The Best Places to Take Photos in Florence, Italy!
Are you traveling to Florence Italy and looking for the best places to take photos? Well then this is the list for you my friend. Read on and enjoy your visit, it is a lovely town!
Florence Italy is absolutely gorgeous, and you will really enjoy your visit there. While it’s the home to a significant amount of art - it is the birthplace of the Renaissance, after all - it is also a wonderful city for photography. It's a very beautiful city.
Do you enjoy art and culture? How about museums? Architecture? Churches and cathedrals? Street scenes? Bridges? How about wonderful old bridges? Panoramic views of town? Gelato? ;-)
Well then you will seriously enjoy your visit to Florence. It has all of that and more, and I think it is home to the best gelato in Italy (but I recommend you test that out for yourself!).
I highly recommend you have plenty of spare batteries and extra memory cards. But if not, I found a nice little camera store just a minute or so from the Ponte Vecchio (which I am certain you will be crossing several times and likely photographing, too).
And to be clear, this is not a stank rank of the places I found worth photographing here. These are just my thoughts on what to shoot in no particular order. The great thing is that the historic town center is very walkable and fairly compact, so you don’t need a car here at all. I walked all over town many times, and although it is tiring, it is well worth it to give you a good sense of the place. So yes, bring comfortable shoes!
Without further ado, here are the best places to take photos in Florence, Italy.
1.) On the Ponte Vecchio
This place gets REALLY crowded during the day - and it’s just plain busy at night - but there’s something about it. There are usually musicians playing for tips and just a nice, good vibe hanging around this place. Come hang out, take some pics, and enjoy the local scene. It's a great spot for long exposures to get some ghosting of all the passing tourists.
I guess I should clarify that the Ponte Vecchio ("old bridge") is the main bridge in the center of town that crosses the river. There are quite a few bridges in town, but the Ponte Vecchio is the famous one, and it's not just full of tourists, but also full of jewelry stores.
2.) The view of the Ponte Vecchio from Ponte Santa Trinita
This is pretty much the famous view you see of the Ponte Vecchio in postcards and other photos online, and there’s a reason for it - it’s a great view! I spent a couple of sunsets shooting here and you can also turn around to look upriver for a slightly different perspective on the town. This spot is upriver from the Ponte Vecchio by 1 bridge. Easy to find.
3.) The Duomo
This massive and fabulously beautiful cathedral is impossible to miss and you don’t want to. It’s a beauty from any angle, or even just zooming in and capturing some of the amazing details in it. Due to being here in the thick of summer, I struggled to get a good wide angle of it mostly due to sunrise being WAY TOO EARLY. But there are ample opportunities to get creative from a lot of the streets that feed into it. Look around and explore. You'll find some cool shots. See all the people up on top? You should go there, too.
4.) The Campanile
Standing very tall right next to The Duomo and looming over the square, this bell tower is also rather photogenic, with an architectural design perfectly matching The Duomo itself. You can also climb to the top for a great view of town. It's somewhat hard to photograph though, because the plaza in front of the Duomo and Campanile is not large - so you can't just back up - and this thing is just so tall. But give it a shot and see what you come up with!
5.) The view of Florence from the top of the Duomo
While this is a rigorous climb, it’s well worth it for a panoramic view of town. Take your time, enjoy the view, and be sure to take a lot of photos. You worked hard to get here! Sorry, they don’t sell drinks at the top (but they should). Obviously you also get a great view of The Campanile since you are above it. You can literally see for miles on a clear day.
6.) Inside the Baptistery
I almost skipped this, but at the last minute decided to pop in and check it out, partly because there was no one in line. I am glad that I did. The interior is amazing and beautiful and you will be glad you stopped in here. It’s basically one big room so it’s not a lengthy stop, but it’s a good one. Peek in and get the camera ready, then look UP.
