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  • duomo-florence-italy - Santa Maria del Fiore Basilica, more widely known as the Duomo, is the cathedral of Florence, known for its distinctive dome. Its construction began in 1296.
  • dome-florence-italy - The interior of Florence Cathedral, the landmark 1200s cathedral known for its red-tiled dome.
  • Birth-of-Venus-Botticelli-Florence - "Birth of Venus" (1484–1486), painting by Sandro Botticelli at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
  • ponte-vecchio-florence-italy - The Ponte Vecchio (Italian for Old Bridge) is a medieval bridge over the Arno River in Florence, Italy.
  • boboli-gardens-florence-italy - Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy.
  • buildings-florence-italy - A bank of buildings in Florence, Italy.
  • view-florence-italy - The cityscape of Florence, Italy.
  • piazza-della-signoria-florence-italy - Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy.
  • Regent-Seven-Seas-Florence-Duomo - Explore the Duomo and other historic buildings in Florence as part of a Mediterranean cruise aboard Seven Seas Mariner.
  • Santa-Croce-exterior-Florence - The Basilica di Santa Croce is the principal Franciscan church in Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It's on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about a half mile southeast of the Duomo.
  • Uniworld-River-Countess-exterior - Uniworld's River Countess offers itineraries in Venice, Florence, Rome and other gems in Northern Italy.
  • bargello-museum-florence-italy - Bargello Museum in Florence, Italy.
  • bronze-boar-florence.jpg - It's said that you rub Florence's bronze boar, Il Porcellino, for good luck.
  • fountain-of-the-fork-boboli-gardens.jpg - The Fountain of the Fork at Boboli Gardens in Florence.
  • florence-cityscape2.jpg - A look at the red-tiled cityscape of Florence, Italy.
  • Basilica-di-Santa-Croce.jpg - The Basilica di Santa Croce, the main Franciscan church in Florence, is on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 meters southeast of the Duomo.
  • boboli-gardens-entrance.jpg - The main building at the entrance of Boboli Gardens in Florence.
  • boboli-gardens-fountain.jpg - A fountain, with cherubs at the ready, near the entrance of Boboli Gardens in Florence.
  • boboli-gardens-statue.jpg - One of the statues on the grounds of Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy.
  • detail-of-Duomo-exterior.jpg - Detail of a section of the Duomo in Florence, Italy.
  • duomo-basilica.jpg - The Duomo basilica in Florence, Italy.
  • florence-architecture.jpg - Some of the masterly architecture travelers will see on a visit to Florence.
  • florence-cityscape1.jpg - The classic cityscape of Florence, Italy.
  • florence-cityscape5.jpg - The cityscape of Florence, Italy.
  • florence-cityscape3.jpg - The cityscape of Florence, Italy.
  • florence-cityscape4.jpg - A closeup of centuries-old buildings in Florence, Italy.
  • Ponte-Santa-Trinita.jpg - Ponte Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity Bridge) spanning the River Arno in Florence.
  • side-view-of-Duomo-florence.jpg - Side view of the Duomo in Florence, Italy.
  • View-from-the-Bell-Tower-florence3.jpg - View of the Duomo and surrounding cityscape from the Bell Tower in Florence.
  • Ponte-Vecchio-Florence - Visit the Ponte Vecchio, which stretches across the River Arno, in the Renaissance city of Florence during your cruise vacation aboard Tere Moana.
  • duomo-florence.jpg - Il Duomo di Firenze (Florence), formally called the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, was begun in 1296.
  • duomo-florence-photoshop.jpg - An artfully photoshopped image of the front of Florence's Duomo, or Il Duomo di Firenze.
  • florence-mercato-centrale.jpg - Stroll through stalls showcasing local vendors' goods at Mercato Centrale in Florence.
  • Ponte-Vecchio-florence-italy.jpg - Ponte Vecchio (Italian for Old Bridge), a landmark bridge crossing the Arno River in Florence, dates to 1345.
  • View-from-the-Bell-Tower-florence.jpg - View from the Bell Tower of the Duomo (including tourists at the top) and surrounding cityscape in Florence.
  • View-from-the-Duomo-1.jpg - The view from high atop the Duomo in Florence, including the Bell Tower, center.
  • Boboli-Gardens-view.jpg - A view from atop Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy.
  • statue-of-david.jpg - Michelangelo's Statue of David at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy.
  • san-lorenzo-market-florence.jpg -  Handbags and leather goods for sale at San Lorenzo Market in Florence.
  • florence-mercato-centrale-1.jpg - One of the stands at Mercato Centrale in Florence, Italy.

Florence travel guide: What to do & see

our guide

The vibe

Florence, one of Italy's most beautiful cities, is an architectural and artistic gem. Its storied history as a center in medieval trade and finance,  home of the powerful Medici family and cradle of the Renaissance give Florence (Firenze in Italian) a cultural heritage few cities can rival. No small wonder that UNESCO has declared its historic center a World Heritage Site.  

Wander its charming streets and piazzas, gaze at its medieval domes and step into churches, palaces and museums that house some of the world's greatest art. Add to that world-class shopping and Tuscany's tradition of understated, rustic cuisine, and this romantic, graceful city will leave you breathless.

Cruise ships that call on Florence via Livorno

  • Silversea: Silver Cloud, Silver Spirit, Silver Wind
  • Regent Seven Seas: Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Voyager
  • Oceania Cruises: Insignia, Marina, Nautica, Riviera
  • Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Silhouette
  • Princess Cruises: Emerald Princess, Island Princess, Caribbean Princess, Sea Princess
  • Cunard Line: Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria
  • Holland America: Nieuw Amsterdam, Ryndam, Zuiderdam
  • Royal Caribbean: Anthem of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas
  • Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Jade

Top reasons to go

  • Famous works by masters of the Italian Renaissance, including Michelangelo.
  • A stunning cityscape of centuries-old buildings, graceful bridges and grand piazzas
  • Local foods and wines of Tuscany
"Birth of Venus" (1484–1486), painting by Sandro Botticelli at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Top things to do & see in Florence

Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery, in what was originally the Palace of the Medici family, is  Florence's most visited indoor attraction and features works great Florentine artists of the Renaissance period, including Botticelli, Giotto, CimabueMichelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello, just to name a few. Its large collection has works from all centuries with an emphasis on the periods between the 12th and 17th centuries. Advance reservations are essential.

