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Sightseeing in Florence

Florence is an incredible city with a wealth of sights and attractions to visit and explore. There are so many things to do in Florence and so many places to visit in Florence that it’s often hard deciding where to start!

Duomo in Florence

A popular starting point for any trip to the city is the Piazza del Duomo. Here you will enjoy a glimpse of Brunelleschi’s dome, dominating the city landscape. For those fit enough, it’s worth climbing the 463 steps up the inside of the dome to enjoy the staggering views from the top. Braving the climb will also give you a wonderful perspective on Brunelleschi’s feat of engineering. For those who would rather view the Dome from a height, then head up the 414 steps of the Campanile next door instead. The latter is one of the highest places to visit in Florence!

The Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo is another one of the places to visit in Florence and is also close by. This includes works by Donatello, Michelangelo and others, as is the Baptistery with it’s stunning, ornate doors.

Piazzas in Florence

Just a couple of minutes walk from the Duomo is the Piazza della Repubblica. Without doubt, this is another of the ‘must see’ places to visit in Florence. It’s the biggest piazza in Central Florence. Just a word of warning. You’ll find prices in the cafes around it’s edges are some of the most expensive you’ll find in the city. Other piazzas also worth seeing include the Piazza della Signoria. The Piazza della Signoria is arguably Florence’s busiest piazza. Also of note are the Piazza Santa Croce and the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Each piazza has a stunning church well worth visiting. The church of Santa Croce was actually built by the Franciscans as a rival to the Dominican’s Santa Maria Novella church. Both are stunning.

Art Galleries in Florence

The Palazzo Vecchio stands on one corner of the Piazza della Signoria, behind which is the Uffizi Gallery. The former is Florence’s town hall whose tower dominates the piazza in which it stands. In front of it stands the copy of Michelangelo’s ‘David’. Incidentally, the original is housed in the Accademia. Certainly no trip to Florence would be complete without a visit to the stunning Palazzo Vecchio. Its interior courtyards and inner chambers all house stunning works of art.

Also not to be missed is the nearby Uffizi Gallery. Among the many things to do in Florence, it must rank as Italy’s best art gallery. The staggering number of visitors each year reflects this. Visitors are keen to get a glimpse of works of art by, amongst others, Giotto, Paolo Uccello and Masolini. It’s also home to artworks by Piero della Francesca, Boticelli, Michelangelo, Titian, Rubens, Van Dyck and Leonardo da Vinci. The draw of these artists means that queues to get in can be long and in peak times. As a result, you need to make sure you book Uffizi tickets in advance to guarantee a chance of getting in. It is still possible to turn up and queue for next day tickets. But, take note! Only 200 tickets are allocated in this way each day though so prepare to be disappointed unless you turn up extremely early!

The Museo Nazionale del Bargello is certainly another ‘must see’ of the places to visit in Florence during your stay, housing a wonderful sculpture collection. Again, make sure you book your tickets to the Bargello Museum in advance.

Churches in Florence

Also make sure you take a trip to San Lorenzo which claims to be Florence’s oldest church. The burial place of all of the Medici family, and designed by Brunelleschi, it’s another stunning example of Renaissance architecture. Inside, make sure you see the Cappelle Medici, the grandest part of the building. Interestingly, the Medici family were still paying for when the last member of the Medici dynasty died in 1743! While in this part of the city, you might also want to visit the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi housing the Gozzoli frescoes.

Visit the South side of Florence

With the majority of Florence’s attractions lying to the north of the River Arno, you mustn’t forget to cross over to the Oltarno to discover the many other hidden gems that lie on that side of the water. There are plenty of things to do in Florence on the South side of the river too! Make sure you cross over at least once via the Ponte Vecchio which takes you in the direction of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens. The palace and gardens contain no less than eight museums housing an art collection to rival the Uffizi. Visitors can see works of art by Caravaggio, Fra Bartolomeo, Raphael and Titian.

Also on this side of the Arno is the Church of Santo Spirito, one of Brunelleschi’s last projects, described by Bernini as ‘the most beautiful church in the world,’ as well as Santa Maria del Carmine.

If you’re looking for a more detailed list of ideas on what to do in Florence during your stay, check out our guide to the top 60 things to do in Florence.