If it's your first visit to Pisa, head straight for the Piazza dei Miracoli square to see the iconic Leaning Tower. But there's so much more to enjoy on first and return visits to Pisa. Explore Pisa's medieval heart in Santa Maria and stroll past grand Renaissance palaces lining the River Arno. Above all, you'll be refreshed by Pisa's tranquil atmosphere and unhurried Tuscan charm.
The graceful River Arno separates medieval Pisa, on the north bank, from the train station and main shopping street, Corso Italia, on the south. Pisa's fabled Piazza dei Miracoli square, where you'll make a bee-line to see the Leaning Tower, is north of the Arno near the old city walls. The medieval quarter towards the Arno is a meandering network of lanes and squares, perfect for atmospheric strolls. Make your way south from Piazza dei Miracoli to Pisa's historic university, centred on Piazza Dante square, where Galileo Galilei once taught.
Make a booking to go up the Leaning Tower, for the experience as well as the views. Enter the mystical darkness of the Pisan-Romanesque Cathedral and hear the weird acoustics in its round white-marble baptistry. Take a look at the ancient cemetery, with its prized frescoes and sarcophagi, then learn more about Pisa's cathedral at the nearby museum. Head south to the River Arno, taking tiny laneways or the medieval arcades of Borgo Stretto to reach the open-air riverside promenades lined with inviting bars.
Explore Pisa's University quarter and make your way to Piazza dei Cavalieri, designed by the Renaissance genius Vasari and lined with palaces and historic faculty buildings. Drop into the old Botanic Gardens and classic Pisan-Romanesque churches on your way to the delicate Santa Maria della Spina church on the banks of the River Arno. Then fill up on early-Renaissance art at the San Matteo Museum, with works by the Pisanos and Masaccio. You'll love shopping for gourmet Tuscan delights on Corso Italia and catching a glimpse of hip-hop muralist Keith Haring's last public work off Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
One of the two main airports in Tuscany, crowded Galileo Galilei International Airport flies around four million passengers each year, many on budget airlines. One mile (1.6 km) north of Pisa, a taxi ride to the city centre takes just 10 minutes.