Do you remember when you studied the Renaissance in school? That time marked a before-and-after in the development of art, architecture, and science.
The place where all this began was none other than Italy, specifically Florence. The capital of Tuscany overflows with art from all its corners, but if you want to know which are the most crucial hubs you have to visit in Florence, do not pass on this guide that I have prepared for you. Let’s discover everything you have to do in Florence in a day or two.
In addition to soaking up art, you will get to know one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Florence is a city full of life and genuine masterpieces.
Florence – where is it?
Florence is the capital city of the region of Tuscany in the central part of Italy. It is one of Italy’s most important tourist destinations due to its absolutely amazing historic center.
Florence is also a home to many museums and art galleries, including the Uffizi Gallery, which houses masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, and Michelangelo. The city is situated on the Arno River and has a Mediterranean climate. Florence has a population of approximately 400,000 people.
Read also: Art Museums in Italy
What should I do in Florence?
1. See the Florence Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore)
It is the first item on a list of things to do in Florence. I think that it will be the most impressive church you will ever see in your life. In addition, it is the cradle of the Italian Renaissance. Construction took place between 1296 and 1436. The Florence Cathedral is the fifth largest cathedral globally.
Entrance to the cathedral is free. You will see that there is quite a long line, but do not worry, it usually goes much faster than it seems. In my experience, the cathedral is more spectacular from the outside than on the inside.
I also recommend you climb to the top of the dome to see the city at your feet (the ticket price is around $24). You can also visit the terraces of the cathedral. All the information about visiting the Florence Duomo is on the official website.
2. Proceed to Baptistery of San Giovanni
The other important building in Florence is the San Giovanni Baptistery and its famous Gate of Paradise. You will quickly recognize a golden door with engravings of scenes from the Old Testament because there will be a-thousand-and-one tourists taking photos of it. Inside the building is the tomb of Antipope John XXIII.
Read also: Best day trips from Florence
3. Walk down to Strozzi Palace
We now leave the Plaza del Duomo to continue strolling through the center and see such incredible places as the Strozzi Palace, one of Florence’s most important Italian Renaissance palaces. This palace stands out among the streets of Florence for its large dimensions; no less than 15 buildings were destroyed to build it.
4. Follow to Republic Square
Continuing along Strozzi Street, leaving the palace behind, there is another very cool place close to the Strozzi Palace that I recommend you visit. It is Republic Square, one of the largest squares in Florence, and in its center, the Column of Abundance represents the Goddess of Fortune.
5. Take a photo at Signoria Square
The next stop on our trip is at Signoria Square (Piazza della Signoria). With all due respect to the Cathedral Square, Signoria Square is perhaps the essential square in Florence, and I love it. Besides being pretty, it has a lively atmosphere, with street musicians and small artistic details. In addition, this square, like the rest of the squares in Florence, is packed with important historical monuments.
6. Enter the Old Palace (Palazzo Vecchio)
The building that most stands out in the Signoria Square is the Old Palace. You can find the City Hall of Florence there and explore inside also. Formerly this palace was the residence of the most influential and powerful family in the city, the Medicis. At its gates, there are several sculptures. Please take a good look at them. There is one mini copy of Michelangelo’s David 😉.
7. Florence Bridge (Ponte Vecchio)
Find the best angle to take your Instagram photo of the Florence Bridge, one of the city’s iconic visuals. It is the oldest stone bridge in Europe, with tiny houses where butchers used to live. Nowadays, the bridge is full of jewelers and souvenir shops.
An interesting fact It was the only bridge that the Germans did not destroy during World War II. Without a doubt, it is one of the important places to see in Florence.
8. Observe Florence at Piazzale Michelangelo’s viewpoint
It is a romantic place, for sure. And if you go there at sunset, I warn you that you will not be the only ones enjoying the view. Also, the Piazzale Michelangelo viewpoint is crowded in the afternoons and can spoil the romantic moment. My recommendation is to go to the viewpoint in the morning. But the site is spectacular at any time of day, and watching the sunset from there is absolutely amazing. Do not miss the Rose Garden either, which is right next to the viewpoint.
If you do not feel like climbing hills and stairs, you can get to the viewpoint of Piazzale Michelangelo by taking bus number 12. It leaves from the Florence train station but makes numerous stops throughout the city.
9. Visit the Uffizi Gallery
If you like museums and art, you will be in seventh heaven in Florence. One of the most important museums to see in Florence is the Uffizi Gallery. In fact, it is the most visited art gallery in all of Italy. You can find the museum in Signoria Square.
The gallery exhibits works by Titian, Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, and many other significant artists. The most beautiful masterpiece there is the Birth of Venus by Botticelli.
