75 Fantastic & Fun Things to Do in FlorenceItaly
Despite the relatively small size of the Cradle of the Renaissance, there are a ridiculous number of fun things to do in Florence–which is a big part of why we love it.
Florence is one of our favorite cities in the entire world, and no matter how many times we go back, we will always plan to return.
The delicious food, accessible day trips, beautiful architecture, fascinating history, and the endless number of things to do in Florence all work together to leave us permanently enthralled with the city.
Trying to decide what to do in Florence for your upcoming trip? We’ve put together this Florence bucket list just for that!
Because this list got so long, I went ahead and divided things into categories to make it easier to find what you’re looking for: whether that’s an epic food experience, the perfect view of Florence, the quirkiest museum in town, or something else entirely, you’ll find it here!
Table of Contents
- Overwhelmed By 75 Things to Do in Florence?
- 75 Fun Things to Do in Florence
- Incredible Viewpoints in Florence
- Fascinating Museums in Florence
- Churches & Monuments
- The Best Food Experiences in Florence
- Markets to Visit
- Other Florence Stops to Make
- More Epic Experiences to Have in Florence
- Fun Day Trips from Florence
- Where to Stay in Florence
Overwhelmed By 75 Things to Do in Florence?
I don’t blame you–as interesting as it is to dive into all the available fun things to do in Florence during a long trip or over a series of return visits, if this is your first trip to the city, you’re probably wondering where to start.
The short version: make sure to see the Piazza del Duomo, the Piazza della Repubblica, Mercate Centrale, the Piazza Signoria, the Uffizi Gallery or the Galleria dell’Accademia (or both, depending on time), and the Ponte Vecchio.
Make sure to choose at least one epic Florence viewpoint to experience, too! The cupola at the Duomo is most popular (but requires advance planning), Piazzale Michelangelo is also popular and has the benefit of being free, and the Palazzo Vecchio is one of our personal favorites.
For more detail, be sure to check out our suggested one day Florence itinerary and 2 day Florence itinerary. These posts contain all our advice on how to structure a quick trip to Florence–especially for first-time visitors.
75 Fun Things to Do in Florence
Incredible Viewpoints in Florence
Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower.
Florence’s famous Duomo has two options for climbing if you’re looking for an incredible view over Florence, and the less-touristed option is our personal preference.
Climbing Giotto’s Bell Tower ensures that not only you get an amazing view of Florence itself, you also get a close-up view of the famous cupola–it’s hard to admire the iconic structure when you’re standing on it!
As a bonus, you don’t need to book tickets for the bell tower days in advance the way you do for the cupola.
Climb the cupola (aka Brunelleschi’s dome).
If you’re looking for the most iconic viewpoint in Florence, this is it: a masterpiece of Filippo Brunelleschi, Florence’s cupola has been reaching high above the city since 1436 and was completed in only 16 years once Brunelleschi took over (the cathedral had been incomplete for 80 years beforehand).
The cupola is considered a feat of engineering even today, and is the third largest dome in the world, beaten out only be St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The climb up the cupola will take you up inside the dome, giving you a chance to view the impressive interior murals close-up before reaching the exterior of the dome.
If you want to complete the climb, this is what you need to know: purchase tickets days in advance (maybe even a week or more in the summer high season), as it is almost always sold out. Know that the climb can be a struggle for those who are scared of heights and that the climb itself is a bit intense–all 463 steps of it!
Plan ahead: book your guided visit to the cupola now!
Admire the view from the Piazzale Michelangelo.
The Piazzale Michelangelo is both free and home to one of the most beautiful views over Florence: head here on a clear afternoon to get a great view of the Arno River, several of Florence’s bridges (including the Ponte Vecchio), the Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, and more–all in one overarching view!
This is the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the city as it is free to enter and you can stay as long as you like, consider spending an evening in Florence watching the sun go down from up above.
Check out the view from the top of the Palazzo Vecchio.
Most viewpoints in Florence feature the Palazzo Vecchio, with its tower stretching into the sky, as a prominent landmark… but don’t forget that you can climb the tower itself!
Boasting excellent views of the Duomo, climbing the Palazzo Vecchio is a fabulous, and less touristed, view of Florence–and it happens to be one of our personal favorites!
Visit San Miniato al Monte.
High in the hills–higher even than the popular Piazzale Michelangelo–sits the thousand-year-old San Miniato al Monte church.
On top of the church’s beautiful interior and classic Tuscan exterior, the view of Florence from the front of San Miniato al Monte is incredible!
You can hike up to the viewpoint, but we visited by way of vintage Vespa!
Book your vintage Vespa tour!
Hike to Fiesole.
Up for a bit of a hike?
The town of Fiesole, high above Florence, is about a 1.5-2 hour hike from the center of the city.
Make the climb on a clear day for a chance to get some incredible views of Florence while also checking out another corner of Tuscany!
