Small in size, but truly rich in charm and cultural heritage, Florence is home to gems such as the Duomo, Michelangelo's David, the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery. It can be visited in two days or enjoyed for a week, time that I recommend you take advantage of to explore Florence in 15 different incredible ways.
1. Marvel yourself walking through Piazza del Duomo
When Stendhal, the famous French author, visited Florence in 1817, he did not know that the vertigo he suffered when he could not assimilate the great beauty of this Italian city would become a syndrome diagnosed as 'Florence Syndrome' or 'Stendhal'. That is the evocative capacity of Florence, capital of the beautiful Tuscany and Renaissance city par excellence, which must be visited at least once in a lifetime.
And if there is a maximum representative of this beauty and splendor, it is the Piazza del Duomo: located in the historic center of Florence, declared a World Heritage Site, it is the most famous enclave of the city. It encompasses the wonderful architectural ensemble formed by the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, known as the Duomo, the Baptistery of San Giovanni and the Giotto's Bell Tower.
2. Culture at the Uffizi Gallery
Considered one of the best museums in Florence andthe world, the impressive Uffizi Gallery houses a huge collection of works of art, 1,500 in total, covering the history of classical art, from Greece to the eighteenth century.
You will need 4 hours on average to visit the entire complex, although you can choose to admire only the most outstanding works, such as 'The Birth of Venus' by Botticelli, the 'Doni Tondo' by Michelangelo or 'The Venus of Urbino' by Titian.
A good way to organize your visit to the Uffizi Gallery is to hire a guided tour or at least get a fast-track ticket for the Uffizi Gallery that will save you the endless queues at the entrance of the most visited museum in Florence. You have at your disposal different prices for the Uffizi Gallery; check them to adapt your budget and not miss this jewel of a museum.
3. Enter the Duomo of Florence
The Duomo is one of the most important buildings in the city, being one of the largest Christian temples in the world and very appreciated artistically for its exquisite white marble facade and its extraordinary Dome by Brunelleschi to which you can climb for spectacular views of the city.
The interior of the Duomo Cathedral and especially its dome receive millions of visitors a year so it is advisable to book a fast-track ticket and even a tour to discover the whole history of the Duomo and its outbuildings. The prices to visit the Duomo of Florence are totally affordable, so you have no excuse.
4. Cross the Ponte Vecchio at sunset
Undisputed symbol of the city of Florence, the Ponte Vecchio is one of the must-see in Florence. Today full of jewelry shops, this bridge was originally occupied by the butchers of the city and is one of the best and most famous examples of bridges with hanging houses in the world.
For years and as you will see, thousands of padlocks left by couples who have vowed eternal love in this romantic enclave hang from its structure. I personally am a born hunter of sunsets and I can assure you that the faint light of the sun hiding reflected in the Arno, is magical.
5. See Michelangelo's 'David' at the Accademia Gallery
Located in the rich historical center of Florence, you will find the second most visited museum in the city, the Accademia Gallery. Among the jewels of art in the Galleria dell'Accademia, stands imposingly the authentic David by Michelangelo, the quintessential Renaissance work, 5.2 meters high.
Long lines are guaranteed, so be sure to get a ticket or hire a guided tour to enrich your visit to the Accademia Gallery. I leave you information about the prices of the Galleria dell'Accademia and about the opening hours so you can organize your visit.
6. Buy a pizza to go and dine al fresco in Piazza della Signoria
Together with the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria is the most famous square in Florence and one of its main places of interest.
It is a real open-air museum composed of historic buildings, including the Palazzo Vecchio and its incredible Sala del Cinquecento, unique monuments, such as the Fountain of Neptune, and magnificent sculptures, with the Loggia dei Langi and its Perseus with the head of Medusa or those of Hercules, Cacus and Michelangelo's David, a replica of the original that, don't forget, you will only find in the Galleria dell'Accademia.
At night, this square fills with atmosphere, with dozens of Florentines and tourists admiring the beauty of its sculptures. Enjoying a pizza sitting on the steps of the square while several musicians set the atmosphere of the Florentine night, is a unique (and very cheap!) experience.
7. View Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
We all like to climb to the highest point of a city to observe its panoramic view and take the best souvenir photos. Well, that place in Florence is the Piazzale Michelangelo, a viewpoint somewhat away from the center and you can climb on foot or by bus.
In addition to the views, which are especially beautiful at sunset, in this square designed in honor of Michelangelo you can admire replicas of some of his greatest sculptures, such as the David and the four statues of the Medici Chapel.
8. Relax in the Boboli Gardens
If you need a moment of relaxation among the endless works of art that Florence has to offer (remember what happened to Stendhal, I have warned you), the right place is this: the Boboli Gardens.
This oasis located behind the Pitti Palace is a wonderful Renaissance garden full of surprises along the way, from an amphitheater to fountains, grottoes and sculptures that will make your walk a truly delightful experience.
