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Best Views of Florence: Duomo

The 11 Best Views of Florence & How to Visit

Italy

We haven’t made a secret of our love of either beautiful vistas or the deeply enchanting city of Florence–so it’s no surprise that we’ve gone around finding some of the best views of Florence!

Florence continues to rank as one of our favorite cities in the world: whenever I write about it, I get a bit homesick for it–and this post is no exception. I may or may not have checked the calendar trying to find the best time to return to Florence five or six times while researching and writing this post–it’s just such a wonderful place to be!

If you’re lucky enough to be spending some time in the Cradle of the Renaissance, don’t miss seeking out the best views of Florence while you are there–they are worth the photo op.

For this post, we’ve stuck with mostly highlighting only areas that show off Florence’s beautiful cityscape, complete with its mostly-level buildings interrupted by the explosion of color and beauty that is the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral (aka Florence’s Duomo). We did make one exception, though!

If you’re looking for more offbeat views of Florence, or pretty spots that don’t necessarily show off the whole city, our guide to the most instagrammable spots in Florence is a great starting point!

Things to Do in Florence: Visit Boboli Gardens

The 11 Best Views of Florence

The 3 Most Popular Views of Florence

Each view of Florence offers something special, but if you have limited time in the city or are simply only interested in the best of the best, these first three locations on this best views of Florence list are for you.

The Piazzale Michelangelo

As one of the most popular viewpoints in Florence, Piazzale Michelangelo is frequently touted as being a great place to watch the sunset (accurate), as the home of one of the best views of Florence (accurate), and as almost always being crowded (also accurate).

No trip to Florence would be complete without a visit to Piazzale Michelangelo and its impeccable views of Florence, so even on a short visit, be sure to make it out here.

What to Know Before You Go

Piazzale Michelangelo is free to visit, but you’ll need to be prepared to share the view with dozens of your new best friends and several souvenir vendors.

That’s really not as bad as it sounds, though–the space is enormous, and we’ve never felt particularly crowded while there.

Piazzale Michelangelo is about a half hour walk from the Piazza del Duomo in the center of Florence, and it does include some steep uphill climbs. If you’re in moderately decent shape, it shouldn’t be a problem.

If you’d like to avoid the walk, you can also take a bus up to Piazzale Michelangelo, but it won’t save you much time at all–only sore feet.

Fun Things to Do in Florence: View from Piazzale Michelangelo

The Cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral

The cupola, Brunelleschi’s Dome, the dome… whatever you call it, the cupola of Florence’s Duomo is indisputably home to one of the best views of Florence.

The dome is one of the largest cathedral domes in the world, and was designed long before it was completed: in fact, when the original plans for the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral were drawn up, constructing the dome seemed impossible!

The cathedral stood incomplete for 80 years before Brunelleschi came along and successfully completed the dome. The work was finished in 1436 (a mere 16 years after Brunelleschi joined the project), and has stood tall over Florence ever since.

What to Know Before You Go

In order to climb Brunelleschi’s Dome for one of the best views of Florence, you’ll need to purchase a combination ticket that allows you access to the Duomo and surrounding museums (baptistery, bell tower, etc), or purchase a tour of the cupola itself.

Either way, you’ll need to select a time slot to visit the cupola that cannot be changed after the fact. The climb sells out regularly, especially in the summer, so try to book several days out (maybe even a week or more during the high season) to ensure you get a chance to visit the dome.

It’s 463 steps to the top, and there’s no elevator, so be prepared to climb!

Make sure you get the chance to visit the Dome by booking your climb before arriving in Florence!

Florence Cathedral Ticket with Dome Reservation

2 Days in Florence: Duomo view from bell tower

Giotto’s Bell Tower

Giotto’s Bell Tower, standing tall right next to the Duomo, is home our personal favorite of the best views of Florence–not only is the bell tower centrally located and home to views very similar to those found in the cupola, you can get amazing close-up shots of the cupola itself!

We went at sunset and were absolutely blown away by the experience.

What to Know Before You Go

Though Giotto’s Bell Tower is a slightly shorter climb that Brunelleschi’s Dome (414 steps vs 463), you’ll still need to be prepared for quite the climb here.

Access to the bell tower is provided with a combination ticket to the Duomo and its museums, and unlike the cupola, you won’t need to plan days in advance.

However, lines can get quite long–we lucked out by skipping the long line around midday and doubling back in the evening for sunset shots, but we were also traveling during shoulder season at the time.

You cannot purchase tickets to the bell tower at the front of the line, so make sure you already have your ticket in hand before queueing up!

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The Other Best Views of Florence

San Miniato al Monte

Perched high above the famed Piazzale Michelangelo sits the small San Miniato al Monte church, which is home to some of the very best views of Florence, with the entire city stretched out before you and the mountains behind Florence framing the scene beautifully.

It’s truly a sight to behold–as is the church that sits behind the view.

At more than 1000 years old, the basilica is intricate, gorgeous, and usually decidedly less crowded than the famed churches in the center of Florence.

