Cradle of art but also the home of fashion, social events and good food. Florence is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and one of the most popular destinations in the world when it comes to cultural tourism. Between a visit to the Uffizi Gallery and a walk through Ponte Vecchio, let’s discover the top things to see and to do in Florence, the best places to visit and some practical tips to enjoy the masterpieces of Botticelli, Michelangelo and Brunelleschi, optimizing your time and budget.
- Visit Uffizi Gallery: The pearl of art in the world
- The best time to visit the Uffizi Gallery
- Skip the line tickets to the Uffizi Gallery
- Visit the Uffizi Gallery with family: discounts and accessibility
- How long does a visit to the Uffizi last?
- Accademia Gallery: One of Michelangelo's masterpieces
- David by Michelangelo and other works
- Academy Gallery Tickets
- How long does a visit to the Accademia Gallery last?
- Palazzo Vecchio and the Arnolfo Tower
- Palazzo Vecchio Tickets and access to the Tower
- How long does a visit to the Palazzo Vecchio last?
- Santa Maria del Fiore and Brunelleschi's Dome
- Florence Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore: Tickets and tips
- Ascent the Dome
- How long does a visit last?
- What to do in Florence: Around Ponte Vecchio and city squares
- Florence Basilicas, a mix of art and history
- Aperitifs and nightlife in the Florence city centre
- Tips to visit Florence with family
- What to eat in Florence
- Where to stay in Florence: hotels and tips
- How to get around Florence
- Itineraries outside Florence
Visit Uffizi Gallery: The pearl of art in the world
The symbol of Florence in the world, the Uffizi Gallery is an Italian heritage and a fantastic treasure. A timeless journey among Michelangelo, Leonardo, Giotto and Botticelli masterpieces.
The best time to visit the Uffizi Gallery
A museum of such a beauty is besieged by hordes of tourists in every season, so it’s better to always take long queues into account!
The best time to find fewer people is definitely the low season, that’s to say the period from January to March and the months of October and November. If you are planning to go to Florence in high season, we strongly recommend you to book tickets online.
Skip the line tickets to the Uffizi Gallery
Exhausting queues (sometimes more than 3 hours to get in), stress and fatigue, especially for those traveling with children, are not the best conditions for a relaxing visit to the Uffizi Gallery.
A less cheaper but certainly more practical solution is to purchase tickets online in advance.
They're definitely more expensive (about 4 euros more than single ticket bought on the spot) and you'll however have to queue a little bit to get in, but at least you will not risk to stay in line for half a day.
To redeem the voucher and get your tickets, you need to go to "Port 3" of the Gallery and show your printed or electronic confirmation email directly from your smartphone.
Booking a ticket online allows you to choose the entry time to the Museum and gives you the possibility of choosing a combo ticket that includes, in addition to the Uffizi Gallery, the visit to Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens too.
Visit the Uffizi Gallery with family: discounts and accessibility
Entrance to the Uffizi is free for children under 18 years, disabled people, journalists and teachers of public schools and universities. Furthermore:
- Free entrance every first Sunday of the month.
- 50% discount on the full price for children from 18 to 25 years old.
- Free or reduced tickets online requires the payment of €4 surcharge for priority access.
There isn’t any access problem if you travel with prams or wheelchairs: the museum staff is attentive to every need and you can use the elevators to move between floors.
The access ramp for disabled visitors is located in via della Ninna.
- The cloakroom is free of charge and it’s located near the entrance.
How long does a visit to the Uffizi last?
A visit to the Uffizi Gallery lasts at least 2 hours. However if you like lingering through the various rooms, consider up to 3 hours and more.
- Is the audio-guide recommended? According to many visitors, the audioguide (not included in the ticket and to be purchased separately) is certainly useful but it provides a little exhaustive and too synthetic explanation, especially for some works in the second part of the museum route. For a more structured visit, rely on a guided tour of Uffizi Gallery.
How to get to the Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is located in Piazzale degli Uffizi, next to Piazza della Signoria, about 15 minutes walk from Santa Maria Novella Station.
Accademia Gallery: One of Michelangelo's masterpieces
Just after the Uffizi, another must-see in Florence is the Accademia Gallery, which houses the original David by Michelangelo, a perfect sculpture considered one of the greatest masterpieces of art history.
David by Michelangelo and other works
Admiring Michelangelo's David is a breathtaking experience and the work itself is worth the price of the ticket. Excellent and majestic, it steals the scene inside the Gallery but it isn’t the only main attraction not to be missed during the visit. The Academy Museum is also famous for other sculptures by Michelangelo such as the Prisoners and the St. Matthew or the original plaster model of the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna.
- If you are a music lover, don't miss the section dedicated to musical instruments with the collection of objects from the Cherubini Conservatory.
