Our self planned walking tour of Florence – Part 1

If you read about our adventure during our night tour of Paris, you might already know we recently did a tour of Europe. Before Paris, we did go to Italy, and spent 6 marvellous days in Italy. A couple of them in Florence. Here, we take you through one of our lovely walking tours of Florence.

If you don’t walk during your trip to Europe, I can’t agree you have experienced it the right way. And by walk, I mean a lot of walking. That is, more than five kilometers a day easily. The beauty and culture of Europe is best experienced through walking tours. So, when we planned our Europe trip, we decided to include walking tours profusely into it. And our first was a walking tour of Florence. We designed it ourselves. For this, we put the places on a google map, starting from our apartment. In fact, we designed two different walking tours of Florence during our stay.

A beautiful view during our walking tour along the banks of river Arno
A beautiful view during our walking tour along the banks of river Arno

Our first walking tour of florence

The first walking tour of Florence that we designed, started from our apartment and went through the bank of the river Arno, all the way to the other side. Along the way, we made several stops in this walking tour of Florence, to cover the beautiful cultural and historical spots.

The day we arrived in Florence, we had half a day after checking into our apartment. We got fresh and took some rest. As we stepped out of our apartment, we  were more than delighted to find a vegan restaurant nearby. ( We will soon write about our experience as vegetarians in Europe ) Thereafter, we had a sumptuous meal here before heading off to our first walking tour of Florence. We took almost four and half hours to complete the tour and return back to our apartment, Palazzo Dei Campi. But it was far from exhausting. So, without wait, let me take you through the places that we covered during this walking tour of Florence.

Stop 1 : The banks of river Arno

walking tour of Florence
Mesmerizing views across the river Arno

We started straight from our apartment (as you can see in the map at the end of the post) and after a left and a subsequent right, walked straight. Until we arrived at the banks of the river Arno. It was evening, and the view of gradually setting sun across the river was just mesmerizing. We couldn’t help but stop by the pedestrian walkway on the banks of the river and soak ourselves in the eternal beauty that was spread in front of us.

On one side you can see the river getting narrower and on top of it Ponte Vecchio – the beautiful bridge from ancient era abuzz with tourists and locals alike. While glimpsing on the other side, you can see the river expanding. And the beautiful Tuscany terrains spread on it’s border along with the fairytale mountain ranges in their backdrop. Overall, a picture perfect spot that seems to be leisurely created by a great artist. Not to mention, the water is so crystal clear that you can see almost till the river bed. Hats off to the people and government of Florence who have worked together to preserve this beauty.

Stop 2 : Uffizi gallery

Further, we proceeded along the bank of the Arno for another 500 meters, to arrive at Uffizi Gallery. It is one of the most famous museums of art work in the world. In fact, it holds on display a number of master pieces of art from the renaissance period. The arts on display here are the creations of Botticelli, Giotto, CimabueMichelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello and many others. As we arrived here, there was a festive mood all around. In the courtyard of the museum were several artists sitting and creating live sketches of those interested. I felt like being surrounded by the greatest works of arts. And the feeling was enthralling.

We sat in the courtyard of Uffizi Gallery for sometime, resting our foot and observing the abuzz atmosphere. PS: This is one place where you have to be particularly beware of the pickpockets. Since it is very crowded and it’s common for people to bump into or brush by each other while making their way in and out of this area.

Walking tour of Florence
The courtyard of Uffizi Gallery

Stop 3 : Ponte Vecchio

From Uffizi gallery, we proceed a little further along the banks of river Arno to arrive at the Ponte Vecchio bridge. It’s one of the several bridges built over the river Arno. And it is also believed to be built on one of the narrowest parts of the river. It has shops on both the sides, which was common in ancient days. Although, in the earlier era these were mainly butcher shops. But, now, they are predominantly goldsmith and jeweler shops. These shops have on display intrinsic gold ornaments, sunstone ornaments and even diamond ornaments on sale.

However, for us, the attraction was a spot halfway through the bridge, between the shops. This spot was the perfect location to admire the beauty of the river Arno and the Florence that spread around it. I don’t think I could see any other spot through my trip with such a magnificent view of the river and it’s surroundings. It was just so surreal. We took some beautiful snaps here, filled our bottle with water from one of the public fountains and then proceeded on further journey.

