Things to do in Florence

The entire Renaissance city of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular cities to visit in Italy, boasting countless churches, cathedrals, art galleries and museums. Deciding where to start your sightseeing tours may prove to be the most tricky part of the whole process, and that's not even taking into consideration the numerous stunning excursions into the Tuscan countryside.

For starters, head to the most popular site, the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore, which began construction in 1296, was consecrated in 1436, holds 20,000 people and offers some breathtaking views over the city. Visit one of Florence's oldest buildings, the Baptistery of John the Baptist, to enjoy views over the Arno River, or stroll across the Ponte Vecchio to the Giardino di Boboli to enjoy the park dotted with fountains behind the Pitti Palace. Navigate the crowds at the Uffizi Gallery, the Bargello and the Florence Accademia, which exhibit some of the best art collections in the world.

Culture-lovers will enjoy a trip to Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in Italy, which holds the tombs of Michelangelo and Dante, among others; as well as the Piazza della Signoria, the heart of the historic centre and an open-air sculpture exhibit, where visitors can sip on a cup of coffee and watch the world go by from one of the surrounding cafes.

The Uffizi (Gallerie degli Uffizi) photo

The Uffizi (Gallerie degli Uffizi)

The Uffizi is one of the world's greatest art galleries, with a collection of Renaissance paintings that includes the works of Giotto, Masaccio, Paolo Ucello, Botticelli, Leonardo,…

The Uffizi (Gallerie degli Uffizi)

The Uffizi is one of the world's greatest art galleries, with a collection of Renaissance paintings that includes the works of Giotto, Masaccio, Paolo Ucello, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Titian and Caravaggio. The collection is housed on the top floor of a building designed as the offices of the Medici, commissioned by Duke Cosimo I. From 1581, Cosimo's heirs used the upper storey to display the Medici art treasures. Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures line the inner corridors of the gallery and a series of rooms showcases the chronological development of Florentine art from Gothic to High Renaissance and beyond. The queues can get frustratingly long so it is best to arrive as early as possible.

Address Loggiato degli Uffizi 6

Website www.beniculturali.it/mibac/export/MiBAC/sito-MiBAC/Luogo/MibacUnif/Enti/visualizza_asset.html_126669143.html

Opens Open Tuesday to Sunday from 8.15am to 6.50pm. Closed on Mondays, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.

Admission

Ticket prices vary, concessions are available. Special exhibitions have an excess fee

Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) photo

Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square)

Florence Cathedral is set in the heart of the city, its most distinctive feature being its enormous dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The Campanile was built according to Giot…

Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square)

Florence Cathedral is set in the heart of the city, its most distinctive feature being its enormous dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The Campanile was built according to Giotto's designs in 1334, serving as an elegant prop to Brunelleschi's stout Cathedral. The tower is decorated with two garlands of bas-reliefs, strung around its pink, white and green marble exterior. Above, sculptures by Donatello of the Prophets and Sybils look down upon the city below. The neighbouring Baptistry is one of Florence's oldest buildings, the gilded brass doors marking Florence's deliverance from the plague. It also contains the machines used in the construction of the cathedral's dome. Other noteworthy artefacts found in the museum include Michelangelo's Pieta and Donatello's Magdalene. In the anteroom are Andrea Pisano's panels from the first few levels of the bell tower.

Address Piazza Duomo

Website www.duomofirenze.it/index-eng.htm

Opens Cathedral open Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 5pm (Thursdays until 3:30pm; Saturdays until 4.45pm); and on Sundays from 1.30pm to 4.45pm. Museum open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 7.30pm, and on Sundays from 9am to 1.40pm

Admission

Cathedral entry is free, but there are admission fees for the baptistry, the dome, the cupola and museum.

