Top 20 Things to do in Florence

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Updated: 8 septiembre 2023

This post covers the top things to do in Florence, Italy, with tips on free, nighttime as well as family-friendly activities.


TOP 20 THINGS TO DO IN FLORENCE

Here is our top 10 list of things to do in the city of Florence, including prices, hours, and also day and weekend trips you can take from Florence.

Take a look at our other popular Florence posts here:


1) Visit the Duomo

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also popularly referred to as the Duomo, is the beautiful cathedral in the heart of Florence.

It's an iconic place to take pictures in front of and it beautiful inside as well!

Going inside is free, although the monuments around the cathedral require a ticket (sold as a single pass to visit all).

If you want to see the dome up close, you can climb the 463 steps to the top by purchasing the OPA Pass for 18 €.

This pass gives you access to all of these places: Baptistery of San Giovanni, Santa Reparata, Giotto's Bell Tower, Brunelleschi's Dome and the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.

The ticket allows entry for one person to visit all the monuments once within 72 hours of visiting the first one.

The OPA Combination ticket gives you entrance to the Duomo but you need to reserve your place in line before you arrive. Once you book your time slot, the time cannot be changed. 

Out front is the Piazza del Duomo, the main square where you'll find shops and restaurants.

 


2) Explore the Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is home to collections of paintings from the 14th-century and Renaissance periods.

Our favorite is Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, but you can also find works of Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raffaello, to name a few.

Hours: Tuesday- Sunday: 8:15am- 6:50pm(18:50)

Price: (March 1- October 31): Regular- 12€, Reduced- 2€, (November 1- February 28): Regular- 20€, Reduced- 2€

Check our post covering Uffizi Gallery tickets and discounts to see when they have reduced prices (usually early mornings during the off-season) and free admission days throughout the year.


3) See the Statue of David at the Galleria dell’Accademia

Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence and is one of the top sights to see while visiting the city!

It's where you can see Michelangelo's David, amongst other works of art. Because of this statue, the Galleria dell'Accademia is one of the most visited museums in Florence.

This is why we recommend booking a ticket beforehand, either online or over the phone.

This will save you from having to wait in long lines for a ticket!

Hours: Tuesday- Sunday: 8:15am- 6:50pm(18:50)

Price: Regular- 16€, Reduced- 6€. 

If you can't make it into the Galleria dell'Accademia, you can see replicas of the statue of David at the Palazza della Signoria, where the original statue used to stand and a bronze version overlooking Florence at the Piazzale Michelangelo, a place mentioned below.


4) Take a Free Walking Tour!

Let a guide take you around the heart of Florence and show you the city through a local's eye!

These pay-what-you-wish tours are perfect for those on a budget but still want to experience the most out of the city.

They're also a wealth of knowledge for restaurant and other recommendations, which is especially handy if you don't speak Italian.

To learn more and book your tour, click here


5) Visit the Santa Croce Basilica

The Santa Croce Basilica is the burial place of notable people of Florence, including Michelangelo, Rossi, and even Galileo Galilei.

There's also a memorial to Dante, but his sarcophagus is empty as he is buried in Ravenna because of his exile from Florence.

The Santa Croce Basilica also has beautiful artwork to enjoy as you tour it, and the Piazza Santa Croce outside has eateries to relax and have a bite to eat at. 

Hours: Monday- Saturday: 9:30am - 5:30pm (17:30), Sundays and Holidays: 2pm - 5:30pm (17:30)

Price: Regular- 9€, Reduced- 7€


6) Cross the Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio (or Vecchio Bridge) is the oldest bridge in Florence and was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218.

It was rebuilt after a flood in 1345 and is the only bridge across the Arno to survive WW2.

This bridge isn't just for crossing- it's for shopping!

Shops have been on it since the 13th century.

But, due to the smells from certain shops, they decided to only let jewelers and goldsmiths, stay of which there are plenty on the bridge today.

This is the perfect place to shop or just window shop!


7) Explore Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens

The Pitti Palace was once the home to the Medici family and is now the home of incredible Renaissance artwork.

The Palace is divided into four museums: 

The Treasury of the Grand Dukes on the ground floor, the Palatine Gallery and the Imperial and Royal Apartments on the first floor, the Modern Art Gallery and the Museum of Costume and Fashion on the second floor.

https://youtu.be/0d6DsZgQVeA

This place is a must-visit for art lovers! Learn more here

Hours: Tuesday- Sunday: 8:15am- 6:50pm(18:50)

Price: Regular- 22.90€, EU Citizens- 7€, Children- 4€

While you're there, be sure to visit the Boboli Gardens of the Palace. It is an extra cost, but it is beautiful and worth it!


8) See Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

Take the Ponte Vecchio across the Arno River to Piazzale Michelangelo, named after one of the most famous artists to be born in Florence.

From this plaza, you get the best view of the city and can find a bronze copy of the artist's famous David sculpture.

