Tips for Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Written By: The Planet D

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?

the leaning tower of pisa vertical
The Tower of Pisa really does lean

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

tower of pisa river walk
Straight line from Train Station to 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.

There’s more to see than just the Leaning Tower of Pisa

tower of pisa tour of cathedral
Camposanto Monumentale

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).

Monumental Cemetery

tower of pisa fresco tour
Triumph of Death Frescoe

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

tower of pisa tour of duomo
The Duomo Interior

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

tower of pisa view
A view up the tower 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.

leaning tower of pisa

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

tower of pisa staircase
The Staircase

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

top of leaning 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

Tower of pisa view
View from the 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

tower of pisa vs bologna 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.

things to do in bologna italy

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.

things to do in Bologna Italy tallest leaning tower
Inside Italy’s Tallest Leaning Tower is Located 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.

Check out more information for your travels to Italy

Read all of our articles on Italy in our Italy Travel Guide

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

38 thoughts on “Tips for Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa”

  1. I went a few years ago with my parents, which was a blast. We too had no problem getting the timed ticket and grabbing lunch as we waited for our time.

    I don’t remember the high fence, just the railing. I wonder if it is new? I do remember that even on the stairs you could tell from the lean which part of the tower you were on (the high or the low side). I’m sure we had the same amount of time as you guys, but I don’t remember feeling rushed.

    It was a good day with my parents, seeing stuff on our own.

    Reply
    • The fence must be new. You can’t get close to it unless you have tickets to go up. Glad you didn’t feel rushed, maybe they’ve moved people along more over the years, or maybe since you went when you were younger, you didn’t take so many photos.

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    • It’s definitely worth the stop. I love going off the beaten path, but I do love seeing all the great iconic buildings that I grew up hearing about and Pisa is definitely iconic.

      Reply
  2. Your story reminds me of my family trip to Pisa in the summer of 2008. We were also trying to avoid terribly touristy places in Italy, but decided to see it anyway. I actually enjoyed the Duomo more than the tower itself, the stonework and magnitude of the interior are awe-inspiring.

    Thanks for your story,
    Ian Faulds

    Reply
    • You are right Ian, the Duomo is impressive and the cemetery too. We found that the surrounding area was quite beautiful. I think it’s worth spending more than one day in Pisa

      Reply
  3. Nice pics, I’m looking forward to seeing the leaning tower in Bologna. The Pisa tower was nice but for some reason, I didn’t get enough there, there if you know what I mean, so I’m really looking forward to seeing Bologna.

    Reply
    • I think I know what you mean. It’s a bit strange because it’s all been renovated. I have a feeling the Leaning tower would have been more impressive before the renovation. This didn’t quite feel real. It’s so white and perfect. It’s been propped back up, reinforced and fixed up to look like new. The Bologna Tower feels more authentic.

      Reply
  4. These are spectacular shots of such majestic beauties. I’ll save more to see Italy in the future. Thank you for taking us over there.

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  5. Andy really likes the city of Pisa, but I’ve only seen the tower itself, and even that was 18 years ago. We didn’t get to climb up because it was a quick stop on a whirlwind tour (I was 15, gotta start somewhere!) but I’d like to go back someday and explore the city.

    Reply
    • Great that you both have had the chance to see it though. I wonder how much it has changed since 18 years ago. Very cool.

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  6. Gah Italy looks so amazing. Dying to visit, definitely have to stop in bologna and check out the tallest tower in Italy

    Reply
    • You are going to love Italy. I remember the first time we went there, we drove from Spain and the energy changed as soon as we entered the Cinque Terre. Everyone was smiling and laughing and yelling Buongiorno and Ciao! Not that Spain wasn’t amazing too, but the Italians are so passionate and Bologna, well, you see how much we love it 🙂

      Reply
  7. Beautiful shots! I visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa back in 2006 but at the time it was closed to visitors to climb it. Even though we’ve been living just a few hours away for over 4 years now, we never seem to make it back to Pisa.

    Reply
    • Ha, that’s funny eh? It’s always traveling in your own backyard that gets put on the backburner. You’ll have to go to Bologna and then Pisa and do a comparison of your own

      Reply
  8. I was there back in 2009 and have to admit, it was the least spectacular part of my tour of Italy. We actually had more fun staying in a town (forget the name; it was before I started travel blogging and recording all of those details!) about 45 minutes out.

    That being said, it was still pretty groovy! And, as your own shots detail, you get a great view from up at the top!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • I know how you feel. There are places that I have no idea where I stayed, but I remember them being a pleasant experience. Now I have a record of everything. Glad you had the chance to visit, it may be touristy, but something you’ve got to see.

      Reply
  9. We didn’t climb the tower but it was certainly impressive even from below. I actually found the entire historical centre of Pisa to be quite interesting. There is certainly more to Pisa than just the leaning tower.

    Reply
  10. Hi Guys

    Just wandering how you always manage to get that beautiful bright blue sky on your images no matter what time of day. Would love to know your secret.

    Reply
    • Hi Sam, we actually go out when the sky is blue. When we have grey days I shoot in black and white or use HDR to capture dramatic clouds

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    • That’s wonderful that you had the chance to go to Pisa with your dad, we’d love to travel more with our parents.

      Reply
  11. Wow, great post and incredible photos! The photo of Bologna is great – I wish I’d made that stop when I was in the area.

    Were you planning on visiting Portofino at any point while you wander around there? It’s my favorite of all the smaller towns in Italy and worth going a little out of the way for.

    Reply
    • Thanks Lindsay, all the more reason to go back. We didn’t make it to Portofino, but it gives us a reason to go back too!

      Reply
  12. Shows what I know about Italy, I had no idea there was more than one leaning tower! I think it’s fun that you got to see both, a nice way to compare and contrast. And, as always, great pictures!

    Reply
    • Don’t worry Shawna, we didn’t know before going either. I believe that there are a few leaning towers in Italy, they’re all so old that they’ve all started to lean. But I wouldn’t quote me on that.

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  13. I went to Pisa for the first time last week. I’m surprised you found the train tickets expensive, I paid a little over 5 Euro to get from Florence to Pisa. The intercity routes will always be much more expensive if you don’t book in advance. As for the tower, it’s easy to miss the line, you just buy a timed ticket, then spend the waiting time looking around the other sights, when it reaches your time you’re straight in. No need to waste money on a guide 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks for the heads up David. We came from Bologna and couldn’t find any tickets for that cheap. Good to know though that the route from Florence to Pisa is affordable. And thanks for the heads up on the lines. Appreciate giving all our readers different perspectives. We obviously mess up on our research but good to know there are people out there who have it all figured out and share their expertise. Cheers!

      Reply