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Top Attractions to Visit in Florence

May 20, 2022
by Chris Reidy

The changing weather and warmer temperatures over these last few weeks have led to an extremely noticeable increase in foot traffic and line length all across the Florence city center. Spring breakers, high school trips, along with regular travelers have begun to pile back into European cities as tourism season begins. Florence is included in the big three cities to visit in Italy (along with Rome and Venice), but from my personal experience in talking to visiting students and parents, most tourists only seem to stay for a few days max. I'm biased and would recommend a whole semester in the cradle of the renaissance, but at the same time, a weekend could do the city justice, just as long as you have your priorities straight and know the right places to go.

Florence itself is an open-air museum, and just walking through the streets on its own is quite a marvel, but along with that there are some of the top sights in Europe totally worth waiting in line and buying a ticket for. So many, in fact, that it can be hard to decide on what's worth doing depending on how long you're in the city for. Luckily I've been here for over two months and at this point and have made sure to cover a majority of these sights. Dividing them into ticketed and non-ticketed attractions (non-ticketed being places you can walk to, with no cost or wait to view), I can happily share what I think the most worthwhile sights in Florence are.

Ticketed Attractions

Starting with ticketed attractions, I think there is a pretty clear holy trinity in what to do as a tourist in this city. The Accademia Gallery, the Duomo, and the Uffizi are what I believe to be the three coolest things to do when visiting, and would probably have most guidebooks agree with me. 

  1. The Accademia Gallery

Of the three, I think the Accademia Gallery would be the one place to stop at if you were only in Firenze for two hours, which may be a bit of a hot take. The Accademia Gallery is the home to Michelangelo's David, and not to undermine the rest of the art in the gallery, but going to this place is going to see the David. It's a small museum down the street from the Duomo with a few rooms of paintings and a second floor filled with medieval art, but the main attraction is by far the large hallway with unfinished marble sculptures on each side, with the infamous David standing in the center. It's one of the most iconic pieces of art of all time and a treasured city symbol. Even if one has no interest in sculptures or art, it's truly a jaw-dropping sight that you can admire for quite some time.

The David in all its glory

The David in all its glory.

  1. The Duomo

Standing Under the Duomo in Florence

The Duomo in Florence.

A close second for must-visits in Florence would be the iconic Duomo. You can see its dome from most parts of the city center and walking around its massive complex alone is a really beautiful experience. There are a lot of aspects to it, and I think it's totally worth it to splurge on a ticket allowing you to do each one. Visiting the museum, baptistery, bell tower, and the church itself will be a deep dive into Florentine history and renaissance art that could easily take up to half a day. Climbing to the top of the dome has been one of my favorite city experiences, and it also gives you the best view of the city. They sell all-inclusive tickets, and even with the massive lines, a visit to Florence wouldn't be complete without some sort of experience within its beloved cathedral.

  1. The Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery would round out the top three, simply put it's one of the greatest and most important art galleries in the world. Located next to the Arno river in the former city offices built under Cosimo Medici in 1560, entering the Uffizi means strolling along corridors filled with magnificent art for hours on end. From Greek and Roman antiquity to some of the best paintings from the renaissance, legendary works from Florentine Icons Michelangelo, Davinci, Raphael, Botticelli, and many more can be seen throughout the museum. Florence is the birthplace of modern art and culture, so it's only natural to view the city's own art collection while visiting in order to complete the big three in Florence.

Honorable Mentions

Some honorable mentions for ticketed events would be the immaculate combo of Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens (the massive green space is a really refreshing break from the medievalesque streets), along with San Lorenzo and the Medici tombs. On top of those five, there are still a plethora of other museums and sights 100% worth seeing, a lot of it just depends on how much time you have and what your interests are.

Free Attractions

Moving on from paid activities, a beautiful aspect of Florence is that so many of their other top things to do are free and easily accessible. Piazza Della Signoria, the former home of the David outside of Palazzo Vecchio, is the most popular piazza in the city center, and quite literally an open-air museum with some of the city's best sculptures placed throughout with no cost for viewing. Continuing to walk through the Uffizi Piazzale, you'll come upon the beautiful Ponte Vecchio, an unreal sight to view from all angles, as well as a fun but busy place to cross to the other side of the river.

The Ponte Vecchio on a sunny day

The Ponte Vecchio on a sunny day.

Once across, a short hike through Oltrarno will lead you to Piazzale Michelangelo, another magnificent Piazza with stunning views of the city, and beautiful trails to take back up and down. All three of these points are free, breathtaking, and a less than a 30-minute walk from one end to end the other. It's an activity I can't help but do at least a few times every week.

Views from Piazzale Michelangelo

Views from Piazzale Michelangelo.

The city is chockfull of amazing attractions, and it's important to do research and find out what interests you the most. But, if you're coming in blind, the ones I listed are what I have found to be the best for fully experiencing the city as a tourist.

Chris Reidy is the Content Creator - Blogger.
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