21 Best Places to Visit and Things to do in Florence, Italy

No other city in Italy stands out for its sheer beauty and grandeur as Florence does. The essence of western Renaissance art, Florence is a glorious reminder of marvelous architecture and is a parade of great intellect from history. So, if you are keen on exploring this charming city, read on to find some of the top things to do in Florence.

Did you know Florence was once a thriving Roman city during ancient history? Acknowledged as the origin of Renaissance movement and the Duomo, Florence was the residence of some famous personalities like Galileo, Donatello, Dante, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Lorenzo Medici, and Raphael. 

Florence thrives as a flourishing tourist city with well-established railway connectivity to Pisa and Bologna. With plenty of things to do in Florence, about 13 million tourists visit Florence each year. Apart from tourism, fashion and food, history, and art commingle in Florence. If you are craving for an ample dosage of Renaissance art, music, stone façade, building, and literature and want to see fantastic buildings and churches such as the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio, Florence will not disappoint.  

Florence attractions mainly revolve around art and various artworks and sculptures, spread from the galleries of Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio, David, the Galleria dell ‘Accademia, the façade of the Duomo, Baptistery, and the Pitti.

Florence Cathedral – One of top things to do in Florence

Duomo, as the Florence Cathedral is called, is one of the most celebrated Renaissance cathedrals in the world and is one of the most popular Florence attractions. The splendid front façade of the Duomo cathedral was completed in the 19th century. Harmonizing with Florentine architecture, the colossal exterior of the Duomo church building is extravagantly beautiful. 

Several fantastic pieces of art, such as the huge clock face and Last Judgement cover the interior of Duomo cathedral. As Duomo cathedral is in the epicenter of the old city of Florence, you can view the majestic sight of Duomo from across other medieval buildings and neighborhoods.  

Florence Cathedral.jpg
By Florian Hirzinger, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Florence, Italy | Timing: 24/7 | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/47A1YxiDnH1Eepaf8 | Phone number: +390552302885

Palazzo Vecchio

This opulent building was once owned by the Medici family and was originally built in 1299 by the same Renaissance architects that worked on the Duomo and the church of Santa Croce. Located in the center of Florence, the structure of Palazzo Vecchio still stands as the unrivaled administrative building in Florence, the building of the Signoria of the Republic of Florence. 

The square-shaped building of Palazzo Vecchio has a series of coats of arms on the front façade, that represent the various historical families of Florence. Signing up for one of the free daily tours to explore the secret ways of Palazzo Vecchio is worth every penny you spend. 

Don’t forget to come back to the roof for scenic views of the sunset in the evening. 

Palazzo vecchio Florence.jpg
By Jebulon, CC0, Link

Address: Piazza della Signoria, 50122 Florence, Italy | Timing: From 1st April to 30th September, Friday-Wednesday: 9:00 am to 11:00 pm, Thursday: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, From 1st October to 31st March, Friday- Wednesday: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, Thursday: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/zM5HUh2Sf6iuUoqg6 | Phone number: +390552768325

Giotto’s Bell Tower

A stunning piece of art and a distinctive symbol of Florence, Giotto’s Campanile building is the bell tower belonging to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. The 85 meters high Giotto’s Campanile has a square base, and its façade is decorated in white, green, and red marble, which was the hallmark of traditional Florentine architecture at that time. 

Be prepared to sweat while climbing the memorable 414 steps to reach the very breathtaking top! From the lofty heights of the building, the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, you will be able to adore the striking glimpses of the Duomo and the Cupola of Brunelleschi. 

things to do in florence - Giotto's Bell Tower

Address: Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Florence, Italy | Timing: 08:15 am to 06:50 pm | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/gAM9sLMnEDV8SnbK8 | Phone number: +390552302885

Basilica of Santa Croce

Sitting in the middle of the square of Piazza di Santa Croce, the Basilica of Santa Croce is both a museum and gallery. Santa Croce houses some of Florence’s greatest pieces of Renaissance art, such as Donatello’s wooden life-size Christ Crucifix.

Although smaller than the Duomo, the Basilica of Santa Croce is treasured for its unparalleled beauty and inviting demeanor. The sophisticated embellishment of the ceiling and the detailing in gold in the church add visual charm to this architectural work of genius. The exterior of the Basilica also features a front façade made of pink, green, and red marble panels, and polished white stone.

Santa Croce (Florence) - Facade.jpg
By Diana Ringo, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Piazza di Santa Croce, 16, 50122 Florence, Italy | Timing: Monday, Wednesday – Friday and Saturday: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sunday: 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/de3jjkM4Jz13YxKN6 | Phone number: +390552466105

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio has a decorated history and is one of Florence’s landmarks and certainly the most photographed bridge in the city. Enjoy a little stroll along the Corridoio Vasariano to see the exterior of the Ponte Vecchio and its stunning churches and buildings.

