Add these popular landmarks to your list of things to do in Florence.
Are you planning a trip to the beautiful city of Florence, but have no clue what you should see? Worry no more. There are so many things to do in Florence that we can’t blame you if your itinerary list is too long.
Having gotten back from the beautiful city not too long ago, I have got a treat for you. Today, we will go over seven of the most wonderful landmarks this city has to offer. Not only were these landmarks some of the sights that I absolutely loved. But these are some of the most historic landmarks that everyone should experience at least once. From where to find the renowned work of Michelangelo to the beautiful Florence Cathedral, we have got you covered. Let’s go over the top items that you should include on your list of things to do in Florence.
1. Florence Cathedral
The Florence Cathedral was once known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Although the name of this cathedral has changed, the elegance and beauty of it has only grown. Right off the bat, when you set your eyes on this cathedral, you will be blown away by its sheer majesty. It seems the closer you get to it, the more impossible it is to soak in all its glory. From the base to the much adored dome, this cathedral is no doubt remarkable. If you find you find yourself in this beautiful city, then visiting the Florence Cathedral is one of the top things to do in Florence.
The iconic dome that towers over the city was not originally built with the cathedral. Rather, it was added on. Only the front of the church had been constructed and was primarily used as a facade or decoration. It was not until the 19th century that it was redone by the architects of the time and completed. The exterior of the cathedral is a stunning mix of pink, green, and white marble. This is a contrast to the inside that is simply stunning.
Once you enter, there are three huge bronze doors that will greet you. These doors date all the way back to 1899 and 1903. This should give you a sense of how historic this landmark actually is. Once you enter the cathedral, you will be blown away by the beauty that surrounds you. One of the main attractions of the inside of the cathedral is the iconic mosaic pavement.
Once you are inside the cathedral, there is plenty of beautiful artwork that will surround you. The biggest artwork within the cathedral is The Last Judgement. This massive painting was designed by Giorgio Vasari. However, it was his student, Frederico Zuccari who was the primary artist behind this painting. To get a sense of the beauty of this artwork, you will be astonished to know that it was painted in 1579. Setting your eyes on incredibly mesmerizing artwork like Vasari’s is what makes the cathedral one of the best things to do in Florence.
Another feature that makes this cathedral one of the best things to do in Florence is the fact that the entrance into the cathedral remains free. The only downside is that lines can be incredibly lengthy. The good news is as you wait in line, you can soak in the Italian charm that surrounds you everywhere on the square. Not only that, but the lines do tend to move pretty quickly.
Finally, in order to prepare yourself for a visit, expect for cathedral administrators to only let a certain amount of tourists enter at a time. This helps keep your experience of the cathedral less crowded and more enjoyable. If you would like to learn about the historical background, then we highly recommend an audio tour. If you are traveling with a large group or are a student then there are 50% discounts available on the audio tours.
Part of your experience at the cathedral is visiting the very popular dome. If you would like to climb to the top of the cathedral, or the Duomo, then we recommend booking a guided tour. Not only will you be able to get a rich experience, but you will get private access to things not allowed to the general public. Some of these exclusive entrance include the rooftop terraces.
2. Uffizi Gallery
One of the most popular things to do in Florence is visiting the ever-popular Uffizi Gallery. The Uffizi Gallery is home to some of the most renowned works of art created by some of history’s most celebrated artists. Some of these artists include Cimabue, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Giotto. The artwork is not the only thing that makes this museum one of the best things to do in Florence. The incredible architecture speaks for itself here. Explore the courtyard with the symmetrical columns that tower over you, and you will truly feel like you have been transported back in time.
There are several ways that you can get to the museum. However, if you are in the heart of Florence, it is nothing that a simple walk won’t do for you. In fact, many visitors recommend walking. This is because it gives you a chance to explore the beautiful city of Florence.
Before you get here, however, you will need to make sure that you book your tickets ahead of time. You can also buy them right at the museum, but there is a wait time. Speaking of wait times, you should know that the museum is known for having terribly long lines. This is because there are limited visitors allowed at a time. Only small groups of visitors can enter the gallery at designated times. While this may be quite annoying, it is actually pretty awesome. Having only small groups at a time allows you the luxury of enjoying the Gallery without having to deal with crowded groups of tourists.
When it comes to tickets prices, there is a range depending on where you buy them. However, you can usually get them for just under 40 euros. If you prefer not to explore the museum alone, then we recommend booking a guided tour. Guided tours give you the experience of understanding every piece of artwork you come in contact with. For visitors who prefer to go at it alone, there are also audio guided tours that you can take advantage of too. To buy your tickets or to book a guided tour, click here.
The Uffizi Gallery is easily one of the most iconic galleries in all of the world. For that reason (and many more), it is easily one of the best things to do in Florence. Be sure not to leave it off your list when you come to this iconic city.
3. Ponte Vecchio
One of the most iconic and everlasting symbols of Florence is this next location. Ponte Vecchio is easily one of the best things to do in Florence. The literal translation means “Old Bridge”. And boy does this translation fit adequately. This bridge is located along the pedestrian zone south of the Piazza della Repubblica. What makes this bridge unique is the fact that it is the oldest bridge in Florence.