Warning The museum’s collection is quite extensive, and you can easily get lost for hours.
For more information on schedules and exhibitions see the official website of the Uffizi Gallery.
10. Loggia of the Signoria (Loggia dei Lanzi)
It is an open-air street museum of sculptures right next to the Uffizi Gallery. Built in the 14th century as a meeting place for city officials, it now houses three arches overlooking Signoria Square. The central arch is significantly larger than the two side arches, decorated with a relief sculpture of Hercules and Cacus, the fire-belching monster.
The Loggia of the Signoria is also known for Michelangelo’s David and Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes sculptures.
11. Accademia Gallery
The other essential museum to see in Florence is the Accademia Gallery. Yes, the most famous sculpture in the world, Michelangelo’s David, is there. The sculpture impresses with its size, but when you see it up close, tell me if size matters or not. 😉
By the way, I do not recommend you visit the two above-mentioned museums in Florence on the same day. Separate your visits to take everything in gradually; I think you will thank me.
12. Florence Basilica
We now continue with one of the most beautiful churches in Florence. The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is very close to the train station of the same name. Construction began in 1219 but was not completed until the middle of the 14th century. Now it is declared a World Heritage Site.
If you want to continue with churches, there is another one: the Basilica of the Holy Cross, which is the largest Franciscan Basilica in the world.
13. See Florence museums
These are the additional museums in Florence that I recommend:
- The Galileo Museum: A museum of the history of science. The Galileo Telescope and other exciting artifacts discovered by the Italians from the Renaissance to the present day are displayed here. If you are passionate about science, you should not miss it.
- The Bargello Museum: This ancient palace is the most extensive Italian collection of sculptures from the 14th and 16th centuries.
- The Museum dell’Opera del Duomo: This museum explains in detail every building of the Florence Duomo Square. There are many sketches of the construction of the Florence cathedral, the bell tower, and the baptistery.
14. The Porcellino Fountain (Il Porcellino)
Do you like unusual places as much as I do? Just as in Rome, where you throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain if you want to return to the city, you do the same at this superstitious place – the Porcellino Fountain. It is a bronze sculpture of the most famous wild boar in Florence, and you will find it near Signoria Square.
Follow my instructions: Rub a coin on the boar’s snout, then leave it in its mouth, and if it falls into the fountain, bingo! You can exhale because it means you will visit Florence again sooner rather than later.
Best restaurants in Florence
These are the restaurants in Florence that I recommend:
Trattoria Mario: A trattoria where locals go to eat, so it is always a good choice. In short, you can find quality homemade food at reasonable prices there. The restaurant is usually quite crowded, so I recommend reserving a table in advance. We had to wait an hour in line, but it was worth it. You can find it relatively close to the Duomo, at Vía Rosina 2. For approximately $35, we ordered pasta for two and a typical Florentine steak.
Fermento 1889: I know that not every menu item in Italy is pizza or pasta, but the pizzas in Florence are so good that you will give in to temptation one day (and you know it, too). People say that the best pizzas in Florence are at Fermento 1889. You can find it at Via Borgo San Frediano, 40.
La Buchetta: If you feel like having a good lunch or dinner, I recommend La Buchetta, near Ponte Vecchio. The price comes out to approximately $75 for two people. The pasta is great, and the Italian cheese plate is amazing. You can find it at Via De’ Benci 3/3a.
I’Girone De’Ghiotti: If you want to eat cheap and tasty paninis, I recommend this bar. You can find it at Via dei Cimatori 23, in the very center of Florence.
Florence Italy map
Where to stay in Florence?
To spend a night in Florence, I recommend the Hotel La Torre dei Salterelli. It is in the very center of the city, next to the Uffizi Gallery. In addition, the rooms are spacious and modern.
Another accommodation option is the Hotel Magenta. It is in the center as well, quite close to the central train station and the church of Santa Maria Novella. Overall, it is a good value.
Covid-19 rules in Florence
Italy has been hit hard by Covid-19. In response, the government has implemented many strict measures to stop the spread of the virus. However, now things seem less complicated. You can walk in public and enter a bar or supermarket in Florence without a mask. With nearly 85% of the population vaccinated, you are not obliged to show the “Green Pass” anymore, although wearing a mask is required in certain situations.
Did you like Florence? Or have you still not been there but desperately want to visit? Have I forgotten about more things to do in Florence? If the answer is Yes, please take the time to leave me a comment 🙂
Hello, my name is Nadia. I usually write about traveling (there are so many places to fit all the lifestyles), relocation (finding a job overseas or moving without losing an income), and living in a foreign country (adapting to a different culture and mentality).