Head to the top of the Tower of San Niccolo.
The Tower of San Niccolo is a bit harder to access than many of these viewpoints: open only on certain summer afternoons from June to September, its limited hours are worth working around if you happen to be in Florence at the right time of year–the sweeping views of Florence are supposed to be magical.
Admire the view from the Rose Garden.
The smell of the rose garden during spring is intoxicating: roses spill out from every corner and along each walkway in this beautiful garden, and they make the perfect companion to admire one of the prettiest views in Florence.
Set just below the Piazzale Michelangelo, this garden is easy to visit on your way up or down to the Piazzale.
Though it is open year-round, the Rose Garden is at its best during May and June, when the roses are blooming.
Stare out over Tuscany near the Porcelain Museum.
Tucked into the back of the Boboli Gardens sits the Porcelain Museum, and it is a must-see on any list of things to do in Florence.
Not for the museum itself–it’s small and worth a peek into, but not unforgettable–but for the gorgeous views of the Tuscan countryside that are available from the small garden in front of the museum.
From this vantage point, it’s hard to remember that the hustle and bustle of Florence are so close behind you–from here, it’s all about rolling hills and country villas, as far as the eye can see.
Admire the Ponte Vecchio without the crowds near the entrance to Hotel Lungarno.
We originally found this viewpoint through the guide on a food tour we took in Florence, and we’ve returned a couple of times since.
On the Otranto side of the river, there is a small walkway between two buildings along the Arno River (one of which is the Hotel Lungarno) that dead-ends into an epic view of the Ponte Vecchio.
It must be an absolute dream for the guests of the hotel to wake up to that view! If you feel like really, really splurging while in Florence, you can even try it out for yourself.
Luckily, though, the view is also excellent from the outside… and that one is free.
Fascinating Museums in Florence
Visit the Uffizi Gallery.
One of the most famous things to do in Florence, the epic Uffizi Gallery hosts works by Renaissance legends like Da Vinci, Vasari, and Botticelli–you’ll need at least two hours to give this art gallery its due!
This is one thing in Florence that we absolutely recommend purchasing tickets in advance for: lines are extremely long and can eat into your precious time in the gallery or the rest of Florence.
Shop affordable tours & scheduled entrance to the Uffizi here!
Go to La Specola (the Zoological & Anatomical Museum).
As the oldest scientific museum in Europe, you know this museum is just bound to be cool.
Best known for its 18th-century collection of wax anatomical models, La Specola is also home to various scientific instruments dating back several centuries, many taxidermied animals (including a hippopotamus that once lived in the Boboli Gardens as a pet of the Medici Family, who apparently had wildly bizarre taste in pets), and a wealth of knowledge on Italian contributions to science throughout the years.
Say hello to David at the Galleria dell’Accademia.
Unlike the large Uffizi Gallery, the Galleria dell’Accademia is much smaller and essentially exists to show off one piece of artwork: Michelangelo’s magnificent David in all his glory, housed in a room built especially for the statue!
There is not much else to see in the gallery, so you won’t need a terribly long time here, but be sure to check out some of Michelangelo’s unfinished statues that are in the museum, a room stuffed to the brim with plaster molds of what later became beautiful marble statues, and a small series of rooms featuring gorgeous musical instruments!
Shop affordable tours & schedule entrance to the Galleria dell’Accademia here!
See incredible sculpture at the Bargello National Museum.
Want to visit an elaborate art museum that once served as a prison?
That’s what you’ll find at the Bargello National Museum–as one of the oldest buildings in Florence, it has quite the history!
Today, you’ll find some truly impressive works of art in the museum, which is focused on sculpture.
Check out the Stibbert Museum.
The Stibbert Museum has a bit of a different origin story than many museums in Florence: in the 19th century, the wealthy Frederick Stibbert dedicated his life to acquiring interesting objects, amassing an incredibly large private collection by the time of his death in the early 20th century.
At the time of his death, the collection was given to the city of Florence, who opened a museum in Stibbert’s former home to the public to showcase the collection.
If you’re interested in historical armor, this is a must on your things to do in Florence list: most notably, the museum holds around 16,000 pieces of armor from locations that span the globe and times dating from the 15th to the 19th century.
Pay a visit to the offbeat Museo Opificio delle Pietre Dure.
One of the more unique museums in Florence, the small Museo Opificio delle Pietre Dure is home to some impressive stone inlay work and mosaics, primarily working with semi-precious stones.
Closely connected to the art workshop that bears the same name, this is a great place to get a taste of traditional Florentine artistic practices.
Visit the Laurentian Library.
A library built partially by Michelangelo: you just know that has to be worth a visit, right?
Though Michelangelo left Florence before the project was completed, he was nonetheless involved from start to finish through instructions and letters to those who took over–and the result is a beautiful library, originally commissioned by the omnipresent Medici family, that still stands today.
