What to do in Florence?
Have you decided to visit Florence , the capital of Tuscany?
Excellent choice, it is one of the most beautiful towns in Italy !
To help you organize your visit, I have prepared the complete guide for you , with the 27 things to do and see during your stay in Florence.
I also give you all my advice for discovering the must-see places of interest, itineraries to visit Florence in 1, 2 or 3 days , as well as a selection of the best accommodation in the city.
So what to do and see in Florence?
Visit Florence: the essentials
1. Piazza del Duomo
We start with the essential square in Florence: Piazza del Duomo.
And as its name suggests, you can admire the entire architectural ensemble of the Duomo there, which includes:
- The Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore or Cathedral of Florence
- The bell tower of Giotto
- The Saint-Jean baptistery
- The Duomo museum
I will give you all the details on these places in the rest of the article.
To visit Florence , the first thing I recommend you do is buy the Florence Pass . This is the best pass to avoid queuing for hours at the entrance to tourist sites.
It includes access to the most important monuments and museums of Florence such as:
- Brunelleschi’s Dome
- The Uffizi Gallery + Audioguide
- The Galleria dell’Accademia + Audioguide
- An audio guide of Florence with more than 70 points of interest: perfect for getting to know everything about the city!
- A 10% discount on a bunch of other activities in Florence
So, do you want to visit Florence without the hassle? Do like me and opt for the Florence Pass 😉.
You can directly buy the Florence Pass, by clicking on the following link:
If you prefer to buy your skip-the-line tickets for each tourist site in Florence one by one, depending on your visits, and not the complete Pass, I give you all the links to get them as you go through the article .
When they are available, I also give you the best guided tours.
2. The Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore / The Cathedral of Florence
We get to the heart of the matter with one of the main places of interest in Florence: the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore.
Very imposing, it is one of the largest cathedrals in the world behind that of Saint Peter in Rome and Saint Paul in London . Its construction began in 1296 and lasted until 1436, or nearly 140 years.
The exterior of the cathedral has a pretty facade in white and green marble, while the interior is quite austere.
The most famous element of the basilica is its dome . Built by Brunelleschi , it measures no less than 115 meters in height and 45 meters in diameter. The interior decoration of the dome represent scenes from the Last Judgment.
To admire them up close, you can take the 463-step staircase that leads under Brunelleschi’s dome and then provides access to the outside, at the top of the cathedral . From up there, the view over the whole city of Florence is magnificent!
Access to the Florence Dome is included in the Florence Pass , but it is imperative that you reserve a tour hour .
There is no need to go there too early, you will only be able to board at the precise time indicated on your ticket. There is a special line for the dome , it is not the same as the people who only want to see the interior of the cathedral (which is free to visit).
I’ll explain everything in detail in my dedicated article:
If you do not have the Florence Pass, and as the reservation to access the Brunelleschi Dome is mandatory , I recommend that you take your ticket directly online.
You can also choose to go up to the dome while being accompanied by a guide who will give you all the necessary explanations about this masterpiece. And good news, this guided tour is available in French!
You will even be entitled to a good ice cream (free!) To reward you for your effort.
3. Giotto’s campanile
Giotto’s Campanile , the bell tower of Florence Cathedral, uses the same codes as the latter for its facade: white, green and pink marble and niches where the statues of saints are located.
A very narrow staircase of 414 steps (and yes in Florence it is better to have good calves!) Allows access to its summit at 84 meters high . Just like at the top of the dome of the dome, you can then enjoy the 360 ° panorama of the city and the cathedral.
4. The Baptistery of San Giovanni
Still at piazza del Duomo , opposite the entrance to the cathedral, you can enter the baptistery.
Of Romanesque architecture, it is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, and was the baptismal place of many personalities of Florence, including in particular Dante , the illustrious poet and writer.
The interior is worth seeing for its ceilings decorated with golden mosaics representing the life of Saint John the Baptist.
5. The Museum of the Opera del Duomo in Florence
To finish with the places to visit around the Duomo in Florence , I advise you not to miss the dell ‘Opera del Duomo museum.
It brings together statues, sculptures and works that were previously found in the cathedral, the baptistery and the campanile. All modern, it is well done and well presented . I found the statues to be really well displayed.
Very large, it has 3 levels and a panoramic terrace with a beautiful view of the dome.
6. The gallery of the Academy of Florence
During your trip to Florence , I also recommend that you visit the Academy Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia in Italian).
The museum houses one of the most famous sculptures in the world: Michelangelo’s David . This masterpiece of more than 5 meters high made of white marble represents David before he confronted Goliath.
