Tour Guide: Walking Tour of Florence, Italy

Embark on an unforgettable walking tour through Florence's centuries of art, architecture, and history.
Written By: Andrea Spallanzani
Reviewed by: Rick Orford
How & Why We Created This Article

This article has been written, reviewed, and fact-checked by Rick and I. We live in Italy and travel throughout the country to help you make the best choices for your trip. We wrote this piece to help you have the best trip possible on your next trip to Italy. Portions of this article have been written using assistive AI tools to help with tasks like research, spell-checking, grammar, and translation.

Last Updated March 22, 2024

In this article, you'll learn how:

  • You can start your walking tour at Santa Maria Novella church, which has beautiful stained glass and famous artworks.
  • You must visit Piazza del Duomo to see the Cathedral, Baptistery, Bell Tower, and other iconic Florence landmarks.
  • Explore Piazza della Signoria, home to famous statues and the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio.

If you’re planning a trip to Florence, you’re in for a treat! As the capital of Tuscany, Florence is known for its beautiful architecture, rich history, and incredible art, all of which you can see on a walking tour. With so much to see and do, deciding which activities to include in your itinerary can be overwhelming.

That’s why I put together a list of the top 10 must-see attractions on your Florence walking tour. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or simply want to take in awe-inspiring landmarks, I’ve got you covered.

So, wear comfortable shoes and let’s walk together as we explore the best things to see in Florence. From famous landmarks like the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio to hidden gems like the Brancacci Chapel and Boboli Gardens, you won’t want to miss a thing!

Plan your trip to Florence

It is better to start planning everything before your trip to Florence. You will never miss out on the beautiful views, the fantastic museums, the charming streets, and the hidden treasures of the place once everything is planned.

As I’ve said, it is best to have Florence walking tours as this place offers so much beauty and art for your naked eye.

Start your walking tour of Florence at Santa Maria Novella

Venture on a fascinating history tour when you visit the Santa Maria Novella district, one of the most historic districts in the city. A time in the area will take you to ancient churches, historic buildings, and several elegant boutiques. Definitely, your Florence walking tours will be memorable if you start in this destination.

Santa Maria Novella Church

Santa Maria Novella church Florence

The most accessible place to start our Florence walking tour is at the train station. As cars are prohibited in old-town Florence, many local hotel shuttles will drop you off there. Situated right next to the train station with the same name, the Santa Maria Novella church is a beautiful must-see attraction.

The Church of Santa Maria Novella is a Gothic building that started construction toward the end of the 13th century. It is best known for the beautiful stained glass windows in the Tornabuoni Chapel.

Looking at the facade of Santa Maria Novella church, you will find the name of it’s financer, Giovanni Rucellai.

On the other side, the interior is mainly Gothic but contains many beautiful frescoes. The most well-known fresco is by Masaccio, who painted Trinity for this church. The Green Cloister is so named because Uccello’s frescoes have a green base, and the Chapel of the Spaniards, used by Spanish courtiers of Eleonora of Toledo, is worth a visit because of Uccello’s perspective paintings.

Santa Maria Novella Cloister

The church is also decorated with creations by famous artists. Botticelli made a fresco that belongs to his early work, namely the “Adoration of the Magi.” Brunelleschi made “The Crucifix” in 1410-1425. Ghiberti designed Leonardo Da Vinci’s tombstone in 1423. The stained-glass windows are by Andre Bonaiuto. Vasari also made a painting on the altar, the “Madonna of the Rosary.”

Piazza del Duomo in Florence City

The next stop for your walking tour would be Florence’s Piazza del Duomo, the city’s heart. In just one glimpse, you can instantly admire the main monuments of the historical center, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Florence Piazza Duomo

The piazza huddles a series of undeniable objectives with significant historical, religious, architectural, artistic, and cultural evolution.

These landmarks refer to the Florence Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery of St. John, the Bell Tower (Campanile), the Cathedral Museum (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo), as well as to Loggia del Bigallo.

Piazza Della Signoria

Explore Florence by having a walking tour to Piazza Della Signoria, the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century. There have been several parliaments and public gatherings, and it is a well-known place where you, as a tourist, can stroll around and enjoy all the gorgeous things that are in the square.

