Florence is a city of major historical sites like medieval churches, palaces, museums, and other landmarks. It would take you weeks to visit all the cool sightseeing spots in the city, so we decided to save you the trouble of researching and skip right to the list of 10 things to do while in Florence.
- Visit the Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is the most famous terrace in Florence from which visitors can see some of the main attractions in the city including Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio and other great landmarks. If you are going on a bus tour of Florence, you will probably stop here to take photos and enjoy panoramic views of the city. The best time to visit Piazzale Michelangelo is in the afternoon just before the sunset and the easiest way to get here is to take bus lines number 12 or 13.
- See the Piazza del Duomo
Located in the heart of Florence, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore or simply Piazza del Duomo is the city’s most recognizable attraction from the 14th century. With its red-tiled cupola, this huge Gothic cathedral attracts thousands of visitors each day. Make sure to climb to the top of the dome and enjoy breathtaking views of the city, but keep in mind that there is no elevator and walkways are quite narrow. Visitors who wish to look inside of the cathedral will be happy to hear that guided tours are available throughout the day.
- Visit the Baptistery of San Giovanni (Battistero)
Baptistery of San Giovanni is the oldest building in Florence and dates back to the 11th century. Some historians claim that its facades come from the 5th century, but this hasn’t been proven yet. Today, this place is a must-see attraction for anyone who is into art. Make sure to come early in the day to beat the crowds and see why Battistero is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
- Go to Basilica di Santa Croce
Designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, Basilica di Santa Croce is famous for its impressive neo-Gothic façade, the tombs of Michelangelo, frescoes by Giotto, and Ghilberti and Galileo. This amazing church was named after a splinter of the Holy Cross that was donated by King Louis. Most of the visitors come here to pay respect to famous Italian figures from the past including Niccolò Machiavelli, Galileo Galilei, and Michelangelo.
- Walk around the Piazza della Signoria
Located in front of Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria is a square that has seen great victories like the Bonfire of the Vanities and the return of the Medici family. There are several sculptures at Piazza della Signoria including Michelangelo’s David that was placed here a symbol of triumph over Medici. A number of tourists and locals come here to enjoy views of the surrounding historical buildings and have a drink at one of the nearby cafes.
- Explore the Uffizi Gallery
Created by Medici family, Uffizi Gallery is one of the first modern museums in this part of Europe and houses a permanent art collection of valuable artworks including Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael, Venus of Urbino by Titan, and Birth of Venus by Botticelli. The best way to see all of the highlights is to rent an audio guide or take a tour. Uffizi Gallery is quite big with over 45 halls; however, it is usually packed with tourists. We advise you to purchase tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long lines.
- Check out the World-Famous Sculptures at Galleria dell’Accademia
During your visit to Florence, you will probably see a number of Michelangelo’s David copies, but the original sculpture is located right here in Galleria dell’Accademia. Besides this famous sculpture that is located behind the glass for safety reasons, you can also check out some of the other galleries with artworks by local artists from Florence. Madonna from Sandro Botticelli is also one of the highlights here at Galleria dell’Accademia.
- Explore the Palazzo Pitti
Palazzo Pitti is full of attractions and visitors can spend an entire day sightseeing it all. Check out the amazing art gallery, the Medici palace, royal apartments, and local craftsmanship. At the Royal Apartments, visitors will have a chance to see paintings from artists such as Tintoretto, Rubens, Raphael, and Titian. Just behind the palace, you will see the Boboli Gardens that is one of the most beautiful royal gardens in the world. There are several fountains, a maze, and even a large amphitheater.
- See the Museo Nazionale del Bargello
Museo Nazionale del Bargello houses a spectacular collection of Tuscan Renaissance sculpture including works from Donatello and early pieces from Michelangelo. The building itself is quite old and dates back to the late 13th century. Did you know that Michelangelo was only 21 years old when he created the famous Bacchus? This is just one of the stories that you can hear during your visit to the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. Some of the other works from Michelangelo at the museum include the uncompleted Madona and Child, the David/Apollo, and the marble bust of Brutus.
- Ponte Vecchio
One of the city’s best landmarks and the most famous bridge in Florence, Ponte Vecchio is a pedestrian bridge often full of musicians, entertainers, and tourist who come here to take pictures and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. It does not just serve for crossing the river; it is also a piazza and a market place where you can find a lot of interesting things. The small houses on the bridge were originally used as local shops for butchers and tanners, but were replaced later by goldsmiths. Today, you can purchase jewelry in some of these shops. An interesting fact about Ponte Vecchio is that it was the only bridge in the city that survived the Second World War.