The Leaning Tower of Pisa is an internationally iconic landmark that draws millions of visitors each year, but is a day trip to Pisa to see it worth the time? After our recent visit, we wanted to share the highs, lows, and overall thoughts on the value of a day trip to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and answer the age-old question – is it worth it?
Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Built in the 12th century and has been leaning since the beginning of its construction, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. We were surprised to learn that the Tower is actually a bell tower for the church, not a grand edifice in its own right. Since the beginning of its construction, the weak foundation couldn’t support the weight of the Tower, and it has been leaning ever since. The tilt has been stabilized in recent years, but it’s still leaning at an angle of about four degrees. We love the choice to not entirely straighten the leaning Tower. Ya have to keep this international landmark iconic, right?
We’d highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance using Get Your Guide to buy timed tickets to either climb to the top for $27 or enjoy the views from the ground for only $10. Times are known to sell out, so make sure to make your reservations early! Obviously, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the star of the show in Pisa, and for good reason. The Tower is over 800 years old and offers stunning views of Pisa and Tuscany.
If you’re physically able and choose to climb up the tower’s 296 steps, you thankfully won’t be disappointed. The Tower can be challenging to climb since the staircase is narrow and spirals up the Tower, making it a bit difficult to navigate if other tourists are coming down at the same time you’re going up. However, the climb is worth it once you reach the top.
The views from the top of the Tower are breathtaking. You can see the city of Pisa and the surrounding countryside, including the Tuscany region and the mountains in the distance. This vantage point makes for an excellent opportunity to take panoramic pictures and admire the beauty of the Italian landscape. If you do climb to the top, observe the tilt of the Tower and how it affects the surrounding buildings and landscape. You can even use a measuring app to determine the angle of the tilt! We did it ourselves, and our phone measured a three-degree tilt.
One thing to keep in mind when visiting the Tower and surrounding landmarks is that the area can get quite crowded, especially during peak tourist season. Though we went in April, which isn’t even the season for high crowds, we felt very crowded and had to bob and weave around tour groups. Arrive early or very late to avoid the crowds and have a more pleasant experience.
What Else is There To Do?
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the main attraction, but a few other stops are included in your ticketed entry. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is a beautiful Romanesque-style church with intricate details and stunning artwork. The baptistry is another notable building, with its impressive dome and ornate decoration. It’s worth noting that the baptistry is the largest in Italy and was once used for religious ceremonies, though it isn’t anymore. All buildings are within a stone’s throw of each other.
Outside of the Piazza del Duomo, where the Tower and other famous structures are located, you can find the beautiful Orto Botanico di Pisa (botanical gardens) and a few museums around the city, including the Palazzo Blu art museum and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
Day Trip, Hotel Stay, or Skip It?
If you’re planning a day trip to Pisa, you can easily see all the main attractions in about two hours. Most visitors come from Florence, Milan, or Rome, and it’s easy to see why. As we had just visited Cinque Terre, we took the short and direct train from La Spezia. If you’re also taking the train in, the Pisa San Rossore station is closer to the Leaning Tower if you’d like to walk a short 10-minutes directly there, but if you’re taking a speed train from a bigger station to the Pisa Centrale, you’ll get to enjoy a brief view of the quaint city as you walk about 25-minutes to the Tower.
So, is a day trip to Pisa worth the time? The answer is yes and no. Suppose you’re visiting Italy for less than two weeks. In that case, you should skip it and experience other incredible parts of the country like Siena, Sorrento, or Ischia. While the city is beautiful, it has a lot of similarities to Florence in it’s infrastructure and location around the Arno river. So if you’re looking for a change of scenery through a day trip to Pisa from Florence, you’ll probably be disappointed. Additionally, outside of the plaza the Tower is located in, there really isn’t that much to do.
However, suppose you’re visiting for two weeks or more. In that case, seeing this iconic landmark is worth the day trip, especially if you’re already in the area. The Leaning Tower is a world-famous landmark for a reason, and Pisa is a charming city worth exploring for a few hours.