The marvelous Tuscan capital of Florence is a place of swiping, breathtaking views, wherever you look. A truly romantic city, whether you visit with your better half, planning a proposal or hoping for one; with friends (like I did) or even as a solo traveler, taking in the best views in Florence is something of a must when you are visiting the city.
Just picture this: red terracotta roofs; the stunning Dome and Cathedral of Florence in the distance; and the glorious pink hues set above the skyline with the surrounding Tuscan hills embellishing the scene.
When visiting Florence, you must definitely see this spectacular skyline in the flesh, and the good news is that the city offers numerous vantage points so that you can admire it from above and afar.
From museums to crenelated towers, to rooftop bars and churches sitting atop green hills, here is an extensive guide on where to enjoy the best views in Florence.
The Best Views In Florence
The one from Piazzale Michelangelo is definitely one of the best views in Florence, if not the best one full stop.
A postcard-worthy scene: romantic, pictured with red and orange hues on the Florence Duomo, Piazzale Michelangelo offers the best views of Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River, with the Tuscan hills of Fiesole in the background.
Grab a bottle of wine or a gelato and take pleasure in watching the sunset, and hearing a musician performing live – you’ll experience the city from a different perspective. Take a moment or ten to enjoy the enthralling historic city of discovery, power and of course incredible architecture.
Piazzale Michelangelo is a prime sunset spot in Florence. Crowds flock daily to this lookout point to experience the most marvelous earthly spectacle. Try to be there an hour or so before sunset if you want to grab a seat or a prime spot for the view.
To get there, you can follow the trail that starts on the other side of the Arno river – it’s a bit of a walk, but worth it and mostly in the shade. You can also take the bus 12 or 13 which will leave you directly in the square.
Another option would be to join a guided tour that ends in Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset. That’s what my friend and I did and we truly enjoyed it. We went by e-bike so getting up there was not hard at all.
To book your electric bike tour of Florence that goes to Piazzale Michelangelo, click here.
San Miniato al Monte
To finish your day of sightseeing in the Tuscan capital, visit the San Miniato al Monte church. It is a wonderful relic of history, art and religion, whilst also offering views of the city to the north of the Arno River.
The Basilica is named after the first evangelist and Christian martyr in Florence, who was thought to have been a Greek merchant or an Armenian prince. It’s located above Piazzale Michelangelo, and to many it is one of the most beautiful churches in Florence.
From San Miniato al Monte you can admire the stunning work of arts that make Florence’s skyline – think Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Duomo, as well as Brunelleschi’s Dome. While you’ll likely go all the way to San Miniato to enjoy some of the best views in Florence, take a moment to visit the church too. The Holy Door is particularly beautiful. The carved latin words Haec est Porta Coeli mean ‘This is the Gate of Heaven’.
Inside the Romanesque, fortress-palace of the Palazzo Vecchio is the stylistically designed Tower. Built at the end of the 1200s by Arnolfo di Cambio, Palazzo Vecchio is where you’ll be able to see incredible works of art such as Donatello’s Judith and Michelangelo’s Victory.
This crenelated tower soars over the piazza Della Signoria, dominating 94 meters (more than 308 feet) in height. Its main purpose was to keep prisoners until they were executed. There are three bells in the tower. One is known as Martinella, one rings every day at 12:00 pm, and one every hour.
Climbing Arnolfo Tower can be quite challenging. The steps are narrow and steep. When we did it, we had the added challenge of the heat – it was fierce. But once up, we were rewarded with some of the best views in Florence. Access to the tower is timed and you need to get a ticket in advance.
You can get your Palazzo Vecchio and Arnolfo Tower combined ticket on Tiqets here.
You should also read my post How To Get Tickets To Palazzo Vecchio.
Designed by Giorgio Vasari between 1560 and 1580, the Uffizi Gallery is one of the most striking, magnificent, interesting art galleries in the world. The museum was actually open to the public since 1765, which makes it the oldest museum in the world. That is a testimonial to the patronage of the Medici family, who invested a lot in art and culture in the city of Florence.
The interior of the Uffizi Gallery is a labyrinth of 45 rooms which are differentiated by painters. My favorite is probably the Botticelli Room, which holds his largest collection of works, including the Birth of Venus and Spring.
