Florence, Italy may just be my favorite city in the world. I may be biased since I lived there for a summer – okay, I’m definitely biased. But besides my love for Florence, there are so many people who dream of seeing this city. I made it my mission on my extended vacation to find the best view in Florence, and if there’s one thing you can’t miss on your bucket list Italy trip, it’s going to one of these places to take in the scenery.
Now, let me explain – there’s a reason why everyone wants to see Florence.
Actually, there’s a million reasons.
It is, historically, the cultural capital of Italy and the birthplace of the Renaissance.
Every corner you turn of its winding streets, every bridge you cross over the Arno, has been walked by the most famous figures of all time – Michelangelo, Dante Alighieri, Lorenzo de Medici.
What’s so lovely is that the history and culture have remained so intact!
Brunelleschi’s Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore still blows your mind every time you walk past it. It soars over the city, nestled in the Arno River Valley and of course, there are so many viewing spots to take it all in.
Oh, and if you’re thinking of or already planning a trip to Italy, then check out my thorough Italy travel guide where you’ll find everything you need to know.
Now, let’s go get the best view in Florence!
Before you leave for your trip, make sure you don’t forget the essentials for a trip to Italy!
The Best Views of Florence
What’s great about this list that I’m about to show you is that almost all of them don’t cost a thing to experience. And, if they do, it’s an unforgettable dinner or aperitivo experience that is priceless.
Plus, there’s definitely going to be a couple Florence viewpoints on this list that you’ve never heard of!
Piazzale Michelangelo is the classic, go-to viewing spot in Florence . I’ve been here in the middle of a hot summer day, for sunset, and even at 4 in the morning (oops). Just trust me, the panoramic view takes your breath away no matter what time of day.
That being said, it is probably the most popular spot to experience views over Florence.
During the day, the crowds aren’t awful, but if you want to watch the sunset you better get there early! The entire edge of the piazza will be full of people, at least during the busy summer tourist season in Italy.
The best way to get to Piazzale Michelangelo is to hike up through Florence’s San Niccolò neighborhood. It’s all an uphill climb but it’s a quaint neighborhood with a cozy atmosphere – worth the burn!
Giardino delle Rose
Florence’s Giardino delle Rose is next on the list, as it’s right below the beautiful Piazzale Michelangelo. As you’re hiking up to the viewing spot, it will be on the left-hand side coming from the foot of the San Niccolò neighborhood.
Despite being so close to one of the most popular views in Florence, the Giardino delle Rose is way less busy. It’s a true hidden gem spot. Since it’s at a lower elevation than Piazzale Michelangelo, you get an even closer-up view of the rooftops and Duomo of Florence.
You could have a picnic, meet up with friends, or simply spend a quiet afternoon surrounded by colorful, fragrant roses looking out over the city. Does it get more perfect than that?
San Miniato al Monte
San Miniato al Monte is also near Piazzale Michelangelo, but you’ll have to continue your mini-hike to get up here! It’s only a 5-minute walk from the piazza, so it’s worth the extra climb, offering yet another special perspective over Florence.
“Al Monte” literally means at the mount or at the mountain, which is very fitting for this basilica that oversees the entire city.
Its history dates back to a thousand years ago when its construction began.
The gold patch on the front of the church is made of real gold mosaics. So, when the sun sets over Florence, you can see the gold reflecting off of the basilica from the city center.
It is said that St. Minas watches over the city for the well-being of Florence from this very spot.
Uffizi Gallery Terrace
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most popular attractions in Florence. Housing works from the most famous painters in Italy’s history, from Raphael to Botticelli to Michelangelo, it’s a must-visit on any trip to Florence.
After wandering through the seemingly endless rooms of the gallery, you’ll be greeted by this view making your way to exit the museum. You can stop and take in the sight quickly if you’re on the move or have a snack at the nearby café to live in this moment a little longer.
You can see the entire valley on which Florence sits along the Arno. There’s also a fabulous restaurant, Ristorante La Reggia, on your way up to the overlook that too has stunning views of the city.
The view is so vast that it’s only something you can truly appreciate by seeing it with your own eyes! Photos don’t do this place justice. Not to mention, the lovely fog on the morning I visited blurring my camera lens also didn’t help in conveying the true magic of this place.
You can reach Fiesole most easily by public bus on the 7 line.
View on Art Rooftop Bar & Restaurant
Everybody listen up, because this right here is the truest hidden gem that may just have the best view in Florence!
There are many rooftop bars in Florence to choose from when visiting the city and it’s a bucket list must-do to take in the sight of jumbled rooftops and the larger than life Duomo from eye-level. A lot of them are quite fancy, but I really wanted to discover one that had an unreal view of the duomo and wasn’t too expensive.
And behold, the View on Art Rooftop Bar & Restaurant. While I didn’t have an unpleasant experience here by any means, it’s not as luxurious as most of the rooftop bars you’ll encounter in your search for the best views of Florence.
But, the view blows your mind when you see just how close the Duomo is to your dining table. It’s like you could reach out your hand and touch it! You have to come to View on Art for aperitivo at sunset. It truly feels like you are in a dream with this insane view!
