The 18 Best Things to Do in Florence, Italy (Activities and Tours)

Kurt Norris
Last Updated: January 22nd, 2024

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Florence, Italy has a unique history, landscape, and culture that is just begging to be explored by avid tourists. However, it can be a bit overwhelming to plan out your trip to see everything you would like to experience while in the capital city of Bel Paese (the beautiful country).

I have had the pleasure of spending time in Florence both as a tourist and a traveler, and through each of my visits, I always find something new and exciting to try.

In this article, I’ll share my list of the best things to do in Florence, Italy including tours and free events to ensure you get the most out of your trip.

TL;DR

Want a quick look at our favorite things to do in Florence, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered with this quick look.

18 Best Things To Do In Florence, Italy

1. Piazza Santo Spirito 

The place to explore premiere shops, markets, and destinations in Oltrarno.

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Piazza di Santo Spirito, Florence Image by: Elliott Brown / Flickr

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The Piazza Santo Spirito is perhaps one of the most stunning squares in all of Italy.

That said, it does stay bustling with tourists. However, if it is Italian markets, shops, or other public destinations that you’re after during your trip, Piazza Santo Spirito deserves a place on your list.

Whether you want to sit back and enjoy a drink, do some shopping, or enjoy a lovely roof-top view, this is the neighborhood to do it in.

If you want to learn more about the area, you can always check out the Leonardo da Vinci Guided walking tour which will also take you through the square.

2. Piazzale Michelangelo

A spectacular neighborhood for local history and culture.

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Piazzale Michelangelo Image by: Matthijs / Flickr

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Another amazing neighborhood that you don’t want to miss out on when visiting Florence is the Piazzale Michelangelo, one of the best areas of the city where local history and culture are concerned.

Sightseers are prone to enjoy this neighborhood for all its splendor and hustle. Street performers and musicians are known to frequent the area, and it also offers beautiful views of the Duomo and Arnolfo Tower as well.

Pro Tip: If you are going with a loved one and want to ensure you get some unforgettable photos to commemorate your visit, consider booking a private photo shoot at Piazzale Michelangelo.

3. Medici Chapels

Explore two stunning chapels in San Lorenzo’s historic Basilica.

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A couple of the most stunning chapels in all of San Lorenzo’s historic basilica, the Medici Chapels are not a destination to miss if historic buildings and architecture intrigue you.

Many tourists claim to feel as if they have traveled back in time while visiting the chapels due to their atmosphere. Tickets do cost around ten dollars to get in and they can be purchased in person or booked online.

When it comes to chapels, the Medici Chapels of Florence are a couple of Italian gems to behold.

Pro Tip: To learn more about the chapels and the surrounding area, you can always book a walking tour.

4. Uffizi Gallery

A must-see Renaissance art gallery.

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One of the most sought-after destinations in Florence, especially for students, artists, and art lovers in general, is the Uffizi Gallery and all of its impressive Renaissance art. This is one of the top must-see destinations in Florence, without question, however, regardless of your history with art.

You will not regret taking the time to view these masterpieces. Furthermore, there are numerous tours available that allow you to get a better view and understanding of all that the gallery has to offer.

Masterpieces from Michelangelo and da Vinci are just the icing on the cake when it comes to all the treasures the Uffizi Gallery has to offer.

The Ultimate Uffizi: Priority Entrance Small-Group Tour is one of the quickest ways to visit one of the oldest and best European museums.

Pro Tip: If you are traveling with kids the Florence: Uffizi Gallery Kid-Friendly Treasure Hunt Tour treats your kids like princes and princesses as they explore the rich history and art of Florence.

5. Museo dell’Opera del Duomo

A beautiful museum in honor of the Dome and Basilica. 

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Museo dell’Opera del Duomo Image by: A.Currell / Flickr

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Another glorious museum that undoubtedly deserves a place on your list of places to go while visiting Florence is the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.

This one is dedicated in honor of the Dome and Basilica of Florence. The museum is home to a massive collection of paintings and sculptures from the Medieval and Renaissance eras. Ghiberti, Michelangelo, and Brunelleschi are a few of the most famous artists who have their works included in the museum’s gallery.

Also, there is an amazing little gift shop where you can pick up several intriguing one-of-a-kind artsy-type items to remember the trip to Florence by.