Check out the Palazzo Strozzi Museum.
Though it is home to a permanent exhibit discussing the history of the Palazzo Strozzi, the Palazzo Strozzi Museum is one that you’re going to want to check on before visiting: it typically hosts three rotating art exhibits throughout any given year.
Frequently emphasizing modern and international art, a visit to the Palazzo Strozzi might be the answer for you if you’re an art lover looking for a little artistic variety in a city dominated by the Renaissance.
Duck into the Porcelain Museum.
Small but pretty, the porcelain museum is worth adding to your list of things to do in Florence if you’re already going to be visiting the Boboli Gardens–the museum is contained within the gardens, and doesn’t have an additional entrance fee beyond entering the gardens themselves.
Check out the Galileo Museum.
Also known as the Museum of the History of Science, the Galileo is a must-see in Florence for anyone interested in science as a whole.
Pay a visit to the Gucci Museum.
Have an interest in high fashion? Consider adding the Gucci Museum to your list of fun things to do in Florence!
This museum traces the history of the Gucci label and is complete with vintage Gucci clothes from throughout the decades.
Located right next to the Piazza Signoria, if you’ve ever visited Florence before, you’ve probably walked right by this tiny museum.
Marvel at the interior of the Palazzo Pitti.
Today, a large part of the Palazzo Pitti (lived in for centuries by the prominent Medici family) is taken up by the Palatine Gallery.
Part art gallery and part historical museum, the Palazzo Pitti’s stunning interior is absolutely worth a look while in Florence.
Temporary exhibits, from modern art to fashion and beyond, often also pop up at the Palazzo Pitti.
The famous Boboli Gardens, which were historically part of the Palazzo Pitti estate, are located right behind the home, so be sure to plan to see both of these spots in Florence on the same day!
Learn all about Da Vinci’s inventions at the Da Vinci Museum.
Centuries later, Leonardo da Vinci is better known for his paintings than his machines–but in addition to being a painter, Da Vinci had an extraordinary curiosity about both the workings of the human body and various machines and inventions.
It is the last items that the Da Vinci Museum focuses on–complete with actual machines built from Da Vinci’s designs, this museum is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the mind of Da Vinci beyond the Mona Lisa.
Churches & Monuments
Step inside the Duomo.
Though the Duomo is technically named the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, locals and tourists alike know the structure that famously dominates Florence’s skyline simply as the Duomo (literally translated: “the dome”).
Italian cathedrals aren’t as elaborate inside as, say, Spanish ones, but they are beautiful, and the Duomo is very Italian–don’t forget to admire the incredible marble floors once you’re done staring up into the dome itself!
Entrance to the interior of the Duomo is free, though other surrounding attractions such as climbing the dome or bell tower do cost money and require you to purchase tickets in advance.
Visit the Santa Maria Novella Church.
Located near the Santa Maria train station bearing the same name, the Santa Maria Novella Church holds the curious designation of being remarkably close to some of Florence’s best-known sights, while at the same time frequently being missed out on by tourists.
Don’t make that mistake when deciding what to do in Florence: the Santa Maria Novella Church is beautiful, quiet, and home to not only some impressive works of art, but some additional buildings, such as a cloister and a chapel, that make it absolutely worth a visit while in Florence.
As a bonus, you’ll likely experience the church with far fewer crowds than you’ll see at the nearby Duomo!
Tour the Palazzo Vecchio.
How many cities can say that their current city hall has been serving in that role since the 13th century?
Not many, I’d guess, but Florence sure can! The Palazzo Vecchio, located right next door to the Uffizi Museum, is still Florence’s seat of government.
These days, though, much of the building functions as a museum as well: stop by for a dash of history, a sprinkle of art, and some great views of Florence!
Skip the line by booking your Palazzo Vecchio tickets in advance!
Check out the Santa Croce Church.
Did you know that Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Galileo–all Italians who are notable in wildly different ways–are all buried in the same place?
They are–and that place is Santa Croce Church in Florence!
Visit Santa Croce Church, and you’ll see not only these graves but memorials to many other famous Italians who are buried elsewhere, such as Da Vinci and Dante.
Head inside the Battistero di San Giovanni.
At nearly 1000 years old, the baptistery is one of the oldest standing buildings in Florence, and historically among the most impressive–it’s not every day that you get to see the spot where Dante was baptized!
When visiting the baptistery, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the intricately carved bronze doors on the exterior (they face the front of the Duomo). You’ll likely have to fight through a crowd to take a look, but they are exquisite.
Visit the Tempio Maggiore.
Florence’s beautiful houses of worship are naturally heavily weighted toward Catholicism, but the Great Synagogue is also stunning!
Tempio Maggiore is intricately designed both inside and out–be sure to stop by for a visit, and also look for its distinct turquoise arch in Florence’s skyline when you’re at Piazzale Michelangelo!
Step inside the Basilica de San Lorenzo.
