things to do in florence

Last Updated on: 31st January 2024, 09:44 am

Greetings! Are you planning a trip to Italy and wondering what are the best things to do in Florence? Look no further! I’ve got you covered with the ultimate guide to exploring one of Italy’s most beloved cities. Florence is a true gem with its art-filled galleries, historic landmarks, beautiful gardens, delicious cuisine, and so much more. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning traveler, Florence has something for everyone.

Explore Florence’s Historic Centre

Florence’s historic centre, an excellent place to start exploring the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the city’s beating heart. I recommend taking a leisurely walk along the medieval streets and admiring the beautiful architecture of the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Piazza della Signoria.

For art enthusiasts, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the famous Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery to see masterpieces by Michelangelo and other renowned artists. The Uffizi Gallery, in particular, boasts an extensive collection of Renaissance paintings, including works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael.

Moreover, spend time wandering around the lively square of Piazza della Repubblica, known for its grand arch and lively cafes. Enjoy people-watching and a coffee in one of the many outdoor cafes or indulge in a little shopping in some local boutiques.

best things to do in Florence Italy

Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria: A Closer Look

The Duomo, or Florence Cathedral, is an architectural wonder and one of the most notable landmarks in the city. It is often referred to as the “Cradle of the Renaissance” and boasts a breathtaking facade adorned with marble designs and the dome designed by legendary Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi.

The Ponte Vecchio, a 14th-century bridge that straddles the River Arno is a unique structure that connects the historic centre with the newer parts of Florence. It houses some of the city’s most prestigious goldsmiths and jewelers and offers sweeping views of the river and surrounding cityscape.

Finally, the Piazza della Signoria is a public square that houses some remarkable examples of Renaissance art, including the Palazzo Vecchio, the famous Fountain of Neptune, and a replica of Michelangelo’s David statue.

Top Tips for Exploring Florence’s Historic Centre

  • Wear comfortable shoes to explore the cobblestone streets of Florence.
  • Consider booking your ticket to the Uffizi Gallery online to avoid long queues.
  • Plan a visit to the Duomo, but arrive early to avoid crowds and get a chance to partake in the incredible views of the city from the dome.

“Florence’s historic centre is a marvel, showcasing the city’s rich cultural heritage and artistic prowess. Thoughtful planning and taking your time to explore this enchanting destination will help you discover its hidden gems and create an unforgettable vacation experience.” – Anonymous

Marvel at Florence’s Artistic Treasures

Florence is the city where the Renaissance was born, and its beauty is reflected in the countless masterpieces of art housed here. The best things to do in Florence Italy for art lovers are visiting the museums and galleries.

One of the popular collections is the Bargello Museum, where visitors can see stunning sculptures by Donatello and Michelangelo. The Bargello’s outdoor courtyard features a bronze statue by Giambologna.

Things to do in Florence

The Pitti Palace is another place worth visiting for those interested in Italian art. It used to be the residence of the Grand dukes of Tuscany and has an extensive collection of artwork, including paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian.

“Florence is a paradise for art lovers…”

The city’s leading art destination has to be the Uffizi Gallery, home to thousands of art pieces from the Renaissance period, including Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.” Don’t forget to book your tickets in advance as the gallery is always crowded.

Another attraction for visitors is the Basilica di Santa Croce, the resting place of many famous Florentines. Visitors can see many notable frescoes and fine sculptures inside the church. The church is also the final resting place of Michelangelo and Galileo.

Artistic Treasures of Florence – Table of Attractions

Attractions Famous for
Bargello Museum Donatello and Michelangelo sculptures
Pitti Palace Palace of the Grand dukes of Tuscany with an extensive collection of artwork
Uffizi Gallery Thousands of art pieces from the Renaissance period
Basilica di Santa Croce Famous frescoes and fine sculptures, resting place of Michelangelo and Galileo

Florence is where you can find some of the most beautiful and historically significant art in the world. If you appreciate fine art, then a visit to Florence’s museums, galleries, and churches will be one of the best things to do in Florence. So, pack your bags and get ready for a unique artistic experience.

Discover Hidden Gems in Florence

If you’re tired of the crowds and want to experience the lesser-known side of Florence, explore the Oltrarno district. This area is the perfect place to find hidden gems, from charming artisan workshops to local boutiques. Take a leisurely stroll and appreciate the beautiful architecture that lines the narrow streets. You’ll find a variety of small shops that sell unique souvenirs to take back home.

Another way to avoid the crowds and have a more intimate cultural experience is to visit the Museo del Novecento or the Museo degli Innocenti. These museums are less famous than the Uffizi or Accademia galleries, but they still house impressive collections of artwork. Plus, you’ll be able to admire the artwork without being jostled by other tourists.

