Free things you can do in Pisa? There’s plenty. If you want to see and experience the vibrant town of Pisa without opening your wallet, you’ve come to the right place. Between world famous art, beautiful riverside walks, a leaning tower, and a few spots in the lively town centre.
Free Things to do in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy
PISA CATHEDRAL – FREE TO VISIT
It’s hard to believe, but true. The Cathedral, one of the artistic highlights of Pisa, is completely free to enter. You need to get a ticket and book a time for your visit, at no cost. You can easily spend a couple of hours exploring this fabulous church that stands in the midst of the Square of Miracles, and not spend a cent to admire all its treasures.
Wandering around the Piazza dei Miracoli is completely free. It’ll cost you if you want to climb the Leaning Tower, though in our opinion it’s better to keep your feet on the ground and admire it from there. There are plenty of photo opportunities, and you’ll leave with plenty of questions. Like when did it start tilting? Answer: in the12th century, a few years after the start of its construction.
SEE THE OTHER TWO LEANING TOWERS
If one leaning tower is not enough for you, Pisa offers two others. One is the bell tower of San Nicola Church, a few steps from the Lungarno. For the second one you have to leave the city centre and walk along the river Arno for about half an hour until you reach the Viale delle Piagge. Here you’ll find the San Michele degli Scalzi Church and its bell tower, that has an impressive tilt. This is because of the nature of Pisa’s soil, which is rich in sand and clay.
Keith Haring and the “Tuttomondo”
From the Middle Ages to contemporary art, and American artist Haring Keith met a student from Pisa in NY and decided to visit the city. He liked it so much that he wanted to leave behind one of his murals. Painted in 1989 with the help of local artists and students, it can be found on the outer wall of Sant’Antonio Abate church. It’s the only mural that he conceived as ‘stable’. He died a few months after finishing it. “Tuttomondo”, colourful with a hopeful message, it’s definitely one of the top free things to do in Pisa.
GIARDINO SCOTTO GARDEN
If you’re tired of sightseeing and are looking for a bit of quiet, green space to rest your feet, Pisa has a lovely park a few steps from the city centre. Near the river Arno, the entrance is near the Ponte della Fortezza. This small park surrounds the remains of the ancient 15th century Pisa fortress which the Florentines built as a defence. It’s well kept and has some nice open spaces and lawns to sit on, a kid’s playground, and a café. Free entrance and as a bonus, it has free wifi!
VISIT THE MARKET IN PIAZZA DELLE VETTOVAGLIE
A visit to any Italian town would’t be complete without a stroll in a local market. The arched square Piazza delle Vettovaglie is at the heart of the Medieval historic centre of Pisa. It might not be the most refined or sophisticated spot, but it’s definitely perfect for a real Italian market experience, frequented by students and locals. You find plenty of bars and restaurants in the area. Once the stalls are gone this small piazza gets pretty lively in the evening.
The market is open daily (except Sunday) from 7am to 5pm.
SAN PIETRO A GRADO BASILICA
If you like a good church, don’t miss the Basilica of San Pietro a Grado. It’s located a few kilometres outside Pisa city centre on the way to the coast. Easy to get to if you’re driving. It’s one of Tuscany’s most beautiful Romanesque churches, with a fascinating series of frescoes inside. The exterior is both elegant and solid, with a frieze of blind arches and ceramic basins that catch the sun. It’s a curious structure, without a facade and with three apses. Inside it’s frescoed with scenes from the life of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Legend says that Peter the Apostle arrived here from the Holy Land, and celebrated mess in exactly this spot. For art lovers, it’s one of the best free things to do in Pisa.
If you like Romanesque architecture, there’s plenty of ancient churches in Tuscany to enjoy. Here’s a list of our favourite Romanesque Churches in the region.
TAKE PART IN AN ILLUMINATING FESTIVAL
San Ranieri is the patron saint of Pisa and every year the town organises a big festival to celebrate him. It happens on the evening of 16th June, when the buildings along the river Arno are illumined with thousands and thousands of candles arranged along wooden structures that follow the shapes of the buildings. It’s like entering a parallel world, of night light reflection and shadow magic. At 11pm it’s time for the gran finale and the fireworks display.
⇒ Find out about the Best Traditional Festivals in Tuscany.
TAKE A ROMANTIC WALK ALONG THE RIVER
Romance is free in Pisa. At sunset the Lungarni take on a soft light, and the pastel-coloured buildings are mirrored in the water the colours matching the sunset. Poets have praised the vivid spectacle of the Lungarni and it’s no wonder so many people claim to have fallen in love here. You might be the next.
⇒ More trip ideas? Have a look at some itineraries based on your interests! And find out about the Top 20 experiences you can have in Tuscany during your visit.