Like many of Italy’s top tourist destinations, Florence is a city known for its outstanding art and architecture. However, what makes Florence unique is its place in history as the Tuscan capital whose influential Italian masters helped mold the city into what it is today. Many of Florence’s top attractions are inextricably linked to these important and well-known artists, thinkers, architects, and leaders who shaped Florence throughout its long history.
Once belonging to the famed Medici family, the gardens opened to the public in the late 18th century. Filled with dazzling architecture and stunning natural scenery, Boboli Gardens encompass much of what makes Florence so distinctive. Between the sculpture, lush gardens, fountains, hidden grottos, and amazing views of the city itself; the gardens are a must-visit for any traveler.
- Location: Piazza de’ Pitti (behind Pitti Palace)
- Hours: Monday-Sunday Open: 8:15 AM Closing Hours Vary By Season
- Closed Christmas and New Years Day
- Ticket Prices: $14.00 Regular ticket, Annual Pass: $35.00
- Purchase a combination ticket to Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti for free entrance to the gardens. Both of these spots are also well worth a visit; the Palazzo is home to several museums, and the Gallery is full of well-known works including Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus.
- Don’t Miss: Bernardo Buontalenti’s famous grotto and Giambologna’s Bathing Venus
- The gardens are subject to closures because of weather, so always check before visiting
- Private, guided tours also available
Campanile Di Giotto (Giotto’s Bell Tower)
A brilliant representation of Florence’s architecture at its finest, the almost 300-foot tall Gothic tower is adorned with many eye-catching details and flourishes. The tower is part of the Duomo (the Cathedral of Santa Maria), another well-known Florence location. Stay outside to gaze at the amazing architecture, or take a tour and climb the over 400 steps for a panoramic view of the city.
- Location: Piazza del Duomo
- Hours: Monday-Sunday 8:15 AM-6:50 PM
- Ticket Prices: $25.00 Purchase price for a ticket to Duomo includes access to all the surrounding monuments, including the Bell Tower, and is valid for 72 hours after your first visit.
- Don’t Miss: The seven bells (the largest known as Santa Reparata) and composite works by Andrea Pisano and Donatello. Be sure to check out the Duomo’s other attractions while you’re there, as there’s plenty to see.
- The climb to the top is steep but worth it
- Downloadable map available
- Private, guided tours also available
Galleria dell’Accademia (Academic Gallery)
While there are plenty of museums worth a visit in Florence, only one has Michelangelo’s David on display; and that’s the Galleria dell’Accademia. Visitors say that catching a glimpse of the famous statue is well worth braving the crowds, however, there’s also plenty of other works to see by the well-known artist, so the trip is definitely a must.
- Location: Via Ricasoli, 58/60
- Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 8:15 AM-6:50 PM
- Ticket Prices: $14.00, several free admission days offered throughout the year
- Don’t Miss: Michelangelo’s unfinished works (Slaves, Prisoners), rent an audio guide to learn more about the art
- Book a private, guided tour to avoid long lines
- Always plan ahead before visiting
Basilica Di Santa Croce
Art lovers will appreciate both the stunning architecture and impressive collection of art within this Gothic church, including frescoes by the aforementioned Giotto, Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. Next door to the church is the Museo dell’Opera di Santa Croce (museum of Santa Croce), which houses many objects once found within the church. Connected to the church is the Scuola del Cuoio, a leather school started post-WWII by Franciscan friars, which is also worth a look at.
- Location: Piazza di Santa Croce 16
- Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30 AM-5:30 PM, Sundays and holidays 2:00 PM-5:30 PM
- Closed New Year’s Day, Easter, October 4, December 25 and 26
- Ticket Prices: $11.00 Full, $9.00 Reduced
- Don’t Miss: The beautiful stained glass of the Baroncelli Chapel (one of 16 chapels), Michelangelo’s burial site, Galilieo’s Monument
- Just outside the city walls, visitors say it is a nice escape from the other, more crowded, tourist attractions
Free Attractions in Florence
There are plenty of free things to see and do in the city for those traveling on a budget.
Piazza della Signoria: An open-air museum with many eye-catching sculptures, the Fountain of Neptune, and plenty of places for travelers to sit and people watch or simply take in the sights.
Piazzale Michelangelo: With an amazing view of the city and a replica of Michelangelo’s David on display, this spot is a favorite of visitors. Though the climb can be strenuous, it’s well worth it, especially at sunset.
Piazza Santo Spirito: Located opposite the Duomo, this is a bustling square that has several cafes and restaurants. Located in the square is the Basilica di Santo Spirito, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.
Plan on visiting several attractions while in Florence? Then purchase a Firenze Card, which gives priority access to over 70 attractions in the city (including the Duomo Complex, Uffizi Gallery, Galleria dell’Accademia, and more).
- Price: About $120.00. For an additional $10.00, get unlimited access to public transport
- Valid for 72 hours after first use
- Can be purchased at various sale points throughout the city
Visitors to Florence will appreciate its distinctive combination of history, art, and architecture that can be found almost anywhere you look throughout the city in everything from churches to museums; public squares, and bell towers.