Wondering how to spend a day in Pisa? I gotcha! Pisa is a city in the center of Italy in the Tuscany region.
Pisa is of course, most famous for its leaning tower. However, Pisa contains more than twenty other historic monuments such as churches, several medieval palaces, and bridges that cross the Arno River.
Although the leaning tower is stunning, Pisa offers a lot more than, this post will tell you all that you need to know!
How to get to Pisa
Dublin to Pisa:
To start off with, Pisa is very accessible. We flew direct with Ryanair from Dublin City. The flight directly from Dublin to Pisa was 2 hours and 40 minutes. Aer Lingus also fly directly to Pisa from Dublin. Last updated in May 2023, there are currently 16 flights per week flying from Dublin to Pisa.
European cities to Pisa:
If you’re not coming from Dublin, most other cities in Europe will fly direct to Pisa. Sky Scanner is by far the best website to check the best deals from each city.
Italian cities to Pisa:
If you’re already in Italy, getting to Pisa should be very easy! The train systems in Italy are very modern and up-to-date. The Central Station in Pisa connects three major train lines in Italy, linking the city with Florence, Rome, Genoa, and La Spezia. We used the Italia Rail website to book our train tickets from Pisa to Florence.
We found that the trains went quite regularly which was very easy to plan. On average, there is one train every hour from Pisa to Florence for example. The travel time from Pisa to Florence ranges from 50 minutes, for the fastest options, to 1 hour and 20 minutes for the slower routes.
Do I need to prebook tickets in advance?
During the busier seasons, I would recommend pre-booking. We visited Pisa during April which wouldn’t really be considered to be super busy and we just about got a seat on the train.
How long should I go for?
I think the title of this post ‘How to Spend a Day in Pisa’, may give this answer away. I’m not one to rush through cities and just keep ticking them off the list. However, a day trip to Pisa is 100% enough time!
We stayed in Pisa and honestly, I wouldn’t be in a rush to stay here again. Why not?
- Honestly, we found nighttime to be a little sketchy. There were often groups of people hanging around the stations and of course that doesn’t make them dodgy but we just got a weird vibe. We were only in Pisa for less than an hour and there were men catcalling us on the streets as we walked to our accommodation in the dark. Not the best first impression of the city! In saying that it looks cute with the lights, like in this video, but still be aware!
- We found there to be very few tourists in Pisa. Again, is this necessarily a bad thing? No of course not. Is it a little uncomfortable when locals point at you and ask ‘international?’ in a weird way? Just a little! I love experiencing new cultures, it’s the main reason that I travel but there was something a little unsettling on this trip about being four of the few only tourists.
- We just preferred Florence to Pisa. Florence was such a beautiful city and we really enjoyed our day trip here. If we were to repeat this trip, we would definitely stay in Florence instead.
- A day trip to Pisa is definitely enough time. As I mentioned above, I love the concept of slow travel and I hate rushing through places, however, we saw everything that we wanted to see in Pisa in a day. Below I’ve outlined exactly how to spend a day in Pisa.
Having said all of the above, the overall benefit of staying in Pisa? The flights are super cheap in and out of Pisa Airport.
When is the best time to visit Pisa?
The cheapest month to fly from Dublin to Pisa is usually September.
If you never seem to be the person to find cheap flight deals, this post may help you. In this post, I share my top tips for saving money while booking your flights to any destination!
The summer season in Europe is from June to September, which means that this time is best for the weather. However, naturally, this also means that this is usually the most expensive time to visit Pisa.
This is a glimpse of the kind of weather that we got when we visited Pisa in April:
Where to stay in Pisa
So, as mentioned above, I personally wouldn’t recommend staying in Pisa, I would much more recommend staying in Florence. We stayed at a hotel just off the main streets called Hotel Minerva. It was nice and basic.
The pros of this hotel:
- It was only a short walk to the main spots. It was located 300 meters from the River Arno and an 8-minute walk from Pisa’s Palazzo dei Congressi. The Pisa Central Station is only 1km away.
- It offered a good breakfast in the morning, with a range of foods to choose from.
- We found the staff to be really friendly!
- There was free wifi in the rooms!
The cons of this hotel:
- We found the rooms to be quite noisy which made it harder to sleep!
