This is your free travel guide to Pisa! Many people fly into the airport on their way to nearby Florence, but if you take the time to stop here, there’s plenty to see and do. The city has a relaxed and traditional feel with decent food and friendly people. Here are our personal recommendations to you…
WHAT TO DO IN PISA
Piazza dei Miracoli (The Miracle Square) – This has to be one of the most gorgeous open spaces in Italy housing the gleaming white structures of the Leaning Tower, Duomo (Cathedral) and Baptistry set against lush green grass. The square is surrounded by an ancient city wall, with cobbled paths leading to all the main sights. The Duomo museum is also here along with the Camposanto – a former cemetery now containing recycled Roman stonework. There are also plenty of souvenir shops along the main path too. We enjoyed just lying on the grass and soaking up the atmosphere! We walked here from the Pisa Centrale station which takes around half an hour, but there are plenty of buses you can take instead. Numbers 1, 3 or 11 all take you there. See below for individual highlights in the piazza.
Piazza dei Miracoli: Full review, ticket details & map…
Leaning Tower Of Pisa – This is the icon that Pisa is most famous for, and it’s well worth a visit. The tower houses the bells for the cathedral and was started in 1173. Almost immediately it began to lean – in fact the builders were only on the third floor when they noticed it! The tower had quite a few years of closure whilst it was made safe and it re-opened to the public in 2001. Inside the tower there is a spiral staircase which snakes around the outer edges of the structure. Climbing this stair case, really emphasises the tilt as you lunge from side to side – it’s a really surreal experience! Once at the top, the view is magnificent over not just the Piazza dei Miracoli, but also most of Pisa itself. Admission to the tower is by timed ticket, available in half hour blocks of 30 people and you’ll probably need to book ahead. When were we’re there in June, the next available timed ticket was for 3 hours ahead but at busy periods you can wait considerably longer.
Leaning Tower Of Pisa: Ticket prices, opening times & map…
Pisa Duomo – This is one of the most attractive cathedrals we’ve ever visited! You might be tempted to skip the ticket price for going in and just view it from the outside, but don’t. The painted walls and ceilings are just stunning and there’s a Venetian feel to the little columns near windows. The pulpit, which dates back to 1302, has to be seen to be believed too. It’s a huge stone structure with giant carved legs supporting the preaching platform. Look at the carvings, and you’ll find they depict New Testament scenes.
Pisa Duomo: Full review, opening times & map…
Pisa Baptistry – This is Italy’s largest Baptistry and it was founded in 1152. The whole town was involved in the construction of the building and inside you’ll see the font where many people in Pisa were consecrated as Christians. The other significant feature inside is a huge Gothic pulpit that depicts religious scenes based on pagan beliefs. On the outside, look for the roof tiles that have only been added on some of the aspects of the building. We have no idea why!
Pisa Baptistry: Full review, admission prices, hours & map…
Santa Maria della Spina – Set alongside the river, you’ll find this tiny church perched on the bank in central Pisa. From the outside, it’s the gothic architecture that’s fascinating with carved images all over it. Inside, it houses a thorn which is said to be from Christ’s crown! The church dates back to 1230 and will only take you 20 minutes to visit, but we found it really interesting.
Santa Maria della Spina: Full review, opening times, pics & map…
Pisa Market – We love a traditional food market, and Pisa’s is located in several streets just off the main walkway, Via Borgo Stretto, north of the river. The centre of the market is a small arcaded piazza, but stalls continue in the streets the other side. Fruit and veg stalls are common, but there are also vendors selling all kinds of other Italian culinary delights. We enjoyed walking through the market and being part of its lively, colourful atmosphere.
Pisa Food Market: Review, operating hours, pics & map…
Explore Pisa – There’s plenty to look out for on a walk around Pisa. The ancient walls mark the boundary to the city and are well worth seeing. The best bits of remaining wall are in the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Fortezza di San Gallo on the river bank and at Porta a Lucca where you’ll find the remains of the Roman baths. You’ll also find ancient towers dotted around central Pisa, many just north of the river near the market area. Other notable things to see include Palazzo dei Cavalieri in Piazza di Cavalieri and Museo San Matteo which is packed with notable art works.
Explore Pisa: Read more, pics and map…
OUR TOP TIP IN PISA
Stay the night! So many tourists visit Pisa in a hurry whilst rushing off to see Florence that they miss out on a traditional, historic city which has remained the same for many years and has a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. The Piazza del Duomo is almost deserted at night, and we really enjoyed being there without the crowds. Even in the daytime, you’ll find Pisa’s streets away from the Duomo are really quiet. There’s a decent shopping street – Corso Italia – which has just been repaved with attractive stones. We enjoyed just walking around and stopping for Gelato and coffee. We had a fabulous meal in the evening at Osteria dei Cavalieri at Via San Frediano 16. Great food at a decent price, but it’s reputation is such, that you’ll need to book.
MORE THINGS TO DO IN PISA
We stayed at the Hotel Relais dell’Orologio, which is full of character! The building has 21 rooms which are all different. Many contain original beams and are squeezed into unusual spaces as the building is so old. We stayed in Room 308 which was tiny but had a great view over the terrace at the back of the hotel. The bathroom was built into the roof space and had a huge beam across the bath. The location was great, on a quiet street, just a few hundred yards from the Piazza del Duomo. The staff were helpful and friendly, and the complimentary welcome drink on the terrace was a nice touch. If you’re looking for lots of space, this probably isn’t the hotel for you, but if you’re after character and history, we’re sure you’ll like it as much as we did. You can get guaranteed lowest prices for the hotel at Hotels.com. See more of our secret pictures here.
GETTING AROUND PISA
We found Pisa relatively easy to walk around but there are a couple of issues for walking in the city. Firstly, Pisa is dissected by the River Arno, so you need to plan which bridge to cross to get from one side the other. Secondly the two areas used most be tourists are pretty much as far away from each other as you can get! The Central Station (Pisa Centrale) where you’ll arrive from the airport is right at the southern end of the city centre, whilst the Piazza del Duomo is in the North West corner. Walking from one to the other takes around half an hour, but bus services 1, 3 or 11 will take you there too.
Getting from Pisa airport to the train station is simple. Hop on the “City Bus” outside the airport terminal – you buy your tickets at the machine at the bus stop. The journey to Pisa Centrale Station takes literally five minutes.
MORE ON PISA
Hotels in Pisa – Lowest price guarantee from Hotels.com
More Hotels in Pisa – Massive discounts from Expedia
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Pisa Travel Guide Books – Amazon.com (US & Canada)
Pisa Travel Guide Books – Amazon.co.uk (UK)