Top 20 interesting things to see in Florence
Italy is famous for the fact that its cities are like open-air museums, and Florence is no exception. Today we will tell you what are the most interesting places to see in Florence for every tourist.
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The best way to begin your Florence experience is with an experienced local guide who will show you all the most interesting places in the city and tell you their history. And we will briefly tell you about some of them.
1. Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral
The Cathedral of Santa Maria, whose dome is well known to tourists by postcards and photos in guidebooks, has long been a landmark and visiting card of Florence. Like many churches and temples in Italy, Santa Maria del Fiore is a true treasure trove. The magnificent architecture of the building is equal to the grandeur and luxury of the interior, as are the artistic gems of the cathedral – the paintings of Michelangelo’s The Mourning of Christ and Donatello’s Mary Magdalene. And from the observation deck on the cathedral’s dome you can enjoy a magnificent view over Florence.
- Address : The cathedral is located at Piazza del Duomo, 17.
- Opening hours:
- Cathedral :
- Monday through Wednesday, Friday from 10:00 to 17:00;
- Thursday from 10:00 to 15:30,
- Saturday from 10:00 to 16:45 (until 15:30 every first Saturday of the month);
- Sunday – 1:30 to 4:45 p.m.
- daily from 08:30 to 19:00,
- Saturday – 08:30 to 16:40 (until 15:20 every first Saturday of the month).
- daily from 09:00 to 19:30,
- On Sunday from 09:00 to 13:45.
- Entrance to the cathedral is free.
- Entrance to the museum and crypt – €10.
2. Ponte Vecchio Bridge
Probably the most recognizable bridge in the city, which should also be put on your list of must-see places to go in Florence. The bridge spans the Arno River and in the evenings the twinkling lights make it look like a fairy tale come to life.
- Location : Ponte Vecchio is close to Palazzo Vecchio and the Galileo Museum on one side and Piazza Santa Felicita on the other.
3. Palazzo Vecchio
Impressed by the romance of the Vecchio Bridge, go to the palazzo of the same name in Florence, or as the Florentines say, “palazzo.” Conceived originally as a fortification, it later became the residence of the ruling Medici family. Today visitors can admire the rich interior decoration of the palace and the majestic splendor of the interiors in the best traditions of the Italian nobility.
- Address : The palazzo is located at Piazza Signoria, 1.
- Prices : Tickets cost €6.
4. Uffizi Gallery
It would be a crime to visit Florence without visiting the world famous Uffizi Gallery. It is certainly worthy of its stature as the treasury of Florence: it houses such world masterpieces as Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”, the Holy Family by Michelangelo, as well as works by Giotto, Caravaggio, Titian, Rubens and Leonardo da Vinci.
The Uffizi Gallery is the best place to get to know the Italian Renaissance, so if you are interested in art, it is advisable to make time to visit it.
- Address of the gallery : Piazzale degli Uffizi.
- Opening hours :
- Tuesday to Saturday from 08:15 to 18:50.
- Weekends: Monday, December 25th and 31st and May 1st.
5. Piazza della Signoria
Like every corner of Florence, this square is a living embodiment of history: in ancient times it was the seat of the government of the Florentine Republic (Signoria), from which it gets its name.
This is also where state affairs were carried out and sentences were carried out. Today people come to Piazza della Signoria to admire the beautiful statues that adorn it: a copy of Michelangelo’s David Michelangelo’s “David”, Donatello’s “Hercules” and “Judith”, and definitely throw a coin into the “Neptune” fountain to come back here again.
- How to get there: you can reach it on foot in 15 minutes from Santa Maria Novella train station.
6. Piazza Michelangelo
A must-see in Florence if you’re on the hunt for the best panorama of Florence: the observation deck in Piazza Michelangelo is a 5+!
The view is especially good at sunset and in the evening – in the light of the thousands of lights of the city spreading out below.
