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If you continue following the Arno River from Florence, Italy, towards the coast, you’ll arrive at the beautiful city of Pisa before flowing into the Mediterranean Sea. This historic city on the edge of Tuscany is an easy day trip to add to your Italian itinerary, whether you’re in Florence or Rome.
The first time I went to Pisa, it was a half-day trip from Florence, only to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But, the next year, I had the opportunity to live in the city for a whole week while teaching English with ACLE throughout Italy.
There is so much more to this beautiful city than the Tower. Even if you only have a day to explore out of a 10 day Italy itinerary, here are the things you need to see in one day in Pisa.
Map for Your Guide to 24 Hours in Pisa
I made a map of this guide for you to use when you arrive for your one day in Pisa! Since many of the Pisa attractions are centered around the Leaning Tower, it’s a very walkable city and easy to get around.
How to Get to Pisa
Spending 24 hours in Pisa is a great choice since it’s easy to access by train, car, or bus. If you’re looking for how to get to Pisa from Florence or Rome by train, you’ll catch a Trenitalia to the Pisa Centrale Stazione. If you take an express Rome to Pisa train, you’ll arrive in just under 2 hours, while a Florence to Pisa train will only take an hour.
Driving to Pisa is very easy since it’s well connected to many major roadways. However, whether you’re taking a car or bus, both of these transportation methods will take you longer to arrive than by train.
You can also fly directly into the international Pisa airport, Galileo Galilei Airport, named after the famous Renaissance scientist who was born in Pisa.
Personally, I love the Italian train system. It’s clean, well-connected to all major cities and smaller towns, fast, and reasonably inexpensive. I’ve actually discovered that many train trips in Italy will take you farther and cost less than train traveling through the United States, specifically into New York City.
You can use Omio to do a round-up search for all of your train time options going to and from Pisa.
Where to Stay in Pisa
If you’re looking for an incredible European hostel for your 24 hours in Pisa, take a look at Safestay Pisa. While it’s a bit outside the city center, it’s only a five-minute walk away from Pisa Centrale Stazione, and they cater specifically to vegetarian dietary needs.
A great budget option for staying overnight in Pisa is Hotel Astor. You’ll get a feel for Pisa’s local side, since it’s a quick, 15-minute walk, on the other side of the Arno River from Piazza dei Miracoli. I stayed at Hotel Astor for a week, and it was a clean, safe spot to return to every night after teaching.
Only steps from Piazza dei Miracoli, Hotel Pisa Tower truly lives up to its name. This is an ideal choice if you’re interested in walking outside your hotel door and immediately in sight of the historic structure. And, if you’re planning to drive to Pisa, they also have on-site parking.
With floor-to-ceiling windows and an internal courtyard where you can relax outside with a drink, Hotel Bologna doesn’t disappoint. This luxury hotel is also walking distance to the train station and offers a free shuttle to the airport.
Or, if you’re looking for a truly local experience, you can also find many Airbnbs all around the city.
Tips for Visiting Pisa
- Ideally, you should spend one full day in Pisa. Most only know of the city because of the Leaning Tower, but there is so much more to this incredible town! People don’t even realize that the Tower is just one building on the historic complex, not to mention the coastline of this Tuscan city is beautiful.
- Pisa is a fairly small city, which means it’s really easy to walk around.
- The high season for tourism in Pisa is from June through August, so the best months to visit are April, May, September, and October.
- If you plan to climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, make sure to purchase your ticket in advance or book a guided tour with access included.
Things to do in Pisa
Piazza dei Miracoli
The first area to visit when you arrive for your one day in Pisa is the Piazza dei Miracoli. The Square of Miracles includes the Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as the Cathedral, the cemetery, and the Baptistry.
Cattedrale di Pisa
In 1064, construction started on Pisa’s Cathedral, outside of what was originally the city’s Medieval walls, as a show of strength. At the same time, architects started building St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and competition followed with each city trying to outbuild the other.
Cattedrale di Pisa is dedicated to the assumption of the Virgin Mary and is the home of Pisa’s Archbishop. Inside the church, you can find Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei’s lamp hanging from the center of the nave. It’s believed he theorized isochronism, when events happen in regular, repeated intervals, from watching the lamp swing back and forth like a pendulum.