“It was a delight to discover the hidden gems of Florence. I stumbled upon a tiny shop that sold handmade ceramics and brought back a beautiful vase as a souvenir.”

hidden gems in Florence

The Best Hidden Gems in Florence

Hidden Gem Description
Brancacci Chapel A hidden gem located inside the Santa Maria del Carmine church, featuring stunning frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino.
Loggia dei Lanzi A free open-air sculpture gallery on the Piazza della Signoria, featuring many famous works.
Stibbert Museum A lesser-known museum that houses an impressive collection of armour and weapons, as well as art and artifacts from all over the world.
La Specola Museum The oldest science museum in Europe, showcasing collections of zoological, botanical, and anatomical specimens.

By stepping off the beaten path, you’ll discover the many hidden gems that Florence has to offer. These experiences will provide you with deeper insights into the city’s rich history and culture that most tourists miss.

Indulge in Tuscan Cuisine

One of the highlights of visiting Florence is experiencing the city’s mouth-watering Tuscan cuisine. There are many options to choose from, whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience or a more casual meal. For a true taste of Florence, head to a local trattoria and try the famous Florentine steak, a succulent and flavourful dish that is sure to satisfy your cravings. Alternatively, savour a plate of pasta al pomodoro paired with a glass of Chianti, a red wine that is produced in the surrounding hills of Tuscany.

If you’re travelling on a budget, there are also plenty of free food tastings to be found at the city’s markets and food fairs. Here you can try various local specialties, from olive oil to cheese to wine. Don’t miss the Mercato Centrale, a vibrant indoor market where you can sample some of the best food in the city. This bustling marketplace is a feast for the senses, with colourful displays of fresh produce, fragrant spices, and artisanal products.

“Tuscany is a region of exquisite taste and flavour, where every dish tells a story of its rich history and culture.”

Whether you’re a foodie or simply looking to indulge in some delicious cuisine, Florence is the perfect destination. From traditional dishes to contemporary flavours, you’re sure to find something that tantalizes your taste buds. So, don’t be afraid to explore the city’s culinary scene and discover your new favourite dish or restaurant.

Wander Through Florence’s Gardens and Parks

When I want to escape the hustle and bustle of Florence, I love to take a stroll through one of the city’s lush gardens or parks. Not only is it an excellent way to unwind and relax, but it’s also a chance to enjoy some greenery amidst the historic architecture.

One of my favourite green spaces in Florence is the Boboli Gardens. Located behind the Pitti Palace, this sprawling park offers panoramic views of the city and is home to some impressive sculptures and fountains. I highly recommend taking a picnic to enjoy in one of the more secluded areas of the garden.

If you’re looking for something a bit quieter, the Giardino Bardini is an excellent option. This garden is located on a hill to the south of Florence and features a mix of manicured lawns and wilder areas. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sunshine with a good book or take in the views over the city.

For a floral experience, a visit to the rose garden at Piazzale Michelangelo is a must. With over 1000 varieties of roses on display, this garden is a feast for the senses. It’s also conveniently located near the famous viewpoint, offering stunning views of Florence.

Free things to do in Florence Italy

Don’t forget, all of these green spaces are completely free of charge, making them an excellent choice for travellers on a budget. Whether you’re a nature lover or just looking for a peaceful escape, Florence’s parks and gardens offer something for everyone.

Attend a Cultural Event or Festival

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Florence, attending a local event or festival is a must-do. Florence hosts a wide range of events throughout the year, from music concerts to art exhibitions, to traditional festivals. Whatever your interests, you’re sure to find something to enjoy. Here are some top picks for cultural events and festivals:

Pitti Immagine Fashion Events

If you’re a fashion lover, don’t miss the Pitti Immagine fashion events. Held in January, June, and September, these events attract top designers, models, and industry professionals from around the world. See the latest fashion trends and mingle with fashion insiders at this can’t-miss event.

Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious music festivals. Held annually from late April to early July, it features world-renowned opera performances, classical music concerts, and dance productions. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the very best in music and performance.

Festa della Rificolona

The Festa della Rificolona is a traditional festival held on September 7th each year. It’s a celebration of the birthday of the Virgin Mary and involves locals carrying brightly lit paper lanterns through the streets of Florence. Join the procession and experience the magic of this unique festival.

Festival Name Date Description
Pitti Immagine Fashion Events January, June, September International event featuring fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Maggio Musicale Fiorentino April-July Classical music festival featuring world-renowned opera performances and dance productions.
Festa della Rificolona September 7 Traditional festival celebrating the birthday of the Virgin Mary, featuring brightly lit paper lanterns and a procession through the streets of Florence.

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience Florence’s rich cultural scene during your stay. Check the calendar to see what’s on and join in the festivities.

Explore Florence’s Surrounding Areas

If you have extra time, consider exploring the beautiful Tuscan countryside surrounding Florence. There are several picturesque towns nearby that are worth visiting.

  • Siena: This medieval city is known for its stunning architecture, including the Siena Cathedral. Walk around the Piazza del Campo, where the famous Palio horse race takes place.
  • San Gimignano: The town is situated on a hill and is surrounded by medieval towers. Visit the Piazza della Cisterna, the town’s main square with stunning architecture.
  • Pisa: Home to the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, this city is a must-visit on a day trip from Florence. Climb to the top of the Tower for a stunning view of the city.