It was built incredibly close to the Roman crossing and up until 1218, it was the only bridge that allowed access across the Arno in Florence. Unfortunately, there was a terrible flood in 1345 and this bridge had to be rebuilt. The history of this bridge also extends out to World War Two. Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge that Germany did not destroy. Instead of destroying it, they blocked access to it by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side.
While it is not really known exactly when this bridge was built, one thing is for certain. This iconic bridge dates back to 966. However, it is still a bit of a mystery as to exactly who built it. Over the course of history, several artists have credited other artists with building it but art historians seem to have a different understanding. The accepted notion now is that Taddeo Gaddi and Neri di Fioravante are the masterminds behind it. One thing that is for certain is why it was built. The consensus held nowadays is that the bridge was built as a system of defense.
When you observe the bridge from afar, one of the main things that will stand out to you are the shutter windows. These windows are not only iconic but they add an element of harmony to the bridge. when you visit the bridge today you will find that it is typically crowded no matter what time you visit. This is partly due to the fact that there are shops all along the bridge.
The shops have existed really ever since the 13th century. While these shops were initially points of sales for fishermen, butchers, and goldsmiths, the shops here have shifted a bit. Nowadays, you can find an eclectic range of shops including places to dine, locations to shop for souvenirs, and much much more.
Not only that, but over time, this iconic bridge has been known to be one of the most romantic spots in Florence. Not only does it provide incredible views of the river, but it is a wonderful place to waste an evening away at. Without a doubt, the old bridge is easily one of the best things to do in Florence. Be sure not to leave it off your list.
4. Galleria dell’Accademia
You have read all about it in history books, now it is time to visit it. The Accademia Gallery Museum in Florence (or Galleria dell’Accademia) is by far one of the best things to do in Florence. What makes this one of the best things to do in Florence is the fact that it is home to some of the world’s most historic art. A majority of the artwork housed here is by the incredible Michelangelo. You will find a vast collection of sculptures that were made by the great Renaissance artist himself. Some of his most popular work that is housed here includes his Prisoners and his Saint Matthew. And of course, how can you forget his most iconic sculpture, the David. The David is what draws the nearly hundreds of thousands of visitors who flock here every year.
Although Michelangelo is clearly the showstopper, there are plenty of other pieces of work by plenty of equally great Italian artist. You can expect to find the works of Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli, Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, and Allessando Allori here too. This incredible collection of art once belonged to the Medici family. The family later ended up donating much of the work. Because of that, the artwork has had the chance to be on display so that the whole of the world can enjoy and appreciate it.
The stunning beauty at this museum does not stop at the sculptures. There are also incredible textiles that date back to the 14th century. Take a look at an exhibition that highlights the importance of textiles and how they were used in art forms in the early 1300s. The exhibition dives into how textiles have helped shape both be the economy of Florence as well as the artistic culture. Go through the history of time and explore how fashion has transformed over the centuries in Florence.
If you are coming to explore the Accademia Gallery Museum, then you will want to set aside plenty of time. This Museum easily takes up an entire afternoon, if not the whole day. There is so much to see, so we encourage you to take your time while here. While there is a fee to enter the museum, it is fairly reasonable. You can buy your tickets right at the door, or you can buy them online by clicking here. Booking your tickets not only helps you secure your tickets a while in advance. But when you pre-book your tickets, you do not have to wait in the long lines that are almost guaranteed to be there. Not only that, but you will be able to enter the museum through a separate reserved entrance.
Once you purchase your tickets, you have the option of exploring the museum on your own or with a group. While exploring the museum on your own gives you the time to do what you want when you want, it may be difficult soaking in all the knowledge. We recommend going with a group if you would like to dive deep and learn about all the artwork surrounding you. However, for travelers on a budget, you will be happy to know that sound does flow freely within the museum. If you happen to be standing close enough to a guided group, you are sure to pick up all the information you need to know about the history of the art. Travelers on a budget, you are welcome!
5. Piazzale Michelangelo
Credit: Nadia Elyaouti
Want to appreciate the beautiful city from above? Then it is a must that you head over to Piazzale Michelangelo. The Piazzale Michelangelo is easily one of the best things to do in Florence. Before you head out to this location though, you will want to put on a pair of comfortable walking shoes. It’s actually quite easy to get here. Just follow the signs (or the crowds) and it should be no more than a 20-minute walk from the Florence Cathedral.
When you get here, you will immediately be greeted with a life-size replica of the David. This brass replica of the David may not be the real thing, but it is still one of the best things to do in Florence. Head over to the deck and you will be greeted with an incredible view of the city below you. While you may be quick to pull out your camera and snap a couple of pics, you might want to hold off for just a moment. The Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the best places to sit back and reflect on the beauty of Florence. Soak in the astounding sites that have prompted the setting of so many movies, works of art, and stories.
A common misconception is the fact that Piazzale Michelangelo is as old as the David itself. This is however false. This Monument was created in 1869 as part of a restructuring of the city walls to commemorate and pay tribute to the great artist, Michelangelo. The mastermind behind the Piazzale Michelangelo, Giuseppe Poggi, decided to add the statue of David as well as other sculptures here.
