Top 15 Amazing Things to Do in Pisa
The city of Pisa with its world-famous Leaning Tower is without question one of the most important places to see in Italy. However, not everybody knows that there are many more exciting things to do in Pisa. A picturesque old town, the fantastic scenery along the river Arno and interesting museums are only some of the important attractions that you should not miss during a vacation in Tuscany. Furthermore, the beautiful beaches of Pisa invite to spend a few relaxing days by the sea.
In this travel guide we have summarized all important information & tips about Pisa in Italy. We also show you the best attractions, the most amazing beaches and where to stay during your vacation in Pisa.
General information about Pisa
The city of Pisa, with its 91,000 inhabitants, is located in the western part of Tuscany. The most important attraction here is, of course, the Leaning Tower, which makes Pisa one of the most famous places to visit in Tuscany. Pisa is also a popular student city. Almost half of the inhabitants are students, which gives the city a youthful flair. In the charming alleys you can find a lot of stores to do some shopping, casual restaurants and cool cafés, which also attract with low prices.
The city is located near the coast, only 10 kilometers away from the sea and the pretty beaches. A popular seaside resort here is Marina di Pisa, where beautiful beaches invite to swim. Unique are also the surrounding natural parks, such as the Natural Park Migliarino San Rossore, which give the very industrial Pisa a green touch.
Best Things to Do in Pisa
During a trip to Pisa there are a lot of beautiful attractions to discover. Some only visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa. What a pity! The charming old town as well as the surrounding area offers countless other fantastic places to see. So that you don’t miss anything during your vacation, here is a list of the most amazing things to do in Pisa.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is probably one of the most famous attractions in Italy and a visit is part of nearly every trip to Tuscany. It is located in the beautiful Piazza dei Miracoli, the so-called Square of Miracles, where, in addition to the famous bell tower, there are various other attractions. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, about 55 meters high, is not only a popular photo motif; during a visit you also have the opportunity to climb this architectural wonder.
It took almost 200 years, from 1173 to 1372, to build this tower, although it was during this time that the inclination had already begun. At first it leaned towards the north. Then it started to sink into the south direction during the further construction in 1272. Finally, for safety reasons, it was renovated from 1990-2001 and straightened 4 degrees. Together with the cathedral, the baptistery and the cemetery, the Leaning Tower is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and of course, one of the best things to see in Pisa!
Tip: You can save time and energy with buying an online ticket, because the queue to climb the tower is usually very long. Especially in the high season, tickets can be sold out days in advance!
The Pisa Cathedral
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, also known as the Pisa Cathedral, is one of the most beautiful attractions in the city. It is situated in the huge green Piazza dei Miracoli and together with the Leaning Tower and the Baptistery it forms a fantastic ensemble that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Like the Campanile, this pompous church had been worked on for about 200 years.
The outer appearance of this building is stunning and the inside of the cathedral is also worth seeing. Here you can marvel at precious marble columns, frescos, mosaics and altar paintings. You should also see the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano from the early 14th century.
Tip: Admission to the cathedral is free and included in the tower ticket!
Another interesting thing to do in Pisa is a visit to the Baptistery, an imposing building located next to the Cathedral and in the square in front of the Leaning Tower. With a diameter of 33 meters and a height of about 54 meters, this church is the largest baptistery in the world.
Already impressive from the outside, a visit to the interior is also interesting. During a tour, you will see the beautiful baptismal font, which Guido Bigareli da Como built in the 13th century. Furthermore, a “John the Baptist Statue” and a picturesque marble pulpit can be admired.
Tip: Don`t miss to go up to the upper gallery of the building wherefrom you will enjoy an amazing view.
The Monumental Cemetery
The Camposanto Monumentale, or Monumental Cemetery, is another very interesting attraction in Pisa. It is located on the edge of Piazza dei Miracoli and can be perfectly combined with a visit to the Leaning Tower. This imposing cemetery was built in 1277 and, according to a legend, the courtyard is filled with sacred soil from Palestine. Inside you can visit an elongated cloister with round arch arcades.
Especially unique here are the frescoes that have been decorating the walls since the 14th century. The Triumph of Death and the World Court of Francesco Traini and Bonamico Buffalmacco are only some of the most important works of art that can still be admired today during a tour of the Monumental Cemetery.
The Cathedral Museum
The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is the Cathedral Museum of Pisa and, above all, absolutely worth seeing for art and culture enthusiasts! It is located in a former convent from the 15th century and was completely renovated in 2019. Here you will find numerous art treasures from various eras, which come from the surrounding buildings of the cathedral district. Highlights here are the sculptures of famous artists from the 11th to 16th century, such as the Madonna and Child by Giovanni Pisano.
