Best things to do in Florence

Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Del Fiore​ - Florence, Italy

Welcome to Florence, located in Italy’s Tuscany region, where every corner is a discovery! Imagine strolling through the lush Boboli Gardens, wandering along the scenic Arno River, and marveling at the iconic Ponte Vecchio. Florence isn’t just a city; it’s a feast for the senses! With its colorful frescoes, charming cobblestone streets, and a mix of nature and architecture, you’re in for a treat. Whether it’s your first visit or not, our Florence guide is your ticket to an unforgettable journey filled with hidden gems and must-see attractions. Let’s explore the best things to do in Florence and discover its magic!

How to get to Florence

Plane to Florence

The closest major airport to Florence is Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR), also known as Peretola Airport. It is well-connected to many major European cities. From the airport, you can reach the city centre by taxi or the efficient tram system.

Train to Florence

Florence’s main train station, Santa Maria Novella (SMN), is a central hub for both domestic and international train services. The train is an excellent way to travel to and from other Italian cities like Rome, Venice, and Milan.

Bus to Florence

Several bus companies provide long-distance travel options to and from Florence. The bus station, located near the city center, is a convenient choice for travellers exploring nearby regions.

Car to Florence

While Florence’s historic center is mostly pedestrian-friendly and not car-accessible, if you plan to explore the surrounding Tuscan countryside, renting a car can be a great option.

Rent a car Tuscany

RENT A CAR Tuscany

The best way to experience Tuscany is to rent your own car! We recommend booking well in advance using price comparison sites like rental cars if traveling in the peak summer season.

Quick Facts about Florence

  • Florence is the capital of Tuscany
  • Florence was once the capital of Italy
  • The Historic Centre of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982
  • Florence is recognized for being the initial European urban center to establish paved streets
  • Florence is known as the birthplace of the piano
  • The construction of the Duomo di Firenze (Florence Cathedral) spanned a period of approximately 140 years
  • Culinary specialties of the city include the famous ‘Bistecca alla Fiorentina’, a large T-bone steak sourced from local Chianina cattle and traditionally grilled over a wood or charcoal fire
  • Florence is where the first opera was composed
  • Florence is also known for its influence in the field of fashion

What to do in Florence

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Del Fiore​ - Florence, Italy

The Duomo, Florence’s iconic Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, stands out as a must-visit historical site. Built in the 14th century, it was once the world’s largest church and remains third-largest in Europe. Famous for its unique Tuscan style, the cathedral’s exterior contrasts with its simpler interior. The dome, a pioneering work by Brunelleschi, offers breathtaking city views after a 463-step climb. The Duomo is also a historical landmark, notably the site of Giuliano dè Medici’s assassination in 1478, reflecting the Medici’s significant influence on Florence’s history.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

The cathedral is generally open Monday to Saturday from 10:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., and the dome Monday to Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.,
Saturdays from 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., and Sundays from 12:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
For those primarily interested in climbing the 400+ steps, it’s advisable to arrive early when the doors open around 8:30 a.m. to avoid crowds.

Admission is from €25 for adults , from €10 for children and free for infants (0-5 y.o.)
Florence Dome Climb Priority Entrance Tour: €39.
Of course there are other combined tickets and guided tours.

Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio​ - Florence, Tuscany

Palazzo Vecchio, set in Piazza Signoria, serves as the city’s historical city hall and is a key example of Renaissance design. This ‘old palace’, so named after the newer Palazzo Pitti, is home to a wealth of art and frescoes, including notable artifacts like Dante’s death mask. It features hidden passages and a tower offering views of the prison where Savonarola was detained. Its Salone dei Cinquecento is particularly famous for its grandeur, and the palace also displays works by famous artists such as Donatello and Michelangelo. Below it, remnants of a Roman theater add to its historical significance.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Arnolfo Tower is open from April 1 to September 30: 9 am –7 pm; October 1 to March 31: 9 am – 7 pm; on Thursdays closing time is 2 pm; last admission is one hour before closing.
Museum is open Friday to Wednesday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm and Thursday 9:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Admission for the museum is €12.50, for the tower €12.50, and combined €17.50 (included in the Firenze Card).

Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Gallery - Florence, Italy

Uffizi Gallery is recognized as the city’s most prominent art gallery, distinguished by its remarkable collection of Renaissance artworks. Originating from the influential Medici family, the gallery features significant works like Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” along with creations from Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, and other notable artists. The gallery, housed in a Giorgio Vasari-designed building from the 16th century, is both an art treasure trove and an architectural gem. Covering art from the late medieval era to the Baroque period and including classical sculptures, the Uffizi offers a comprehensive art history experience. Visitors can explore its depth through guided or self-guided audio tours, delving into the rich artistic heritage of Florence.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

The Uffizi is open from 8:15 am to 6:30 pm and it is closed on Monday.

Admission is €20 March 1 to October 31; €12 November 1 to February 28(included in the Firenze Card).

Good to know

The Uffizi Gallery’s upper windows offer a splendid view of Ponte Vecchio.

Galleria dell’Accademia

Galleria dell’Accademia​ - Florence, Italy

Galleria dell’Accademia is best known for housing Michelangelo’s iconic sculpture, David, a must-see attraction for its detailed craftsmanship. Beyond David, the gallery presents an array of important artworks, including pieces by early Florentine masters like Giotto and a collection of musical instruments from historical Tuscan grand dukes. Serving also as an art school, the Galleria dell’Accademia enriches its visitors with a diverse range of sculptures, Florentine paintings, medieval religious prints, and Russian icons. 

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Galleria dell’Accademia  is open from 8:15 am to 6:30 pm. It is closed on January 1, December 25 and every Monday.

Admission is 16€ (regular) and 2€ (reduced EU citizens 18-25).

Stroll through the Bardini and Boboli Gardens

Bardini and Boboli Gardens - Florence, Italy

Oltrarno in Florence, similar to Rome’s Trastevere, is a quieter neighborhood known for its literal translation, “beyond the Arno River”. It’s famous for the less-visited but picturesque Bardini Gardens, a part of a Renaissance-era villa. Key attractions here include a wisteria tunnel, best in bloom from April to October, and a long medieval staircase leading to an exceptional city view.

The Boboli Gardens, originally part of the Medici family’s estate, were opened to the public in the late 18th century. This expansive green space provides a peaceful retreat from the busy city center, featuring numerous sculptures and grottos, including Giambologna’s Bathing Venus, and the Isolotto, a prominent fountain at the park’s southwestern end.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Boboli Gardens opens at 8:15 am; closing time varies depending upon the season;

Bardini garden is open every day from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. Entrance to the garden is allowed until 3.00 pm.
It is closed on the first and last Monday of every month.

Admission for Bardini Gardens is 6 (full ticket) and 2€ (reduced ticket, which is applicable for individuals aged between 18 and 26 years from the European Community). 
Regarding the Boboli Gardens, the entry fee is 11 (standard ticket) and 3 for a reduced price ticket. Visitors under 17 years of age can enter for free. The ticket also grants access to Villa Bardini and its exhibitions, with the full price set at 10 and the reduced price at 5€.

Palazzo Pitti

Palazzo_Pitti - Florence

Constructed in 1457 by Brunelleschi on behalf of the Pitti family, the Pitti Palace underwent a significant transformation in 1550 when it was acquired by Cosimo I de’ Medici, becoming the new Grand Ducal residence. Today, the palace hosts five distinct museums, showcasing a wide range of art and historical collections. These include the Museum of Russian Icons, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, the Imperial and Royal Apartments, the Museum of Costume and Fashion, and the Gallery of Modern Art.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Pitti Palace is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:15 am to 6:30 pm
Admission is €14 for a combined ticket (included in the Firenze Card).