Walking tour of florence
Ponte Vecchio as viewed from near Uffizi Gallery

Stop 4 : Pitti Palace

Keep walking straight post thePonte Vecchio Bridge and you will soon arrive at the Pitti Palace. Referred to as the Palazzo Pitty in Italian, it was a town residence of a banker named Loca Pitti. It’s more than 5 centuries old and still stands robust. Now, it stands proudly as the largest museum complex in Florence, Italy. The Palace looks nothing less than a grand one. It has already stood the test of time through centuries. And the beauty is that it still seems as if it was built just yesterday.

Walking tour of Florence
Pitti Palace

Stop 5: Boboli Gardens

Right through the heart of Pitti Palace, there is way to the most flourishing gardens of Florence, the Boboli Gardens. So, they will be your next stop during this walking tour of Florence. The Giardino di Boboli or Boboli Gardens is home to several old sculptures dating as long back as the 16th centuary. Lush green and beautiful, the gardens are ever refreshing. There is an entrance ticket to the Boboli Gardens. You can buy it right in front of the Pitti Palace. And then go through the entrance of Pitti Palace behind it, to enter into the vast stretch of green that consists of the Boboli Gardens.

Walking tour of florence
Boboli Gardens

Stop 6: Small garden by the river Arno

From the Pitti Palace, we continued our walking tour of Florence by tracing our steps back till the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Upon arriving at the bridge, we walked down on the other side of the bridge towards Piazzale Michelangelo. However, almost a kilometer afterwards, we arrived at a beautiful spot. I am not sure of it’s name. As, it was not something we had marked in the map. We just spotted it and decided it was worth spending sometime. You will arrive here after crossing the second bridge post the Ponte Vecchio Bridge.

There is a way down to the bank of the river here. We could see people playing volleyball, or just sitting leisurely and having a picnic by the bank of the river. You can go down and enjoy a closer view of the river from here. Just near here, besides the roadside, there is a small green garden. We stopped by here and sat by the garden for quiet some time. The little one loved chasing the pegions here while some of us sat on the boundary wall lining the bank of Arno.

Walking tour of Florence
The garden by the sides of river Arno

Stop 7: Giardino Bardini

Giardino Bardini, the seventh stop on our walking tour to Florence, is a beautiful garden just opposite the small garden where we sat and relaxed. This is another renaissance time masterpiece lined with beautiful layouts and great sculptures. The garden has been opened to public only recently and is not so well known to many. However, it is perched upon a small hill. As a result, it provides not just greenery and refreshment, but a great view of the whole city of old Florence. Although you need to climb several stairs to reach to the top, I would recommend it strongly for the views that you will get from the top.

Walking tour of Florence
A view of Giardino Bardini from across the road

Stop 8: Piazzale Michelangelo

This last spot on our self planned walking tour of Florence doesn’t need an introduction. This is the most famous florentine Piazza. It was developed by Giuseppe Poggi in 1869. And is dedicated to the famous renaissance artist Michelangelo. It has bronze copies of several of his marble sculptures including the world famous David. Although the original David stands in Galleria Dell’ Academia which we did cover in our morning walk tour of Florence 

Map of our walking tour of Florence

After visiting Piazzale Michelangelo, we traced our steps back to the bank of river Arno. And then from there, we headed back to our accommodation. Although, if you look at the google map, it shows a walking trip of 6.3km, it might have been close to 7 km for us if we take the round trip in conclusion. Did we feel exhausted? Not at all. If anything, we felt rejuvenated and were more than ready to take up more such walking tours. In fact we didn’t walk the 7km stretch at a go. We took stops at every beautiful corner to admire the place. And we also took snacks breaks on the way and kept refilling our water bottle. All this kept us fresh as ever through the walk.

I guess the evening weather was also supportive. With mild and cold breeze blowing and the temperature just soothingly cold for us. Overall, this walking tour of Florence turned out to be one of the most cherished memories of our trip in Europe.

