The 11 Places You Must See in Florence, Italy

And then there was Florence, a place so dazzling that you want to come back immediately and see more of its historic places and breathtaking surroundings.

Last updated: September 24, 2023

The 11 best places and things you must see in Florence, Italy

The 11 Best Places not to Miss in Florence 

Italy is a country of mesmerizing landscapes and some of the most world-celebrated artists. Some regions of the Apennine Peninsula are known for their exemplarily cuisines. Others, such as Rome, astound first-time visitors with their historic and cultural heritage. The most popular coastal destinations exude an air of perfection intermixed with irresistible charm of locals. 

The capital of Tuscany combines all of these. The world-known architectural masterpieces, markets that unveil unparalleled Italian culture, impeccable food, and awe-inspiring views from the highest points of the city… Florence has it all. 

The city has more than you can imagine to find in one place. So plan to stay longer, admire its cultural and historic places often, eat more, and explore ceaselessly. Those who find themselves in Florence for the first time, start your excursions with these 11 places you can’t miss under any circumstances. 

Historic center of Florence | 11 places you must see in Florence, Italy


1. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Of all places you need to explore in Florence, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the most recognizable. A part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, this classic Italian church bestows on you a sense of rare awe and admiration. 

Millions of people come to Florence to feast their eyes on the signature green and pink facade. Inside, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore dazzles with grandiose details and artworks that speak of exceptional Italian style and high standards.

The largest brick dome in the world and the largest church in Italy, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore sits in the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) in the heart of Old Florence. The massive size of the structure is unmissable. Over and over again, visitors are compelled to step inside to assess if the highly praised interior matches the grand exterior.

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The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore | Must-see places in Florence, Italy

2. Giotto’s Bell Tower

Similar to the Cathedral of Sand Maria del Fiore, the Giotto’s Bell Tower is a part of the massive Florence Duomo (Cathedral of Florence). The narrower member of the remarkable structure allures with spectacular views of Florence, stretching down below as far as the eye can see. 414 steps lead to the top of the 84.7-meter (278-foot) tower.

The favorite landmark first joined the impeccable architectural family of Florence in 1348. It took 11 years to complete the colossal work and adorn it with unmatched details. 

Giotto’s Bell Tower | Place you must see in Florence

3. Uffizi Gallery

As popular as the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Uffizi Gallery entices with its vast collection. Primitive and Renaissance artworks found their permanent residency within this 16th-century art museum. 

TIP: Skipping some of the treasured works of art here is impossible. So get ready for a minimum of a three-hour complete immersion in the artistic world of Florence. 

If your first visit to Florence is short, like it was ours, instead of stepping inside, explore Gallery’s inner courtyard that looks like an extension of the artistic heritage you will find inside.

Uffizi Gallery,
The Uffizi Gallery | 11 places you must see in Florence, Italy

4. Piazza della Signoria

Within a minute walk from the Uffizi Gallery is located the Piazza della Signoria. An L-shaped square claims the most prominent location, right in the center of the old town of Florence. 

Locals regard the piazza and mainly its Loggia dei Lanzi as an open air museum. Adorned with contrasting sculptures and statues, the place indeed can compete with any prestigious art gallery. 

Among other landmarks you must see in the center of historic Florence are the Fountain of Neptune and the Palazzo Vecchio. 

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Historic center of Florence

5. Palazzo Vecchio

The Palazzo Vecchio, the main symbol of civil power in Florence, is extremely hard to miss thanks to its central location. The historic town hall overlooks the Piazza della Signoria and greets almost every visitor of the city. 

The 14th-century museum inspires you to take a trip back in time through its Renaissance paintings and Roman ruins. A stone’s throw away from it nestles the Uffizi Gallery. This close proximity allows you to explore two of the most popular landmarks of the city in a few hours. 

Another reason you must see the historic town hall of Florence is an exhibit at its front door. A full-sized replica of Michelangelo’s David statue towers over the piazza, giving a feel of what to expect at the Galleria dell’Accademia where the original resides. 

6. Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio deserves special recognition. A medieval stone arch bridge spans 30 meters (98 feet) across the Arno River. Several shops cluster along it. Jewelry, souvenirs, artworks, and gifts sold here divert the attention from the bridge. But just for a few minutes. The stunning structure soon gains back the lost interest.  

They say even Hitler couldn’t resist by the beauty of the Ponte Vecchio. He instructed its fleeing army not to destroy the bridge under any circumstances. And so the Ponte Vecchio survived the devastating World War II. In fact, it was the only bridge in the city not affected by the fires set by the Hitler’s army. 

Yet if we go way back in time to the 13-14th centuries, the Ponte Vecchio would have not been the first place you wanted to see in Florence. It would’ve been probably the last site on your itinerary. Nauseating odors of meat and other produce from butchers’ and farmers’ stalls that lingered in the air at that time was too strong. Luckily, it’s just a part of Florence’s history today.

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The Ponte Vecchio | Iconic places you must see in Florence

7. Piazzale Michelangelo

The Piazzale Michelangelo is an iconic square located outside of the hustle and bustle of the historic center of Florence. The place sits on the hills, south of the bustling center. Narrow streets, corner houses with vibrant potted flowers on balconies, and a slower pace of life prevail in this side of Florence. 

But the views from the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo are worth such a drastic change of scenery. The entire city opens up in front of you. The Arno River glisters in the afternoon sun. And as pastel pink hues descend on the city in the evening, more street performers flock to the Piazzale Michelangelo, letting their music fill the air. 

If you can visit only one place in Florence, make it this square!

Views from the Piazzale Michelangelo | The best places to see in Florence, Itlay

8. Giardino Bardini (Bardini Garden)

Don’t rush to return back to the historic center. Instead descend the stairs that lead to and from the Piazzale Michelangelo and follow the same route until you reach a medieval wall. Turn left here. Steep at the beginning, this road takes you to the exclusive Bardini Garden.

The Italian Renaissance garden belonged to a few wealthy families. Used solely for agricultural purposes in its early days, the place slowly transformed into a classic Italian garden. But it was Stefano Bardini who in 1900’s transformed the garden and gave it its current look.

Today, apart from the panoramic views of Florence, the Bardini Garden is not to be missed for its baroque staircase, Anglo-Chinese landscaping, and a classic wisteria pergola. 

9. Don’t Miss Outdoor Markets in Florence

Not big shopping enthusiasts, we couldn’t miss outdoor markets in Florence. Temporary tents normally start adorning empty street corners in early afternoon.

Loaded with leather belts, purses, carnival masks, and bright summer clothes (that looked slightly odd on an unseasonably cold day in March) rejuvenated the city center. Pared with the increasing hustle and bustle, Florence looks even livelier with the haggling people around.  

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Outdoor markets | Places you must see in Florence

10. Galleria dell’Accademia

Every Michelangelo lover must see the Galleria dell’Academia when in Florence. The place exhibits the largest number of Michelangelo’s sculptures in the world. The museum’s biggest treasure is indisputably Michelangelo’s David statue

Apart from it, the Galleria dell’Accademia is home to the world’s largest collection of the pre-19th century Venetian paintings. Among its unfading masterpieces are the artworks of Veronese, Tiepolo, Bellini, Giorgione, and Titian.  

11. Don’t Miss Food Extravaganza in Florence

Last but not least, you can’t miss out on street food while visiting Florence. Gathering different kinds of food merchants, the city center is the best place to start. From their Schiacciata farcita, to tagliere, pizza, veggie panini, and Italian traditional gelatos, you look for a day full of tasting and sampling. 

Sit-down restaurants that abound in Florence are the next places not to miss. The prices here are normally higher. Their ambiances along with richer menus, however, promise to compensate for this drawback tenfold. 

We were smitten by traditional Italian menu of Agricola Toscana. Its slightly sour tomato soup became the culmination of the food fiesta for me. I was impressed so much that I even tried to reproduce the dish once back in California

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The best places you must see in Florence

The 11 Best Things and Places not to Miss in Florence: Map 

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