Pisa is a charming and historic city located in the Tuscany region of Italy. It is most famous for its iconic Leaning Tower, which is an architectural marvel and one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. Beyond the tower, Pisa offers a rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful landscapes that make it a fascinating destination for travelers. Let’s take a look at my favorite things to do in Pisa Italy.
Pisa is a city rich in history, art, and culture, making it a great destination for anyone looking for a unique and memorable travel experience. From the iconic Leaning Tower, to the beautiful Piazza dei Miracoli, to the numerous museums and historic sites, there are many interesting things to do in Pisa Italy.
What to Expect when Visiting Pisa Italy
Walking Tour Map of Pisa Italy
See my photos from Pisa Tuscany
The city also boasts a rich culinary tradition, with a variety of delicious local dishes to try and renowned Tuscan wines to taste. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s rich history, admiring its stunning architecture, or simply relaxing in its charming streets and scenic riverfront, Pisa is a must-visit destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression on you. So let’s put on some comfortable walking shoes and explore a few charming things to do in Pisa Italy.
1. Explore the Piazza dei Miracoli
Exploring Piazza dei Miracoli is one of my favorite things to do in Pisa Italy
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While the leaning tower makes Pisa famous, it is the Piazza dei Miracoli, or Square of Miracles, that comes first on my list of favorite things to do in Pisa Italy. This square contains everything that made Pisa famous, making Piazza dei Miracoli a stunning architectural complex. It is home to several of the city’s most iconic and historic buildings. The Piazza dei Miracoli is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most important architectural complexes in Europe. It is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Pisa, and offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. It is here where, depending how much time you have, you decide what you want to visit. Everything that makes Pisa famous is here, in Piazza dei Miracoli:
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa – This iconic tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world and is the centerpiece of the piazza. Visitors can climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the city and surrounding countryside.
- The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta – This magnificent cathedral is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture and one of the most important religious buildings in Italy. It is famous for its beautiful mosaics, sculptures, frescoes, and other works of art.
- The Baptistery – The Baptistery of St. John is a beautiful circular building with a dome and is one of the largest baptisteries in Italy. It is known for its beautiful acoustics and is used for concerts and other musical events.
- The Cemetery – The Camposanto Monumentale, or Monumental Cemetery, is a stunning cemetery that is surrounded by elegant arcades and is home to several works of art and monuments
Is Pisa worth visiting? Once you are in the middle of Piazza dei Miracoli, you will probably answer yes, just like we did. This medieval complex of beautiful buildings inspired us and transported us to old times.
2. Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Climbing the Leaning Tower is one of the popular things to do in Pisa Italy
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This iconic landmark is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Climb to the top for a stunning view of the city and surrounding countryside.
Is it worth climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Well…it depends. Some visitors find the climb to the top to be an exhilarating and unique experience that provides breathtaking views of the city and surrounding countryside. Others may find the climb to be too physically demanding or simply not worth the cost of the ticket.
It is important to keep in mind that the Leaning Tower has a steep staircase with 294 steps and a slight slope, which can be challenging for some visitors. Visitors are also required to climb in a single file line, which can add to the time it takes to reach the top.
The interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is quite simple and does not contain many artifacts or decorations. The main attraction of the tower is the view from the top, which provides a panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside.
However, there are some interesting architectural features inside the tower, such as the spiral staircase and the arches that support the tower’s lean. Visitors can also see the bell chambers and admire the intricate masonry and stonework of the tower’s walls.
Is the Leaning Tower of Pisa worth visiting? It depends on what you want to see and your physical ability. Our children were very small when we visited and it quickly became clear for us that we don’t want to climb in the tower. However, taking lots of silly pictures with the tower was one of our children’s favorite things to do in Pisa Italy.
3. Visit the Cathedral of Pisa
The Cathedral of Pisa (Il Duomo) at sunset
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Continuing our exploration of fun things to do in Pisa Italy, we remain in Piazza dei Miracoli. The next amazing building that would help you answer the question is the imposing Cathedral of Pisa. The Cathedral of Pisa, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, is a magnificent example of Romanesque architecture and one of the most important religious buildings in Italy. Inside the cathedral, you can find several works of art and architectural features that are worth checking out, including:
- Mosaics – The cathedral is home to several stunning mosaics that date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, including a beautiful mosaic depicting the Last Judgment.
- Sculptures – The cathedral is also home to several sculptures, including a beautiful pulpit carved from marble by Nicola Pisano in the 13th century.
- Frescoes – The cathedral’s interior is adorned with beautiful frescoes that date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, including a stunning cycle of frescoes depicting the life of Christ.
- Bronze doors – The cathedral’s main entrance is guarded by two beautiful bronze doors that date back to the 12th century and are considered masterpieces of medieval metalworking.
- Crypt – The cathedral’s crypt is a fascinating area that contains several tombs and sarcophagi, including the tomb of Buscheto, the architect of the cathedral.
These are just a few of the highlights inside the Cathedral of Pisa. So, is the Cathedral of Pisa worth visiting? We loved walking inside the building and I’m certain that a visit to this magnificent building is sure to be a memorable experience.
4. Visit the Pisa Baptistry
The interior of Baptistry of St John seen from the upper floor
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The Baptistery of St. John, also known as the Pisa Baptistery, is a stunning circular building located in the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, Italy. The baptistery is one of the largest in Italy and is known for its beautiful acoustics, making it a popular venue for concerts and other musical events.
