What to do in Florence - Start your trip planning now!

What to do in Florence?

Gushing with charm, Florence is one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in Italy, making it easy to get around and see a lot.

We love walking around Florence and think it's the best way to see this Renaissance jewel.

View of Duomo from the streetThe Duomo in Florence is top of most people's itinerary but there's so much more to explore!

It can be a little more affordable than Venice, and a little tamer than Rome.

Let's start exploring!

What to do in Florence - everything you need to know

You are dreaming of Florence...

And the first thoughts that come to mind are visions of cobblestone streets lined with medieval towers, unique buildings, and some of the world's most beautiful churches from the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance periods. 

street with bikesCobblestone streets, medieval buildings and blue skies, what could be more classic Florence than this?

For the most part, this image isn't all that far off from the truth.

But as I'm sure you can imagine, there’s so much more to Florence Italy than just this.

Take a look at our favorite things about this city which will cause you, like us, to come back time and time again, including:

No time to read the whole page?

accademia sculpture David by michelangelo full view

Here are the top things to see and do in Florence:

Visit the Uffizi Galleries and Accademia, walk across the Ponte Vecchio and shop in the nearby shopping zone, enjoy the Duomo from the outside and avoid the lines and crowds.

Top it off by enjoying a Florentine steak and some gelato and you've definitely dipped your toes into this Renaissance city!

Our Top 3 Picks: Best Things to do in Florence

See the city

florence baptistery duomo complex summer
4.75 stars

Florence Walking Tour

√ Get the highlights

√ Enjoy an easy stroll

√ Soak in the atmosphere

Must-see museums

Painting Annunciation by Verrocchio and Leonardo Da Vinci in the Uffizi Gallery
4.5 stars

Uffizi and Accademia

√ Michelangelo's David

√ Botticelli's Venus

√ Leonardo da Vinci Masterpieces

Eat, drink, and be merry!

Food at le volpi e l uva
4.25 stars

Florence Food tour

√ Learn about Florence cuisine

√ Discover local spots

√ Meet other foodies like you!

Museums and Art Galleries

We are a little biased because we are art lovers and can't get enough of the museums we are blessed with in Florence.

But no trip to Florence would be complete without visiting some of the city's world-famous collections.

Painting Birth of Venus by Botticelli in Uffizzi GalleryBotticelli's the Birth of Venus is one of the many treasures on show in the Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery, housing the Medici family collection of pieces by famous artists, and the Accademia Gallery, home to Michelangelo's David as well as lots more Renaissance art, are both must-see locations, especially if it's your first time here.

accademia sculpture David by michelangelo head viewMichelangelo's David sculpture should definitely be on your list of what to see in Florence

First time visiting Florence?

Joining a walking tour is a great way to get your bearings and learn more about this amazing city!

Palazzo Vecchio doubles up as both Florence's town hall and an outstanding art museum.

Overlooking Piazza della Signoria, the stunning Renaissance architecture complements the fine arts on display.

If you're a history buff, visiting the Pitti Palace should be on your itinerary.

Bought by the Medici's in the 1500's, this Medici palace on the banks of the Arno river has been the location for many important points in Florence's history.

Now the largest museum complex in the city, you can wander the grand halls and admire works by many Renaissance artists, then visit the Royal Apartments before switching it up and seeing the Gallery of Modern Art.

Inside the Opera del Duomo museumThe Opera del Duomo museum tells the fascinating story of how Florence's stunning cathedral was built

Check out the Opera del Duomo Museum as part of your ticket to the Florence Cathedral complex to explore the history of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, right in the heart of the city on the Piazza del Duomo.

Leonardo da Vinci is closely linked with Florence Italy, and you can learn more about his life, works and designs in the dedicated da Vinci museum - a great place to visit if you're visiting Florence with kids!

If you're visiting at the start of a month, check out which museums are part of the Free Sunday event where you can enter without having to pay anything.

Check out our top tips for making the most of your time in Florence:

Churches in Florence

The historic district of Florence is beautiful enough all on its own, but the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly called the Duomo, definitely adds to the charm.

We never fail to be gob-smacked by it every time we turn a corner and see the duomo and its stunning dome looming above us.

This beautiful and most recognizable building in Florence’s landscape is popular with both tourists and locals alike so booking in advance to climb the dome is a good idea.

View of the dome from aboveThe dome of Florence's cathedral is an important landmark, and can be seen for miles!

The Florence cathedral is part of a monumental complex of buildings in and surrounding the Piazza del Duomo, including the Baptistery and Giotto’s Bell Tower.

Even if you’re not into churches, its red-tiled dome, the geometrical designed façade clothed with polychrome marbles makes it totally photo-worthy!

Frankly, we love the duomo more from the outside, and don't think it's worth your spending a huge amount of time waiting in line to get in.

On the other hand, it's definitely worth it to climb the dome (if you're up for it!)

The Florence cathedral is where the big Christmas tree gets put up in December for the festive and New Year celebrations, and the home of the Explosion of the Cart that takes place at Easter.

In addition to the famed cathedral, you can also visit a number of other stunning churches in Florence:

Santa Croce

The central basilica of Santa Croce is known for being the home of the tombs of some of Italy’s most eminent personalities, such as Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Rossini and Galileo Galilei.

As well as a lovely church in its own right, Santa Croce is considered the most important church-museum in Florence, for the quantity and quality of art you will find there.

Altar of santa croceThe altar of Santa Croce is just one of the many things to see in this important Florence church

Santa Maria Novella

Right opposite Florence's main railway station, I very much recommend paying a visit to the Santa Maria Novella church, one of the most important in Florence.

As you come out of the train station, it's hard not to notice the beautiful marble facade.

