The Leaning Tower of Pisa is open and welcoming tourists again. Crews took advantage of the lack of visitors to take care of its constant renovations, and Italy’s most visited tourist destination is back in action. Just an hour from Florence by train, the Leaning tower of Pisa is one of the most famous towers in the world. While most people only visit Pisa on a day trip from Florence, we spent the night to enjoy everything it had to offer.
Here are some tips for visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa to make the most of your day trip or overnight stay in Pisa.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa – Is it Worth It?
Pisa is a picturesque city located on the Arno River in Tuscany region of Italy. It is a lively university town and has a population of 88,000 residents but it is most famously known for its leaning tower.
Pisa has been a popular stop for tourists en route from Rome to Florence or traveling between the Cinque Terre and Tuscany for years. While many people only spend a few hours in Pisa, there is more to do than to just stand in front of the tower taking silly tourist photos. (albeit that is a lot of fun too). So let’s start exploring all the things to do while visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
How to Get to the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Pisa-Centrale is the main train station of Pisa and this is where you’ll arrive when visiting the Tower of Pisa. Pisa is one hour from Firenze Santa Maria Novella Railway Station in Florence. Most trains transfer in Florence when visiting Pisa other Italian cities.
- We were staying in Bologna, where it took two hours to get to Pisa by train that included a transfer in Florence. (Firenze S.M. Novella Station) You can book tickets at Trentalia.com
- If you are traveling to Pisa from Rome, it is a four hour train journey also transferring in Florence.
- Pisa has an international airport, it is Galileo Galilei.
- Trains to Pisa also go through Florence from Rome and can be booked at Trenitalia
Pisa Train Station to leaning tower
The Pisa Train station is about a 20 minute walk from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s an easy walk almost in a straight line across the river. If you don’t want to walk, you can take a taxi for about €10.
The leaning tower itself is located behind the Pisa Cathedral in the City Square. It is not hard to miss!
Where to Stay in Pisa
We stayed at the NH Hotel right by the train station. It was easy to find as we walked out of the station and we were walking distance from the tower of Pisa.
- NH Hotel Pisa – We enjoyed our stay at the NH Hotel. Modern, clean & good location by train station.
- Grand Hotel Duomo – Location, Location, Location. Just a 2 minute walk from the Tower of Pisa and Duomo.
There’s more to see than just the Leaning Tower of Pisa
We took a guided tour of Pisa with Walks of Italy where we met our guide Vincenzo at the Piazza Arcivescovado. At the start of our tour, we caught a quick glimpse of the tower, but seeing it up close and going inside the tower was saved for the end of our tour. First, we took a stroll through the Monumental Cemetery (or the Camposanto Monumentale).
Pisa may be crowded with tourists, but while walking through the Monumental Cemetery, you’ll find yourself in peace and quiet as you take in the beauty of the frescoes and tombs. The Camposanto was built in the 12th century, but unfortunately, it was all but destroyed during WWII.
It has been beautifully rebuilt with 84 tombs still intact and they have been working on restoring the frescoes as well.
One fresco that can still be seen is called the Triumph of Death. Painted by Italian painter Francesco Traini, the Triumph of Death depicts the last judgements after death and date back to 1335.
A Visit to the Pisa Duomo
We then visited the Pisa Duomo. The Pisa Duomo was a little less serene than the Monumental Cemetery but it is beautiful to see. Sifting through the crowds of people, we caught a glimpse of the pulpit and we marvelled at the gold ceiling as we wove our way through the marble columns.
At one time, Pisa ruled the Mediterranean and you can definitely see hints of that wealth in this building.
This highly rated Pisa Guided Walking Tour is similar to the tour we took. Walking tour of the Piazza dei Miracoli and its monuments, the Cathedral, the Baptistery and Camposanto, and the Church of San Sisto. You’ll also visit the largest baptistery in Italy, Pisa University.
History of Pisa
Construction of the The Leaning Tower of Pisa began in 1173 and took nearly 200 years to complete. It was the third structure of the city of Pisa’s cathedral complex. What’s interesting is the Tower of Pisa was simply the built to be the bell tower (campanile) of the Camposanto Monumentale (monumental cemetery) and Pisa Cathedral. The Pisa Tower is different from other towers in Italy as it is round and detached from the cathedral and stands alone.
But the Pisa Tower was doomed from the start. Before they even finished construction it began to lean. For decades, engineers from around the world took a stab at fixing it to no avail. In 1989 the tower of Pisa was finally closed to fix the problem once and for all. The Tower of Pisa is now saved and still leaning for generations to see for years to come. It is now safe and stable.