Golden View Restaurant
While I’ve mainly covered the best views of the Duomo and the full city, there’s another textbook landmark that defines Florence – the Ponte Vecchio. And one of the best restaurants with one of the best views of this famous bridge is Golden View.
Golden View has great food (for honestly not too bad of a price), but a truly priceless view perched right over the Arno and literally next door to the Ponte Vecchio!
I would spend money on the view and experience alone. It’s one of my favorite places that I’ve taken friends to. (P.S. They loved it too!)
Divina Terrazza at Grand Hotel Cavour
To wrap up my personal favorites of the best views of Florence, I’m talking about another rooftop bar, the Divina Terrazza at Grand Hotel Cavour.
This rooftop bar makes the cut for me because the location is everything. You get the Duomo on one side and the stunning Palazzo Vecchio bell tower and Piazza della Signoria on the other!
It’s definitely posher than other locations, plus you may need a reservation. However, if you don’t mind, you’ll be tasting not only a Bellini cocktail but a bit of Italian luxury too!
Hotels & Apartment Stays in Florence with Amazing Views
If taking in the views from public spaces isn’t enough for you, then consider staying in one of these accommodations in Florence with storybook panoramas of the city at your disposal. The best view in Florence may be better enjoyed in your own private setting.
Some of these hotels offer room views, while others have their own restaurants and rooftop terraces.
- Plus Florence Hostel, as low as $33/night for a dorm room or $70/night for a private double room
- Residenza Conte di Cavour & Rooftop, $60/night
- Laurus al Duomo, $105/night (Enjoy views from their terrace restaurant, open from April to October)
- Hotel Pitti Palace al Ponte Vecchio, $125/night
- Grand Hotel Baglioni, $150/night
- NH Firenze, $160/night
- Hotel Pendini, $190/night
- B&B La Terrazza Sul Duomo, $212/night
- Palazzo dei Conti Residenza d’Epoca, $217/night
- Plaza Hotel Lucchesi, $228/night
- Alfieri Signature Suites, $313/night
- Grand Hotel Minerva, $430/night
- Hotel Lungarno, $672/night
- Villa San Michele in Fiesole, $931/night
- Portrait Firenze, $1,000/night
Florence Travel Tips
I can’t leave this post without offering my quick tips for visiting Florence.
How To Get There
- By Train: Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Station is the most central to the city and will spit you out just a few blocks from the Duomo! You could also arrive at the Campo di Marte Station but it is further from attractions. Don’t leave for your trip without reading over my ESSENTIAL Italy train travel tips – seriously I’ve made all the mistakes so you don’t have to.
- By Car: If you’re arriving by car keep a few things in mind. Firstly, the Centro Storico or historical center of Florence limits car traffic – there are quite a few spots where cars can’t travel at all. Secondly, parking is difficult to find the closer to the center you are. Prioritize an accommodation with free parking available so you don’t have to worry about it. Before you go, read over my guide to driving in Italy that covers everything from renting a car to special rules. Now that I’m a local, I can’t stress enough how much I wish I knew the things in that guide before!
- By Bus: Italy is not just well-connected by train, but also inexpensive coach bus services! Consider traveling with companies like Rome2Rio or FlixBus which have seats starting at 5 euros!
Best Time To Visit
If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, you’ll want to avoid traveling to Florence in the summer months. You can still catch great weather in May and September with fewer crowds and lower prices!
However, there is an exciting event in Florence in the month of June that is so fun it outweighs the downside of crazy crowds! It’s called Calcio Storico, which as an intense sport game between the four historic neighborhoods of Florence.
The final day falls on June 24th, the feast day of Florence’s patron saint, St. John the Baptist and there are fireworks and celebrations throughout the city! If you want to have an authentic cultural experience in Italy, then traveling to Florence at the end of June is a great opportunity to take advantage of.
If summer is your chosen travel season, I have a complete guide to Italy in summer to help you plan the perfect trip!
Florence Travel Tips
I’ll leave you with just a few words of advice that I learned while living in Florence!
- Florence is a very walkable city, but the cobblestones can take a toll on your feet. Pack comfortable shoes – these are the exact ones I used to survive months of hobbling along the uneven streets!
- Florence is also quite a safe city, but beware of pickpocketing. My friends were witnesses to an incident on the Ponte Vecchio of someone’s backpack straps being cut and their backpack stolen. In busy tourist areas, keep your belongings in front of you and always invest in an anti-theft backpack – here’s my favorite one for general travel and my favorite backpack as a photographer.
- Save money and visit museums on the first Sunday of the month when there is free entry! Want to visit the Duomo? Skip the crazy lines and attend mass on Sunday – you get a free, up-close look at Brunelleschi’s Dome!
I hope these final tips will help you better prepare for your trip so you’re stress free and and focus on finding the best view in Florence!
What place are you heading to first for the best view in Florence?
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I know I’m ecstatic to return to Florence again in the future and revisit all these scenic spots!
Until then, I’ll keep looking back at the photos, living through the memories!