The Bargello (Museo Nazionale del Bargello) photo

The Bargello (Museo Nazionale del Bargello)

This Gothic Palazzo built in 1255 shelters a treasured national collection of Renaissance sculpture. It's one of the oldest buildings in Florence and has been the setting for some …

The Bargello (Museo Nazionale del Bargello)

This Gothic Palazzo built in 1255 shelters a treasured national collection of Renaissance sculpture. It's one of the oldest buildings in Florence and has been the setting for some important episodes of history, including sieges, fires and executions: the most famous of these being that of Baroncelli, who was executed for plotting against the Medici and whose execution was witnessed by Leonardo da Vinci. An extensive collection of decorative art is on display, in addition to the magnificent sculptures of Michelangelo, Donatello and Giambologna. The inner courtyard is ornamented with numerous coats of arms and the grand stairwell leading to the second-story loggia overflows with bronze birds created for the Medici's gardens. Other notable displays include an Islamic collection, an assortment of ivories and 16th-century majolica porcelain from Urbino, Faenza and Florence.

Address Via del Proconsolo 4

Website www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/museum_of_bargello.html

Opens 8.15am to 1.50pm. Closed on the first, third and fifth Monday of each month; closed on the second and fourth Sunday of each month; and closed on 1 January, 1 May and Christmas Day.

Santa Croce photo

Santa Croce

Santa Croce, a magnificent Gothic church built in 1294, contains the tombs of many celebrated Florentines, such as Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli, as well as the famous comp…

Santa Croce

Santa Croce, a magnificent Gothic church built in 1294, contains the tombs of many celebrated Florentines, such as Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli, as well as the famous composer Rossini. The interior is graced by the radiant frescoes of Giotto and his pupil Taddeo Gaddi, and integrated into the cloister next to the church is Brunelleschi's Pazzi Chapel. The large square in front of the church is a great meeting place and there are some lovely restaurants and cafes about for refreshments.

Address Piazza Santa Croce, 16

Website www.santacroceopera.it/it/default.aspx

Opens Open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5.30pm, and on Sundays from 2pm to 5.30pm.

Admission

€8. Concessions are available

Ponte Vecchio photo

Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio's status as the oldest bridge in Florence saved it from destruction during the Nazi retreat from Italy in 1944. To one side of the bridge is the majestic bust of …

Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio's status as the oldest bridge in Florence saved it from destruction during the Nazi retreat from Italy in 1944. To one side of the bridge is the majestic bust of the most famous Florentine goldsmith, Benvenuto Cellini, while perched above the overhanging shops is a secret passageway named the Vasari Corridor, providing an elevated link to the Palazzo Pitti via the Uffizi. It was the private walkway of the Medicis who wanted to move between the various residences without having to rub shoulders with the commoners. The Ponte Vecchio is charming at night, when it's lit up and the bright shops beckon visitors closer. It's an icon of Florence and an enduringly popular attraction.

Palazzo Pitti and Giardino Boboli photo

Palazzo Pitti and Giardino Boboli

Once the property of the iconic Medici family and the one-time residence of the Italian king, the Palazzo is a grand structure boasting no less than seven museums. Among these are …

Palazzo Pitti and Giardino Boboli

Once the property of the iconic Medici family and the one-time residence of the Italian king, the Palazzo is a grand structure boasting no less than seven museums. Among these are the Medici treasures showcased in the Museo degli Argenti, the Museum of Costumes and the Porcelain Museum. The Galleria d'Arte Moderna provides a fascinating display from the Macchiaioli school, as well as a collection of Neoclassical and Romantic art. The collections in the Palazzo Pitti keep visitors captivated for hours. Extending behind the palace are the elaborately landscaped and beautifully maintained Boboli Gardens, well-known for their fountains and grottos. Their most celebrated treasure is the Grotta del Buontalenti, in which rests the sculpture Venus Emerging from her Bath. Another notable structure is the enormous amphitheatre designed on a scale to serve the Medici's tastes.

Address Piazza Pitti 1

Website www.polomuseale.firenze.it/en/musei/pitti.php?m=palazzopitti

Admission

There are a variety of ticket options available. Check the website for further details.

Pisa photo

Pisa

A popular day trip from Florence, the famous town of Pisa is most well-known for its Leaning Tower. But other equally notable charms include its long maritime legacy, its prized un…

Pisa

A popular day trip from Florence, the famous town of Pisa is most well-known for its Leaning Tower. But other equally notable charms include its long maritime legacy, its prized university and its status as the birthplace of Galileo Galilei. The Pisans also created one of the most beautiful squares in the world in the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). Pisa is home to dozens of other historical churches and buildings such as the Museo delle Sinopie, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo and the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, with its range of Florentine art from the 12th to the 17th century.