It’s no surprise that Florence, Italy, attracts nearly 15 million tourists every year. This unique city has so much to see from its gorgeous cobblestone roads, palaces, world-famous museums, Medici chapels, and surrounding vineyards. Situated right in the center of the rolling Tuscany hills, Florence houses an incredible amount of genuine Renaissance art. Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, you don’t want to miss your chance to explore this incredibly historic city.
Florence is also a paradise for those who love food. Known for its traditional Tuscan food, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to explore local markets for fresh deli meats, cheeses, and local produce. Whether you’re interested in culture, art, or food, Florence is a destination for all types of travelers. Keep reading for the best 15 things to do in Florence, Italy!
When to Visit Florence, Italy
Florence attracts the most tourists between May and September because of the warm weather. During these summer months is when you’ll find the most open-air activities like art and music festivals. However, because this is when most tourists come, you’ll also experience more crowds than if you were to visit during the low season.
The hottest months to visit Florence will be in late June to early August when the temperatures average between 88°F to a grueling 95°F. The cool season of Florence is between November and March with a daily average temperature below 58°F.
If you’re wanting to visit Florence when the crowds aren’t as heavy and you want to avoid both cold and hot weather, consider going between October and November. During these months, the temperature is more moderate and tolerable with an average of 65°F. You’ll also experience moderate temperatures in the late spring, from late April to early June, when the temperatures reach a daily average of 64°F.
Also considering a trip to Rome? Check out this awesome list of the 15 best things to do in Rome, Italy!
Getting Around Florence, Italy
You can pretty much get around the entire city by foot, so bring comfortable walking shoes. You can always opt to travel through Florence via the city’s local bus service, but you may miss some of the local attractions doing so. I recommend planning for walking most of the time and using the bus service when you’re going to do some of the attractions a little further away from the heart of Florence.
You can always rent a car, but I only recommend this if you’ve been to the city several times and know your way around already. Florence has a lot of narrow one-way streets that could make your driving experience a nightmare if this is your first or second time.
If you are wanting to travel around by car though, you can always book a taxi using the SIXT app. This is convenient for the days when the weather isn’t desirable or you have an attraction you want to see a little bit further out of the city.
Top Things to Do in Florence, Italy
Florence is home to incredible medieval architecture, Renaissance art, Tuscan food, and markets. So there is something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful city. Whether you are traveling in a group, as a couple, or going solo, you’re going to have an amazing experience.
Florence experiences millions of tourists every year, so I recommend doing a little bit of research and finding the activities you don’t want to miss and booking those ahead of time. You don’t want to miss out on any of the incredible things to do, but if you don’t know where to start, keep reading to see the top 15 things to do in Florence, Italy!
1. Get your bearings of Florence by taking a walking tour.
Explore the incredible Florentine architecture from the Renaissance by booking a walking tour. Visiting Florence can be overwhelming, so if this is your first time, I recommend walking around the city to get your bearings. While you’re walking around, make a note of all of the things you want to come back to and explore further.
A great place to start is at Basilica di San Lorenzo, a beautiful church at the center of the city’s main market district. This market is enormous and you can find almost anything there. From here you can choose where you’d like to go.
You shouldn’t miss out on the Palazzo Vecchio, which is the city’s historical center. This is the perfect place to get a great view of the city center and plenty of statues from great Renaissance artists, including a copy of Michelangelo’s David statue.
Don’t miss your chance to see the Old Bridge (“Ponte Vecchio”). This bridge is over the Arno River and is a great spot for shopping for local jewelry and art. From there, you can take a short walk over to Palazzo Pitti. The Pitti Palace was bought by the Medici family in the 1500s and now serves as a “treasure” palace with tons of luxurious items.
You can DIY this, but if this is your first time in Florence, you should book a walking tour. This will be the best way to learn your way around Florence. There’s always the option to book a more private tour, where you can see more incredible central squares like the Piazza Della Signoria and Piazza Del Duomo.