In conclusion

By the time you reach this last spot, you will be definitely needing some rest. So take some rest and head back to your accommodation, like we did to ours. Although it was as refreshing a walking tour of Florence as we had imagined it to be. You can use our map to plan your own walking tour. All you need to do is replace our accommodation with yours as the starting point. And if yours is way too far from the Arno, take a bus or another means of transport to reach here. Although, we would recommend staying in the old parts of florence to experience the real renaissance vibe.

Tips for a successful walking tour of Florence

  1. Carry a water bottle with you. You need to be hydrated as you are doing a lot of walking. You can keep refilling your bottle from one of the several public water supplies or fountains while on this walking tour.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking to be done
  3. If you have wifi or data network, you can easily follow google map. Else, either you can download an offline map for your walking tour of florence, or, you can read the next point, which is like an insider tip
  4. We didn’t have network connectivity once we stepped out of our accommodation. So, we prepared this map on our phone, and right before starting from our room, we started the navigation. There after, we could still navigate offline, even after going out of the network reach. Of course, we couldn’t change anything in the map there after
  5. In case you need directions during this walking tour of Florence for any reason anywhere, you can easily reach out to others. This is a busy part of the city that is always thriving with locals and tourists alike. And they are all very helping.
  6. Beware of pickpockets. This is one of the busiest tourist spots of Florence and hence pickpockets are in full swing, making the tourists their soft target.
  7. There are several eateries in this whole area, but being the tourist hot spot, they are costly. We will advice, you pack your lunch or snacks from near your accommodation when you start, or prepare something in your apartment. And you can munch on it while you walk along the river banks or sitting into one of the many green gardens that we talked about above.
  8. If you are with a toddler or a baby, you can take a stroller with you. With so much of walking to do, it will ease carrying the baby.
  9. Do carry an umbrella with you. For, it did rain a little while we were on this walking tour. Luckily, we were on the bridge at that time, and we found a perfect shelter amongst the shops. And it stopped raining in another 10 minutes.

A self planned walking tour of florence. Self guided tour of florence along the bank of the river Arno. Also consists of a google map with all the sites marked

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Our apartment stay at Piazzo Dei Ciompi , Florence

Self planned tour of Florence – Part 2

A half day tour from Florence to Pisa

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101 Responses

  1. I guess walking tours help you see more of the city. I’d love to give it a try. All I see in the pictures for this post is a new Florence.

  2. […] explored on foot. You might have already walked with us on our free self planned and self guided walking tour of Florence across the river Arno and yet another one exploring the heard of the renaissance capital. Then there was a walking tour […]

  3. […] sufficient to fill her in between the meals. I fed her bananas while we were roaming in gardens, along the river bank in Florence, waiting at the bus stop or train station, in the garden of the leaning tower of Pisa, sitting […]

  4. Nice article about your walks around Florence. We went there 2 years ago in our motorhome, which we parked at a railway station from where we got the train into the centre. It was very busy so we just walked around all the sites.

  5. […] booked for us a round bus trip for our Florence to Pisa tour. Nevertheless, after having done a beautiful walking tour of Florence the day before and another one right in the morning the next day, we were in high spirits to start […]

  6. We took the same ‘tour’ a few years ago, but with slightly different stops. We weren’t blown away by Florence to be honest. There was a lot of construction going on, the city was very crowded and dirty and the Piazzale Michelangelo wasn’t open for public due to a still unknown reason, even though they assured us we could go up .. We did visit the Palazzo Vecchio with the David in front of the entrance (the hall of the 1000 was marvelous!) but the rest of the city left us a bit disappointed .. Maybe we just visited at the wrong time?

    • Seems so Laura. When we visited, we did see a restoration going on in one part of the Duomo. But apart from that, rest all seemed neat , clean and beautiful. We took early morning walks and breakfast sitting outside, and really enjoyed that as well. The places were not so crowded and some of the lanes were almost empty 🙂

  7. 18megapixel

    When I visit places, as much as possible I would do a walking tour. Number 1 reason is to lessen my transportation expense. By walking, you will be able to cherish the place even more because you will get to feel the place, you will be able to look at it thoroughly, and you will be able to enjoy the small details that you will miss when you are on a cab.

