By Dana Perkiss
Iconic for being one of the most artistic and historical cities in the world, Florence is by far one of the best cities to visit in Italy. As the pinnacle of Italian excellence, the Tuscan capital can’t help but to captivate visitors with its timeless allure.
Whether you’re embarking on a grand adventure or just taking a quick day trip to Florence, the city is bursting with a tapestry of unforgettable experiences. From fascinating museums and ancient marvels to enchanting gardens and exquisite cuisine, check out this list of the best things to do in Florence!
If you’re wondering what to do in Florence, venture out to discover the timeless allure of the iconic Ponte Vecchio. Spanning the river Arno, this ancient bridge is steeped in rich history and renowned for the unique shops embedded along it.
Wander along the main walkway, where an enticing array of jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir shops await. Reach the midpoint and prepare to be mesmerized by breathtaking views that stretch along the Arno. Don't forget to explore the remarkable Corridoio Vasariano, which reveals the unique exterior and house-like attachments of the bridge.
The Florence Cathedral
Also known as the Duomo, the Florence Cathedral is one of the most famous landmarks in Florence and can be seen throughout the city. Construction began all the way back in 1296 and was completed in 1436, and it still holds the title of the largest brick dome in the world!
The overall style and design of the cathedral make it truly an imposing sight to behold, and getting a selfie with the Duomo in the background is a must for any vacation in Florence.
Unleash your sense of wonder and step into a world of timeless grandeur with Giotto's Bell Tower. Marvel at the awe-inspiring Gothic architecture, adorned with exquisite polychrome marble and dazzling sculptures.
Then, ascend the 414 steps to be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Florence and its iconic Cathedral. Don't miss this remarkable journey into the heart of Florence's architectural masterpiece.
Uffizi Palace and Gallery
Experience artistic grandeur at the Uffizi Palace and Gallery, one of the best art museums in Florence nestled near the captivating Piazza della Signoria. Marvel at the architectural splendor where the inner courtyard dazzles with intricate columns and arches adorned with marble statues.
Inside, immerse yourself in an immense collection of Renaissance Art by luminaries like Botticelli, Da Vinci, Titian, and Raphael. Indulge in the sheer magnificence of masterpieces such as Da Vinci's “The Baptism of Christ.” Delight in endless hours of artistic and historical enchantment at Uffizi Palace and Gallery while enjoying one of the best things to do in Florence.
Embark on a captivating journey through the ages as you step into the iconic Palazzo Vecchio, Florence's esteemed town hall and one of the most famous landmarks in Italy. Behold the magnificence of the castle-like structure, commanding the Piazza della Signoria with a magnificent replica of the Statue of David at its entrance.
Immerse yourself in its opulent rooms, adorned with meticulously preserved original decor, including the legendary Hercules Room. Discover Roman ruins, traverse medieval fortresses, and be enthralled by Renaissance splendor.
Treat your senses to one of the best food markets in Florence by visiting the historic Mercato Centrale. Established in 1874 and nestled in the vibrant San Lorenzo district, this Florence food market is a haven for gastronomic delights and unique souvenirs.
Savor the delectable array of offerings from mouthwatering fresh pizza and Tuscan porchetta to crispy fried veggies and even sushi. Explore the enticing restaurants, tasting rooms, and wine bars, immersing yourself in the best food in Florence. After indulging, browse the bustling market stalls, brimming with handcrafted goods and charming souvenirs.
No trip to Florence is complete without trying a "classic Florentine" sandwich: lampredotto. Made from the fourth stomach of a cow, this cut of meat is considered “less desirable” in other places but is a local specialty and favorite street food in Florence. Savor its flavors at Mercato Centrale or from a delicious local food stand.
Soak up the best views in Florence at Piazzale Michelangelo, located on a scenic hill south of the Arno River. While reachable by car and bus, a leisurely walk offers a more picturesque route (if accessible).
Take in breathtaking panoramas and marvel at the remarkable replica of Michelangelo's David. On your descent, don't miss a visit to the enchanting Rose Garden!
Giardino delle Rose
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city by escaping to the serene rose garden park beneath Piazzale Michelangelo. This enchanting haven, which is one of the best free things to do in Florence, provides breathtaking panoramic views of the cityscape.
Wander amidst the park's diverse collection of over 400 rose species, immersing yourself in a vibrant tapestry of colors and fragrances. Discover the rich horticultural heritage of the region as you explore and cherish the tranquility of the natural beauty around you.
There may be three statues of David in Florence, but there’s only one original – and that masterpiece can be found at the Galleria dell’Accademia. Home to the largest collection of Michelangelo's sculptures worldwide, this exceptional museum also showcases captivating works by other Florentine artists.
With its rich offerings, Galleria dell'Accademia stands as one of the best museums in Florence and a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts. It’s also easily accessible with its location right in the historic center of Florence.
