Florence is one of the world’s most beautiful and culturally rich cities, offering an endless array of things to see and do. And when I say endless, I really do mean it. There are so many wonderful things to see in Florence that you could easily spend a month and still not see everything.
Most of the city’s major attractions relate to its art and architecture, which are some of the best in the world. But Florence is also a great city for food lovers, shoppers, and anyone who enjoys simply strolling around and soaking up the atmosphere of one of Europe’s most vibrant cities. So, without further ado, here are 20 of the best things to do in Florence.
Things to Do in Florence Italy
1. Uffizi Palace and Gallery
You can’t say you’ve been to Florence if you haven’t been to the Uffizi Palace and Gallery, one of the most famous art museums in the world. After all, it’s one of the most famous attractions in Florence and contains some of the most impressive collections of artwork, much of which is from the Renaissance period. In fact, the Uffizi is so popular that booking your tickets in advance is essential to avoid disappointment (and extremely long queues).
Some of the most famous paintings in the Uffizi include Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Annunciation.” But there are so many incredible works of art on display that it’s impossible to list them all here. In addition to paintings, the Uffizi Gallery also contains a large number of sculptures, tapestries, and ancient artifacts.
You can also tour the rooms of the palace, some of which have been beautifully preserved and still contain original furnishings. The octagonal Tribuna room is one of the most popular in the palace and displays the museum’s most prized works of art.
One thing I loved most about the Uffizi Palace is that it’s possible to take a guided tour of the museum. This is a great way to learn about the history and meaning behind some of the most famous paintings in the world.
Address; Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
2. Palazzo Pitti
To understand the grandeur of the Palazzo Pitti, you first have to understand the size of the Medici family. This powerful clan ruled over Florence for centuries and amassed huge wealth. In fact, they were one of the richest families in Europe.
It’s no surprise then that the Palazzo Pitti is an enormous palace that was once home to the Medici family. The palace complex includes several museums, Medici Palace, royal apartments, Boboli Gardens, an art gallery, and much more. Basically, this is the place to go if you want to learn about the Medici family.
The Palazzo Pitti was built in the 15th century and was initially intended as a summer home for the Medici family. However, it eventually became the main residence of the ruling family. The palace was so large that it housed not only the family, but also their servants and employees.
Today, this massive palace is one of the top tourist attractions in Florence, where you can enjoy a slice of Medici history. I recommend starting your visit to the art gallery. This museum houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and tapestries. You can also tour the royal apartments, which have been beautifully preserved and contain original furnishings.
After exploring the palace, take some time to stroll through the Boboli Gardens. These beautifully landscaped gardens were once used by the Medici family as a private retreat. Today, they’re open to the public and provide a tranquil oasis in the middle of the city.
It’s possible to spend an entire day exploring the Palazzo Pitti complex. However, I recommend taking a guided tour if you’re short on time. This will help you make the most of your visit and ensure that you don’t miss any of the highlights.
Address; Piazza de’ Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
3. Climb to the Top of Giotto’s Campanile
Giotto’s Campanile is one of the most iconic landmarks in Florence. This massive bell tower is located in the Piazza del Duomo and offers breathtaking views of the city.
The Campanile was built in the 14th century and stands over 270 feet tall. It’s an impressive sight, both up close and from a distance. If you’re visiting Florence for the first time, be sure to get a picture in front of the tower.
Climbing to the top of Giotto’s Campanile is an experience you won’t soon forget. There are 414 steps to the top, but trust me, it’s worth it. The views from the top are simply incredible. You can see for miles in every direction.
Climbing the tower is one of the best things to do in Florence. However, it’s important to note that climbing to the top is not for everyone. If you’re scared of heights or have trouble with stairs, I recommend skipping this activity.
Address; Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
4. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Another place you can’t come to Florence and miss to see is the city’s iconic cathedral, also known as the Duomo. The construction of this massive Gothic structure began in 1296 and took nearly 140 years to complete.
The exterior of Florence Cathedral is made of pink, white, and green marble. The dome of the cathedral is one of its most distinctive features and was designed by Brunelleschi. It’s possible to climb to the top of the dome for incredible views of Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside.
