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The best things to do in Florence? Let’s go! 

Florence is easily one of my favorite cities in the world, and should be added to any Italy itinerary. The city might be smaller than other famous cities in Italy, but it is jam-packed with art, culture, and some of the food in Italy – a little something for any traveler.

Florence is often referred to as the birthplace of the Renaissance. It is home to famous works by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli, among many others.

I’ve put together a guide on my favorite things to do in Florence, plus tips on where to stay, how to get there, and the best restaurants and bars in the city. 

The famous Ponte Vecchio bridge
The famous Ponte Vecchio bridge

Before we dive into the article, here are some popular tours in and around Florence if you are in a rush:

Top-5 popular tours in Florence

Things to know before visiting Florence

  • Many museums are closed on Mondays in Florence, plan accordingly. 
  • Make sure to buy tickets for popular museums and exhibits ahead of time.
  • Restaurants get very busy in Florence, reserve your table in advance. 
  • If you’re visiting during the summer months, look for lodging with air conditioning. 
  • If you plan to visit a number of ticket attractions, consider the Firenze card 

Where is Florence?

Florence, Italy’s arts and culture capital, is located in Italy’s Tuscany region.

Best things to do in Florence

Despite the city’s small size, there are so many amazing things to do in Florence. From exploring the beautiful art galleries to enjoying the delicious local cuisine at one of Florence’s best restaurants.

Let’s dive into all of the best things to do in this amazing city in Italy.

1. Visit the Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is home to one of the largest collections with Renaissance artwork in the world. With original works by Leonardo Da Vinci, Titan, and Rembrandt.,it is a museum that you absolutely do not want to miss when visiting Florence.

The gallery was created by the Medici family in the 16th century. Some of the most famous works currently on display in the Uffizi Gallery include Venus of Urbino, The Birth of Venus and Primavera.

You will definitely want to pre-book your tickets (we booked through GetYourGuide). I highly recommend booking a guided tour as well, but if that isn’t in the budget you can opt for the self-guided audio tour instead. 

Address: Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6
Hours: 8:15 am–6:30 pm Tues-Sun, closed Mondays
Cost: €20 (+ €4 online booking fee)

The Duomo - one of the best things to do in Florence, Italy
The Duomo – one of the best things to do in Florence, Italy

2. Climb the Duomo (or just enjoy the view from a nearby rooftop)

The Duomo (otherwise known as Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore or the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower) is truly the heart of Florence. A visit to the Duomo is the best thing to do in Florence, and should not be missed! It is definitely the most recognizable attraction in Florence, Italy. 

When the Duomo was built in the 15th century it was the largest church in Europe. While this fact is no longer true, it is still one of the most important churches in Europe. The Duomo is actually part of the Monumental Complex of Santa Maria del Fiore, which is made up of Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistery, Santa Reparata, and the Opera del Duomo Museum.

If you don’t have a chance to visit the inside of the Duomo, you can still enjoy the intricate details on the outside of this marvelous church. In fact, most people agree that the elaborate details on the outside of the Duomo are far more beautiful than the rather plain interior. However, entering the Duomo gives you the opportunity to climb the 463 steps of Brunelleschi’s dome for a great view.

Reservations are mandatory to climb the tower and should be made as far in advance as popular to secure a timeslot, especially during peak travel months. 

3. Enjoy a drink with a view

I recommend heading to a nearby rooftop bar (check out View on Art Rooftop Cocktail Bar) for up close views of the Duomo. Drinks are a bit pricier than your average bar, but I promise it is well worth it for the stunning view of the Duomo.

Sunset gets pretty busy, so I recommend arriving early to snag a seat outside with a view.

Enjoying an aperol spritz in Florence
Enjoying an aperol spritz in Florence
Spritz with a view at View on Art Rooftop Cocktail Bar
Spritz with a view at View on Art Rooftop Cocktail Bar

4. Enjoy a glass of wine through a “wine window”

Speaking of enjoying a drink, one of the most popular things to do in Florence is to visit the wine windows. These wine windows were particularly popular in the 1600s when locals were trying to limit contact with one another during the plague.