We recommend timing it to arrive at either sunrise or sunset to get the most breathtaking views of the city.

You can also bring a picnic and wine to enjoy!


9) Buy Leather Goods at the San Lorenzo Market

Walking through the city, you can't help but notice all the leather shops!

There are a number of places to shop for leather goods, such as the San Lorenzo Market.

There is the inside part called the Central Market and the outside part is a leather market.

You'll find everything for luxurious leather jackets to purses and little souvenirs as well.


10) Grab a Panini at All’antico Vinaio

When you ask most people where to grab a bite to eat in Florence, a lot of people will point you in the direction of this little sandwich shop.

Fast, relatively cheap, and in the heart of Florence, All'antico Vinaio is a great place to stop.

Lines can be long, but service is fast.

We also recommend taking a food tour! Italy is known for its incredible food, and the best way to taste the variety is with a local guide.

There are a number of food tour companies, such as Secret Food Tours.

This company currently offers a Florence food tour with 8 different stops and a variety of great samples including Florentine pizza, Tuscan Pecorino cheese, Prosciutto and many more.

They also offer a Florence wine tour for anyone interested in finding the best drinks in the city.

This outing allows you to try 6 different Tuscan wines at 3 different locations.

For even more options, take a look at the offerings from Florence by Foodies


(11) Discover the Brancacci Chapel

Visit the Brancacci Chapel, a true masterpiece of Renaissance art nestled in the heart of Tuscany. The chapel, located near the bustling Piazza della Repubblica, displays the artistic genius of Florence.

A recreation of Michelangelo's The Pieta located in Brancacci Chapel. Image source: Pixabay user Jacques Savoye.
A recreation of Michelangelo's The Pieta located in Brancacci Chapel. Image source: Pixabay user Jacques Savoye.

Its breathtaking architecture captures the essence of the Renaissance period, offering visitors a step back in time. Purchase an entrance ticket to explore the intricate frescoes and art pieces within.

While in the vicinity, think about dropping into a nearby cafe to enjoy a cool beverage or sample some authentic Tuscan treats.


(12) Experience Basilica di Santa Maria Novella

Just a short distance from the iconic Florence Cathedral and Giotto’s Bell Tower, you'll find the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella.

Beyond being an architectural masterpiece, it stands as a primary Dominican place of worship in the town.

Allegory of the Active and Triumphant Church and of the Dominican order (c. 1365), a fresco by Andrea di Bonaiuto da Firenze located at Basilica di Santa Maria Novella. Image source: Wikimedia under public domain.
Allegory of the Active and Triumphant Church and of the Dominican order (c. 1365), a fresco by Andrea di Bonaiuto da Firenze located at Basilica di Santa Maria Novella. Image source: Wikimedia under public domain.

Within its walls, you can observe a collection of magnificent art pieces echoing the flair of Leonardo da Vinci.

After marveling at the basilica’s interiors, take a leisurely stroll to the nearby Piazza Santo Spirito for some relaxation by the fountain.


(13) Explore more about Medici Chapels

The Medici Chapels are a testament to the Medici family's influence over Florence. Situated close to the bustling Mercato Centrale, the chapels house the tombs of several Medici members.

The interior of Basilica di San Lorenzo, home of the Medici Chapels. Image source: Wikimedia user Peter K. Burian under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
The interior of Basilica di San Lorenzo, home of the Medici Chapels. Image source: Wikimedia user Peter K. Burian under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

The chapels, a part of the larger Basilica di San Lorenzo, offer a unique blend of architecture and artistry.

No trip to Florence is complete without witnessing the grandeur of the Medici Chapels. Remember to check the entrance ticket prices before planning your visit.


(14) Uncover the Beauty of Loggia dei Lanzi

Situated in the renowned Piazza della Signoria, the Loggia dei Lanzi serves as an outdoor showcase for sculptures, drawing art lovers and historians from all over the world.

Being close to Palazzo Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor positions it as a top highlight in Florence.

A statue by Michelangelo located in Loggia dei Lanzi. Image source: Pixabay user Matteo Baronti.
A statue by Michelangelo located in Loggia dei Lanzi. Image source: Pixabay user Matteo Baronti.

Within, you can appreciate timeless art pieces that recall the genius of legends such as Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci.

After an enlightening visit, you might want to explore the nearby Accademia Gallery, where more artistic treasures await.


(15) Marvel at the Basilica di San Lorenzo

Basilica di San Lorenzo, among Florence's grandest churches, stands as an architectural masterpiece.

Designed with a touch of Brunelleschi’s dome style, this basilica is located close to the Palazzo Pitti.

The Basilica di San Lorenzo. Image source: Wikimedia user Teo Pollastrini under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
The Basilica di San Lorenzo. Image source: Wikimedia user Teo Pollastrini under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Its historical significance is closely tied to the Medici family, as it served as their parish church and burial place.

Before leaving, visit the connected Medici Chapels to complete the experience. And if you're looking for a quick snack or coffee, there's always a cafe around the corner in this part of town.