2. Experience Renaissance art in the world-famous Uffizi Gallery.
If you love art, this will be one of your favorite things to do in Florence. The collection of Renaissance art located at the Uffizi is unlike anywhere else and it is considered the most visited museum. To get an in-depth tour complete with background stories and insider information, book a Uffizi Gallery tour.
The Uffizi Gallery is a world-famous art gallery and one of the main attractions in Florence, Italy. Preserved on the walls within the gallery are iconic paintings by famous artists from the Renaissance period.
The Uffizi building is one of the oldest buildings in Florence. The Medici family owned one of the most popular banks in Florence during the 1500s and the Uffizi building was built to house their offices. Once it was completed, it also housed famous paintings and artwork collected by the family.
3. Observe classic Italian art by visiting the Galleria dell’Accademia.
Another incredible art museum is the Galleria dell’Accademia, or “Gallery of the Academy of Florence.” It houses a vast collection of paintings by artists who were inspired during the Renaissance and medieval times.
Due to its popularity, this attraction is likely to have long lines. I recommend booking a skip-the-line tour and choosing a time slot that best fits your vacation schedule.
Visiting the Galleria dell’Accademia is one of the best places to go if you’re interested in learning about art. Here you’ll be able to observe over 70 works created by Leonardo Da Vinci and it is most notably known for housing Michelangelo’s sculpture David.
4. Explore Florence’s famous Brunelleschi Dome.
Brunelleschi’s Dome is considered the symbol of Florence. Built by Filippo Brunelleschi during the 1400s, this dome is the largest masonry vault in the world. From start to finish it took 16 years for the dome to be completed.
A couple of years after it was finished, Giorgio Vasari came in and painted the famous “Last Judgment” on the ceiling of the dome, which is still observed today by visitors.
You can go and visit this iconic attraction at any time during your vacation, but because of its popularity, you may run into long wait times. I highly recommend booking a skip-the-line tour. With a guided tour, you’ll be able to access areas that aren’t open to the public. Travel to the top of the dome to get a beautiful panoramic view of the city of Florence!
5. Give your taste buds a treat by booking a walking food tour.
We’ve all heard about the amazing authentic Italian food that Italy has to offer, so of course a walking food tour should be on top of your Florence bucket list. Italian recipes have been passed down and perfected across many generations, which is why visitors rave about this delicious food.
Pick out some fresh vegetables and fruits at the Medieval city center before heading out to taste some of the freshest food you’ll ever get to taste. Don’t forget to indulge in some wine tasting while you’re at it.
One of the best things about going on a walking food tour is that you’ll get to experience a bunch of different unique Tuscan cuisine recipes. Your culinary experience will be so incredible, I’m sure you’ll mark down some food joints you’ll want to return to. If you’re interested in drinking some Italian coffee and tasting authentic Italian olive oil, consider this small group walking food tour.
6. Become an Italian Chef by taking a cooking class in Florence.
If you want to go a step further than a food tour, consider taking a cooking class! Cooking classes are a great way to learn about traditional Italian recipes like bruschetta, homemade pasta, and desserts. By taking a cooking class, you’ll get the opportunity to visit a local market and choose your favorite ingredients to prepare your meal.
When you’re done perfecting your food, enjoy it with a nice glass of Chianti wine. The best thing is that you can learn Italian recipes and continue making them forever – so it’s a tour that you can still enjoy even when you’re back home.
You can book a cooking class here and if you’re interested in getting out of the city and enjoying a full day of Tuscan recipes, consider this cooking class at a local farmhouse just outside of Florence, Italy.
7. Pick up some genuine leather at the Florence leather markets.
Florence produces incredible leather goods. If you’re looking for a leather jacket or a bag then this will be the best time to buy it. Uniquely made, each leather product contains a great number of detail. One of the best things about visiting these incredible markets is that you can usually meet the artisans who created the products.
