Are you planning a trip to Florence? Sure, you can’t miss Michelangelo’s David, the amazing Uffizi Gallery, a stroll across Ponte Vecchio, and a visit to the Florence Duomo, but you also cannot miss the best views of Florence.
Climb to the top of duomo for a breathtaking view of Florence, watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo, gaze across Florence from the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower, and enjoy the view from a rooftop bar…these are just a few places to get the best views of Florence.
In this guide, we list 12 places to get the best views of Florence, with photos and practical tips for each of them.
Where to Get the Best Views of Florence
1. The Dome of the Florence Cathedral
The Florence Cathedral, also simply referred to as the Duomo, is the grand centerpiece of Florence. Most likely, you already have plans to visit the Duomo and from this one place, you can have two of the best views of Florence, both on the same ticket.
At the Duomo, you can climb to top of Brunelleschi’s dome (also called the cupola) and to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower (also called the Campanile).
We’ll cover the dome climb here and the bell tower next.
From the top of dome of the Duomo, you get one of the best panoramic views of Florence. From this spot, you look down on the cathedral, Piazza del Duomo, and the heart of Florence. It truly is an unforgettable view.
To get here, you will have to walk up 463 steps. These can be steep, narrow, and winding at times. There is no elevator.
Along this massive stair climb you will also get to walk on a walkway around the base of the dome, which gives you an up close look at the frescoes of The Last Judgement.
The entire experience, with the views of the interior of the cupola and the views over Florence, make this one of the best things to do in Florence.
View from the dome of the Duomo | Best Views of Florence
The view of Palazzo Vecchio from the dome | Best Views of Florence
How to Climb the Dome
You must make a reservation in advance. You cannot just walk up and get in line for the dome. In order to do the dome climb, purchase the Brunelleschi Ticket online, and you will be prompted to reserve a time slot.
Tickets for the dome climb can sell out several days in advance, so we recommend making your reservation about a week in advance, maybe even sooner, to make sure you get a time slot.
The Brunelleschi Ticket also covers the other sites of the Duomo complex (including Giotto’s Bell Tower, mentioned next) and you have 3 days to visit everything. Learn more about the ticket types and get more helpful tips about how to visit the Duomo in our Guide to the Florence Cathedral.
If time slots are sold out for your visit, you can join a tour of the Duomo that includes the dome climb.
2. Giotto’s Bell Tower
Giotto’s Bell Tower, also called the Campanile, is part of the Duomo complex. It sits next to the Duomo and it is included on the Brunelleschi Pass, which is the same ticket you will need for the dome climb.
No reservation is necessary to climb Giotto’s Bell Tower. You simply get in line at the bottom of the tower. On our most recent visit (midday in mid-September), there was no line to enter the bell tower.
To get to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower, you will walk up 414 steps. Again, there is no elevator. If you do this after the dome climb, you will walk up 877 steps (and earn several scoops of gelato)!!
On the climb to the top of the bell tower, you will walk up a long series of staircases and along the way, you can stop at several terraces for a break and a view of Florence.
The view of the duomo as you climb Giotto’s Bell Tower
The view from the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower (photo taken in 2014)
This was once one of our favorite views in Florence. On our first visit here (2014), we had an unobstructed view and could take magnificent photos. Since our first visit, a black mesh has been added around the top of the bell tower. Now, you can no longer take photos from here with a camera without also photographing this mesh barrier (you can take photos without the mesh if your phone has a small camera).
I still think it’s worth it to visit Giotto’s Bell Tower for the view, especially since you have a great view of the dome from this spot.
The mesh grate that surrounds the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower (with a small camera phone it is possible to take photos without getting the metal bars in your photo).
3. Palazzo Vecchio (the Arnolfo Tower)
This is my favorite viewpoint of Florence. From the Arnolfo Tower (the tower of Palazzo Vecchio) you get stunning panoramic views of Florence and one of the best views of the Florence Cathedral.
The view from Arnolfo Tower | Best Views of Florence
Palazzo Vecchio sits on Piazza della Signoria. Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and on a visit here you can also tour the museum or take a tour of the Roman Ruins.