Take a Florence River Cruise
Discover Florence's enchanting beauty aboard a barchetto, a traditional boat similar to a Venetian gondola. Glide along the Arno River, marveling at the iconic Ponte Vecchio and savoring a glass of wine. Take in the city's splendor from a different perspective, capturing unforgettable views along the way while enjoying one of the most unique things to do in Florence.
Basilica of Santa Croce
Adorned with vibrant polychrome panels against pristine white stone, this architectural masterpiece is an absolute must-see. Step inside to uncover a treasure trove of renowned artworks and pay homage to the final resting place of legendary figures from the Renaissance era. Discover the tombs of luminaries like Galileo, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli, immersing yourself in the rich legacy of these esteemed artists and scholars.
Baptistery of St. John
The Baptistery, a splendid addition to Florence's Cathedral ensemble, stands proudly in front of the magnificent Duomo. This ancient structure boasts the iconic "Florentine" design shared with the Duomo and Giotto's Campanile, and holds a distinguished status as one of the oldest landmarks in Florence.
Its exterior showcases intricate bronze doors, each portraying captivating religious scenes and virtues. Step inside to be captivated by a resplendent Byzantine-style fresco adorning the ceiling and upper walls, narrating profound biblical tales, including the awe-inspiring Last Judgment and Genesis.
Day Trip from Florence to Pisa
Embark on a seamless day trip from Florence to Pisa, a mere 1.5-hour drive or a swift 50-minute high-speed train ride away. Witness the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, capturing that classic selfie to immortalize your unforgettable journey. Don't miss the chance to visit this captivating destination, as it’s an effortless and rewarding adventure you won't want to miss.
Take a Vespa Tour
Hop on an exhilarating Vespa tour through the picturesque Tuscan countryside for an unforgettable experience. Follow your expert guide along tranquil roads, meandering through lush vineyards, quaint towns, and serene backroads.
Marvel at the breathtaking green hillsides and perhaps stop to indulge in a glass of classic Chianti. This thrilling journey immerses you in the beauty of Tuscany, making it one of the most fun things to do in Florence.
Sample Local Wine
Discover the flavors that make Tuscany a gastronomic paradise by taking a delectable day trip from Florence to Tuscany. Immerse yourself in the heart of this region's charm as you explore its captivating vineyards and wineries.
Choose from an array of enticing wine tours, from the classic Chianti Winery experience to an enriching excursion to Siena. Indulge in a sensory journey, savoring not only exquisite wines but also delightful pairings of cheese and bread.
Indulge in tranquility at Giardino Bardini, a captivating Italian Renaissance garden tucked away in Florence's bohemian Oltrarno district. Escape the city's clamor as you wander through these meticulously landscaped gardens, graced with panoramic vistas of Florence.
With affordable tickets ranging from €2 to €6, it's one of the best budget-friendly activities in Florence. Explore the enchanting wisteria tunnel and ascend a captivating medieval staircase, adding an air of magic to your visit.
Experience the historic Corridoio Vasariano, once a private walkway and now a captivating public passageway connecting Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti. Marvel at the stunning views along the way and be captivated by the intricate artwork and paintings that adorn the corridor.
After a period of renovation, the corridor is reopening this year (2023), presenting a unique opportunity not to be missed.
Immerse yourself in the splendor of the Pitti Palace, an awe-inspiring fortress dating back to the 1400s located on the southern banks of the River Arno. Explore its magnificent halls, which were once a Florentine residence but now house a diverse range of museums and galleries.
Marvel at impressive paintings, sculptures, and more as you meander through some of the best museums in Florence. Afterward, bask in the serene beauty of the Boboli Gardens, situated just behind the palace.
Unwind amidst nature's embrace at the vast Boboli Gardens, a serene oasis following your exploration of Palazzo Pitti's rich history and art. Regarded as one of the best open-air museums in Florence, this enchanting haven spans 45,000 square meters featuring centuries-old oak trees, exquisite fountains, captivating grottos, and intricate sculptures.
Lose yourself in the garden's enchanting pathways, marveling at a myriad of plants and flowers while enjoying a refreshingly quiet break from the city.
Forte di Belvedere
Nestled within the captivating expanse of the Boboli Gardens lies the remarkable Forte di Belvedere, the second largest fort in Florence also simply known as Belvedere Fort. It offers breathtaking vistas of the city thanks to its privileged position on the southern banks of the River Arno.
Originally built in the late 1500s for defensive purposes, the fort now hosts exhibitions, cultural events, and stands as a testament to magnificent architecture. Immerse yourself in its grandeur, savoring unforgettable views that complement the rich cultural experiences within.
Piazza della Repubblica
At the heart of the city center lies the Piazza della Repubblica, an iconic historical landmark in Florence dating back to Roman Times. Once a bustling forum and later the Jewish Ghetto, it now stands as a vibrant public square where you can unwind with an espresso, revel in street performances, and soak up the rich tapestry of history. Children will especially delight in the lively carousel, making it one of the best things to do in Florence with kids.