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Best Things to Do in Florence, Italy

Florence is one of the most beautiful, fascinating, and culturally rich cities in all of Italy with more than enough choices for the whole family. Whether you are a first-time traveler, returning for a second trip, visiting as a family or flying solo, this list of the top things to do in Florence will help you navigate the city without feeling overwhelmed. 

Florence, although relatively small and best visited by foot, is so densely packed with historical monuments and some of the most important architectural monuments and art museums that the city itself is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. Even if you only have a short two days in this Renaissance city, you will have plenty of time to take advantage of the best things to do and see in Florence. 

I have been traveling to Florence for over 20 years and since 2012, I am lucky enough to call this city my home, providing me with the know-how and confidence to share with you the best things to do in Florence, Italy.  

In this comprehensive guide to visiting Florence, I will share the best places to visit in Florence including top museums, architectural monuments, piazzas, and tourist attractions for both first-time visitors and experienced Italian travelers. Florence won’t disappoint as long as you use this article as your master list and guide to what to do and see in Florence. 

best things to do in Florence

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Florence ToursClick here to check out the top Florence tours
Best Florence Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Florence
Best Florence Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Florence

How Many Days You Need in Florence

Because Florence is such a culturally rich city in terms of architecture, art, history and even the culinary arts, it would be easy to spend even a full week in the city without getting bored. For many travelers, however, this isn’t possible, especially if it’s your first trip to Italy. 

Plan for at least three days in Florence to really get a good sense of the city and enjoy the most beloved activities, monuments and museums. Even in this time frame, you will have to pick and choose from this list of the best things to do in Florence but you will certainly feel confident in having tackled a large portion of it. 

If you have less than three days, be selective in what you choose from my list of what to see in Florence, opting for a mix of museums and exploring the main sights on a walking tour. There is so much to see and do in Florence that it can be overwhelming so be sure to carve out a bit of time to sit down with an aperitivo, drink or gelato to recharge and indulge in la dolce vita.

Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi)

best things to do in florence

The Uffizi Gallery is Florence’s most important art museum, housing some of Europe’s most beloved and famed pieces of work including Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Annunciation” and Caravaggio’s “Medusa”.

Although not mandatory, it’s preferable to book tickets at least a week (or several in the height of tourist season during the summer months) in advance on their website. Be sure to allow at least half a day to visit the gallery. 

Keep in mind that the last Sunday of every month opens its doors at no cost without a pre-booking requirement. This is great if you are on a budget but it does bring enormous crowds, making it difficult to enjoy the museum and see everything.  

Quick Tip: Don’t miss the rooftop terrace cafe, a good spot to take a break, enjoy a panoramic view of the city, and recharge with some coffee.

Visit and Climb Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo & Baptistery of St. John

best things to do in florence

The Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral is Florence’s largest and most famous cathedral, elaborately decorated and identified by white, green and pink marble with an enormous cupola. Built and designed by Brunelleschi in the 14th century, the Duomo has remained the heart of Florence, making it one of the most important things to visit in Florence.  

Opt to visit the inside the Duomo, which is free, but to tour the underground crypt of Santa Reparata, you must purchase a ticket, which can be combined with a ticket to the Duomo museum and entrance to the Baptistry of St. John. Keep in mind if you are on a tight schedule that the most interesting and fascinating part of the Duomo is its exterior design and Baptistery (filled with gold mosaics), rather than the crypt, climb or inside of the cathedral. 

If you have time for a climb, consider the trek up the 463 stairs to the top of the Duomo, giving you a chance to enjoy 360 degree views of Florence. It’s best to book tickets in advance on their official website, which can be done individually or as a combined ticket or pass like the Brunelleschi pass, Giotto Pass or the Ghiberti pass. 

Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto)

best things to do in florence

Giotto’s bell tower, located just to the right of the Duomo, was designed and constructed before the Duomo by the famed Giotto di Bondone in 1334. Today, you can climb the bell tower, although not as tall as the Duomo, and enjoy similar views of the city. 

This hike is slightly easier and shorter with small spots to stop off and rest, which is not the case if you opt to climb the Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo. Consider the Giotto Pass combined ticket granting you access to the Baptistery, Opera del Duomo Museum, and Santa Reparata Crypt as well as the climb. Pre-booking is required. 

