While visiting Florence, I took a day trip to Pisa, which is only a 60-90 minute train ride away. I really wanted to see the leaning tower and thought this would be an easy side trip to make. Below is a brief description of my trip.
What to Do:
Square of Miracles. The iconic attraction for Pisa is, of course, the leaning Tower of Pisa. This tower can be found in this beautiful square, which also houses Pisa’s Baptistery, Cathedral, Camposanto (cemetery), Opera del Duomo Museum (cathedral works), and Sinopie Museum (drawings for frescoes). This square is beautiful and the true highlight of the city. Seeing the Tower in person is really cool. It makes a great photo and is free to walk around. However, visitors can also pay to walk up to the top of the Tower. In order to do this, visitors need to buy a ticket and reserve a time slot. Visitors can do all of this ahead of time online or at the ticket office on site. Visitors can buy a combo ticket that allows access to the Tower, Baptistery, and museums or buy a single ticket for the Tower. Entering the Cathedral is free with any ticket purchase. I chose to purchase the Tower only ticket and did not regret paying the money to walk up. The climb is not too strenuous, and the view from the top is nice. When going up the Tower, visitors are not allowed to carry any bags or selfie sticks. They can bring a phone or camera and that is it. All bags and other items must be stored in the lockers, which are free with the ticket. There is a line to store bags and pick them back up so plan accordingly because visitors must be in line by the Tower 15 minutes before the time of their ticket. I decided not to buy the combo ticket because I had already seen the Florence Baptistery and at the time of my visit the Opera del Duomo Museum was closed for renovations. However, the combo pass is probably worth it for those who have a full day here. I did go see the inside of the Cathedral, which was nice and a good way to cool down are climbing the Tower. Plan to spend about 1-2 hours here for climbing the Tower and visiting the Cathedral.
There is a market in the lot next to the Square of Miracles. These stalls sell the usual tourist trinkets and would be a good place to look for those who need to buy a gift or souvenir of Pisa. There is also a gift shop inside the square that sells books, bags, magnets, shirts, mugs, and miniature models of the Tower. For me, the photos I took of the Tower were enough and better than any of the Tower trinkets, but if I had to buy a gift for someone I might opt to get a postcard or something with the Tower unobstructed by people.
What to Eat:
Since I was only here for a half day trip, I only ate lunch here. There are several restaurants nearby the Square of Miracles where visitors can grab a bite to eat with a view of the Tower. I found a place with an open spot and grabbed a small pizza and beer while waiting for my time slot to climb the Tower. The meal was good and filling but nothing overly memorable. There might be better spots farther from the tourist site so those looking for a more memorable meal could look elsewhere, but those short on time or less inclined to venture out will fine a decent meal in this area.
Where to Stay:
I did not stay overnight here so I cannot recommend any areas. Instead, I took a side trip here from Florence. There is an airport nearby Pisa and train station so this is a place visitors may stop overnight. However, Florence is close enough to stay for the night as well.
I arrived here and departed by train (coming from and returning to Florence). The train ride is anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half depending on time of day and train. The ticket price is very reasonable at around 9 euros each way. Trains run frequently between the two cities so visitors can purchase tickets at the train station to prevent locking themselves into specific times to depart and return. The train station in Pisa is about a 25 minute walk to the Tower of Pisa so visitors do not need to take additional transport once in Pisa. Everything is within walking distance.
I really enjoyed my trip to Pisa. Seeing the leaning Tower in person was definitely memorable. And getting here from Florence was very easy. I only spent a half day here, and this was plenty of time to see the Tower. Visitors could spend longer to see more sights but I think a day is sufficient. I came here in October so I was able to purchase my tickets on site and was able to get a time slot to climb the tower. During peak season, however, visitors may want to plan and book ahead. Pisa is a city for travelers who appreciate architecture and the beauty of mistakes.