one day in Pisa itinerary

Day Trip from Florence: The Perfect “One Day in Pisa” Itinerary

Day trip to Pisa from Florence: Best things to do and see

Rome, Venice, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Amalfi coast, Dolomites, and Como lake are just a few of the locations for which Italy is famous, making it one of the most visited countries in the whole world – as of now I’ve been there 6 times and still have many things left to see.

Tuscany region is one of its most precious treasures and it’s well known for its picturesque landscapes, and wineries as well as rich history, architecture, and art contribution.

You can visit it by breaking it up into several travels or by doing a long road trip to the whole region. Either way, its capital Florence is a must.

And if you visit Florence and have an extra day, you might want to spend it in Pisa. The Leaning Tower is by far the most famous, but the city has a few other little gems to offer as well. So, here is the best Pisa itinerary if you plan to spend a day exploring this town in Tuscany, Italy.

Is one day in Pisa enough?

If you are only interested to see the sights located at the Square of Miracles (it. Campo dei Miracoli), also referred to as the Cathedral Square (it. Piazza del Duomo), then even half a day is enough.

Here you will find the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa (which is the free-standing bell tower), the Cathedral, the Baptistry, and Camposanto Monumentale (en. Monumental Cemetery).

However, spending a full day in Pisa will allow you to visit the Square of Miracles at a slower pace and also discover a bit more of the city.

Best time to visit Pisa, Italy

April-June and September-October are some of the best months to visit Pisa. The weather is usually pleasant and the crowds are fewer than in the summer season.

Do expect a bit of rain in October though. I actually visited Pisa during this month and experienced a few drops and a clouded sky which was not the best for taking pictures.

one day in Pisa
Pisa historic center

How to get to Pisa from Florence

By train

Due to its proximity to Florence (less than 100km/62 miles), Pisa is a popular day trip from Tuscany’s capital with people wanting to see the Leaning Tower.

The easiest and fastest way to travel between the two cities is the train. The journey takes around 1 hour and there are many direct connections every day. Tickets usually start at 8.70 EUR (10 USD) one-way.

You can check the train schedule, and up-to-date prices and even buy tickets on Trenitalia’s website. Input “Firenze ( Tutte Le Stazioni )” which means “Florence (All stations)” as your starting point to see all routes leaving Florence.

Most trains leave from Firenze Santa Maria Novella which is Florence’s main station. It is very conveniently located: only 10 minutes away on foot from the historic city center.

In Pisa, all trains arrive at the Pisa Centrale train station, which is located about 1.7km away (a 20-minute walk) from the Square of Miracles and the Leaning Tower.

Using the train in Italy

More often than not, you need to validate your ticket before you actually board the train. You can find stamping machines either on the train platforms or inside the station. Skipping this step will result in a fine.

The exceptions to the rule are tickets for regional trains that you buy online (they have a specific date and a time frame when they can be used) and high-speed trains that come with a reservation.

one day in Pisa travel guide
Pisa Cathedral with the Leaning Tower in the background

By car

If you already rented a car for a longer road trip through Tuscany, it makes sense to use it to visit Pisa as well.

The first thing to bear in mind is that Pisa, like many other Italian cities, has a restricted traffic zone called a ZTL. You have to be careful to not drive your car into this area (it is generally defined as the walled part of the city), or you will face a fine. Check the ZTL map for Pisa here.

Parking options in Pisa

Regarding parking, you can find both free and paid lots outside of the ZTL zone, but be aware that the free options might come with some downsides regarding security.

Such an example is the free, fairly big parking lot located only 10 minutes away from the Square of Miracles where the Leaning Tower is located. You can find it on Google maps marked as Parcheggio Via Pietrasantina, Parcheggio Pisa, and Parcheggio auto per la Torre di Pisa.

However, I wouldn’t recommend it because if you read the reviews, you’ll find quite a few people complaining that their car was broken into and all their belongings were stolen. So park here at your own risk!

A better option, in my opinion, is the paid Pisa Tower Parking, which is located only 6 minutes away from the tower. It costs 1.8 – 2 euros/hour and for a bit more it even offers closed boxes. There’s also someone on-site, supervising the parking lot.

How to get around Pisa

Pisa is a relatively small city, so the best way to get around is on foot. If you arrive here by train, then it’s a 20-minute walk from the Pisa Centrale train station to the Leaning Tower and it takes you through the historic center of the city.

However, if you don’t want to walk, there are buses that connect Pisa Centrale with Piazza dei Miracoli. The journey takes about 15 minutes (LAM Rossa line) and you can buy tickets inside the train station, at tobacco shops and newsagents.