Today, many of these windows are still. Simply walk up the the window and knock or ring the bell for a glass of wine. 

Here are a few popular ones:

  • Osteria Belle Donne
  • Babae

5. Visit the Palazzo Vecchio 

Palazzo Vecchio is one of Florence’s most famous plazas, with a rich history dating back to 1299.

Here you can climb the Arnolfo Tower for amazing views of the city. 

You can book a guided tour of Palazzo Vecchio here.

6. Enjoy a negroni 

Florence is the birthplace of the Negroni, one of my favorite Italian cocktail. The negroni is a liquor-forward cocktail made of bitter Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth. 

It’s personally one of my favorite sipping cocktails, and Florence is a great place to enjoy one. Check out the list of my favorite bars in Florence below!

7. Check out the Galleria dell’Accademia

Home to Michelangelo’s famous ‘David’ sculpture, a visit to this museum is worth it just for the opportunity to see the sculpture up close. David is Michelangelo’s most famous work of art, and it is incredible to be able to experience it in person. 

You’ll also find four different unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo on display here as well. 

You can enjoy a guided tour combining both the Accademia and Uffizi – two of the best things to do in Florence!

Address: Via Ricasoli, 58/60
Hours: 8:15 am–6:50 pm Tues-Sun, closed Mondays
Cost: €12 (+€4 online booking fee), free for students under 18

8. Have a glass of natural wine at Vineria Sonora

If you’ve read my articles before then you know that I love natural wine. And Italy is home to some of the best natural wine producers in the world. Vineria Sonora is a small wine bar specializing in natural wines, with hundreds of different bottles selected.

I highly recommend stopping by for a glass of wine and some snacks before or after dinner.

Address: Via degli Alfani, 39 r

Hours: 5PM-1AM daily, closed Mondays

9. Hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo

If you’re looking for sprawling views of the city, head up the hill to the Piazzale Michelangelo. Here is where you will find some of the best sunset views in Florence. I recommend grabbing a pizza and a bottle of wine to enjoy the view.

If you’re looking to escape some of the crowds, you can head up a bit higher to San Miniato al Monte for another viewpoint. You can also check out the beautiful church here!

San Miniato al Monte
San Miniato al Monte
Views of Florence from above
Views of Florence from above

10. Visit the Piazza della Signoria

The Piazza della Signoria is a particularly great place to add to your itinerary if you’re visiting Florence on a budget and unable to visit all of the famous museums.

Unlike Florence’s other popular museums, at the Piazza della Signoria you can enjoy 14th century statues by Orcagna for free. There is even a replicate of the famous David statue in case you don’t have a chance to visit the real one. 

11. Cross the Ponte Vecchio 

The Ponte Vecchio is the most famous and recognizable bridge in Florence. It’s name “Ponte Vecchio” literally translates to “Old Bridge” and it is just that.

The bridge is a pedestrian bridge, open 24/7. Along the bridge you’ll find tons of shop, althogh mostly very expensive shots.

There are also gondola and boat cruises that cruise the Arno River. 

For a more budget-friendly option, you can simply grab a bottle of wine and enjoy a glass along the Arno RIver. 

Hanging out around the Arno River
Hanging out around the Arno River

12. Stroll through the Boboli Gardens

Interested in visiting one of Italy’s largest and most elaborate gardens? Head to the Boboli Gardens

You’ll find these beautiful gardens just behind the famous Pitti Palace. In the garden you’ll find a selection of Renaissance statues and fountains. Plus, an excellent view of Florence. 

Hours: vary depending on the season, check the website for current hours

Cost: €10 for Boboli Gardens only, €10 for Pitti Palace only, and €22 for a combined ticket to both the palace and the gardens. 

13. Take a photo in an old school photo booth

Scattered throughout the city of Florence you’ll find a number of old school photobooths.

I highly recommend stopping by as the photos make sure great souvenirs to remember the trip by. 

You can find a number of these booths throughout the city (simply search for Fotoautomatica on Google Maps) but here is an address of the one we went to:

  • V. dell’Agnolo, 117, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

14. Have a drink in a converted prison

Caffè Letterario Le Murate is a popular bar in Florence that is actually a converted prison. It was a prison for more than a century, until 1985. Today it is has been converted into a cultural cafe and bar – and a great place to spend an evening in Florence.