7. Boboli Gardens
Boboli Gardens is an exceptional example of Renaissance garden art. Stroll along winding paths, explore mysterious grottoes or enjoy the beauty of the park in one of the gazebos or by the fountain. Visit the park’s observation deck, it offers a beautiful view of Florence.
- Location : The Boboli Gardens are located in Piazza Pitti (adjacent to Palazzo Pitti).
- Opening hours :
- November-February – from 08:15 to 16:30,
- March from 08:15 to 17:30;
- April, May, September and October from 08:15 to 18:30;
- June-August – from 08:15 to 19:30.
8. The Basilica of San Lorenzo
The chapel at the Church of San Lorenzo is without a doubt one of Michelangelo’s most outstanding creations and landmarks in Florence. Everything about it, including the decoration and the many sculptures, makes a lasting impression. Particularly noteworthy are the allegorical figures of day, night, evening and morning, which adorn the sarcophagi, as well as the magnificent statue of the Madonna and Child.
- How to get there : Take bus number C1 (get off at the same stop) to San Lorenzo church.
- Opening hours: The chapel is open from 08:15 to 16:50 daily, except on public holidays (December 25th, January 1st and May 1st).
- Prices: Tickets cost €8.
9. Palazzo Medici Riccardi
Once the seat of the powerful Medici family, today the palace serves as the seat of the Prefecture of the city and is partially open to the public. The Chapel of the Magi, decorated with a fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli, and some of the palace’s apartments will certainly be of interest to tourists.
- Address : Via Camillo Cavour, 3.
- Opening hours : The palazzo is open every day (except Wednesdays) from 09:00 to 19:00.
- Prices: Tickets cost €5. No photos are allowed.
10. Loggia Lanzi
A real open-air museum in Florence, this gallery in Piazza della Signoria is definitely worth a visit!
The best place to take a leisurely stroll under the arcade of the gallery, looking at the sculptures of ancient heroes by the best Italian masters, with each step immersed in the unique atmosphere of the ancient city. It doesn’t cost you a thing; this is one of the most interesting places in Florence that you can see for free.
11. Bardini’s Garden
Another green oasis amidst the stone labyrinths of Florentine streets can be found at Costa San Giorgio, 2. It is not as well known among tourists and has managed to preserve the unique spirit of medieval Florence, and its viewpoints offer a splendid view of the city.
- Prices: You can get into the Bardini Garden with the same ticket as the Boboli Gardens (price €10).
- Opening hours :
- The garden is open in winter from 08:15 to 16:30 daily,
- In March – from 08:15 to 17:30,
- in April-May and September-October from 08:15 to 18:30
- and in summer from 08:15 to 19:30.
12. the Basilica of Santo Spirito
The Church of the Holy Spirit, located in Piazza Santo Spirito of the same name, is considered one of the best works of the famous architect Brunelleschi. Don’t be discouraged by the modest exterior of the church in Florence, but inside it will impress you with its splendid Renaissance-style decoration. The church has a museum of medieval art, where visitors can see two bas-reliefs by Donatello, as well as The Last Supper and Crucifixion by Andrea Orcagna.
- Ticket price :
- €5 (adult) and €3 (preferential).
- Admission costs €2.20 and €1.70 respectively.
- In summer from 09:00 to 17:00,
- in winter – from 10:30 to 13:30 every day except monday.
13. Stibbert Museum.
An excellent item on the Florence itinerary and a must visit for anyone partial to the history of the Middle Ages. The museum has an extensive collection of weapons and ammunition from Europe and the East, as well as a display of costumes and art from that era.
- Opening hours :
- Monday-Wednesday – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m,
- Friday-Sunday – from 10:00 to 18:00.
- Weekend: Thursday.
- €8 (full price)
- and €6 concessionary (disabled, children under 12, pensioners).
14. Villa Petraia.
Florence, like a jewel box, never ceases to amaze: here and there something unexpected and interesting pops up. For example, the Villa Petraia, the former property of the Medici family (Via della Petraia, 40).