Things to do and see if you spend one day in Pisa

the leaning tower of pisa
‘Mandatory’ photo with the Leaning Tower

Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower is hands down the most famous landmark in the city. The free-standing, bell tower of the Pisa Cathedral received this name because its unstable foundation caused it to visibly lean, even before it was completed.

The tower has 8 stories, including the bell chamber, and it’s made of white marble. It was after the 3rd floor was finished that people noticed there was a slight lean to it.

Subsequently, the new stories were made slightly taller on the short side, in an attempt to compensate for the lean. However, the extra masonry caused the tower to sink even more in the soft ground.

Over the years, extensive work was done to the structure, to try to stop and even reduce its leaning.

Tourists on the other hand enjoy the pellicular look of the bell tower and many take pictures of themselves supporting or pushing the construction.

Tickets for the tower can be bought either on-site or online (fast track). The visit takes about 30 minutes. My recommendation is to buy your ticket beforehand as only a fixed number of people is allowed inside the tower each day.

Visit the Pisa Cathedral

Pisa Cathedral (also known as Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta) is the oldest and largest structure in Piazza dei Miracoli. A great example of Romanesque architecture, it received extra fame after its bell tower started leaning.

The cathedral is free to visit, but you’ll need to pick up a timeslot ticket beforehand. Or you get a flexible entry if you buy a ticket to another part of the religious complex.

one day in Pisa: visit the Pisa Baptistery
Pisa Baptistery

Hear the acoustics at Pisa Baptistery

The largest baptistry in Italy, the Pisa Baptistery is quite a stunning structure. Built from white marble, it combines the Romanesque style with the Gothic style for a beautiful architectural effect.

Constructed on the same unstable terrain as the tower and cathedral, the Baptistery also leans a little bit. But that’s not what makes it famous, but rather its excellent acoustics.

Usually, every half an hour an attendant makes a demonstration by singing a few notes. This allows visitors to marvel at how the echoes bounce off the walls and seem to chase one another.

You can buy tickets for the Baptistery either on-site or online (fast track).

Visit Camposanto Monumentale

The Camposanto Monumentale (en. Monumental cemetery), also known as the Camposanto Vecchio (en. Old cemetery) is the last edifice to be added to the Piazza dei Miracoli. It was built to accommodate the graves that until then were scattered all around the Cathedral.

“Campo Santo” actually means ‘Holy Field’ and it is said that the cemetery was built upon holy soil brought back from Golgotha, hence the name.

You can buy tickets for the cemetery either on-location or online (fast track).

Piazza dei Cavalieri in Pisa
Piazza dei Cavalieri

Admire Piazza dei Cavalieri

Piazza dei Cavalieri (en. Knights’ Square) is the second main square of Pisa, after Piazza dei Miracoli. In medieval times, it was the political and administrative center of the city. Nowadays it is the home of the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, an institution of higher education founded by Napoleon.

The square features beautifully decorated buildings and historic monuments making it very photogenic.

Arno river in Pisa
Arno river

Stroll along the Arno river

On either side of the Arno river (which also flows through Florence) you will see colorful, old buildings and palazzo, so you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to admire them on a peaceful stroll.

Sadly, it was pretty cloudy the day I visited Pisa (it also rained for a bit), so I couldn’t enjoy a long walk along the river, but I imagine it’s really lovely on a sunny day.

Visit Palazzo Blu

Palazzo Blu is an art gallery and cultural center in Pisa’s historic district, located on the bank of the Arno river. It owes its name to the blue color that was discovered during a renovation.

On the main floor of the building, many of the rooms are furnished with significant works and objects of art to show the visitor how the palace would have looked as a residence of an important family of the 19th century.

Santa Maria della Spina in Pisa
Santa Maria della Spina

Appreciate the gothic architecture of Santa Maria della Spina

Santa Maria della Spina is a small Gothic church on the bank of the Arno River. Its name comes from “spina” which translates to “thorn” and refers to a Thorn from Christ’s Crown on the Cross, which was acquired and kept by the church for a period of time.

FAQs about The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Why does the Tower of Pisa lean?

The Tower of Pisa leans because its foundation was built on soft ground which could not properly support its weight. Furthermore, the extra masonry added during its construction to one of its sides in an attempt to visually correct the lean only worsened the situation even more.

What is inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually a hollow cylinder, meaning it’s simply empty inside.

I hope this travel guide on how to spend a day in Pisa gave you a few ideas on what you can do and see in the city, as well as useful information on the attractions and how to get there from Florence.

If you have any further questions, just drop them in the comment section and I’ll try to help the best that I can.

Happy travels~


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