9. Discover Piazza Santa Croce and its Church
Another of the most visited places in Florence, partly because of the great atmosphere it exudes, is the Piazza de la Santa Croce, in the heart of the historic center of the city. Rectangular in shape, the square is guarded by majestic palaces and a statue of Dante Alighieri.
Its church is popular for housing the tombs of illustrious figures such as Michelangelo, Galileo Galiei, Machiavelli and Lorenzo Ghiberti, being known as the Pantheon of Italian Glories. Without being as popular as the Piazza del Duomo, for me, its intimate atmosphere makes it very special.
10. Look at the details of the Baptistery of Piazza del Duomo
Don't make the mistake of overlooking the beauty of the Baptistery's details. Despite the fact that the size and spectacular nature of the Duomo and its dome usually take center stage during visits to the square, the Baptistery has some details that are well worth a moment of your time.
Right in front of the Duomo, you will find Lorenzo Ghiberti's The Gates of Paradise: it is one of the most acclaimed works of the Renaissance, depicting Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac in the Old Testament. Today, the original doors are in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, which I also recommend.
11. Enter the Medici Chapel
The Medici Chapel might go unnoticed if you are not looking for it, however, its interesting interior is well worth a visit.
Highlights include the New Sacristy, designed by Michelangelo, and the Chapel of the Princes, an octagonal room lined with marble and semiprecious stones where the remains of some of the most illustrious members of the most famous and powerful dynasty of patrons in the history of Italy rest.
12. Visit the Leonardo da Vinci Museum
Leonardo Da Vinci is surely the most famous Italian in history. In the city of Florence there is a museum dedicated to his figure and you have tickets available from 8 euros. Visiting the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in Florence is to immerse yourself in the figure of the artist, but it also means having a fun time if you go to Florence with children.
13. Immerse yourself in the Tuscan countryside
Florence's exceptional location makes your visit a unique opportunity to get to know other wonders that Italy has to offer. Florence is located in the beautiful region of Tuscany, with idyllic villages, colorful hills and miles and miles of vineyards. This is probably the best eating and drinking region in Italy, so you can't miss it on a trip to the vineyards of Tuscany from Florence.
The good thing is that this region is fully prepared to receive visitors from Florence, so there are several tours and excursions organized from Florence that will save you from having to rent a car or waste time researching to find the best itinerary. Don't forget to check out the gastronomic tours of Florence and surroundings because they can be a perfect option for your visit to Tuscany.
14. Visit Cinque Terre from Florence
If there is one region that enchanted (and surprised me, in equal parts) in Italy, it was Cinque Terre. This area is made up of five small villages linked along its coastline with picturesque colorful houses and wonderful beaches. Although in recent years it has become very fashionable, the fact that it is close to other popular areas such as Tuscany or Pisa takes it a little away from the masses and gives it a special charm.
If you want to get away from the cultural and artistic itinerary of the city of Florence to spend a pleasant day in nature, do not hesitate to make an excursion to Cinque Terre from Florence. If this option does not suit you, you can also reach Cinque Terre from Florence on your own and set up your own itinerary.
15. Visit Pisa from Florence
While the Tuscan countryside is one of the most popular destinations for visitors arriving in Florence, Pisa is a very pleasant small town to visit, even if it takes only half a day on an organized excursion from Florence.
There are several options (in fact, some even take you to visit other charming towns like Lucca or San Gimignano), so I recommend you to read my article on excursions to Pisa from Florence to choose the one that best suits your time and budget.
16. Travel back in time with a tour to Siena from Florence
As you already know, the location of Florence on the map will allow you to visit a large number of places of interest with very little travel time. And if there are also organized tours that take you there and back in a day, you have no excuse not to visit the surrounding areas of the city. A very popular option is to get to Venice from Florence, but it is not the only one.
With only 55,000 inhabitants, Siena has always been a relevant city for both its historical heritage and its culture. With cobblestone streets and buildings dating back to the Middle Ages, touring the city will be like traveling back in time. If you are curious and want to know more about Siena and how to organize your excursion there, I leave you a link to my article about excursions to Siena from Florence.
17. Tour the city in comfort on the tourist bus
Although at first it may seem a cliché, touring Florence aboard a tourist bus with free stops will allow you, on the one hand, to enjoy the views of its streets comfortably seated, but also, to move from one point of interest to another comfortably without having to worry about public transport.
When to go to Florence?
After taking note of all that awaits you in this wonderful Italian city, you are probably wondering what is the best time to visit. The most popular time is summer, but there is also plenty to do in Florence in winter and even more so if your visit to Florence coincides with Christmas. As for the months of the year, traveling to Florence in February, March, August, September, October, November and December are the preferred choices for tourists.
How many days are needed to see Florence?
I do not advise you to spend less than three days in Florence, but maybe your travel plans do not allow it, so here is a guide of what to see if you are going to spend two days in Florence or even what to see in Florence in one day. In the latter case I also advise you to book your transfer from Florence airport in advance to save time.
Do you have more days? Perfect; spending four days in Florence, five days in Florence or seven days in Florence will give you the opportunity to know the city in depth, but also to make an excursion to its surroundings, so do not think about it.