    • You are right. And add to all that the health benefit of walking 🙂

  8. […] that we had there. Read about our self planned and self guided walking tours of florence here in part 1 and part 2. Even the grocery shops and restaurants were at a few meters from the apartment. So, […]

  9. […] wanted. Or, change our course whenever we wanted. And take as much time as we wanted. While we did our first walking tour of the city of Florence the day we arrived here. And that was almost a 5 hours tour. We did our second walking tour of […]

  10. You guys have fitted in so much again – some really useful tips and a part of Italy that I am yet to visit. Great photos and I really need to find some time to explore the region. I will definitely be doing it on foot!

    • Thanks a lot and all the very best for your explorations. We will be waiting to hear your experience

  11. I have been to this city. It is undoubtedly an open museum. A walking tour would be the best way to explore this city. Loved your free flowing writing.

    • You put it in thr right words – ‘an open museum’ – exactly that is what florence is

  12. Florence is such an incredible place. It is filled with so much culture and history! I will definitely have to be back and put this walking tour on my list.

    • Like people mentioned above, it’s an open museum, an open art gallery that is best explored on foot.

  13. Great post! The city looks stunning. I love following walking tours when exploring new cities because I always find it to be the most efficient use of time!

  14. Florence is high on travel bucket list! This is a useful guide!

  15. Florence is one of my favorite cities in the world! I agree with the water bottle! Beautiful memories!

  16. I must agree with you that walking is the best way to explore, especially in Europe. You bring back all my favorites parts of Florence and Boboli Gardens – just beautiful.

  17. Helpful information – thanks for also including a map because that really helped me visualize your first walking tour. Also, the tips are very helpful because it will help me know what to expect and plan for, just in case, like the umbrella and the map off of wifi. I might not have thought to bring an umbrella, and I often forget to start my map before I leave wifi :-).

    • Thanks Ellie. I am so happy that you find all this information really useful

  18. Nice post! I went to Florence last year, it is a beautiful city 🙂 I didn’t have data so I couldn’t use any internet. I think Florence is easy to walk around.

    • Yes, have to agree with you. Florence is a pedestrian friendly city

  19. Florence is on my bucket list, but I almost feel like I’ve been there now! Thanks for sharing your great photos and your walking tour.

  20. I absolutely love your photographs. The paths and the perspective makes me feel as if I am truly walking down the lanes. It draws me.

  21. Florence is so beautiful! We love walking tours. Will keep in mind that we need to carry an umbrella. I’m sure Uffizi gallery has some breathtaking artwork but how stunning is the exterior!

    • Rightly said..both exteriors and interiors of Uffizi are marvellous..

  22. Thanks so much for sharing your walking tour of Florence. I agree that walking is the best waybill explore the old European cities. You can then fully enjoy the sites, sounds, and smells!

  23. By the looks of it your walk has been quite productive. You covered many places and they are all beautiful. I just recently discovered the joys of a walking tour when I went to Taiwan and I was able to learn more about the country by doing that than when I joined organized tours in which you stop in a place, take photos, ride in the vehicle, and then you’re off to another spot. And if I ever get to Florence I’d do the walking tour myself.

    • Thanks Marge. We did walk a lot, cover a lot and enjoyed a lot 🙂 every bit of the walking tour to be precise. Did you write about your walking tour of Taiwan? We will love to have a look at it when we plan our own trip

  24. A well written, detailed descriptive post. This is going to be super helpful for the first time visitors to Florence. I liked your idea of map without net connectivity. Neha, your pictures are really beautiful. Hopefully will visit Florence soon.

    • Thanks so much Suruchi!! Florence is so beautiful that anyone can take super beautiful pictures here

  25. Madhavi Kale Bodke

    Beautiful pictures.. this place looks great to visit.. I love to travel a lot.. your blog is going to be my guide.. subscribing..

    • Thanks so much Madhavi!! We will definitely bring more and more interesting stories your way

  26. i did “No Entry Sign” funny photo collection in Florence. they are really cute there.