If you are hungry for a bite to eat, then the viewing terrace is also home to a nice cafe where you can dine-in pure Italian style. There are plenty of other vendors if you are looking for street food. If you do not mind a hike, which we strongly recommend, then the Piazzale Michelangelo is absolutely one of the best things to do in Florence. And in case you were wondering, walking is not the only way to get here. You can also take either bus 12 or bus 13 to get here. If you want to play tourist, you can even take the two-level sightseeing tour bus as well.
6. Boboli Gardens
Credit: Dimitris Kamaras
One of the most relaxing things to do in Florence includes visiting the beautiful Boboli Gardens. Florence is known to be a city that is boasting with beautiful architecture. Meanwhile, the gardens have evolved to be known as Florence’s “Green Lungs”. This beautiful park is the perfect place if you are looking to stroll around in an exquisite Italian garden.
The Boboli Gardens consist of beautiful arrangements of Oak trees, Italian sculptures, and incredibly exquisite fountains. While the best time to visit the garden is when the flowers are in full bloom, autumn is ideal as well. During autumn, the beautiful foliage is simply breathtaking.
The original garden was first laid out by the Borgolo family. In fact, this is where it was thought the name of the gardens originated from. The original plans, however, were designed by Niccolo Tribolo and were completed after his death in 1550.
When you get here, you must start your exploration by soaking in the beauty of the Pitti Palace’s courtyard. After that, you will be greeted by a staircase that leads up to the “aritchoke” fountain. It is in this fountain that you can soak up the beauty of several statues. To add to the picturesque scene, time your visit just right and you will be able to see the beautiful lilypads too. After the fountain, you will then enter the beautiful amphitheater. Although the original intention was not for an amphitheater. The distinct shape is what led it to described as such.
What makes the gardens one of the best things to do in Florence is the absolutely beautiful Viottolone. This is a series of avenues that will lead you back down towards Porta Romana. You will find an assortment of terraces and tunnels that are formed by the trees. These formations are simply stunning and the perfect backdrop for any photo.
Other iconic landmarks that you should explore in the Boboli Gardens is the Giardino Del Cavaliere. Not only did Michelangelo have his influence on the building, but you will find other gems here. On either side of the double staircase, you will find two statues of the Muses. Come during the spring and summer and beautiful blooms of roses will make your visit that more enjoyable.
If you want to get out of the bustling city for a day, then Boboli Gardens is one of the best things to do in Florence. Sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful Italian nature that surrounds you here.
7. Piazza della Repubblica
This next spott is dubbed “The Roman Heart of Florence”. Piazza della Repubblica is one of the most popular things to do in Florence. This square is considered to be the center of the city. It is here that you will find the Colonna della Dovizia or the Column of Abundance. This column marks the spot where the Roman forum stood.
Since its conception, the column has been where the hustle and bustle happens. Ever since 1431, there were markets and churches that locals gravitated to and mingled in. Not a lot has changed since then. In fact, this square is one of the most popular things to do in Florence because visitors and locals come here to relax and lounge around.
When you are here, you can grab an authentic Italian cappuccino and drink in sights of the Italian charm. With all the foot traffic here, the square is the perfect place to enjoy some unique people watching. You will find plenty of vendors here if you are looking to snack on something as well. Not only that, but it is not uncommon for activities like carousel rides to be here for everyone of all ages to enjoy.
For a relaxing day at one of the most beautiful locations in Florence, this square is a must on your list of things to do in Florence. So grab yourself a gelato, hunker down, and enjoy the view.
8. Explore, Explore, Explore!
Credit: Nadia Elyaouti
The seven things listed above highlight some of the most popular things to do in Florence that you absolutely can not leave off your list. This last item of things to do in Florence is simply one that you cannot plan for. In fact, if you ask me, one of the best things to do in Florence is to explore this magical city with no plans at all.
Strap on your most comfortable pair of shoes. Throw some items into a small travel tote bag and leave your Italian hotel so that you can paint the town red. Part of the magic that Florence has to offer is the fact that there is so much beauty all around you at all times. One of the best ways to experience this is simply by exploring it. Walk into shops, boutiques, and cafes and soak in all the magic that Florence has to offer. Then, make your way to any plaza and get lost on the cobblestone streets.
One of my favorite things to do in this incredible city is to grab a gelato and settle into any nook, corner, or staircase on the main square. With some of the best carry out Florence has to offer, there is nothing better than sitting back, nibbling on Italian food and people watching. Travelers from all walks of life litter the streets here in one of the most magical places in Italy. When you find yourself getting a little restless, pop into any street or avenue and drink in the city the way a local would. Stroll through wisteria covered streets and cobblestone sidewalks to truly experience Florence. Without a doubt, wasting away a lazy afternoon is one of the best things to do in Florence.
There are so many things to do in Florence. This beautiful city cannot be summed up in just one day. You need to allow at least a week in your travel plans. This will give you just enough time to explore and soak in all the beauty that the city has to offer. With some of the best deals on plane tickets to Europe right now, why wouldn’t you want to plan a last minute vacation?
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