The capital city of the Tuscan region in Italy, Florence is renowned as one of the best historical cities in the world and among the most popular places to visit in Italy. Considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence in Italy is a great open-air museum for anyone who loves history and culture as it is packed with full of interesting museums, bustling squares, ancient churches, eye-catching statues, and internationally esteemed art galleries. From old-world charm to modern-day culture, there are so many incredible places to see in Florence that one trip just isn’t enough. This is why we come with this list of some of the best things to do in Florence here for your convenience.
Visit the Duomo & Climb Brunelleschi’s Dome
The Duomo, officially called Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, is the centerpiece of Florence, one of the popular cultural destinations in Europe. The cathedral was initially constructed in 1436, but the astonishing front facade wasn’t completed until the 19th century. Possibly the most celebrated cathedral in the world. Located in the center of the old city, the Duomo stands out for miles and creates an imposing sight amongst the other medieval buildings. The exterior and front facade of the Cathedral are monumental – covered in white marble and red, pink, and green polychrome designs while the interior of the cathedral is quite bare in contrast. The entire cathedral complex has multiple parts which include the nave, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the Baptistery. Furthermore, the immense dome of the cathedral can be accessed via a series of 463 steps, and climbing these steps to the top of the dome is one of Florence’s best experiences as one can get some of the best views of the city of Florence.
Do not miss out on the Uffizi Gallery
If you are an art lover, then Uffizi Gallery is one place that you should not miss on your Florence trip. Placed just off the Piazza Della Signoria, the Uffizi Gallery is a renowned art museum and is considered one of the most renowned museums in Europe. The Uffizi gallery was built in the 16th century as an office building for the Medici and was converted into a museum in 1865. This famous art museum contains works of art by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Titian, Raphael, and many more. The museum also houses the most exclusive collection of Renaissance art in the world and many of the pieces are simply fantastic such as ‘The Baptism of Christ’ by Da Vinci, ‘the Adoration of the Magi’ by Botticelli, and ‘the Sacrifice of Isaac’ by Caravaggio that draws a large number of art and history lovers. If you want to visit the museum, better to book the tickets in advance as it regularly sells out many days in advance.
Discover the charm of Cinque Terre
If you are an adventure junkie, then a day-hike at the beautiful coastal town of Cinque Terre is among the top things to do in Florence. This UNESCO-listed site is one of the great options for a day trip to visitors who visit Florence. One can explore the five idyllic fishing villages, trek through the coastal region, enjoy the unspoilt views of the Italian Riviera, the chance to swim in the turquoise waters of the Ligurian Sea, walk along the cliffs of the national park, take a boat ride along the Riviera to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Cinque Terre while enjoying your vacation in Florence.
Visit the Palazzo Pitti & Boboli Gardens
Palazzo Pitti is a grand palace that has stood since the 1400s on the Southern Banks of the River Arno. A fine example of Renaissance architecture, the palace was once home to Italian royalty and powerful families such as the Pittis, and Medici. Now, the palace stands as the largest museum complex in Florence with a myriad of different galleries that are all richly decorated. The museum also houses some amazing frescos along with the famous Veiled Lady by Raphael. Covering an area of 45,000 sq. m, the Boboli Gardens is located directly behind the Palazzo Pitti and is an attraction by itself with sculptures and the famous Grotta Grande. The Boboli Gardens feature a myriad of different sections including the main lawn with a fountain and obelisk, a selection of worldly trees, plants, and flowers, and several large ponds complete with water features. If you want to escape the city and find solace, then this is the place for you.
Climb Giotto’s Campanile
Situated right next to the Florence Cathedral, Giotto’s Campanile is s true masterpiece of Gothic architecture and is one of the most renowned structures in the city. Constructed in 1359, it was designed by the famous artist Giotto but finished by Talenti who added the last levels after Giotto died in 1343. Split into five distinct levels, the campanile consists of a plethora of sculptures, artwork, and decorated panels and is a true masterpiece of Renaissance art. Aside from the decoration, visitors can also reach the top of the tower by climbing 450 steps. From the top, one can get to see some fantastic views of Florence and the Duomo.
Stroll across Ponte Vecchio
Built over the river Arno, Ponte Vecchio is one of the oldest and a famous arch bridges in Florence. A stroll across this most recognizable bridge is one of the top things to do in Florence. Dates back to the medieval period, the bridge is completely constructed from stone archways and lined up with various shops and stalls. Blacksmiths, tanners, and butchers used to live here, but nowadays one will mainly encounter jewelers here. In the middle of the bridge, you will find a bust of Cellini, a famous metal smith. Around the statue, you will find a fence, where couples in love hang a padlock to eternalize their love. There is a secret passage for the Medici built on top known as the Vasari corridor!
Explore the Bargello Palace National Museum
Bargello Palace National Museum is another popular museum located in one of the oldest buildings in Florence that date back to 1255. The building was first a town hall and later a prison, but reopened in 1865 as one of the first national museums in Italy. Also famed as the Palazzo del Bargello, or the Palazzo del Popolo, the museum contains a myriad of Renaissance sculptures and artwork. The four masterpieces by Michelangelo are reason enough to put the Bargello Palace National Museum on your list of must-visit places in Florence. The museums also house a large collection of important sculptures including the works by Donatello, and a bust of Christ by Lombardo.
Dine like a Tuscan
Apart from stunning sightseeing places, Florence is also known for its delicious food and little independent restaurants. If you are a foodie, then there are a lot of places to munch all across the city. One of the best spots to satify yur taste buds in Florence is La Bussola, an intimate Florentine pizzeria and seafood haunt where you can sit with the chef cooking right in front of you. Also, don’t forget to ask them about their Tuscan wines which is popular in that region. Ristorante Brandolino (a traditional bistro), Le Cappelle Medicee (for their tasty pasta), or B.O.R.G.O. (for their regional meals) are some of the best restaurants to try as part of Florence Tour.
Stroll through Piazza Della Signoria
Located to the south of the Piazza del Duomo, the Piazza della Signoria is a beautiful square that contains a myriad of buildings and classical art. The main structure of the Piazza is the magnificent Pallazo Vecchio with its huge clock tower and fantastic statues of David and Hercules. Built in the year 1299, the Palazzo has a square design and many crenulations that almost looks like a castle. The building was designed by the same architects that worked on the Duomo and the church of Santa Croce. The Palazzo Vecchio stood as the palace of the Signoria of the Republic of Florence and was also a town hall in later years. One can see a series of coat of arms on the front facade, and a series of originally decorated rooms such as The Hercules Room and The Room of Cybele inside. There is also a wonderful fountain of Neptune, the Loggia dei Lanzi which contains some beautiful Renaissance sculptures, and a grand statue of Cosimo Medici stands.
Watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo
Located on the South banks of the River Arno, Piazzale Michelangelo is a large panoramic square at the top of a hill overlooking the city of Florence. There is a wonderful bronze statue of David at the center of the square and there is a series of vendors and artists selling their wares at the edge of the square. It is a great, fantastic, and romantic place in Florence from where you can take the iconic photo of Florence. It is also the best place to view the breathtaking sunset over Brunelleschi’s Dome and the Arno river.
Santhi is an avid traveler and primary contributor to the blogs at Trawell.in. She has explored most of the states in India and gained vast knowledge on tourist destinations in India and abroad. She also contributes content to other travel websites.