Top Attractions In Pisa For Free

Pisa is one of the most interesting cities to visit. Although it’s mostly famous for the Leaning Tower of Pisa, there are several other attractions that are worth checking out in this Italian city. If you’re trying to save money on your trip, there are lots of cheap things to do in Pisa that will surely keep even the most budget travellers entertained.

Although some of the attractions in Pisa will require a fee, there are other free things to do in Pisa that cater to those who are traveling on a budget. For instance, museum buffs will surely have a great time at the free museums in Pisa, which includes the Palazzo Blu. Some other free attractions in Pisa include the Duomo Pisa, Basilica Romanica di San Piero a Grado, Luminara di San Ranieri, Murale Tuttamondo di Keith Haring, and the Giardino Scotto.

Depending on the time of your visit, there are so many things that you can do in Pisa without spending a single cent. For instance, one of the free things to do in Pisa this summer is to check out the Piazza dei Miracoli, a large open space surrounded with beautifully decorated buildings. To those who are traveling with family, one of the free things to do in Pisa with kids is to take a walk along a charming park called the Giardino Scotto. This place has well appointed playground facilities that your little ones will love.

So if you need help in planning for your budget trip to Pisa, then you better check out this list of free things to do in Pisa.

Free Things To Do in Pisa

1. Duomo Pisa (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

Duomo Pisa is the city’s cathedral and is one of the four iconic sites of the Piazza dei Miracoli, along with the Leaning Tower (link), the Battistero (link) and Camposanto (cemetery) (link). All are of great architectural and historical significance. You certainly can’t visit the Piazza without going inside the Cathedral; beyond the sumptuous marble facade is a treasure trove of priceless artworks topped by a magnificent frescoed dome.

The Cathedral was started in 1064 and finished in 1118. Busketo, the architect who began the Cathedral, is buried there. Other tombs include St Ranieri, Pisa’s patron saint, and Emperor Henry VII.

The highly decorated pulpit, with its statues of lions and a naked Hercules, dates from 1302-10. Another sight to see is the beautiful mosaic in the apse of Christ in Majesty. One interesting fact connected to the Duomo is that Galileo is thought to have devised his theory of the swinging pendulum by watching the swaying of a lamp hanging in the nave.

Entrance is free, and you can also get in using a ticket for the tower.

Opening Times

2. Luminara di San Ranieri (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

This festival, which takes place on the night of June 16th to celebrate the eve of the feast day of Pisa’s patron saint, sees the entire city come alive with lights, music and fireworks. Every light is switched off and the city is illuminated by thousands of candles, placed at every door, window and bridge along the River Arno. The result is simply breathtaking, especially when you consider the reflection of lights created in the river.

Lights are also placed on the battlements atop the city walls surrounding the Piazza dei Miracoli, as well as on the Leaning Tower (link), highlighting its shape.

If you’re in the city on this night, join the crowds gathered on the parapet walls by the river banks and enjoy the stunning view and the live music coming through loudspeakers. There’s a festive and welcoming atmosphere. All the shops and bars remain open until late. The fireworks go off at 11pm, launched from the old citadel.

3. Basilica Romanica di San Piero a Grado (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

This beautiful church is located some 7km west of the city centre. Its history is intricately linked to that of St Peter; legend has it that this is where he arrived in Pisa from Antiochia in the port that once existed here, in 44AD.

It’s also said that Peter gave his first mass here; a church was built on the same spot in the 4th century. The present structure dates from the 10th century. The exterior is distinguished by its ceramic basins, replicas of the originals which date from the 10th and 11th centuries; they are of Islamic, Sicilian and Majorcan manufacture.

The church used to have a bell tower, but this was destroyed in 1944 and, so far, only the base has been rebuilt.

The nave has a series of frescoes, dating from 1300, depicting the lives of St Peter, St Paul, and many Popes.

All in all, this is a breath of fresh air if you felt overwhelmed by the crowds of tourists at the Duomo complex. It’s a peaceful and undiscovered gem.

Opening Times

4. Murale Tuttamondo di Keith Haring (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

This fascinating and vibrant mural represents something totally different to see, compared to the other older attractions in Pisa. It can be found on the south wall of the church of St Anthony.

The mural shows 30 colourful, boldly drawn figures which seem to be in a state of constant movement. There are many allegories and meanings to be found in the painting, of a religious and political nature; it is open to different interpretations by each viewer. For example, you have a pair of “human scissors”, two people working in harmony to defeat a serpent (representing evil); a woman holding a baby (a calming image showing the good in humanity), an angel, and a man with a TV for a head, showing our absorption in ephemeral popular culture.

American artist Keith Haring created the mural in 1989, over a week, only a year before his untimely death from AIDS. The mural stands as a testament to his belief in the life-affirming power of art.

