Pisa, Italy is known the world over mainly for one famous tourist sight, but this city that sits on the banks of the Arno River in the central part of the country offers much more. From museums to natural wonders, Pisa offers a lot to those looking for a more pointed and pleasant look at Italian culture through a Tuscan lens. To begin planning your trip, check out the Vrbo vacation rentals and best places in the heart of Pisa. After that, scroll down to see the best things to do in Pisa, Italy.
What is Pisa famous for? Chances are you already know. The Leaning Tower, of course! But what most don’t realize is that it is actually one of four structures that make up the Campa dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles. The tower is the campanile or the bell tower. The tower was first erected in August 1173, with construction continuing throughout the next two centuries amidst conflicts in the areas. Various architects have attempted to correct the lean of the 17-story white marble tower over the years to no avail. The lean is actually due to the tower being built on an unstable bed of sand. Those who venture to climb the 294 steps will be treated to one of the best panoramic sights to be found in the world.
Pisa: Skip-the-Line Leaning Tower & Square of Miracles Visit
Duration: 1 hour
Forty minutes west of Pisa takes you to the medieval town of San Miniato, a historic area that conveys the full richness of Tuscany and its culture. San Miniato sits atop three small hills in the lower Arno valley and was established primarily for this geographical position, keeping much of the same infrastructure since the Lombards first settled there in the 700s. The town has a plethora of historical sights to visit such as the Palazzo Communale built in the 14th century, which still serves as the town hall and the Convent of San Francesco, reputed to have been founded by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1211. San Miniato is also home to a particular gourmet delicacy — white truffles. Prized for their taste, the town holds an annual event attended by aficionados, chefs, and other curious parties. Art buffs will also take pleasure in visiting the Diocese Museum of Sacred Art, which houses many traditional works by artists like Fra Bartolomeo.
Guided Tour in San Miniato and the Carbonai Alleys
Duration: 3 hours
Formally referred to as Piazza del Duomo, this entire complex is home to the aforementioned Leaning Tower of Pisa. This Pisa attraction has been dubbed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1987 and received its name thanks to renowned Italian poet Gabriele D’Anunzio. Located in the northwestern part of Pisa, the Piazza dei Miracoli was first constructed in 1064 beginning with the Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta. Wide plazas allow many visitors to move around and marvel at the intricate designs, which in some cases even include Arabic influences on the loggias.
Pisa and Piazza dei Miracoli Half-Day Tour from Florence
Duration: 6 hours
4. Banks of the Arno
The Arno riverbanks are a key point of reference for those visiting Pisa and for locals. The banks of the Arno are easily reachable by certain streets and can be reached from certain popular sites around the city. There are one or two scenic spots, the most notable being the Santa Maria della Spina on the Arno Gambacorti. This church, built in 1333, gained notoriety due to having once been the home of the cherished artifact of one of the spurs from the crown of Jesus Christ. One special event takes place on June 16th, which is known as the Illustration of San Ranieri where a number of candles are lit to better enhance the buildings along the water.
Banks Of The Arno
Address: runs through center of the city
5. Keith Haring Mural - Tuttomondo
Keith Haring, one of modern art’s greatest muralists, left his indelible mark on Pisa. In 1989, he was commissioned by the city to create a signature mural after a chance encounter with a student from Pisa while in New York City. The mural is on the south wall of the Church of St. Anthony taking up 180 square meters (1,937.5 sq ft) and contains 30 figures in much less vivid colors than Haring normally employed in his work. The piece overall is meant to promote greater peace within humanity. Haring managed to complete it before his untimely passing the following year.
Keith Haring Mural Tuttomondo
Address: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II 17
Website: Keith Haring Mural Tuttomondo
The Pisa Baptistry of St. John, known as the Battistero, was first erected in 1152 as a replacement and is the second building to make up the Piazza dei Miracoli. It’s the largest such edifice of its kind in all of Italy, standing at 54.86 meters (180 ft) in height. One curious fact about the Battistero is that it also was built on the same bed of unstable sand as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which gives it a very faint lean as well. This tourist attraction in Pisa is also an early example of the combination of Gothic and Romanesque architecture that was seen in the country during that era.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 56126 Pisa PI
All Inclusive Guided Tour: Baptistery, Cathedral & Tower
Duration: 70 to 2 minute
7. Piazza dei Cavalieri
The Knights Square is the second most popular square to encounter in Pisa. It takes its name from the fact that it was the home of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen beginning in the 1500s and was the main hub of political activity in the city. A few of the buildings were designed by Giorgio Vasari, the chief engineer of the Grand Duke Medici of Florence. Nowadays, the University of Pisa has a special educational facility there and there is also an ambulance service stationed there as well.
