If you ask anyone who has been to Florence, Italy, is Florence worth visiting? They will most likely answer, without a doubt, yes. However, is Florence overhyped and too touristy?
Italy is a bucket list destination for just about everyone, from the iconic canals in Venice to the ancient ruins in Rome and the romantic coastline of Amalfi. It is impossible to see and do everything you want in just a two-week vacation.
So you will have to pick and choose. Should Florence, Italy, make the list of destinations to visit in your itinerary, or should you skip it?
In this guide, I will break down the question of whether Florence is worth visiting for your vacation to Italy and why you should or should not visit Florence.
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The two things in Florence that make it worth visiting are:
1. Climb the iconic Duomo for panoramic views of Florence
2. Stroll across the unique and historic Ponte Vecchio bridge
Is Florence, Italy Worth Visiting?
Yes, Florence is worth visiting. It is a city bursting with centuries of rich history, one-of-a-kind art masterpieces, and world-famous architecture. As you walk and wander the streets of Florence, there is magic around every corner. It is hard to explain the feeling you get when visiting this incredible city.
Florence is known for its stunning architecture, beautiful art and museums, delicious food and wine, and fascinating history.
You can discover famous landmarks such as climbing the Duomo, walking the Ponte Vecchio bridge, and exploring the Uffizi Gallery, as well as lesser-known spots like the Boboli Gardens or the San Lorenzo market.
Florence is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in art, history, culture, or simply experiencing the beauty of Italy. It is unlike any city that I have visited before. Florence is a place that I would love to return to again and again.
Why Florence, Italy is Worth Visiting
If you are planning an epic vacation to Italy, I promise you will hear over and over again from the majority of people you talk to that “Florence is one of my favorite cities in Italy.” That is a subjective statement, and everyone has a different opinion.
However, there has to be some truth in it. What is so great about Florence and why is it worth visiting?
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The Art and Culture of Florence
Florence is worth visiting for the art and culture experience alone. The city is an art lover’s paradise. Florence is home to some of the world’s most famous art galleries and masterpieces. It is known as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, which some believe was Europe’s most prosperous cultural period.
There are approximately 70 museums in Florence. The museums highlight the works of influential geniuses like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Giotto, Raphael, and many more. If you have the slightest interest in art, this is the place to soak it all in and explore this art and cultural hub to the fullest.
If you only have time for one museum in Florence, a must-visit is the Galleria dell’Accademia. This is where you can find the original statue of Michelangelo’s famous David, among other pieces by Michelangelo, and a large collection of beautiful paintings.
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✅ You can book a skip the line Accademia Gallery Tour with Michelangelo’s David here
If you have time, other famous museums in Florence that are worth visiting include:
- Uffizi Gallery: the next most popular museum in Florence
- Pitti Palace And The Boboli Gardens
- Palazzo Vecchio
- Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
The Stunning Architecture
Art is not just in the museums in Florence. It surrounds you as you walk and discover the streets of this magical city.
From Florence’s city squares that feature magnificent statues and sculptures to the Ponte Vecchio bridge along the Arno River, every corner you turn in the city is pulsating with centuries of art and culture.
If you are an architecture buff or can appreciate the historic buildings, Florence is one of the best preserved and maintained cities in Europe. The architecture in the city is highly influenced by the Gothic and Renaissance periods.
One of the most famous buildings in Florence is Cathedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo of Florence. The dome structure is one of the largest in the world. You will want to book your tour in advance to see the inside of this stunning church.
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Some of the other unique structures and buildings you will want to see in Florence are:
- Basilica of San Lorenzo
- Baptistery of St. John
- Giotto’s Bell Tower
- Ponte Vecchio
- Palazzo Vecchio
- Uffizi Gallery
The Delicious Tuscan Cuisine
Probably the thing you are looking forward to the most on your trip to Italy is trying all of the delicious food! And Florence does not disappoint.
There are numerous traditional dishes that are a must-try when visiting Florence. Some of the classic Florence dishes are Bistecca Fiorentina, Tuscan Canapés, Tagliatelle with Porcini and Truffle Mushrooms, and of course, a glass of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino that will pair nicely with any one of these dishes.
Also, a trip to Florence is not complete without enjoying some gelato. Florence claims to be the birthplace of gelato, so what better excuse do you have to try all of the various yummy flavors?
If you want the best and most authentic gelato, skip the shops with the bright and highly stacked gelato. It looks pretty, but it is filled with preservatives.
Authentic gelato is made only with high-quality products such as 100% Italian whole milk and pasteurized fresh cream, barn eggs, and fresh seasonal fruit.
Florence is a Walkable City
You can walk everywhere in Florence. It is actually, the best and cheapest way to get around and see the city.
The city center is relatively small compared to other major cities in Italy, and you can walk from one end to another in about 30 minutes. And there are numerous pedestrian-only streets.
Florence is unique that you can easily spend a week there or a day trip and still feel like you have seen a decent part of the city. If you are limited on time and only have a day or two, Florence is still worth a visit.
You can see many of the main sights in a day. Whereas if you are in a city like Rome, it is much larger and walking from place to place takes a lot more of your time.
Great Homebase for Visiting Nearby Towns
Florence makes for a great home base to visit other nearby towns and cities. It is a transportation hub, so you will have access to trains, buses, and tours to explore the region and the gorgeous countryside.
Including, San Gimignano, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, the Saturnia hot springs, Cinque Terre, and even Rome is only an hour and a half by high-speed train.