Academy Gallery Tickets
There’s always a queue at the entrance but it’s faster compared to the Uffizi Gallery. To save time, we suggest you to book tickets with hourly entry (with a surcharge of a few euros) or rely on a guided tour that provides quick access.
In the summer months the Gallery is open until 22. If you do not have a ticket with you, you’d better come in the early evening, there are very few people and the reservation is almost unnecessary.
How long does a visit to the Accademia Gallery last?
If you’re going to book an independent visit, consider an hour for the entire tour of the Accademia Gallery. The duration of the guided tours, instead, can vary from 50 minutes to 1 hour and a half or more.
- The museum is 100% accessible to visitors in wheelchairs or with mobility difficulties.
How to get to the Academy Gallery
The Accademia Gallery is located in Via Ricasoli and is about a 10-minutes walk from Santa Maria Novella Station.
Palazzo Vecchio and the Arnolfo Tower
One of the symbols of Florence in the world, Palazzo Vecchio is majestic and dominates the beautiful Piazza della Signoria, with the sculptural masterpieces of the Loggia dei Lanzi.
Its facade is one of the most photographed views of the city, a postcard from Florence.
Palazzo Vecchio Tickets and access to the Tower
The queue to enter Palazzo Vecchio is usually not too long but if you have little time you should provide a ticket in advance.
A good option would be to buy a combined ticket with the Uffizi, so as to go from Palazzo Vecchio to the Uffizi Gallery without queuing up.
In addition to the single ticket to visit Palazzo Vecchio there are options that also include access to the Arnolfo Tower and the Walk of Ronda. If you choose the combined ticket that includes both of them, prepare yourself: the panoramic view of Florence is really exciting!
- The ascent to the Tower is beautiful but a bit tiring, with limitations for people with motor difficulties, cardiopathic visitors and children under 6 years old.
- To access the Tower the queue is always long and everyone tends to go there at the same time, that’s to say at the end of the entire visit. So, we suggest you to come in the morning before visiting the Palace, if you want to find fewer people.
How long does a visit to the Palazzo Vecchio last?
Estimate at least a couple of hours to visit Palazzo Vecchio and Torre Arnolfo, regardless of whether you have relied on a private tour or an independent visit.
- Among the most beautiful guided tours, there is the sunset visit with optional dinner or aperitif. Admiring Florence from above is an absolute spectacle!
How to get to Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio is located in Piazza della Signoria, less than 5 minutes walk from the Uffizi Gallery and a quarter of an hour walk from Santa Maria Novella.
Santa Maria del Fiore and Brunelleschi's Dome
In your "must see" list in Florence, you can’t miss The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The city's cathedral is simply amazing and leaves you speechless; in particular, its dome designed by Brunelleschi is a true masterpiece!
Florence Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore: Tickets and tips
Keep in mind that the line to access the Duomo of Florence is continuous and, even if it flows fast, it seems to be never-ending all hours of the day.
Admission to the Cathedral is free, but to access the other monuments (including the Dome) you need a separate ticket.
To avoid spending an entire morning under a scorching sun (or even worse in the rain), we suggest you to buy a single ticket that provides priority access and includes all the Cathedral monuments (Museum of the works of the Cathedral, Dome, Baptistery of St. John, Giotto's Bell Tower and Crypt).
- Even when entering through the fast track, a bit of queue is to be expected, especially during the high season.
- To access Brunelleschi's Dome you must book a time visit, which cannot be changed.
- Be careful: An appropriately dress code is required or you may be denied entry.
Ascent the Dome
Brunelleschi's Dome is worth a trip to Florence. Enter from Porta della Mandorla, on the north side of the Duomo: the line is always long and exhausting (so it’s better to book an hourly ticket online). The ascent of 463 steps on foot is a bit challenging but once at the top you will be 100% satisfied!
Arrive 10/15 minutes before the scheduled time and you will be among the first visitors to enter.
There are no elevators to get to the top, so the access to the Dome is not recommended for people with claustrophobia and motor disabilities. Go at sunset, to feel the magic of Florence in the early evening.
How long does a visit last?
Estimate at least a couple hours considering a full tour of the Duomo with a climb to the Dome, Giotto's bell tower and Baptistery.
How to get to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Piazza del Duomo can be easily reached on foot in 10 minutes from the Uffizi Gallery. The same time is required arriving from the station.
What to do in Florence: Around Ponte Vecchio and city squares
A well-organized sightseeing should absolutely include the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio, a point of connection between Florence top attractions and suggestive city areas.
Together with the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio is perhaps the most characteristic and lively place in Florence, known worldwide for its famous jewellers and little shops along the entire bridge. Feast your eyes on the elegant windows of the goldsmiths that overlook the bridge.
The sunsets admired from the Ponte Vecchio have a particular charm; stop halfway up the bridge to take magical shots of Arno views.