Accademia Gallery

In the lively San Marco district, you can visit the Accademia Gallery, home to Michelangelo's "David" and other art treasures. Reservations are essential.

Il Duomo di Firenze

Florence's iconic Gothic-era cathedral, Il Duomo di Firenze, is in the heart of the historic center of Florence. Feeling energetic? Climb to the top of the cuploa or the cathedral's 14th-century bell tower, considered Italy's most beautiful, for excellent views of the city and surrounding countryside (Be forewarned, both hikes are more than 400 steps). Just behind is the Duomo Museum, which houses a magnificent collection of sculptures. (Note: The museum is closed until November 2015.)

Bargello

One of the oldest buildings in Florence, the Bargello — also known as the Bargello Palace — is home to the National Museum and Italy's largest collection of gothic and Renaissance sculpture, including works by Michelangelo, Donatello and other masters.

The Ponte Vecchio (Italian for Old Bridge) is a medieval bridge over the Arno River in Florence.
Jim Linwood / Creative Commons BYThe Ponte Vecchio (Italian for Old Bridge) is a medieval bridge over the Arno River in Florence.

Ponte Vecchio

The  Ponte Vecchio, a  closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge made of stone and lined with shops, is the most famous bridge on the River Arno. Browse the jewelry, art and souvenir  shops that line the bridge as you cross.

Medici Chapels

The Medici Chapels, burial place of the one of history's most important nobel families, include some of the most beautiful sculptures ever created by Michelangelo.

Museum of San Marco

The Museum of San Marco occupies part of a perfectly preserved 15th-century Dominican convent. Renowned for its collection of works by the Renaissance master, Fra Angelico.

Shopping

Fashion is art in Florence, whose designers include Ferragamo, Cavalli, Gucci, Prada and  Pucci. Visiting their boutiques (or at least window shopping) is as much a part of touring Florence as visiting its museums and galleries. Looking for something more simple? Beautifully crafted leather goods, including handbags, shoes, gloves and jackets, are popular buys. Another local specialty is handcrafted marbled paper.

The Basilica di Santa Croce is the principal Franciscan church in Florence. It's on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about a half mile southeast of the Duomo.
Gryffindor / Creative Commons BY SAThe Basilica di Santa Croce is the principal Franciscan church in Florence. It's on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about a half mile southeast of the Duomo.

Don’t miss

  • The vast Pitti Palace, a lavish compound with multiple attractions to explore, including gardens, royal apartments, a costume gallery and museums devoted to modern art, porcelain and silver.
  • If you have the time, stop into the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, the herbalist, perfumer and pharmacy founded in 1612 and located in what once was a Dominican monastery.

Best bets for dining

Florence abounds with small trattorias serving such local fare as ribollita, a hearty minestrone thickened with bread and beans, and bistecca alla Fiorentina, a succulent grilled steak.

Good dining choices include Osteria De’Benci, known for grilled meats and delicious pastas, and Trattoria Ponte Vecchio, near the famous bridge (see above). For a great picnic, shop at a salumeria, a delicatessen selling local cheeses, cured meats and other specialties. Among the best is Perini, which is located in the Mercato Centrale, a fabulous complex of food vendors. Or, get a take-out of chicken and fries to go and enjoy it in a park.

Best time to go

Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit, with plenty of mild, sunny days. Summers are hot and the visitor attractions are at their most crowded. Winters are fairly mild, but rainy spells do occur.

Fun facts

  • In 1339, Florence became the first city in Europe to have paved streets.
  • Florence Nightingale, who revolutionized the field of nursing, was named for the city of her birth.
  • The Duomo di Firenze is the third largest cathedral in the world, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Paul’s in London, and was the largest in Europe at the time of its completion.

When you arrive

Docking information

Cruise ships dock in the industrial port city of Livorno. Most lines provide motor coach service to and from Florence, about 90 minutes away, so factor in 3 hours of travel if you're doing a day trip from your cruise ship. Train service from Livorno is also available.

Getting around

Most of the major historic attractions and shopping areas in central Florence are within walking distance of each other. Taxis are available from stands throughout the city.

Need to know

Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport.

Language: Italian is the official language, but many people speak at least some English.

Currency: The euro

Your take

How about you? Have you been to the Florence? We'd love to hear the top highlights for you — please leave a comment or share a photo or two!

See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator! 

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Maria Lenhart
I am a veteran travel writer who has enjoyed reporting on destinations far and near for many publications. My favorite way to travel is on board a ship, no matter where it's going. 

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Overheard

“Massive crowds line up to see the huge church (Duomo di Firenze). To avoid the lines, go late, as crowds tend to subside by late afternoon.”

Rick Steves

“Remember to pace yourself. Allow time to wander and follow your whims, and ignore any pangs of guilt if you'd rather relax in a café and watch the world go by than trudge on sore feet through another breathtaking palace or church.”

Fodor’s Travel Guides

“Before booking your cruise, make sure the ship’s call at Florence is not on a Monday, when major museums and galleries are closed.”

Cruise Critic

“Vasari Corridor: A walk through this elevated passage, built for the Medici family in 1565, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Book a private tour with Bravo Concierge.”

Travel + Leisure magazine

 

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