Top 10 Viewpoints in Florence, Italy That You Cannot Miss

With its terracotta rooftops and Brunelleschi’s iconic dome, Florence has one of the most recognisable skylines in Italy. But where should you go to capture the best views of Florence?

From the best free photo spots to pricey panoramas, here are my top 10 viewpoints in Florence.

the red roofs and cathedral and dome of florence viewed from arnolfos tower

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Best Viewpoints in Florence, Italy

1. The Best Viewpoint in Florence: The Rose Garden

fountain of creature shooting water from its mouth with one of the best views of florence in background

Drum roll please. In my humble opinion, the Rose Garden offers not only the best free view of Florence but also the best overall experience. If you are allergic to crowds, Florence’s Rose Garden is your antihistamine pill.

A few steps below Piazzale Michelangelo, this gorgeous garden has overlooked Florence since 1865. Its fragrant rose bushes won’t be a surprise, but it also has a small Japanese garden donated by Kyoto, Florence’s twin city.

rose garden in florence with view of city in background

Attracting a fraction of the visitors that descend on its better-known neighbour, Florence’s Rose Garden is a peaceful respite from the sometimes overwhelming crowds. As a bonus, it also has a cheap and friendly coffee bar with outside tables.

And as for those views of Florence? I’ll let you be the judge.

one of the best views of florence from the rose garden

Find the Rose Garden on Google Maps here.

2. Piazzale Michelangelo: The classic postcard view of Florence

the river arno with bridges and the skyline of the city of florence in italy

Visit Piazzale Michelangelo for a classic postcard view of Florence. Best of all, it’s completely free.

Looking across to the opposite side of the river, Florence’s major landmarks are obligingly laid out before you. This is also one of the best viewpoints in Florence to appreciate the majesty of the Arno and its bridges.

There’s a bronze copy of Michelangelo’s David – one of Florence’s free sculptures – in the centre of the square. Piazzale Michelangelo has a decent cafe with an outdoor terrace and no shortage of vendors selling tourist tatt.

Find Piazzale Michelangelo on Google Maps here.

3. San Miniato al Monte

sweeping panorama of florence from high viewpoint

Our next location combines an ancient church, a compelling legend and one of the best free views of Florence

Dating from 1015, San Miniato al Monte is the oldest church in Florence. It
marks the spot where the obscure St. Minias ended up after the Romans beheaded him on the banks of the Arno in 250 AD.

The church has a lovely Romanesque facade, an art-filled sacristy and a ceiling of glazed terracotta panels. Although these are well worth a look – and you are likely to have the place pretty much to yourself – most people head to San Minato al Monte for its viewpoint.

statue of angel with arms aloft in front of a view of florence italy

For a second photo stop, make your way to the Sacred Doors Cemetery, directly behind the church.

Find San Miniato al Monte on Google Maps here

4. Boboli Gardens

Sprawling over 11 acres, the beautiful Boboli Gardens, features formal landscaped gardens, Renaissance sculptures and gurgling fountains. These gardens, which formed the backyard of the Medici’s Pitti Palace, deliver on so many levels.

wide pathway in formal boboli garden leading to pitti palace in florence
large tree in bloom in boboli gardens with florence skyline in background

Not only are they wonderful to stroll through, but they also allow you to escape the worst of the tourist crowds of Florence. Furthermore, from the Boboli Gardens, there are some of the best views of Florence and the rolling Tuscan countryside beyond.

small fountain in garden with florence skyline in background
One of my favourite photo spots in Florence

If you want to look down on Florence from a higher vantage point, continue further uphill to Fort Belvedere, a fortress dating from the late 16th Century.

Find Boboli Gardens on Google Maps here.

5. Tower of Arnolfo

exterior of medieval palazzo vecchio and tower of arnolfo

Designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, the Tower of Arnolfo at the Palazzo Vecchio pierces the sky 308 feet above Piazza della Signoria.

Entering through the palace, guides lead you to the 233 steps to ascend the tower. Climbing the Tower of Arnolfo is not as arduous as climbing Giotto’s Tower or Brunelleschi’s Dome.

But this relative ease does not mean that you are short-changed when it comes to views. The Duomo complex is clearly in the frame as are Piazza della Signoria and the Uffizi Galleries.

view of dome of florence cathedral through stone opening
panoramic view of rooftops of florence and river arno
two people standing in shadow in front of a tall leaded window

Find the Tower of Arnolfo on Google Maps here.

6. Giotto’s Campanile

group of beautiful buildings in florence of the cathedral the baptistery and bell tower
The Duomo, Baptistery and Giotto’s Tower, Florence, Italy

Together with the Dioumo and St John’s Baptistery, Giotto’s Tower forms part of the Duomo complex. Designed by Giotto and built between 1334 and 1359, this medieval skyscraper soars 270 feet above ground level.