You can walk through the apartments where members of the famous family lived, or you can imagine yourself as a Florentine nobleman and have a wonderful picnic in the villa’s garden. An added plus is that access to the villa and garden is free.
- Location: near the airport of Amerigo Vespucci.
- How to get there: take bus number 5 going in the direction of Rifredi Fs Vasco de Gama and get off at the Rigutini stop, from there it’s a 20 minutes walk to the villa.
- Opening hours :
- January, February, November, December Monday to Friday – 08:15 to 16:30,
- April, May and September all days from 08:15 to 18:30,
- In March – from 08:15 to 17:30,
- In summer – from 08:15 to 19:30.
15. Neptune Fountain
When visiting Piazza della Signoria, be sure to see the Neptune Fountain by Bartolomeo Ammannati.
The impressive white marble sculptural group depicts the lord of the seas surrounded by a variety of mythical creatures like nymphs, satyrs and mermaids. The chariot of Neptune himself, drawn by seahorses and elaborately decorated with fanciful shells, deserves special attention.
16. Galileo Museum
Since high school we all know the famous phrase of the great scientist that became a catch phrase: “And yet it turns. But to find out more about Galileo and his discoveries, visit the museum of the same name.
Here you will be shown and told (in Italian or English) what else this Italian was famous for besides astronomy. The rich and varied collection of the museum will fascinate even those who could not stand the idea of an exact science at school.
- Address: Piazza dei Guidici, 1 within walking distance of the Ponte Vecchio and Piazza Signoria.
- Opening hours: open every day from 09:30 to 18:00 (Tuesdays 09:30 to 13:00).
- Prices :
- admission ticket costs €9,
- For children from 6 to 18 years old €5.50,
- Family ticket (2 adults + 2 children up to 18 years) €22.
- For children up to six years old free admission.
17. Museum of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Often tourists visiting one of Florence’s main cathedrals, Santa Maria del Fiore, mistakenly believe that they have seen everything of interest. Well, they haven’t! The cathedral has a museum, and it is here that we don’t want to miss. Here you can find all the treasures of the Cathedral, such as Michelangelo’s Pietà, the wooden statue of Mary Magdalene by Donatello, the gilded plates of Ghiberti’s “Door of Paradise” and much more.
- Address: The museum is located in Piazza del Duomo, 9.
- Prices: Admission costs €6.
- Opening hours :
- 09:00 to 19:30 from Monday to Saturday,
- on Sundays, from 09:30 to 13:40.
18. Florence’s historic center
If you’re a seasoned visitor and don’t know what to do in Florence and want to experience the local beauty, we recommend the historic center.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery of St. John, the Medici Palace, the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the Museum of San Marco, the Gallery of the Academy – this is not a complete list of treasures that you will find here.
To see at least half of them, it’s worth getting a bus pass – the area is quite large. Santa Maria Novella Station is a good starting point.
19. Florence Baptistery
The Baptistery is next to the Duomo Cathedral and is famous for being the oldest building in Florence (mentions of it date back to the nineteenth century!). What is there to see? The stunningly beautiful interior, the Byzantine mosaics on the ceiling from the 13th century, and the famous gilded panels by Pisano and Ghiberti that decorate the doors.
- Opening Hours : The Baptistery is open
- Mondays to Saturdays from 08:30 to 19:00
- Sundays from 08:30 to 14:00.
- If you want to visit the cemetery, you’ll have to pay the same price.
- You can buy a general ticket (baptistery, cemetery, Duomo, museum) for €8.
20. Museum complex in the Palazzo Pitti
The museum is located in the Palazzo Pitti and is known for its extensive collection of art, which began to collect even Lorenzo de Medici, nicknamed “the Magnificent. Here you will find not only silver and gold jewelry, but also ancient amphorae and vases, ivory and famous jewelry of Venetian craftsmen of XIV century. And not to be missed, the main treasure of the exhibition, the miniature of Piazza della Signoria, decorated with gold and precious stones.
