Florence is arguably one of Italy’s most beautiful cities. It is filled with incredible architecture, great food and historic significance that will keep your attention for days. There are so many things to do and see in Florence, it’s almost certain that you will need more than one visit. Florence is home to many famous artists, including Donatello and Niccolo Machiavelli. It is easy to see why Florence should be on your bucket-list.
Top Things to Do In Florence
It can be difficult to choose the best things to do when you have so many options. No matter if you’re an art lover or a foodie, history buff, or simply love beautiful cities, this guide will help to find the best places to visit based on your interests. There is something for everyone, I promise. These are the top Florence attractions.
Piazza del Duomo
The Duomo is Florence’s most famous building. The Piazza del Duomo, located in the historic center of Florence is a must-see. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of Saint Mary), is right in the Piazza. It is certainly one of Italy’s most recognizable sights with the immense dome towering overhead.
The Piazza del Duomo is a meeting place, a shopping center, and a spot to grab a bite to eat or a glass of wine as you take in the surrounding views of Ciott’s Campanile, the Duomo, and the Baptistery. Avoid the crowds by going early in the morning.
Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral)
The Florence Cathedral is a must-see during a visit to Florence. It is the city’s crown jewel. It is also known simply as The Duomo. This is a must-see attraction in Florence. You can take a walk around the white marble structure, which is 360 degrees in diameter. It was once the largest dome in the entire world. Make sure to climb up its 463 steps for panoramic views of the old city center or head over to Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower) for views of the Duomo itself.
The Duomo is Florence’s most central and popular site. So make sure you book your timed entrance to the cathedral dome. Get your entry ticketsYou can climb all the ways to the cupola at the cathedral from the Duomo. Enjoy the breathtaking views of Florence from the Dome, including the stained glass windows, marble floors, vaulted ceilings, and frescoes.
Giottos Campanile stands adjacent to the Florence Cathedral and the Baptistry of St. John. This free-standing structure stands 84.7 meters (277.9 ft) high and was designed by Italian painter and architect, Giotti in 1334. It is a stunning tower that towers high above the city. It is not only possible to climb it, but you can also admire it from the ground or from the Duomo.
The Corridoio Vasariano, which has been closed since 2016, will reopen to visitors in 2022. The Corridoio Vasariano was built in 1500 and was used by the Medici family as a way to get to Ponte Vecchio. The wealthy did not interact with the less fortunate and had their own walkways.
The enclosed corridor above Florence starts at the Uffizi Gallery. It continues along the Arno River to Ponte Vecchio, where it reaches the Medicean Gardens in Boboli and the Grand Ducal abode of Pitti Palace. It will be open again in 2022 and fully accessible with air conditioning. This will be a stunning attraction in Florence that makes me want to return just to see it.
Palazzo Vecchio overlooks Piazza dell Signoria and is one of our favourite spots in Florence. With a 300-foot high bell tower, you can’t miss finding Palazzo Vecchio as it looms over the city of Florence. The archeological site sits atop old Roman ruins and was once the Florence town hall and palace of the Signoria of the Republic of Florence.
Don’t miss going into the impressive Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred) showcasing beautiful frescoes and painted ceilings. While visiting Palazzo Vecchio you’ll find secret routes worthy of a Dan Brown novel and you can even go underground to the basement to see the Roman foundations.
Your tiYou can enter Palazzo Vecchio Museum by using cket private apartments, the Hall of Maps and Torre di Arnolfo” or Arnolfo’s tower where you can climb its 416 steps for breathtaking views of the city. This guided tour will help you avoid the lines
Piazza della Signoria
Piazzale della Signoria, which is located next to Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, is one the most beautiful squares. Piazza Della Signoria is the ideal place to start your Florence tour. There are many top sights located there. Palazzo Vecchio, Loggia Della Signoria, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Palace of the Tribunale Della Mercanzia all are located in close proximity. It is also a great place to enjoy delicious Italian food such as pizza, tiramisu and pannacotta. If you don’t feel like eating, you can just stay in Piazzale Della Signoria for a while in one of the romantic cafes and watch the people passing by.
It is also here that you’ll see a marvelous replica of Michelangelo’s David. The original David actually used to stand here, but he was moved to the Accademia Gallery to protect the masterpiece. It’s a good thing because today, vendors surround this David statue. See more: Walking Tour of Florence – A Tale of Two Davids
Take a guided tour through Florence
Guided tours are one of the best ways to see Florence. We took two tours while we were in Florence and they were a great way to learn about Florentine history as well as to see the sights. A walking tour is a great way of exploring the city center. However, a driver with a local expert will allow you to see more in less time. It can be overwhelming to see so many museums and historic buildings.
This guided tour will take you to Florence at sunset, with a Tuscan meal. Your driver will take you to Ponte Vecchio, Piazzale Michelangelo, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistery and its Gates of Paradise, and more. You’ll then Let your expert guide lead you through historical paths to admire Piazza Della Signoria to see the imposing Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia Dei Lanzi. Enjoy an authentic Italian dinner at a Tuscan-style local restaurant at the conclusion of the tour. You can find more information here.
