Italy is known as one of the more expensive holiday destinations in Europe, particular in the main cities, however it’s a country we love to visit time and time again. Most cities have plenty of attractions and things to do which cost very little or nothing at all. In this article, we explore cheap and free things to do Pisa to help you explore on a budget. Keep your money for the delicious food on offer instead!
1. Take a Walking tour of Pisa
Cost: €15 per person
We’re a firm believer that walking tours are the best way to get a good taste of a city, especially if you’re only there a short amount of time. They only take 2 – 3 hours, give you good background information on different key attractions and best of all – they’re inexpensive or free! We recommend Walking Tours Pisa.
They’re a new company but the tour guide was excellent and spoke English very well. For only €15 per person, this is a great introduction to all the major sites. You’ll get to see many of the main sites from the outside, with a background on the history of each place, before going to see them in more detail yourself after the tour.
2. Tuscany countryside visit
Cost: Train fare is around €10 per person
Pisa is located in the famous Tuscany region, surrounded by wineries, villas and rows of pretty, cultivated fields. The countryside region of Tuscany breathes culture and is a relaxing environment compared to the hustle and bustle of Pisa. Although the best way to see the countryside is by car, if you’re on a short stay or don’t fancy renting a car, there are a number of nearby villages and countryside towns that are easy to get to from Pisa by bus.
We’d recommend visiting the small countryside town of San Miniato for rural exploration. The town has a hill where you can capture great pictures of the fields. You can also visit small local shops (be sure to practice your Italian phrases) and the local church. You can get to San Miniato from the main Pisa train station.
The ‘At Home in Tuscany Blog’ does a great job at explaining the best way to see Tuscany (both big cities and small towns) without a car. Check out their post here for all small town options and how you can get there.
3. Piazza dei Cavalieri market
Knights Square (or Piazza dei Cavalieri) is the city’s second main square and is one of the main attractions on historical walking tours. This large square is surrounded by buildings with character and you’ll find yourself wandering around taking pictures as the bustling background noise seems to fade away. On weekends there is a fresh food and gift market. Browse the stalls at your leisure and take advantage of the free samples and cheap fruits and snacks.
4. Spiaggia Marina Di Vecchiano beach
Cost: Free beach (around €3 – 5 for bus fare)
Spiaggia Marina Di Vecchiano is a 4km strip of white sand beach on the coast of Tuscany, around 45 minutes by bus from central Pisa (near the tower). This free, public beach is an ideal place to relax away from the busy city and enjoy the hot Mediterranean sun. There isn’t a great deal of tourists around so it isn’t as commercialised as other Italian beaches, great if you like a quiet and natural beach. However, there are a number of restaurants and stalls to grab a bite to eat when you get hungry.
We recommend using Google Maps to plan your bus route to and from Marina Fi Vecchiano. If you get hungry, you’ll find a small selection of ice cream shops and cafés in the beach area or you can jump on the bus a few stops to the nearby town of Torre del Lago for a spot of lunch and a break from the sun. We recommend Ristorante Lombardi for delicious and inexpensive Italian food with garden views.
5. The leaning tower of Pisa (Torre di Pisa)
Cost: Free to view (€18 for entry per person)
Our list of things to do in Pisa wouldn’t be complete without including the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, arguably the most famous tower in the world and the most popular attraction in Pisa. Torre di Pisa is free to view from the immaculately kept lawns but you can pay 18 euros per person if you want to go inside and climb the tower, which you should definitely do.
If you do want to visit the attraction in more detail, we highly recommend booking tickets online where you’ll pay less and be given a time slot, skipping the long queues which can take several hours during busy periods. There are a lot of ticket re-sellers and packages provided by travel agent websites, however we’d recommend booking with the official website here for the best price, which is the same when paying online or on the day. The tower is simply the best of free things to do in Pisa and can’t be missed!
6. Picnic in Viale delle Piagge park
As delicious as Italian food can be, you don’t have to eat out a la carte throughout your trip. Pop in to an inexpensive deli or bakery and get some lunch to take with you to the park. Accompanied with a bottle of supermarket wine and snacks, it can be a great way to enjoy your afternoon. Viale delle Piagge park is a large green space with a jogging trail, refreshment stands and shaded areas away from the hot sun. You’ll find many locals also having lunch in the park for a chance to relax away from the busy working centre.
7. Visit Battistero and the Duomo
Cost: €18 per person for access to both sites
These two stunning buildings are located right next to each other and are relatively inexpensive to explore. Known in Italian as Battistero, the Pisa Baptistery of St John is a Catholic religious building and the largest baptistery in Italy. Its unique design comprises of both Roman and Gothic architecture and the interior is open for visitors to view.
Wander the outside grounds and centre of this majestic building before moving on to the ‘Duomo’ or ‘Cathedral’ in English. BIf you buy a ticket for the Battistero you’ll get a free entry ticket to the Duomo, well worth it for the beautiful architecture and cultural experience of centuries of religion in Pisa.
8. National Museum of San Matteo
Cost: €5 per person
This famous gallery is located inside the Benedictine Monastery and is home to 12th to 18th century paintings and sculptures, most notably being the work of San Matteo. We were pleasantly surprised by this museum. It seems small, quiet and unassuming from the outside but proved to be a treasure trove of history and Italian culture. Everywhere you look there’s an intricate piece of timeless art of marbled sculpture, making it an excellent afternoon out for only €5.
We hope we’ve helped inspire you with cheap and free things to do in Pisa! You may wish to stay in Pisa for a few days as part of a city break or a multi-point trip. If you’re staying for at least a week, there are a number of other nearby cities in Tuscany which are definitely worth visiting. These include Florence, Siena, Arezzo and Lucca.
Cheap but excellent hotel and hostel recommendations:
- Royal Rooms B’n’B
- Hotel Riviera Blu
- Hostel Pisa
- Hostel Pisa Tower
- Airbnb.co.uk is also a good option