- Address : Piazza Pitti, 1.
- Opening hours :
- November to December from 08:15 to 16:30;
- March from 08:15 to 17:30;
- April-May and September-October from 08:15 to 18:30;
- In summer – from 08:15 to 19:30.
Hint: you can save money and buy a general ticket (Silver Museum + Boboli Gardens + Costume Museum) for €6. Another option is a 3-day ticket. With it you can see not only the Silver Museum, but also the Palatine Gallery (Pitti), Boboli Gardens, Museum of Costume and Gallery of Modern Art – for only €11.50.
The 20 main sights of Florence
The capital of Tuscany is one of the most popular cities among tourists visiting Italy. Along with Rome, Florence is very often put on the itinerary map for those visiting the country for the first time.
Tuscany’s capital city boasts some of Italy’s finest museums, beautiful cathedrals and churches, as well as picturesque streets and squares, striking buildings and bridges, colorful markets, and impressive shopping districts.
Here is an overview of the most famous sights of Florence with photos and descriptions.
Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the most popular place in Florence. Construction of the Duomo began in 1296 but was not consecrated until 1436. The outside of the building is lined with marble in green, pink and white hues. The cathedral is decorated with interesting statues and several magnificent entrance doors with bas-reliefs.
Inside the cathedral are dozens of paintings and sculptures, which are the objects of cultural and historical heritage. The interior is adorned with 44 stained glass windows created by famous Renaissance artists, such as Donatello – his stained glass depicts Jesus, Mary and several saints.
The main attraction of the huge cathedral is its dome, a true masterpiece of architecture and construction created by Filippo Brunelleschi. To reach the top you have to climb 463 stairs.
Address: Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Piazza del Duomo, Florence, Italy.
Florence Baptistery | Photo: Tim Rawle / Flickr.
Built in the 11th century, the Baptistery of St. John the Baptist is one of the oldest buildings in Florence. The walls are lined with green and white marble blocks, and there are magnificent bronze doors on three sides of the building. The most famous of these are the eastern “Gates of Paradise”, an authentic masterpiece by the talented sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti. The original panels of this gate are preserved in the Duomo Museum.
You can see the sights of the baptistery during a tour of the Duomo. However, this amazing ancient building with massive entrance doors made of panels with biblical stories as well as a mosaic dome depicting characters from biblical stories is without a doubt worthy of a separate visit.
Address: Battistero di San Giovanni, Piazza San Giovanni, Florence, Italy.
The bell tower is also located in the Cathedral Square. This tower is commonly referred to as Giotto’s Campanile after the architect Giotto di Bondone – he began construction of the bell tower in 1334, built the first tier, but soon died before it was completed.
The tower is adorned with talented bas-reliefs and sculptures as well as life-size copies of 16 original statues made by such famous masters of their era as Andrea Pisano and Donatello (the originals are in the Duomo Museum).
There is no elevator in this Gothic tower, so you have to climb the 414 stairs. It is worth the effort, though, as at the top you have a breathtaking view not only of the Cathedral with its vast dome, but also of the whole of Florence and its surroundings.
Address: Campanile di Giotto, Piazza del Duomo, Florence, Italy.
Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio
Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio palace.
Piazza della Signoria is the main city square and the heart of Florence’s historic center. It can be called an open-air exhibition accessible to all comers. The arcaded structure, the Loggia della Signoria, houses an exhibition of many famous sculptures, and on the square itself you can see a copy of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture “David”.
Since the Middle Ages, the Piazza della Signoria has been considered the administrative center of Florence. Here was built the Palazzo Vecchio, which now serves as city hall. Inside the palace there are common rooms and private apartments open to tourists.
Address: Piazza della Signoria, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy.
Ponte Vecchio Bridge
Ponte Vecchio Bridge.
Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence, which was built in 1345 over the Arno River. It is the only city bridge preserved from the Middle Ages (all the others were destroyed during World War II).