Within the massive walls of the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella there is a large monumental complex including three cloisters and an ancient auditorium.

Basilica of San Miniato al Monte

san miniato central naveThe church is more than worth the uphill climb

Perched high above the city, up a little way from Piazzale Michelangelo, is the church and abbey of San Miniato al Monte.

As well as the perfect spot to get a great view of the beautiful city below, this church has seen a lot of history over the centuries!

Basilica di San Lorenzo

Facade of basilica San LorenzoThe basilica looks plain from the outside but don't let that stop you from going inside!

One of the largest churches in the city, the Basilica di San Lorenzo is where the principal members of the Medici family were buried.

The adjoining Medici Chapel is another Florence must-see, a truly wonderful place that shows how important the Medici's were to the city's development.

Florence's Historical City Center

There are many things to see as you explore, Florence is a very walkable city so keep your eyes open as you wander!

Piazza della Signoria

At the heart of the city you cannot miss the Piazza della Signoria.

This oddly shaped piazza has been the site of many historical events and is still the focal place for visitors and Florentines alike.

From the imposing Palazzo Vecchio to the Uffizi Gallery, this piazza is a must-see.

neptune fountain on piazza della signoriaNo matter what time of year you visit, Piazza della Signoria is always impressive

Loggia dei Lanzi

Another important part of the Piazza della Signoria is the Loggia dei Lanzi, on the corner of the piazza near the entrance to the Uffizi.

This ornate loggia is filled with a collection of statues and sculpture from the Renaissance and antique periods, well worth taking a closer look at on your way to the nearby gallery.

Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio has a magical and unique atmosphere. 

Old artisan and jewelers shops, with their distinctive wooden doors, make the Ponte Vecchio bridge the eternal symbol of Florence.

Ponte vecchio view from far distance horizontalGetting up early to see the river and Ponte Vecchio without the crowds makes for a beautiful start to the day!

I prefer to walk over the Ponte Vecchio early in the morning, when the stores start to open and the crowds of tourists haven't appeared yet.

Stop in the center and admire the view over the river Arno!

Piazza Santo Spirito

Cross the river Arno and explore the Oltrarno district, in particular Piazza Santo Spirito, to see a different side of Florence.

The vibrant piazza is filled with shops, restaurants and bars, popular with locals and visitors alike, which has been the case for hundreds of years.

Explore Oltrarno on a sunset food and wine tour where you'll taste delicious Tuscan delicacies while enjoying the atmospheric neighborhood!

The best places to eat and drink in Florence

Making sure you have some great options for eating and drinking is essential for making sure you have a really good trip - at least, this is how I feel whenever I travel!

orange and pink gelato in florenceI can never resist a good scoop or two of gelato!

The good news is that Florence is filled with lots of wonderful restaurant options, whether you're looking for great gelato, cosy wine bars, pizza, pasta, Florentine steak or simply a quality cup of coffee in the morning.

Where to shop in Florence

Florence is an excellent place to shop, both for souvenirs to take home or to find something to treat yourself with.

From the expensive stores on the banks of the Arno river to the backstreet leather shops, we'll show you where to find authentic and good quality items.

No matter when you visit Florence, here are four things never to leave at home:

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Gardens and Outdoor Spaces

Sightseeing can be draining, especially in the summer heat, so it's a good idea to know where to go to cool off and relax.

Piazzale Michelangelo

The vantage point of Piazzale Michelangelo will reward you with the best view of the Florence skyline.

florence views from piazzale michelangeloThe views from Piazzale Michelangelo are unparalleled

Although it might seem like an obvious tourist attraction, there is nothing that can compare to the panoramic view over the rooftops of Florence from the stunning Piazzale Michelangelo, the highest point in the city.

Boboli Gardens

While Florence has many noteworthy gardens and parks, my favorite is the Boboli Gardens.

boboli gardens path up hillI love the space of the Boboli Gardens

Lined with oak trees, alluring fountains and countless sculptures, this 80 acre private park is the absolute essence of the Florentine zest for great design.

The Boboli Gardens are one of the greatest open-air museums in Florence, part of the regal estate of the Palazzo Pitti.

Parco delle Cascine

florence cascine park autumn leavesCascine park is especially beautiful when the leaves start to fall later in the year! Photo credit: Paolo Costantini

Located on the right side of the Arno river, the Cascine park is the largest public park in Florence.

It's the perfect place for sports or picnics and it periodically hosts cultural events.

It is also the location of the largest vintage market in Florence, which takes place every Tuesday.

Giardino delle Rose

The Rose Garden is right below Piazzale Michelangelo, overlooking the historic centre of Florence. 

It stretches to the tip of a panoramic promenade which leads to the district of Oltrarno.

florence rose gardenThe rose garden is simply stunning in spring!

This garden is home to more than 300 species of roses, scattered among perfectly groomed greenery.

Plus, it's free to enter!

Giardino di Villa Strozzi

Another historic Florentine park, built in the 16th century, is Villa Strozzi.

If you have limited time and you are in the Oltrarno area, this sprawling green landmark is not one to be missed.

The centerpiece of this park is a 19th century building known as “The Limonaia”, which hosts art exhibits, as well as theater and ballet performances.

Exploring outside of Florence

While Florence is full of things to do, if you are here for an extended time or have seen the main sights on previous trips then there is a lot to do outside of the city as well!

Try exploring the Tuscan countryside on a day trip to San Gimignano, Siena or one of the other Tuscan hill towns - don't forget to taste lots of the excellent Tuscan wine.

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Take a food tour in Tuscan wine country for a more in-depth tasting experience, or jump on the train to nearby Pisa to see the famous leaning tower.

Explore further afield with day trips to Rome, Bologna or even Venice, Florence has great connections to lots of other places in Italy.

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