No trip to Florence, Italy is complete without seeing these beautiful places, and some of them are even free.
Like many of Italy’s top tourist destinations, Florence is a city known for its exceptional art and architecture. However, what makes Florence unique is its place in history as a Tuscan capital whose influential Italian masters helped shape the city into what it is today. Most of Florence’s top attractions are inextricably linked with those important and well-known artists, thinkers, architects and rulers who have shaped Florence throughout its long history.
Formerly owned by the famous Medici family, the gardens were opened to the public at the end of the 18th century. Filled with dazzling architecture and stunning natural landscapes, the Boboli Gardens encompass much of what makes Florence so distinctive. Between the sculpture, the lush gardens, the fountains, the hidden caves and the breathtaking views of the city itself; the gardens are a must visit for any traveler.
- Location: Piazza de ‘Pitti (behind the Pitti Palace)
- Hours: Open Monday to Sunday: 8:15 a.m. Closing hours vary according to the season
- Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day
- Ticket prices: $ 14.00 Regular ticket, annual pass: $ 35.00
- Buy a combined ticket for the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti for free entry to the gardens. These two places are also worth a visit; the Palazzo is home to several museums and the Gallery is full of well-known works, including The Birth of Venus by Boticelli.
- Don’t miss: The famous cave of Bernardo Buontalenti and the Venus in the bath of Giambologna
- The gardens are subject to closures due to the weather, so always check before visiting
- Private guided tours also available
Campanile Di Giotto (Giotto’s bell tower)
A brilliant representation of Florence architecture at its best, the nearly 300-foot-tall Gothic tower is adorned with plenty of eye-catching details and flourishes. The tower is part of the Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria), another well-known place in Florence. Stay outside to admire the amazing architecture, or take a tour and climb the more than 400 steps for panoramic views of the city.
- Location: Piazza del Duomo
- Hours: Monday to Sunday 8:15 a.m. to 6:50 p.m.
- Ticket prices: $ 25.00 The purchase price of a Duomo ticket includes access to all surrounding monuments, including the bell tower, and is valid 72 hours after your first visit.
- Don’t miss: The Seven Bells (the largest known as Santa Reparata) and the composite works of Andrea Pisano and Donatello. Make sure to check out the other Duomo attractions while you are there, as there is a lot to see.
- The climb to the top is steep but well worth it
- Downloadable map available
- Private guided tours also available
Galleria dell’Accademia (Academic Gallery)
While there are many museums to visit in Florence, only one features Michelangelo’s David; and this is the Galleria dell’Accademia. Visitors say spotting the famous statue is worth braving the crowds, however, there are plenty of other works to be seen by the well-known artist as well, so the trip is definitely a must.
- Location: Via Ricasoli, 58/60
- Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 a.m. to 6:50 p.m.
- Ticket prices: $ 14.00, several days of free admission offered throughout the year
- Don’t miss: unfinished works of Michelangelo (Slaves, Prisoners), rent an audio guide to learn more about the art
- Book a private guided tour to avoid the long lines
- Always plan ahead before visiting
Basilica of Santa Croce
Art lovers will appreciate both the stunning architecture and the impressive art collection of this Gothic church, including the aforementioned frescoes by Giotto, Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. Next to the church is the Museo dell’Opera di Santa Croce (Santa Croce Museum), which houses many artefacts once found in the church. Connected to the church is the Scuola del Cuoio, a leather school founded after WWII by Franciscan friars, which is also worth a visit.
- Location: Piazza di Santa Croce 16
- Hours: Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sundays and public holidays 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Closed New Year’s Day, Easter, October 4, December 25 and 26
- Ticket prices: $ 11.00 full, $ 9.00 reduced
- Don’t miss: The magnificent stained glass window in the Baroncelli Chapel (one of the 16 chapels), Michelangelo’s burial place, the monument of Galilieo
- Just outside the city walls, visitors say it’s a nice escape from other more crowded tourist attractions
Free attractions in Florence
There are plenty of free things to see and do in the city for those traveling on a budget.
Piazza della Signoria: An open-air museum with lots of eye-catching sculptures, the Fountain of Neptune, and plenty of places for travelers to sit and people-watch or just take in the view.
Place Michel-Ange: With stunning views of the city and a replica of Michelangelo’s David on display, this location is a favorite with visitors. Although the climb can be strenuous, it is well worth it, especially at sunset.
Santo Spirito Square: Located opposite the Duomo, it is a lively square with several cafes and restaurants. Located in the square is the Basilica of Santo Spirito, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.
Are you planning to visit several attractions during your stay in Florence? Then buy a Firenze Card, which gives priority access to over 70 city attractions (including the Duomo complex, the Uffizi Gallery, the Galleria dell’Accademia, etc.).
- Price: About $ 120.00. For an additional $ 10.00, get unlimited access to public transportation
- Valid 72 hours after first use
- Can be purchased at various outlets throughout the city
Visitors to Florence will appreciate its distinctive combination of history, art and architecture that can be found almost everywhere in the city, from churches to museums; public places and bell towers.
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