The interior of the baptistery is just as impressive as the exterior, with beautiful frescoes, sculptures, and other works of art adorning the walls and ceilings. Some of the highlights include:
- Mosaics – The baptistery’s dome is covered in intricate mosaics that depict scenes from the life of Christ, as well as several scenes from the Old Testament.
- Sculptures – The baptistery is also home to several sculptures, including a beautiful pulpit carved from marble by Nicola Pisano in the 13th century.
- Frescoes – The walls and ceilings of the baptistery are adorned with stunning frescoes that date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, including a cycle of frescoes depicting the life of Christ.
- Acoustics – The baptistery is known for its exceptional acoustics, and visitors can experience this for themselves by singing or speaking in the center of the building.
The Pisa Baptistery is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in architecture, art, or music. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or simply looking for a unique and memorable experience, a visit to the baptistery is sure to be one of the best things to do in Pisa Italy. So, is Pisa worth visiting? I think that after visiting all these buildings, you will agree that it is worth coming to Pisa.
5. Visit the Camposanto Cemetery
The old Camposanto Cemetery in Pisa
The Camposanto Monumental Cemetery in Pisa is the final resting place of several notable figures from Pisan history, including artists and architects. Two of the most notable artists buried there are Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni Pisano.
Nicola Pisano was a famous sculptor and architect who lived in the 13th century and is considered one of the pioneers of the Gothic style in Italy. He is known for his beautiful sculptures and reliefs, many of which can be seen in the baptistery in the Piazza dei Miracoli.
Giovanni Pisano was a sculptor and architect who continued his father’s work and is also known for his beautiful sculptures and reliefs, many of which can be seen in the baptistery in the Piazza dei Miracoli. These two artists represent a significant part of Pisan art history and their works can be admired in the cemetery as well as in several other locations in the city.
There are several elaborate tomb monuments throughout the cemetery that are beautifully decorated with sculptures, reliefs, and other adornments. These monuments serve as a testament to the lives of the people buried there and are a beautiful example of medieval art and architecture. The intricate architecture makes the Campo Santo one of the favorite things to do in Pisa Italy.
There are several beautiful statues of the Four Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) located inside the cemetery. These statues are made of marble and even though we do not know the author, they are among the most notable works of art in the cemetery.
6. Walk Along the Arno River
The Arno River seen at night
From Piazza dei Miracoli, start walking with the crowds down on Via Santa Maria towards the Arno River. This leasurely stroll will take you about 10 minutes. Once you’re at the river, cross the street and start walking left toward Piazza Garibaldi, taking in all the colorful buildings across the river. After about 5 minutes walk, get some icecream and yummy bakery items at Piazza Garibaldi. The Arno River with its colorful banks should be on your list of best things to do in Pisa Italy.
Continuing walking for another 10 minutes you will get to the beautiful National Museum of San Mateo which hosts an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures.
Whether you visit the museum or not, return to Via Santa Maria on the other side of the Arno River so you take in the other side of the river with its colorful buildings. Ponte di Mezzo is a great crossing point to get you to the other side and then when you get to the next bridge, Ponte Solferino, you can cross back.
A charming walk along the Arno River will make you answer yes to the question: is Pisa worth visiting?
7. Church of Santa Maria
Church of Santa Maria della Spina, Pisa
The Church of Santa Maria della Spina is a small Romanesque Gothic church located on the bank of the Arno River. The church, built in 1230, got its name after receiving a thorn from the crown placed on Jesus Christ during his Crucifixion. The church was dismantled and rebuilt in its present location higher up the riverbank in 1871 due to frequent flooding.
The rectangular church is built of polychrome banded marble with elegant cusps, tympanums, arches, and tabernacles along with refined inlays, rosettes, and statues, including Giovanni Pisano’s Madonna and the Child and two Angels. Inside the church, you’ll find one of the most magnificent Gothic sculptures, Andrea and Nico Pisano’s Madonna of the Rose.
It takes 20 minutes to visit the Chiese di Santa Maria della Spina, making it well worth placing on your list of things to do in Pisa, Italy. The church is open Tuesday-Sunday.
8. Visit the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo
This museum is dedicated to the art and history of Pisa and Tuscany and is home to an impressive collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, sculptures, and other works of art. Museo di San Matteo is a museum located in Pisa, Italy. It is dedicated to the art and cultural heritage of the city of Pisa and the surrounding region. The museum is housed in a restored medieval church and features a wide range of exhibits, including paintings, sculptures, and other works of art. The museum is also home to several important religious artifacts, including reliquaries, altar pieces, and illuminated manuscripts.
If you like art and have some extra time, you should consider adding Museo San Matteo to your list of things to do in Pisa Italy.
Is Pisa Worth Visiting?
Yes, Pisa is definitely worth visiting! The city is famous for its iconic Leaning Tower, which is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world and a must-see attraction. Beyond the tower, Pisa has a rich history and culture to explore, with beautiful architecture, museums, and historic sites. The city is also known for its delicious cuisine, including traditional Tuscan dishes and world-renowned wines. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s history, admiring its art and architecture, or simply relaxing in its charming streets and scenic riverfront, Pisa has something to offer for everyone.
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