Florence is one of the most beautiful, artistic, and romantic cities in the world.
Visited by millions every year, Florence has a wealth of art museums, historical palaces, impressive churches, majestic gardens, and boutique shops with the best of Tuscan wines and the latest in Italian fashion.
In brief, this city flourished during the Middle Ages when it became an important center for trade.
But its role as a Renaissance hub was thanks in part to the rich and powerful Medici family.
What are the Top 10 things to do in Florence?
1. Piazzale Michelangelo – for the best view of Florence
This famous square could be the best place to start your trip in Florence.
The Piazzale Michelangelo is located on a hill just south of the River Arno and the historic center, and it offers a magnificent panoramic view of the city.
A copy of Michelangelo’s David stands in the center of this square as a tribute to one of Florence’s most revered artists.
2. Galleria Uffizi – immerse in Italian Renaissance
This art museum is one of the oldest and most famous in the world. Located in the Palazzo degli Uffizi building, this museum houses an impressive collection of Italian Renaissance artists.
Famous paintings include Birth of Venus by Botticelli (see image), Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael, Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, Medusa by Caravaggio, The Battle of San Romano by Paolo Ucello, and Venus of Urbino by Titian.
Please be aware the Uffizi Gallery can get very crowded. A great recommendation (especially in high-season) is to buy your tickets ahead of time or you could be waiting in long lines.
3. The Duomo complex – an architectural masterpiece
Located in the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is an architectural wonder.
Clad in pink, green, and white Tuscan marble, the incredible detail on its Neo-Gothic exterior is simply breathtaking.
The dome of this cathedral was completed by architect Brunelleschi in the 15th century and it is a revolutionary achievement. Not only is the dome the highest point in the city but amazingly enough, Brunelleschi built this dome without the use of scaffolding.
Both the Duomo and the Bell Tower offer spectacular views of Florence from the top. But there are no lifts and you must climb 463 steps to the top of the Duomo or 414 steps to the summit of the Campanile.
4. Enjoy a Gelato – I bet you can’t have just one
Reaching the top of the Duomo or Campanile is not an easy task. You should reward yourself for such an accomplishment with a gelato.
Regardless of the weather, Italians love their gelato and there are hundreds of gelaterias all over Florence. I must confess we tried many of them, but the best gelateria we found was Grom.
And best of all, Grom is located a few steps away from the Duomo on Via del Campanile. You can’t go wrong with dark chocolate and coconut.
5. Walk, walk, walk… andiamo
Florence is such a great walking city, so take full advantage. The streets in the historic center are literally yours because only residents with permits are allowed to drive their cars in this area.
And trust me, walking is the best way to explore this city and discover local shops, art galleries, gelaterias, coffee shops, and more.
Since there is art everywhere, walking also gives you the chance to stop and admire street performers and artists.
6. Galleria dell’ Accademia – because everybody loves David
This museum is not as big as the Uffizi, but in it you will find one of the most famous sculptures in the world: Michelangelo’s David.
Besides David, you can also see the Prisoners by Michelangelo and other important religious paintings and sculptures from the 13th to 16th centuries.
The Galleria dell’ Accademia also displays an extraordinary collection of musical instruments where you can find violins and cellos made by Antonio Stradivarius.
7. Piazza della Signoria – be there or be square
This famous square has been the heart of Florence for centuries. Citizens gathered here for public meetings, and today citizens still gather here to be heard.
The piazza is also a one-of-a-kind outdoor sculpture gallery with statues linked to Florence’s historical events and monuments honoring its heroes.
One of the most photographed statues is a copy of Michelangelo’s David standing in front of the Palazzo Vecchio (old palace).
Other sculptures to look for are Giambologna’s equestrian statue of Duke Cosimo I, the Neptune Fountain, and Perseus, a bronze statue by Cellini.
8. Ponte Vecchio – history on a bridge
Ponte Vecchio, Italian for old bridge, was the first bridge built across the Arno River back in the mid 1300’s.
It is also the only bridge that survived World War II since all the other medieval bridges across the Arno were destroyed during this period.
Today Ponte Vecchio is full of jewelry shops selling gold and silver ornaments, as well as watches.
In the middle of the bridge there is a bust honoring artist Cellini and from this point you also have great views along the Arno River.
9. Santa Croce – for Renaissance treasures
Built in the end of the 13th century, the Gothic Church of Santa Croce contains the tombs of famous Florentines, such as Galileo and Michelangelo.
Its artistic wealth reveals impressive frescoes by Giotto and Taddeo Gaddi, and Brunelleschi’s Cappella de Pazzi (Pazzi’s Chapel), an architectural masterpiece.
10. Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens
The Palazzo Pitti is Florence’s largest palace and at one time the residence of the Medici Family.
Today, the Palazzo Pitti is home to different galleries including the Museum of Silver, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Costume Gallery, and the Royal Apartments.
The Boboli Gardens is the largest public park in Florence and one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy.
As you walk through the gardens you can admire an incredible collection of sculptures and some parts of the park offer magnificent views of Florence.
Watch our video below and enjoy Florence, one of the most fantastic cities in the world. Buon Viaggio!