If you’re unsure about where to go on your next vacation, consider Florence. The cradle of the Renaissance in Italy, this is a city packed with culture, art, and, of course, world-class cuisine. Whether you want to fill your days with activities or have a relaxed trip where you soak in the atmosphere, Florence is the ideal destination.

What’s Florence Like?

Florence is home to some of the most important architecture and artwork in the world. It’s divided in two by the Arno River, which features several impressive bridges. If you are feeling energetic, you can visit most places in Florence on foot. However, you may also enjoy the thrill of a vespa tour with a local to show you spots you may otherwise have missed. In addition, just outside the city borders lies the Tuscan countryside — it’s worth booking at least one wine tasting tour.

Top Places to Visit in Florence

You’ll come across plenty of interesting places just wandering around the streets of Florence, but it’s worth seeking out some of the top sites to make sure you don’t miss anything important:

  • The Duomo. Officially called the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, the Duomo is the highlight of Florence. Right in the heart of the city, this expansive cathedral dates back to the 15th century, when it was the largest church in the world. Take a stroll around the entire building to admire the architecture. Make sure you visit during the evening just as the sun starts to set as well as during the daytime, as it looks completely different depending on the light.
  • Uffizi Gallery. A top place to see artwork in Florence is the Uffizi Gallery. Even if you’re not much of an art lover, the pieces are sure to take your breath away.
  • Ponte Vecchio. The most important bridge over the Arno River is the medieval Ponte Vecchio, which means old bridge. It’s the only bridge that survived World War II and has shops built into it that are still in use today.
  • Boboli Gardens. A great example of traditional Italian gardens are the Boboli Gardens. They originally belonged to the Medici family and later inspired many other European courts.
  • San Miniato al Monte. The most enjoyable part of visiting San Miniato al Monte is the walk up the hill to reach it, as it is located at one of the highest points in the city. As well as the views, the basilica itself is beautiful, both on the inside and outside.

How to Reach Florence

Florence has its own airport, located just a couple miles from downtown. Although there are no direct flights from any U.S. cities, you can book a connecting flight through a major European city, such as Paris, London, Amsterdam, or Madrid.

Another option is to fly to Pisa airport (again, you’ll need a connecting flight) and reach Florence by train. There’s a shuttle from the Pisa airport to the railway station. It then takes around an hour to reach Florence. This could be a good option if you want to fit another Italian city into your vacation.

The Dos and Don’ts of Traveling in Italy

To ensure you have a great time in Florence, follow these tips for safety, etiquette, and general advice.

Adhere to the Dress Code for Churches

On days you want to visit churches, make sure you’re dressed appropriately. This means no exposed shoulders or knees. If the weather is hot, you may want to bring a scarf to cover up just to go inside.

Be Respectful of the Locals

Although Florence is a major tourist city, many of the people you encounter will be locals. Nothing annoys them more than visitors walking slowly down narrow streets and frequently stopping to take photos. Be aware that some people have places to be and don’t have the luxury of a leisurely walk. When sidewalks are particularly narrow, it’s polite to walk single file to allow other people to pass you.

Avoid Restaurants Aimed at Tourists

Italy arguably has some of the best food in the world — but you’ll pay a high price for mediocre meals if you choose the wrong restaurants. To find the best food, look at where the locals are eating.

Watch for Pickpockets

The downside of being a beautiful city that attracts tourists is that Florence also attracts pickpockets. You can easily avoid problems by being aware of your belongings and keeping your valuable out of sight. Having said that, Florence is a safe city and you should feel comfortable even walking around at night.

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See Also: Things To Do When You Visit Florence Italy