What to Know Before You Go

It is possible to walk from the center of Florence to San Miniato al Monte–it’s about a 35-minute walk from the Duomo, depending on how fast you ascend the hills, but there are alternate ways to get there if you’re not in the mood for a hike.

We visited San Miniato al Monte as part of a Vespa tour through Florence & the Tuscan countryside, and thought that it was the absolute best way to visit!

What could be better than enjoying the winding roads leading up to San Miniato al Monte via Vespa on a beautiful day? Not much.

Once you’re there, the church and grounds are free to enter.

This is the exact Vespa tour we took to visit San Miniato al Monte, and we absolutely loved it!

Book yours here: Vintage Vespa Tour of Florence & Surrounding Countryside

2 Days in Florence Itinerary: Florence Skyline

The Rose Garden

Nestled just below the Piazzale Michelangelo, the Rose Garden boasts one of the best views of Florence, and is, especially in the spring when the roses are in bloom, almost certainly one of the best-smelling spots to enjoy beautiful views over the Duomo and the city itself.

True, the view is a little less uninterrupted than the view from the Piazzale Michelangelo above, but the Rose Garden is still a gorgeous spot to admire Florence from and a must-see for anyone already heading to Piazzale Michelangelo.

What to Know Before You Go

As you make your way up the steps to Piazzale Michelangelo, keep an eye out for a small gate on your left that marks one of the entrances to the Rose Garden.

The garden is free to enter, and the perfect place for a quick rest during your climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo.

Best Things to Do in Florence: View from the Rose Garden

The Uffizi Museum

Better known for its incredible art collection than its views, the Uffizi also home to an unexpectedly beautiful view of Florence.

From the museum, you can easily observe the bridges of the Arno (including the Ponte Vecchio in the foreground), with the city of Florence stretching out on the opposite side of the river.

What to Know Before You Go

Obviously, to visit the Uffizi for its views you’ll also need to pay to visit its art… which is perfectly fine, because most trips to Florence should include a trip to the Uffizi!

Lines to the Uffizi can get extremely long, even in the off-season (we once gave up on a line to the Uffizi after an hour in November), so we strongly recommend purchasing tickets to the Uffizi before you arrive.

Don’t worry about lines: book your Uffizi ticket now!

Timed Entrance Ticket to the Uffizi

Fun Things to Do in Florence: Uffuzi Gallery

The Palazzo Vecchio

Located right in the heart of Florence, the Palazzo Vecchio is a well-known landmark in the city, but is better known for what’s outside (a David replica, the Uffizi gallery, the outdoor sculpture collection in the Piazza della Signoria, Neptune’s Fountain) than what goes on inside.

The history of the building is fascinating–among other things, the Vasari corridor begins here and the Palazzo Vecchio has been Florence’s city hall since the Medici family moved the seat of government there in the Middle Ages–but the view is remarkably beautiful as well.

Most notably, a climb up the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio will reward you with an incredible view of the Duomo from the side, allowing you to appreciate the size and scale of the building compared to the rest of Florence in a way that not many of the other best views of Florence give you a chance to do.

What to Know Before You Go

You do need a ticket to access the Palazzo Vecchio and its tower. Though lines are not as long as, say, at the Duomo, it’s still far easier to purchase a ticket in advance than to wait in line at the door.

Be sure to budget time to explore all of the areas of the Palazzo Vecchio that are open to the public, and not just the view–there is so much Florentine history in the building, and it deserves to be appreciated!

Unlike some of the best views of Florence, this one is not accessible in the rain, so keep that in mind when visiting. It can also be quite claustrophobic, so if that is something you struggle with, this may not be the spot in Florence for you!

Book your ticket to the Palazzo Vecchio today!

Two Days in Florence Itinerary: View from Bell Tower

Fiesole

Nestled in the hills above Florence, the small village of Fiesole is charming, beautiful, and the perfect day trip from Florence… in fact, it’s so close to the city that you can even walk there if you like!

Home to Roman ruins and a beautiful monastery, Fiesole is more than just the home of some of the best views of Florence… but that is definitely what most people visit for all the same.

Of all the best views of Florence listed here, this one is definitely the highest up and most all-encompassing–you can see the entire city of Florence from Fiesole!

What to Know Before You Go

It takes about an hour and a half to hike from Florence’s Duomo to Fiesole, but for those who consider that less than fun, there are buses available as well. You can also, of course, drive to the village.

While beautiful, the views of Florence from Fiesole can be susceptible to haze, so if possible, try to visit Fiesole on a very clear day for the best views of Florence.

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2 Days in Florence: The Ultimate Itinerary

Best Views of Florence: Girl near Ponte Vecchio

The Boboli Gardens

Long the haunt of the famous Medici family, the Boboli Gardens are known for their impeccable layout, beautiful flowers, and incredible views.

Perched in such a way that they overlook the entire city, the Boboli Gardens are home to some of the best views of Florence when looking one way… and gorgeous views of the Tuscan countryside when you wander away from the city views.