6. Bargello Museum 

Experience the largest collection of Renaissance and Gothic sculptures in Italy.

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Bargello National Museum Image by: Kent Wang / Flickr

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The largest collection of Renaissance and Gothic sculptures in all of Italy occupy yet another highly-rated museum in Florence, the Bargello Museum. Besides age-old masterpieces and dynamic pieces of art, the actual location housing the museum alone is well worth the visit.

Housed in a gorgeous Gothic Manner with courtyards, arches, and even a bell tower, a trip to this museum is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, despite receiving such high amounts of traffic from tourists, the place remains as if in a time capsule.

If you ever wondered what the Renaissance or Gothic eras were like, this is the destination for you. Even better, guided tours are available to learn more about the various sculptures.

7. The Boboli Gardens

A wonderful place to stop and smell the flowers.

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Number seven on our list of the best things to do in Florence is taking a stop to smell the flowers amidst the crowds, by stepping into the Giardino Bardini. This intimately designed garden is a hidden treasure in Florence.

Pro Tip: Aside from gorgeous landscaping, and being a perfect place for catching a breather between visiting other touristy spots, there is also a covered path straight up to the panoramic Belvedere terrace.

If you need a place to rest for a moment while traipsing around the city, keep this beautiful little spot in mind.  I also personally recommend the Boboli The Medici Gardens & Hidden Messages Tour if you want to dive deeper into the mythology hidden around the gardens.

8. Stadio Artemio Franchi

Catch a match at the famous Florence soccer hub.

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Stadio Artemio Franchi at Sunset Image by: KevArchie / Flickr

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For those who have a strong love for soccer coursing in their veins, there is no other location in Florence as exciting as the city’s soccer hub, the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Home to ACF Fiorentina, the Series A soccer team for the city of Florence.

If you visit during the season, you will be sure to catch a great game if you so wish to. In addition, it is a great place to mingle with other soccer fans and even to pick up some sports memorabilia.

Regardless, even for free, it is a treat to even merely behold the stadium for any real soccer fan.

9. Galleria dell’Accademia

Home to the most famous works of Michelangelo.

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Galleria dell’Accademia Image by: David King / Flickr

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One of the most impressive galleries in the city, the Galleria dell’Accademia is home to not only the most famous works of Michelangelo but it houses more art than most cities with all of their museums combined.

That said, no matter what sort of art you enjoy, painting, sculpture, or simply architecture, you will surely be taken aback at the beauty to behold at this popular art destination.

The downside is that there are of course some pretty horrendous lines to wait in for the better exhibits depending on the season you decide to visit during. Make sure you set aside plenty of time if you wish to check out this gallery.

The Michelangelo’s David Guided Accademia Gallery Tour is an ideal way to experience the museum through a one-hour art tour including one of Michelangelo’s very best works.

10. Palazzo Strozzi 

An Artsy and Laid-Back Renaissance Palazzo.

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Palazzo Strozzi Image by: Kent Wang / Flickr

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A lesser-known treasure within Florence is the Palazzo Strozzi. However, as with most destinations and things to do on our list, it is also centered around fine art.

It isn’t home to the famous masterpieces of the museums of the city, rather, it is a laid-back Renaissance Palazzo dedicated to artsy types and activities. Art shows, exhibits, and performances are regular in the area.

If you love art or are studying it, you will not want to miss out on checking out this neighborhood.

11. Piazza del Duomo

An area home to the most iconic landmark in all of Florence.

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Piazza del Duomo is the heart of the city. It’s home to splendid architecture. The list includes the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and several other architectures inside the square.

The square is the perfect start for your trip. It introduces you to the art and history of Florence.

Built in 1296 by Arnulfo de Cambio, the cathedral is an impressive Gothic masterpiece. It houses several works of art by renowned artists. And it is the third-largest church in Italy.

But the main attraction of the cathedral is its beautiful dome (Duomo).

Pro Tip: The best way to experience the Duomo is with the Duomo Cathedral Guided Tour which will give you deeper insight into the historical significance of the location.

12. San Miniato Al Monte

Freely roam an area steeped in history and amazing art.

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This is one of the finest Romanesque architecture in Tuscany. This multicolored marble structure nestled among the lush green hills of Florence is indeed a remarkable sight.