What not many seem to know (well, at least not until they visit) is that the Uffizi Gallery has its very own rooftop terrace, which is accessible from the museum’s upper floor. It’s the perfect place to relax for a while after taking in all the magnificent art at the museum. There is plenty of shade and lots of tables, and you can have a snack or a drink – though don’t expect state of the art cocktails.
From the terrace of the Uffizi Gallery you can enjoy impressive views of Palazzo Vecchio and Arnolfo Towers. Unfortunately, the rest of the view is blocked by the large flower pots that are placed to block people from leaning dangerously.
But this is not the only vista you can enjoy while at the Uffizi! Indeed, one of the most unique views of Florence is that of the Corridoio Vasariano, a covered passage that connects the Uffizi with Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens.
Make sure to get tickets in advance to visit the Uffizi Gallery. Head over to my post How To Get Tickets To The Uffizi Gallery.
The Cupola was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi who was responsible for the construction of many Basilicas that are dotted around the city. He was interested in sculpture, mechanics and mathematics and was the first designer and architect to be responsible for the entire construction process.
The dome has often been seen as the premise for cultural rebirth after the dark Middle Ages, due to its mastery of beauty and ingenuity. It has a brilliant structure – it was modeled on Roman architecture (specifically the Pantheon Dome).
Brunelleschi designed an octagonal self-supporting dome that didn’t need a center. He managed to do so by balancing the structure in the jointing game (in what became known as ‘fishbone fashion’). Pretty genius, right? Built from different materials, Brunelleschi’s Dome stands at 116 meters (380.5 feet), rendering it the largest masonry vault in the world.
Standing within Brunelleschi’s mastery is something you must do when in Florence, besides it offers some of the best views in Florence: you are placed within a moment of history, viewing the ancient city that has been designed so closely with art and religion at the forefront of value. Getting all the way up there can be a bit of a challenge – though for some reason we found other climbs to be more difficult – but totally worth it.
Giotto’s Bell Tower
Right next to Florence Cathedral, Giotto’s Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto, in Italian) is thought to be one of the most beautiful bell towers in Italy, intricately decorated.
To get to the top, you have to puff up what seems an eternal amount of steps, but the good news is that every 100 steps you can stop in one of the viewing platforms (there’s a total of three) to catch your breath, rest your legs and take photographs. It’s honestly not easy – we did it in the late afternoon, it was terribly hot – so this is another factor you may want to consider if you are visiting in the summer.
However, once you reach the panoramic terrace you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views in Florence. specifically, you’ll be able to see Brunelleschi’s Dome from up close, and St. John’s Baptistery below, as well as the rest of the city of course.
Tickets for the Dome and Tower
Brunelleschi’s Dome and Giotto’s Bell Tower are part of the Duomo Religious Complex, and you’ll need a ticket to visit them. If you want to go up both viewing terraces you can get the Brunelleschi Pass which is the most comprehensive one and costs €30. Otherwise, the Giotto Pass costs €20 and gives you access to the Bell Tower, the Baptistery, the Opera del Duomo Museum and Santa Reparata. Finally, you have the option of getting the Ghiberti Pass which costs €15 but is only for the Campanile.
Make sure to read my posts How To Get Florence Duomo Tickets and How To Visit Giotto’s Bell Tower.
View on Art Rooftop Bar
A favorite of locals and tourists alike, View on Art Rooftop Bar is located on the 6th floor of the Hotel Medici, in the drop dead historic center of Florence, and from there you can appreciate one of the most impressive views of Florence Bell Tower and Cathedral.
The terrace can get crowded – after all, it’s an easy to find spot at very affordable prices (considering it is Florence). You can get an Aperol Spritz, a glass of Prosecco or a beer to sip while you take in the sweeping views, and ask for a few snacks to be brought on the side. One thing to point out is that depending on the time you visit, the terrace is almost completely in the sun so you may literally fry your head in the summer months.
For once, you won’t have to work hard to claim your views of the city. Just show up at the reception, and they will point you to the elevator that will take you all the way up. It couldn’t be better!