You will have the incredible opportunity to hear about each handmade piece of art. I personally also love that by purchasing from these creators is that you’re supporting all of their hard work! Definitely take advantage of this unique opportunity to pick out some beautiful souvenirs for your friends and family.
Below is a list of some of the city’s leather markets and shops and their opening days and hours.
San Lorenzo Leather Market
Open: Monday-Friday from 7 AM to 2 PM and Saturday from 7 AM to 5 PM
Come here for fresh produce, leather, clothing, and souvenirs.
Mercato del Porcellino
Open: Monday through Sunday from 9 AM to 6:30 PM
Come here for leather jackets, bags, belts, wallets, and souvenirs.
Scuola del Cuoio
Open: Monday through Sunday from 10 AM to 6:30 PM
Come here for leather bags, briefcases, backpacks, luggage, and more.
8. Walk along the historic Ponte Vecchio Bridge.
Walking along the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence is one of the top things on every visitor’s bucket list. This amazing bridge has an incredible history behind it. Construction began on the bridge during the 1300s over the Arno River.
This bridge has housed many different types of merchants in the past from butchers to tanners and farmers. Now it’s occupied by artists, jewelry, and souvenir sellers.
Benito Mussolini took one of the bridge corridors for the Führer. When Adolf Hitler saw how beautiful it was, he ordered the German army not to harm the bridge. They destroyed buildings and other bridges were torn down instead, but the Ponte Vecchio was allowed to remain. This is a testimony to how historic and beautiful of a bridge this is.
9. Get a breathtaking view of Florence From Piazzale Michelangelo.
The Piazzale Michelangelo provides one of the best views of the entire city of Florence. Built on the hills above the historic center of Florence, this is a popular tourist spot.
Up at the top, you’ll find a beautiful copper replica of Michelangelo’s David statue. A lot of travelers have Piazzale Michelangelo on their bucket list because it’s free and offers incredible views of Florence, Italy.
This attraction is easily accessible by tourists, which is what makes it one of the top things to do in Florence. You can walk up to the Piazzale Michelangelo easily if the weather is nice and you have some time to kill. You can also take a bus or drive a car if you have one. There’s a path that is commonly used for exercise from the Boboli Gardens up to the Piazzale Michelangelo that is less than a mile walk or jog.
10. Explore Italian art and history with a visit to the Pitti Palace.
If this is your first time visiting, you definitely don’t want to skip out on booking a Pitti Palace Tour. Luca Pitti was a merchant in the 1500s who built this palace as his primary residence. Over the years, many different royal Italian families owned it, but it has retained the name as its original owner.
The palace now serves as the largest museum in Florence. The ground floor boasts architecture from the middle ages and magnificent paintings from some of the greats. There’s so much to see, but some of the most popular exhibits are the Porcelain Museum and the Museum of Costume and Fashion. You’ll also have the opportunity to walk by the apartments that house the treasury of Treasure of the Grand Dukes and the Royal and Imperial Apartments.
Don’t forget to also go out and explore the Boboli Gardens which has a beautiful rose garden for you to see. Book your skip-the-line Pitti Palace tour for an in-depth look at the daily indulgences of the ruling class.
11. Admire the gothic architecture of the church of Santa Maria Novella.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is a beautiful Florence cathedral located across from the train station. This church boasts gothic architecture and has incredible pieces of art. A lot of the pieces were moved to the Uffizi Gallery, but some of the originals still remain here on location. The most famous pieces are Giotto’s Crucifix and Masaccio’s Trinita.
Construction began on the church in the late 1200s and it wasn’t completed until the 1400s. One reason this church is so magnificent is because it’s the only church in Florence with its original facade still standing today.
This attraction isn’t actually one of the more popular ones, so it’s nice to take a peaceful stroll through it without having to deal with a bunch of crowds. If you’re looking for a relaxing activity that still contains art and history, this is the perfect thing to do in Florence.