In the nine rooms that make up the museum, you can also admire many works by great Florentine masters , a collection of Russian icons and the Museum of Musical Instruments.
To visit the Florence Academy gallery, a skip-the-line ticket is required , otherwise you will have to wait more than an hour to enter.
You have different options to skip the line:
- Take the Florence Pass which I have already told you about.
- Buy priority entrance to the gallery with a fixed date and time.
- Book a guided tour including quick access to the museum and explanations from a guide in French!
7. The Uffizi gallery
We continue our stay in Florence through the Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi in Italian). Together with the dome of the Duomo and the Academy Gallery, it completes the trio of must-see tourist attractions in Florence.
The Uffizi Museum in Florence is one of the richest in the world. Its collection of works is impressive , you will find there paintings by all the greatest Italian painters and artists: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian.
The museum is huge, it takes around 1h30 for a (very) quick visit and more than 3 hours if you took an audio guide.
Here too, purchasing your priority entry ticket is imperative if you don’t want to wait hours to discover the Uffizi Gallery which is one of the most visited places in Florence.
No problem if you have taken the Florence Pass since access is included, otherwise you have 3 other solutions:
- A skip-the-line ticket with scheduled entry at the date and time of your choice + an audio guide (optional).
- A guided tour in a small group and in French, which is really essential if you want to discover certain works in more detail.
Large bottles of water are prohibited , even if you leave it in your bag, which must itself be placed in a locker. We admit that we have not really understood why and that this is the first time that this has happened to us, especially since it is not specified anywhere.
8. Piazza della Signoria
Still on the list of things to see absolutely in Florence, I recommend that you go through Piazza della Signoria.
This square, considered the historical political center of Florence, is one of the most beautiful in the city (along with that of the Duomo). You will be able to admire there:
- A masterful marble fountain representing Neptune on his chariot
- The bronze statue of Cosimo I on his horse
- The loggia dei Lanzi or “Loggia de la Seigneurie” and its many sculptures
- The Marzocco, a lion statue
- The Palazzo Vecchio, which I tell you about below.
9. The Palazzo Vecchio
We continue this tour of Florence through Palazzo Vecchio which is therefore in Piazza della Signoria.
Built from 1299 to serve as the seat of the government of Florence , it was first called the Palazzo della Signoria .
Then Cosimo I, part of the Medici family , decided to make it his place of residence before moving to the Palazzo Pitti. It was at this time that the palace took the name of Vecchio, for “Old” or old palace.
Today, the Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence . Impressive from the outside with its belfry tower 94 meters high, the interior is also worth a visit.
The rooms are beautifully decorated , adorned with frescoes and paintings, and the coffered ceilings composed of painted panels are splendid.
One of the most beautiful and famous is the Hall of the Five Hundred with its scenes on the history of the city and the wars with Pisa and Siena .
10. The Ponte Vecchio
This Florence tourist guide would not be complete without a small section devoted to the Ponte-Vecchio.
Florence’s best-known bridge is the only one not to have been destroyed by German bombing during WWII. It has remained intact since 1345.
It has the particularity of being made up of 3 large arches on which small houses have been built. They once housed butchers’ stalls before being replaced by gold jewelry shops.
Gentlemen, do not take this bridge, otherwise the budget for your trip to Tuscany will explode! 😜
To have a beautiful view of the Ponte-Vecchio in Florence , I recommend 3 places:
- The Ponte Alle Grazie
- The San Trinita Bridge
- The view from the bar of the Lungarno hotel.
11. The Basilica of Santa Croce
I suggest you continue your tour in Florence with the Basilica of Santa Croce.
Built from 1294, the basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world . Its architecture, presenting different styles between the facade, the brick walls and the interior garden, is really very pretty.
But I advise you not to just admire it from the outside because its interior is worth the detour . Considered to be the pantheon of famous Italians , it houses the tombs of Galileo, Machiavelli, Dante, Rossini and even Michelangelo .
The basilica is located in Piazza Santa Croce , a large square surrounded by beautiful Renaissance palaces.
12. The Pitti Palace
Visiting Florence also means taking the time to discover the Pitti Palace.
Built in the 15th century, originally for the Pitti family who were rivals of the Medici , yet it was the latter who made it their main residence from the 16th century.
Inside the palace, you can visit:
- The palatine gallery comprising about twenty rooms decorated with paintings by Botticelli, Caravaggio or Raphael.
- The modern art gallery : Italian paintings and sculptures from Neoclassicism to the 20th century.
- The costume gallery and its collection of clothes from the 17th to the 20th century
- The silverware museum bringing together the jewels and precious objects of the Medici
- The royal apartments to admire the period furniture and the rich tapestries
- The porcelain museum
- The Boboli garden that I mention below.
