa | Two Wandering Soles

We want to hear from you!

Have you ever been to Pisa before? What was your experience like? Which of these things to do in Pisa are going straight to the top of your bucket list? Leave your comment below and we’ll do our best to get back to you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *