Pisa, Italy, is a city you'll often see on vacation bucket lists around the world. Mostly, that's thanks to its world-famous Leaning Tower, which is an icon not only of Pisa but of all of Italy. However, there's much more to this ancient city located along the Arno River than just the Leaning Tower. Whether you arrive in the city via Pisa airport or Pisa Centrale train station, you'll soon find that visiting Pisa attractions means more than getting a few quick photos of the Leaning Tower. Of course, you should probably do that too.
But all these attractions soon mount up, and before you know it, it's easy to blow your budget. Luckily, Pisa offers some free things to do that can help you stretch your euros a little further. Taking advantage of free admission to some top attractions means you'll be able to see more of the city and enjoy it to the fullest. Whether you're looking for top cultural experiences or fun things to do with kids in Pisa, you'll be able to find something to please almost everyone.
But you'll have a much easier time taking advantage of these free things to do if you drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Pisa. Traveling light means you won't have to worry about lugging heavy bags with you and can focus fully on enjoying yourself. And with locations in Pisa and in cities around the world, Bounce makes sure you always have a place to leave your things.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Cathedral and Piazza del Duomo, also known as Piazza dei Miracoli or Place of Miracles, to which it belongs. The Leaning Tower is the bell tower of the Cathedral and one of the most recognizable historic buildings in the world. It's also one of the world's most photographed buildings, and if you visit in the summer, you'll find crowds of people with their phones out trying to get that perfect Leaning Tower of Pisa snap.
Ok, so it might be a bit of a tourist trap. But when visiting Pisa, you really cannot miss this iconic building and Piazza dei Miracoli, which also contains the Cathedral and the Monumental Cemetery. Many of the best Pisa attractions are located in this single square. And best of all, it's free to visit.
To be clear, actually climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa is not free, and you'll need to book a ticket ahead of time. But seeing the tower from the outside is free, and it looks better from down there anyway. Plus, with an entire UNESCO World Heritage Site to explore without spending a penny, you may feel you don't need to climb the tower itself to have a good time.
Pisa's cathedral shares the famous Piazza del Duomo with some of the city's most iconic landmarks and is part of the wider Duomo complex that makes up the UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Leaning Tower. But although the Cathedral often gets overshadowed by its bell tower, this beautiful church is well worth visiting in its own right. And unlike the tower, it's completely free.
This is the busiest part of town, and while you don't need to pay to get into the Cathedral, you will need a ticket. You can pick up tickets at the Sinopie Museum, a museum of restored frescoes that is well worth visiting by itself, but there is an admission charge which keeps it off this list. On the other hand, the beautiful artwork and architecture of the stunning Cathedral are free for anyone to enjoy.
Marina di Pisa
Pisa isn't often thought of as a coastal city. That's because changes in the geology of Italy have pushed the city inland, making its ancient port obsolete. But the Mediterranean coast is not far away, and a short drive or a ride on bus route number 10 will bring you to the city's beach resort, Marina di Pisa.
Developed in the 1800s, Marina di Pisa has its own historic buildings, though not in the same concentration you'll find them in Piazza dei Miracoli. However, the main attraction here is the beach.
The resort offers both pebble and sand beaches, and you'll be able to enjoy incredible views over the Ligurian Sea. While you can pay extra at a beach club to rent a lounger and umbrella, there is a free beach where you can spread out a towel and enjoy the exact same scenery at zero cost. A beach day makes a great change from visiting Pisa museums and the famous attractions of the city, and you'll be able to work on your tan while enjoying one of the best free things to do in Pisa. Plus, if you can't get enough of the ocean, you'll find many of the best hikes in Pisa in this coastal region.
Santa Maria della Spina
Pisa is a city that isn't exactly short of impressive churches. Still, like Pisa Cathedral, Santa Maria della Spina stands out from the crowd. That's due in part to its Gothic style which makes it something of an anomaly in the city. Also, its location along the banks of the Arno River makes this an extremely photogenic place to see when you visit Pisa.
As a functioning church, it's free to go inside and admire the surprisingly Spartan interior. But it's from the outside that the church looks best, and you can take all the photos you want and admire the view for as long as you like without spending anything at all.
See the Other Leaning Towers
The town of Pisa is synonymous with its famous Leaning Tower. But most tourists who visit Pisa don't realize that it's not the only leaning tower in this historic city. The reason the Tower leans is because of the unstable soil Pisa is built on, and the same phenomenon affects other buildings in the city.
The churches of San Nicola and San Michele degli Scalzi both have towers that are noticeably leaning, and while they may not have the prestige of the more famous version, they are great places to visit to get away from the tourist crowds of Piazza dei Miracoli. Plus, these ancient towers are completely free to visit, unlike the more famous version, making them a great free thing to do in Pisa.
National Museum of San Matteo
With its stunning collection of priceless works of art from the medieval area through to the 16th century, the National Museum of San Matteo has earned its place as one of the top Pisa attractions for visitors. Art lovers simply can't afford to miss this cultural treasure, and the impressive architecture of the converted Monastery that houses the museum almost makes a visit worthwhile by itself.
Ordinarily, you'll need to buy tickets to visit this treasure. But since this is a National Museum, admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. This scheme by the Italian government ensures that cost is no barrier to people enjoying the country's remarkable artistic heritage.
Free guided tour
There's so much to see in Pisa that it can be difficult to fit it all in. One of the best ways to experience Pisa and appreciate what the city has to offer is with a guided tour. And while a tour can often cost you some money, it's possible to take a walking tour of the best Pisa attractions absolutely free.
Some companies offer free guided tours as a way of attracting business for their paid tours. If you get a good free tour, you should definitely consider paying it back by taking one of their paid programs. At the very least, you should tip your guide. But either way, this can be a very cost-effective way of learning more about a city.
Visit the Borgo Stretto
The Borgo Stretto, also known as Narrow Street, is another of the many famous Pisa attractions you'll find in the center of the city. This long and narrow street is packed with shops, running from designer boutiques to quirky one-off shops that have everything you never knew you needed. This is a great place to people watch and do some window shopping, and if you're not averse to spending some money, you could take a break at one of the many cafés and restaurants that line the street and linger while you enjoy the atmosphere. This street is also of historical interest for being the place where Galileo was born, so you'll also be experiencing more of the city's history when you visit.
Piazza dei Cavalieri
Once the political heart of Pisa, the Piazza Dei Cavalieri or Knights Square remains one of the most vibrant and vital in Pisa. Anchored by the stunning Palazzo dei Cavalieri, this lively square is a great place to have a meal or drink or just take a break and soak up the atmosphere of the city. The square really comes alive at night, when street performers entertain the crowds and Pisa's night owls come out to enjoy the evening. Taking a stroll through the square and enjoying its atmosphere won't cost you anything at all.
The work of American artist Keith Haring, Tuttomondo is a huge mural painted on one of the city walls close to Pisa Centrale train station. Over the years since it was painted, the mural has become an icon of Pisa and is considered a masterpiece of this world-renowned artist. To visit, all you have to do is take a walk down the street and get some fabulous photos of this huge public artwork that's completely free.
Pisa Botanical Garden
Pisa's botanical garden is the oldest of its kind in Italy, and it provides a fantastic place to take a break and enjoy some serenity in the middle of the bustling city. Ordinarily, there's an admission charge to visit the garden. But as with the National Museum, Pisa's botanical garden is completely free for anybody to visit on the first Sunday of the month.
Ponds, greenhouses, and carefully manicured flower gardens make beautiful places to visit on a sunny day in Pisa. This ancient garden simply drips with atmosphere, so if you're in town on the first Sunday of the month, don't miss this opportunity to visit one of the city's top attractions for free.
Piazza della Vettovaglie Market
If you want to see the city like the locals do, there are few better places to do it than at Piazza della Vettovaglie Market. Here, you'll find Pisan locals rubbing shoulders with city chefs as they browse the impressive selection of produce. You'll also enjoy the lively atmosphere that spills out of the market and into the surrounding streets. You may even find street performers entertaining the crowds here, contributing to the exciting atmosphere.
Unfortunately, the temptation to spend some money here can be hard to resist. If you do manage to keep your hands in your pockets, the market is completely free to visit and enjoy.
Visiting Italy can quickly get expensive. And top attractions like the Leaning Tower of Pisa don't come cheap. However, some of Pisa's most iconic locations, like Piazza dei Miracoli and Santa Maria della Spina, will cost absolutely nothing to visit. By augmenting the more expensive paid attractions with some free ones, you can see everything you want to see in Pisa without breaking the bank.
Before you go racing off to get that iconic Leaning Tower photo, don't forget to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Pisa. Affordable and convenient, Bounce makes sure you never have to carry more than you need to through the winding streets of this beautiful European town.