See the best of Florence
Florence is not your average city. She's a living being that oozes history and culture, ready to pull you in with her amazing beauty. Her works of art and architecture will intoxicate you, and her cuisine tastes divine. She is the beating heart of Tuscany, home to Dante, Da Vinci and the powerful Medici family. And like any shiny piece of jewellery, you’ll never want to take your eyes of her again.
- Duomo (Florence Cathedral)
Sticking above the Florentine skyline you can find the city’s most iconic landmark, the Duomo (Florence Cathedral). Famous for its Gothic appearance and red-tiled dome, this cathedral is the largest brick structure in the world.
Entrance to the Cathedral is free, but it costs €18 to go up to the Dome and into the Bell Tower. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of Florence.
- Palazzo Vecchio
In 1299, the Florentines built a palace to house the government and to symbolize the republic’s power. The palace still serves as the city’s town hall today, and offers an , impressive view of Piazza della Signoria, with its many statues, including a copy of Michelangelo's David.
A warning to those that enter the historic palace: you may find yourself lost in its maze-like corridors.
- Ponte Vecchio
This ‘old bridge’ used to be home to butchers who were banned out of the city center due to the smell of their shops. Nowadays, the bridge only houses jewellery shops, and is a real tourist magnet.
Take an early walk along the bridge to avoid the crowd and head over to Carapina, one of the best gelaterias in Florence. Take a tour of the Arno river by boat, and experience Ponte Vecchio in a different way.
- Palazzo Pitti
The Palazzo Pitti is the biggest museum complex in Florence, with endless halls filled with Renaissance masterpieces. The famous paintings by Raphael, Titian and Rubens were once part of a private collection of the Medici family, who ruled Tuscany from this palace.
Make sure you check out the Palatine Gallery and the Royal Apartments, If you have time to spare take a walk through the beautiful Boboli Gardens.
- Galleria dell’Accademia
Florence’s Accademia Gallery is best known for its sculptures by Renaissance artist Michelangelo. Today, visitors flood the gallery to see his world-famous (and huge) statue of David.
Plan your visit to the museum and buy tickets ahead of time so you can skip the long lines! You can also book a guided tour to make your experience even more memorable.
- Museo di San Marco
This historical art musem showcases the works of the blessed religious painter Fra Angelico. In the first floor, you'll find 44 monastic cells which were decorated with intricate frescoes to help the friars meditate and reflect. The museum also houses the famous Last Supper, frescoed by Renaissance artist Domenico Ghirlandaio at the end of the 15th century.
- Bardini Gardens
You can find the Bardini Gardens at the backdoor of the city. They are there to remind people also offers natural beauty next to its amazing art and architecture. The four hectare garden is perfect for those who want escape the busy streets of Florence.
A ticket to the garden costs €10 and covers four other museums and gardens.
Dress to impress
Milan is widely regarded as Italy’s fashion capital, but a good amount of the country’s famous brands are actually from Florence. Even better, the city has a lot of small, lesser-known boutiques that will fit you with a sprezzatura, the effortless style unique to Florence. Go shopping for accessories at some of the local leather workshops for an instant wardrobe boost.
Ditch the pasta for a night
When visiting Florence it’s easy to eat you weight in pasta with tempting options hiding around every corner. However, one of the city’s signature dishes is not a pizza or a pasta; it’s bistecca alla fiorentina, or Florentine steak. With enough flavor to feed two or more people (you order by the kilo), this is not your regular T-bone. Enjoy it the way the chef intends it (usually rare) with a nice glass of Tuscan red wine. You won’t regret it nor forget it.
After a long day and a hearty dinner nothing feels better than a nice walk. The Oltrarno neighborhood is the perfect place for a post-meal passegiata to take in the ambience and maybe even a few drinks. From there, you can head south and walk up to one of the parks or piazzas that overlook the city for some amazing sunset views.
For legendary sandwiches, try All'Antico Vinaio's restaurant at Via dei Neri. They have good prices and huge portions for 5 euros. If you want a historical street meal, go to Sergio Pollini and try their traditional lampredotto. Another cool place to visit is Clet Abraham's Studio. He's the French artist responsible for turning some street signs into funny and interesting works of art!
Getting to Florence by train
Like all major cities in Italy, Florence is very well connected by train. The city's main station, Santa Maria Novella (S.M.N.), is served by high-speed trains from Milan, Bologna, Venice, Rome and Naples. Most regional trains depart from one of the other two stations: Rifredi to the north and Campo di Marte to the east.
You can find all trains to and from Florence in the Interrail Timetable.
From Rome to Florence
From Paris to Florence
From Zürich to Florence
Flights and public transport
There are two main airports in the Tuscany region, of which Florence Airport (known as Peretola) is the smallest. Many of Europe's low-cost flights go to the larger Pisa Airport, which is only 75 minutes from Florence by train or by bus.
Florence's city center is compact and best navigated on foot. A small network of city buses does exist, but since you can walk from one side of the historic center to the other in 15 minutes, you probably won't make use of it.