Piazza della Signoria

Piazza Della Signoria​ - Florence, Italy

Piazza della Signoria is a distinguished historical and artistic landmark in the city. Known for its direct view of the Palazzo Vecchio, this piazza is rich in history and adorned with significant statues like the ancient Fountain of Neptune and the replica of Michelangelo’s David. Nearby, the Uffizi Gallery, offering expedited entry with timed tickets, is an essential visit for art lovers, featuring original works by Da Vinci and Michelangelo. The piazza also has historical significance, marked by the location of Savonarola’s execution and the ‘fire of the Vanities.’ This combination of art, history, and cultural importance makes Piazza della Signoria a compelling destination in Florence.

Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo​

Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence is a highly regarded viewpoint, famous for its expansive panorama of the city. This location is particularly known for its stunning views of key sites such as the Duomo, Arnolfo Tower of Palazzo Vecchio, and the Uffizi. It’s a lively spot, especially at sunset when crowds gather to witness the day’s close against a backdrop of the city’s distinctive terracotta rooftops. Although it tends to draw a lot of visitors, the experience of viewing Florence from this vantage point is unforgettable.

For those looking for a quieter but equally impressive view, the town of Fiesole is a good alternative, providing a similar perspective on Florence. Piazzale Michelangelo, situated in the Oltrarno district, is reachable for those willing to walk a bit, with a winding path leading up to the square. Notably, the square also features a replica of Michelangelo’s David, enhancing its status as a key destination for those visiting Florence for the first time.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio​ - Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, often likened to London’s Tower Bridge, is a storied icon of Florence. Known as the “Old Bridge,” it replaced a previous bridge and was historically occupied by butchers, fishmongers, and bakers before a flood in the early 14th century destroyed it. The rebuilt bridge, initially hosting local food stores, was transformed by Grand Duke Ferdinand I of the Medici family into the center of Florence’s gold and jewel trade, a role it still holds today.

The bridge is not only a significant architectural marvel with its stone archways and shops built into its sides but also houses a hidden gem – the Vasari Corridor. This secret passage, constructed by the Medici family, connects their residence, Palazzo Pitti, to the town hall, Palazzo Vecchio.

Ponte Vecchio offers a picturesque scene, especially beautiful at sunset. While popular for shopping, savvy visitors often choose to explore beyond the bridge for better souvenir deals. An authentic way to experience its beauty is through a gondola tour on the Arno River, offering a unique view from beneath the bridge, although these tours can be pricey. Today, the bridge, dominated by jewelers, continues to be a bustling spot, drawing visitors eager to experience this historic site in Florence.

Cappelle Medicee or Medici Chapels

While the Duomo commands much of the attention, the second-largest dome in Florence often goes unnoticed. This exquisite space is adorned from floor to ceiling with opulent marble and glistening jewels reminiscent of scenes from the movies. If you can tear your gaze away from the breathtaking frescoes, venture into the smaller chapel to behold some of Michelangelo’s most exquisite sculptures.

Opening hours And Ticket Price

Open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 2:00 pm – 6:30 pm. Saturday and Monday: 8:45 am – 1:30 pm. Closed every Tuesday and only open occasionally on Sundays.

Admission is 8.50 € (included in the Firenze card).

Leather shops and Mercato Centrale

Leather shops and Mercato Centrale​ - Florence, Italy

The ideal places to discover top-quality leather goods in Florence are its local markets and stores.

Renaissance Florence was renowned not only for its art, banking, and political intrigue but also for its exceptional leather craftsmanship. This tradition endures today and can be found everywhere, from the street stalls of San Lorenzo to high-end boutiques.

Mercato Centrale, an elegant iron-and-glass structure designed by architect Giuseppe Mengoni in 1874, provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to explore and purchase delectable Italian foods. The ground floor houses vendors who sell a variety of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, fish, olive oil, vinegars, truffle products, and other local delicacies. On the upper floor, you’ll find a modern food hall with shops that offer a wide array of culinary treats, including pizza, gelato, and Tuscan specialties such as lampredotto, porchetta, and trippa. Visitors can enjoy a meal there or collect items for a delightful picnic. In the vicinity of the market building, you’ll encounter numerous vendors selling artwork, pottery, jewelry, leather goods, clothing, souvenirs, and more.

