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BEST Things to Do in Florence

Florence offers so much to visitors and there are so many things to see and do in this beautiful Tuscan city.

It's one of the cities that has it all, from top historical sights, the best museums and galleries, shopping opportunities and great places to taste authentic Italian food and wines.

We suggest you to plan your visit ahead to ensure you take the best of it. Book your tickets for sights in advance and plan your itinerary for each day staying (see our guide for spending 3 days in Florence).

Florence is home to the best art, from the Renaissance pieces at the Uffizi to Michelangelo's marble at the Accademia. In between, take your time and enjoy vibrant cafés, cosy restaurants, food markets and much more.

From Florence you can visit also other cities such as Siena, Lucca, Pisa, Bologna as well as Tuscan countryside, ideal for enjoying the nature and tasting best local wines.

Here are the best things to do in Florence that you shouldn't miss.

Looking for a place to stay in Florence? You'll love this stylish and cosy apartment equipped with every comfort to make you feel at home!

1. Explore Piazza della Signoria & Palazzo Vecchio (top sight in Florence)

Palazzo Vecchio on Piazza della Signoria

Be sure to visit Piazza della Signoria, the most important square of Florence, that is always bustling with tourists.

You'll find here Palazzo Vecchio, the symbol of civic power in Florence for centuries. At the entrance there are the sculptures of Adam and Eve, the copy of Michelangelo's David and Hercules and Cacus.

If you decide to visit inside, you'll be able to admire the architecture of the palace, the sculptures and paintings. To enjoy stunning panorama of Florence, climb the Arnolfo's Tower - we're sure you'll enjoy.

For a full experience, opt for this skip-the-line entrance ticket (includes also 55-minute video guide).

Here, you'll also find Loggia dei Lanzi (called Logia della Signoria), a beautiful portico in Gothic style, made of wide arches and featuring beautiful sculptures made by artist like Giambologna and Benvenuto Cellini. This is a great place to sit down and soak up the atmosphere and watch people pass by.

2. Discover the Duomo complex (must do)

The Duomo in Florence

If visiting Florence, be sure to reach Piazza del Duomo with Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (known as the Duomo). 

What many people don’t realize is that the Duomo complex is more than just the church—there’s also the Baptistery of Saint John, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and, inside the church itself, there’s also a museum and the iconic dome high above (there are 463 steps). It’s possible to visit them all.

You may love the Baptistery of Saint John, which pre-dates even the cathedral, and is both amazing inside and has these carved bronze doors showing scenes from the bible. It’s directly opposite the cathedral doors, so you can’t miss it.

The Opera del Duomo Museum (just behind the Duomo) is a fascinating museum that explores history of the Duomo with huge selection of artifacts, artwork, relics, antiques, religious items and statues to see (the main attraction and certainly a must see are the original Gates of Paradise). You may also want to visit it!

You can visit the Florence cathedral for free, but you’ll have to buy one of the combined tickets or passes to see the other areas (see all available options here!). For finding out more about these sights, join one of many guided tours (it's definitely worth!)

All these is in the very center of Florence, less than a 10-minute walk from the train station.

Best tickets for Duomo complex:

👉 Skip-the-line ticket to Duomo complex (72 hours)

👉 Florence Pass (priority entrance to Dome + Cathedral + Uffizi + Accademia)

3. Visit the Bargello Museum (hidden gem)

The Bargello Museum in Florence

Even if you are not art lover, you'll love the Bargello Museum, situated in beautiful Palazzo del Podestà (in Via del Proconsolo, 4), a short walk from Piazza della Signoria. This small museum is great for escaping crowds of Florence streets and spending hour or two in the peaceful atmosphere.

The building itself is magnificent with the internal courtyard, exterior staircase and the loggia housing wonderful sculptures. The Bargello Museum houses a great collection of sculptures, including works of Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, Benvenuto Cellini, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi.

Additional gallery rooms are setup with impressive porcelain, goldworks, jewels, ivory and glazed terracota works. It is fantastic collection and place you can easily spend a couple of hours sightseeing.

The entry ticket costs €10 per person. You can buy tickets online or at the museum on the day you intend to visit. The museum is set on 3 floors of the building. You can have a rest on the benches in the courtyard or chairs in the outside area of first floor. Museum has different opening times every day, so be sure to check before visiting.

Enjoy strolling through the medieval walls of the museum and hearing the details behind each artwork from your guide on this great private tour.