Florence Loggia dei Lanzi

In the Piazza Della Signoria, you will find the well-known Loggia dei Lanzi with statues that recall essential city events and myths. While walking around Piazza Della Signoria, you will find the Fountain of Neptune, the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, the replica of Michelangelo’s David, the famous bronze equestrian statue, and the Gucci Museum. Furthermore, the image gallery of the famous Uffizi Gallery is adjacent to the square.

Your walking tour of Florence will never be complete without a visit to the world-famous Ufizzi Gallery. The Ufizzi Art Gallery contains countless recognizable Italian Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque paintings and sculptures. You surely like this art gallery even though it takes a while to go through and see everything.

Florence, the Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Gallery is a stand-alone museum that once functioned as the offices of the Medici family. “Uffizi” translates literally to “offices,” and Giorgio Vasari built the complex for this purpose. The Uffizi Museum was connected to the Palazzo Vecchio and the Medici household (the Pitti Palace) by a kilometer-long floating passage known as the Vasari Corridor.

Uffizi Gallery, Raphael Madonna Col Bambino

Buying tickets from the Ufizzi Gallery ticket office, while cheaper, will force you to wait a long time in line. Ufizzi is very crowded in the summer, and it would take about 2 hours for you to get inside. Following our advice, buying tickets in advance and avoiding most of the lines is recommended. Even when you buy a ticket in advance, you still have to wait in a separate line, but this line is much shorter. Surely, you will save time on your walking tour.

Pitti Palace

Florence Palazzo Pitti

Next on the list of one of the best walking tours in Florence is the historical Pitti Palace, another outstanding Florence City Museum. It is located on the south side of the Arno River, near Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor.

Palazzo Pitti was originally built as a town residence for the Pitti, a family of ambitious Florentine bankers. In 1457, Filippo Brunelleschi, famous for designing the dome of Duomo di Firenze (Cathedral of Florence, or, more formally, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore), developed the original structure of the palace. However, it was later sold to the Medici family, who enlarged the palace in 1560 when it became the royal Ducal residence.

Today, Pitti Palace is home to one of the largest art collections in Florence City. When you are inside, you can observe the Treasury of the Grand Dukes. This holds a massive display of silver and treasured stones. Most items were from the Medici family’s private collections.

Florence Boboli Gardens

Behind the Pitti Palace are the Boboli Gardens. On this beautiful and peaceful spot, you can lounge for the afternoon, taking in a bit of Florentine history while also getting off the busy streets. The extra great part of visiting these Boboli gardens is the beautiful view they will give you of the whole city of Florence.  

It is surely one of the best walking tours because the Palace is located in a prime location. You can easily arrive from Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, Piazzale Michelangelo, and more.

Piazzale Michelangelo

After walking in the Arno River, you can discover more of the city by heading directly to the Piazzale Michelangelo. Visiting and walking in this fantastic square is a must-do for any walking tour and would afford you a stunning view of Florence. No matter what time of day, you will discover that Piazzale Michelangelo truly offers spectacular panoramic views over Florence, Italy.

Florence Piazzale MIchelangelo

The piazza is teeming with tourists and vendors and has a bronze replica of Michelangelo’s David, with the original displayed at the Accademia Gallery museum. In 2016, the piazza was restructured to emphasize the simple beauty of its spaces and give guests an opportunity to enjoy a peaceful setting above Florence. Your walking tour here will be memorable.

Accademia Gallery is home to a vast collection of paintings and sculptures from the 13th to the 16th century. One of its main attractions is the iconic Michelangelo’s David. The gallery attracts millions of visitors annually, making it a hot tourist spot in Florence City. You can breeze through the long lines with a skip-the-line feature and head right in.

Florence Galleria dell'Accademia - The David

It’s easy to fall in love with the sights of this world-class gallery. However, having a tour guide who will tell you interesting facts and stories about the works of art on display is the perfect way to explore the gallery.

Across the Arno River

Here’s something that you should never miss when in Florence: walking along the Arno River.

The Arno is the major river that flows through Florence. Going for a walk along the river is highly recommended, especially with views of the Ponte Vecchio at night. A long walk here could be romantic, especially if you are with your partner. On the other hand, Oltrarno, on the other side of the Arno River, can offer some highlights in your walking tours. This walk will give you a pretty good idea of what the other side of the river provides without going too far off the beaten path and taking too much time.