Ponte Vecchio has been the epicenter of the jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir shops in Florence. If you want to avoid shopping around the overabundance of shops that line the main walkway in Vecchio, you can take a gondola ride in the River Arno under the bridge and enjoy the beautiful sunset instead.

Ponte Vecchio from East.jpg
By Yair Haklai, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Ponte Vecchio, 50125 Florence, Italy | Timing: 24/7 | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/Fjr24RUKyKkqDbtv5 | Phone number: +39-55292289

Uffizi Gallery

Whether you are a connoisseur or an amateur when it comes to art, Uffizi Gallery, or the Galleria degli Uffizi will not disappoint you if you are wondering about places to visit in Florence.

A compendium of absolute masterpieces of the western paintings from 13th to 18th centuries, you can also see the fantastic painting ‘The Birth of Venus’ by Botticelli here.

Along the river Arno, Uffizi gallery is one of the oldest and the most important museums in Italy, known for its spellbinding collections of Renaissance art like Raphael’s “Madonna of the Goldfinch” and Titian’s “Venus of Urbino.” Sometimes known as the gallery of wonders, Uffizi also holds a grand collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures.

Uffizi Gallery hallway.JPG
By Petar Milošević, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Piazzale Degli Uffizi, 6, 50122, Florence, Italy | Timing: Tuesday – Sunday: 8:15 am to 6:50 pm | Google map location: https://g.page/uffizigalleries?share | Phone number: +39055294883

Baptistery of St. John

Like the Duomo, this Baptistery is one of the oldest in Florence and has the same eye-catching design with a stone façade as Giotto’s Campanile. The Baptistery is dedicated to St John the Baptist, and people believe that it was built between the 5th and 12th century.

The main attraction of this octagonal building are the beautiful frescos adorning the ceiling and upper walls in golden Byzantine style. You can take a guided tour of this church or a minor Basilica as it is known, that will explain in detail the stories from the Bible depicted in the frescos.

Florencia - Firenza - Baptisterio de San Xoan - Baptisterio de San Juan - Baptistery of St John - Exterior - 01.jpg
By Xosema, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Piazza San Giovanni, 50122 Florence, Italy | Timing: Monday – Sunday: 08:15 am to 10:15 am, 11:15 am to 06:30 pm | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/8C6ruVbQY59romWo7 | Phone number: +390552302885

Galleria dell ‘Accademia

One of the things to see in Florence if you are an art lover is to walk around Galleria dell ’Accademia gaping at all the great works, including the original sculpture of Michelangelo’s David. If you have a limited amount of time to cover all the fantastic art galleries and museums, keep the Galleria dell ‘Accademia as you must visit the place for the supreme cause: your only chance to see the original and majestic David.

What’s more? You will also find many other unfinished sculptures and Michelangelo’s works from the Renaissance period.

Galleria dell'Accademia Michelangelo’s David, Florence 2019.jpg
By George M. Groutas, CC BY 2.0, Link

Address: Via Ricasoli, 58/60, 50129 Florence, Italy | Timing: Monday: Closed, Tuesday and Thursday: 9:00 am to 6:15 pm, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: 9:00 am to 6:15 pm, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/Z85BtaZhriiumhJBA | Phone number: +390550987100

Basilica di San Lorenzo

The impressive Basilica di San Lorenzo was constructed under the designs of the powerful Medici family during the Renaissance. The church is known for beautiful artwork on the façade and gold and white gilded ceiling. Many intricate frescos and sculptures frame the dome of Basilica di San Lorenzo and the characteristic terracotta creates a fantastic mix of patterns and colors.

It was the parish church for the prestigious Medici family and is the burial place for most of the Medici family members. For its intrinsic Renaissance historical and cultural value, the Basilica church should be on the list of the things to do in Florence.

Basilica di San Lorenzo e Cappelle Medicee (15175882503).jpg
By Björn S, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Address: Piazza di San Lorenzo, 9, 50123 Florence, Italy | Timing: Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am to 05:00 pm | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/NoXXXL6ceQ9EQpFJ9 | Phone number: +39055216634

Explore Oltrarno Neighborhood

Oltrarno district is on the other side of the river from Piazza Della Signoria and is nothing less than a small town. As you look around, you will find interesting Renaissance art and heritage in cathedrals, Duomo, Palazzo, monuments, museums, churches, buildings, and parks. Some of the places to visit include Pitti Palace, Santo Spirito Square, and Boboli Gardens.

