Probably one of Italy’s most famous cities to visit, Pisa is one place that’s well worth a visit when you’re in Italy. Now, it’s likely you’ve already heard about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but there’s so much more to the city. There are heaps of the best things to do in Pisa dotted all across the city, which makes it a perfect day trip (or longer) city whilst you’re in Italy.
Over the years, we’ve visited Pisa quite a few times. We’ve stayed four days, day trips, half day trips and loved each trip. That being said, I think there’s a sweet spot of one full day to explore Pisa itself.
So, to help you get the most out of your time in Pisa, take a look at our favourite places you shouldn’t miss when you visit. Pisa is an amazing city and you’ll have the best time.
1.) Leaning Tower of Pisa
Okay, let’s start with the first and most famous place to visit; The Leaning Tower of Pisa. The campanile for Pisa Cathedral, it’s one of Itay’s most famous spots to see, with its lean that’s around four degrees to the side.
Thankfully, there’s been heaps of restoration work to stop the Tower of Pisa from leaning; so, you won’t have to worry about it toppling over when you’re there!
Now, one thing to remember is that the area around the Leaning Tower of Pisa can get super busy, so make sure to book these Leaning Tower and Cathedral tickets in advance. This way you can skip the main queue for tickets and join the ‘reserved’ queue. It saves loads of time on a busy day.
Also, don’t forget that there are allotted entry times to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, too. You’ll need to make sure you book a timeslot in advance, especially on busy days.
Once here, be sure to also include a visit to the Cathedral. One thing to note, although it’s free to enter, you’re still required to have a ticket. Thankfully, you can show your Leaning Tower of Pisa ticket which will get you right inside.
The whole area around the Leaning Tower of Pisa is beautiful to see. It has been around for centuries and totally worth spending a good few hours in and around the buildings here.
Oh, and one thing to note, the stairs within the Leaning Tower of Pisa can be quite slippy and uneven. Be careful when walking and always wear sensible shoes for the climb and descent.
2.) Pisa Cathedral
Visiting the city’s iconic Cathedral is one of the best things to do in Pisa when you’re visiting the Leaning Tower. You see, it’s so close by and totally easy to include on your trip.
Perched right between the Baptistry and the Leaning Tower, you’ll be able to take a peek inside at almost one thousand years of history.
Once inside, make sure to take a gander at the gorgeous coffered ceiling and the relics of Saint Rainerius. Who, incidentally is the patron saint of Pisa to this very day.
Also, be sure to spot Galileo’s lamp, too. It’s been said that Galileo himself discovered some of these theories whilst monitoring the roof of the nave.
If you’ve got time, take some time to explore Sinopie Museum that’s just across the road. It’s well worth a visit as they house some gorgeous frescoes and beautiful Roman artefacts.
3.) Palazzo Blu
Nestled right within the centre of the city, visiting Palazzo Blue is one of the best things to do in Pisa if you love modern art. You see, they have seasonal exhibitions and permanent galleries that are so gorgeous to see.
It’s not the largest gallery in the world, you can easily walk around leisurely in 60 minutes, but it’s well worth visiting if you love art history.
Getting hungry? Pop into Pizzeria L’Arciere for a casual lunch. They have some delicious pizzas that are all homemade and reasonably priced. It’s so good.
4.) Palazzo Dei Cavalieri
Perched within Knights’ Square, Palazzo Dei Cavalieri is almost 500 years old and just a stone’s throw away from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Once the home of the Knights of St. Stephen, it’s now part of the university buildings that are within Pisa itself.
Now, you might not go inside, but it’s well worth taking a wander to see it and explore the wider piazza that’s so lovely to see.
Just be sure to wander down Via Guglielmo Oberdan and the smaller streets. We had to try one of the Italian sandwiches from the street food spot of I Porci Comodi. They’re reasonably cheap and filled with local cheese and cured hams that are so tasty.
If it’s gelato you’re after, head to Rufus for their delicious (homemade) flavours. We love the white chocolate flavour. So good.
5.) Santa Maria della Spina
Consecrated way back in the 13th century, visiting Santa Maria della Spina is one of the best things to do in Pisa if you love the architecture of this lovely city. Right on the banks of the River Arno, it’s really easy to partner up a trip to Santa Maria della Spina after visiting the nearby Palazzo Blu.
Yes, the church might be small (and you can’t currently go inside) but the building is just so beautiful. You can’t miss it.
Plus, you’ll be able to spot Mezzo Bridge which goes right over the Arno River, too. It’s not too far away at all.
6.) Pisa City Walls
Now, you might wonder what makes seeing a wall one of the best things to do in Pisa. Well, hear me out! Pisa’s city walls are some of the oldest and most ancient walls that are still in existence in all of Italy.
Construction began around 900 years ago and there’s been some presence of a wall in Pisa ever since. Once used to protect the town and cathedral, you can now walk some sections of the city walls; which, is a great way to see the city.
One thing to note, you don’t have to complete the whole route of the city walls. Join a section you like and just walk that little bit. This way, you can then head back to street level and explore more of Pisa.
7.) Piazza delle Vettovaglie
Piazza delle Vettevaglie is one of the oldest squares in Pisa and also the place to be if you want to enjoy a night out in the city. It is surrounded by so many little stores, cafés, restaurants, and pubs.
Also, if you want to make the most out of your time in Pisa, be sure to book this amazing Pisa guided tour, with the option of including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, too. It’s so worth it if you’re looking to see the main sights in Pisa; all with no stress.
8.) Baptistery of St. John
Probably one of Pisa’s most iconic buildings, after the tower, it’s well worth heading inside the baptistery and taking a wander to the upper floors.
Not only do you get a birds-eye view of the baptistery from the inside, but you’ll also get some lovely views across Piazza del Duomo, too.
You’ll even get to see so much Romanesque architecture (and a little Gothic) that dates back to the 1200s. It’s spectacular, especially the architrave.
Oh, and don’t forget to look out for the lean! Yes, just like the leaning tower of Pisa, the Baptistery of St. John leans, too.
Now, it’s a little harder to tell as it leans under one per cent but it’s something we didn’t know before arriving in Pisa.
9.) Keith Haring Mural (Tuttomondo)
Now, as you can probably tell, Pisa is filled with historic art, beautiful buildings and heaps of history. That being said, there’s also a newer side to the city, particularly with Tuttomondo by Keith Haring.
Created in 1989, this mural is perched on the walls of Sant’Antonio Abate church and is well worth taking a gander at. It’s considered one of Haring’s last public murals before his untimely passing.
Afterwards, for a yummy carbonara, pop to Capodimonte Pisa. They make all their pasta daily and the food is so good.
10.) Campo Santo
Formally known as the Camposanto Monumentale di Pisa is perched right on the Piazza del Duomo. It’s one of the best things to do in Pisa as you explore this main area of the city and well worth a look inside.
Now, you might be wondering why the building wraps all the way around a big open grass area. Well, it’s said that heaps of sacred soil (from Golgotha) were placed here and thus protected within the walls of Campo Santo itself.
Once inside the building, make sure to take in the frescoes and spot the centuries-old sculptures that line the way.