In front of the cathedral is the Piazza del Duomo, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Florence. This massive piazza is home to several other notable buildings, including the Baptistery and the Campanile.
Address; Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
5. Battistero di San Giovanni
Just a short walk from the Florence Cathedral is the Baptistery of St. John, one of the oldest buildings in Florence. This octagonal structure was built in the 11th century and is considered one of Italy’s finest examples of Romanesque architecture.
The Baptistery is made of white marble and is adorned with numerous sculptures, reliefs, and mosaics. The interior of the building is particularly beautiful, with its Gothic vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows.
One of the most popular features of the Baptistery is the Gates of Paradise, a set of gilded bronze doors that were created by Ghiberti. These doors are considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Renaissance art. If you’re interested in learning more about the Baptistery, you can visit the Museum of the Opera del Duomo, which is located next to the cathedral.
Address; Piazza San Giovanni, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
6. Palazzo Vecchio
Another one of the most famous attractions in Florence is the Palazzo Vecchio, which is also known as the Old Palace. It was built in the 13th century, served as the seat of government, and was later used as a Town Hall.
Today, the Palazzo Vecchio is one of the most recognizable buildings in Florence, thanks to its massive size and grandiose design. The front facade is decorated with a series of the coat of arms that belonged to various families and important figures that relate to the history of Florence.
Inside, the Palazzo Vecchio is just as impressive as the outside. There are several floors of galleries to explore, each filled with artwork and ancient artifacts. One highlight of the museum is the Room of Cybele, which contains a series of 16th-century frescoes. And at an extra cost, you can climb to the top of the Palazzo Vecchio’s bell tower for some breathtaking views of Florence.
Address; P.za della Signoria, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
7. Stroll through Corridoio Vasariano
One of the best things to do in Florence is to stroll through the Corridoio Vasariano. This is a long, narrow passageway that was built in the 16th century for Cosimo de Medici. It is said that during his time, he was reluctant to walk out in the public streets.
To solve this problem, his architect designed a private walkway that would allow him to travel from his palace to the Palazzo Vecchio without being seen. This walkway, which is also known as the Vasari Corridor, is lined with artworks that have been damaged over time.
Unfortunately, the corridor was not open during my last visit to Florence. However, I’ve been told that it’s currently undergoing restoration and should be open to the public soon. You can still get a glimpse of it by visiting the Palazzo Vecchio. From here, you can see the long passageway that connects the two palaces.
8. Bargello Palace National Museum
Are you a fan of Michelangelo or Donatello? If so, you’ll want to add the Bargello Palace National Museum to your list of the best places to visit in Florence. This palace was built in the 13th century and served as a government building during medieval times. It later became a prison and was even used as a headquarters for the Italian police.
Today, this museum is dedicated to Renaissance sculptures and houses an impressive collection of works by Michelangelo, Donatello, the Della Robbias, and Ghiberti. And in addition to sculptures, the museum also contains a collection of medieval art, weapons, and armor. This makes it one of the most unique museums in Florence.
I recommend starting your visit with the four Michelangelo masterpieces. These are some of the most famous works in the museum and are truly breathtaking.
Address; Via del Proconsolo, 4, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
9. Ponte Vecchio
I’m not going to deny, Ponte Vecchio was one of my favorite things to see in Florence. This medieval bridge spans the Arno River and was built in the 14th century. It’s one of the oldest bridges in Europe and is famous for its many jewelry shops.
My guide informed me that building shops on the bridge were a common practice during medieval times. However, the merchants on this bridge produced so much garbage that it began to pollute the Arno River. To solve this problem, the city decreed that only gold and silver shops could operate on the bridge. This is why the bridge is now lined with jewelry stores, many of which have been in business for centuries.
In addition, the Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge in Florence that wasn’t destroyed during World War II. It is said that Gerhard Wolf, a German general, spared the bridge because he was so impressed by its beauty.
What I loved most about the Ponte Vecchio is that it’s pedestrian only. This means that you can meander along the bridge at your leisure, taking in the views and perhaps even doing a bit of shopping.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the bridge, I highly recommend taking a guided tour. You’ll learn about how the bridge was built and its importance to Florence throughout the years.