(16) Ascend to San Miniato al Monte

Perched high above the bustling streets of Florence, San Miniato al Monte offers panoramic views of the city, rivaled only by the nearby Piazzale Michelangelo.

This basilica, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, is not only an iconic attraction but also a spiritual haven for many.

A beautiful fresco at San Miniato al Monte. Image source: Pixabay user gerry64.
A beautiful fresco at San Miniato al Monte. Image source: Pixabay user gerry64.

The tranquility of San Miniato is complemented by its rich history and beautiful mosaic artworks.

While you're there, indulge in the serenity and remember to capture the picturesque views of Brunelleschi’s Dome and Florence Cathedral.

Before heading down, you might want to grab an entrance ticket for the basilica and explore its stunning interiors.


(17) Enjoy the Merry Go Round in Piazza della Repubblica

Florence houses the enchanting Carousel at Piazza della Repubblica, an attraction that never fails to capture the heart. It's a brief stroll from renowned sites like the Florence Cathedral and Giotto's Tower.

Piazza della Repubblica. Image source: Pixabay user user32212.
Piazza della Repubblica. Image source: Pixabay user user32212.

The carousel, with its brilliant hues and melodious tunes, brings a nostalgic flair to the plaza. Both youngsters and adults can't help but be enchanted by its magic.

Once the ride concludes, perhaps relax with a coffee in a nearby café, which provides a splendid viewpoint of this amusement gem.


(18) Immerse Yourself in Piazza Santo Spirito

Santo Spirito Square, merely steps away from Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, is the soul of the city's artistic neighborhood.

Known for its lively aura, this square frequently stages events and fairs, showcasing the finest of Tuscan produce.

Piazza Santo Spirito. Image source: Wikimedia user Lorenzo Testa under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
Piazza Santo Spirito. Image source: Wikimedia user Lorenzo Testa under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

A prominent fountain graces its center, often bustling with inhabitants and visitors. In its vicinity stands the revered Loggia dei Lanzi, bridging historical eras.

While there, it's a must to try the gastronomic delights from the surrounding dining establishments, introducing you to authentic Tuscan flavors.


(19) Scale the Tower at Palazzo Vecchio

Seeking an unparalleled panorama of Florence? Venture to Palazzo Vecchio and ascend its prominent tower.

Dominating the view from Piazza della Signoria, this tower epitomizes the architectural elegance of the times gone by.

The Tower at Palazzo Vecchio. Image source: Pixabay user Eagleeye56.
The Tower at Palazzo Vecchio. Image source: Pixabay user Eagleeye56.

Reaching its summit, the vistas unfold to reveal places like the Accademia Gallery and Basilica di San Lorenzo and, on a clear day, the far-off silhouette of San Miniato al Monte.

To immerse in the tower's rich heritage, secure an admission pass. And once you're back on terra firma, perhaps unwind at a café in proximity, reminiscing about your climb.


(20) Go on a Journey to Lucca

Nestled in the heart of Tuscany, the picturesque city of Lucca is a tapestry of history, culture, and Italian charm.

Its remarkably preserved Renaissance walls, which you can leisurely walk or cycle atop, encircle a realm of cobbled streets and historic edifices.

The peaceful city of Lucca from above. Image source: Pixabay user Makalu.
The peaceful city of Lucca from above. Image source: Pixabay user Makalu.

The elliptical-shaped Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, which traces its origins to a Roman amphitheater, lies at the heart of the city.

With every step, Lucca promises a delightful blend of past and present, offering visitors a serene escape into the soul of Tuscany.


Bonus: Grab Some Gelato!

Italy is famous for its food, especially the gelato!

Luckily there are plenty of shops all around Florence to indulge at. Taking top place is Gelateria La Carraia, which is recommended on a number of local sites.

It is named after the Ponte Alla Carraia, the city's second-oldest bridge, near where the first one opened, though there are now two locations. 


Bonus: Self-Guided Exploration Game

If you're looking for an interesting way to learn about and discover some of the most notable sites in Florence, these games will give you the opportunity to solve a mystery as you explore the city.

There are currently three different games available in Florence, one about the Medici family and the other two focusing on the darker side of this city's history.


DAY TRIPS

Italy is easy to get around by train or car. There are also Flex buses, which are cheap options to take between cities.

Some easy day trips we'd recommend are:

  • Pisa (about 1 hour and 15 minutes driving or train)
  • Assissi (2 hours by train)
  • Siena (about 1 hour 20 minutes driving)
  • Val d’Orchia (about 2 hours away from Florence driving)

Check this list of Day Trips from Florence to find one that fits your schedule.


WEEKEND TRIPS

For bigger cities, we recommend taking the weekend to explore them. There are easy to get to by car or train:

  • Milan-  Go shopping and visit the Duomo di Milano.
  • Venice- Explore this canal city and explore St. Mark's Square.

Y mucho, mucho más

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