As one of the largest churches in Florence, San Lorenzo is incredibly easy to work into your list of things to do in Florence: set mere steps away from the San Lorenzo Market, Mercato Centrale, and the Laurentian Library, this basilica is nothing if not easy to access.
Once the parish of the Medici family, you can step inside for a look into history that dates back around 1700 years (though this particular building was built on the site in 1400’s).
Keep in mind that this basilica is strict about its dress code (knees and shoulders covered), and unlike some churches in Italy, doesn’t have scarves on hand to cover with–you’ll need to dress according to the dress code or bring your own scarf to visit.
See the robes of St. Francis in the Church of Ognissanti.
This church is far from the best known in Florence, but those familiar with St. Francis of Assisi might be surprised to learn that his robes are actually in this small church in Florence.
The Best Food Experiences in Florence
Take a food tour.
For those of us from outside of Italy, it’s easy to fall in the habit of talking about “Italian food”… but truly, the regional differences in food in Italy are just as substantial as, say, the regional differences between the food in Southern California and Maine, or Minnesota and Georgia: there are some similarities, sure, but there are also large differences.
That’s one of the best reasons to take a food tour in Florence (other than, you know, the joy of eating all the food): you’ll learn so much about Tuscan cuisine specifically, and probably learn about some delicious new foods while you’re at it!
We recommend taking a food tour as early in your Florence trip as possible so that you can use your newfound knowledge to sniff out tasty meals for the rest of your trip!
We loved this evening food tour of the Oltrarno area in Florence! The food was delicious, the guide excellent, and we learend quite a bit about Tuscan food!
Try bistecca alla fiorentina.
The classic Florentine steak is popular for a reason: it is delicious!
Though a bit pricey, definitely try it out while you are in Florence–and keep in mind that these steaks are enormous! You’ll definitely want to split your bistecca alla fiorentina with another person, or perhaps even two other people for good measure.
Try your hand at a Tuscan cooking class.
Tuscan cooking classes will take your new Tuscan food expertise to a whole new level: whether you want to participate in an all-day affair that includes enough food that you’ll need to roll yourself out of the kitchen by the end (we strongly recommend this experience!) or a smaller class that focuses on one or two dishes (say, pasta or tiramisu), there’s a Tuscan cooking class for you!
Many cooking classes offered in Florence are actually offered slightly outside the city with a view of the Tuscan countryside, which is an added bonus! Our day of cooking up fresh pasta, ragu, tiramisu, Napoli-style pizza, pork, and more while sipping glass after glass of Chianti and staring out at the hills of Tuscany still ranks as one of our favorite memories from our many trips to Italy!
This is the cooking class we took in Florence, and we can’t recommend it enough!
Experience a wine tasting.
What trip to Tuscany would be complete without a wine tasting?
Whether you want to purchase a flight or two from a wine shop in Florence or you want the full experience of being driven out to a Tuscan winery (highly recommend a tour for this–you don’t want to be worrying about your own transportation after going through a full wine tasting considering how generously Tuscans pour!), there’s a wine experience for you.
Your options for choosing a wine tour in Florence are endless, but if this is your first time on one, this tour offers a great balance of stops at a mid-range price without eating up too much of your time in Florence!
Check out the Archea Brewery.
Not a wine drinker? No problem–Florence is also home to its very own craft brewery!
Stop by for the beer drinkers among you, or simply for a change of pace between all of those glasses of wine.
Devour a full Tuscan meal.
Antipasto, primo piatto, secondo piatto, dolce, caffe, digestivo… sound like a lot of food?
It is… and I even left several courses out (like the optional contorno/side dish): Italian dinners are serious business!
When making a list of things to do in Florence, though, we fully recommend adding at least one full, multi-hour, gut-busting Tuscan meal (complete with plenty of wine) to it–it truly is an experience you’ll never forget.
We still cherish the first experience we had with one, which was at the delicious and well-recommended Il Latini restaurant in Florence!
Munch on some Gusta Pizza.
True, Napoli-style pizza, complete with the wood-burning oven that produces that specific and absurdly addicting crust that Italian pizzas are known for, is actually quite rare in Florence–it’s not much of a Tuscan tradition.
However, odds are that an Italy itinerary that includes Florence likely won’t include Naples on the same trip, so you still need to get your pizza fix!
Add Gusta Pizza to your things to do in Florence list: it is widely regarded as the best pizza in Florence, in large part because they have a proper wood-burning oven to cook the pizzas in.
The restaurant has a small interior and is wildly popular, so after watching your pizza get made right in front of you, we recommend instead of fighting for a table inside the restaurant, take your pizza for a short stroll over to the nearby Palazzo Pitti and to happily devour it while people-watching.
Eat all the gelato.
Fun fact: while gelato is popular in all of Italy and beyond, it was invented right in Florence!