  27. Pitti Palace looks like a favourite place of the crowd! It looks stunning tho! And yes, seems like it was just built yesterday. Self walking tour is a lot better sometimes as it gives you freedom to do your own at your own convenience. Florence is a wonderful place. Would love to visit too! X

    • Yes Cathy. All the monuments, buildings and cathedrals here are very well maintained. Repair work is immediately undertaken where required.

  28. What an amazing walking tour, Florence looks so beautiful.

  29. Florence is high on my list of places to visit. It seem to have so much character and charm! Thanks for the informative read!

    • Thanks Nikki. If you visit Italy, we will highly recommend spending at least a couple of days in Florence

  30. The best way to explore Florence is by foot and am so glad to see a post that makes that easier. Loved all the pics in the post. You definitely made the most of the tour.

    • Thanks Ami. We are so glad we designed and took up this walking tour. It was one of the most lovely tours that we did in Florence

  31. Florence is so beautiful, walking is the only way to see it IMHO. I haven’t managed to get to Boboli Gardens yet. Next time! Nice walk, It felt like I was there.

    • Thanks Shona. Glad you enjoyed it. Do visit the Boboli gardens next time when you are in florence.

  32. xxxgingerpawsoutdoorsxxx

    That is one adventurous walking tour! I like it that way as well when I visit a place. It gives you time to enjoy everything around you. I would love to visit Florence too. And this is a very good itinerary. Thank you for sharing this. It is a great help. I will save this for future reference!

    • Thank you! Florence is such a charming place. We visited here for just 2 days but the memories remain afresh with us forever

  33. Oh Florence why are you just so beautiful, lovely and romantic. I have long been dreaming to visit Florence, I just can’t get aright time and enough funds, hopefully soon. I would love to amble around as well while enjoying all the beautiful views. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • Thank you! Definitely Florence is so charming and beautiful. A dream destination for all of us

  34. Ahhh. I love Florence! We only went for a day so unfortunately we didn’t get to visit any of these places but I still fell in love with the city. So stunning!

    • That’s expected 🙂 The city has such a magical charm about it

  35. Great detailed post guys! Makes me want to visit Florence again. Not been for a number of years and missed some of the spots you suggest here, will try the Boboli Gardens next time! have pinned for future reference 🙂

    • Thanks Garth. We wish you have as wonderful a time as your first visit, when you head here next

  36. travellingslacker

    Florence is one of the great European cities that I have always wanted to visit. Too much history and civilization in one place. Great details as always. Great that you planned the whole thing yourself. That is the best way to do it.

    • Thanks Jitaditya. Florence urges you to explore it on your own. Such a charming town.

  37. I loved walking around Florence though it was so exhausting at the end.It is such a historic and beautiful city !

    • You got to take it slow. Don’t keep walking continuously. I guess that’s the key we found. By taking rest at regular intervals, we were able to roam around almost full day

  38. PackYourBaguios

    I’ve only been to Florence once, and it was way too short of a visit. Next time, I want at least 3-4 days so I can explore the city.

    • Same here. Nothing less than 4 days to explore this beautiful city

  39. Congratulations for a beautifully written post. I could actually feel like I was walking along with you! I cant agree more with you that walking in a city lets you know the culture and heritage of the place more tid bits about the place. I love walking around the Among the various stops you mentioned, Uffizi gallery was the best one for me. May be because it was International Museum day yesterday.
    (Ambuj Saxena)

    • Totally agree with your thoughts Ambuj. There are some places where walking might be difficult. But I felt Europe is a pedestrian’s paradise 🙂 So, we must walk as much as possible here to enjoy our trip to the best

  40. This sounds like a lovely walking tour. I always prefer to walk places to explore them if possible, sometimes I’ll wing it and just see where I end up and sometimes I’ll pin points on google too and follow that. It’s definitely, in my opinion the best way to discover a place.

    • Totally agree. We did get lost at times, and we must admit that was also an enjoyable and adventurous part of the journey

  41. I LOVE walking tours! Agreed that they’re the best way to experience a city. All of the stops on this tour of Florence definitely seem worth going to, thanks for all of the detailed information, tips, and supplementary map!

