Walking through an unassuming archway for the first time, is to stumble into a hidden portal leading to a feast of exquisite architecture. But then you see the mass of tourists and realise there is nothing unassuming at all about this archway leading to the world renowned Piazza del Dumo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The tower, combined with the Cathedral and Baptistery is a formula of unrivalled architecture and like all other tourists that fill the square, it’s difficult not to resist doing the ‘perspective photo shoot’ – you know the ones… where it looks like you’re kicking down the leaning tower, or holding it up against your back; my attempts were pretty lame, so I left it up to the Asian tourists, who as far as I witnessed, had practised the art of the ‘forced perspective’ down to a tee.
After buying the tickets at a cost of 18 Euros my friend and I waited around until our time slot approached. It’s necessary to be given a time slot because only a limited amount of people can enter the tower at one time.
We didn’t have to wait too long but I can imagine queueing times can be quite lengthy in peak seasons like July and August so it might be a good idea to book tickets online if you’re planning a trip in those months. There’s also the option to buy a ticket which grants access to all three of the UNESCO buildings but because we were on a budget we decided to just buy a single ticket for the tower.
Inside the tower there are almost 300 steps laid in a very narrow stairway, so you must place your bags inside nearby lockers located in the square. Also, as you can see from the photo, the stairs are heavily eroded so flat footwear is advisable.
The tower has seven floors that you’re able to look out from, but it’s not until you reach the top floor that you are granted full access to the spectacular panoramic views of Pisa, shown below:
View of the Piazza dei Miracoli from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
When should you travel?
We travelled in May, which I believe to be the perfect time, it’s not too busy and the weather is just right. Importantly, we didn’t have to queue for long periods and we could take in the stunning views of Pisa delivered by the tower without needing to push our way through a hoard of tourists.
Impressively, we flew with Ryanair for £24 return from Leeds/Bradford Airport (where else can you get tickets so cheap?!), but beware – if the devil were an airline it would be Ryanair…
It doesn’t look to be leaning from this angle, but rest assured, it definitely lives up to its name!
What else can you do in Pisa?
For more information about combining a visit to Pisa with Florence, take a look at one of my other posts titled ‘Cultural Hotspots: Florence and Pisa in just 48 hours‘. These cities are only 2-hours apart by train yet offer completely different things to do – I highly recommend visiting both if you can.