The magnificent exterior of San Miniato Al Monte features geometric patterns that adorn the walls. And it’s enough to make your jaw drop!

San Miniato Al Monte was built between the 11th and 13th centuries. And it’s dedicated to St. Minias, who was an Early Christian martyr in Florence. The relics of Saint Minias are preserved in the church’s crypt.

13. Piazza Della Signoria

Explore the history of the Florence Republic.

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Another location that is ideal to explore at your leisure, Piazza Della Signoria is the heart of the history of the Florentine Republic. It’s home to important structures in Florentine history. Certainly, Piazza Della Signoria is a picturesque setting that reflects a reckoning history under tyranny.

Constructed in 1302 by Arnolfo di Cambio, Piazza Della Signoria is the home of two churches and several tower houses. It was built in 1299 and it served as the town hall of the city. Today, the piazza is the home of Palazzo Vecchio or the Old Palace and Loggia dei Lanzi (Lodge for public gatherings).

Outside the palace, you’ll find Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David. It serves as a reminder of the Republic’s effort to convey their defiance against the tyrannical Medici family.

14. Ponte Vecchio

A historic bridge you can explore for free.

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Although it is known as the breeding ground of mosaics, frescoes, and architecture, Florence is unique. After all, it highlights a different form of art from the stalls that sell jewelry along Ponte Vecchio, the 1st bridge built in Florence.

Ponte Vecchio connects the city center to the district of Oltrarno. According to historians, the bridge was constructed around the 12th century.

At the center of the bridge perched the bust of Benvenuto Cellini, the most famous Florentine goldsmith.

This is a unique area to explore and check out the shops, but you can also grab a boat tour that will take you underneath the historic bridge.

15. San Lorenzo Market

A bustling market where you can barter for unique souvenirs.

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After a tour of famous infrastructures, visit the San Lorenzo Market. After all, it’s a breath of fresh air from the creative wells of the city.

The culinary scene and crafts are the highlights of the market. San Lorenzo market is divided into two sections – the Mercato Centrale and the outdoor market. The outdoor market is the hub for souvenirs and crafts such as leather bags, belts, and scarves.

Test your bargaining skills in the stalls outside the market and get the best deals from the vendors. The outdoor market is open every Tuesday until Saturday. Inside the San Lorenzo market is the two-level food market. Meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, and spices are found on the ground floor.

The market opens from 7 AM to 2 PM from Monday to Friday and 7 AM to 5 PM on Saturdays. The market is closed on Sundays and holidays. After a tiring tour around the city, it’s best to immerse yourself in the local scene by taking meals in Mercato Centrale.

16. 1-Hour Cupola Entry and Guided Tour 

A guided tour to the highest point in Florence (the Cupola) for the best view of the city.

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A highly recommended tour that guides you to the highest points in Florence is the 1-Hour Cupola Entry and Guided Tour. Not only will you be guided to the top, and to what most claim to be the best views of the city, but you will receive a well-rounded and intriguing history lesson along the way as well.

Explore the cupola, view art by masters, and enjoy a birds-eye view of much of Florence from the top of the Cupola. The tour allows you one of the most up-close-and-personal experiences of the Duomo possible.

Furthermore, any questions you may have about the Duomo, or Florence, in general, will be happily answered by your insightful local guides.

17. Take a Wine Tour

Partake in one of the many acclaimed wine tours in Florence.

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An absolute must of visiting Florence is partaking in the food, drink, and atmosphere of the local culinary scene.

This is particularly true for wine enthusiasts or the striving sommelier, with Italy being the largest producer of wine in the world with an area of 702,000 hectares under vineyard cultivation. That is a lot of wine!

Pro Tip: An ideal way to get in some tastings while visiting Florence is with a wine tour, and I personally recommend the Full-Day Brunello Wine Tour with Lunch if you only have time to fit in one day of wine tasting.

Another great option is the Chianti Wineries Tour with Food and Wine Tasting or, if you want a highly personalized experience you can grab a private tour of Val d’Orcia complete with your own chauffeur.

18. Dante’s Inferno Haunted Exploration Game & Tour

An exciting haunted treasure hunt while exploring Florence’s most haunted areas.