The Ponte Vecchio bridge is always crowded, and it is still crowded with stores selling gold and silver jewelry. The bridge has a stunning view of the Arno River and the surrounding area.
The address is Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy.
The Uffizi Gallery contains a rich collection of Renaissance art, as well as thousands of paintings by artists from the Middle Ages to the present day, many ancient sculptures, illustrated manuscripts and tapestries.
Here you can see the works of such famous masters as Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino and Raphael. This explains the fact that the Uffizi Gallery is the most popular museum in Italy among tourists.
Address: Galleria degli Uffizi, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy.
The Florence Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts is a real treasure trove of paintings and sculptures by masters of the XIII-XVI centuries. Here you can see probably the most famous masterpiece of Michelangelo – the sculpture “David”, as well as several other works of the great master.
In the Gallery there are many works of other famous Renaissance artists – Uccello, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli and del Sarto.
The Galleria dell’Accademia also has an interesting collection of musical instruments, once started by members of the Medici family.
Address: Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, Via Ricasoli, Florence, Italy.
Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace
Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace.| Photo: Andreas Jungherr / Flickr.
The Boboli Gardens are a huge park behind Palazzo Pitti, located on a hillside in central Florence. To get there, you have to cross the Ponte Vecchio Bridge to the south bank of the Arno River. Everywhere you see beautiful squares and fountains and from the observation deck of the Forte Belvedere you have a great view of the whole city.
Florence’s largest palace, Palazzo Pitti, was once the residence of the Medici family. However, it was originally built for the family of the Florentine banker Luca Pitti, after whom it was later named. The enormous building has eight different galleries containing a large number of works of art, historic costumes and jewelry, as well as living quarters of past masters of the palace.
The address is Giardino di Boboli, Piazza Pitti, Florence, Italy.
Basilica of Santa Croce
Basilica of Santa Croce.
Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan church, not only in Italy but in the world. It is famous for housing the tombs of famous Italian men such as Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.
The spacious interiors of the basilica are decorated with numerous colorful stained glass windows and frescoes of amazing beauty. The Pazzi Chapel, one of Filippo Brunelleschi’s most important works, is of particular interest to tourists.
Address: Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze, Piazza di Santa Croce, Florence, Italy.
Panorama of the city from Piazza Michelangelo.
Piazza Michelangelo in Florence is an open terrace located on the high slope of the south (left) bank of the Arno River. Tourists who go up there (on foot or by bus) will be rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of the city.
The square is named after the eminent master Michelangelo Buonarotti and is decorated with bronze copies of some of his most famous sculptures. The view of Florence at sunset is one of the most unforgettable experiences of a visit to Italy.
Address: Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence, Italy.
Museo Nazionale Bargello
Bargello National Museum | Photo: Darren and Brad / Flickr.
Built in the 13th century, the Bargello National Museum once housed police barracks and a prison. Today it’s a museum of sculpture and fine art with works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Verrocchio, and Giambologna on display. It is not as crowded as other major museums in Florence, so you can enjoy great works of art in a peaceful setting.
Address: Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Via del Proconsolo, Florence, Italy.
Museo Opera del Duomo
Museum of Opera del Duomo.
The museum is located in Piazza Duomo, to the right of the church. The Opera del Duomo presents a large number of rare exhibits – original works and drawings of the masters of fine arts and architecture associated with the creation of the Duomo complex in Florence. For example, the original panels of the baptistery doors (see above) by Lorenzo Ghiberti; the plans for the construction of the Duomo by Brunelleschi; and a collection of Renaissance tools used in the construction of the grandiose complex.
Address: Museo dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, Piazza del Duomo, Florence, Italy.
San Marco Museum
San Marco Museum.
A visit to the Museo di San Marco will show you the work of Fra Angelico, an early Renaissance painter. He was a monk and lived in San Marco, where he painted some of his most famous frescoes on the walls of the monastery and the modest monastic cells.
