Beginner’s guide to Pisa, Italy: Tips for the perfect trip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Apr 29, 2023

do you need tickets for the leaning tower of pisa

Welcome to Pisa, Italy, home of one of the most iconic landmarks in the world!

This beautiful tower has been leaning for over 800 years and has become a bucket list destination for people just to see its famous lean.

I have to believe that I’m not the first (and won’t be the last) person to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa without first knowing what the functional purpose of it was when it was built in the 12th century. And surprise surprise— it was part of Pisa’s cathedral complex (everything in Italy seems to be tied to religion ) and served as a bell tower.

But what is there to do in Pisa? Can you even go up in the tower? How do you get there from Florence or Rome? In this travel guide, I’ll give you all the know-before-you-go info for the best things to do, see, and of course EAT in Pisa, plus some tips to help you plan the perfect trip!

Can you go inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Yes, you can climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa! It sits in the Piazza dei Miracoli, aka the Square of Miracles: a large grassy square in the city center of Pisa. The square also has the Pisa Cathedral and the Baptistery.

When you arrive at the Square of Miracles, you can stroll around the tower to check out the architecture and take pictures. But if you want to climb the 294 steps to the top of the tower, you need to purchase a ticket online in advance or at the on-site ticket office. If you definitely want to climb the tower, definitely buy tickets online in advance. The number of visitors allowed up each day is limited and they will likely already be sold out for the day when you arrive. The climb to the top of the tower is steep and narrow, but the panoramic view from the top is worth it!

*Climbing the tower could be challenging if you have accessibility concerns, but you can take your time and stop at different levels to catch your breath and soak in the view.

What to do in Pisa other than the tower

  1. Visit the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo: This museum is located in the Cathedral Square and houses an impressive collection of artwork, sculptures, and artifacts from the Cathedral and other buildings in the square.

  2. Walk along the River Arno: The river Arno runs through Pisa and offers beautiful views of the city. Take a leisurely walk along the riverbanks and enjoy the scenery.

  3. Visit the Botanical Garden of Pisa: This garden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world and is home to a diverse range of plant species. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy nature.

  4. Explore the historic city center: Pisa’s historic city center is full of beautiful architecture, narrow streets, and charming squares and restaurants.

  5. Buy a bottle of Lambrusco or Tuscan wine, grab a bench, and just enjoy the ambiance!

Where is Pisa and how do you get there?

Pisa is located in the Tuscany region of Italy and the nearest airport is the Pisa International Airport (PSA). From the airport, you can take a bus or a train to the city center, which is only a short distance away. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or rent a car to get to the city.

Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Florence

Getting to Pisa from Florence is relatively easy and there are several options available. The fastest way to reach Pisa is by taking a direct train from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station. Trains run frequently throughout the day and the journey takes around an hour. Alternatively, you can take a bus or hire a car and drive to Pisa. Buses depart from Florence’s main bus station, which is located next to the train station, and take around 1.5 hours to reach Pisa. If you prefer to drive, it takes around an hour to reach Pisa from Florence and there are several car rental agencies in Florence where you can hire a car.

*Florence is my FAVORITE city in Europe and I took so much time perfecting
this incredible 1 day Florence itinerary. It’s literally my little love letter to the city and I hope it helps you fall in love with Firenze the way that I did!

Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Rome

There are several ways to get to Pisa from Rome. The fastest and most convenient option is to take a direct train from Rome’s Termini train station to Pisa. Trains run frequently throughout the day and the journey takes around 2-3 hours depending on the type of train you take. Another option is to fly from Rome to Pisa, as there are several daily flights available between the two cities. The flight takes around 1 hour and several airlines operate this route. If you prefer to drive, it takes around 3-4 hours to reach Pisa from Rome and there are several car rental agencies in Rome where you can hire a car.

While you’re in Rome, don’t miss this stunning rooftop bar and restaurant! It’s a total hidden gem with the best views of Rome that isn’t yet overrun by the Instagram/TikTok crowd!

5 best tips for visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa

  • The best time to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa is early or late in the day. You’ll be able to get better pictures at these times as well. During the summer in particular, midday and afternoon in the square is packed with people trying to get the perfect shot by any means necessary.

  • Wear comfortable shoes— the historic cobbled streets around the tower are uneven. These are the 5 BEST comfortable sneakers for travel and sightseeing!

  • Eat a piece of pizza in Pisa 🙂 It’s one of those things that you just have to do.

  • Wondering how long to spend in Pisa? I recommend planning for 1 full day. You’ll probably spend about an hour in the tower. After you’ve enjoyed taking your time there, explore the square, the city center, cafes, and the frescoes in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. At the very least, Pisa is can be a half day trip (and is a convenient stop between Florence and the Italian Riviera).

Visiting the Italian Riviera? Check out my Beginner’s Guide to Cinque Terre! It’s got 5 must-know tips for planning a trip there!

  • Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Pyramids in Egypt, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a magnet for travel scams. Beware of pickpocketing and bag theft here— do not put anything in your back pockets and do no set your bag on the ground while taking photos. These are the 6 most common travel scams and how to avoid them!

Food and drink in Pisa

Italy is known for its delicious food and Pisa is no exception.

Don’t forget: restaurants close to tourist attractions are usually crappy tourist traps- they’re not authentic and definitely not where the locals eat. Here are the visible, glaring signs that a restaurant in Italy is a tourist trap.

Walk a little away from tourist attractions before you sit down to eat. THE BEST MEAL I’VE HAD IN ITALY was in Pisa and all I had to do was meander about 15 minutes down some cobbled streets away from the tower.

Here are some dishes and drinks that you should definitely try in Pisa:

  • Pasta alla Norma: A pasta dish with tomato sauce, eggplant, and ricotta cheese.

  • Panino al Lampredotto: A popular street food sandwich made with the tripe of a cow.

  • Tiramisu: A classic Italian dessert made with layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese.

  • Chianti wine: A red wine made in the Tuscany region.

Looking for more? Be sure to check out:

Are you new here? Let’s be friends! I’m Sarah— a solo female traveler (& world’s okayest travel blogger) helping you travel the world, discover surprising destinations, & have a laugh getting off the beaten path. Scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up to stay in touch (I promise not to spam you- just to share the best travel hacks, guides, itineraries, embarrassing stories, and unmissable experiences)!

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