13. The Boboli garden
The Boboli Gardens are adjacent to the Pitti Palace.
This very large Renaissance-style garden is made up of several shaded alleys to go around it, fountains, ponds, statues and an artificial cave.
It is a beautiful place to go for a walk in Florence!
14. The Bardini garden
Another garden to do in Florence: the Bardini garden.
The entrance is included in the ticket for the Boboli garden which I told you about just above.
Leaving Boboli Garden from the top, at Forte Belvédère, it will only take you 5 minutes on foot to get there.
This Italian garden offers a beautiful panoramic view of Florence.
15. The Bargello Palace and Museum
As you can see, one of the main activities to do in Florence is to visit the splendid museums.
I therefore suggest that you continue with a visit to the Bargello National Museum , housed in the palace of the same name.
It houses an impressive collection of sculptures attributed to great Italian artists such as Donatello, Michelangelo or Verrocchio.
16. Piazzale Michelangelo
If you are looking for the perfect place to go in Florence to contemplate the city and its emblematic monuments, head to Piazzale Michelangelo !
It is the most famous belvedere in Florence. In particular, you can admire the dome of the cathedral and the Palazzo Vecchio seen from above.
In the square is also the replica of Michelangelo’s statue of David and a cafe / restaurant.
From the piazzale, do not hesitate to climb a little along the road to reach the church of San Miniato al Monte, which also offers a beautiful view of the city.
Next to it, you can walk the alleys of the monumental cemetery where rests of Florentine notables and the author of the book Pinocchio.
17. The Medici Chapels and the Basilica of San Lorenzo
Florence is inseparable from the famous Medici family who contributed a lot to the greatness of the city . They have played a major role in its development and in the history of all of Tuscany.
In addition to the Pitti Palace, where they lived, it is possible to visit the 3 Medici chapels which house the graves of family members:
- The New Sacristy
- The Princes’ Chapel
- The chapel of the Treasury
They are in the Basilica of San Lorenzo.
18. Other museums to visit in Florence
You don’t know what to do in Florence? You still have plenty of museums to discover (click on the links for info and reservations)!
- The Galileo Museum or museum of the history of science where you can find plenty of astronomical, mathematical or navigation instruments.
- The Leonardo da Vinci museum dedicated to the latter’s inventions. Entrance tickets on sale here.
- The National Archaeological Museum
- The Stibbert museum and its collection of armor
- The Palazzo Strozzi which offers beautiful temporary exhibitions
- Palazzo Davanzati to visit the home of a noble family during the Medici era
- The Pinocchio and Dante museum
- Dante’s house
- The hospital of the innocents: a former orphanage whose rooms are now decorated with paintings
- Palazzo Medici-Riccardi – Entrance fee, but the patio alone is worth a look (free).
19. The San Lorenzo market
During your vacation in Florence, I recommend that you go to the San Lorenzo market.
Divided into 2 parts, you will find fruit and vegetable stalls downstairs , while the top part houses a food court . Open every day, noon and evening, the place brings together several restaurants offering pizzas, pastas, meats etc …
Everyone can choose what they want to eat and then sit on the tables in the center to taste.
If you are looking for a market that is a little less touristy, you can also go to the San’t Ambrogio market, a covered market open from 7 am to 2 pm.
20. Other churches to see in Florence
In addition to the Cathedral and the Basilica of Santa Croce, I offer here a short guide to other churches not to be missed in Florence:
- The Basilica of San Marco , part of which has been transformed into a museum
- The Basilica of San Lorenzo where the Medici chapels are
- The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella renowned for its sumptuous frescoes
- The Basilica of Santa Maria Spirito to see for its large canopy
- The Basilica of Santa Trinita , the interior of which is very simple
- The Church of Orsanmichele which includes a small museum on 2 floors and offers a panoramic view of the historic center.
- The Church of Santa Maria del Carmine and the Brancacci Chapel
21. Shopping in Florence
Do you want to take a little shopping break after doing plenty of cultural tourism in Florence?
No problem! You will be spoiled for choice when it comes to shopping. Florence is indeed one of the most popular Italian cities as a fashion destination . It has nothing to envy to its neighbors, Rome and Milan .
The most luxurious brands like Prada, Gucci , are concentrated in the medieval center , along the rue de Tornabuoni and the rue de la Vigna Nuova , around the piazza della Republica and the palazzo Vecchio.
But, rest assured, much more affordable shops like H&M or Zara are present all over the city.