7.) The Gates of Paradise
While these doors hanging on the Baptistery are actually a replica of the originals, you will want to check them out here just because they are beautiful and detailed. They are generally crowded with people taking shots, but if you are patient (or arrive at off hours) you can get a clean shot.
8.) The Uffizi
This may be my favorite museum anywhere, although I will admit I tend to really like Renaissance art, and this is the home of it. You will find work by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Michelangelo and even Leonardo da Vinci here. Be sure and book a ticket on line in advance because the lines get really long. This will save you a ton of time and you skip right to the reserved ticket line if you book ahead. You can shoot inside the museum, and in addition to the paintings and sculptures there are nice long hallways to photograph. I shot this one at night, under the walkway just outside the entrance. I liked the lines. There is also a nice big arch there, and you can also get a great view of the museum from across the river.
9.) The Accademia
In any other city, this might be a world-class museum (especially considering the extent of their sculptures), but in my opinion it pales in comparison to The Uffizi. However, this one is the home of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David, and it’s well worth a visit to admire the work. That's probably why you are going there, anyway. The rest of the museum, while interesting, won’t take up too much of your time, unless you are just really into the museum thing (I am not so much) or have a serious addiction to looking at sculptures.
10.) Piazza Della Signoria
The plaza in the center of town draws a lot of visitors and is usually bustling. It’s a nice wide open space, good for general photography and home to the next two items on the list, which I think you will want to see while there. I stuck around one evening and shot some cityscape-type shots like this one.
11.) Loggia Della Signoria sculptures
Off to one side of Piazza Dell Signoria is a loggia full of sculptures, and they are magnificent. I stopped by here a couple of times during my visit and always found a new and interesting thing to admire. You can get right up next to them, too which is great if you want to admire and photograph the details.
12.) Palazzo Vecchio
Right next to the Loggia Della Signoria is this Palazzo, and while I did not take the full tour, I think you will find plenty here to enjoy and photograph, especially if you enjoy architecture. This is the entry hall sort of thing, and it's gorgeous. Outside of the Palazzo, in Piazza Della Signoria, is a full-size replica of the David statue from the Accademia. Might as well shoot that while you are here!
13.) Piazzale Michelangelo
If you have ever seen a skyline photo of Florence, with the Duomo rising high above the town, chances are it was taken from Piazzale Michelangelo. This huge terrace sits high on a hill just across the River Arno, and the view is magnificent. Note that it’s an exhausting climb to the top, although it is lighted and there is a sidewalk the entire way. It’s just pretty steep in parts, and frankly I was short of breath when I arrived. However, you will be glad once you get up there. There is also a bar and some carts offering food and drink, should you want something while there. It gets really crowded at sunset, with just about everyone jockeying for a decent spot to shoot from, so get there early and plan ahead. However, the plaza is fairly wide so if you are late you may still be able to get a decent viewing spot.
14.) Mercato Nuovo and “the pig”
Between The Duomo and The Ponte Vecchio you will pass by this little market, which isn’t really that big of a deal, but I just like it for some reason. There is this big sculpture of a wild boar or pig or whatever, and everyone puts a coin in his mouth and lets it drop into the grate below. I believe it is a good luck ritual of sorts and that is ensures a return visit to Florence. Nonetheless, it’s a fun, quick stop and you can always check out the market stalls there selling leather goods and more.
15.) Piazza Della Repubblica
This wide-open plaza is right next to the Mercato Nuovo and I just enjoyed having a bit of extra room here. I loved the huge arch and of course at night with the carousel moving around and lit up I found it to be quite beautiful. Blue hour is a great time to hang out here (with the camera, of course).
16.) Santa Croce
This church is less than 10 minutes walk from Piazza Della Repubblica, but it’s a bit quieter in the square in front of it and a little less touristy (though still somewhat busy). It contains quite a few tombs of famous folks, including Michelangelo himself. While the huge statue of Dante Alighieri out front makes you think his tomb is here (well, technically his tomb is here), it’s simply a dedication and the tomb for him inside is actually not occupied by him. Still a great stop and a beautiful cathedral. It's well worth a visit inside and out.