You can start at Ponte Vecchio and continue straight on Via Dè Guicciardini, which will lead you all the way to Pitti Palace. Right on your left, you will see the Chiesa di San Felicita, a Gothic church housing a crucifix attributed to Giotto, frescoes by Pontormo, and other attractions worth seeing. The sights make any walking tour worth it.

Basilica di Santa Croce

Florence Santa Croce

The Basilica di Santa Croce is the world’s largest Franciscan church and reflects the friars’ simple approach to their devotion to St. Francis. Consecrated in 1442, its most relevant features are the 16 chapels decorated by the greatest artists of the Renaissance period showing Renaissance art and its impressive tombs and cenotaphs, of course, also mentioned by Ugo Foscolo in his long and beautiful poem Dei Sepolcri.

You may have read the best things to see on a Florence Walking Tour. However, more amazing sites are recommended for you. The following sites are still worth visiting on your trip.

Brunelleschi’s Dome

You can continue your trip here to visit one of the world’s most magnificent works of architecture: Brunelleschi’s Dome. Between 1420 and 1436, this architectural miracle was conceived by Filippo Brunelleschi and is the biggest dome in the world.

duomo in florence italy - where to stay

The dome sits atop the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The city of Florence held a contest for the dome’s design in 1418 but with significant requirements. For one, the dome would be 150 feet across and would start 180 feet off the ground, resting atop the existing walls of the Florence Cathedral. Another requirement was that the dome would have to be built without any buttresses or central reinforcement. This was unheard of during the 15th century; all dome constructions required extensive support to hold their weight. Brunelleschi, a goldsmith by trade, came up with an ingenious solution — build two domes, one nesting atop the other, therefore eliminating the need for any external support.

Unfortunately, not everyone can climb the peak of the dome. The Dome can only be accessed on a contingent basis with one of our companions or guides, following the restricted rhythms of the slot and not independently. No lift is available, and there are many steps. 

The climb is not recommended for people with heart conditions, dizziness, or claustrophobia. However, looking at the dome and visiting it is enough for most tourists.

Ponte Vecchio

The amazing Ponte Vecchio is another recommended site for a walking tour in Florence. The medieval Ponte Vecchio, or “Old Bridge,” is one of Florence’s most charming and iconic sites. It was built in 1345 as the first bridge over the Arno River to be used as a defense system. Today, Ponte Vecchio is known for its teeming shops, including many jewelers, art sellers, and antique boutiques.

Florence Ponte Vecchio

After it was destroyed by a flood in 1333, the Ponte Vecchio bridge was built in its current form in the mid-14th century. The design has been attributed to medieval Italian painter and architect Taddeo Gaddi. However, there is some dissent among historians, as some of the bridge’s harmonious elements suggest the Dominican friars might have been involved.

San Miniato

Take a walk at San Miniato al Monte, also called San Miniato, a three-aisled basilican church in Florence City completed in 1062. It is considered one of the finest examples of the Tuscan Romanesque style of architecture.

San Miniato has many popular attractions, including Rocca Federico II and Centro Storico di San Miniato, making it well worth a visit.

It is full of churches and palaces that are well worth visiting. Still, there are a few stand-outs: the Church of the Santissimo Crocifisso (dedicated to Loretino), the Church of the Santissima Annunziata (dedicated to San Iacopo and Santa Lucia), the Convent of San Domenico, and, finally, the Palazzo Vescovile.

Medici Chapels in San Lorenzo

Savor the moment by visiting the jaw-dropping Medici Chapels. San Lorenzo is the burial place of the Medici family, in what is called the Medici Chapels, which you enter through the back of the church.

The project of building a proper family mausoleum was conceived in 1520, when Cardinal Giulio de Medici, the future Pope Clemens VII, wished to build a place to house and glorify his ancestors.

The project for a family tomb was conceived in 1520 when Michelangelo began work on the New Sacristy, corresponding to the Old Sacristy by Brunelleschi on the other side of the church. It was, above all, Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, future Pope Clement VII, who wished to erect a mausoleum for certain members of his family, his uncle Lorenzo the Magnificent, Lorenzo’s grandson Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino (1492-1519) and Lorenzo’s youngest son, Giuliano, Duke of Nemours (1479-1516).


There you have it. You are now equipped with all the necessary information when you walk into the amazing city center of Florence, Italy.

From the amazing churches, jaw-dropping museums, enchanting gardens, and other historical buildings, you will never run out of places to visit and sights to see. We hope that you will consider these walk tours on your trip.