8 Places to Visit for the Best Views in Florence in Italy
Looking for the best views of Florence? Take in this beautiful Italian city from above!
I still dream about the red terracotta roof tiles across the Florence skyline, and while my last trip to Florence was only a few weeks ago, it already feels like a lifetime. There are so many vantage points in Florence, some of which involve a lot of huffing and puffing and squeezing past crowds of selfie stick-toting tourists to get to, but from personal experience I can tell you that the view is always 100% worth it, rain or shine.
Beyond the obvious and popular tourist attractions in Florence, there are several other places that we found that also offered spectacular scenes across the city – read on for where to find the best views of Florence!
The best hotels to stay at in Florence
Hotel Calzaiuoli is a 2 (yes, TWO!) minute walk away from the Duomo Complex. The staff were extremely friendly and accommodating, rooms were bright, comfortable and spacious, and the breakfast spread was amazing. Click here to book your stay at Hotel Calzaiuoli!
La Tana Dei Leoni is an amazing guesthouse right in front of the Ponte Vecchio. It was an amazing room and great value for money – I would highly recommend this over Hotel Calzaiuoli for anyone with a slightly lower budget! Click here to book your stay at La Tana Dei Leoni!
Agnolo is a 2-bedroom apartment in the Santa Croce district of Florence. The apartment is extremely spacious and offers 2 separate bathrooms as well. The kitchen is well equipped if you want to self cater or keep some wine and food in the fridge, and the bedrooms were very comfortable. Perfect for anyone traveling as a group or with family! Click here to book your stay at Agnolo in Florence!
Italy is full of wonderful viewpoints (and rooftop bars) where you can see cities from above. Head on over here for even more Italy travel tips!
1. North Terrace
The private north Terrace is one of my favorite places for the best view of Florence. It is normally closed to the public and under lock and key, unless you are part of the Little Peek on Florence tour (it is AKA the “A Glimpse of Florence” tour) at the Duomo complex.
The terrace wraps around the cathedral and you’re greeted with the end-to-end skyline as well as Brunelleschi’s Dome towering above. The best thing about this Florence viewpoint? You’re one of only a few people to be on the Terrace on any given day!
Update 2022: The Duomo terraces are currently only accessible by exclusive private guided tour and can no longer by booked via the website. To book this tour please email commercia[email protected]. A minimum number of participants may apply.
Looking for fantastic things to do in Florence? Read my article on visiting the Duomo complex and getting yourself onto this amazing terrace here!
2. Brunelleschi’s Dome
Probably the most popular and well known viewpoint in Florence, people from all over the world flock to climb 463 steps up to the top of the Duomo. For this reason, there are often long lines of visitors waiting to get in (the majority of the climb up is single file only).
Nevertheless, once you reach the summit of the Brunelleschi Dome, everything else will fade away and for a moment – just a moment – all that matters is what’s in front of you.
3. Giotto’s Campanile
Still within the Duomo complex, Giotto’s Campanile (Bell Tower) offers a slightly less strenuous climb to the top and a lookout right across from Brunelleschi’s Dome. Once you get to the top, check out the 360-degree panoramic view around you and try to spot the tip of Palazzo Vecchio!
The only issue with the view at Giotto’s Bell Tower is that the view from the top is slightly obscured by wire netting. You’re more likely to get a great photo from here with a small point-and-shoot camera, or your smartphone lens. Check out some of my best tips for taking photos with a smartphone!
Pisa is just a stone’s throw away from Florence and is a fantastic day trip destination. Click here for my guide to visiting the Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
Not sure where to stay in Florence? I recommend staying at Hotel Calzaiuoli, a 2-minute walk away from the Duomo Complex and one of the best luxury hotels in Florence. Click here to book your stay at Hotel Calzaiuoli! Traveling with friends or family? Check out Agnolo, a 2-bedroom apartment in the Santa Croce district of Florence. The apartment has a kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms as well. Click here to book your stay at Agnolo in Florence or check out some other accommodation options in Florence here.
Would you like a coffee or tea with that view? If so, this alfresco terrace is the place for you. Formerly known as “La Terrazza”, this trendy cafe can be reached by heading into the Rinascente department store at Piazza della Repubblica, and taking the elevator up to the top floor for a lazy (and mostly crowd-free) afternoon.
If you’re feeling peckish or thirsty then this is where you’ll get the best view of Florence with a light lunch or aperitivo, and it comes with a fairly reasonable price tag!
5. Chiesa di Orsanmichele
Around the corner from Piazza della Repubblica is the Orsanmichele Church. Don’t let its unassuming exterior fool you – the church has a beautiful interior and is famous for the hall of saints housed within its museum. The museum is only open on Mondays from 10 am to 5 pm, but entrance is free. One more floor up from the collection of statues is a bare and empty room…but this room has wall-to-wall windows with some great views of Florence.
Siena’s UNESCO-listed historic centre is a short train ride away from Florence. Click here for my guide to visiting Siena in 1 day!
6. Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio is probably best known for its copy of Michelangelo’s statue of David, and after Brunelleschi’s Dome and Giotto’s Campanile is the next most recognizable monument towering over Florence’s skyline. Apart from housing a museum, the Palazzo Vecchio also has a climbable bell tower that many people don’t take advantage of. There are a number of ticket options including one for those who only want to climb the bell tower and skip the museum (€10), or you can access both the museum and tower for €14.
The great thing about this place is that the tower doesn’t shut until 9 pm from April to September (except for Thursdays when it closes at 2 pm), and when we visited we were 2 of a total of only 4 (FOUR!) people at the viewpoint and witnessed the sunset glow over Florence. If you’re looking for one of the less crowded viewpoints in Florence then this is it – the wraparound views are spectacular!
7. Piazzale Michelangelo
If you’ve seen a panoramic photograph of Florence, chances are it was taken here. Although it has a fancy name, the square is more or less a bare parking lot, yet Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the most popular destinations for jaw-dropping views across Florence.
Make sure you get here early to watch the sunset, because it is a popular viewing spot of the Florence skyline. Be prepared to hustle your way through crowds of people, but the pay-off is enormous.
If the idea of crowds makes you nauseous, check out San Miniato al Monte instead – a quick 5 minute stroll from Piazzale Michelangelo. Personally, I found the views from San Minato al Monte to be slightly more obstructed than from Piazzale Michelangelo, though I did appreciate the lack of hordes of people.
8. Giardino delle Rose
The Rose Garden is a hop and skip away from Ponte Vecchio on the other side of the Arno River. As you can imagine, the garden is popular among couples so don’t be surprised if you witness some smooching on the lawn. There is no entrance fee and the garden is open year-round from 9 am to sunset. I hear the best time to visit is in May and June in the heart of springtime!
Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn’t get a chance to visit some of Florence’s other famous gardens, many of which are across the Arno River and off the beaten path. There’s no better place to spend a sunny afternoon, looking over Florence’s skyline! Here is a wonderful guide from Georgette from Girl in Florence on the best gardens to head to!
Looking for more travel tips on visiting Italy? Head on over here!
BONUS: Oblate Library
The Oblate Library is an underrated and lesser-known viewpoint in Florence, just steps away from the Duomo itself. The public library is housed in a convent dating back to the 14th century, and it is a popular gathering spot for students preparing for exams. Entry is free and there is a small cafe on the second floor where you can sip on a cup of coffee with a view of the Duomo (for a fraction of the price of other popular tourist cafes with a view). If you do plan to visit the Oblate Library please be quiet and respectful – it is a public space that local students use!
The best places to eat and drink in Florence
Trattoria Le Mossacce: a little hole-in-the-wall with delicious home-cooked Italian fare.
La Posta: A wonderful family-owned restaurant with hands down the best bruschetta, penne pomodoro and ravioli rose (we eat here every single time we are back in town!)
La Petite: Sister restaurant of La Posta, try their twist on the classic carbonara but with duck instead of bacon!
Golden View Open Bar: Slightly more upscale but the view and service can’t be beat. Book ahead and ask for a balcony table for an incredible view of the Ponte Vecchio.
Casa Del Vin Santo: Beautiful pizza, delicious wine.
Mercato Centrale: Such a fun building to visit! The food court upstairs offers everything from pizza to steak to sushi, and the fresh market downstairs is extremely photogenic and a great place to pick up souvenirs.
da Garibardi: Located right next to Mercato Centrale, da Garibardi serves delicious traditional Italian fare and offers a gluten free menu as well.
La Ménageré: A beautiful, hip coffee shop offering a wide selection of salads, pastries and sandwiches if you want something light, or a more extensive menu if you want a sit-down lunch/dinner.
Divina Terrazza at the Grand Hotel Cavour: A beautiful rooftop bar in Florence located within a swanky hotel – come here for incredible cocktails and views of the Duomo and Florence from above. You must make a reservation in advance and may be asked to leave some form of photo ID with the reception desk downstairs. The reservation fee is 18 Euros per person with one drink included.
Love good wine and want to venture over to the wine region in Tuscany? Check out this Florence to Chianti and Val d’Orcia day trip itinerary or head on over here to read more about the Tuscan wine region and other stunning wine destinations around the world!
Ready to book your trip to Florence? I’ve stayed at a number of hotels in the city and recommend the following: Hotel Calzaiuoli is an elegant luxury hotel just steps away from the Duomo. For independent travelers traveling with a group check out Agnolo, a 2-bedroom apartment in the Santa Croce district.
Click here to book your stay at Hotel Calzaiuol or click here to book your stay at Agnolo in Florence. Want to explore more options? Check out some other accommodation options in Florence here.
Heading to other cities in Italy? You might also enjoy these reads:
- Click here for more Italy destination guides and travel tips or check out all of my hotel recommendations and booking tips for Italy
- For even more Florence travel inspiration check out this wanderlust-inducing photo gallery
- Those planning to climb the Duomo can’t skip this guide to the monuments dating back to the Italian Renaissance
- Pisa is a popular day trip destination from Florence – here’s my guide to visiting the Piazza del Duomo & Leaning Tower in Pisa
- Siena is another UNESCO-listed city in Tuscany with its very own Duomo and historic centre. Read this 1 day itinerary for Siena
Where are your favorite places to visit for great views in Florence? Let me know in the comments section below!