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One of the coolest tours available, and also one of the newest, Dante’s Inferno Haunted Exploration Game & Tour is, as the name suggests, a combination tour and game.

More or less, it is a tour of Florence’s most haunted neighborhoods and destinations. And, while you go from site to site, you will partake in a treasure hunt of sorts via an app and your phone.

Your expert guide will take you from a haunted house to a haunted pub to a haunted graveyard and more.

Along the way, look for clues and do your best to win the game. However, brace yourself, because, Florence is said to be plagued with trapped souls. And you just might end up being one!

For those who want to mix their dark history with drinks, make sure you check out the Florence: Dark History Walking Tour with Bar Stops.

FAQ’s About Florence Attractions

Why is Florence so popular?

Widely considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence has been a cultural and artistic center in Europe for several centuries. It continues to attract millions of visitors each year for the opportunity to explore some of the world's most celebrated pieces of art and architectural marvels that date back millennia.

Is Florence a friendly city?

The locals of Florence have a reputation for being short with tourists. However, those who take the time to learn a little about the local culture and language will find that most people of Florence are actually very kind and eager to share their traditions. It is always a good idea to brush up on Italian basics, such as excuse me (scusi) and thank you (grazie) before visiting. It will go a long way in making a good impression.

What is Florence best known for?

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is best known for its contributions to Italian culture and arts, as well as its historical architecture. Leonardo d Vinci, Michelangelo, and Galileo Galilei all operated in Florence during the Renaissance, and their influences can still be seen across the city, including in some of the world's most famous art museums, the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell 'Accademia.

What should you not miss in Florence?

There are dozens of fantastic attractions and landmarks to explore across Florence. Nevertheless, a handful of attractions should not be missed during your visit to the city. Luckily, these must-visit landmarks are primarily located within the city's Historical center and include the Duomo, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Piazza dell Signoria.

How many days in Florence is enough?

Despite occupying an area of just over 100 square kilometers, Florence is a city packed with several attractions, including architectural marvels, historical landmarks, and world-renowned museums. As such, exploring everything the region offers can take several days. Therefore, I recommend at least three days to explore the city, although four days to a week offers a deeper exploration of each attraction.

How do I spend a day in Florence?

While you won't be able to experience all of Florence in a single day, tourists can still experience the region's top highlights during their layover or a brief stay in the city. Single-day Visitors should start by exploring the Duomo Complex at the heart of the historic center. From there, they can walk to the Galleria dell 'Accademia to admire Michelangelo's David before touring the street markets and sampling the local gelato.

What is the best time to go to Florence?

The best time to go to Florence is between May and September while avoiding August. This is because the region boasts optimal weather conditions during this time, perfect for exploring the romantic city and surrounding countryside. However, visitors should avoid traveling in August, as this is when many locals take their summer holidays, resulting in the closure of many popular restaurants and activities.

What is there to do in Florence at night?

There are plenty of things to do in Florence at night, starting with taking in the sunset at several vantage points throughout the city. Following sunset, the evening is perfect for enjoying a romantic dinner at one of the city's quaint restaurants and eateries, many of which don't open until after 7 pm.

Is Florence expensive to visit?

When looking at Florence's top restaurants and luxury hotels, a trip to the city can quickly seem an expensive ordeal. But Florence can actually be an affordable vacation destination for a frugal traveler. The trick to maintaining your budget in the city is to avoid the restaurants and accommodations in the region's tourism center and instead look for the locally run services in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Is the Duomo, Florence's Cathedral, free?

Towering over Florence's cityscape, the cathedral known as the Duomo is one of the city's most iconic and must-visit landmarks. Even better, the cathedral is also entirely free to tour.

About The Author

Kurt Norris

A Canada-based freelance writer, Kurt acquired his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor. Upon graduating, Kurt left the courtside media desk behind and began venturing the globe. Throughout his journeys, Kurt enjoys partaking in slow travel and loves to explore the histories and cultures of each destination, which he shares with others through his writing.

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Kurt Norris

Kurt Norris

A Canada-based freelance writer, Kurt acquired his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor. Upon graduating, Kurt left the courtside media desk behind and began venturing the globe. Throughout his journeys, Kurt enjoys partaking in slow travel and loves to explore the histories and cultures of each destination, which he shares with others through his writing.

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