Florence is a city in Italy that is known for its art and architecture. It is also home to some of the most famous tourist attractions in the world, including Michelangelo’s statue of David and Duomo Florence. From its rich history and culture to delicious food and beautiful views, there are plenty of things to do in Florence.
Florence is perfect for travelers who want to experience what Italy has to offer. The city also comes alive after dark and there are plenty of bars and clubs to keep you entertained. Here are some of the best things to do in Florence.
Most Popular Thing to Do In Florence
Marvel At The Florence Cathedral
The Florence Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Firenze, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy. Sitting majestically in the heart of Florence, this Gothic-style cathedral is an architectural masterpiece. It is one of the largest cathedrals in the world and took over 140 years to build!
This is that distinctive dome that you will see in almost all postcard photos of Florence. You can’t visit Florence without seeing it up close.
You can explore the inside of the cathedral and climb to the top of its famous dome for panoramic views of Florence. If you want to avoid the crowds, it is best to visit early in the morning. Get a skip-the-line entry ticket for quicker access to this iconic attraction in Florence.
Popular Things To Do In Florence
Discover Masterpieces At Galleria dell’Accademia
The Accademia Gallery is one of the most popular museums in Florence and is a must-see for first-time visitors. It houses the original David by Michelangelo – which alone makes the visit worthwhile. The Accademia Gallery was opened in 1784 and contains a remarkable collection of Renaissance paintings as well as sculptures by Michelangelo.
The most famous artwork in the Accademia Gallery is undoubtedly the statue of David by Michelangelo. The original statue of David can be found here, as well as several other Michelangelo sculptures. You can also see a replica of the statue at the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio.
Due to its popularity, it is advisable to book priority tickets in advance or use a city pass that includes entrance to the museum.
Appreciate Art At Uffizi Palace and Gallery
One of the oldest and most famous art museums in the Western world, Uffizi Palace and Gallery is high on the things to see in Florence list. Housed in a grand 16th-century building, the Uffizi is one of the largest art museums in Italy with a collection of over two million pieces.
Even if you are not a big art lover, the Uffizi is worth a visit for the stunning architecture of the building and the incredible views of Florence from the rooftop.
That said, the museum can get extremely crowded, so it is best to book your tickets in advance. It will save you a lot of time. To avoid the crowds as much as possible, I would recommend going first thing in the morning or later in the evening. Keep in mind that the ticket office closes about 30 minutes before the museum’s closing time.
You can also get a guided tour with priority access that will give you more insights into the prominent museum pieces.
Visit Palazzo Vecchio
Vecchio is one of the most famous landmarks in Florence. This massive Gothic palace was the seat of government in Florence for centuries. It is now a museum that houses many important artworks, including a replica of Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture.
You can explore the palazzo on your own or do it with a video/audio guide. I highly recommend going for the latter as you will learn much more about the history and art of this place.
Climbing the bell tower is one of the most popular things to do in Florence. It is one of the oldest parts of the palace. Standing at 95 meters tall, the top of the tower offers stunning views of the city from its terrace.
Local Things To Do In Florence
Get A Taste Of Local Life In The Oltrarno District
The Oltrarno district is one of the most authentic and local areas of Florence. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno and is known for its excellent restaurants, cafes, and bars.
The Oltrarno district is the perfect place to get a taste of true Florentine life. It is less crowded than other parts of the city and has a more relaxed atmosphere.
There are plenty of things to see and do in the Oltrarno district, such as visiting the Santo Spirito Basilica, exploring the Boboli Gardens, or simply taking a stroll through the streets and soaking up the atmosphere.
The Oltrarno district is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city center and experience a more laid-back side of Florence.
Indulge In The Bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine Steak)
One of the best things to do in Florence is to try the local cuisine. And one of the most famous dishes in Florence is the bistecca Fiorentina, or Florentine steak. This dish is made with a thick cut of beef that is grilled over an open flame.
