1. Travel
Send to a Friend via Email

Top Sights and Attractions in Florence

What to See in Florence, Italy

By

Florence, one of the most popular travel cities in Italy, has many impressive sights and attractions. A Renaissance city in the heart of Tuscany, Florence has some of Italy's best museums, beautiful cathedrals and churches, and interesting streets and squares with elegant buildings and shops.

Here are the top attractions tourists want to see. Most lie in Florence's compact centro storico (definition of centro storico). You'll find their locations on this Florence Map. For convenient hotels see Top Rated Central Florence Hotels.

Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio

florence picture, palazzo vecchio, florence
Martha Bakerjian

Florence's most famous square is Piazza della Signoria, the heart of the historic center and a free open-air sculpture exhibit. The Loggia della Signoria holds some important statues including a copy of Michelangelo's David. The piazza has been Florence's political center since the middle ages and Florence's town hall, the medieval Palazzo Vecchio, sits on the piazza. Inside the palazzo are elaborately decorated public rooms and private apartments that can be visited. Around the piazza are cafes and restaurants.

Il Duomo - Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

florence duomo pictures
photo by Barbara Molini

Florence's most popular site is its Duomo (cathedral), the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore. The huge Gothic duomo was begun in 1296, consecrated in 1436, and holds 20,000 people. Its exterior, made of green, pink, and white marble, has several elaborate doors and interesting statues. Inside, Brunelleschi's Dome is a masterpiece of construction. Buy a ticket to climb the 463 steps to its top. See pictures of Florence taken from the Duomo Dome.

The Baptistery

The Baptistery of John the Baptist, from the 11th century, is one of Florence's oldest buildings. Its exterior is made of green and white marble and has three sets of amazing bronze doors (reproductions - the originals are in the Duomo Museum, also worth a visit). Inside, are mosaics and a marble pavement of the zodiac. In Piazza San Giovanni, off Piazza del Duomo, open 12:00-7:00 daily except holidays and 8:30-2:00 Sundays (ticket).

Campanile - Bell Tower

florence pictures, florence duomo dome pictures, florence bell tower pictures
Barbara Molini

The Campanile, bell tower, is in Piazza del Duomo. The first story was designed by Giotto and it is commonly called Giotto's Campanile. Buy a ticket and climb the 414 stairs (no lift) for great views of the Cathedral and its dome and the city of Florence and surroundings.

Ponte Vecchio

florence picture, ponte vecchio
Martha Bakerjian

The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), built in 1345, was Florence's first bridge across the Arno River and is the only surviving bridge from Florence's medieval days (others were destroyed in World War II). The Ponte Vecchio is still lined with shops selling gold and silver jewelry. From the bridge, you'll have a great view along the Arno River and beyond. Ponte Vecchio Pictures

Galleria degli Uffizi

The Galleria degli Uffizi holds the world's most important collection of Renaissance art but it's also Italy's most crowded museum so it's a good idea to buy tickets ahead to avoid long ticket lines (use the link above for booking information or buy tickets from Select Italy). The Uffizi holds thousands of paintings from medieval to modern times and many antique sculptures, illuminations, and tapestries. Artists whose works you'll see include Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, and Raphael.

Galleria dell' Academia

Florence's Galleria dell' Academia holds important paintings and sculptures from the 13th-16th centuries. Michelangelo's David, probably the most famous sculpture in the world, is in the Galleria dell' Academia as well as other sculptures by Michelangelo. You'll also find an interesting collection of musical instruments, begun by the Medici family. You can buy tickets from Select Italy in advance.

Boboli Garden and Pitti Palace

florence picture, pitti palace, boboli gardens
Martha Bakerjian

Cross the Ponte Vecchio to the Giardino di Boboli, a huge park on a hillside in the middle of Florence behind the Pitti Palace. Here you'll find beautiful gardens and fountains and a great view of Florence from the Forte Belvedere. Open daily at 8:15 (except some Mondays in winter) with seasonal closing times.The Pitti Palace, Florence's largest palazzo, was once the seat of the Medici family. Eight different galleries feature art, costumes, jewelry, and the apartments. Buy tickets from Select Italy

Santa Croce

Santa Croce, in Piazza Santa Croce, is the largest Franciscan church in Italy and holds the tombs of several important Florentines including Michelangelo and Dante. The vast interior contains some exceptional stained glass windows and frescoes. One of Brunelleschi's most important works, the Cappella dei Pazzi, is in Santa Croce. Admission includes the museum and tours given by volunteers when available. Audio tours are extra. Open Monday-Saturday, 9:30-5:30 and Sunday, 1-5:30.

Shopping

Florence has some of the finest shopping in Europe. In Florence you'll find leather goods, paper goods, and jewelry as well as nice souvenirs and art productions. See 7 Artisan and Fashion Shops. Florence has a number of open air markets selling food, clothing, and antiques. The most famous is around Piazza San Lorenzo where you'll find leather goods, too. Another good place is Mercato Nuovo (Porcellino) on Via Porta Rossa. Mercato Centrale is a great place for food shopping or just browsing.

Where to See Michelangelo's Art in Florence

Michelangelo Buonarotti has long been associated with the city of Florence, and the city holds many of his masterpieces. Here's where to go in Florence to see top artworks by Michelangelo.

 

Florence Day Trips

While there's lots to see and do in Florence, the city also makes a great base for day trips to other places in Tuscany.
  1. About.com
  2. Travel
  3. Italy Travel
  4. Florence, Italy
  5. Top Ten Sights and Tourist Attractions in Florence Italy

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.