By Jessica Russo
Ah, Florence - the birthplace of the Renaissance! Escape to the enchanting city of artistic masterpieces, winding stone streets, awe-inspiring architecture, and timeless foodie favorites.
There is so much to do in Florence; you won't know what to do first! Add these free things to your itinerary, so you can spend less money on sightseeing and more on pasta, gelato, and maybe a new leather jacket.
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Sacred structures of breathtaking beauty and peaceful quiet.
1. Duomo, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is overwhelmingly beautiful, inside and out. That being said, don't just stare from afar. Feel your eyes widen as you step inside the cathedral and marvel at its massive size and ornate style! **For a small fee, climb to the top, or "cupola," of Brunelleschi's famous dome and adjacent bell tower! Talk about amazing views...*
2. San Miniato al Monte
One of the most scenic churches in Italy? You bet! Step back in time and explore this stunning Romanesque church, nestled on a hill above Piazzale Michelangelo. Enjoy amazing views and experience a working monastery!
3. Basilica di Santa Croce
This beautiful church holds the tombs and monuments of many famous Florentines, including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and more. Inside the church, visit Dante's memorial and gawk at the stunning Giotto frescoes!
4. Santa Maria Novella
Become awestruck by the vibrant green and white marble facade of this 13th-15th-century monastical complex, comprised of romantic church cloisters and a frescoed chapel. This church is surrounded by a peaceful square filled with chic cafes and flower beds - the perfect place to relax!
For a small fee, head inside the church and discover artistic masterpieces by Giotto, Alberti, and more.
5. Church of Orsanmichele
Right in the center of Florence, you'll come across the stunning church of Orsanmichele. Admire its stone exterior, adorned with intricate statues, then step inside and take in the church's spectacular details.
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Florence! Experience postcard-worthy views, stroll through storybook-like gardens, and relax on gorgeous piazzas and bridges.
6. Piazzale Michelangelo
Ready to see the best view of the city?! Although it's a bit of an uphill hike to the top, Piazzale Michelangelo never, ever *disappoints. You *can take a bus or taxi up to the top, but walking means more adventure - and more pasta later. Take your next profile picture, stand in awe of the city's beauty, and watch the sunset as you sip on a glass of local wine at one of the piazzale's charming cafes.
7. Ponte Vecchio
Gaze out at the sparkling Arno River from one of the oldest and most iconic bridges in Italy! Walk along this shop-lined landmark and feast your eyes on a spectacular sunset.
For extra cool views, take a walk across the bridges that run parallel to the Ponte Vecchio (St. Trinity Bridge and Ponte alle Grazie). From those "less famous" bridges, take great photos of the Ponte Vecchio and watch the sun set behind it!
8. Rose Garden
Located just below Piazzale Michelangelo sits this oasis of tranquility, which boasts smaller crowds and spectacular views. Try to get there in the spring, when over 350 varieties of rose plants, lemon trees, and exotic Japanese plants are in full bloom!
9. Parco delle Cascine
Frolic through this monumental and historical park in the middle of Florence! This 160-hectare beauty is nestled right next to the Arno River - did someone say sunset picnic? Take a bike ride and explore!
10. Medici Villas
This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts gorgeous gardens, beautiful architecture, rich history, and sweeping city views. Nestled on the outskirts of Florence, this spot is perfect for a day away from the city bustle.
11. Iris Garden
Get lost in over 200 species of plants at this lush garden, located on the hills beside Piazzale Michelangelo. While it's only open for a limited time during the spring months, enjoy a countryside feel and beautiful views while you can!
12. Orticoltura Garden
Constructed in 1859, this gorgeous space boasts rolling green meadows, plush flowerbeds, and picturesque views of Florence.
13. Piazza della Signoria
Stroll around, people-watch, and enjoy a cappuccino at charming Piazza della Signoria, an L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio!
Souvenirs, food, and culture galore!
Bargain like a local, find some new leather goods, and become amazed at the eye-widening offerings of local food vendors. Stroll through maze-like markets and get lost in Florentine culture!
14. Leather Markets
Wander through leather markets and breathe in the smell of leathery goodness! Watch craftsmen make shoes, belts, handbags, and more. Looking won't cost you a dime - shopping, on the other hand - that one's on you.