Piazza dei Cavalieri
Address: Piazza dei Cavalieri, 56126 Pisa Pl
Website: Piazza dei Cavalieri
Located in the Piazza dei Miracoli at the northwestern part of the complex is the Camposanto or Camposanto Monumentale. This is the last structure to be built within the Piazza; the Camposanto is the cemetery. Surrounded by an outer wall of 43 blind arches, the cemetery is notable due to the fact that part of the construction involved the usage of soil imported directly from Golgotha. Currently, that older burial ground is underneath what is now standing. Other attractions at the Camposanto involve a series of frescoes that date back to the 1300s that were damaged in World War II and are now being restored along with a large amount of Roman-era sarcophagi on the grounds.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 17, 56126 Pisa Pl
Book this activity and enjoy rappelling, plunging into deep pools, and swimming along Torrente Serra Canyon. Slip your way over or under its gigantic boulders. For those of you unfamiliar with canyoning, it is where you follow the river stream in a canyon. Traverse the narrow walls and polished marble edges. Nature-lovers are lured by the canyon’s amazing landscape with its beautiful and large deep waters flown down from Mount Altissimo in the Apuan Alps. Adventure-seekers live the excitement with a series of waterfalls, climbing steps and sliding down the toboggan. The activity starts with an in-depth safety briefing before putting on your wetsuit, helmet and safety descender and longes. Then, walk through the riverbed of the stream before descending the beautiful canyon for roughly two hours. You must be able to swim as there may be mandatory jumps along the path. The waterfall can be up to 12 metres (39 feet) deep.
Torrente Serra canyon of near Florence
Price: 65 USD
Duration: 2.5 hours
Enjoy superb views of Florence and the Chianti countryside as you conquer your fear of heights! Embark in this adventure-pumping skydiving feat. Jump off the plane, spread your wings and fly with your 45-second free fall, manoeuvre the canopy and prepare for descent. You will be harnessed to a tandem master all throughout the activity. All that is left is for you enjoy the breath-taking scenery. The activity includes a brief safety and instruction orientation, and the services of certified tandem masters. You can also choose between hand camera-captured photos and videos as perfect souvenir for this experience!
Tandem skydive at 4000m over Florence, Italy
Price: 739 USD
Duration: 3 hours
You’re in the founding land of pizza! Don’t pass up the chance to learn how to make this truly beloved dish. This session will help you get started as a pizza maker, or pizzaiolo as they call it. You will also get the opportunity to make tiramisu. A local home will welcome you to the world of authentic Italian cuisine. The dishes will be made from scratch, no less. People of all ages are welcome to join the class, so make sure to bring everyone with you!
Private Pizza & Tiramisu Class at a Cesarina's home with tasting in Pisa
Duration: 3 hours
12. Chiesa di San Michele degli Scalzi
One of the most beautiful structures in Pisa is Chiesa di San Michele degli Scalzi. This Roman Catholic church originally started as an oratory chapel in the 11th century. It has been renovated multiple times and is now finally restored to its original Romanesque style architecture. If you are of the same religious affiliation and wish to attend Mass or simply pay your respects, feel free to visit San Michele degli Scalzi. The church is located in eastern Pisa and is the center of the parish.
Chiesa di San Michele degli Scalzi
Address: Via S. Michele degli Scalzi, 167, 56124 Pisa PI, Italy
For those who prefer to navigate their vacation solo, consider renting a bike and exploring Pisa on your own! The rental lasts three hours, and you can use a phone application as your guide. You’ll be provided with a list of attractions, and you can visit them for however long you want without the pressure of a group tour. You’ll be let in on the best deals on food and beverages, too! This tour is ideal for the budget-conscious travelers out there.