22. What to do in Florence? Other activities and guided tours
Still wondering what to do in Florence? You want some ideas for unusual activities in Florence or other suggestions for guided tours.
Here is what I suggest you to continue to visit Florence (just click on the orange links for all the details and to book!):
- Tour of the Tuscan countryside on an authentic Vespa
- Special pizza cooking class + making authentic Italian ice cream in a superb estate (transport included from Florence!)
- Pizza making workshop in the heart of Florence
- Small-Group Electric Bike Tour of Florence with a French Speaking Guide – Duration: 2 hours
- Guided tour of Florence by vintage bike
- Florence Electric Cart Tour – French Guide
- Visit Florence by Segway in a Small Group with a French Speaking Guide
- Night electric bike tour
- Special family guided tour of Florence with a treasure hunt – To do in Florence with children!
- A gondola ride on the river that passes under the Ponte Vecchio
For a romantic activity to do in Florence, I recommend a hot air balloon flight.
Fly over the hills of Tuscany at sunrise and enjoy magnificent panoramas over the vineyards and villages of the region!
What to do around Florence?
Now that you know what to do in Florence , maybe you want to explore the surroundings of Florence.
From Florence there are several very beautiful (easily accessible) places to visit in Tuscany. Here is my selection of my favorites:
First city to visit around Florence: Pisa.
Only 1 hour by train ( train tickets on sale by clicking here ) separates the 2 cities, so it would be a shame to miss out on a little visit to the famous Leaning Tower!
In Pisa you can not only discover the Square of Miracles with the tower and the cathedral, but also stroll through the typical alleys of the Borgo Stretto.
I give you all the explanations to visit Pisa in 1 day in this article: What to do in Pisa?
Still close to Florence , you can also easily reach Siena in 1.5 hours by car or train.
The main places of interest to see in Siena:
- The cathedral of Siena whose interior is just sublime
- Piazza del Campo where the Palazzo pubblico and the Torre del Mangia are located
25. Cinque Terre
Not far from Florence, I recommend that you plan at least one day during your stay in Italy to visit the Cinque Terre .
Located by the sea and surrounded by terraced vineyards, the 5 villages and their colorful houses are really worth a look. The landscapes and the views are exceptional!
I have prepared the complete Cinque Terre guide for you in the following article: How to visit the Cinque Terre.
As with Pisa and Siena, it is also possible to visit the Cinque Terre on a day trip . You will be fully taken care of and will not have to worry about a thing.
The excursion is organized as follows:
- Bus transport to Cinque Terre from Florence
- Travel by train between villages
- Visit of the villages with the guide + free time
- Sea trip to contemplate different points of view
- Optional lunch
When booking, you can choose the option with or without a hike. The latter allows you to reach Corniglia in Vernazza in about 1h30 and offers magnificent panoramas over the vineyards of the Cinque Terre.
26. The vineyards of Chianti
Wine lovers know that Tuscany produces an excellent wine: Chianti.
Good news, from Florence, you can visit certain wineries to learn more about its production and of course to taste it!
Excursions are organized from Florence to visit the Chianti region.
You will be able to visit several cellars and taste different wines , all accompanied by a little Italian charcuterie and cheese.
27. Day trip to Tuscany
If you fancy all the most beautiful places in Tuscany and the most famous cities around Florence that I just told you about in one day, I suggest you book this excursion.
Here too, it’s so good that it’s GetYourGuide Originals certified , which means it’s satisfied or your money back!
Here is the full program of this great day tour from Florence:
- Transport included
- Guide service
- Guided walking tour of Siena + Entrance ticket to Siena Cathedral
- Lunch in a Chianti winery with wine tasting
- Visit of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Visit of Pisa.
It is hands down the best choice to see all the must-see places in Florence.
How many days to visit Florence?
There are so many places and museums to visit in Florence that I ideally recommend that you allow 3 days to explore the city.
Knowing that the museums are really big, even if the city is not very large, the days pass quickly.
And above all, don’t forget to book your skip-the-line tickets or the Florence Pass if you don’t want to queue for 2 hours in front of each monument and waste a lot of time.
You will find all the tickets available to visit Florence here:
I explain how to visit Florence in 1, 2 or 3 days just below.
And if you want to take advantage of your stay in Florence to discover the surroundings and Tuscany , you can plan 4, 5 days or even a full week.
Visit Florence in 1 day
If you have chosen to go to Florence for just one day, you have several options:
1) A walk in the city . This will allow you to see as many places of interest as possible from the outside .