Santa Croce

Santa Croce​ - Florence, Italy

Santa Croce shares a similar architectural style with the Duomo, both representing dominant Gothic characteristics. While its exterior may not be as intricate as that of the Florence Duomo, it still captivates with its stunning design. Tourists flock here to pay homage to famous Italians like the artist Michelangelo, scientist Galileo Galilei, and political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, whose tombs and memorials are situated within the church. Additionally, Santa Croce boasts what some consider the most significant art collection among all Italian churches, featuring remarkable frescoes created by Giotto.

Vasari Corridor

Borgo Stretto - Pisa, Tuscany

As we mentioned before it is a secret passage. The Vasari Corridor, stretching for one kilometer in length, was meticulously planned by Giorgio Vasari with the intention of linking the administrative offices of the Medici family at Palazzo Vecchio to their private residence at Palazzo Pitti, situated on the opposite side of the river.

Beyond its practical function of providing a secure means of movement for Medici family members, the Vasari Corridor stands as a symbol of prestige. Rather than just a conventional corridor, it takes the form of a bridge, affording unique vistas of the city from an alternative standpoint. Along this route, a substantial collection of paintings and self-portraits is still on display, narrating the rich history of Florence.

St Mark's English Church

St. Mark’s English Church, situated within a former Medici palace, is known for its exceptional choral performances and its role as a hub for the English-speaking community in Florence.

Visitors are encouraged to attend the weekly Anglican Mass featuring the choir. Additionally, the church is a venue for concerts and opera performances. If you extend your stay in Florence, it’s advisable to inquire about any upcoming events hosted by St. Mark’s.

Baptistry of St. John

Baptistry of St. John ​- Florence, Italy

The Baptistry of St. John in Florence, situated directly in front of the Florence Cathedral (Il Duomo), is often mistaken for part of the Cathedral due to its close proximity and similar design. However, it is an independent church and holds the status of a minor Basilica.

This historic structure has a rich heritage, dating back to the late 11th century. It gained widespread fame for its remarkable bronze doors, meticulously designed and crafted by Lorenzo Ghiberti over a span of 27 years. These doors, now known as the “Gates of Paradise,” earned effusive praise from Michelangelo, who described them as such. 

Rub The Boar’s Nose

Leather shops and Mercato Centrale​ - Florence, Italy

The Il Porcellino statue in Mercato Nuovo is a bronze replica of a Roman marble copy of an original Greek bronze wild boar statue. The Romans, influenced by Greek art, often created marble copies of Greek bronze sculptures. In the 17th century, the Medici family obtained this Roman marble copy and commissioned Pietro Tacca to create a bronze version, which became a popular fountain.

Local superstition surrounds this small monument. To ensure good luck, visitors place a coin in the boar’s mouth and let it roll off the tongue into the water below. If the coin passes through a fine grate in the water system, it is believed to bring good fortune.

Stibbert Museum

The Stibbert Museum, located outside Florence’s historic center, is a hidden gem worth visiting. Frederick Stibbert’s private collection of armor, artwork, and furniture is now open to the public in his villa. Notable highlights include a fully reconstructed army in battle armor and Napoleon’s coronation cloak. The museum offers an interactive learning space and is a great place for both adults and children to explore.

Florence's Street Art

Florence is known for its Renaissance art, but the city’s contemporary artistic expression is flourishing. The vibrant contemporary art scene in Florence seamlessly blends tradition with innovation, creating a dynamic and captivating landscape. Beyond the classic masterpieces, the streets of Florence come alive with modern street art and innovative installations, showcasing the city’s evolution as a hub for artistic creativity. This fusion of the old and the new adds an exciting dimension to Florence’s rich artistic heritage, making it a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts seeking a diverse and dynamic cultural experience.