The abbot of San Marco was at one time the reformer and preacher Savonarola, who was later executed in Piazza Signoria. In the Museum of the Convent of San Marco you can visit his rooms, where you can find the priest’s personal belongings and see the famous portrait of Savonarola painted by the monk-painter Fra Bartolomeo.
Address: Il Museo di San Marco, Piazza San Marco, Florence, Italy.
Piazza Santo Spirito
Piazza Santo Spirito | Photo: Darren and Brad / Flickr.
This lively piazza, along with the adjoining neighborhood, make up the left bank of the city-a colorful, slightly bohemian neighborhood frequented by locals and tourists eager to experience authentic Florentine life.
During the day there are all sorts of stores and street food vendors, and in the evening crowds of people come out of the bars and restaurants to the square and its surrounding sidewalks. The rather modest exterior of the Basilica of Santo Spirito houses a number of famous art monuments.
Address: Piazza Santo Spirito, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy.
National Archaeological Museum of Florence
National Archaeological Museum of Florence | Photo: Marco Vanoli / Flickr.
It contains the richest collections of ancient works of art from Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire, most of which were collected by the Medici family. In addition, the museum has one of the most unique collections of Etruscan artefacts, including the priceless Chimera of Arezzo, a perfectly preserved bronze statue of a mythological lion with a snake instead of a tail and a goat’s head sticking out from the side.
Address: Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze, Piazza Sancta Sanctorum, Florence, Italy.
Medici Chapel. | Photo: ctj71081 / Flickr.
Members of the ruling Medici clan in Florence were noted for their ambition and penchant for pomp, and this applied not only to life but also to death. Proof of this is the grandiose mausoleum for the Medici dukes with huge tombs adorned with sculptures by Michelangelo. There is no other place in the world where you can see the masterpieces of the Renaissance master so closely. The sculptures on the sarcophagi, including allegories of the time of day – Night, Day, Sunrise and Sunset – are among his most impressive works.
Address: Cappelle Medicee, Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, Florence, Italy.
San Lorenzo Market
San Lorenzo Market | Photo: Renato Torii / Flickr.
In this huge market with open and covered areas, it seems you can find everything from food to clothing, leather goods and inexpensive souvenirs. The outdoor part of the market begins in Piazza San Lorenzo with hundreds of stalls offering all kinds of goods. The covered Mercato Centrale is a gourmet’s paradise, with stalls selling local produce, meats and cheeses; there is also a lunch room where vendors offer lunch, snacks or delicacies.
Address: Mercato di San Lorenzo, Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Florence, Italy.
San Miniato al Monte Monastery
Monastery of San Miniato al Monte. Photo: kristobalite / Flickr.
Once you reach Piazza Michelangelo, keep climbing for about 10 more minutes, and the Basilica of San Manito al Monte will appear in front of you. It is a beautiful eleventh-century monastery where, almost every day at 5:30 p.m., the monks are still singing Gregorian chants. The interior of the basilica is as magnificent as the exterior cladding of green and white marble.
Address: Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte, Via delle Porte Sante, Florence, Italy.
Santa Maria Novella Perfumery and Pharmacy
Santa Maria Novella Perfume and Pharmacy | Photo: Stin Shen / Flickr.
Here you can buy perhaps the most original gifts in all of Florence for yourself and your friends. The oldest pharmacy in the city and one of the oldest in the world still produces perfumes, soaps and elixirs using centuries-old recipes from monks. A trip to the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy is both a shopping trip and a museum visit – the intricately packaged creams, soaps or perfumes look no less fascinating than the ancient bottles or chandeliers.
Address: Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella Firenze, Florence, Italy.
Shopping in Florence
Shopping in Florence.
Florence has some of the best stores in Europe with everything from leather goods and delicious food to jewelry, souvenirs and artwork.
The city has many open-air markets selling food, clothes and antiques, such as the market in the famous San Lorenzo square. In the Mercato Nuovo (Porcellino) on Via Porta Rossa and in the Mercato Central you can buy fashionable local clothes and Italian delicacies.
- Cathedral :