Italy

Things to do in Florence

Packed full of interesting landmarks and cultural delights, including its famous Duomo, there are loads of amazing places to visit in Florence during a trip here.

You can drive to Florence from Calais in just under 14 hours, with the option to drive directly to Italy from France or to take the route through Switzerland. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be met with plenty of amazing places to stop along the way, including Milan and Bologna, giving you the chance to discover new destinations as you go. Also a great place to stop if you’re driving towards southern Italy, Florence offers plenty to do for couples, groups, and solo travellers.

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Dover Port

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Calais Port

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Places to visit in Florence, Italy

Places to visit in Florence

Visit Florence’s Duomo

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, known locally as the Duomo, was built between 1296 and 1436 and is famous for its impressive dome. At the time of its design, it was unknown how a dome so large could be constructed in a stable way, as it needed to cover a crossing 140-feet wide. The task was left to the talented renaissance architect Brunelleschi, who ended up having to create tools and techniques in order to get the job done. Through designing the dome to have a slight peak rather than a rounded top, and implementing a double-shell system within the dome, Brunelleschi created the strong structure that still stands today.

Entrance into the Duomo is free, but if you want to explore its range of attractions, including the dome, bell tower, crypt, baptistery, and museum, you will need to purchase a ticket. If you’d like to climb the Duomo’s dome, which is highly recommended, you will need to reserve your spot when you buy your ticket. The wait can be 2-3 days during peak season, so it’s advisable to get this booked in at the start of your trip to avoid disappointment. The cathedral’s dome climb features 436 steps and will take you through narrow corridors and up some steep staircases, so make sure that you opt for comfortable shoes when taking part in this activity.

The Duomo - Florence cathedral

Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, Florence

See the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens

To immerse yourself in the history of Florence, you need to take a trip to the Pitti Palace. Home to a number of fascinating museums, this impressive building covers everything from paintings to jewellery, so you’re sure to find plenty that interests you. The palace’s first floor hosts the Palatine Gallery, which boasts a collection of 16th and 17th century paintings, including work by Raphael. On this floor, you’ll also discover the Royal Apartments which show off furnishings from the 19th century. From here, head down to the ground floor where you can see items from the Medici family in the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, or make your way to the top floor to experience the Gallery of Modern Art.

Outside the Pitti Palace, you’ll find the stunning Boboli Gardens. This open-air museum combines stunning trees and flowers with shaded seating areas, sculptures, and fountains to create a space that’s beautiful in every season. In fact, these gardens are so iconic that they actually inspired the design of many other European palace gardens, including those found in Versailles. Created over 400 years, the Boboli Gardens are packed full of interesting features, including the impressive amphitheatre, the Kaffeehaus with its glazed dome, and the Grotto Grande which is decorated with stalactites both inside and out.

Cross the Ponte Vecchio

With a name meaning ‘old bridge’, the Ponte Vecchio is one of Florence’s top landmarks. Measuring 84m in length and crossing the Arno at its narrowest point, the Ponte Vecchio joins the centre of Florence to the district of Oltrarno where you’ll find the Pitti Palace. The bridge and its three segmental arches have survived floods, fires, and WWII, and it offered the only way to cross the Arno until 1218. Shops selling jewellery, art, and souvenirs line the bridge walkway, although this was actually a meat market in the past. Over the years, the shops have been extended upwards and outwards to give the vendors more space, with some now seeming to defy gravity!

The Vesari Corridor that can be used to walk above the main walkway is perhaps the feature that makes the Ponte Vecchio so unique. Commissioned by the Medici family so that they could cross the river without being disturbed, this covered walkway is home to a collection of very important artworks which have been protected for years.

Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari corridor, Florence

Michelangelo's David in Florence, Italy

Explore some amazing art galleries

Florence is home to a number of galleries that deserve a spot on your holiday itinerary. For paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the Modern Period, look no further than the Uffuzi. Set in an impressive 16th century building, the Uffuzi boasts works by a number of celebrated Italian artists, including Raphael and Michelangelo, plus German, Dutch, and Flemish painters too. Perhaps the highlight of the Uffuzi’s striking collection is Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’. To see this painting in its full glory, it’s advisable to get to the gallery early as it can get busy with everyone trying to get a glimpse during peak times.

The Galleria dell’Accademia is home to a very impressive amount of artwork, but its highlight (and the reason that most people visit) is Michelangelo’s David. Carved from a single block of abandoned marble, David boasts amazing detail that must be seen to be believed. You might have to wait in line to get a good view, but it’s certainly worth it to see this very unique piece, and you can even take a selfie with him when you get to the front of the queue. Elsewhere in the Galleria dell’Accademia you’ll find other fantastic artworks by Italian artists including Botticelli and Pontormo, and many of the works here were donated by the Medici family for all to enjoy.

Ready to discover these places to visit in Florence for yourself? Book your Dover to Calais ferry crossing and plan your road trip today.

Packed full of interesting landmarks and cultural delights, there are loads of amazing places to visit in Florence during a trip here.

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