5. Piazza dei Cavalieri (Free)

4 Free Tourist Attraction

This large open space, not far from the Piazza dei Miracoli, is worth a visit to see the beautifully decorated buildings.

The piazza has quite a long and colourful history, which is worth digging into. In medieval times, it was the hub of political life in Pisa, carrying on this role from when the Forum occupied the space in Roman times.

In 1558, the Square was rebuilt in Renaissance style, and derives its current name from this time; translated as “Knights’ Square”, the Knights of St Stephen had their headquarters here, in the Palazzo della Carovana. This imposing building has an impressive facade featuring six busts of the grand dukes of Tuscany. In front is a large statue of Duke Cosimo I de Medici.

There is also a rather grisly legend attached to the Piazza; on the north side is the Palazzo dell’Orologio, with its tower where Count Ugolino della Gherardesca was imprisoned for treason along with his sons and grandsons and condemned to die of starvation. The tale was recorded in Dante’s Divine Comedy.

6. Palazzo Blu (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

This is a very interesting museum housed in a grand old palace which is free to enter. There are many beautiful paintings to look at along with objects of furniture that belonged to the families that lived here. There are also temporary exhibitions on a diverse range of topics.

The building dates from the 14th century, but only acquired its “Blu” name recently due to a restoration when the exterior was painted a light blue. It was actually first painted this colour in the 18th century and the new redecoration came about after a fragment of the old paint was discovered.

The Palazzo has been restyled as a Centre for Art and Culture and mixes old and new, with the antique exhibits rubbing shoulders with dynamic temporary showings. Among the older items are a vast collection of coins, as well as woodcuts, etchings and lithographs. It is in a lovely location facing the river.

Opening Times

7. St Matthew National Museum (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Located in a beautiful medieval monastery, the ecclesiastical National Museum of San Matteo displays sculptures and statues, ceramics, and paintings from Italian craftsmen from the 12th - 15th centuries as well as a collection of painted crosses and Islamic ceramics. Often overlooked, this museum actually contains one of the greatest collections of medieval works of art in the world with paintings by Masaccio and Nicola Pisano amongst others.

Usually costing 5 euro you can enjoy the works of art in the permanent exhibition free on the first Sunday of the month with a free guided tour to help you learn more about the artists and artwork that was created at a time when the Italian School was influenced greatly by the Byzantine period.

Opening Hours : Sunday 9am-1.30pm

Address: Piazza San Matteo In Soarta, 1, 56127 Pisa PI, Italy

8. Museo Delle Aviotruppe (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

The Italian paratroopers museum spans 15 rooms with around 3,000 items of diverse memorabilia on display ranging from uniforms and medals to documents, paintings, and weapons. See 5 centuries of the Italian paratroopers history from the times of Leonardo da Vinci through WWII right up to the modern day with the advent of sports parachuting.

Opening Hours : Tuesday-Saturday 9:30am-12:30pm and 2pm-5pm

Address: Via di Gello, 138, 56123 Pisa PI, Italy

9. Giardino Scotto (Free)

4 Free Tourist Attraction

This charming, secluded park is the ideal place for a tranquil walk taking in the sights and sounds of nature. It’s an ideal place to take the kids, with a fully appointed playground.

It’s also a place to get a glimpse of the old Pisa, as it contains ruined city walls, towers and an aqueduct. This was all part of a defensive fortress that was started in 1440, subsequently destroyed and rebuilt, and now provides a fascinating backdrop and touch of history to your walk in the park. The garden dates from the nineteenth century, and became a public space in the 1930s. At this time, it hosted concerts and an open air cinema - the latter tradition continues to this day, making for a very pleasant way to catch a movie.

There are also many types of trees, including palms and a giant plane tree, as well as fountains and picnic areas. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Giardino Scotto is the answer.

10. Porto di Boccadarno (Free)

4 Free Tourist Attraction

A highly pleasant marina in which to stroll and admire the views out to sea, the Porto is a recent but very welcome addition to Italy’s coastline, as it replaced the old derelict Fiat factory that used to be here. It opened on June 30th, 2013 to much celebration. Here you will find bars, restaurants, bakeries, a supermarket, a pharmacy, and more. The development was highly anticipated by local residents.

It is situated in the middle of the largest natural park in Tuscany and coexists sympathetically with the existing wetlands and their fauna. There are berths for 354 boats. Ample seating is available to sit and take in the scene, and sunset over a glass of wine at one of the restaurants is something to behold. Flowering plants have been installed at many locations around the marina.

The marina’s first residential homes appeared in 1860 but the port went on to acquire an industrial character. It has now been returned to its original style as a tranquil beauty spot.

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