Do you remember when you studied the Renaissance at 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, don’t miss 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.
What should I do in Florence?
1. See the Florence Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore)
It is the first thing on a list of what 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 years: 1296-1436. The Florence Cathedral is the fifth largest cathedral globally.
Entrance to the cathedral is free. You will see that there is quite a queue, but don’t worry, it usually goes much faster than it seems. In my experience, the cathedral is more spectacular on 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 ~$24). You can also visit the terraces of the cathedral. You have all the information about visiting the Florence Duomo 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 you’ll notice a thousand and one tourist taking photos of it. Inside the building is the tomb of Antipope John XXIII.
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, and no less than 15 buildings were destroyed to build it.
4. Follow to Republic Square
Continuing along the Strozzi Street, leaving the palace behind, there is another very cool place close to the Strozzi Palace that I recommend you to 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 way is at Signoria Square (Piazza della Signoria). With all the respect to the Cathedral Square, perhaps Signoria Square is the essential square in Florence, and I love it. Besides being pretty, it has its atmosphere, with street musicians and small art 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 it inside also. Formerly this palace was the residence of the most influential and powerful family in the city, the Medici. 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 places. 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 one in this place. 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. Don’t miss the Rose Garden either, which is right next to the viewpoint.
If you don’t 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 different stops throughout the city.
9. Visit the Uffizi Gallery
If you like museums and art, you actually will rub your hands 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 Italy. You can find the museum in Signoria Square.
The gallery holds the works of 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 there.
For more information on schedule 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 the 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 in real, tell me if size matters or not. 😉
By the way, I don’t recommend you visit the two most important museums in Florence on the same day. It is a plan to enjoy calmly, and 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’s 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 museums in Florence that I recommend:
- The Galileo Museum. It is the 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, I think you should not miss it.
- The Bargello Museum. This ancient palace is the most extensive Italian collection of sculptures from the fourteenth and sixteenth 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 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 breathe out because you will revisit Florence sooner rather than later.
Best restaurants in Florence
These are the restaurants where to eat in Florence that I recommend:
Trattoria Mario. It is a trattoria where the local people go to eat, so it’s always a good choice. In short, there you will find quality homemade food at reasonable prices. The restaurant is usually quite crowded, so I recommend that you go to ask for 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, in Vía Rosina 2. For ~$35, two of us got pasta and 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 fall into temptation one day (and you know it). People say that the best pizzas in Florence are at Fermento 1889. You can find it in Via Borgo San Frediano, 40.
La Buchetta. If you feel like having a good lunch or dinner, I recommend La Buchetta, near the Ponte Vecchio. The price comes out to ~$75 for two people. The pasta is great, and the Italian cheese plate is amazing. You find it in Via De’ Benci 3/3a.
I’Girone De’Ghiotti. If you want to eat cheap and tasty paninis, I recommend this bar. You’ll find it in Via dei Cimatori 23, in the 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, value for money.
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. But in the middle of 2022, 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’re not obliged to show the “green pass” anymore, although wearing a mask is required in certain situations.
Did you like Florence? Or, do you want to go there? Have I forgotten more things to do in Florence? If the answer is Yes, you are already taking 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).