17.) Pitti Palace
Just a short stroll from the south side of the Ponte Vecchio lies this large museum. I admit that I did not visit the interior, but I was very happy to photograph the facade one evening. I have a thing for architecture, and if you get tired there are quite a few cafes just across the street where you can refresh yourself.
18.) San Lorenzo Market
This is the famous leather market in town, and it’s a bustling, busy place. If you enjoy looking at stall after stall of leather goods, this will be a sort of heaven for you. I strolled through here taking some photos while vendors tried to get me to look at their leather bags (I was tempted). It’s a great place to wander and if you are looking for leather goods, enjoy!
19.) Mercato Centrale
This market is right next to the San Lorenzo Market but this one is all about the food. There are all sorts of stalls here selling foods, oils, wines and more. This one is inside, as opposed to the San Lorenzo Market which is out on the street. This may not be your sort of thing, but I always enjoy looking at markets like this in foreign cities. It sort of gives you a glimpse into what life there could be like.
20.) Boboli Gardens
When you need a break from the hustle of Florence, consider the short stroll over here to Boboli Gardens. It’s 11 acres with wide paths, fountains and gardens. I spent a morning here enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, which you don’t get in Florence proper. You also are up on a hill of sorts which gives you a few opportunities for wonderful views of the city.
21.) Fort Belvedere
While at Boboli Gardens, there is a sign for Fort Belvedere, so I followed it. You technically exit the gardens but holding onto your ticket allows you to re-enter. Fort Belvedere is a historic military fort but for me the main draw is the view of town. In many ways it rivals Piazzale Michelangelo for the view over the skyline.
22.) Piazza Della Passera
There are a million little piazzas in Florence, and you can never see them all. My wife read somewhere online that this was the cutest piazza in Florence, so I had to check it out. It’s small and quaint but definitely ranks high on the cuteness scale, whatever that is. :-) Bonus: it’s about 1 minute from the Ponte Vecchio so you can pop over here really easily and decide for yourself just how cute it is.
23.) Just about any side street
I love European street scenes, so let me get that out of the way first. In other words, I am biased toward this subject matter. But I have to add this to the list, because I wandered a million little side streets in Florence, day and night, and absolutely loved them all. I swear if I could get paid for this sort of thing I would be in heaven!
24.) Street photography
While I am not what I would consider a classic “street photographer” (however you define that), I do enjoy wandering around and capturing a city, which I think fits that category. Like any semi-large and busy place, Florence offers a LOT of opportunity for practitioners of this craft.
Here are three side trips just a short distance from Florence that are worth a visit:
This little town sits high on the hill just outside of Florence and has some great views of the town. We took at cab up here one evening (about 20 Euro from the city center) for an incredible dinner at La Reggia. Seriously, it was SO GOOD. Anyways, just outside the cafe is this view of Florence, which only added to the awesomeness of the dinner.
We rented a car for a day and drove south to visit Siena and San Gimignano. Both are excellent, although I preferred San Gimignano over Siena. Siena is larger and thus busier, but it is beautiful in its own right. The cathedral there is amazing and the huge plaza is a fun and interesting place to hang out.
3.) San Gimignano
After our visit to Siena we drove on to San Gimignano and stayed there through sunset. It’s quite a bit smaller than Siena and I just liked it better. There’s nothing specific as to why I liked it better - that’s just the feeling I had while there. I loved wandering the little streets and we caught a wonderful sunset from a point we found high in town. Also, I found the greatest butcher shop in the world here - it was so cool looking.
Well my friends, that sums up my list of the best places to take photos in Florence Italy. I hope this list helps you capture your own amazing memories of this beautiful town and that you come home with a big smile and several full memory cards. And fond memories of the gelato!
If you have other spots you want to suggest, feel free to do so in the comments field below.