Regardless of which parts of the Boboli Gardens you choose to visit, they’re absolutely worth an afternoon, especially if you are visiting Florence in the spring or summer.

What to Know Before You Go

The Boboli Gardens are located behind the Pitti Palace, but there are four gates to enter from.

You do need a ticket to enter–if you don’t have one before you arrive, you can purchase a ticket at the front of the Pitti Palace. The good news is that the ticket is also good for the small Porcelain Museum (which is within the Boboli Gardens), and the Bardini Gardens.

Best Views of Florence: Boboli Gardens

San Niccolo Tower

Want to experience what are said to be some truly incredible views of Florence that not many get to see–and especially get amazing views of the bridges spanning across the Arno River?

Look no further than the San Niccolo Tower! There’s just one catch…

What to Know Before You Go

While the views are said to be wonderful, views from the San Niccolo Tower are much harder to access than many of the other best views of Florence.

The tower is only open for visitors on certain summer afternoons from June to September, so many Florence visitors will never have the chance to see it.

For that reason, if you’re there at the right time of year, we definitely recommend a climb up San Niccolo Tower–you’ll be experiencing some gorgeous views of Florence from an angle that many will never be able to access!

Best Things to Do in Florence: San Niccolo Tower

The Bardini Gardens

Though they are not as well known as the famous Boboli Gardens, the Bardini Gardens offer one of the best views of Florence: set high above the center of the city, the Bardini Gardens are a fabulous place to relax and recharge while in Florence.

What to Know Before You Go

The same ticket that allows access to the Boboli Gardens (discussed above) will allow entrance to the Bardini Gardens as well, so it’s best to plan for seeing both of these beautiful views of Florence!

The gardens are open year-round, but arguably the best time for visiting is from late April to early May, when one of the Bardini Garden’s best-known features, a stunning tunnel of wisteria, will be blooming.

Best Views of Florence: Overlooking the City

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Tips for Seeking Out the Best Views of Florence

Be prepared to climb.

I’ve tried to note the steps and climbs under each of these best views of Florence as applicable, but the bottom line is, most of them require a bit of a leg workout to get to!

If you can’t (or simply would rather not) climb hundreds of steps to reach one of the best views of Florence, definitely make sure you add the Piazzale Michelangelo to your list–it’s probably one of the most accessible viewpoints listed here, especially if you take the bus up!

Fun Things to Do in Florence: Ponte Vecchio

Mix up the time of day that you visit each viewpoint.

Sure, sunsets have beautiful lighting and sunrises allow you to beat the crowds, but if you’re planning on seeking out several of the best views of Florence during your stay, definitely make sure to change up what time of day you visit to ensure all kinds of different lighting and photo opportunities!

Some golden hour, some middle-of-the-day-with-a-blue-sky, and maybe even some shortly after a rainstorm (we’re of the potentially controversial opinion that Florence is incredibly beautiful when coated with a little rain).

Don’t forget to get in your photos!

Photos of the best views of Florence are wonderful and all, but don’t forget to jump into at least a couple of frames! Even if you don’t feel like it, you’ll be so glad you have those photos of yourself having fun in Florence 10 or 20 years down the line.

If you’d like a non-selfie photo, don’t be afraid to ask one of the other tourists, especially at popular viewpoints like the Piazzale Michelangelo–most people will be happy to help out (and of course, common courtesy is to offer to take their photo afterward).

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Florence, we're a little bit obsessed with you. 😍 . Our third visit to the Cradle of the Renaissance certainly won't be our last: there's still so much we need to uncover in this many-layered gem of a city, not to mention about a million and one things we need to do again (like sample gelato... lots of gelato) . This view from the Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the most famous in the city--even on a hazy day, we still loved getting a chance to admire Florence from above . . . . #florence #ig_florence #tuscany #ig_tuscany #italy_photolovers #italytravel #ilovetuscany #italygram #italyiloveyou #italy_photolovers #italytravels #iloveitaly #ig_italy #ig_europe #theprettycities #photosinbetween #thatsdarling #thatauthenticfeeling #unlimitedparadise #sheisnotlost #travelstoke #femmetravel #letsgoeverywhere #thetravelwomen #globelletravels #theglobewanderer #mytinyatlas #flashesofdelight #openmyworld #gltlove

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Prioritize which viewpoints you visit.

Even if you have a whole month to spend in Florence, there’s no reason to seek out each and every one of these best views of Florence–unless you live there and spread these out over a period of a year or more, it’s simply overkill.

Pick a few of the best views of Florence that stick out to you–maybe one popular viewpoint, one tower, and one view that simply interests you, and call it good.

Florence is stunning, but you only need to visit so many overlooks on one trip!

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The Best Views of Florence: #florence #tuscany #italy #travel #views #viewpoint

Many thanks to Walkabout Florence for hosting us on our Vintage Vespa Tour! All opinions are, as always, our own.

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