, located just behind the Duomo in the piazza, is where you will find the original works of the Duomo complex including the original facade of the Duomo and the famous Bronze Doors of the Baptistery. Visiting the museum is definitely one of the best things to do in Florence if you have a little more time as it provides visitors with a lot of context to the architectural achievements of Florence. For travelers with just a few days, it may be hard to fit this museum in. 

Stroll Across Ponte Vecchio

best things to do in florence

Ponte Vecchio is Florence’s iconic covered bridge connecting the Oltrarno (other side of the river) to the Historic District of Florence. The bridge was constructed at the end of the Middle Ages and unlike all other bridges in Florence, it survived several wars and floods. Originally, Ponte Vecchio was an open market and place of trade among Florentines but today is where you will find the city’s most famous jewelry stores. 

Although Ponte Vecchio is fun to walk across and one of the top things to do in Florence, it’s not where you will get the best picture. Head to the two bridges on either side of Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Santa Trinita or Ponte alle Grazie for a picture with Ponte Vecchio in the background. 

The Porcellino, located in the Mercato Nuovo leather market not far from , is a bronze copy of a Greek wild boar sculpture commissioned by the Medici Family in the 1600s and is said to bring good luck to whoever rubs its nose. 

Keep your eyes out for a crowd rather than the Porcellino, as there will be plenty of visitors lining up in the hopes of getting lucky. According to Florentine tradition, to actually get lucky, you must 

put a coin onto the boar’s mouth on its tongue and have it fall through the grates below. If the coin bounces off or doesn’t make it through the cracks, better luck next time. 

This market is also a good chance to shop for leather goods, of better quality in my experience, than the San Lorenzo Leather Market. Don’t be afraid to bargain, especially if you are paying with cash. 

💡Quick Tip
View my full Europe packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Europe Essentials shopping list here.

Piazzale Michelangelo & San Miniato Al Monte

best things to do in florence

Piazzale Michelangelo is the panoramic overlook located Oltarno in Florence with the best sweeping view of the skyline and Arno river, making it one of the best places to visit in Florence.  The large open square, known as the Piazzale, is decorated with famous replica statues, Michelangelo’s David in the middle of the square. 

Hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo anytime of the day although it’s best in the morning or in the late afternoon out of the midday sun. 

Locate the Torre di San Niccolò and hike up the newly constructed switchback paths and stairs leading up from the large tower. If walking is too much for you, there are also buses (23 or 13) that will take you right to the top. For a less crowded view, continue your walk up to San Miniato al Monte, a beautiful church just above Piazzale Michelangelo.

is another top museum to visit in Florence, home to Michelangelo’s original David. While most people come to see David, don’t miss other notable pieces by Renaissance artists like Perugino, Filippino Lippi, Pontormo, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Bronzino.

Pre-book online your visit to the museum Tuesday through Sunday and keep in mind that just like the Uffizi, the Galleria dell’Accademia also waives the entrance fee every first Sunday of the month. 

Basilica di San Lorenzo and Medici Chapels

best things to do in florence

The Basilica of San Lorenzo, consecrated in 393, is the oldest church in Florence and includes a total of five different things to see including the chapels where the Medici family was buried, the library, cloister, the church itself and the Old Sacristy. 

The church is quite plain and simple yet the chapels are truly a magnificent site, designed and constructed by Michelangelo and Brunelleschi.

You do need separate tickets to visit the church and the chapels. If you only have time for one, I suggest the chapels to start as they are one of the best things to see in all of Florence. 

Shopping At The San Lorenzo Market and the Mercato Centrale

best things to do in florence

Just around the corner from the Medici Chapels is the covered farmers market and outdoor leather market, the best place to buy souvenirs such as leather goods, pottery, clothing items, truffle products, olive oil, wine, cheese and groceries. 

The large covered food market is a farmers market and a gourmet restaurant with a unique formula for dining. Visit the ground floor and shop the vendors Monday-Saturday in the morning until closing around 12:30 or 1:00 pm. 

Visit the food court upstairs with individual restaurants or food stalls specializing in various Italian foods such as pizza, pasta, traditional schiacciata bread, cured meats, coffee, truffles, cheese and sandwiches. Orders at the food stall you like and then eat at large, communal tables in the center of the hall, making it one of the best dining experiences in Florence for travelers with different cravings or diets. 