Beyond the Leaning Tower Pisa By Bike
Duration: 90 to 180 minutes
14. Museum of Human Anatomy at University of Pisa
Are you ever curious about our anatomy and would like to know more about it? Maybe you’re just looking for a non-touristy thing to do during your trip in Pisa? Either way, check out what’s waiting for you in Museum of Human Anatomy at University of Pisa! The museum, founded by Tommaso Biancini, simply started as an “Anatomical Cabinet” in 1832 and has grown its collection to over 1,600 specimens. These displays include wax models, skeletons, skulls, statues, mummies, and many more. If you’re fascinated with anything human body-related, don’t pass on Museum of Human Anatomy!
Museum of Human Anatomy
Address: Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 43, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
15. Cittadella Nuova
Pisa is a mesmerizing city in the region of Tuscany and has some of the most beautiful structures from the distant past. One such structure is Citadella Nuova, or Giardino di Scotto, a public park and garden. The construction of this old fortress commenced in mid-1400s under the Florentine rule. The citadel was destroyed and reconstructed to withstand cannons since then. Since the 1930s, Citadella Nuova houses theatrical performances and other shows. It also serves as an open-air cinema at times. Take time to visit this wonderful park in Pisa!
Address: Lungarno Leonardo Fibonacci, 2, 56125 Pisa PI, Italy
This small group tour will take you to central Italy and enjoy a full tour of Pisa’s UNESCO Heritage sites. The sites include the Piazza Dei Miracoli and the Baptistery. For your ultimate comfort, you will be taken to your destinations in an air conditioned vehicle. Learn and appreciate the wonders of architecture and history with a fully guided tour inside the Capo Santo and Lucca, as you are joined by an expert guide. Lunch is also included in this tour, where you’ll visit a local winery and have a gourmet lunch featuring fresh and local ingredients. The tour will only include a maximum of 14 guests so you get to have an intimate experience with the wonders of Pisa.
Florence to Pisa day trip with winery lunch and Lucca tour
Address: Florence, Italy
Price: 196.50 USD
When in Pisa, Sant'Antonio, San Martino, and Santa Maria are all promising areas to reside in. See history unfold as you walk the streets of this charming Italian city.
When in Sant'Antonio, make your way to Sant'Antonio Abate for some iconic sightseeing. This is one of the few Romanesque-style areas that travelers enjoy visiting during the summers. This historic square is filled with a ton of art and culture. Stay closeby and book a few nights in one of the many hotels and vacation rentals in the neighborhood and have the blissful experience of drinking espresso on the balcony every morning while enjoying the view.
Reside in the charming village of Santa Lucia and enjoy the sunny weather from one of the apartments or spacious townhomes. Santa Lucia is ideal for couples, solo travelers, and backpackers since it’s a small place that is best explored on foot. If you’re up for an hour-long drive, venture out of the commune to see some UNESCO heritage sites like the renowned Piazza del Duomo.
Santa Maria is a bustling area with several historic landmarks and architectural structures in every direction. This place is great for families or groups of people traveling to Pisa for the first time. It’s close to Knights’ Square as well as some local Italian restaurants worth checking out. Common accommodations in Santa Maria include hotels, apartments, and homestays.
For a top-notch vacation in the Pisa, we recommend booking these amazing places to stay:
Parting words from Pisa
We hope that you now somehow know what to do in Pisa. The different points of interest in Pisa allow for visitors to truly appreciate the grandeur and history that lies in each of them. Pisa is one of the most significant cities in Italy that allows one to feel as if they have stepped back into time, and to indulge in the wonder that existed then while being in the now.
Frequently asked questions about things to do in Pisa, Italy
1. What are the best attractions to visit in Pisa?
The Leaning Tower of Pisa tops the list of the best attractions in the city. Make sure to explore the rest of the Leaning Tower’s entire complex, Piazza dei Miracoli, as well!
2. What are the best outdoor activities in Pisa?
Some of the best outdoor activities in and around Pisa are rappelling and swimming along Torrente Serra Canyon and, if you’re feeling adventurous, tandem skydiving!
3. What are the most popular things to do in Pisa with kids and family?
Traveler of all kinds will find that Pisa is a truly magnificent city. Some of the popular things to do with kids and family are making your own pizza, touring San Miniato, and of course, exploring the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
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