We have eaten everything from the most highly recommended artisan gelatos to whatever touristy gelato was closest when the craving struck while in Florence, and we haven’t had a bad scoop yet–so don’t worry too much about picking the “wrong” gelato (plus, there’s always the next cone).
However, if you’re looking for the most authentic gelato, here’s what to know: the beautiful mounds of gelato that look great in store windows are for the tourists, not the foodies. Those gelatos were not created in-house.
For an in-house created gelato, your best bet is to find shops that store the gelato in silver containers, out of sight. The display is less impactful that way, but the gelato is more authentic and more likely to be made on-site.
Two gelato shops we love in Florence are Gelateria Edoardo for creative flavors (try the cinnamon!) and Gelateria Della Passera for its creamy texture and competitive prices!
In the fall, sample fresh olive oil.
From late October through November, something very special happens in Tuscany: the olive oil harvest.
Unlike wine, which often improves with age, olive oil is at its best when it is first pressed–and if you’re visiting Florence during the harvest, that can often mean getting to taste olive oil that was pressed that same day!
We have never had olive oil as delicious as what we had access to during our last fall visit to Florence. It is an experience to remember, and the only downside is that no other olive oil will ever taste quite as delicious again.
If you’re looking for things to do in Florence during the harvest season, you may even be able to head out to the Tuscan countryside to pick some olives yourself and learn about the process!
Enjoy a simple but tasty lunch at a panino shop.
Panino shops are ubiquitous in Florence–they seem to be around every corner, each one smaller and cuter than the last.
Quick, tasty, and inexpensive, panini make the perfect lunch while in Florence. Either get one to take away if you’re on the go, or have a seat and a glass of wine if you have a bit more time!
If you’re not sure what to order, I recommend asking the person working there what their favorite panino on the menu is–their advice has never led me astray (though to be fair, I’ve also never had a panino I didn’t like).
Osteria All’Antico Vinaio is easily the most popular panino shop in Florence, but the lines get incredibly long. We’d recommend showing up right when they open to beat the crowds and be sure to order something with the truffle cream!
For something a bit quieter, we also love Il Panino del Chianti, which is located very close to the Ponte Vecchio on the Oltranto side of the river.
Indulge in a coffee break the Italian way.
Italian bars are one of our favorite things in the world, so be sure to participate in this classic coffee ritual while exploring Florence!
Simply walk up to the bar at a shop, ask for “Un caffè, per favore”, receive a quick espresso, down it, and be out the door for less than a Euro.
Italian bars charge extra for sitting down with your drink (though if your feet are tired from running back and forth doing fun things in Florence, it may be worth it), and if you want to stick out slightly less (all tourists stick out, it’s a fact of life), avoid cappuccino after about 10am and opt for an espresso instead.
Espresso is typically only referred to as “caffè” in Italy, though they’ll occasionally specify with “caffè normale” or “caffè italiano” in touristic areas.
Markets to Visit
Shop at the Mercato Centrale.
Florence’s most popular market is a gem for exploring: the displays are colorful and beautiful, the people friendly, and the food delicious.
Though there are plenty of tourists who go in and out of the market each day, plenty of locals do as well–if you’re in Florence long enough, the proprietors will start to recognize you (like the lady from the cheese counter who probably wonders why in the world we use so much parmigiano reggiano).
Visit the Mercato delle Pulci.
If getting an eclectic, offbeat souvenir is on your list of things to do in Florence, you need to stop by the Mercato delle Pulci–also known as Florence’s flea market.
Open every day in the Piazza dei Ciompi, you can find just about anything here, from antique furniture and art prints to costume jewelry and books.
If you want to see the market at its best, mark your calendar for the last Sunday of the month: around 100 more stalls open on that day, expanding the market into a much bigger enterprise than it is for normal, daily shopping.
Stop by Mercato Nuovo.
Souvenir shopping isn’t the only reason to stop by the Mercato Nuovo: this small market is also home to Florence’s Porcellino statue.
This bronze boar is popular for good reason: placing a coin into his mouth and then letting it fall into the fountain below is said to bring good luck, and a rub on his nose is said to ensure a return to Florence!
Enjoy the photo ops at the Mercato San Lorenzo.
Florence is generally considered to be an excellent place to buy classic Italian leather… and San Lorenzo Market is generally considered not the place to do it.
Though this market is touristy and tends to run to inexpensive quality these days, it’s still fun to stop by and check out the displays–you’ll see nothing but leather and souvenirs in all directions!
While this probably isn’t the place to pick up a pricey leather jacket or similar, a photo op and possibly a chance to pick up some inexpensive trinkets for souvenirs mean that this market deserves to make the cut when you’re deciding what to do in Florence.
Plus, since it’s located right outside the Mercato Centrale, you’ll likely be there anyway!
Check out the Mercato Fierucola.
Want to check out a market in Florence more populated by locals than tourists?
If you happen to be in town the third Sunday of the month, you’re in luck!