Battistero di San Giovanni
Next to the cathedral is Battistero di San Giovanni, the Baptistry. It was built from 1152 through 1363 to replace an older baptistry and was the second construction completed on the grounds of Piazza dei Miracoli.
Torre di Pisa
The third, and most famous building on the Piazza dei Miracoli, is Torre di Pisa, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s the freestanding bell tower to the Duomo, and world-renown for its inability to stand up straight!
Due to an unstable foundation, the construction began to tilt after the second floor was added in 1178. By 1990, the building sustained a 5.50-degree tilt from upright. But after work to stabilize its foundation completed in 2001, the Tower now stands securely at a 3.97-degree angle.
While it’s free to visit the grounds of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you must purchase a ticket to enter the Tower and climb up to the top. Buy your timed tickets in advance online, wait in line to buy tickets day-of, or take a guided tour that includes tickets.
It takes about 30 minutes to climb the 251 steps to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Since the building is almost 900 years old, there is no elevator access to the top of the 8 storied structure.
Campo Santo Monumentale
Finally, the last landmark to visit at Piazza dei Miracoli is Campo Santo Monumentale. Yes, you need to visit the cemetery. The Gothic cloister was once covered in frescos, but most were destroyed during World War II. However, the “holy field” has undergone extensive renovations, and its beautiful sculptures, Roman sarcophagi, and frescos are ready for you to view.
While it’s very easy to add wandering through Piazza dei Miracoli on your own to your Pisa one day itinerary, if you’re really interested in the history, you can take a walking tour to learn more about these historic buildings from a guide.
Walk along the Arno River
The Arno River splits Pisa in half, much like its neighboring city Florence. Wander along the river’s edge, taking in the view and exploring shops along the way. You can even stop for a meal or a cocktail at any restaurant right on the water’s edge. I stopped at Argini e Margini Pisa for aperitivo one night, and it was hard to decide which was better – the food or the views.
Walking along the Arno is pretty fantastic during the day, but the river at night is equally beautiful.
Lounge on the beach at Marina di Pisa
Although the city center of Pisa is inland, if you head just 20 minutes west, you’ll arrive at the city’s stunning coastline. It’s too far to walk, but you can take a bus or call an Uber to take you back and forth from the beach.
The sand beaches are pristine, and you can either rent a chair and umbrella or lay a towel next to the ocean.
Thankfully, once you’re out there, there are many restaurants and nightclubs on the beach. Para Pia Ti is an excellent restaurant with a gorgeous ocean view. They’re also right by a public beach area, and a couple of different nightclubs, depending on which time of day you visit.
If you want to enjoy the sun and sand, head to Marina di Pisa after exploring Piazza dei Miracoli. Then, once you’ve had your fun in the sun, enjoy the sunset while walking along the river.
Or, if you want to catch stunning sunset views over the water, spend your afternoon wandering through the shops along the Arno River, then head to the beach for your evening activities for a perfect end to your 24 hours in Pisa.
Your Pisa One Day Itinerary
With only 24 hours in Pisa, you want to make sure you explore all of the major sites in this city!
- For a perfect Pisa one day itinerary, start by arriving at Pisa Centrale Stazione train station, then take a taxi or walk to your hotel to check-in and set your bags down.
- Make your way over to Piazza dei Miracoli to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Cathedral, the Baptistry, and the Campo Santo cemetery.
- Once you’ve explored the grounds, head back to your hotel and grab your beach essentials before catching a taxi, or calling an Uber, to take you to Marina di Pisa. Enjoy lounging in the afternoon sun a great meal before heading back to your hotel for the night. If you like staying up late, add a night walk along the Arno River before heading to bed to your Pisa one day itinerary.
- In the morning, pop into shops as you stroll along the Arno River before heading back to Pisa Centrale Stazione for your next adventure in Italy!
While I think there are enough activities in Pisa to last you a few days, it’s A-OK if you can’t make more than a day trip work with your schedule. Feel free to mix and match your own Pisa one day itinerary–just make sure you visit Piazza dei Miracoli.
There are also several great guided tours from Florence that will take you to Pisa, as well as other beautiful Tuscan cities that you absolutely should explore too.
How will you spend your one day in Pisa?