One of the most famous bridges in the world doesn’t fail to impress visitors as it looks like from a fairy tale. The Ponte Vecchio spans River Arno. No trip to Florence would be complete without crossing this iconic bridge. The Vecchio bridge, dating back to 1345, is Florence’s oldest bridge.
It was the only bridge left standing after World War II. This makes it one of the most popular things to do in Florence. The bridge is divided into two levels. However, the upper floor is closed and only opened for special events about once or twice a calendar year. You can also find shops on the lower level, where you will be able to buy silver. Florence isn’t the only beautiful city in Europe: Check out our list of The Most Beautiful Cities in Europe
One of the best views of Florence for sunset is the Piazzale Michelangelo where you’ll find a huge replica of Michelangelo’s David. You can either walk up the hill, or take a bus to the top. We walked the whole way from Piazza della Signoria to Piazzale Michelangelo, taking Ponte Vecchio over the Arno river. It took only half an hour, and it was a great way to explore more parts of the city. Make sure you stop at the Rose Garden as you travel down, especially in May and June when the roses will be in full bloom.
This is a unique way of visiting Florence Book this Vespa Tour of Florence. On this trip, you’ll make your way from Piazza San Marco to Piazza Michelangelo on a vintage Vespa. Enjoy the stunning views of the dome, River Arno, and the entire route. After a stop at Piazza Michelangelo, it’s then on San Miniato Abbey to see the beautiful historic cemetery, which is famous for its Medieval history. You can find more information here.
Basilica San Miniato al Monte
The church is stunning from both the inside and outside. It’s situated at the highest point of the city, so the view from the top is really breathtaking. Piazzale Michelangelo has the basilica San Miniato al Monte, so if you visit David overlooking Florence, make sure to stop by. It is a great example of Romanesque architecture in Italy and Europe.
When thinking of top things to see in Florence, many people think that witnessing The Statue of David is the most important. Well, The Galleria Dell’Accademia is the place where you’ll find the one and only Statue of David. Because there are actually three statues to David in Florence, I only say one. Find out where the two other ones are located here
The statue depicts David naked in the Bible. It is considered to be the world’s greatest sculpture. If the crowds are anything to go by, I’d say that is right! You can’t miss it, a crowd of people surrounds this iconic work of art that attracts as many crowds as the Mona Lisa painting in the Louvre or Sistine Chapel in the Vatican city.
The Accademia Gallery has a lot more to it than Michelangelo’s David though, It houses other great Italian and Renaissance art by the likes of Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, Allessando Allori and Orcagna
Basilica di Santa Croce
Basilica Di Santa Croce is another beautiful church in Florence. It’s the place where some of the most famous Italians were buried. Galileo, Michaelangelo and Machiavelli are buried here. These people have made a significant impact on the history of the world. It is a great honor to be able give them proper recognition while you are in Florence, Italy.
Stop by the Scuola Del Cuoio while you are at Santa Croce. Florence is known to have many leather shops to buy quality leather and the Scuola del Cuoio is the largest and most famous leather school in Florence where you can buy quality leather goods.
The Uffizi Gallery is a wonderful place to spend hours. This museum has so many things to see, you could easily spend hours in it. This museum showcases the best of Renaissance Art. The collection features famous artists like Botticelli and Da Vinci. Starting from Venus from Urbino and finishing on Botticelli’s Primavera you won’t forget your visit.
MaPrebook your timed admission ticket To make the most of your visit, we recommend booking a private guide. And we suggest booking a private guide to make sure you don’t miss the best pieces of Renaissance Art with your licensed guide. You can tell your guide who you would like to see, such as Botticelli, Michelangelo or Da Vinci.Find out more.
Basilica di San Lorenzo
Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence is the oldest, dating back to 393 AD. It was once the main cathedral and then became the main parish Church for the Medici families. It is unassuming from the outside, but make sure to go inside to see its cloisters overlooking the gardens, the crypt where you’ll see the final resting place of Donatello, the interior of the church, and the Medici Chapels.
It can be difficult choosing which museum to visit in Florence. If in doubt, pick the largest. Palazzo Pitti is one of Florence’s biggest Museums where you can walk through the former residence of the Medici. It is a large complex that can be found on the Arno river. There are several galleries to explore, including The Gallery of Modern Art and The Costume Gallery. Inside you’ll see works of art by Italian icons such as Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, Pietro da Cortona, and Rubens.
The beautiful Boboli Gardens were designed by the Medici Family and are located right behind Pitti Palace. Boboli Gardens are a stunning display of greenery with fountains, grottos, statues, and other renaissance elements. It’s a stunning garden that is more like an open-air museum. Don’t miss seeing the Grotta del Buontalenti which is an artificial caves complete with stalactites and stalagmites. You can book timed entry tickets that give you access to Boboli Gardens and Bardini Gardens as well as Grotta del Buontalenti.