4. Visit Orsanmichele Church and Museum (short sightseeing)

Orsanmichele Church
Orsanmichele Museum in Florence

The Orsanmichele Church and Museum is one of those places you can easily miss in Florence, in spite of the fact that it's only a few steps from popular Piazza della Signoria.

The church is so beautiful with frescoes on the ceiling and Madonna and Child by Bernardo Daddi, a marble tabernacle. On the first floor of the museum, you'll see bronze and marble sculptures of saints made by great masters such as Lorenzo Ghiberti, Donatello, Nanni di Banco and others.

Finally, the top floor gives you a panorama of the city, with views of the Duomo to one side and the Palazzo Vecchio to another.

Buy your tickets from the office at Via dei Calcaiuoli (single ticket costs €8) then go around the corner to visit the church and museum.

For finding out more about this sight, join a guide on this small-group walking tour of Florence (includes also skip-the-line Accademia and Duomo visits).

👉 Read also: A guide to the best Florence's places to stay

5. Visit the Uffizi Gallery (the most popular)

Uffizi Gallery in Florence

Don't skip visiting the Uffizi Gallery when on holidays in Florence. This is one of the oldest and most famous museums in the world housing one of the greatest collection of paintings and sculptures.

You'll find here masterpieces of Giotto, Boticelli, Piero della Francesca, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and many other painters.

This is very popular museum so plan ahead your visit to make the most of it. We suggest taking this guided tour to find out more behind the each artworks (plus, you'll skip the lines for buying tickets and enter the museum). The guides on this tour are local and very informed. If you want to visit independently, we would definitely recommend investing in the audioguide.

The Uffizi Gallery is situated not far from Piazza della Signoria, near the Arno River. Buy Florence Pass and save on sightseeing (includes also visit to the Brunelleschi Dome, the Accademia Gallery and some others discounts).

6. Walk along Arno river

The Arno River in Florence

Walking along the Arno river, you'll have stunning views over the palazzi and the bridges of Florence. Here you can take some stunning photos (the best one are those on sunset) or sit in one of cafés and enjoy people watching.

We suggest you to start walking along the Arno river and from Ponte Santa Trinita turn into Via de'Tornabuoni until you reach the Piazza di Santa Trinita to visit beautiful gothic Basilica di Santa Trinita.

From Ponte Santa Trinita, you'll see views of the unique Ponte Vecchio. Cross one of these bridges and you'll find yourself in Oltrarno, the authentic and quieter part of Florence with many little shops and eateries.

7. Discover Ponte Vecchio (walk along it and take some great photos)

Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Just a two minute walk away from the Uffizi Gallery you’ll find Florence’s famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) crossing over the Arno river.

This unusual bridge is the oldest in Florence and was the only one to survive the bombings of World War II (dates back to 1345). The bridge houses a mix of shops selling jewellery, watches and artworks. There is a plenty of photo opportunities here with the bridge looking impressive at night as well as in the morning.

There is a monument of Italian sculptor Benvenuto Cellini in the middle of bridge. Don't skip the chance to capture fabulous photos from the bridge over the Arno River.

The bridge is mostly crowded with people, but it's definitely worth visiting when in Florence. A good idea to get the most classic photo of Florence is to admire the Ponte Vecchio from its neighbouring bridge, the Santa Trinità.

8. Watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo is for sure the place for enjoying a gorgeous sunset. It’s a perfect spot for sitting and watching the city turn from day to night. It'll take you around 30 minute to walk there from Ponte Vecchio, but it's well worth it for the views. Just remember to visit around an hour before sundown as the area fills up quiet quickly.

Very close to Piazzale Michelangelo is San Miniato al Monte, a beautiful church that is so deserving of a visit.

9. Visit local markets (Mercato Centrale & Saint'Ambrogio)

Sant'Ambrogio market in Florence

While in Florence, don't skip visiting one of local markets. We love Mercato Centrale, a lively market where you'll find a loads of local food, from fruit, vegetables, spices, meat, fish, cheeses, salami, bakery products... A great place for grocery shopping! Foodies will love this food tour that visit this market!

On the upper floor, there is a food court, where you can have a tasty lunch (choose from pasta to typical Florentine sandwich lampredotto!).

Another option would be Sant'Ambrogio Market, which is more authentic and local (you'll need to walk a bit to reach it). While there, explore Santa Croce district and its small squares, trattorias and cafés.

10. Taste delicious Tuscan food and wines

Bistecca alla fiortenina

The food is one of the best things about Italy and Florence is no exception. While here, don't skip tasting local food! 