Another of my favorite rooftop bars in town, Angels Rooftop first opened in late 2019. What you’ll love about it is the 360-degrees view you can get from up there. Take in the Arnolfo Tower, the roofs of Florence, and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere while sipping a masterfully prepared cocktail or enjoying a fine meal at the on-site restaurant.
I shall warn you it is not cheap – it surely isn’t the most expensive restaurant in Florence, but you shouldn’t expect trattoria-like prices. If you are on a budget, simply go up there for a sunset drink and then move somewhere else for dinner. Either way, you will need reservations.
Sesto on Arno
For the best views in Florence, and a classy, sophisticated atmosphere look no further and head to Sesto on Arno. My friend and I toasted to an important work achievement there and while I can tell you it was not cheap (cocktails start at €20), I can also guarantee it is 100% worth it. Let me also warn you this is actually quite a touristy place – which makes sense since it’s located on the top floor of Westin Excelsior’s five-star luxury hotel.
Back to the views, though – since that’s what we are talking about. I can honestly say the sunset from Sesto on Arno is probably my favorite in Florence. You can see Brunelleschi’s Dome, the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, the River Arno and more.
If you decide to go, make sure to reserve a table and to dress smartly – there’s a smart-casual dress code.
Head over to my post The Best Rooftop Bars In Florence.
Found behind the stunning Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens are a fine example of Italian-style gardens. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 45,000 square meters gardens are literally an open-air museum garden where you can see grottos (built by artist, architect and sculptor Bernardo Buontalenti), fountains, pergolas, marble statues and even a small lake.
For the purpose of this post, you should also know that from Boboli Gardens you can enjoy breathtaking views of Pitti Palace and of the city of Florence. Specifically, you can see the Duomo and Brunelleschi’s Dome in the distance. It’d be great to be able to stay long enough to see the sunset from there, but unfortunately if you visit in the summer months the gardens close before.
Remember, access to Boboli Gardens is not free. Don’t forget to read my post A Guide To Visiting Boboli Gardens.
Thought to be a bit of a hidden gem in Florence, the Bardini Gardens are actually becoming an increasingly popular tourist attraction in Florence. Part of Villa Bardini, they are not far from Boboli Gardens, in an area of Florence called Oltrarno (literally, over the Arno River).
The gardens are roughly divided into three different areas, each created in a different period: A farming area with hillside terraces filled with olive trees, an English garden and a baroque flight of steps which includes a belvedere and offers spectacular views of Florence.
One of visitors’ favorite places in Bardini Gardens is the wisteria pergola. You can walk under that for beautiful, purple photos however be advised that wisteria blooms very shortly from mid-April to the beginning of May. Unfortunately, most flowers were gone when we visited.
To visit, you’ll have to pay a small fee that you can pay directly at the counter.
Santa Trinità Bridge
This bridge is thought to be the oldest elliptic arch bridge in the world. It has three flattened ellipses and is neighbored by the more famous Ponte Vecchio to the east and the Ponte Alla Carraia to the west, making it a great viewing point for the classic bridge. Crossing this bridge awards awesome views of the expansive River Arno.
The original bridge was built in 1252. It was a humble wooden structure, that was thrice swept away by floods and then once again destroyed by the German bombs in 1944. Although not as old as Ponte Vecchio, it is nevertheless a perfect representation of Florence’s story: wrecked by flood, celebrated by the Medici dukes by leaving their mark, and destroyed by war – a true Florentine.
Fiesole is an affluent suburban town you’ll find on the outskirts of Florence, where you can view the scenic sites of the city’s historic center from above. It’s a nice place to visit to escape its hustle and bustle of the Tuscan capital for a while. It’s nicely nestled above a hillside of olive trees, where visitors can enjoy the local products such as wine and olive oil.
Aside from the views that can be seen from the San Francesco Monastery, in Fiesole you will find an Etruscan-Roman Archaeological settlement area (from the 9th-8th century BC),complete with ancient Roman baths and theaters.
Fiesole is only 6 miles (10 kilometers) from Florence. The easiest way to get there is by bus from Santa Maria Novella station. You’ll need bus n. 7 which will take you there in 25 minutes. There are departures every 20 minutes.
You can book a guided bike tour of Florence that also goes to Fiesole here.
Head over to my post The Best Day Trips From Florence.