Tip: There is a café on the upper floor from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A real insider`s tip!
Piazza dei Cavalieri
The Piazza dei Cavalieri, or Knights’ Square, is one of the most charming places in the historical center of Pisa. Here you will find unique buildings and monuments from the Renaissance: the Palazzo dei Cavalieri – built in 1560 by the architect Giorgio Vasari, the oldest palace – “Palazzo della Carovana” which today is an elite university, the church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri and not to forget the beautiful clock palace Palazzo dell’Orologio.
A small oasis of the city is the Botanical Garden of Pisa. It was founded in 1544 by the botanist Luca Ghini and is the oldest botanical garden of a university in the world. The entrance fee is moderate and there are all kinds of beautiful things to see, especially for botany fans. Various species of cacti, agaves, an evergreen magnolia, date palms, bamboo and the two oldest trees in the park, a ginkgo biloba and the magnolia grandiflora, both dating back to 1787, are just a few of the green highlights.
River Arno & Church Santa Maria della Spina
During a city walk through Pisa, a detour to the banks of the Arno River should not be missed numerous other attractions wait for you. A stroll along the riverbank will allow you to marvel at the countless colorful townhouses and palaces, but many museums have also settled here.
If you cross the historical bridge Ponte Soferino, you directly end up at the church Santa Maria della Spina, a charming little church from the 13th century. Also interesting is the Palazzo Blu, a lovely palace from the 14th century. Also worth seeing is the naval museum “Museo delle Navi Antiche di Pisa”, which is dedicated to the history and archaeology of the city of Pisa.
Carthusian Monastery of Calci & Natural History Museum
A real insider tip among the most beautiful places to see near Pisa is the Carthusian monastery about 10 kilometers away. An absolute must visit here is the Natural History Museum, which was founded in 1596 and is one of the oldest museums in the world. The exhibits are more than comprehensive and can easily keep up with the huge natural history museums of the big cosmopolitan cities!
In more than 400 years, curiosities from all over the world have been collected here, well sorted and are now exhibited on an area of 5.000 m². Among the absolute highlights here are the exhibitions of bears and wild animals, but also the gigantic collection of birds.
The heart of the museum, however, are the giant whale skeletons on the top floor, which you hardly see anywhere else. Even a blue whale skeleton over 30 meters long is on display here.
Migliarino San Rossore Nature Park
The Migliarino San Rossore Natural Park, with a surface area of 24,000 hectares, is a true natural jewel in Pisa. Just 6 kilometers from the city center, this natural attraction delights visitors with its beautiful landscapes, through which countless cycling and hiking routes run. Famous in this park is the long Tuscan avenue, which invites you to go on long walks down to the sea. There you will also find some natural beaches to swim, since this section is still one of the few undeveloped coastlines along the Italian Tuscany!
The variety of animals living there is also unique. With a bit of luck, you can observe red foxes, deer, wild boars or even wolves in their natural habitat.
Beaches in Pisa
Also worth visiting are the many fantastic beaches of Pisa. The most beautiful part is for sure at Marina di Pisa, about 10 kilometers from the city center. Here you will find a very special ambience with pastel-colored beach houses and snow-white pebble bays. The sea is deep blue and crystal clear and truly invites to take a dip in the cool water. It’s also fantastic that all beaches here are open to public and therefore free of charge! Behind the beach there are also some good accommodations, such as the Sea Breeze Apartment, perfect if you want to combine sightseeing in Pisa with sun, beach and sea.
A little further south, towards Livorno, the sandy beaches line up, which are especially preferred by families with small children. The individual beach sections are divided into private beach baths, the so-called Bagnos. You need to pay a fee, but they are equipped with sunshades and sunbeds.
Where to stay in Pisa
In Pisa and its surroundings there is a fantastic offer of accommodations. From well-priced hotels, to vacation apartments, comfortable B&B and villas with pools, everything is available. If you are looking for a recommendable accommodation in Pisa, we can give you these tips…It’s worth a look!
- B&B in the old town: The Rinascimento Bed & Breakfast is a lovely place in a prime location, which impresses with its comfort and cleanliness, but also with its delicious breakfast.
- Hotel with pool: The Villa Scorzi – Residenza d’Epoca – con piscina is a real insider tip! The property is situated in a quiet area, just outside of Pisa and enchants with a wonderful garden and a beautiful pool.
- Budget-friendly Hotel: The Hotel Di Stefano is located in the center and offers rooms with a good price-performance ratio. Fantastic is also the view from the roof terrace to the Leaning Tower.
- B&B: The Vecchio Granaio is a wonderful starting point to explore Pisa and Lucca and to visit the beaches around.
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