Start with coccoli, fried balls of yeast filled with prosciutto and stracchino cheese, ideal for antipasto or aperitivo. Next, sample crostini con fegatini (toasted bread spread with Velvety, extra-salty chicken liver pâté), that can be found on every menu in Florence. Be sure to try also schiacciata, chewier and flatter version of foccacia (ideal for snacking during the day).

Tuscan famous soup is ribolitta, made kale, cannelini beans, carrots, celery potatoes, onions, tomatoes, herbs and garlic (thickened with chunks of stale bread). Pappa al pomodoro is rustic tomato soup (also thickened with leftover bread). Try also "finocchiona", aromatic cured pork salami (spiced with fennel), best thinly sliced alongside other cured meat on an antipasto board. 

One of the most popular pasta dishes are pappardelle al cinghiale, which is wild boar ragù on top of pappardelle (a wide long flat shape pasta). The meat marinates overnight in red wine, herbs, and vegetables, and is slow-cooked with onions, garlic, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs and spices.

Try also lampredotto sandwich, made of the fourth and final stomatch of cow, cooked with veggies and herbs, then thinly sliced and places in panini. Il peposo is a Tuscan stew, made of beef and seasoned with black pepper, garlic and salt and then stewed all day in red wine (best served with polenta or bread).

One of the most famous dishes is bistecca alla fiortenina, the massive, classic thick-cut T-bone steak (sourced from the local Chianina cattle bread), grilled seasoned with just olive oil, salt and pepper and served bloody.

One of the most typical one are cantucci, dry cookies ideal for dipping into a coffee or tea. Tuscans enjoy them with Vin Santo. Original version are almond cantucci, but they also come packed with dark chocolate, candied orange peel, dry figs etc.

A good idea would be taking a walking food tour through the city in a company of local, to taste the best Florentine (and Tuscan) food and wines. We recommend this popular 3-hour food tour!

11. Visit Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

Not far from the train station in Florence (Via della Scala, 16), you'll find one of the oldest herbal pharmacies in the world, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.

Situated in the beautiful frescoed chapel from 1221, and opened to the public in 1612, this is a truly unique place. Once you step inside, the scent of the herbs and flowers from the Tuscan Hills fill the air.

A range of quality oils and perfumes, skin and body lotions, the trademark soaps can be found here. You can test each one and smell everything you found here.

Visit the back room where they present herbal medicines and teas. This is an ideal place to buy great gifts to the dear ones. Choose from a bottle of orange blossom water, a sachet of potpourri or creamy soap. The hardest part is picking which scent you like the most.

The building itself is stunning with frescoes, chandeliers and sculptures.

12. Go shopping in Florence

The city of Florence is a paradise for those who love shopping. Here you'll find a range of quality shops offering array of goods, from clothes and shoes, leather goods (bags and wallets), made-to-order jewellery, home decoration, quality Italian linen, perfumes and the best Italian food and wines. 

In the Via de' Tornabuoni and nerby streets, you'll find top brands like Gucci, Pucci and Prada. On Via Roma you'll find brands like Miu Miu, Armani, Valentino and Fendi.

Nearby, the La Rinascente department store with its six floors offers the latest fashion and homeware. Just around the corner from the Uffizi Gallery, you'll find Coin department store, where you can shop for clothes, cosmetics and kitchenware and home products on the top floor. On the ground floor, you can grab a range of foccacia sandwiches, pastries and drinks and sit down on the outdoor terrace to enjoy.

Via del Corso and Borgo degli Albizi, both has a range of small stores offering affordable clothes, shoes, leather goods, perfumes and cosmetics with small eateries dotted between (we love Bolleblue, small store with natural cosmetic).

A pack of these cookies is an ideal souvenir from Florence or great gift to the loved ones. We love Leonardo store (Via Porta Rossa 14R) offering assortment of delicious handmade cantucci, then brutti ma buoni cookies as well as other cakes such as panettone during the Christmas time and colomba for the Easter.

We love also Ballerini pasticceria cioccolateria (Borgo Ognissanti 132) offering typical Tuscan sweets like ricciarelli, cantuccini, panforte and panpepato, then chocolate praline, as well as freshly baked bread and pizza (ideal for a quick snack). You can enjoy your sweets there with a cup of espresso.

Minuto di Bauli (Via del Corso 69), is a great cosy place where you can have hot chocolate or coffee along small buns filled with chocolate, pastry or pistachio cream (staff is friendly).

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