When we decided we were going to do some city trips in Italy, Pisa immediately came to mind.
I mean, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Square of Miracles is probably one of the most iconic buildings in Italy, right?
We had initially considered flying in to Pisa. It is the main airport in Tuscany and could potentially have some cheap flights with RyanAir from Cork. But, we ended up flying to and from Venice instead, and took advantage of Italy’s super prompt and efficient train system to travel around.
We had been told that there isn’t really much else to do in Pisa. So, rather than staying overnight there, we simply opted to visit Pisa for the afternoon as a fun and easy day trip from Florence.
This is a very doable day trip! Pisa is super easy to get to from Florence and in our opinion, well worth a visit.
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Getting To Pisa From Florence
Pisa is only about an hour away by train, so it really is a super easy day trip from Florence! Or even a half-day trip like we did.
(Travel from Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station to Pisa Centrale).
We booked our train tickets online via Trainline which was extremely easy and only cost us €33 return each despite only booking it a day before. If you’re a bit more organised, I’m sure you can get it for cheaper than that 🙂
From Pisa Centrale train station, it’s about a half hour walk to Piazza dei Miracoli (the Square of Miracles) where the Leaning Tower of Pisa is located.
It’s all flat and more or less a straight line so we didn’t bother getting the bus. Having said that, it is an option if that suits you better – just cross the road from the station and take the Number 4 bus (stop at Piazza Arcivescovado) or the Number 21 night bus (stop at Piazza Manin).
Top Tip: Trains in Italy are extremely punctual!! I highly recommend you check the timetable and get to the relevant platform on time or you might risk missing your train.
Piazza dei Miracoli – the Square of Miracles
Piazza dei Miracoli is also known (formally) as Piazza del Duomo, although I quite like the sound of the Square of Miracles!
Besides the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you’ll find a Cathedral, Baptistery, cemetery (Camposanto) and a couple of museums within the Piazza.
Each of these, with the exception of the Cathedral, require a paid ticket to enter (more on this below).
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa acts as the bell tower of the Square of Miracles and it is one of the 7 Wonders of the World due to its 5.5 degree tilt (currently anyway!)
Clearly this was the main event for us, and probably for most other visitors to Pisa too! I mean, who doesn’t want a photo of themselves propping up the Leaning Tower?
Note: This is easier said than done and you’ll likely end up looking like a bit of a fool 😉 But, it’s all part of the experience and everyone’s too busy trying to get the perfect picture to be too worried about your silly poses!
It is a totally surreal experience climbing the 273 wonky steps (apparently – I can’t say I counted them myself!)
The gravity of climbing at an angle inside a building is really disorienting!! But the view from the top is great. And after all the pizza and pasta I had in Italy, not an unwelcome bit of cardio!
I highly recommend that you purchase a ticket ahead of time if you intend to climb the tower.
You can buy tickets there but you buy entry for a specific time slot, and some of the daytime slots fill up fast. To avoid having to wait for any length of time, you can buy your ticket online via the official website (an electronic copy on your smartphone is fine).
Other tour operators also sell tickets but they all seemed to have added a few extra Euro… Buying direct was the cheapest option and set us back €18 each. This included the timed entry into the Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as ‘free’ entry into the Cathedral.
Important Things To Know
- Make sure you put your bag (including smaller handbags) into the free checked bag/cloakroom service as they’ll turn you away if you show up at the queue with it.
- If you need to make use of the facilities, there are toilets are near cloakroom. Just be aware that they charge a slightly hefty €1 for the privilege.
- Also make sure you queue on time. They don’t allow late entries as I guess they only allow so many people into the tower at any given time.
- The ticket states that you have 35 minutes for your visit, but this is really just a guide. No-one is going to be ushering you back down those steps so take your time.
- The ticket also states that children under 8 years of age are not permitted to climb the tower, and ID may be requested to verify that they are old enough. If you have kids – make sure you come prepared!
Top Tip: Buy your ticket for the tower online between 1-20 days prior to your visit (Online purchases are not available on the day itself!)
After our disappointment with Florence Cathedral, my expectation for the Cathedral in Pisa was pretty low. But, I’m pleased to say that the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is absolutely stunning inside!
So much detail!
The ceiling is insanely beautiful. You could spend all day craning your neck just to gaze at the gold detail. Plus, there’s some amazing paintings in the domes.
Admission to the Cathedral is free, but you still need to go to the ticket office and get a pass for entry at a specific time. These free passes are limited in number daily and only available from the on-site ticket office.
If you buy a ticket for any of the other buildings like we did, that ticket is sufficient to get you into the Cathedral as well. The bonus with this is that you are not subject to a fixed time, and can go at your leisure.
Top Tip: Although they seemed a bit less strict about it in comparison to other churches we visited in Italy, you still need to cover your shoulders and knees to enter the Cathedral. I believe they gave out free poncho like cover-ups for anyone not dressed appropriately but I’d still suggest bringing a sarong or similar just in case.
Baptistery & Camposanto
With the time we’d allocated for our afternoon in Pisa, we didn’t visit either the Baptistery or the Camposanto cemetery.
Both of these also require you to purchase a ticket for entry: €5 for one or €7 for both.
For €8 you also get entry to Sinopie Museum.
You’ll find plenty of places to eat and drink outside of the square itself. Similar to what we found in other places in Italy, food and drinks get much cheaper the further you get from the main sights… We opted for a “slightly” obscured view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in order to pay half of what they were charging closer by.
If you happen to be planning a visit in early summer, you might want to consider coinciding your trip with the Luminara festival which is held in Pisa every year on the 16th June. I had completely missed reading about this festival prior to booking our trip, and we just managed to miss it by a couple of weeks. On the other hand, you might want to avoid it altogether if you’d rather avoid the crowds 😊 Either way, I wish I’d known about it!
Have you been to Tuscany or elsewhere in Italy? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.
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