Mercato Fierucola is held once a month in Santo Spirito Square, and though you’ll find a wide range of goods available from local companies, the market focuses on natural products, including organic foods.
Other Florence Stops to Make
Pay a visit to the Boboli Gardens.
Formerly the haunt of the Medici family, the Boboli Gardens are easily Florence’s most famous formal gardens.
Laid out in the 16th century and spanning a whopping 11 acres, the Boboli Gardens are the perfect place to retreat from the hustle and bustle of Florence and to take a moment to stop and smell the (literal) roses.
Our favorite spot in the gardens is in front of the Porcelain Museum–make sure to stop by in order to soak in the stunning views of the Tuscan countryside!
Stroll across the Ponte Vecchio.
As the first and longest-standing bridge across the Arno River in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio is among Florence’s most recognizable sights.
Originally built by the Medici family, the Ponte Vecchio has long been a lively and crowded spot–a tradition that definitely lives on today, as it will likely be one of the most crowded spots you visit in Florence!
Don’t let the crowds deter you, though: the bridge is beautiful, and home to shops along both sides that glitter with gold and jewelry (the only types of shops allowed on the Ponte Vecchio since the 16th century).
Walk across the Ponte Santa Trinita.
The Ponte Vecchio may be Florence’s most famous bridge to take a stroll across, but that walk comes with one fatal flaw: when you’re on the Ponte Vecchio, it’s impossible to get a good view of it!
For that, take a short walk over to the Ponte Santa Trinita: as you’re crossing, you’ll have an incredible view of the Ponte Vecchio!
An optional addition to the walk: we personally feel this view is best lingered over with a scoop or two of gelato in hand.
Ride the carousel in the Piazza della Repubblica.
Release your inner child and take a ride on the carousel in the Piazza della Repubblica!
The carousel itself is an antique, and absolutely lights up the piazza with its bright and beautiful colors–I must have fifty photographs of it, but I keep snapping pictures everytime we walk by.
Visit the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy.
The oldest and arguably the most ornate pharmacy in the world, the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy dates back to the 13th century!
Step inside to gawk at the stunning rooms and to experience some truly exquisite lotions, perfumes, and soaps–some of which are still made with the original recipes crafted by monks hundreds of years ago.
If you want a truly unique souvenir from Florence, you can’t get a better one than something from the Santa Maria Novella pharmacy.
Marvel at the Piazza della Signoria.
In Florence, you don’t even need to visit a museum to marvel at epic works of art: the Piazza della Signoria is home to some truly incredible statues that you can admire for free!
In addition to original works of art and Neptune’s Fountain, you’ll also find a copy of the statue of David here–a nice preview of what you’ll find in the Galleria dell’Accademia.
Take a walking (or biking!) tour of Florence to learn your way around the city.
Florence’s small size makes it perfect to explore by foot or bike: if you’re new in town and want to learn your way around the city, what better way to get started than a tour?
Walking or biking your way past Florence’s most famous sights is the quickest and easiest way to orient yourself, not to mention tons of fun!
Inexpensive and well reviewed: that’s the best kind of Florence walking tour! Book yours today.
If you prefer using wheels instead of your feet, check out this Florence biking tour:
Soak in the sights at the Piazza del Duomo.
It may be one of the most touristy places in Florence (you’ll definitely have to fight through a crowd or two here if you don’t like setting your alarm clock for dawn), but the Piazza del Duomo is definitely worth seeing.
Centrally located in small Florence, we recommend starting one of your days in Florence here–many of the most popular things to do in Florence, from entering the Duomo and baptistery to climbing the bell tower–are located right in this bustling square!
Check out the Vasari Corridor.
A kilometer-long corridor that serves as an offbeat and often overlooked art museum, provides an epic view of the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River and connects three famous Florence spots (Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Vecchio, and the Uffizi Gallery): that is the unusual nature of the Vasari Corridor.
Get (a little bit) off the beaten path in Santo Spirito.
Want to get a break from crowded tourist spots without traveling too far in Florence?
When you’re already on the opposite side of the Arno River from the Duomo (perhaps when you’re visiting the Boboli Gardens or Gusta Pizza), go ahead and wander over to the Santo Spirito neighborhood: despite it being a charming walk, many tourists never reach this part of Florence.
This neighborhood is adorable, and it’s the perfect place to find a quirky cafe, a cute bookshop, or a great market (Mercato Fierucola that I discuss above is held here).
We recommend starting at the aptly named Santo Spirito Basilica and wandering around from there!
Stop by and see the Bull of Santa Maria del Fiore.
If you are standing in line to climb the cupola of Florence’s Duomo (or if you just walk by the line), you’ll be able to look up and spot an unusual sight. Underneath the dome, among the many carvings, one sticks out more than the rest: a bull!