Address; Ponte Vecchio, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
10. Mercato Centrale
Now it’s time to get your hands dirty with some Florence sightseeing. The Mercato Centrale, also known as the Central Market, is one of the best places in Florence to get a taste of daily life. This huge covered market is where locals come to buy fresh produce, meat, cheese, and other food items.
The market is divided into two sections: the upper level and the lower level. The lower level is where you’ll find the fresh food vendors, while the upper level is home to restaurants and cafes. I recommend starting your visit on the lower level so that you can see the wide variety of produce on offer.
After working up an appetite, head to the upper level and choose from one of the many restaurants. I recommend trying the bistecca alla fiorentina, which is a grilled steak that is a Florence specialty. The steak is usually served with potatoes and vegetables. And if you’re not interested in having a sit-down meal, there are also several cafes where you can grab a quick bite.
11. San Miniato al Monte
Founded in the 11th century, San Miniato al Monte is one of the most scenic churches in Italy, if not the world. This beautiful basilica is centrally located on a hilltop in Florence, offering stunning views of the city below. But this means it’s a bit of a hike to get to, but it’s well worth the effort. The walk-up is relatively easy and takes you through some lovely neighborhoods.
The church is built in the Romanesque style and features a striking façade of white and green marble. The interior of the church is just as beautiful and features gorgeous marble columns, stunning frescoes, and detailed mosaics.
A tour of this church is definitely one of the best things to do in Florence if you’re interested in architecture and history. Guided tours are available, which I highly recommend. However, even if you don’t take a tour, it’s still worth a visit to see this beautiful church.
Address; Via delle Porte Sante, 34, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
12. Stroll through Oltrarno
The Oltrarno district is located on the south side of the Arno River and is often referred to as the “real Florence.” This is because the Oltrarno is where you’ll find the densely packed streets filled with restaurants, cafes, shops, and bars. In other words, it’s the perfect place to get a taste of everyday life in Florence.
One of the best things to do in Oltrarno is simply wander the streets and take in the sights, sounds, and smells. This vibrant district is full of life, and there’s always something new to see. Be sure to duck into some of the small shops, where you can find everything from handmade leather goods to Tuscan food products.
If you get hungry, there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes in Oltrarno where you can enjoy a delicious meal. I recommend stopping by Trattoria da Giorgio for some traditional Tuscan cuisine.
13. Museo Galileo
Science buffs will love the Museo Galileo, which is dedicated to the life and work of the famous Italian scientist; Galileo Galilei. This museum contains a large collection of scientific instruments and personal items belonging to Galileo.
The most impressive part of the museum is the instrument room, where you can see many of the tools that Galileo used for his experiments. One of the most famous is the telescope that he used to discover the four largest moons of Jupiter. In addition, there are several interactive exhibits that help explain some of Galileo’s most famous discoveries.
The Museo Galileo is a great option for those interested in learning more about the history of science. However, even if you’re not a science buff, I think the museum is still worth a visit. It’s definitely one of the most famous attractions in Florence that you shouldn’t miss.
Address; Piazza dei Giudici, 1, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
14. Bardini Museum and Gardens
Next on my list of things to see in Florence is the Bardini Museum and Gardens. This hidden gem is often overlooked by tourists, which is a shame because it’s a wonderful place.
The Bardini Museum and Garden was founded by Stefano Bardini in the 19th century, a famous art dealer and collector. His private collection of art and antiques was so impressive that he decided to buy a group of buildings where he could display it to the public.
Today, the museum is housed in a beautiful 14th-century palazzo and contains a wide variety of Bardini’s art and antiquities. Here you’ll find everything from paintings and sculptures to furniture and ceramics. In addition to the museum, there are also beautiful gardens overlooking a river. The gardens are filled with flowers, trees, and sculptures. They’re the perfect place to relax after exploring the museum.
Address; Via de’ Bardi, 1, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
15. Accademia Gallery
For many people, the highlight of a trip to Florence is seeing Michelangelo’s statue of David. This renowned sculpture is on display at the Accademia Gallery, one of the city’s most popular museums.
The Accademia Gallery was founded in 1784 by Pietro Leopoldo, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The museum’s original purpose was to teach about the art of sculpture. However, it has since grown to house an impressive collection of artworks.