When in Oltrarno, do not miss out on trying the fantastic restaurants and cozy cafes in Piazza della Passera. Over the last few years, Oltrarno is increasingly gaining popularity as one of the exciting places to visit in Florence.

Top of Pitti Palace (5987218764).jpg
By Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0, Link

Address: 50125 Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy | Timing: 24/7 Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/5eT3gt2wfWUyoZub7

I Renaioli Sunset Boat Ride

A whimsical sight to behold! Take a break from all the walking, sightseeing, and see Florence from a different perspective. You can experience the Renaioli sunset boat ride to cruise on the river Arno, with the local ‘barchetto’ and an experienced tour guide.

So next time you are planning a visit to Florence and wondering what to do in Florence, just relax while cruising on the calm waters of the river with an enjoyable glass of prosecco.

Sunset over Arno River, Florence, May, 2017-2.jpg
By Alexey Komarov, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Piazza Mentana, 3, 50123 Florence, Italy | Timing: Monday – Sunday 7:30 am to 8:30 pm | Google map location: https://g.page/Florencetown?share | Phone number: +39055281103

Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo is the most visited square in Florence. Framed against the River Arno, the Piazzale Michelangelo lies on a hill near the Boboli Gardens and the Palazzo Pitti. Known for its magnificent panoramic view of the city, you may have seen the replica of this view on countless postcards. To reach high up above the city for a spectacular view of Florence and the Duomo in all its glory, take a tour through the narrow-cobbled streets of the San Niccolò neighborhood.

Out of the wide array of things to do in Florence Italy, you need to find time to wander through the edge of this square to shop from a plethora of street artists and witness the magical afternoon sunset over here.

Florence seen from Piazzale Michelangelo.jpg
By Yair Haklai, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Piazzale Michelangelo, 50125 Florence, Italy | Timing: Monday – Saturday: 9:30 am to 1:00 pm, Sundays: 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/Z44t9FN3h6P56UjF7

Have the best food in the city at Mercato Centrale Firenze

An excellent place for gourmet Italian food, the Mercato Centrale Firenze is in a building designed by architect Giuseppe Mengoni in 1874. A vibrant and fun marketplace, you will not only find tempting eateries, but the market also features several vendors selling fresh herbs, cheeses, meats, and olives.

This is a great place to shop for souvenirs to take back home to your friends and families from vendors that sell Renaissance artwork, jewelry, clothing, etc. Near the Santa Maria Novella railway station, this market in the San Lorenzo neighborhood is easily accessible from the city.

Mercato centrale di san lorenzo 01.jpg
By Sailko, CC BY 3.0, Link

Address: Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Via dell’Ariento, 50123 Florence, Italy | Timing: Monday – Thursday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Friday- Sunday: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Google map location: https://g.page/mercato-centrale-firenze?share | Phone number: +390552399798

Go sightseeing at Giardino Bardini

The grandeur of the terraced garden of the Giardino Bardini is unrivaled in Florence. It is not as huge as the Boboli Gardens, but is equally magnificent and worth a visit. It is the most loved place for a pit-stop after incessantly wandering around museums and churches. The garden has a pergola-covered stairwell that leads to the Belvedere panoramic terrace and a breathtaking view of the city.

Firenze - Florence - Giardino Bardini - View East & Down 'Wisteria Lane' I.jpg
By Txllxt TxllxT, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Costa S. Giorgio, 2, 50125 Florence, Italy | Timing: 8:15 am to 04:30 pm Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/LP4uJ1FbWf64fSQx9 | Phone number: +39-5520066206

Piazza Santo Spirito

Santo Spirito is a perfect place to end your intense sightseeing. Known for its bohemian vibe, splendid façade, and ambiance, this crammed local neighborhood has a completely relaxed atmosphere. One of the best things to do in Florence is to cross the river to take a stroll like the locals and sit back for some good local coffee places and wine bars.

With a bustling local street market and young people strolling around, you will find some of the cheapest restaurants in the Renaissance city here. Do not miss this place if you want to experience a flavor beyond the tourist landmarks.

Piazza Santo Spirito FI.jpg
By Lorenzo Testa, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Piazza Santo Spirito, 30, 50125 Florence, Italy | Timing:08:30 am to 01:00 pm and 03:00 pm to 06:00 pm, Wednesday closed | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/KCSWw4fKUynQnqy99 | Phone number: +39055210030

Palazzo Strozzi

This wonderful Palazzo was built by the wealthy and powerful Strozzi family around 1538 to build a bigger building than the Palazzo Medici. As you walk around the periphery of the structure, you will find some of the finest examples of Renaissance domestic architecture such as decorations with wrought-iron torch holders, sculptures, rings for horses, candelabra decorations, flag holders, arched portals, and stone façade.

