1. Duomo/Catedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence’s top attraction without a doubt. Part of the historic centre UNESCO World Heritage Site, Florence Cathedral still stands as one of the most noteworthy and poignant examples of early Renaissance architecture. It is only surpassed in size by St. Peter’s in Rome, St. Paul’s in London and Milan’s Duomo, its dome is the largest brick copula ever constructed. The entrance to the cathedral is free although in order to visit the Duomo (dome), the Campanile (bell tower) and the Baptistery there is a €10 entrance fee worth every cent.
TOP TIP: Before heading to the Duomo get yourself a traditional coffee granita at Gelateria Carabe (Via Ricasoli 60); they are said to be the best ones in town! Be aware that it closes on Mondays.
2. Museo Galileo
Named after Galileo, one of Italy’s most influential man of science, and located in Palazzo Castellani, a 11th century building, the former Institute and Museum of the History of Science is a must for anyone interested in astronomy, physics and navigation. It houses the Medici and Lorraine collections of scientific instruments as well as temporary exhibits. There are several interactive rooms that are great for all ages. The museum opens daily. Entry fee is €9 for adults and €5,50 for children between 6 and 18.
TOP TIP: If you are visiting several museums in Florence the Firenzecard may be a good option. It costs €72 and is valid for 3 days. Aside from granting free admission to the main museums in Florence (both permanent collections & exhibitions) it allows the holders to avoid queueing at the ticket offices.
3. Palazzo Vecchio
Located in the lively Piazza della Signoria, Florence’s town hall is one of the most admired in Tuscany. The exterior is guarded by several statues that include a replica of Michelangelo’s David. The interior features three courtyards and several rooms that can be visited as much of the palazzo is nowadays a museum. The entrance fee is €10 for adults and €8 for children. Guests not interested in the museum can visit the tower for the same price and enjoy an impressive view of Florence. A Museum+Tower ticket costs €14 and €12.
TOP TIP: Right across the palazzo, you can find the historic Caffe Rivoire (bottom right on the photograph). Ask for a coffee or their famous hot chocolate and sit on the terrace to enjoy the magnificent views of Palazzo Vecchio, the Fountain of Neptune and the Loggia dei Lanzi while you give your feet a well-deserved break before heading to the next attraction.
4. Museo Nazionale del Bargello
Set in Palazzo Bargello, this former barracks and prison is now the most important sculpture museum in Italy and the most relevant in Reinassance sculpture in the world. It houses works by Donatello, Lombardo, Michelangelo and Bernini to name but a few. One of the most important pieces is Donatello’s David. The entrance fee is €4 for adults and €2 for children.
TOP TIP: If you love arts and sculptures in particular, you cannot miss Academia di Belle Arti di Firenze (Academy of Fine Arts of Florence), where you can find amongst other sculptures the original David by Michelangelo.
5. Galleria degli Uffizi
The stunning Palazzo degli Uffizi is home to one of the most impressive and oldest art museums in Europe, the Uffizi Gallery. Art works by Caravaggio, Leonardo or Velázquez are displayed alongside pieces collected and commissioned by the famous Medici family. The entrance fee is €6,50 for adults and €3,25 for children.The museum is closed on Mondays.If you are visiting during summer we highly recommend you to buy your tickets in advance – online at uffizi.com or at a ticket booth at the back of Orsanmichele.
TOP TIP: From Uffizi you can walk to the nearby Piazza Santa Croce and Basilica di Santa Croce before heading to the wonderful Enoteca Pinchiorri (Via Ghibellina, 87), a 3 Michelin star restaurant with delectable Italian dishes.
6. Basilica di San Lorenzo
This stunning Renaissance church was once the city cathedral and the favourite temple of the Medici; in fact many members of the family are buried here. Its similarity with the Duomo is not unpremeditated as the church was also designed by the talented Filippo Brunelleschi. The Old Sacristy and the Medici Chapel are the most renowned parts of San Lorenzo. The entrance fee is €4.50. Combined tickets with the nearby Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana are €7.
TOP TIP: Situated in the main market district, it offers a great chance for visitors to explore the fascinating San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale, a buzzing market with stands filled with local delicacies such as the lampredotto sandwich made with cow’s stomach; it does taste way better than it sounds, trust us!
7. Ponte Vecchio & Vasari Corridor
The Ponte Vecchio is a unique Medieval stone bridge that features a slice of Reinassance life as it is still home to several quaint shops that once were butcheries. However, the influential and powerful Medici family prohibited butchers to sell on the bridge in 1593 and gold merchants took their place until today as visitors will only find jewelleries and souvenir and art shops. At the entrance of the bridge there is an inscription where Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti was murdered by his bride’s side while crossing the bridge by the Amidei and their allies initiating the Guelfs and Ghibellines conflict.
The bridge is connected to the Vasari Corridor (on the right in the photograph), an elevated passageway which connects Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti, allowing the Medici to cross from one side of Florence to the other without touching the ground! Although most of it is closed to visits, there is a new walking tour available for small groups:
TOP TIP: For a unique view of Ponte Vecchio or a more romantic experience, we recommend taking a cruise along the Arno River on a traditional barchetto, a small rowing boat.