12. Get a unique view of Florence from the Arno River.
Experience amazing city views by booking a river tour on a Barchetto! This should be one of your top things to do in Florence because there are only 4 of the traditional wooden boats left in the city. You don’t want to miss your chance to get this experience! While I’d recommend this activity for anybody, it’s a really romantic activity if you are traveling as a couple.
You can cruise down the Arno River and drink a glass of Prosecco while your “barcaiolo” guides your boat with a long stick. It’s also a perfect activity if you’re traveling solo or in a group because the Arno River provides views of attractions like the Uffizi Gallery and the Corsini Palace.
If you’re interested in seeing this unique perspective of Ponte Vecchio and other historical sites from the Arno River but would rather DIY the trip, consider kayaking down the Arno River. You can choose to do it solo or rent a two-seater and enjoy this with a partner.
13. Spend some time exploring the San Lorenzo Market.
Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or with a group, visiting San Lorenzo Market, or Mercato Centrale, is the perfect activity. It’s a pretty large market with two separate sections: indoor and outdoor.
The market boasts European architecture, which is different from other buildings you’ll see in Florence. It was built in the late 1800s when Florence was still the capital of Italy.
On the ground floor, you’ll see butchers, fish merchants, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. The second floor has one-stop shops where you can buy fresh cheeses, baked goods, and even sit down and have an authentic Italian meal. Scattered throughout the market you’ll find leather stalls, clothing, jewelry, and lots of souvenirs for your loved ones back home.
This activity is something you can plan around because it’s open all day long. You can visit the San Lorenzo Market from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM.
14. Spend the day exploring the Tuscan Countryside.
If getting out of Florence for a little bit sounds like a great idea to you, consider taking a day trip to Tuscany. The art, history, and genuine Italian food in the beautiful countryside will be a memory you won’t forget!
Travel to the hills of Tuscany by train and visit the beautiful city of Siena. You’ll definitely want to explore the medieval architecture of this town and pick up some Italian pastries and coffee during your stroll.
When you arrive in the Tuscan countryside, peacefully meander through a local vineyard with the most stunning views. You’ll have the opportunity to indulge in local delicacies like salad, pasta, bread, and meats. Explore the historic San Gimignano after an incredible lunch and then stop by Cathedral Square to take a picture with the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa.
This Tuscany day tour is a perfect activity for any type of traveler. It’s likely to sell out so if this is something you want to do, I recommend booking ahead of time so that you don’t miss your chance. If a full day sounds like a lot, consider this half-day option. If you want something a little bit more personalized, consider booking a private tour by clicking here.
15. Treat yourself to an opera concert in a medieval church setting.
If you’re looking for a show after your authentic Italian dinner, consider an opera concert in the Santa Monaca Church. You’ll marvel at the medieval architecture in a church that was built in the 1500s while listening to a classic Italian opera.
This is an intimate performance that features arias from La Traviata, Madame Butterfly, Tosca, the Marriage of Figaro, and more. The professional opera singers are accompanied by gorgeous piano playing that ripples through the walls of the old-time church.
This activity is going to be a lovely change of pace after a long day of sightseeing and exploring, which is what makes it one of the top things to do in Florence, Italy. Relax and allow yourself to experience this truly rewarding cultural experience.
16. Explore Cinque Terre on this incredible day trip (a bonus tip!)
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast and want to escape the city for the day, consider booking this Cinque Terre day trip. It’s a really long day, but I promise it’s worth it!
You won’t regret visiting Cinque Terre National Park, which stretches along the gorgeous coast of Italy. This park is unique because it spans 5 Italian towns, known to be fishing villages of old-world Italy.
Get some exercise by completing a 3.5-mile hike along the cliffs of the stunning Italian Riviera. Explore ancient trails, old ports, prehistoric castle ruins, and more on this journey.
If walking the trails doesn’t sound like something you would enjoy, there is an option to travel around Cinque Terre by train. You’ll still be able to visit all 5 of the villages, just without the strenuous physical activity!