Top 10 Must See’s in Florence, Italy
Everything you don’t want miss in this incredible Italian city.
I was lucky enough to study abroad in Florence, Italy for four entire months, and it’s safe to say that in that time, my life changed. If you happen to find yourself in Florence, Italy for any time at all, consider yourself lucky. It’s pretty hard to walk the cobblestone streets of Florence and not become enchanted by everything around you. The sights and smells and sounds are legendary, and there’s magic around every corner. From the Duomo, to the Arno, to Piazzale Michelangelo, there is no shortage of history and beauty around every corner.
While traveling through Europe, you can’t spend four months in every city, and so typically, you’re on a time limit. Whether you find yourself in Florence for one day, a few days, or even a little bit longer, you don’t want to miss everything this city has to offer. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the countless tourist traps that pervade the area. However, there are undoubtedly some highlights you’ll need to catch before you hit the road again. So, without further ado, here are the top 10 things you MUST see while in Florence:
The Duomo is in the center of Florence, and is the hub of tons of action. Always bustling with tourists and locals, this church built in 1294 has some of the most breathtaking artwork and is teeming with history. For 15 euro, you have 48 hours to explore the church and the surrounding buildings. You can climb 463 stairs to the top of the Duomo, another 414 to the top of the bell tower, explore the Baptistry, the Crypt, and the Cathedral itself. The area immediately surrounding the Duomo is full of lively and exciting restaurants, bars, and tons of upscale shops. You can sample gelato, traditional Italian sandwiches, or just people-watch as you dodge aggressive selfie-stick vendors.
2. Ponte Vecchio
Literally translated to “Old Bridge,” the Ponte Vecchio is home to some of the best shopping in Florence. With an impeccable view of the Arno River, there is so much to see and do while strolling across the bridge. It’s not uncommon to see some of the most talented street performers, as well as some wacky people in costume. There is no shortage of jewelry stores, art sellers, or cafes to grab a gelato, coffee, or cocktail.
3. The Arno River
Where the Ponte Vecchio is bustling with people at virtually all times of day, there are tons of quiet spots to sit and enjoy along the Arno. Though this is another hotspot for selfie-stick vendors, they’re pretty easy to ignore. Do you SEE this view?! If you’re feeling really daring, you can climb over the ledge and sit on the very edge of the stone wall to get even closer to the water.
4. Piazzale Michelangelo
It’s quite the hike to get to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo, but the view is more than worth it. Watching the sun set from the top of Piazzale is an event unto itself that must be experienced in Florence. You can grab snacks, drinks, and even some pretty cheap souvenirs while you’re there, and there’s live music almost every night. I know what you’re thinking: no, the view doesn’t ever old, and no, you can’t take too many pictures.
5. Boboli Gardens
For just 10 euro, you can get transported from the fast pace of the city and escape to the luxurious confines of the Boboli Gardens. The grounds are way bigger than I realized the first time I went there, and there is no shortage of corners to explore and views to be seen. There are tons of unique vantage points to see some of the more popular parts of the city, and you get a real feel of Italian culture.
It is worth the wait every. single. time. Pino’s is a classic Italian eatery that is a must try if you’re in Florence for any time at all. It’s almost always packed during lunch time, but Pino’s charm (and unbelievable sandwiches) are more than worth it.
7. Santa Croce
Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance, and I’m not sure if anything exemplifies that better than Santa Croce. A quick walk inside shows you the burial sites of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Dante. That alone is pretty monumental, but the church is also home to beautiful gardens and some of the oldest frescoes in Florence.
8. Palazzo Vecchio
There is so much to see and do inside Palazzo Vecchio. Though the main structure of the square is now a museum that boasts some pretty impressive artwork, there are tons of restaurants and shops, as well as street performers to hold your interest even if you’re just casually walking through.
9. Piazza Repubblica
Most noted for the carousel in the middle of all the action, Piazza Repubblica is a great place to explore by day or night. There are tons of street performers, singers, and tons of vendors selling authentic Italian leather products. Mere steps away from the Duomo, Piazza Repubblica is centrally located, and you never know what you might see when you walk through.
10. San Lorenzo Markets
The San Lorenzo markets are a shopper’s paradise. Rows upon rows upon rows of authentic Italian products. Everything from soccer jerseys, to purses, to belts, to sunglasses– you name it, they have it. It is the greatest place to get lost for hours on end– and you’re sure to remember everyone on your souvenir list here.