Best Things To Do in Pisa

Whilst other tourists flock to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, take their photo, and leave, you’ll spend your time marvelling at all the other noteworthy sites that make up this compelling city.

pisa cathedral

A city in Italy’s Tuscany region, Pisa owes much of its popularity to its tilting bell tower, that leans at an almost four-degree angle due to an unstable foundation. Whilst hugely impressive, this has left much of Pisa ignored by tourists as they scramble to get a picture by the failed infrastructure. That’s where we come in. At Sightseeing Tours Italy we are passionate about offering quality tours, where our customers can #digalittledeeper into their Italian vacation. We’ll share with you the best things to do in Pisa that go beyond the world-famous Leaning Tower, so you can get more from your Pisa experience.

  • 1. Admire the Pisa Cathedral

    Also referred to its Italian name Catterdrale di Pisa, Pisa Cathedral is a stunning building rich in artistic detail. Construction began in the 11th century, but many of the cathedral’s unique details weren’t added until the 16th century. The bronze doors for instance, and the griffin sculpture held within are both spoils of war, taken from Palermo in Sicily.

  • 2. Visit Campo Santo

    Literally translated as “holy field”, Campo Santo is a monumental cemetery located at the northern edge of the Cathedral Square (Piazza dei Miracoli). According to legend, the square is meant to be the same land in which crusaders placed the soil they brought back from the Holy Land. The spiritual and religious nature of its origins is communicated by the shafts of sunlight that shine through the quadrangle onto the interior courtyard. The large lawn in the centre is lined with flowers creating a peaceful and charming scene.

  • 3. See Museo di San Matteo

    Museo di San Matteo

    The National Museum of San Matteo displays some stunning works from the early Medieval period up to the 16th century. Housed inside a 13th century Benedictine convent, the museum is small in size yet rich in artwork, offering a special collection of pieces from the churches of Pisa. For a small admission fee of 5 euros, you’ll get to experience one of the largest exhibits of Tuscan Renaissance art in the whole of Europe.

  • 4. Visit the Baptistery of St. John

    Located within the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Pisa Baptistery is the largest in Italy. It would take at least fifty people to embrace the 100-metre circumference, which is just as immense in its height, gaining a few centimetres over its more popular neighbour the Leaning Tower. This is thanks to the bronze statue of John the Baptist that sits at the top of the stacked domes. Quite unusual in its architecture, the Baptistery is worth a visit for its mix of Romanesque style and gothic design. You can see the building transition from one to the other, with the lower section demonstrating the rounded arches typical of Romanesque style whilst the upper section is dominated by pointed arches seen in gothic design. Together with the stark white marble, it makes the Pisa Baptistery look like something straight out of a fantasy novel. No sign of Gandalf just yet though!

  • 5. Go Shopping on Borgo Street

    If you need a break from all the art and history, go to Borgo Street for a delightful bit of downtown fun. Browse the many designer brands, boutique shops and quaint cafes, all within the heart of the city. For those not-so-eager retail shoppers, you can still enjoy the fantastic architecture of the buildings and pick up a souvenir for yourself or a loved one.

  • 6. Stroll along the Ponte di Mezzo Bridge

    A great place if you want to escape the crowds and take some truly beautiful shots of the Arno River. Boarded by lush green banks and colourful houses, this is the perfect backdrop for any photo. Take in the peaceful tranquillity of the water as you walk across the bridge in either the early morning or late afternoon sun to catch the best light of the day.

  • 7. Santa Maria della Spina

    One bridge away from Ponte di Mezzo is Santa Maria della Spina, a tiny but gorgeous little church considered to be one of the most beautiful in Pisa for its ornate design and riverside location. Whilst rather plain inside, the church’s pastel coloured exterior makes it stand out from the rows of houses around it, that keep to a warm palette of yellows and oranges, which reflect off the water.

  • 8. Check out the University of Pisa

    Founded in 1343, this is one of the oldest universities in Italy and one of the most respected in Europe. Ranked in the top ten nationally and top four hundred in the world, the university is extremely competitive to get into, taking only the best students forward. Their alumni include two Italian presidents, five popes and five Italian prime ministers! The university’s campus is beautiful, and contains the oldest academic botanical garden, known as the Orto botanico di Pisa. As can be expected, the garden in impeccably maintained and looked after, with an array of beautiful plants and trees from around the world. Definitely worth a stroll.

  • 9. Leaning Tower of Pisa

    Despite dragging your attention away from this attraction towards the beginning of this article, this list would not be complete without the Leaning Tower of Pisa. One of the most famous landmarks in Europe, the tower is a great place to leave your footprint in Pisa. Take your camera and have some fun posing in front of the landmark. Try to get the most creative picture you can! Then say one last goodbye to Pisa by climbing up to the top of the tower to get an outstanding view of the city.

We hope this article has excited you for your trip to Pisa, or even inspired you to catch a flight! Whilst you’re here don’t forget to check out some of our popular tours, such as our Two Hour Pisa Walking Tour!

Related article: The Best Architectural sites of Pisa

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