No one is quite sure why this bull was carved into the third largest cathedral in the world, but rumor has it that it may have been either a tribute to the working animals who contributed to the building of the Duomo, or an act of petty revenge by a spurned lover–personally, I find the second theory more entertaining!
Stroll through the Bardini Gardens.
Did you know that your ticket to the Boboli Gardens is actually a ticket for two gardens in Florence?
The beautiful Bardini Gardens are smaller than the better-known Boboli Gardens, often less crowded, and boast incredible views over Florence.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting from mid-April to early May, you may also be lucky enough to spot the aptly named Wisteria Tunnel when it’s at its best–gallivanting under these beautiful purple flowers is still high on our wish list for things to do in Florence!
Visit the Fountain of Neptune.
There are plenty of Fountains of Neptune throughout Italy, but Florence’s is particularly beautiful: more than 400 years old and carved entirely of marble and bronze, it is absolutely worth a look while you’re visiting the Piazza della Signoria.
More Epic Experiences to Have in Florence
Buy some incredible Italian leather.
Italian leather is famous around the world, and Florence is known for having some of the best leather in Italy. In other words, if you’re looking to splurge on a beautiful jacket or bag, this is the place!
There are essentially two ways to buy leather in Florence: to head to a tourist market and pick up something relatively inexpensive that is likely not nearly as good of quality as the salesman claims, or to do some thorough research and pay a pretty penny in a shop.
Neither way is wrong, but if you go with the first, plan on your purchase lasting a few years–not a lifetime.
Embrace Florence’s art culture with a drawing class.
This is one of the only items on this things to do in Florence list that we will never do, as we are both utterly hopeless at fine arts–but if you’re artistically inclined, there’s no better spot to brush up on your skills than Florence!
Walk in the steps of some of the world’s most famous artists, draw some truly remarkable places, and revel in learning more about art in the Cradle of the Renaissance.
Stroll through Florence at night.
Some of our fondest memories of Florence are from wandering the streets at night: the buskers out playing music, the full restaurant tables spilling out into the streets, the twinkling lights from the shops… the atmosphere in Florence after the sun sets is lovely to behold.
Ride a Vespa through the streets of Florence (and beyond).
Is there anything better than hopping on a vintage Vespa on a beautiful day and winding through the streets of Florence and the hills of Tuscany?
We’ve yet to find anything that can beat it–our vintage Vespa tour remains among our most cherished memories of Florence, and we highly recommend taking one!
Book your vintage Vespa tour!
View this post on Instagram
Tried out a fantastic new-to-us mode of transportation in Tuscany this week: a vintage Vespa! * We have always wanted to give Vespas a try, but somehow it was one of those things that kept getting put off. But, what better place to finally try them out than Tuscany? * Walkabout Florence generously hosted us on a morning excursion through Florence and the Tuscan countryside (ending in a lunch with wine, because how else would things be done in Tuscany?), and we had an absolutely amazing time exploring with them! * Have you ever ridden a Vespa? After our first time, we're hooked! * * * * * @walkaboutflorence #sponsored #florence #firenze #tuscany #toscana #vespa #vineyard #italygram #italy #ig_italy #italy_vacations #itsamazingoutthere #passionpassport #neverstopexploring #gltlove #wearetravelgirls #girlswhotravel #dametraveler #girlsvsglobe #traveleurope #ig_europe #living_europe #discovertuscany #adayinflorence #italyiloveyou #letsgoeverywhere #alifewelltraveled #stayandwander #getoutstayout
See Florence from the water with a boat ride on the Arno River.
Venice isn’t the only place in Italy worthy of a boat ride: hop on a boat tour in Florence to enjoy views of the city from the river, and to get a rare glimpse of the bottom of the Ponte Vecchio!
Check out Florence from the Arno River:
Check out the Appennine Colossus.
Though this is technically located about 7 miles outside of the city, there’s no doubt that a visit to the Appennine Colossus is one of the most unique things to do in Florence!
Standing around 35 feet tall, this giant of a man appears to simply erupt from the rock beneath him.
Located in the gardens of the Villa Medici at Pratolino, if you’re looking for something truly offbeat in Florence, this is it.
The statue depicts a large man, but the interior is actually a building, complete with a fireplace–word on the street is that when a fire is going, smoke pours out of the giant’s nose!
Shop for classic Florentine stationery.
Florence is well-known for its beautifully crafted stationery and hand-bound books.
While it does come at a cost these days, if you’re in search of a special Florentine souvenir, stationery can make an excellent one.
For high quality (and matching high price tags), consider visiting Giulio Giannini & Figlio near the Palazzo Pitti, or Pineider near the Piazza Signoria.
For more accessible stationery, the chain of Il Papiro is popular and has several locations in Florence.
Learn important Florentine history through the eyes of the Medici.
The Medici family dominated Florentine politics and culture for centuries, including through the Renaissance.
