After 3 days of exploring the city of Florence, we were tired of the crowds. The non-stop stream of tourists with their selfie sticks and the street vendors selling them. We had seen the Uffizi and the Accademia museum in Florence and we had explored the Duomo inside and out. We explored all the famous sights of Florence and discovered little hidden gems around the city. Now it was time to take a walking route around Florence.
We decided it was time to get out for some fresh air and we wanted to get away from the centre. Our main goal was the vantage point of the Piazzale Michelangelo with the replica of David. This point is famous for the sweeping views over the Arno River and the city beneath your feet. We wanted to see it.
I thought the walk was amazing and it showed some quite corners of Florence. That’s why I’d like to share this walking route around Florence with you! Do you like hiking or walking? Probing around the globe on foot? Strap on your hiking boots and follow me!
Read more: Free walking tour vs paid tour of Prague.
I’d like to take you with me from start to finish on this walking route around Florence. I’ll give you information about where to go and what you’ll see along the way. And the best thing is: it’s free! Yea, who doesn’t like a little freebie thrown your way every now and then?
Want the freebie? Click on the image below and you’ll receive a code to download the file.
The starting point is the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence. We had already explored it on previous days and the bridge is truly a famous icon of the city. It’s a great starting point for our walking route around Florence, as you can easily find it. You can start at any hour of the day, although I recommend starting an hour before sun set.
Start point: Ponte Vecchio Bridge, Florence
The bridge crosses the River Arno and you can browse around the little shops that are on the bridge or start the walk straight away.
Towards the Forte Belvedere
Cross the bridge towards the south bank of the river. You walk straight for a few meters until you’ll find the Santa Felicita church on your left side. This is one of the oldest churches in town. You can already stop for ice cream or explore the church.
There’s a little side street, left of the church and the square called “Piazza Santa Felicita”. You need to take this street. It will bring you towards the larger Costa S. Giorgio Street.
As soon as you’ll reach this street you notice two things:
#1 It goes up
# 2 The noise and the crowds vanish
The further you walk down the street, the steeper it gets and the fewer people you’ll see. This street is packed with old little houses and picturesque court yards. At number 84 you’ll find a house with a sign which reminds of Siena’s sculptor Giovanni Dupré.
At number 19, you’ll find the home of Galileo Galilei. So you’ll walk in good company. If needed, take a breather and check out the views over the roofs of Florence. You’ll keep following the Costa S. Giorgio Street until you reach the gate and a cross roads. You have reached the Belvedere Fortress.
San Giorgio Gate
The gate was a little surprise for us. We knew we were heading out of town, but didn’t expect to actually leave the old town. The San Giorgio Gate was built in 1324 AD. On the outside you’ll see double arches with a bas-relief of Saint George who kills the Dragon. On the inside you’ll see a colourful fresco depicting a Madonna.
Forte di Belvedere
The Belvedere Fort is a nice moment to rest for a bit. This fortification was built in the 16th century and used to protect the city and the Medici family. Now it’s a monument but mostly famous as the highest hill of the Boboli gardens and provides great views of the city.
When we were there, the fort was closed. But we did walk around it and peeked in the Boboli gardens and searched for a glimpse of the city beneath us. At this moment it still remains closed for the public, but this might change in the future. If Kim Kardashian and Kanya West can rent the place for their 2014 wedding, it might be accessible for all of us one day.
Walking route around Florence
We walked back to the cross roads and took the left street. This street is called Via di Belvedere and we walked into rural Florence. At least that’s what it felt like. We tried to walk in the shade and greeted the few other people we’ve met along the way.
The road goes slightly down again and we walked along the city walls. I must admit we did saw a lot of litter, so we suspected we passed the homes of a few homeless people, so I do not advice to walk this part in the evening.
On your left is the city wall and on the right you’ll see green patches of land with lots and lots of trees. The smells of the trees were amazing at the time. You’ll keep walking until you reach the next gate in the wall.
San Miniato Gate
The next gate you’ll reach is the San Miniato Gate. The gate was built in 1320 AD. Near the doors, you’ll find the two coats of arms of the city of Florence: the Lily and the Cross.
The gate is at the start of the climb up to the Piazzale Michelangelo and at the end of the road, you’ll find the church of San Miniato al Monte.
At this moment, you’ll find yourself among the crowds again. Just follow them up the hill as you follow the Via del Monta alle Croci. You start to climb again.
You can now follow the road towards the San Miniato on top of the hill, or take the steps and walk straight to the vantage point of the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Rose Garden – Giardino delle Rose
As I was getting quite tired and was no way near fit enough to do any more climbing, we decided to take the short cut and climbed up the steps. It was already later in the afternoon and it looked like rain was coming.
We took a little breather from climbing the steps in the Rose Garden. These terraces are built according to French example in the 19th century. Opened in 1895, the garden now has over 1.000 botanical plants. You can visit it until July 31th for free. And you can catch your breath from all the climbing. Check out this post about the Rose Garden by Georgette from GirlinFlorence.
Highest point of your walking route around Florence
We continued up on the steps and soon we found ourselves at the Piazzale Michelangelo. Michelangelo’s square with a replica of the David overlooking the city. There is a restaurant and public restrooms (they were expensive! But much needed) and there are hordes of tourists again.
You can settle on one of the benches overlooking the river and the city, take the obligatory selfie or try to get a good price from one of the street vendors.
We really loved the views up there. You look down on the Arno River and it had a romantic feel to it. Or maybe that’s because a couple was taking their wedding pictures at the spot. After seeing the Duomo from upclose, inside and out, it’s an nice extra way to explore the Duomo from a distance.
As this point, you can either take a bus back to town or walk further and walk to the city. We decided to walk down.
Walking down from Michelangelo’s Square
As we entered the square from the west, we descended at the east. There are many staircases and steps and all end at the same point: down the hill.
Do not take the main road down though. First because it’s dangerous with all the cars, busses and cyclists on it and secondly because it’s a detour.
You can easily follow the steps down and you walk along the unwinding Viale Giuseppe Poggi. There are signs which you can easily follow.
Down by the River Arno
Once you get down from the hill, you reach the Piazza Giuseppe Poggi and you’ll see the San Niccolò tower. This tower is Florence’s tallest still standing tower and it used to be part of the city walls and entrance gate.
From June till September, from 5 pm till 8 pm you can access and climb the tower. You need to pay an admission fee (€4) but this provides you with more sweeping views of the Arno River and the city.
End of the walking route around Florence
As you reach the River Arno again, you can basically go anywhere you’d like from here. If you want to come full circle, you need to continue along the river.
Walk along the Lungarno Serristori Street or try one of the little streets. Watch the water of the River Arno flow or marvel at one of the majestic houses along the street.
In the end, you’ll reach the Ponte Vecchio again and have completed the 4 km/ 2,8 mile walking route around Florence. It took us roughly 2.5 hours to complete it, but we needed some time to catch our breath and look around. You can do it in under an hour or take all day.
Free Walking Route Around Florence: Download now
I hope you enjoyed our little walk around the city together. If you’re interested in seeing another side of Florence and take this walking route around Florence, make sure to download the route from here. Just fill out the details and you’ll have access to the map; the points of interest and you can store it on your mobile device or tablet and take it with you when you go to Florence. And guess what? It’s all free.