If you prefer not to take public transportation, the other option would be to book a tour. There are numerous fantastic tours that depart from Florence.
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A top tour with over 10,000 reviews and a 5 ⭐ rating is the Tuscany Day Trip from Florence: Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa, and Lunch at a Winery.
“The best experience I’ve had on a tour. Our tour guide Levi was amazing, kind, and knowledgeable. The food was amazing, and would definitely go again.” – Anny R. (read more reviews)
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Shopping in Florence
Florence is also worth visiting for all of the amazing shopping! Come prepared with some extra space in your luggage, because I promise you will be bringing some clothes and items home with you. There are numerous trendy stores that I found to be pretty affordable.
Via de’ Tornabuoni is the fashion center of the city and the popular shopping street in Florence. Here you will find all the luxury brands, high-end boutiques, and jewelers. There is Gucci, Versace, Prada, and Tiffany & Co to name a few.
Another great place to do some shopping for souvenirs is the San Lorenzo market. The open-air market is best known for its leather goods. For centuries, Florence has been famous for its high-quality leather.
You will find everything from leather gloves to belts, jackets, wallets, and bags. Even if you do not plan on buying anything, it is still worth your time to walk through the bustling and vibrant market.
There are not too many cities that offer as many breathtaking views as Florence does. A must is to climb the 463 steps of the Duomo for expansive views of the city. Climbing the ancient steps of the Dumo is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will not regret.
⭐Tip: You will need tickets to climb the Duomo in advance. There are often long lines of visitors waiting to get in. Book your skip-the-line tickets for the Duomo here.
The Piazzale Michelangelo Square offers an unbelievable view overlooking the city. It is a little bit of a trek to get up the steep hill to the viewpoint.
However, it is well worth the effort to get this remarkable 360-degree view of Florence and the surrounding area. A lot of people come here at sunset, but honestly, at any time of the day, you are going to get spectacular views.
Make sure to end your day with a cocktail at sunset on a rooftop bar that features panoramic views of the city. There are many to choose from, but we decided to go to SE·STO on Arno Rooftop Bar. It is located at the top of the Westin hotel.
Why You Should Not Visit Florence, Italy
While there are many good reasons to visit Florence, there are a few reasons why some people might not want to visit the city. Here are a few potential drawbacks to consider:
The Overwhelming Crowds
Florence may sound too good to be true, so you may be wondering if there are any reasons you would not want to visit. Most likely, the main reason someone would not want to visit Florence is the abundance of crowds, especially during peak season.
No matter the time of year, Florence is always crowded. It is a very popular destination to visit. We visited in the off-season, and the city still felt overwhelmed with people. The crowds can make it difficult to fully enjoy some of the city’s attractions and could also lead to long lines and wait times.
That is why I recommend purchasing skip-the-line tickets, it is a little extra cost, but so worth it to not have to waste time standing in long lines. If you are traveling in the summer, make sure to book your tickets to museums and other main attractions ASAP.
Traveling in the Summer
You may think twice about visiting Florence if you are traveling to Italy in the summer. It is Italy’s busiest tourist season of the year. So expect massive lines outside of the main sights and long wait times at a restaurant, and accommodations are typically more expensive than the rest of the year.
Besides being Italy’s busiest time of year, it is also the hottest. Summers in Florence can be quite hot and humid. The summer temperatures in Florence hit the high 80s and 90s, which is not ideal when climbing the 463 steps of the Duomo.
Florence Can Be Expensive
Florence is not a destination where you can “wing it” while you are there. You need to do some planning beforehand because otherwise, you will probably be paying premium prices for accommodations and miss out on tickets for the top Florence attractions.
Depending on your plans in Florence, it can seem like an expensive city to visit. All of the tours for museums and churches can quickly add up. Also, prices for accommodation and food tend to be higher in the city center near the Duomo and other popular tourist areas.
However, I think Florence is more affordable than people realize. It can be possible to visit Florence on a budget by being strategic with accommodation and food choices, and by taking advantage of free or low-cost activities. Also, Florence is cheaper than other major Italian cities like Rome and Milan.
Is Florence Too Touristy
Like most of the popular and well-known cities in Italy, Florence attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year. It is not a hidden gem or an off-the-beaten path location by any means.
You should expect there to be crowds and plenty of other tourists visiting at the same time as you, especially at those main sights like the Galleria dell’Accademia and Palazzo Vecchio.
However, I would not consider Florence to be a tourist trap or a touristy location to visit. There is still so much authenticity throughout the city. You just have to go to the right places to find it.
How Many Days Should You Spend in Florence?
You should try and spend at least three days in Florence. There is so much to see and do in this incredible city, you could easily spend a week or more here. Three days is the perfect amount of time to see all of the main sights in the city without feeling like you are rushing and trying to cram everything into one day.
If you have more time to spare, four to five days in Florence will allow you to take your time to explore more off the beaten path locations.
In Conclusion: Is Florence Worth Visiting
Is Florence overhyped or is Florence worth visiting? While there may be some potential drawbacks, in my opinion, Florence is still absolutely worth a visit. The beauty and rich culture of the city of Florence is unmatched. I would go back in a heartbeat.
As you are planning your epic vacation to Italy, I have some helpful guides for your trip! You can start here to discover if Tuscany is Worth Visiting 2023: 14 Reasons Why You Should Visit and Driving in Tuscany: 14 Tips & How to Avoid Getting a Ticket 2023.