15. Mercato Centrale
Calling all foodies! This indoor second-floor market is a haven of Italian specialties. From fresh fish dishes to hand-made pasta and pastries, you won't know what to eat first. Enjoy mouthwatering sights and smells for free, then consider treating yourself to a budget-friendly meal. Food markets are a great way to sample and try tons of small, reasonably-priced dishes.
16. San Lorenzo Market
Located right outside Mercato Centrale, discover the magic of the San Lorenzo Market. Flooded with vendors selling pottery, clothing, and leather goods, it's the perfect souvenir spot!
17. Officina Profumo/Famaceutica di Santa Maria Novella
This 14th-century perfumery, located around the corner from the church of Santa Maria Novella, has been a neighborhood gem since it was founded by monks in the 1300s. Wander around the old shop, enjoy beautiful frescoes throughout, and sniff your way through this perfume paradise.
18. Mercato Nuovo
Rub the boar's nose! What? Similar to throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, rubbing the nose of the wild boar statue at Mercato Nuovo claims to promise a return trip to Florence. Beyond the statue, this market is filled with tons of goods and souvenirs, so take a look around!
19. Le Cascine
Nestled in Florence's largest park, this massive market boasts anything and everything you could possibly want. From fresh meats and cheeses to flowers, house linens, gadgets, and shoes, this extraordinary market's got it all.
Say "hello" to the greats!
Who needs museums when the city of Florence is a work of art, itself?! Spot timeless masterpieces as you walk around!
20. Loggia dei Lanzi
Gawk at the sculpture display under the historic Loggia dei Lanzi. On the corner of the Piazza della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery, this landmark semi-museum features several statues that many museums wish they had in their collections. Walk right up!
21. Count the Davids!
While the "real" David statue lives in the Accademia Gallery ($), Florence is filled with tons of other Davids - okay - David replicas. Start at the bronze David in Piazzale Michelangelo, then stop at the next one in Piazza della Signoria. See how many you can find!
22. Fountain of Neptune
Situated on the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, this whimsical wonder was commissioned in 1565 and is the work of sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati. Enjoy some creamy gelato and take some selfies in front of the fountain!
"Ooh" and "ahh" your way through Florence.
While art and history flow throughout Florence, some of the city's best-kept secrets live inside its buildings and museums. Don't just admire what's in these buildings - take some time to admire the beauty of the buildings, themselves!
23. Oblate Library
This breathtaking public library, a former convent, boasts ornate decor, a rooftop terrace, and unbeatable views! Frolic through the library's gardens, sip an espresso at the 2nd floor cafe, and see the Duomo from an amazingly unique perspective.
24. Rodolfo Siviero Museum
Wander through the home of Rodolfo Siviero, a keen art collector (A.K.A. the "James Bond of the art-world"). See jaw-dropping ancient Roman works, medieval paintings, statues, Renaissance Baroque works, and much more.
25. Head back to University!
Take a stroll through Florence's famous university campuses: Florence University of the Arts and the University of Florence. Get lost in the beauty of these grand campuses, which will surely make you rethink your own academic experiences!
Soak up the soul of the city!
The famous sites and landmarks are great, and all, but the streets are filled with so much to see and do! Oh, how much you can learn from getting lost in a city like Florence.
26. Take a walking tour!
Follow the crowd at Santa Maria Novella train station and embark on a free walking tour! Arranged by local guides who genuinely love their city, this tips-only based service offers Renaissance Tours and Medici Family Tours - all you have to do is choose!
27. Admire street art
Save your euros and get to know Florence's open-air art museum! Popular street artists include Gec Art, Clet and Exit/Enter.
28. Listen to (and watch!) street performers
Most cities have street performers, but Florence's street performers are good. The quality of the performances - whether it be an accordion player or a painter - will make you stop and stare in awe. While you'll find these spectacles all over the city, the areas near the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, and Ponte Vecchio are especially packed to the brim with artists and musicians!
29. Villa Strozzi
This 16th-century villa, off Via Pisana in the Oltrarno, is known for its usually free cultural events, hosted nightly in the greenhouse. Monthly schedules boast a wide variety of music, theater, dance, and culinary happenings. Check it out!
30. Easy Living Beach
Located near San Niccolo, this sandy riverside spot serves as the city's version of a "seaside escape." Find lounge chairs, a volleyball court, cabanas, and tons of young city dwellers soaking up the sun. On weekends, dance to the music of local DJs or find your inner peace in a yoga session!