This is the family that greatly expanded Florence’s currency and banking system, nurtured the talent of Michelangelo, consulted with popes, had the Vasari Corridor built, kept a hippopotamus in the Boboli Gardens, and shaped centuries of Florentine policy.
Of course, it didn’t all go well–schemes, murders, falling in and out of favor, wars, and more also plagued both Florence and the Medici throughout their years in power, but there’s no escaping that the Medici had an impressive role in shaping the Florence that we know today.
If you’re interested in this chapter of Florentine history and want to go beyond simply visiting sights related to them when picking things to do in Florence, consider a Medici tour to learn more about their time in the city.
If you’re a fan of reading (occasionally dense) history, I also highly recommend the book The House of Medici, which helped me see Florence in a whole new light.
This popular walking tour incorporates aspects of both Medici and Florentine history!
Soar over Tuscany in a hot air balloon.
The Tuscan countryside is unique: the rolling hills, the vineyards, the hilltop towns, the soft golden light… if there’s ever a landscape that deserves an epic overhead view, it’s this one!
If you’re up for a splurge that you’ll never forget, book a hot air balloon ride over Tuscany and check out one of the world’s most well-loved landscapes from above.
Book an adventure you’ll cherish for a lifetime:
Check out Florence’s epic annual events & festivals.
Carnival in February. Feast Day for the Patron Saint of Florence in July. Feast Day of San Lorenzo in August. Festival of the Paper Lanterns in September. Countless more, waiting to be discovered.
No matter what month you come to Florence, chances are than an epic festival of some kind will be taking place: before leaving on your trip, be sure to do an internet search for the dates you’ll be in the city and find out what event you need to add to your list of things to do in Florence!
Fun Day Trips from Florence
There are some truly incredible day trips to take from Florence–here are some at the top of our list of fun things to do in Florence.
There are an endless number of excellent Florence day trips, of course–to cover them all requires a post in and of itself–but these are all great starting points, as they are fairly close and easy to get to, and also offer a distinct taste of Italy outside the Cradle of the Renaissance without needing to stray far.
San Gimignano & A Winery
San Gimignano is one of the most picturesque towns in Tuscany–home to arguably the best gelato in Italy, some truly amazing hilltop views, and seven remaining out of what were once hundreds of medieval towers, a visit to San Gimignano won’t be forgotten soon.
Though today San Gimignano is small, it was once an important city on trade routes leading to Rome and has a lot of stories to tell.
Pair a visit to San Gimignano with a visit to Chianti wine country, and you’re guaranteed to have the perfect Tuscan getaway.
This incredibly popular tour covers San Gimignano, the Chianti wine region, and Siena, while making logistics easy!
Siena is the second-largest city in Tuscany, and it fought several wars with Florence over the centuries.
Today, Siena is known for its intricate architecture, gorgeous setting in the Tuscan countryside, and the Palio di Siena, the biannual horse races that still take place in the town square (which is actually an oval).
Siena is one of our favorite day trips from Florence, and it is one that is fairly simple to pull off doing independently.
Pisa & Lucca
If you’ve done some research on Pisa, you’ll notice most people don’t recommend adding it to your list of fun things to do in Florence–there’s not much to it!
But, if you are dying to see the leaning tower, consider spending the morning in Pisa and then heading onto Lucca, which is a beautiful Tuscan city that still retains its city walls–you can even walk on top of them!
If you’re a foodie, consider taking a day trip from Florence to Bologna: as the capital of Italy’s foodie region of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna is a place that you go to eat well… and then spend the rest of your day climbing medieval towers to burn it off.
As Bologna is located in Emilia-Romagna, you’ll likely notice some key regional differences in their food as compared to Tuscany–and if you have limited time in Italy, this is a great way to get a taste of just how varied Italian cuisine can be.
Where to Stay in Florence
B&B Le Stanze del Duomo — Though Florence hotels can be a bit pricey and stretch the definition of “budget”, B&B Le Stanze’s beautiful rooms and an impeccable location in Florence will be sure to have you swooning!
Bargello Guest House — Located in the heart of Florence, this property is only a short (read: less than 5-minute) walk away from some of Florence’s highlights like the Palazzo Vecchio. Staying here, you’ll be within easy walking distance of the best of what Florence has to offer.
Hotel Lungarno — Nestled right against the Arno River and home to one of the best views of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence (not to mention some of the best views of the rest of Florence from their top deck), Hotel Lungarno is our personal “if we ever really want to splurge” hotel in Florence. You can’t go wrong using Hotel Lungarno as your base for one day in Florence!
Many thanks to our partners for hosting us on some of our experiences in Florence: Fun in Tuscany for our wine tasting experience as part of our day out with them, Walks of Italy for taking us on our Dine Around Florence walking tour, and Walkabout Florence for hosting us on our Vespa tour and a cooking class in Tuscany at their farmhouse in the hills surrounding Florence. All opinions are, as always, our own.