Florence Basilicas, a mix of art and history
Historical and religious buildings, Basilicas are worth a trip to Florence especially if you are an art lover and you are planning a cultural weekend in the Tuscan capital.
The Basilica of San Lorenzo is a short walk from the Duomo: it’s one of the oldest churches in Florence, which contains Renaissance masterpieces including the tombs of 'Medici'. The access to the crypt is subject to a fee.
- Do not miss the Old Sacristy, designed by Brunelleschi and decorated by Donatello.
We recommend you to integrate your visit with a tour of the Medici chapels, located in the back of the Basilica but in a separate building. You need a ticket to enter it.
- You will be amazed by the beauty of Michelangelo's New Sacristy, with its flake-covered dome!
Complete your tour with a visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella Church (admission fee in both structures).
Located in the homonymous square, the Basilica of the Holy Cross is the church symbol of Italy's arts and science and it conserves relics of great figures in the history of Italy: from Michelangelo to Machiavelli, from Galileo to Rossini.
The Church of Santa Maria Novella is located right in front of the homonymous railway station and it’s immersed in silence and tranquility, fascinating with its porches, cloisters and frescoes along all walls.
- Do not miss the frescoes by Ghirlandaio in the Tornabuoni Chapel, the Crucifixes by Giotto and Brunelleschi and the painting by Masaccio della Santissima Trinità.
Aperitifs and nightlife in the Florence city centre
If you are wondering where to stop for an aperitif or a drink in Florence, the historical city center and the Florentine squares offer many options: they are the classic meeting places for a lively nightlife and a popular destination especially among young people.
The most popular locations with the best restaurants and bars are the Oltrarno and Piazza della Signoria, but you can also find great clubs and cafes in Piazza Santa Croce, Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza Santo Spirito.
- Where to eat in Florence? In the San Nicolò area, under the fort Belvedere, you will find inns, trattorias and small restaurants for all budgets.
Tips to visit Florence with family
What to do in Florence with your family? Among gardens, public parks and museums, you'll be spoilt for choice.
One of the must-see places with children is the Fontana del Porcellino, in the Mercato Nuovo area, which attracts tourists of all ages. It is said that touching the nose of the piglet brings good luck so, if you are a little superstitious, get in line and wait for your turn: it’s among the fun things to do in Florence with children!
Another special destination for your kids is Piazzale Michelangelo, an enchanting terrace overlooking Florence. You can get there on foot with a nice walk or in 10 minutes by bus departing from Santa Maria Novella.
Come here at sunset or in the evening, the square is crowded but we’re sure you’ll take the most beautiful souvenir photos of your Florence holidays.
Take the kids with you to the museums, they won't get bored! The visit of the Uffizi can be combined with a tour of the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens: children will enjoy a lot this one, among fountains, statues and caves.
Brunelleschi's Dome is nice and instructive, children will have fun climbing the steps and they will love the view of Florence from above, exactly like their parents! Finally, at Palazzo Vecchio you will find the Children's Museum with interactive workshops.
What to eat in Florence
Don't disdain the street food option during your walks through the city centre, between a museum and another; from the lampredotto sandwich to the classic schiacciata (salty) with “sbriciolona”, order a perfect Tuscan-style snack that’s a cheap, quick and tasty solution! If you're the classic restaurant-type, you'll be spoilt for choice: tomato soup, ribollita or the famous steak.
- Sweets lover? Don't leave Florence without trying the schiacciata alla fiorentina and the soft handmade cantucci.
Where to stay in Florence: hotels and tips
The main Florence tourist attractions are located in the historical city center and a short distance from each other; so Piazza San Marco, Piazza Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio or Piazza Santa Maria Novella are great places to book a hotel in Florence.
- The pros and cons? The prices are higher but you’ll have everything at your fingertips.
The historic center is a limited traffic area, so if you arrive in Florence by car then you should stay outside the city center. In this case you could consider the idea of staying in Fortezza Dal Basso, Piazza Beccaria, Porta al Prato or Campo di Marte zones.
How to get around Florence
All you need to do is walk around the historical centre of Florence. A small treasure chest and an open-air museum partly pedestrianized: walking is the only beautiful and pleasant solution to get around! Even if you are not great walkers, you will love to get lost in its narrow streets full of charm and Renaissance history.
- Take Santa Maria Novella Station as your reference point , it’s an excellent starting to walk around the city center quietly.
Itineraries outside Florence
Any ideas for a trip out of town? If you're going to be in Florence for several days, plan a trip in Pistoia or Prato, two really interesting towns. For a great enogastronomic tour, why not think about Siena, San Gimignano and the pleasant hills of Chianti or as far as the beautiful landscapes of the Cinque Terre, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Any other ideas for a romantic weekend? How about Venice and a gondola ride under the Bridge of Sighs?