How to Spend 1 Day in Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy, but there is more to this Tuscan city than its famously listing bell tower. Here’s how to spend the day exploring Pisa’s cathedral and adjacent tower in Piazza dei Miracoli, as well as its historic center—with time left over for some foodie fun.
Morning: First, The Town
You may think that hitting the headliners in Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) is best done first thing in the morning, but most bus tours pull into town as Pisa’s Leaning Tower, Cathedral (Duomo), and baptistery are opening. It’s better to begin your day with a walking, Segway, or bike tour of the city’s historic center to bring to life the art and architecture of Knights’ Square (Piazza dei Cavalieri), the Romanesque Church of San Sisto, and the Gothic Church of Santa Maria della Spina. Then when crowds have thinned, move on to Pisa’s cathedral complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Afternoon: Second, The Show-Stoppers
Most visitors stop in Pisa exclusively for the bragging rights of having seen the Leaning Tower, but you’ll be glad you’ve put off the pleasure of visiting the star attractions in Piazza dei Miracoli until the less-crowded afternoon hours. Now’s the time to get to know the complex from top to bottom with a guided tour that includes skip-the-line tickets, so you have time to savor, in relative peace, the beauty and history of the Leaning Tower and its cathedral and baptistery, along with the complex’s Opera del Duomo Museum and Monumental Cemetery.
Night: Finally, The Feast
Though the Leaning Tower is by far its biggest draw, Pisa is an important city in Tuscany and the perfect spot to sample the region’s traditional cuisine. Take a food tour through the historic center to taste street foods like porchetta and cecina, or dive into a cooking lesson to prepare—and then eat—classic local dishes. Alternatively, spend art of the day exploring other Tuscan locales. Popular side trips include the Cinque Terre on the coast; the hill towns of Pienza, San Gimignano, Siena, and Montepulciano; the villages and countryside of Chianti; or the lively walled city of Lucca.