It is usually served rare or medium-rare and is often served with a side of polenta, pasta or even Tuscan beans. If you are looking for things to do in Florence that involve food, then this is definitely something you should try!
Florence is known for its steak and there are many great restaurants that serve this dish. A good Fiorentina steak has the meat simply melting in your mouth.
There are also plenty of other dishes that the region is famous for. It is no surprise that the many Florence food tours and experiences are popular among both European and international travelers.
Get Busy With A Pasta or Gelato Cooking Class
One of the best things about Florence is the food. And what better way to experience the city’s culinary delights than by taking a cooking class?
There are many different types of cooking classes available in Florence, but two of the most popular are pasta making and gelato making. These classes usually last around 2-3 hours and will teach you how to make either traditional Italian pasta or gelato from scratch.
Both pasta and gelato are iconic Italian foods, so taking a cooking class is a great way to learn more about the country’s cuisine. Plus, you get to eat your creations at the end of the class!
Indoor Things To Do In Florence
If you’re visiting Florence in the summer, then you’ll definitely want to escape the heat and head indoors to one of the world-renowned museums. Here are some popular things to do in Florence while staying away from the sun.
Check Out Palazzo Pitti
If you’re looking for a more traditional Italian art experience, then head over to Palazzo Pitti. This was the former home of the rulers of Florence and is now one of the largest museums in the city. It dates back to the 1400s and features beautiful Renaissance architecture.
The museum is made up of several smaller galleries, each with its own focus. You could easily spend a whole day here if you’re interested in art. It houses the works of many famous artists such as Raphael, Caravaggio, Vernonese, and Rubens. Grab a ticket online first so you can spend more time exploring the museum.
Admire Frescos And Tombs At Basilica di San Lorenzo
The Basilica di San Lorenzo is one of the largest churches in Florence and the official cathedral of the city. It is also the burial place of all the major members of the powerful Medici family.
The basilica sits in the city center and was constructed in 1419. While the Renaissance exterior of the basilica is rather plain, it’s worth going inside to see some incredible frescos by Giotto and Brunelleschi and the beautiful Medici Chapels.
Revisit History At Santa Maria Novella
One of the first things you notice when arriving in Florence by train is the magnificent Santa Maria Novella, one of the city’s most iconic churches. The church was built in the 13th century and features a beautiful façade that is decorated with marble and intricate details. It rocks a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and Romanesque styles.
While the exterior of Santa Maria Novella is impressive, the real highlight is the interior of the church, which is filled with masterpieces by Brunelleschi, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Masaccio. Marvel at the Gothic and Renaissance architecture, and then take a trip back in time inside.
Get Curious At Leonardo Interactive Museum
The Leonardo Interactive Museum is one of the most unique and interesting museums in Florence. This museum is dedicated to the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most famous painters, inventors, and scientists of all time.
The museum uses cutting-edge technology to bring Leonardo’s inventions to life and allows visitors to experience his world in a totally new way.
There are also sections of the museum for interactive workshops and you can even see some of his geographical drawings. The Leonardo Interactive Museum makes for a fun activity, particularly for anyone who wants to learn more about this incredible legend and his life’s work.
Climb Giotto’s Campanile for a Breathtaking View
If you are visiting Florence, then this is a must-do activity. The climb may be a little bit tiring, but the view from the top of Giotto’s Campanile is definitely worth it!
Located in Piazza del Duomo, this bell tower was built in 1334 and is one of the symbols of the city. Climb to the top (there are 414 steps in total) and enjoy the stunning 360-degree view of Florence!
If you want to avoid the long queues, I suggest buying your ticket online in advance. You can also do a combined tour that includes the climb up to Giotto’s Campanile, the entrance to the Baptistery, and the Cathedral Museum.
Explore The Vasari Corridor
The Vasari Corridor is a secret passage that connects Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti. It was built in the 16th century by Giorgio Vasari and it is about 1.5 km long!