Address: Piazza delle Murate

Hours: 10:30AM-1AM weekdays, 3PM-2AM weekends

15. Join a pasta making class

I cannot be the only person who survives off a diet of 90% pasta when in Italy. As to be expected, the pasta dishes in Italy are some of the best in the world. 

Why not try your hand at learning how to make pasta yourself in a pasta making class?

These classes are a a super fun way to immerse yourself into the cultural, learn something new and meet new people.

16. Take a day trip to Chianti

If you want a little reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can take a day trip to Chianti. You can do this by either renting a car or joining a tour.

Spend the day taking in the views of the small towns, wine tasting, and enjoying the regions best food.

If you’re planning to overnight then I HIGHLY recommend staying at Selvabella in Chianti. Easily one of the best places that we’ve ever stayed. They are phenomenal cooks and the property is absolutely lovely.

Take a day trip to Chianti
Take a day trip to Chianti
Selvabella in Chianti (the best place to stay in Chianti)
Selvabella in Chianti (the best place to stay in Chianti)

Best Restaurants and Bars in Florence 

  • Gelateria dei Neri – the best gelato in Florence, expect a line in the evenings
  • Le Volpi e L’uva – a charming wine bar
  • Osteria Cinghiale Bianco – amazing classic Italian restaurant, be sure to make reservations in advance for dinner. They are known for their Ragù di Cinghiale, or wild boar ragu. 
  • Vineria Sonora – cute natural wine bar
  • Pinos – casual sandwich spot, popular with study abroad students 
  • The Box – casual bar for cheap, late-night drinks
  • All’antico Vinaio – famous sandwich shop (note: there are two locations directly across the street from each other)
  • Acqua Al 2 – popular restaurant known for their famous blueberry steak
  • Dolci e Dolcezze – cute breakfast spot for coffee and pastries 
  • Caffè Letterario Le Murate – a popular bar in Florence that is actually a converted prison
Le Volpi e L’uva
Le Volpi e L’uva
Osteria Cinghiale Bianco
Osteria Cinghiale Bianco

Where to stay in Florence

We stayed right in the heart of the city at a super reasonably priced Airbnb. It was a bit of a tight squeeze for 4 people, but we knew we’d be out and about 90% of our stay in Florence.

View from our private balcony in Florence
View from our private balcony in Florence

Top-rated hotels in the city center:

You can find great rates on other hotel options here.

When to visit Florence

The summer in Florence gets very hot and very busy, with tourists visiting from all over the world.

I recommend visiting in the spring or fall, when temperatures are more pleasant and the crowds are more manageable.  

How many days should I spend in Florence? 

I recommend spending at least two days exploring everything the city of Florence has to offer, however you could easily spend much longer. 

How to get there

Florence is well connected to Italy , as well as the rest of the world, through flights, trains and buses.

By plane 

One of the most common ways to reach Florence from outside of the country is by flying into the local airport. The airport is located about 25-30 minutes northwest of the city. The airport is served by mostly flights from within Italy and Europe, since it is not as big as other Italian airports such as in Milan and Rome.

By train

If you’re traveling within Italy, or to nearby countries in Europe, the train is a comfortable and affordable means of traveling to and from Florence.

Train times from nearby cities:

Rome > Florence: 1.5 hours

Venice > Florence: 2-3 hours

Pisa > Florence: 1 hour

Bologna > Florence: 35 minutes

Lucca > Florence: 1-1.5 hours

By bus 

If you’re traveling on a budget, arriving in Florence by bus is typically the most affordable option. While it typically takes longer than the high speed trains, it is still and easy and efficient way to travel through Italy. 

Bus times from nearby cities:

Rome > Florence: 3-4 hours

Venice > Florence: 3-4 hours

Pisa > Florence: 1-2 hours

Bologna > Florence: 2 hours

Lucca > Florence: 1.5 hours

Visiting Italy? Here are some other articles to check out:

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