Florence is the capital city of the Tuscany region in Italy and is one of the world’s most prominent tourist destinations. Rich in culture and history, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to things to do when in the city. In fact, one of the challenges that you will face when visiting Florence is seeing everything all at once. Luckily, we’ve made you’re your life easier and put together this list of must-see attractions in Florence.
Handy tips for your Florence trip:
- If you’re in the city for at least 2 days and plan to visit most of the Florence museums, you might want to consider buying a Firenzecard; this is the official museum pass for the city and gives you access to the museums included in the Firenzecard circuit. Another good purchase is the Firenzecard+, a single ticket that allows for unlimited use of public transport in Florence. Both passes are valid for 72 hours and can be bought online through the official website.
- Most of the attractions on this list do not allow the carrying of large bags, backpacks, or suitcases inside. To avoid inconvenience, look for a luggage storage service in Florence and deposit your items there.
- Since some of the places listed here are religious institutions, including churches, be aware of the dress code before your visit.
- The best time to visit is during the spring (between April and June) or autumn (September to October). During this time, there are fewer tourists around and prices drop significantly.
Top 10 Must-See Attractions in Florence
- Galleria degli Uffizi
The Uffizi Gallery, located near the famous Piazza della Signoria, is one of Florence’s top attractions for obvious reasons. The former palace turned gallery showcases an incredible collection of Renaissance art by greats such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Titian. The collection spans works dating back from the Middle Ages until the Modern Period. This is one attraction that you absolutely should not miss when in Florence. Don’t leave it to chance and book your entrance ticket months ahead of your visit through the museum’s official ticketing page.
- Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, also commonly referred to simply as the Duomo, is a 13th-century church considered to be one of the most significant Gothic architecture in the city of Florence. Perhaps the most iconic landmark in the city, the Duomo has an elaborate exterior made out of white, pink and green marble while the interior holds some stunning art and frescoes such as The Trinity by Masaccio and Giotto’s Crucifix. While you’re here, don’t forget to drop by the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo to see some impressive art made specifically for the cathedral.
Also known as Accademia Gallery, this art gallery is home to a massive collection of sculptures, paintings, and other works made by some of Florence’s finest artists. However, what everyone pays to see at the gallery is the sculpture of David made by Michelangelo, who was only 26 years old during the time of the sculpture’s creation. Other artists whose works can be seen at the gallery include Giambologna, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Filippino Lippi.
- Giardino di Boboli
The Boboli Gardens, situated just behind the renowned Palazzo Pitti, is made up of 111 acres of lush greenery and terraces that rise up the hillside. A favorite hangout spot by locals and tourists, the garden was formerly owned by the prominent Medici family before being opened to the public during the 18th century. It is one of the most incredible green spaces in Florence and offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and the enormous crowd that tends to build in the city center.
- Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio is Florence’s most recognizable bridge and is also one of its most interesting attractions; according to historic documents, this mysterious bridge dates back all the way to 996, during the Roman Times, and was rebuilt during the 14th century after the city was destroyed by a flood in 1333. Crossing the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio is a popular spot for romantic walks as well as photoshoots.
- Piazzale Michelangelo
If you’re looking for a place to see uninterrupted views of Florence, you should definitely head over to the Piazzale Michelangelo. Found on the left side of the Arno River, this public terrace was built in 1869 in honor of Michelangelo, one of the world’s most prominent Renaissance artists. Pro tip: the spot is no doubt the best place to watch the sun come down.
- Mercato Centrale
Housed within an iron-and-glass building designed by acclaimed architect Giuseppe Mengoni, the Mercato Centrale is Florence’s oldest public market. Get a glimpse of the authentic Florentine life; locals come here every morning to do their daily shopping. The 19th century market’s ground floor is filled with vendors selling all types of produce – from meat, fish and fruits to spices, cheese, and even wine. If you’re looking for some Italian-style street food, head over to the food court on the upper level, where you can sample Florentine meat, pasta, pizza, cold cuts, and gelato.
- Basilica di Santa Croce
The Basilica di Santa Croce is characterized by its traditionally-Tuscan appearance and geometric marble inlay and is one of Florence’s most beautiful churches. Other than its religious purpose, the basilica is also a mausoleum housing the tombs of some of Florence’s most prominent figures such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Ghiberti.
Art lovers will appreciate a visit here; the church is filled with Renaissance art, including the frescoes by Giotto and the renowned Christ Crucified by Donatello. Its crowning jewel, however, is the Crucifix by Cimabue, who is one of the first artists to break from the Byzantine style and onto the Renaissance style.
- Battistero (Baptistery)
Florence’s oldest building is definitely worth the visit; the Battistero (Baptistery) is found within two piazzas, the Piazza del Duomo and Piazza San Giovanni. Similar to most attractions in the city, the Baptistery is home to some incredible art works, including the set of bronze doors designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti, known as the Gates of Paradise.
- Piazza della Signoria
Widely considered as the most well-known square in Florence, the Piazza della Signoria was once the political heart of the city. The square is home to a number of Florence’s famous sites, including the Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, Loggia de Lanzi, and the Palazzo Uguccioni. Here, you will encounter several sculptures that are worth stopping for, including a replica of Michelangelo’s David.