This corridor is not open to the public due to security reasons. However, you can visit it by joining a professionally guided tour. The tour starts at Palazzo Vecchio and takes you through the secret passage, which is decorated with rare paintings from 16th century and self-portraits of famous artists. After the tour, you can visit the Boboli Gardens, which are located behind Palazzo Pitti.
Check Out The Brancacci Chapel
The Brancacci Chapel is located in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine. It is famous for its frescoes, which were commissioned by Felice Brancacci, and painted by Masaccio and his followers.
These frescoes depict scenes from the life of Saint Peter and are some of the finest examples of early Renaissance art. In fact, it is often considered a masterpiece of renaissance painting.
While this chapel might not be as famous as others in the city, a look at the impressive frescos makes it worth a visit. The chapel is open to the public and is one of the best things to do in Florence if you are interested in art.
Explore Santa Croce Basilica And Museum
The Santa Croce Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world and a must-visit for anyone interested in religious history or art. Construction of the basilica dates way back to 1294, and now features a bright facade with Italian Gothic architecture style.
A final resting place for some of the most famous Italians in history, such as Michelangelo, Rossini, and Galileo, the basilica is also known for its beautiful frescos and intricate architecture.
You can get a skip-the-line ticket to the basilica to access areas including the Pazzi Chapel and the cloisters. Florence is home to many beautiful churches, but the Santa Croce Basilica is definitely one of the most impressive.
Outdoor Things To Do In Florence
Relax At The Boboli Gardens
The massive Boboli Gardens is one of the first and largest landscaped public parks in Europe. It is located behind the Pitti Palace, which was the main residence of the Medici family in Florence. The garden is beautiful all year round but I would say that late Spring to early Fall would be the best time to visit.
You can immerse in nature, take a stroll and simply relax here. If you want to learn more about the garden and its history, there are free guided tours available in English every Thursday at 10 am. Be sure to check the tour schedule in advance as it is subject to change.
Access to the Boboli Gardens requires a ticket and you can get it online to save time.
Check Out Florence On A Vespa Tour
If you want to see Florence in a unique way, then consider taking a Vespa tour. You will be able to zip around the city on your own two-wheeled vehicle and see all the sights.
There are a few different companies that offer Vespa tours in Florence and they all have slightly different routes. However, some of the places you are likely to see on a Vespa tour include the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and Palazzo Pitti. Many tours will even take you out of the city to explore the surrounding countryside like the Chianti countryside.
A Vespa tour is a great way to see Florence in a short space of time while riding an iconic symbol of Italy.
Get Views At San Miniato al Monte
One of the best things to do in Florence is to go up to San Miniato al Monte and enjoy views of the city from above. This church is located on a hill just outside the city center. From San Miniato, you can see all of Florence spread out before you. It is a great place to come for some peace and quiet and to take in the beauty of this historic city.
That said, the colorful Abbey exterior is also not to be missed. San Miniato is one of the most beautiful churches in Florence and is certainly worth the visit.
If you are feeling energetic, you can walk up to San Miniato al Monte. It takes about 30 minutes from the Duomo. Or you can take a bus from Florence if you don’t want to walk.
Take a Wine Tasting Tour
If you love wine, then you will definitely enjoy taking a wine tour from Florence. There are many vineyards located in the Tuscan countryside, just a short drive from the city.
On a wine tour, you will get to visit a local winery, learn about the wine-making process, and of course, taste some delicious Tuscan wines. Some of the tours also include food, giving you a taste of the local cuisine. This is a great way to experience the true Italian lifestyle and learn about one of Italy’s most famous products.
Experience Florence From The Waters On River Arno
One of the best things to do in Florence is to take a boat ride down the River Arno. This is a great way to see the city from a different perspective and get some fresh air.
