The Perfect Walking Guide to Florence, Italy

Piazza del Duomo in the historic centre of Florence is a must-visit
Piazza del Duomo in the historic centre of Florence is a must-visit | © Maremagnum / Photodisc / Getty Images
Photo of Francesca Masotti
3 September 2021

Florence is, arguably, one of the most amazing cities in the world, and the perfect way to visit it is by walking down its narrow streets and discover its magnificent Medieval architecture, cool neighbourhoods and lovely green spots.

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Piazzale Michelangelo

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Two women admiring the panoramic view from the square Piazzale Michelangelo to the historic heart of Florence with the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore...
© H-AB / Alamy Stock Photo
You can begin your walk in the most famous Italian belvedere, Piazzale Michelangelo. From this big square, you can admire one of the most spectacular panoramas you will see in your life. This is the perfect spot to see (from the top) the beauty of Florence and the most spectacular buildings that make the city one of the greatest destinations in the world – and take amazing pictures, of course.

Bardini Garden

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The Bardini Garden, Florence (Firenze), Tuscany, Italy, Europe
© Contributor: Robert Harding / Alamy Stock Photo
From Piazzale Michelangelo, walk down to the Arno River, and reach the neighbourhood of San Niccolò. This is one of the coolest areas of Florence, full of pubs and bars frequented mostly by locals. In this neighbourhood, there is the Bardini Garden, less famous and smaller than Boboli, but magnificent. The garden, which is a lovely spot to enjoy a beautiful time in the city, hosts many flowers and trees, including a big area of lovely wisteria that, every spring, blossoms and colours everything.

Ponte Vecchio

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River Arno and Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy.
© Peter_Horvath / Alamy Stock Photo
No trip to Florence is complete without a walk over Ponte Vecchio. This is the oldest bridge in the city, the only one which survived the bombs of World War II, and, now, it is home to some of the most expensive and elegant jewels of Italy. If you don’t want to actually shop here, you can always stop in to take a look.

Santa Croce

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The Basilica di Santa Croce is home to the tombs of some of Florence’s most famous inhabitants
© Stuart Robertson / Alamy Stock Photo

Be sure to continue to the Santa Croce neighbourhood for a free glimpse at one of the most spectacular buildings in town, the Basilica of Santa Croce. A visit inside is a must, too, because many of the most influential men of all times, such as popes, artists, writers and painters, are buried here. There is an entrance fee.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Cathedral, Church
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Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Duomo in Florence. Tuscany, Italy
© Elena Odareeva / Alamy Stock Photo
It’s time for a climb: reach the top of the dome of the Cathedral of Florence for breathtaking views over the city. The climb is tough (463 steps in total), and, if you are claustrophobic, it could be really hard. The vistas from the top are well worth the effort, though.

Central Market

Market, Italian, Vegetarian
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Interior of Mercato Centrale
© Andriy Blokhin / Alamy Stock Photo
After that climb, you really deserve a rest. The best place to get that is the Central Market in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood, only a three-minute walk from the cathedral. This is the main market in Florence where locals come to buy food, but it is also a good spot for a quick breakfast or lunch. A large selection of bars and restaurants is located on the first floor of the market.

Santa Maria Novella

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Interior of the Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy.
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
This church is still underrated by the tourists simply because it is near the central station, and many don’t even know it exists. But the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest churches in Florence and has a fabulous façade and a beautiful cloister. It also holds extraordinary works of art, including Masaccio’s Trinità, Giotto’s Crucifix and a fresco by Ghirlandaio.

Repubblica Square

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Piazza della Repubblica, Firenze Italia Florence Italy
© John G Wilbanks / Alamy Stock Photo

Piazza della Repubblica, the main square in Florence, is the central point of the city. The ancient Romans used this place to calculate the distances of the town. Every tourist will cross this square during his or her tour of Florence at some point, so you will not miss it. This big square is surrounded by the most famous and elegant cafes in town and is the perfect spot for sipping an espresso before continuing your visits around the city.

Santo Spirito Neighbourhood

Historical Landmark
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Piazza (square) Santo Spirito
© Maremagnum / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images
It’s time to cross the Arno River and stroll in the narrow streets of Oltrarno, the coolest neighbourhood in town. This area is full of boutiques, bars, restaurants, designers shops and nice squares mostly frequented by locals. The main one is Santo Spirito, a beautiful square with a big fountain, perfect for spending summer nights in town, drinking fresh cocktails at one of the local bars.
These recommendations were updated on September 3, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Francesca Masotti

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