Climb Palazzo Vecchio & Visit Piazza della Signoria

best things to do in florence

Piazza della Signoria is one of the best places to visit in Florence, home to the town hall (Palazzo Vecchio), the Fountain of Neptune, a newly restored fountain and , a large portico opening onto the piazza, where you will find replicas of many famous Florentine sculptures.

For visitors with more time, consider a visit to Palazzo Vecchio and climb to the top for a less crowded alternative to the Duomo. If time is not on your side, enjoy walking through the piazza, enjoying its grandeur from the outside. 

Explore and

Florence is such a small city that it can feel overwhelmingly touristy at times. To avoid this, locals like myself spend most of our time downtown on the side of the river, home to several less tourist squares such as Santo Spirito. This piazza, as well as Piazza del Carmine, are great locations to sit down and enjoy a cafe. 

Exploring and its side streets is one of the best things to do in Florence if you are looking to get off the beaten path. The neighborhoods of Santo Spirito and San Frediano are made up of authentic shops and boutiques, restaurants, pizzerias, and artisans at work. 

is the most popular square in this area lined with restaurants, the best rooftop bars and cafes, all centered around a large fountain with limited traffic (to trash pick up and emergency vehicles), making it ideal for families. Don’t miss the unique facade of the Santo Spirito church built by Brunlesschi. Feel free to visit free of charge. 

Visit Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens

best things to do in florence

Palazzo Pitti, once the personal residence of the Medici family, is today a series of museums, including a Modern Art Museum, The Silver Museum a classic art museum and other staged rooms of the palace.

Palazzo Pitti is absolutely one of the top things to do in Florence because of its historic importance to the city and current art collections. If you have a whole morning, purchase a combined ticket to the different museums as well as entrance to the Boboli gardens, the once private gardens of the Medici family. Avoid visiting the garden in the middle of the day as it can get quite hot but rather, explore the small paths and narrow switchbacks of the gardens in the late afternoon. Keep in mind that the gardens are not particularly stroller friendly. 

If you are looking for a less crowded garden experience, consider a visit to the Giardino Bardini, a much less visited Renaissance garden just above the Boboli Gardens. You will need a separate ticket to access this garden. 

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

Santa Maria Novella Church

Visiting the Santa Maria Novella Church is one of the best things to see in Florence because of its prime examples of Gothic-style, some of the best and most important in all of Tuscany. 

The Santa Maria Novella Church is one of the lesser visited churches so there is no need to pre book your entrance ticket. Full of important works byartists including Ghirlandaio, Massaccio, Giotto and Botticelli, this church is a must-see for art lovers in Florence. 

Just next door is the famous and historic Santa Maria Novella perfume shop, one of the best places in Florence to pick up souvenirs. Don’t miss the original shop where they still display the original ceramic jars during the Middle Ages!

Visit Bargello National Museum

best things to do in florence

A visit to the Bargello Museum is one of the best things to do in Florence as it’s home to some of the most important Renaissance sculptures in all of Italy including pieces by Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Verrocchio, Michelangelo and Cellini. It’s also the first national museum opened after the unification of Italy, making it an important historical museum as well. 

While sculptures make up the majority of the collection, there are plenty of other pieces to see as well such as enamels, seals, tapestries, furniture textiles and several artifacts from the Medici Family of Florence.   

is another famous and important church in Florence, marked by an enormous square piazza, perfect for letting small children run around and get some energy out. The Santa Croce church is where Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Rossini, and Machiavelli are at rest, making it one of the top places to visit in Florence. 

Pre-book your visit to avoid long lines or opt for an early morning or later afternoon visit followed by an aperitivo on the square. 

Wondering where to stay in Florence? Check out these options!

Hotel della Signoria
Borgo Signature Rooms
B&B Le Stanze del Duomo

Florence Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Florence?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Europe which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Europe on Amazon here.

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance. I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise, Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Europe?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options available!

🚗 Where can I book rental cars or private transportation?

I strongly recommend using RentalCars. They are available in more than 60.000 locations and customer service support in more than 40 languages.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using either Airhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Expedia. They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack.

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Author’s Bio

This guide to visiting Florence is written by Louisa Loring. Louisa has been traveling to Italy since her teenage years when she first fell in love with the Italian way of life, leading her on a path to an Italian Language and Literature degree. She now resides in Tuscany where she has worked in tourism, as a content creator, creative writer and with food and wine for 10+ years, most recently for her online publication EatingAroundItaly.com, found also on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

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