In addition to Michelangelo’s David, the Hall of Prisoners is another highlight of the gallery. This room contains four unfinished statues by Michelangelo that were intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II. The statues are known as the Slaves or Prisoners and depict men in various states of struggle.
The Accademia Gallery is one of the must-see Florence attractions. I recommend buying tickets in advance to avoid long lines.
Address; Via Ricasoli, 58/60, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy
16. Take a Food Tour
If you want to get a true taste of Florence, then you have to take a food tour. This is one of the best ways to experience the city’s food culture.
Florence is known for its Tuscan cuisine, which is simple yet flavorful. The focus is on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, which is why Florence is such a paradise for foodies.
During a food tour, you’ll have the opportunity to try some of Florence’s most iconic dishes. These might include Florentine steak, Tuscan bread soup, and cantucci cookies. You’ll also get to sample some local wines and visit some of the city’s best food markets.
If you love to eat (and who doesn’t?), then I highly recommend taking a food tour. It’s one of the best things to do in Florence and a great way to learn about the city’s food culture.
17. Have fun at Vincigliata Adventure Park
After all the Florence sightseeing, why not take a break and have some fun? Just outside the city center is Vincigliata Adventure Park, a great place to let loose and have a good time.
The park has something for everyone, with activities like zip-lining, soft air, climbing, and hiking. There’s also a trampoline park, which is perfect for kids (and adults who are young at heart). And if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even take a turn on the giant swing.
What I loved about this park is that it’s set in the Tuscan countryside. This means you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding hills and vineyards while having fun. The park is also very well-managed, and the staff is extremely friendly and helpful.
Address; Via Vincigliata, 21, 50014 Fiesole FI, Italy
18. Fortezza da Basso
Florence is a city with a long and rich history. So, it’s no surprise that it’s home to several ancient fortresses. One of these is the Fortezza da Basso, which was built in the 16th century to store ammunition and protect the city from attack.
Today, the Fortezza da Basso is no longer used for defense purposes. Instead, it’s a popular venue for conventions, exhibitions, and events. In fact, it’s the largest convention center in Florence. If you’re visiting Florence for business or pleasure, chances are you’ll end up at the Fortezza da Basso at some point. Even if you’re not attending an event, this massive fortress is definitely one of the best things to see in Florence. You can explore the grounds and get a feel for what life was like in 16th-century Florence.
Address; V.le Filippo Strozzi, 1, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy
19. Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the best places in Florence to get a panoramic view of the town. This large square was built in the 19th century and is located on a hill south of the city center.
To reach Piazzale Michelangelo, you can either walk (it’s a bit of a hike) or take a bus from the city center. I recommend taking the bus, as it’s a lot easier and will give you more time to enjoy the views. And once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Florence. This is a great place to snap some photos or just sit back and admire the cityscape.
At the center of Piazzale Michelangelo is a bronze replica of Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. This iconic sculpture is one of Florence’s most beloved treasures and is a must-see for any visitor. And at the edge of the square, you’ll find vendors and artists plying their wares. So, if you’re looking for a souvenir, this is the place to find it.
Address; Piazzale Michelangelo, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
20. Enjoy Florence’s Nightlife
Florence may be famous for its art and history, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do at night. In fact, the city has a lively nightlife scene with plenty of bars and clubs to keep you entertained.
If you’re looking for a place to start your night, I recommend heading to the Santa Croce district. This is where you’ll find a concentration of bars and clubs. Piazza Santa Croce is a particularly popular spot with both locals and tourists. Another great area for nightlife is the Santo Spirito district. This is a more laid-back area with a number of bars and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite to eat and enjoy a few drinks with friends.
There are also a number of clubs in Florence if you’re looking to dance the night away. Space Club and YAB are two of the most popular spots. Both clubs feature international DJs and attract a young, trendy crowd. If you want to experience Florence’s nightlife, these are two places you won’t want to miss.
I have come to the end of my list of the 20 best things to do in Florence. There might be a few things that I have missed, but these are definitely the highlights. I hope that you can visit Florence soon and experience its beauty for yourself.