How to get around Pisa
How to spend a day in Pisa is made a lot easier because we found getting from A to B in Pisa very straightforward! The airport and the railway station are connected by the Pisa Mover, a high-speed shuttle service that runs every day from 6 a.m. to midnight, every 5/8 minutes. The average travel time between the airport and the station is about 5 minutes. The airport to the city center is 15 minutes.
Pisa itself is a small enough city. For example, when you do a free walking tour, you really do see all of the main sights on foot.
What to do in Pisa
So you’ve only got less than twenty-four hours in this city? Here is how to spend a day in Pisa and see as much as possible!
Sightseeing in Pisa: How to Spend a Day in Pisa
Pisa is a city where most of the ‘Top Things to Do’ are sightseeing. Here are the main spots to make sure you see on your trip here:
1. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Of course, we’ll start with the main attraction because it’s at the top of the list of how to spend a day in Pisa!
Let’s talk facts about this tower:
- The leaning tower of Pisa was constructed in the 12th century. The tower took an incredible total of 199 years to build. The construction started on the tower in 1173 but only finished in 1372.
- The tower was never meant to be leaning. The tilting towards the north started with the completion of the second floor because of the bad soil underneath it. Some say, the name Pisa actually comes from Greek and it means “marshy sands”. Originally the tower foundations were only 3 meters deep.
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa is not the only leaning building in Pisa. The soil underneath the whole city of Pisa makes the ground particularly unstable. Another leaning tower is the Bell Tower of the Church of San Nicola which was built around the same time!
- As well as the tower being leaning, the tower is actually curved too at some point in its structure. This occurred when engineers tried to fix the leaning element of it by building one side of the upper floors taller than the other.
When is the best time of the day to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
Well, let’s be honest, it looks this crowded the majority of the time:
If you really don’t want there to be crowds it’s best to visit it the very first thing in the morning!
2. Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
3. The Baptistery
This stunning Baptistery was built to replace the old original baptistery. It’s an incredible 54 meters high and has an insane exterior design. The baptistery has a domed roof! It’s definitely worth a visit when you’re strolling around Pisa!
4. Campo Santo
The term campo ‘Santo’ means “holy field,” and is applied to burial grounds in several countries. According to legends, Campo Santo contains earth transported from the Holy Land during the Crusades. It also contains the Virgin Mary with Child, surrounded by four saints.
5. Guelph Tower
Guelph Tower has only recently been renovated and is now back open to the public as an attraction site. Tourists can climb to the top and enjoy the stunning views of the city. From the Guelph Tower, you can see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as the Cathedral!
6. Keith Haring Mural
Pisa is well known for being a city of renowned artists. One of these famous artists Keith Haring is very famous for his murals. You’ll find the mural of Keith Haring is located off the Piazza di Vittoria Emanuele II.
The mural showcases thirty different figures that are in various poses and speaks of life and vitality.
Other sights to see:
The Museo Nazional, Palazzo dei Cavalieri, Ponte di Mezzo and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
More things to do in Pisa
Take a trip to the University of Pisa Botanical Gardens
Take a walk along the River Arno
With the great Arno River cutting across Pisa city, there are several bridges to cross over the other sides of the river. Among them is the Ponte Di Mezzo bridge.
This bridge is the most beautiful and prominent in Pisa. It is 89 meters long and was constructed in 1947.
Stroll through Borgo Stretto
The street boasts great architecture and high-end retail shops located near the Ponte Di Mezzo. There are several designer stores, top boutique shops, and cafés.
Where to eat and drink
Best Breakfast in Pisa?
The best place if you’re looking for good pastries and a local touch feel is Caffe La Cittadella. A lot of locals come here and have a lovely relationship with the staff, which I love to see!
Best coffee in Pisa?
Filter Lab Coffee is the best coffee shop for the best coffee and a little dessert on the side. It’s only a very short walk from the Leaning Tower of Pisa which makes it a perfect location!
Best pasta in Pisa?
If you’re on the hunt for the best past and street food in Pisa, Primo is the best spot!
Best Pizza in Italy?
You can’t come all the way to Italy and not eat pizza? Quarto d’Ora Italiano is one of the top spots for some proper Italian pizza!
The famous paninis in Pisa?
I didn’t know how famous paninis were in Italy. People queue for quite literally up to an hour to get their hands on a panini from L’Ostellino!
The best gelato in Pisa?
Where to go after Pisa
Here is my full detailed blog post all about how to spend a day in Florence!