It is open every day. Get hours and pricing on the official website.
4. The Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous art museums in the world. In addition to seeing works of art by Titian, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci, you can also get several great views of Florence from this museum.
From the upper level of the museum, you can look out of the windows for one of the best views of the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio.
The view of Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi Gallery | Best Views of Florence
There is also a café and terrace on the upper level of the Uffizi Gallery with a view of Palazzo Vecchio.
5. The Boboli Gardens
This one may come as a surprise. The Boboli Gardens sit across the Arno River from the historic heart of Florence. The views of Florence from here may not be as impressive as from the Duomo but they are still wonderful. Plus, to see Florence from these gardens…beautiful!
Boboli Gardens | Best Views of Florence
How to Visit the Boboli Gardens
Boboli Gardens is open 7 days a week, however, if you also want to visit the Pitti Palace, which is on the same property, the Pitti Palace is not open on Monday. Get updated hours and pricing on the official website.
With a ticket to Boboli Gardens, you can also visit the Bardini Gardens, which has even better views of Florence.
6. Bardini Gardens & the Bardini Villa
The Bardini Gardens (also called Giardino Bardini) are located on the same hill as the Boboli Gardens. The Bardini Gardens are much smaller, but because of their location, offer a better view of Florence. These gardens are also lesser known, so they tend to be less crowded than the Boboli Gardens.
On a visit here, there are two places to get a beautiful view of Florence: in the gardens and from the villa.
In the Bardini Gardens, you get great views of Florence from the terrace in front of La Loggetta di Villa Bardini, which is a small café. Next to the terrace is the Wisteria pergola. In April and May it is filled with flowering wisteria but it is beautiful all year round. Our photo was taken in September.
View from the terrace in front of La Loggetta di Villa Bardini
The Wisteria Pergola in September
The best view from Bardini Gardens is from the terrace on top of the villa. Now that you are slightly higher, you get even better panoramic views of Florence. There are also art exhibits inside of the villa that you can see on your visit here.
The view from the terrace of Villa Bardini | Best Views of Florence
How to Visit the Bardini Gardens: Enter through Villa Bardini. To get here, it is an uphill walk on Costa San Giorgio from near Ponte Vecchio (you will pass the house of Galileo Galilei on this walk) or a quick walk from Boboli Gardens. Tickets cost €10 and is included in the ticket for Boboli Gardens. Advance reservations are necessary on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. The gardens are open every day 10 am to 8 pm and the villa is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm. Get updates on the official website.
7. Porta San Niccolò
This next viewpoint is a bit harder to visit, since hours are limited. But if you can fit it into your itinerary, you could be rewarded with one of the most unique views of Florence.
Porta San Niccolò, also called the Tower of San Niccolò, is one of the remains of the defensive walls of Florence. It is located on the south side of Arno River, within walking distance of the Bardini Gardens and the Rose Garden (mentioned next).
Porta San Niccolò
On a guided tour, you can visit the top of the tower. We were not able to do this, since the tower was closed during our visit, but I imagine that the view would be awesome, from its position on the Arno River.
It is only open for tours in the summer months. According to the sign at the base of the tower, tours run from the end of June through the end of September, between the hours of 4 pm and 8 pm. An advance reservation is necessary, which you can do on the official website.
8. The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden is free to visit and offers unique views of Florence. It is located on a hillside, above Porta San Niccolo and just below Piazzale Michelangelo.
We entered at Autorita Di Ambito Ato Toscana Centro, on Viale Giuseppe Poggi. It only takes a few minutes to walk through the gardens. Once you are finished, there is a path that leads up the hillside to Piazzale Michelangelo.
Here is the view:
The Rose Garden (this will be a much nicer view once the crane is gone)
9. Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the best places in Florence to watch the sunset. To stand on this terrace and watch as the sun sinks low in the sky and the lights come on in Florence is a magical experience.
If you want to watch the sunset from here, plan on arriving at least an hour before sunset, to get a prime spot on the terrace.
Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset | Best Views of Florence
However, the view from here is gorgeous all day long, so if sunset views don’t work in your itinerary, the afternoon is another beautiful time to visit Piazzale Michelangelo.
The view from Piazzale Michelangelo in the afternoon | Best Views of Florence
How to Visit Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is a terrace that is open 24 hours a day and free to visit. There is a small restaurant here and in the upper parking lot, you can see a replica of Michelangelo’s statue of David.
Piazzale Michelangelo is about a 20-minute walk from the heart of Florence, but you can also get here by taxi.
10. San Miniato al Monte
San Miniato al Monte (St. Minias on the Mountain) is a basilica that stands on one of the highest points of Florence.
The view from San Miniato al Monte | Best Views of Florence
It is located on the hillside above Piazzale Michelangelo and it takes about 10 minutes to walk here.
From the terrace in front of the basilica you get another amazing panoramic view of Florence. It’s a great view but we think that the view from Piazzale Michelangelo is better, so if you only have the time and energy for one viewpoint out this way, we recommend Piazzale Michelangelo.
You can also visit the inside of the church and stroll through the cemetery that surrounds the basilica.
11. From a Rooftop Bar
One of our favorite things to do in Florence is to have a glass of wine or a cocktail with a view of the Duomo, Arno River, or Palazzo Vecchio. Several of our favorite rooftop bars are View on Art, Divina Terrazza, and SE·STO on Arno. You can see the full list in our guide to the best rooftop bars in Florence.
View on Art Rooftop Bar
B Roof Restaurant
12. From Your Hotel Room
It’s possible to have a view of the Duomo right from your hotel. Imagine starting and ending each day with a gorgeous view of Florence.
B&B La Terrazza Sul Duomo is a mid-range hotel that has rooms with a stunning view of the Florence Cathedral.
Portait Firenze – Lungarno Collection is a luxury hotel that has views of the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio.
Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy is a luxurious 5-star hotel that is just a short walk from the Florence Duomo. Some rooms have a view of the Duomo.
For more suggestions on where to stay in Florence (plus additional hotels that have a view of the Florence Cathedral and Ponte Vecchio), take a look at our Florence Hotel Guide.
Some rooms at the Savoy Hotel have this view of the Florence Cathedral
Best Views of Florence on a Map
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Our Favorite Views of Florence
If you have limited time in Florence and can only visit a few places, we narrowed down the list to our favorite views of Florence:
- Arnolfo Tower (Palazzo Vecchio)
- The dome of the Florence Cathedral
- Piazzale Michelangelo
- The terrace of Villa Bardini
- From a rooftop bar
- Giotto’s Bell Tower
- The Uffizi Gallery
More Information for Your Trip to Florence & Tuscany
FLORENCE: For a list of things to do, take a look at our Florence Bucket List. We also have information about how to visit the Florence Cathedral, about the best rooftop bars in Florence, and where to stay in Florence.
DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE: Here are 15 day trips to take from Florence, with practical information on how to plan your day.
TUSCANY: Get started with our guide to the Best Things to Do in Tuscany. Learn how to plan your visit with our Tuscany Itinerary, which has sample itineraries, whether you have 3 days, 5 days, or an entire week in Tuscany.
So, what do you think? Doesn’t Florence look magical? If you have traveled here, what do you think are the best views of Florence?
More Information for Your Trip to Italy
ROME: For a list of the top experiences in Rome, read our article Best Things to Do in Rome. Learn how to put these together in our 2 Day Rome Itinerary. And don’t miss our guides to the Best Views of Rome, best Rooftop Bars in Rome, and our Rome Restaurant Guide.
VERONA: Verona is a beautiful city in northern Italy. Learn how to spend one perfect day in Verona.
PHOTOGRAPHING ITALY: For some of the best views in Italy, here are 20 gorgeous views and exactly where to photograph them.
ITALY ITINERARY: If you have two weeks in Italy, check out our 14 day Italy itinerary, which covers the highlights (Rome, Florence, Venice, the Amalfi Coast, and the Cinque Terre).
We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, and the Cinque Terre.
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