I advise you to follow the following order:
- The piazza del Duomo to admire the cathedral and the dome
- Piazza della Signoria to see Palazzo Vecchio
- The Ponte Vecchio
- The Basilica of Santa Croce
- The piazzale Michelangelo
2) Choose 2 or 3 places to visit among the essentials of Florence:
- For example, you can discover the entire Duomo complex (cathedral, dome, bell tower, museum and baptistery) in the morning.
- Pass by Piazza della Signoria to see Palazzo Vecchio
- Visit the Uffizi Gallery in the afternoon
3) If you don’t feel like walking and want to see the main sights of Florence, you can take the hop-on hop-off bus.
Visit Florence in 2 days
If you have planned to spend 2 days in Florence , here is the program I suggest:
- Visit the Academy gallery as soon as possible
- Climb to the top of the Duomo dome
- Discovery of the Duomo complex: the dell’Opéra museum, the bell tower and the baptistery.
- Passage through the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
- Then join the Basilica di San Lorenzo – You can visit the Medici chapels if you have time
- Dinner at the San Lorenzo market.
- Visit of the Uffizi Gallery at the opening
- Photo of Ponte-Vecchio and maybe buying some beautiful gold jewelry 🙂
- Discovery of Piazza della Signoria
- Optional visit to Palazzo Vecchio (if you are not afraid of overdosing on paints)
- Go see the Palace of the Bargello Museum
- Visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce.
Visit Florence in 3 days
Do you have 3 days to visit Florence?
Take the route of the previous 2 days and add:
- Visit of the Pitti Palace and the Palatine Gallery
- Walk in the Boboli Gardens
- Passage through the Bardini garden
- Climb to Piazzale Michelangelo for the most famous view of Florence
- You can then conclude these 3 days in Florence with a little shopping session!
Where to sleep in Florence
- Plus Florence: Youth hostel located just 1 km from Piazza del Duomo. Bed in dormitory from 25 €, breakfast at 7.50 €. It is also possible to sleep in a double room, from 80 € per night. Strong points: the swimming pool, the terrace with a view of the dome, the comfort and cleanliness of the rooms and dormitories. A great idea where to sleep inexpensively in Florence!
- Hotel St. James: Located near the Academy Gallery. Spacious double room from € 80 per night, breakfast included. The strong points: the ideal location, the private parking, the warm welcome.
- TSH Florence Lavagnini: Located 15 minutes walk from the cathedral. Modern and colorful double room from € 95, breakfast € 12. Strong points: the rooftop with a magnificent view of Florence, the swimming pool, the architecture and design, the services offered. This is our favorite for its service / price ratio in Florence!
- c-hotels Ambasciatori: Located next to the Church of Santa Maria Novella. Warm and super comfortable double room from € 160, breakfast € 10. Strong points: the great location, the very good breakfast, the friendliness of the staff. A great choice where to sleep in Florence!
- Horto Convento: Located 1 km from Pitti Palace. Modern and tastefully decorated double room from € 170, breakfast included. The strong points: the garden with terrace, the calm, the delicious breakfast, the charm of the hotel.
- NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa: 5 star hotel located 300 meters from Ponte Vecchio. Double room with refined decor from € 315. The most: the friendliness of the staff, the great breakfast. This is our recommendation for an upscale stay in Florence.
- Four Seasons Hotel Firenze: This 5 * hotel is located 15 minutes from the Uffizi Gallery and offers sumptuous rooms combining modern and Renaissance elements. From € 750, breakfast at € 48. Strong points: the Spa, the Michelin-starred restaurant, the magnificent park. One of the best luxury hotels in Florence!
Where to eat in Florence
- All ‘Antico Vinaio : located in Via dei Neri, 200 meters from the Uffizi, these shops (three in number in the same street!) Undoubtedly offer the best sandwiches in Florence! Delicious and super plentiful for € 5. But be prepared to line up!
- Le Volte: located via dell Orto, this restaurant offers very good meats, well cooked and cooked to perfection. The ideal place to know Florence’s specialty: bistecca a la fiorentina.
- Ristorante Brandolino: located in Piazza di Madonna Degli Aldobrandini. Warm welcome, very nice setting, excellent dishes, delicious desserts, you will not regret your meal at Brandolino! Reservations recommended.
- Gelateria Perché ‘No: We end with one of the best ice cream parlors in Florence. On the program: real Italian ice cream for a reasonable price. The Tiramisu fragrance is to die for!
- Hard Rock Café: yes, the franchise also exists in Florence and you can even buy your skip-the-line tickets and your meal in advance to avoid the line by clicking here!
Florence tourist map
To help you visualize the city a little better, I’ve made a tourist map of Florence listing the places to visit that I’m talking about in this top 27 things to do in Florence. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow.