Looking for things to do in Pisa? We’ve got 19 of them for you. Located in one of Italy’s most famous regions, Tuscany, Pisa is famous for its leaning tower. However, this city runs deeper than its claim to fame. While most tourists take a train in, snap a few funny photos in front of the tower, and leave, you should consider staying in Pisa a little longer. From intriguing architecture and history to museums, delicious food, and nature, this city is worth exploring a little further.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
If you’re visiting Pisa there is no doubt that you came to see the leaning tower. The tower is a beautiful work of architecture in its own right but has been made famous because of the way it tilts. It’s also one of the most photographed structures in the city so expect to see tons of tourists doing strange poses to get the perfect picture. It was built in the 12th century but after the foundation was found to be unstable, it began to lean. Don’t worry, measurements have been taken to make sure it won’t collapse. After you take some great photos, climb to the top for the view.
Located in Piazza dei Miracoli, the Baptistery is worth seeing just on its own. It stands at a massive 54m high and has an ornate facade featuring statues, decorations, and arches. The dome is one of the most interesting features as it was never fully finished. Now, part of it is covered in orange tiles while the rest is bare or unfinished.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
This beautiful piece of architecture is often an afterthought for people visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa. However, it’s absolutely stunning and shouldn’t be missed. Construction started in the 11th century and was finally completed in 1092. Made of luxurious stone, marble arches, and bronze doors, the cathedral is truly a work of art. Viewing it from the outside really isn’t enough as the interior is just as opulent (even more so.) While inside, make sure to look up at the interior of the dome as it depicts the Assumption of Mary.
The National Museum of Pisa
This museum can be found along the banks of the Arno River and is considered one of the city’s best. It’s full of fascinating artefacts, sculptures, and artwork that tell the history of the city. Make sure to see the scriptures that were originally held at the Baptistery and Cathedral as well as the paintings that date back from the 12th and 13th centuries. And, don’t forget to see the religious relics and ancient manuscripts from various churches around Pisa.
Museum of Human Anatomy
Opened in 1832, this museum is full of glass cases showing off collections of real human anatomy. There are more than 1,500 specimens, including items like skulls, skeletons, wax models, and anatomical statues. You’ll also find Egyptian and Colombian mummies. This quirky collection definitely flies under the radar for most tourists (and locals too) but it’s an interesting place to stop if you want to get off the beaten path. Right next door you’ll also find a similar museum dedicated to veterinary science. You can learn all about the anatomy of animals while checking out interesting specimens and anatomically correct models.
Located within the Square of Miracles is Campo Santo, a Monumental Cemetery. It’s made from the same beautiful stone as the rest of the complex and features a tranquil interior courtyard. The lengthy courtyard is bathed in sunlight and surrounded by colourful flowers and lined by walls of arches.
San Rossore Park
Pisa is surrounded by greenery and San Rossore Park is one of the largest of its green spaces. It runs from the town to the coast and can be explored by walking, cycling, and even horse-drawn carriage. This park is quite diverse as it’s covered by forest, swamp, marshland, and beach. Pack a picnic and spend a day enjoying the more natural side of Pisa. If you don’t want to spend the day exploring on foot, this park can also be visited by boat for a different perspective. Animal lovers will be especially excited by the chance to see fallow deer, wild boar, and white ibis herons.
Mercato delle Vettovaglie
This is the main market in Pisa and one that should definitely make it onto your itinerary. The stalls are centred around the market’s main square but also veer off into the side streets. You’ll be face-to-face with farmers from the province who have come to sell their fresh produce, meat, and goods. The atmosphere here is lively and vibrant so it makes for a great place to wander, do some people watching, and eat some local food.
Piazza della Pera (Piazza Gambacorti)
This is one of the oldest and best public squares in Pisa. It’s well known and loved by the locals and virtually unknown by tourists. If you want to get away from the Leaning Tower crowds, this is the place to go. This piazza is lined with a few cafes so grab yourself a coffee and do like the locals do. If you’re traveling on a budget, this is the perfect spot to rest, take out a homemade picnic and a cheap bottle of wine (that will probably be quite delicious) and soak up the scene.
The Botanical Gardens
It’s said that these botanical gardens are the oldest in all of Italy. They were founded in the 16th century by Luca Ghini who started collecting and preserving plants for scientific and educational purposes. The museum and gardens are situated right on the Arno river, giving them a beautiful atmosphere that perfectly complements the colourful plants inside. It’s three hectares and home to plants from all over the world. Some of these varieties include magnolia, foxgloves, gingko, aquatic plants, and trees that are a few centuries old.
Santa Maria Della Spina
This is considered one of Pisa’s most beautiful churches. It may be small but it’s located on the river and has an ornate exterior making it quite the sight. It was originally constructed in the 13th century in a Gothic Style with rose windows and pointed pediments. It’s worth a visit if you happen to be walking by.
Palazzo dei Cavalieri
Also called The Knights Square, this is one of Pisa’s main public squares for relaxing, people watching, and taking a quick rest. Palazzo dei Cavalieri is the main attraction and really shouldn’t be missed. This palace was constructed in the 16th century and was once the headquarters of the Knights of St. Stephen. This place has a pretty impressive history, one that is just as impressive as its architecture and design. The decoration on the stonework at the front of the palace is one of its most beautiful features, setting it apart from other historic buildings in Pisa. Make sure to pay attention to the central staircase that leads inside as well as the stone statues that represent the Dukes of Tuscany.
The River Arno
Many of Pisa’s top attractions are located along this picturesque river so you can get in some sightseeing while you stroll. It stretches for 241km and was the centrepiece that Pisa was built around. Pisa’s gorgeous architecture lines the river with lush mountains in the distance and a series of bridges connecting one side of the city to the other. Whether you’re sipping a coffee, eating gelato, or taking photos, a stroll along the River Arno is a must. It’s relaxing, perfect for families, and is a great activity for those travelling on a budget.
This unique blue building once belonged to the Pisan aristocracy and now houses modern art and a cultural centre. In the past, they’ve hosted famous artists like Toulouse Lautrec, Kandinsky, Cornelis Escher, and Salvador Dalì. There are always new exhibits popping up so make sure to check before you go to plan accordingly. Aside from the rotating exhibits, this place has a permanent display that’s split into various sections. You’ll find work from famous artists like Fortunato Bellonzi, Ferruccio Pizzanelli, Mino Rosi, and Umberto Vittorini.
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
This museum is one of the least visited in Pisa but that shouldn’t be the case. It is teeming with interesting artefacts that tell the tale of Pisa’s history and religious past. It can be found right next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Piazza dei Miracoli and offers perfect views of Pisa’s famous landmark from the second story window. The museum is filled with artefacts from the surrounding regions as well as from the Cathedral of Pisa. Visitors will find paintings, sculptures, tombs, silversmith work, and embroidery. There’s a collection of religious findings that date back to Roman times as well as relics from the city’s naval history. The displays are presented beautifully and mostly everything has English translation so you can follow along.
Part of the former citadel complex, this tower is located right on the picturesque Arno River. It was once the primary ship-building area in the city throughout the 13th and 14th centuries. In an effort to protect the city, the tower was built in the 15th century. The tower has since been renovated and is now open to the public for tours. You’ll want to climb to the top because the panoramic views of Pisa are absolutely stunning. You’ll get to look out over the Arno River, spotting the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Cathedral.
If you’re looking to do some high end shopping while in Pisa, this is your best bet. It’s a centrally located street in the city that begins from Piazza Garibaldi next to the Ponte di Mezzo. The charming street is lined with impressive architecture and tons of luxury shopping options. There are designer stores, local boutiques, and a lineup of cafes to help you refuel and re-caffeinate as you shop. Even if you aren’t ready to shop till you drop, Borgo Stretto is so beautiful that you’ll want to take a stroll just to see the buildings.
Keith Haring Mural
If you were to stumble upon this colourful mural by accident, you would most likely snap a photo and then wonder what the story is behind it. Keith Haring is a famous American artist who is known around the world for his murals. You’ll find it off the Piazza di Vittoria Emanuele II, representing a vision of harmony and peace. It features 30 colourful figures in a variety of poses, all which speak of vitality and life. Art lovers will definitely want to get a glimpse of this great work but really anyone can appreciate its beauty.
The Restaurant Scene
Like most cities in Italy, Pisa has a pretty renowned restaurant scene. You just can’t spend time in an Italian city without going for at least one incredible meal. Spend time roaming the streets and taste testing different menu options you stumble across. Try Osteria i Santi, located near the Leaning Tower of Pisa. They serve up Italian classics for fair prices and are conveniently located near the main attraction. Stop by Spaghetteria Alle Bandierine, which has received rave reviews, especially for their spaghetti of course. Try Osteria del Porton Rosso for seafood and a charming atmosphere, Gusto Giusto for their baguette sandwiches, and La Spigolatrice, a pizzeria that gives the rest a run for their money. Don’t forget that gelato in Italy is amazing so grab a cone wherever you see it offered (it’s likely to be top notch.)
A visit to Pisa is a must if you’re travelling through Tuscany. While your first stop will inevitably be the Leaning Tower, don’t forget what other gems Pisa has to offer. It’s a university town that has an interesting youth culture amongst all of the history and ancient buildings. A few nights in Pisa will allow you to check out most of the great must-sees on this list so start planning your next trip!