Florence Tours and Travel Guide
Florence Attractions & Landmarks Guide
A bustling city with endless things to do and see, Florence is a must stop on most Italy tours. Impressive art museums, including the Galleria dell'Accademia where the original David statue can be seen, classic Italian piazzas, and churches give no end of sightseeing possibilities.
A multitude of popular day trips all leave from Florence making it a hub for tourists and locals alike. Or if you're exhausted from tourist activities, it's the perfect city to grab a delicious gelato and sit in a cafe, just watching the world go by.
Walks With a View
Florence is an ideal city to explore by foot. As you walk across the Arno river and up the hill to Piazza Michelangelo, you will be rewarded with a spectacular vista of red-tiled rooftops. The Boboli Gardens is another great spot for views and picnicking. Northeast of Florence by a short bus ride, the Etruscan village of Fiesole will also take your breath away with its vantage point high above the city.
Renaissance churches offer peace and tranquility, and a respite from the heat, depending on the season you visit Florence. Gaze in wonder at frescos, sculptures, and intricate tile work. The San Minato al Monte is one church in particular that will transport you back in time.
Located near the Piazza Michelangelo, the monks that live in the church have regularly scheduled hours of Gregorian chanting. The sound is beautiful and haunting (and maybe a little bit reminiscent of Monty Python and the Holy Grail...), and definitely work taking the time to go appreciate.
While renaissance buildings and art is what Florence is primarily known for it, there is also a significant number of preserved medeival features in the city. Just one fo these is the Palazzo Vecchio. The 13th century palace's exterior is strikingly different from the whimsical and colorful fronts of renaissance churches, it is dark, sharp, and fortified -- clearly a medeival building.
Another stunning example of medeival architecture is the Cappella dei Pazzi. Finished in 1446, this building serves the dual purpose of a tomb for the Pazzi family, and a chapterhouse for Franciscan monks. It is located in the Piazza Santa Croce, an extensive religious facility, well known for its grand church. To learn more about the compound's fascinating history, go on a historic sightseeing tour in Florence.
High-end shopping abounds in Florence, but you are likely to have a richer experience by visiting the numerous markets with vendors selling leather goods, souvenirs, household goods, fresh produce, and antiques. San Lorenzo Market is the most popular, but there are markets throughout the city, offering a great reason to explore.
Gelato Your Heart Out
It’s nearly impossible to visit Florence and not try gelato at least once (a day)! Popular shops are everywhere from Il Duomo to Santa Croce to Piazza Michelangelo. A few of the more traditional shops serve gelato only in cups with miniature shovel-esque spoons.
Dine the Night Away
A perfect night in Florence might just be spent sitting in and outdoor cafe, sipping wine, eating a freshly tossed salad, homemade pasta, or a cracker-thin pizza. Linger and take in the sights and sounds of this historical, magical city.
Things to Know Before You Go
Things to Do in Florence
- See the Duomo. The symbol of Florence, this stunning renaissance church is not only known as one of the most impressive architectural feats ever built, but is also associated with Italy worldwide.
- Tour the Galleria dell’Accademia. Going a guided walk of this famous museum will put you face to face with art history’s biggest hunk, the David, among other famous works.
- Stroll through Piazza della Signoria. This square is essentially an open air museum filled with dozens of beautiful renaissance statues. Not only this, but it remains one of the few free attractions in Florence!
- Piazzale Michelangelo. This piazzale is a short hike up a string of stairs, making it one of the less accessible attractions in Florence, but the impressive views of the city, along with its beautiful flower gardens, make this square worth the trek.
- The Uffizi Museum. Another museum chock full of gorgeous art, this time focusing on painting and its hanging art. Inside, you will have a chance to see the iconic “Birth of Venus.”
- Mercato Centrale. If you want a taste of genuine Italian life, take a stroll through this open air market, and pick up a delicious, fresh lunch to go at one of the many stalls.
- Boboli Gardens. These beautiful, terraced gardens filled with extravagant fountains and statues. This garden used to belong to the ancient Medici family, and by walking through the quiet corners of the garden, it’s easy to imagine what their lives must have been like.
Florence Wine Tours
While not many wines are actually made within Florence, the city does lie in the center of some of the most prolific wine country in all of Italy.
Wine remains one of Italy’s main exports, and it is deeply interwoven in Italian culture and history. If you are interested in wine at all, or are interested in learning, then you should strongly consider going on a wine tour in Italy. A wine tour might take a couple of different forms.
It may just be a half-day activity to round out your Italian experience, or, depending on the length of your tour, maybe you will spend a couple of days in wine country with the chance to see how different wineries operate. On these tours, you will likely taste many different varietals from different producers, learn how to taste wine, and get an overview on the particular winery’s process and specialties.
If you are a true wine fanatic, then consider going on a wine tasting tour of Italy. On this kind of trip, you will gain a much more comprehensive understanding the winemaking process, and the intricacies of tasting wine, and probably a history lesson or two on each region’s contributions to winemaking. You will also, of course, get the opportunity to taste a lot of wine!
Private Guided Florence Tours
Florence, along with some of the other very popular Italian cities, is one of the few places that we strongly suggest getting a private tour. When you travel to Florence, you will immediately notice the number of tourists and the crowds. While these crowds are less in the spring and fall months, they can be overwhelming in the winter, and especially in the summertime.
The crowds are so intense that they can really make or break a trip to Florence, and it may be the last thing you need to get lost in a large group tour. For this reason, we highly recommend private guided Italy tours and small group escorted tours when traveling to Florence and Italy’s other main cities.
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