If you are heading to the birthplace of the Renaissance and you’re wondering what to do in Florence Italy, this list will help get you started.
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There are so many things to do in Florence that there is no way to see them all in your visit. Unless you move there, of course!
Florence Italy tours are a great way to familiarize yourself with this much-loved Italian city on the first day of your stay. The city of Florence is amazingly walkable, which is what makes the top things to do in Florence easy to access from one another.
There are free walking tours, which require only a tip or you can hire a local guide for a more personal experience. You can discover some of the best tours in Florence here.
While Florence has everything from food tours to history and art tours, Palazzo Vecchio has some especially engaging options which include checking out period costumes and secret passageways! Palazzo Vecchio is a great place to start your time in Florence because it’s centrally located and a short walk to Santa Croce, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, the Porcellino statue, and some of the best gelato and sandwiches in Florence.
Museums in Florence Italy
The history of Florence Italy is fascinating, namely because it was the cradle of the Renaissance.
You can see Michelangelo’s breathtaking statue of David in the Galleria dell’Accademia, among many other masterpieces. You must book the Accademia Gallery ahead of time as this is the most popular site in Florence.
Or you can marvel over Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence’s second most famous museum. Advanced tickets for the Uffizi are also recommended
Boboli Gardens & Pitti Palace
The Pitti Palace, with its art masterpieces and ornate architecture and Boboli Gardens, make a good pairing on the opposite side of the river in the Oltrarno neighborhood. This side of the river is more local overall.
In the same neighborhood, you will find the Piazzale Michelangelo, which will give you the best views in Florence.
If you’d like to check out some free gardens instead of paying admission for the Boboli Gardens, there is a Rose garden and an Iris garden on either side of Piazzale Michelangelo. You can get some great city views from these gardens without the crowds.
Landmarks in Florence Italy
The iconic landmarks in Florence Italy are simply stunning and shouldn’t be missed.
Santa Maria Del Fiore
The famed Duomo Florence Italy is known for is part of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, in the center of the city. It is breathtaking to turn the corner in one of the many charming alleys and suddenly be faced with this towering red-tiled cupola that is the Florence cathedral dome.
Climb the Florence Duomo
For those who are not afraid of heights, you can climb inside to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome, and get a close-up look at this iconic landmark, which sat hundreds of years waiting to be completed. It’s an impressive site from the ground and even more impressive from inside. The views from the top are amazing. Climbing to the top must be booked well in advance as it’s one of the most popular things to do in Florence.
Basilica di Santa Croce
Another of the famous churches in Florence Italy is the Basilica di Santa Croce. Not only is the architecture stunning, but the steps are a great place to meet up or have a rest.
The Florence Italy bridge that everyone will be sure to recognize is called Ponte Vecchio and is always bursting with people and excitement. While walking across this bustling bridge is quite the experience, it’s even nicer to view the bridge from farther away at sunset from another bridge or from the sidewalk that runs along the river in Florence Italy, which is the Arno.
The Ponte Vecchio used to be the main market of Florence where butchers would sell meat and other goods. It’s much the same today, with vendors selling jewelry and souvenirs.
Shopping in Florence
Speaking of souvenirs in Florence, if you are looking for something to bring home from your trip, Florence is well-known for leather goods, regional specialty foods, and Tuscan-themed artwork.
San Lorenzo Market
The Florence Italy Market that is arguably the most famous place in Italy for souvenir shopping is the bustling open-air San Lorenzo Market.
A similar market on the other side of the city is the Mercado Nuevo or Porcellino Market, named after a famous statue of a wild boar. You can see where he’s been rubbed over and over again. Go ahead and rub his nose to see if his good luck rubs off on you!
A warning, though, if you are wanting exceptional quality leather and you are not an expert in leather or haggling, these are probably not the places to buy your genuine leather souvenirs in Florence.
There are reputable shops such as the Leather School, Benheart and Frau Leman where you can buy genuine leather that will last. For shoes, Wilma Firenze, though located in a touristy place near the Ponte Vecchio bridge, has amazing handmade leather shoes in addition to some bags. A friend of mine has bought stylish work and casual shoes here and they have aged beautifully.
Florence Food Souvenirs
Florence is full of delicious food. Why not take some home as a souvenir? For delicious local specialties that you can take home like truffle-infused olive oil or a jar of olives, try the Sant Ambrogio Market near the Basilica of Santa Croce Florence. It is open until 2pm and is where the locals shop.
If you are staying in an apartment for a few days, this is a great place to pick up some fresh produce. A word to the wise- just point to what you want, do not touch it! Touching produce without gloves is a no-no in Italy and you don’t want the seller to be miffed at you.
Eating in Florence Italy
Enjoying the food and drink is essential on a trip to any region in Italy. Cooking classes in Florence Italy are a great way to try your hand at making traditional foods and enjoying a bit of culture. One fantastic cooking class Florence offers is with BonAppetour, and involves learning how to make pasta from a local!
The gelato Florence Italy offers is some of the best you will find in the world. You will be appreciating that delicious treat because the average temperature in Florence Italy in the summer is hot, from 80-90* Fahrenheit. For recommendations, check out What to Eat in Florence Italy for the best food in Florence Italy, including gelato!
Day Trips from Florence
Having the city as a base and making day trips from Florence is a great way to explore some of the charming hill towns of Tuscany like San Gimignano or Montepulciano. You can even visit a local farm and eat their seasonal specialties for lunch surrounded by stunning scenery.
The wine tours Florence Italy is known for include whole day tours or just an afternoon. With lots of options of group size, number of wineries, and eating a full meal or just snacks, you will be sure to find one that fits your budget.
Because it’s small, sometimes people don’t give Florence enough time, so make sure you set aside at least several nights to get a feel for this charming Renaissance city.
While I could go on for days, this list is what I believe are the best things to do in Florence and are a great way to get started for your time there.
Return to the Florence Home Page to discover more about this amazing city.