There are various boat tour companies that operate in Florence and you can choose from a variety of different routes. Some of the most popular include the sunset cruise, which is a great way to end the day. There are also options to rent a row boat and do some rowing yourself!
Whichever boat tour you choose, it is a different experience to enjoy Florence from the waters of Arno. Remember to choose a good weather day!
Cheap and Free Things To Do In Florence
Explore The Historic Center of Florence
The historic center of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is not hard to see why. From the Duomo to Palazzo Vecchio, there are so many things to see and do here. You could easily spend a few days exploring this area.
Some of the top landmarks in the historic center include the Duomo, Baptistery, Palazzo Vecchio, and Ponte Vecchio. You can also find the Uffizi Gallery here, which is one of the most famous art museums in the world. Most of these museums are pretty affordable and you can find yourself spending some time there.
That said, you can also just walk around the district and soak in the Italian vibe, although it does get very touristy during peak season.
If you want to learn more about the history and culture of Florence, consider taking a guided tour. This is a great way to see the main sights and learn about the city’s rich past.
Examine Statues At Loggia dei Lanzi
Loggia dei Lanzi is an open-air gallery that is located in the heart of Florence. It is home to several famous statues, including Perseus with the head of Medusa and Rape of the Sabine Women.
This is a great place to come if you love art and want to see some of Florence’s most famous sculptures. It is also a popular spot for people watching, as it is located in a busy area of the city.
Loggia dei Lanzi is free to enter and is open every day. It is one of the best things to do in Florence if you are looking for things to do that are cultural and historical.
Trigger Your Senses At Officina Profumo Santa Maria Novella
Officina Profumo Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. It is located in a beautiful building that dates back to the 13th century.
The pharmacy sells a variety of products, including perfumes, soaps, and lotions. It feels as much like a museum as it is a shop. The plethora of products and smells on offer, together with the classic interior decoration makes it a unique experience itself.
If you are looking for things to do in Florence that are a little bit different, then this is definitely the place to go. It is not just a place for shopping and you should certainly check it out even if you have no intention of buying anything. It is a great place to learn about the history of perfume making and sample some of the products. You can also buy some of their products online.
Don’t Miss The View From Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio is the oldest and probably the most famous bridge in Florence. It is also one of the few bridges that survived World War II. The bridge spans the Arno River and is lined with jewelry shops.
You can get a great view of the river and the surrounding area from Ponte Vecchio. However, you also certainly want to step out to see the bridge from afar; this is where you can get the best photo of Ponte Vecchio. The colorful houses on the bridge along with the historic architecture make for a great contrast against the blue sky.
Catch The Sunset From Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the best vantage points in Florence from which to admire a breathtaking panorama of the city. Situated just south of the River Arno, the piazza was designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi and built in 1869.
From Piazzale Michelangelo, you can see some of Florence’s most famous landmarks, such as the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, and the Ponte Vecchio. The best time to visit is at sunset when the city is lit up by the setting sun.
Piazzale Michelangelo is a must-visit for anyone who wants to get a true sense of just how beautiful Florence is. There are no fees to enter the piazza and it is open 24 hours a day.
Things To Do Near Florence
Take a Day Trip to Pisa
Pisa is located just an hour away from Florence by train. This is the perfect day trip if you want to see another famous city in Italy without having to travel too far.
Pisa is best known for its iconic Leaning Tower, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy. The tower is located in the Piazza dei Miracoli, which is also home to the Pisa Cathedral and the Baptistery.
You can climb to the top of the tower (if you are not afraid of heights) and enjoy panoramic views of Pisa and its surroundings. If you want to avoid the queues, I suggest buying your ticket online in advance.
Apart from the Leaning Tower, there are also many other things to see and do in Pisa. You can explore the historic center, visit the museums, or simply stroll around and enjoy the Italian atmosphere.
Discover Colorful Villages In Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. This region is composed of five picturesque villages that are located along the coast.
The villages are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. They are all connected by a network of hiking trails and a train line.