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Thanks for the tips on the views! I’m going to Florence in the Spring. Cheers.
A wonderful time to visit Florence – make sure you stop by the Boboli Gardens! Safe travels.
I am incredibly excited about our trip to Florence
Going to climb to Duomo in the morning
We then have the rest of the day and Sunday half day
What would you recommend in terms of maximizing the time as I read your blog in Florence several times and wnat to take advantage of Friday evening
Saturday (little peak booked in am) and Sunday half day
Till we head to Rome
Hi Yana, so happy to hear that you found the posts helpful! On Friday evening I would recommend heading to the Piazza Michelangelo if you get there in time for sunset, otherwise check out the piazza della Signoria and della Republicca.
Have lunch at Mercato Centrale on Saturday and then check out the Uffuzi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio in the afternoon, Piazza Michelangelo if you missed it on the first evening, climb Giotto’s Campanile on Sunday morning. Have a great trip.
We have been to Italy and have explored Florence and its amazing history. But we havenot managed to climb for those incredible views. Your pictures are beautiful and looks like we did miss a lot.
Hope you guys get to go back and climb the Duomo next time!
Hi, Flo, I am really glad you have decided to share this amazing blog! I have not been Italy yet. But someday I will be there. And I really love your writing style.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, Monika! <3 I hope you make it to Italy soon, it's such an amazing country that calls you back time and time again!
Beautiful post with great pictures. Florence has been on my list for quite a while and I pinned it for my trip 🙂
Thank you Arzo! Florence is an amazing city – definitely look into staying at Hotel Calzaiouli!
Thanks for the useful tips, Flo. I’ve never been in Florence but when I plan a trip there I’ll definitely refer to this post! Amazing photos!
I’m so glad you found this helpful Evelina! Do let me know if you ever make it over!
I haven’t been to Florence since college, and these photos really make me want to return someday to explore even more of this beautiful city! I think I only went to #7, so there’s much more for me to see!
Yes Brianne! I’m going to try to head back to Florence next year – there’s so much to see and do, the food is amazing (so much better than Rome) and the people are incredibly friendly!
When I went to Florence, my favorite view point was indeed the Piazzale Michelangelo. I loved climbing up the stairs and then enjoy a well deserved sunset over the red rooftops of Florence.
Me too Joanna! I hear the Bardini Garden is also amazing but didn’t quite make it over in time before closing. Next time!
Absolutely beautiful. Have you read A Room With a View set partly in Florence? It’s not hard to see why the author was so inspired by the city and vistas. Thanks for sharing
Katie no I haven’t! But I’ve been looking for a book to read on my travels this summer and I think you just helped me find it! 🙂
Wow this is so useful, thankyou! I often go to Florence but I didn’t know about half these places!
That means a lot coming from you Isobel! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!
Your photos are beautiful. I climbed to the top of the Duomo and the views were spectacular, but honestly I was terrified of the tiny, claustrophobic stairs! I’d never heard of many of these outlooks and I’ll definitely be adding them to my list for when I go back.
Lauren, thank you so much! I felt the same – I dragged my mum along and she had a sprained ankle so I can only imagine how tough some of these climbs were for her.
Oh my god I love the name of your blog, that is me in a nutshell! And great post about Florence, my favourite Italian city!
Haha thanks Sally! It’s all about balance, right?
For some reason, I’ve never been terribly interested in visiting Italy…but these pictures are lovely! Florence looks like such an interesting city. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for checking this out Tamara! Italy is a place I keep going back to – I can’t get enough! Will be headed to Pisa and Cinque Terre this summer – so excited!
I haven’t been to Florence but I’ve heard (and seen in your photos) that it’s a very beautiful city! It’s true that climbing never-ending stairs is exhausting but as you say it’s always worth the views! Thanks for sharing 🙂
It’s a wonderful place and I can’t wait to go back! Thanks for checking out the post, Laia!
Of course I’d like a (very creamy) coffee or tea with that view! 😀
Also I’d go wild in that rose garden! Nice share!
Nothing beats an Italian coffee! The rose garden is incredible – there’s also an iris garden nearby if you’re a floral fan!
Wow! There are some amazing views there. Great to see some of the less ‘touristy’ spots where there’s a chance for a quieter space. I think I may be about to get ‘lost’ in your blog as there are a few links in there that I must follow….
Thanks for a really useful (and visually beautiful) write-up.
Thank you so much Sarah! Let me know if you’re looking for anything in particular! I’m still in the process of dragging my feet on some posts on Venice, Burano and Verona so stay tuned! ❤️
Really lovely views! I always look up for where to find the best views every time I plan our trips. This is a helpful roundup for Florence. Saving for future use. 😉
I’m such a sucker for great views!
Thanks for the kind mention Flo, I love that you mentioned Orsanmichele, one of the most underrated places in all of Florence.
Your website is such an amazing resource! I’m reading up on Portovenere 😉
Orsanmichele was such a wonderful surprise – we actually randomly stumbled upon it on the Monday we were in town and decided to check it out since entry was free!