Sip Wine From An Ancient Wine Door

You’ve probably heard about the famous wine doors in Florence, which are a unique feature primarily found in this city. These historical doors have their origins in the 1500s when nobility were granted the privilege of selling their wines directly to customers, bypassing taxes and the need for a traditional store.

Their popularity surged during the 1600s during the plague, when people preferred minimal contact with others. To get wine, all you had to do was knock on one of these doors, and a servant would refill your bottle or provide a new one upon payment. It was a convenient and straightforward process.

As you explore Florence, keep an eye out for these wine doors scattered throughout the city. While many are no longer in use, some are still operational. Interestingly, there’s even one that serves gelato instead of wine 🙂

What to eat and where

Sample local specialties such as “Ribollita,” a hearty vegetable soup; “Pappa al Pomodoro,” a tomato and bread soup; and the famous “Bistecca alla Fiorentina,” a succulent Florentine steak cooked to perfection. Each dish is a journey through the flavours and traditions of Tuscany.

For a quick and delicious bite, explore Florence’s street food scene. “Schiacciata,” a Tuscan flatbread, “Lampredotto,” a tripe sandwich, and “Gelato” are popular street food options that offer a taste of authentic Florentine flavours.

Visit Florence’s vibrant markets, such as the Mercato Centrale and the Sant’Ambrogio Market, to experience the city’s culinary diversity. Additionally, food tours offer an immersive culinary experience, allowing you to sample local delicacies and learn about their history.

Reccomended places: All’antico Vinaio (Thano’s favourite), Osteria Cinghiale Bianco, Buca Mario, La Buchetta Food & Wine Restaurant

Where to Stay

Florence boasts historic palaces converted into luxurious hotels, such as the St. Regis Florence and the Hotel Savoy. These opulent establishments provide world-class service and a taste of Renaissance elegance.

For a more intimate experience, consider staying in boutique guesthouses like the Ad Astra or the Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni. These charming accommodations offer a personalized and cozy atmosphere.

Budget-conscious travellers can find affordable hostels and guesthouses throughout the city. Hostels like Plus Florence provide a comfortable stay with a social atmosphere.


Is the Firenze Card worth it?

The Firenze Card costs €85, and it provides access to multiple museums and attractions in Florence. The card offers priority entrance at some of the busiest museums in Florence, like the Uffizi and Accademia. If you’re visiting during the high season or have limited time, the priority access can save you valuable time. The Firenze Card+ includes unlimited travel on ATAF/Linea bus lines and trams for an additional fee. This can be useful if you intend to explore areas outside the city center using public transportation.

In conclusion, whether the Firenze Card is worth buying depends on your specific travel plans, the number of museums you intend to visit, and whether you value the convenience of priority access. If you plan to visit multiple museums and attractions in Florence over a 72-hour period, it can be a convenient and cost-effective option. However, if you have limited time or only plan to visit a few major museums, it may be more economical to purchase individual tickets for those attractions.

What is the local cuisine in Florence?

Florence is known for its delicious Tuscan cuisine. Some local specialties include ribollita (vegetable soup), bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine steak), and pappa al pomodoro (tomato and bread soup). Don’t forget to try gelato from one of the city’s famous gelaterias.

How many days do you need in Florence?

For an ideal experience, consider allocating at least two days or more for your visit to Florence. This timeframe allows you to explore the city’s top attractions at a relaxed pace, ensuring that you can fully appreciate them without rushing. If you have more than two days, it opens up opportunities to discover lesser-known, hidden gems within Florence and even venture on day trips to explore the beautiful Tuscan countryside.

When is the best time to visit Florence?

The optimal periods to travel to Florence are typically from mid-April to early June and from September to mid-October. During these times, you can enjoy your visit with fewer crowds and pleasant weather. It’s worth noting that the summer months tend to be the busiest in Florence, resulting in large crowds, extended wait times, and higher hotel rates.

Are there any festivals or events that I should be aware of while in Florence?

Florence hosts various events throughout the year, including cultural festivals, art exhibitions, and religious celebrations. Check the local calendar for any festivals or events happening during your visit.

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