The best way to explore Cinque Terre is by taking the train from one village to the next and then hiking the trails in between. This is a great way to see the stunning coastline and enjoy some of the most breathtaking views in Italy.
Cinque Terre is one of the most popular day trips from Florence. So if you are looking for things to do outside of the city, this is a great option.
Where To Stay In Florence
As a tourist hotspot, there are many options from airbnb to hostels and hotels in Florence. If you are wondering where to stay in Florence, here are some well rated accommodations in Florence for all budget ranges.
Hostels In Florence
Archi Rossi Hostel: Located just a few minutes walk from the main train station, this family owned hostel has a fun, comfortable atmosphere. It has various spacious common areas that is great for mingling with other travelers. > Check Accommodation Prices
YellowSquare Florence: Housed in a newly renovted building with neat, trendy, modern design. This is almost like a coliving space that is good even if you are looking for a longer stay. The accommodation offers many activities like cooking classes, yoga sessions and more. There is even a rooftop pool. > Check Accommodation Prices
Mid Range Accommodations in Florence
Arte’ Boutique Hotel: If you are looking for a unique artistic hotel, consider the Arte’ boutique hotel. The accommodation features bright and interesting interior decor and layouts. There is also a relaxing terrace with views of the city. It is very near to top attractions like Accademia Gallery and Florence. > Check Accommodation Prices
Hotel Davanzati: Centrally located 3 star hotel that is close to many attractions in Florence. Makes it easy to get around while having a nice accommodation with old school charms for a convenient and relaxing vacation. > Check Accommodation Prices
c-hotels Ambasciatori: Elegant 4 star hotel with clean and modern interior design. It is in the historic center near Santa Maria Novella, market as well as bus and train stations. The hotel also features business amenities perfect for the modern traveler. > Check Accommodation Prices
Luxury Accommodations in Florence
Hotel Bernini Palace: 5 star hotel located in the heart of Florence. The hotel is a 15th century building with classy interior decoration that features glass chandeliers and classic style furnitures. There is even a spacious terrace to relax and soak in some views. > Check Accommodation Prices
NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa: From the trusted international brand NH collection, this hotel is perfectly located in the city center. It is also very near the Ponte Vecchio and even features a 12 century Monalda Tower. It has all the typical amenities you can expect and also a buffet breakfast option. > Check Accommodation Prices
Getting Around Attractions In Florence
Florence is a small city and most of the attractions are located in the historic center. This means that they are all within walking distance of each other.
However, if you don’t want to walk, there are also many other options for getting around. You can take the bus or the tram. There are also plenty of other interesting options like doing an eco-friendly golf cart tour or doing a Vespa tour.
Similar to many popular tourist cities in Europe, Florence also has hop-on-hop-off buses that take you around the major attractions in the city. You can get your ticket in advance.
Florence Airport Transfer
Florence airport (IATA: FLR) is located about 5 kilometers outside of the city center. There are a few different options for getting from the Florence airport to the city center.
The most common way is by the shuttle tram that goes from the airport to a stop just near the central station. It costs around €1.50 one way and runs pretty frequently every 5-10 minutes.
Another option is to take the bus. The bus stop is located outside of the airport terminal and the journey takes about 20-30 minutes. Buses run every 30 minutes and take you near Santa Maria Novella station.
If you don’t want to wait for the bus, you can also take a taxi. Taxis are available 24 hours. You can also book a private airport transfer for maximum convenience.
Discovering Things to Do in Florence, Italy
Florence is one of the top cities in Italy for travelers and for good reason. The beautiful city offers tons of history and culture that are bound to make a fun vacation. There are so many things to see and do in Florence, that it can be difficult to know where to start. However, these are just some of the main attractions and things to see in Florence, especially if you are visiting for the first time.
As you bound around the Italian city, I am sure you will discover even more highlights, local secrets, and hidden things to do in Florence.
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