But today, The Tower of Pisa isn’t leaning quite as much as it used to thanks to counterweights and modern engineering. In 2001 the Pisa Tower re-opened and it now has a more manageable lean. The top is 4 meters from vertical.
Climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa
You must climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is 294 steps to the top of the Leaning Tower and it is worth the view and experience. When taking a guided tour, you skip the line and head right into the front of the tower. Apparently, you can spend over an hour in line, but we walked right in at our allotted time.
Hot Tip: When we entered the centre of the tower, Pisa’s tour guides lead the way and stop to talk about the history of the tower which is nice, but time inside the tower is limited. We noticed that people started walking up the stairs during her speech and the crowd was only getting bigger. So we decided to follow quickly so that we wouldn’t be stuck behind some slow climbers and I’m glad that we did. We had more time than the rest of the people at the top of the tower which is where we wanted to be!
We went with Walks of Italy, but you can also book your front of the line passes to the leaning tower of Pisa at Get Your Guide. The timed reserved entrance tickets if you are not doing a private tour will save you hours of time.
What it’s like at the top of the Tower of Pisa
The steps are very wide and easy to climb up the leaning tower. We climbed the leaning tower in Bologna (See below) and Pisa’s were much wider and easier to climb. Before we knew it we were at the top and I’m glad we made good time. It turns out that you are allotted a very short tour of the top so it was good that we skipped our guides intro and instead walked directly to the top!
Tickets cost 20€ per person to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa. (plus an online booking fee of 6€) If you book this personal private tour, the tour and timed entry is included.
Going to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is very rushed to see it all, but it is worth it. We moved quickly and barely had enough time to see everything. The tower of Pisa is in high demand and they move tours through all day long. So remember, get up quickly and move quickly through the tower too.
There are two levels to discover at the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The first floor gives you an overview of the city from safely from behind a tall fence. You can squeeze your camera through just enough to get a photo or two.
Don’t take too long here though, because as you move around the tower to the other side, they open up the next level that where you can walk up and see the bells.
View from the Top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
We relished every moment at the top of the tower to take in the views and the experience of climbing one of the world’s wonders. We were the last ones out of the tower and the guard had to come and move us along, but we managed to have the top of the tower all to ourselves for a couple of seconds before being shooed down.
I’m really glad we took the trip to Pisa from Bologna. It’s really cool to be able to compare the tallest leaning tower of Italy to the most famous leaning tower in the world.
How can you not visit such a marvel? It’s only an hour from Florence and a must to see.
Plan Your Pisa Vacation
Our tour of Pisa was with Walks of Italy. For more information on tours around Italy and Pisa, check out Walks of Italy
Visiting Pisa and Italy by cruise ship? Get picked up by a Mercedes Benz sedan or minivan on this Florence and Pisa Private Tour from Livorno Port to explore Pisa and Florence on this full day excursion.
Italy’s Other Leaning Tower
Did you know that Italy has another leaning tower? It actually has two leaning towers!
We had the opportunity to visit another leaning tower in Bologna. The Bologna Leaning Tower is higher and much less visited than the leaning tower of Pisa. There are two towers side by side in Bologna and they stand in the centre of the city.
The big difference between the Tower of Pisa and the Bologna towers is the setting.
In Bologna, the city surrounds the towers and it’s difficult to really take in the lean. You can’t really step back to take in the view. The Tower of Pisa stands alone in a clearing and is very easy to view from all angles.
The Two Towers of Bologna are more rustic and authentic than the restored tower of Pisa and both towers of Bologna have a lean. The Tower of Asinelli in Bologna is the tallest in Italy 97 metres and Garisenda Tower has an extreme lean. The Asinelli Tower is the one that you can climb in Bologna.
We climbed up the narrow stairs that some people find quite frightening. There’s just one little railing separating you from a long tumble down. But no matter, it’s fun and when you get to the top, the views are incredible. Bologna is one gorgeous city dating back to 1000 BC. Read more at The 26 Best Things to do in Bologna, Italy
Is the Leaning Tower of Pisa worth the visit? Yes it is!
To sum it up, visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa is worth the visit. We loved seeing this tower that we had heard so much about in our life time. It is fun to take photos in front of, to see the lean with our own eyes and to take in the beauty of Tuscany.
Have you been to the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Did you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments below.
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