In my view, Giotto’s Bell Tower is a better Florence viewpoint than the more popular Brunelleschi’s Dome. Not only are there sensational views in all directions, but it also offers a fabulous view of the dome itself.

red roofs of florence from high vantage point

There is one downside though.

The exterior walkways are protected by a safety grille that obstructs your views of the city. But this is not a deal-breaker. With a bit of experimentation and careful placement of your camera, you can manage a clear shot.

Climbing Giotto’s Tower is also long and can be steep and claustrophobic, particularly near the top where the steps are narrow and twisting. But you can catch your breath and take in the views at the tower’s three levels (and get a close-up of the bells).

Ultimately, this is one Florence view that is 100% worth the effort.

red dome of florence cathedral and marble cladding on facade

Find Giotto’s Tower on Google Maps here.

7. Brunelleschi’s Dome

people standing on terrace at top of dome of florence cathedral

Not only is Brunelleschi’s dome Florence’s most iconic landmark, but the terrace at its summit is also one of the most popular viewpoints in town. You just need a head for heights.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, simply known as the Duomo, is ground zero of the Italian Renaissance and Florence’s beating heart.

Clad in pink, green and white Tuscan marble, the façade of Florence Cathedral will bring joy to even the most jaded traveller. However, it is Brunelleschi’s gravity-defying dome that is the building’s architectural claim to fame.

There are two compelling reasons to climb Brunelleschi’s dome.

If you are an art lover, it provides an unbeatable view of Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes of the Last Judgment that decorate the dome’s interior.

From the terrace that wraps itself around the dome’s lantern, there are unobstructed views of Florence in all directions. However, it goes without saying that this viewpoint won’t put Florence’s famous dome in the frame.

Bear in mind also that you will need to ascend 436 steps, some of them steep. At times you will need to navigate narrow passageways. If you suffer from claustrophobia or vertigo, skip this one.

Whilst I am glad that I climbed Brunelleschi’s dome some years ago, I am not in a rush to repeat the experience.

Find Brunelleschi’s dome on Google Maps here.

8. Uffizi Galleries

From Giotto to Botticelli, many of the most famous paintings in the world grace the walls of the Ufizzi Galleries. Visiting the Uffizi should be on your Florence bucket list, even if you only have a passing interest in art history.

But what is less well known is that this 16th-century building is home to not one, but two of the best viewpoints in Florence.

Suppose your holiday budget will stretch to lunch in the Uffizi’s terrace cafe. In that case, you will have an excellent view of some of Florence’s most iconic landmarks, including Brunelleschi’s dome and Palazzo Vecchio.

But for the price of your admission ticket, stop by the window at the end of the gallery’s great hallway. From here, there is a superb view of Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River.

view of ponte vecchio bridge in florence reflected in water of river

There is even a bonus viewpoint across the terracotta rooftops to the Duomo through the window near room A31 (Signorelli’s paintings).

dome of florence cathedral and a street

Find the Uffizi Galleries on Google Maps here.

9. Ponte Vecchio

pinte vecchio bridge in florence italy

As the most famous of Florence’s bridges, Ponte Vecchio barely needs an introduction and is synonymous with Florence itself.

As its name suggests, this is also the oldest bridge straddling the River Arno. Whilst today’s Ponte Vecchio was built in the 14th Century, it is thought that there has been a bridge at this point of the Arno as far back as Roman times.

Even if you are only in Florence for one day, walk across Ponte Vecchio for some of the best views in town.

Pause at the centre of the bridge and point your camera lens east towards Ponte alle Grazie. The view west towards Ponte Santa Trinità is equally wonderful.

river arno lined by buildings and with a graceful bridge
View towards Ponte Santa Trinità from Ponte Vecchio

Find Ponte Vecchio on Google Maps here.

10. Fiesole

Reaching the first of my Florence viewpoints takes a little effort but it is well worth it.

Fiesole is so much more than a suburb of Florence. Set on a hilltop overlooking the city, this Etruscan town can claim to be the mother city of Florence itself.

Make sure that your camera batteries are charged. From Fiesole, there are panoramic views over the rolling countryside towards the rooftops, dome and medieval towers of Florence.

roman amphitheatre amidst rolling hills in fiesole italy
The Roman Amphitheatre in Fiesole

History fangirls or fanboys won’t feel short-changed either. Although there is not much left of Etruscan Fiesole, the Archaeological Area features remnants of Etruscan walls, a temple, a Roman amphitheatre and Roman baths.

Find Fiesole on Google Maps here.

Map of the Best Photo Spots in Florence

And that’s a wrap.

To help you navigate your way to these locations, here’s a map of my favourite viewpoints in Florence. For an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.

map showing the best photo spots in florence italy
Best Photo Spots in Florence, Italy. Map Data @ Google 2022