Palazzo Strozzi.jpg
By Yair Haklai, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Piazza degli Strozzi, 50123 Florence, Italy | Timing: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 am to 8:00 pm | Google map location: https://g.page/fondazionepalazzostrozzi?share | Phone number: +390552645155

Vivoli Gelato

Vivoli Gelato is simply the best Gelato in Florence. If you are looking to cap off a long day out or go for a quick treat walking through town, the creamy Mille Foglie and Yogurt flavors will pamper your taste buds like nothing.

Once you chalk out the list of best things to do in Florence, make sure that the Vivoli Gelato makes it to the list. It is an absolutely fantastic way to unwind after a tiring tour of the city!

Vivoli gelato

Address: Via Isola delle Stinche, 7r, 50122 Florence, Italy | Timing: Tuesday – Saturday: 08:30 am to 6:00 pm, Sunday: 09:30 am to 06:00 pm, Monday closed | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/UxDgTk4cEbYNPqiz5 | Phone number: +39055292334

Statue of David

Undeniably, this tops the list of the Florence things to do. The sculpture of David is a magnificent piece of renaissance art created by the legendary artist Michelangelo and is one of the most renowned and well-known sculptures in the world.

The statue of David is huge at 17 feet tall and weighs more than 12,000 pounds; yet imagine the sheer brilliance of the creator, that it is sculpted from a single block of white marble! This fantastic sculpture of David is a typical Ancient Greek figure that is celebrated as a symbol of youth, eternal beauty, and human strength. Take a walk around Galleria dell ’Accademia to admire the original Michelangelo’s David. You can also find a replica of the sculpture of David at the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio.

'David' by Michelangelo JBU06.JPG
By Jörg Bittner Unna, CC BY 3.0, Link

Address: Accademia Gallery, Via Ricasoli, 60, 50122 Florence, Italy | Timing: Monday – Friday: 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, Saturday: 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, Sundays closed | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/BZ3AYzP2rUGrSpXG6 | Phone number: +39055294883

Bargello National Museum

One of the popular Florence attractions, the Bargello National Museum houses not only the four masterpieces by Michelangelo, but you can also delight yourself with the enamels and gold collections from the Renaissance era. Prized treasures such as the David by Donatello and a bust of Christ by Lombardo add to the fame of this museum.

Sala del Verrocchio museo nazionale del Bargello Firenze.jpg
By Nicola Quirico, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Via del Proconsolo, 4, 50122 Florence, Italy | Timing: Tuesday – Saturday: 8:15 am to 1:50 pm | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/jJc3WjbUMAxwc34J7 | Phone number: +390550649440

Stibbert Museum

Florence is not all about the Duomo. The Stibbert Museum showcases the eccentric and fantastic tastes of Frederick Stibbert, a 19th-century art collector. The spectacular collection of over 50,000 artifacts includes weaponry, artworks, and scores of costumes, and furniture in European, Islamic, and Japanese civilizations.

Do not miss the Sala della Cavalcata, where life-sized European and Ottoman knights are staged in military formation. Among the things to do in Florence, especially in the Stibbert Museum, you can appreciate the traditional Japanese katana and armor, which belonged to real samurai.

Museo stibbert, interno 01.JPG
By I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: Via Federico Stibbert, 26, 50134 Florence, Italy | Timing: Friday – Sunday: 10:00 am to 06:00 pm, Thursday closed | Google map location: https://goo.gl/maps/KvU5WunUcgxounQg9 | Phone number: +39055475520

Gucci Garden

Are you in love with fashion and are looking for a quick respite from everything historic? Welcome to the Gucci Garden. Gucci Garden is an innovative idea conceived by Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele. It is one of the fun things to do in Florence as you will fall in love with this interactive complex building where history, artwork, fashion, and food blend together.

Located in the 14th-century Palazzo della Mercanzia in Florence’s Piazza Signoria, the multilevel Gucci Garden showcases Michele’s extraordinary creativity with one-of-a-kind items in the beautiful store selling exclusive Gucci Garden designs.

Gucci Garden - Tribunale della Mercanzia - Piazza della Signoria, Florence

Address: Piazza della Signoria, 10, 50122 Florence, Italy | Timing: Monday – Sunday: 10:00 am to 07:00 pm | Google map location:https://goo.gl/maps/ZuS2MZRC3E6YHjeG6 | Phone number: +3905575927010

If you are still wondering what to do in Florence Italy, fret not! Florence has more to it than David, Duomo, Palazzo, Giotto’s Campanile, and historical buildings. Stroll through Boboli Gardens, shop around the colorful stores over the bridge of Ponte Vecchio along the Arno river, or have a scrumptious meal at one of the gelato corners in city. Florence is a city where history is not only preserved but celebrated.