Piazza della Repubblica
Piazza Della Repubblica, which marks the center of Florence, is one of the main squares. Although the Square has been around since Roman Times, it was once home to the Jewish Ghetto. However, it has seen many changes over the years. It is the perfect place to grab an espresso at either Caffé Gilli, Caffé Paskowski or Caffé delle Giubbe Rosse. You can either people-watch here or enjoy a street performance. There is also a carousel, and the column of Abundance.
A Vespa tour through the Tuscan countryside from Florence is a great way to discover unique things to do. Driving a Vespa through the streets of Italy is something that says it all. You will follow your tour leader as you travel along the Arno river to the quiet roads in Tuscany. On your way out you’ll stop at one of the oldest churches in Florence and stop for a view of the Florence Skyline. It’s then on to the hills for sightseeing and a stop to eat some of Tuscany’s best prosciutto and cheese with a glass of Chianti. More information about this highly rated tour here.
Take a Tuscan Wine Tour
Book a food tour to experience the best of Tuscany. Florence is located in central Italy’s Tuscan region. Do you know what that means, too? Excellent wine! Book this tour of Chianti Wineries Tour with Food and Wine Tasting where you’ll visit vineyards to sample local wines. You can choose up to five wines from each wine! Learn more about the winemaking process, and what it takes for Chianti Classico to be classified. After that, enjoy some wine, cheese and bread with olive oil. My mouth is watering. More details here
If you don’t want to leave the city, this Florence wine tour takes you on a walking tour through Florence where you’ll enjoy tasting glasses of both white and red wines. Each glass of wine is paired with special snacks, and local crostini. Enjoy a glass with your wine after the tasting session.
Florence Street Food Tour
Italy’s delicious food is something you must try. You can take a street food tour to discover the best street food in the city. Local favorites to try are schiacciata with balsamic vinegar, cantuccini, fresh homemade pasta, traditional pappa al Pomodoro, and more. It may not be on the menu, but when we visited Florence, we couldn’t get enough of the gelato. During this tour, you’ll also visit a local market. You can find more information here.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower in Pisa is a popular day trip from Florence. Many people will tell you not to visit Pisa. But we loved our time in Pisa. We recommend staying the night to make the most out of your trip.
Where to Stay in Florence, Italy
The Duomo / Piazza Della Signoria
For your first trip to Florence, the Duomo is a great choice. The Duomo neighborhood is centrally located and is a great spot to stay in Florence for museums and sightseeing. It is near the Piazza della Signoria. You can also walk to all the museums and cobblestone streets close to the Ponte Vecchio.
Hotel Bernini PalaceIt is one of the most highly rated luxury 5-star hotels in Florence. 15th century building with rooms featuring Murano-glass chandeliers. Only minutes from all the major attractions. Check out Availability & Prices on TripAdvisor and Booking.com
Uffizi Harmony – This is a great hotel for an affordable stay for its central location next to Piazza Della Signoria square and the Uffizi Gallery. Check out Availability & Prices TripAdvisor or Booking.com
San Lorenzo And Santa Maria Novella
Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo, and Santa Maria Novella are the best areas to shop in Florence. It is close to the Central train Station. Basilica Of Santa Maria Novella
Grand Amore Hotel SpaThis elegant hotel is located in central London. The hotel offers a lounge bar, a wellness center, and select rooms with cathedral views. Check out Availability & Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com
B&B Lorenzo de’Medici – Cozy option in the heart of the San Lorenzo district. The rooms include a desk, some with a kitchenette. Every morning, a continental and/or an Italian breakfast are served. Check out Availability & Prices on TripAdvisor or Bookiing.com
Santa Croce is a great spot to stay in Florence. It allows you to feel like a local, while still being close enough to the center and easy to walk to. This area is home to some of the best bars, restaurants, architecture, and nightlife within the city. This neighborhood is close by Piazza Santa Croce. You can also wander amongst the famous tombs reknowned Italians.
La Maison du Sage – Luxurious and elegant bed & breakfast right next to Santa Croce Basilica. Check out Availability & Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com
Benci House – Near Palazzo Vecchio, featuring an on-site restaurant and a beautiful terrace that looks over Bardini Garden. Availability & Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com
How to Get to Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy is easily reached by flying into Rome and Milan and then taking the train to the main station.
Pisa also has an airport international that you can fly into, and then take the bus from Florence. If flying from within Europe, some airlines fly into Florence’s Amerigo Vespucci Airport.
Most people arrive by train in Florence. Canta Maria Novella, the Main Railway Station. The Duomo is a 10-minute walk away, and it takes 20 minutes to reach Piazza Della Signoria or the Uffizi. It is one of Italy’s busiest train stations.
Fun fact, the train station got its name from the Basilica Of Santa Maria Novella which is located across the piazza.
These are the top things to do in Florence. It is no surprise that Florence is one the most visited cities of Italy. It is home to many beautiful works of architecture and art, making a trip to Florence a memorable experience.