    • Thanks Kim. Hope it helps others define their own tours conveniently.

  42. I totally loved Florence and with your walking tour sure brought back a lot of memories. So much better to do this when there isn’t many tourists. 🙂 Also a great base to visit towns like Pisa, Lucca and Siena

    • Sure Danik. Unfortunately we had only enough time to visit Pisa. But I guess we are not done with Florence itself, we will definitely visit there again and then cover all the beauty of Tuscany

  43. I love walking tours as I think it helps you to know a place thoroughly. Uffizi gallery looks too interesting. Loved your tips too!

  44. I loved reading about Boboli Garden and Uffizi Gallery. Just like you I and my husband love chalking up walking tours ourselves using google maps!

    • Thanks Tania. Great to know you also chalk out your walking tours

  45. I like all of the places that you have visited. I have not done a long walking tour like this on my own so this is a good source of inspiration. The structure of the Uffizi gallery is stunning. I would like to see the pieces of art and sculptures in this museum.

    • Sure Iza. You can use it when you plan to visit here. And do visit Uffizzi Gallery. It is a one of a kind museum

  46. I would love to do this walking tour just to enjoy the city at my own pace. I had no idea there were so many pickpockets in Florence so great tip in order to keep myself and belongings safe. It’s also a good idea to bring snacks so that you don’t spend a fortune on food.

    • Unfortunately there are a lot of pickpockets all over Italy and Paris, particularly in crowded tourist places. And they are very skilled in what they do. So, we always relied on a money belt

  47. CJ | Thirty30Courtney.com

    After a few walking tours, I decided that I would rather create my own with an itinerary I was interested in. I did the same thing in Florence and highly recommend the water intake!

    • Great to know that. I guess you enjoyed your walking tour so much

  48. Tips and map is most helpful in post. Florence is best explored on foot.
    great post.

    • Thanks Sapna! You are right. Florence is best explored on foot

  49. I am planning to go to Europe in 2018. Tips like these are very useful for me. I love walking tours. Walking by a river bank is my favourite. I have lovely memories of walking on a promenade next to a river in Thimphu, Bhutan.

    • Great to hear that. And good news for you Abhinav. More and more stories from our Europe trip are on the way.. hope even the rest of them will be quiet helpful for you to plan yours

  50. Arnav Mathur

    I agree, a city is best explored on foot. And when the city is as beautiful as Florence, who would mind the 5 KM walk. You must have booked your stay after proper research, as such marvelous places were just walking distance from your place.

    • Luckily, there are a lot of stay options in the old city of Florence. Once you search, you will be spoilt of options. But yes, the one we stayed in was definitely totally worth

  51. Haven’t been to Florence yet but when I will do – hopefully soon – I have the perfect guide for my trip! 🙂

  52. I like the fact that you made your own itinerary/walking tour – given that each traveler has different interests, it makes sense. As you rightly said, a tour to Europe would necessarily involve a lot of walking. It would be ideal to prepare in advance by walking a few km every day before embarking on the journey.

    • You are so right. That’s the part we missed doing and as a result we did feel exhausted on the first few days of our trip

  53. Wow such beautiful pictures,this place is beautiful.

  54. Glad to know you self-planned your walking tour in Florence. While we were in Italy and Paris, we too did a lot of walking and that was one way of getting to know their culture and also not to miss out on some of the unknown hidden gems. Your pics are nice and you seem to have enjoyed every bit of your walking tour. 🙂

    • Thanks Sandy N Vyjay. Definitely we had a great time. And we enjoyed every bit of it. Europe is all about walking. And sometimes even getting lost in the streets is an experience in itself

  55. Looks as though you covered a lot of ground on your walking tour of Florence. Handy tip on using the map even without network connectivity. I’m looking forward to hearing about your vegan dining experience in Florence – home to the famous bistecca alla Fiorentina – couldn’t have been easy to be veggie.

    • Thanks! Definitely there were not many vegetarian options around, but we got at least one item on menu in whatever region we went and that was sufficient. Soon writing about our experience with food on our Europe trip

  56. These pictures from Florence just look breathtakingly beautiful

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