You can also explore the Chianti wine region and enjoy vineyard tours and wine tasting. Try some of the best wine in the world while experiencing the beautiful Tuscan countryside.

Shop for Local Crafts and Souvenirs

If you’re looking for unique souvenirs to take home from Florence, exploring the San Lorenzo Market is a must. This bustling outdoor market has something for everyone, from leather jackets and belts to artisanal crafts and jewellery. The market is open daily and is the perfect place to find a bargain.

For an authentic Florentine experience, visit the local workshops where you can watch artisans create beautiful paper, ceramics, and jewellery. These workshops are a great way to support local businesses and pick up some one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Don’t forget to try some delicious Florentine sweets, such as cantucci or panforte, which make for great gifts or treats for yourself.

When shopping for souvenirs, keep in mind that bargaining is common in Florence, and most vendors are open to price negotiation. However, be respectful and don’t haggle too aggressively.

Conclusion

As an avid traveller, Florence has always been on my bucket list, and now that I have visited this beautiful city, I can say that it truly exceeded my expectations. The city is a delightful mix of art, culture, and gastronomy, offering something for everyone.

From exploring the historic centre with its iconic landmarks and world-renowned museums to discovering hidden gems and indulging in delicious Tuscan cuisine, Florence has it all. I particularly enjoyed strolling through the city’s beautiful gardens and parks, which provided a peaceful escape from the busy streets.

Moreover, Florence’s vibrant cultural scene, with its numerous events and festivals, truly adds to the city’s charm. I was lucky enough to attend the Pitti Immagine fashion events and experience the city’s fashion culture up close.

Finally, if you have extra time, I highly recommend exploring the surrounding areas of Florence. The Tuscan countryside is breathtaking, and the picturesque towns of Siena, San Gimignano, or Pisa are definitely worth a day trip.

All in all, Florence offers a unique and unforgettable experience that you won’t want to miss. So, if you’re looking for things to do in Florence, I highly recommend checking out the attractions and activities in this guide. I’m confident that you will fall in love with this beautiful Italian city, just like I did.

FAQ

What are the best things to do in Florence, Italy?

Some of the best things to do in Florence, Italy include exploring the historic centre, visiting iconic landmarks such as the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, marveling at artistic treasures in museums like the Uffizi Gallery, discovering hidden gems in the Oltrarno district, indulging in Tuscan cuisine, wandering through the city’s gardens and parks, attending cultural events and festivals, exploring the surrounding areas of Florence, and shopping for local crafts and souvenirs.

Where is the historic centre of Florence located?

The historic centre of Florence is located in the heart of the city and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is home to renowned landmarks such as the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Piazza della Signoria.

What are some must-visit museums in Florence?

Florence is known for its artistic treasures, and some must-visit museums include the Uffizi Gallery, which houses masterpieces by renowned artists, and the Accademia Gallery, where you can see Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, David. The Bargello Museum is also worth a visit to see sculptures by Donatello and Michelangelo.

Are there any hidden gems in Florence?

Yes, Florence has many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Explore the Oltrarno district to find charming artisan workshops and boutiques. Visit lesser-known museums like the Museo del Novecento or the Museo degli Innocenti for a unique cultural experience.

What is Tuscan cuisine known for?

Tuscan cuisine is known for its delicious flavors and high-quality ingredients. When visiting Florence, be sure to try a traditional Florentine steak or indulge in a plate of pasta al pomodoro paired with a glass of Chianti. If you’re on a budget, you can also find free food tastings in the city’s markets where you can try various local specialties.

Are there any gardens and parks to visit in Florence?

Yes, Florence offers several beautiful gardens and parks where you can escape the city’s hustle and bustle. Head to the Boboli Gardens for panoramic views of the city, or visit the peaceful Giardino Bardini or the rose garden at Piazzale Michelangelo for a relaxing and scenic experience.

Are there any cultural events or festivals in Florence?

Florence is known for its vibrant cultural scene and hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year. Check the calendar to see if there’s a music concert, art exhibition, or traditional festival happening during your visit. From the Pitti Immagine fashion events to the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino opera festival, there’s something for everyone.

What are some surrounding areas to explore near Florence?

If you have extra time, consider taking a day trip to the surrounding areas of Florence. Visit the picturesque towns of Siena, San Gimignano, or Pisa in the stunning Tuscan countryside. You can also explore the Chianti wine region and enjoy vineyard tours and wine tastings.

Where can I buy local crafts and souvenirs in Florence?

Florence is famous for its high-quality leather goods and traditional crafts. Explore the San Lorenzo Market, where you can find leather jackets, belts, and accessories. Visit local workshops to watch artisans create beautiful paper, ceramics, and jewelry. Don’t forget to pick up some delicious Florentine sweets, such as cantucci or panforte, as souvenirs.