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24 Best Things To Do In Florence

From museums to markets, piazzas to neighborhoods. 

The birthplace of the Renaissance may be smaller than some of the other Italian cities, but it’s no less remarkable. Tuscany's Firenze is an art and food lover’s dream, and its relatively small size means it’s eminently walkable. Wander the halls of the Pitti Palace, former home of the Medici family. Admire the perfection of Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell'Accademia, gape at the sheer size and grandeur of the Duomo or, for a less touristy art experience, discover the Bargello Museum or Casa Buanarotti––home of Michelangelo during his Florentine years. If museums aren't your thing, spend your days discovering some of the many villas and gardens while meandering the winding streets. Or, you know, just eating and shopping your way through the city, too.

With so much to do, see, and eat, it's hard to know how best to plan out your itinerary for optimal sightseeing—whether it's your first time visiting or your fifth. This list of the best things to do in Florence is a great place to start.

But remember—no list of things to do can compare to a custom-built itinerary from Journy. Leave it to the experts to build a daily travel plan from scratch just for you—complete not only with activities, but also restaurants, cafés, bars, transportation, and accommodation.

1Explore Ponte Vecchio


Ponte Vecchio, 50125 Firenze, Italy
Dating back to 1345, the Ponte Vecchio (aka palazzo vecchio) was the only Florentine bridge that survived destruction by the German forces. After several floods and consequent reconstructions, many jewelers set up shop. The original storefronts still remain at the twinkling Ponte Vecchio today, their trade passed down from generation to generation. Early in the morning, you can observe the shop-owners as they raise the blinds with a special hoist construction. In the afternoon, the bridge gets crowded and it’s difficult to catch a glimpse of its intricacies.

2Visit The Duomo (Florence Cathedral)


The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly called the Duomo Cathedral of Florence, took two centuries to be finished—but it was worth the effort. 

The Duomo is stunning from head to toe; the lovingly crafted mosaic floor tiles look almost like a carpet while the dome above you is painted in a fresco inspired by local writer Dante. Don’t miss the 24-hour clock that was designed in 1443—it’s surprisingly modern.

Florence’s Duomo the fourth largest cathedral in the world, after St. Peter’s in Rome, St. Paul’s in London, and the Duomo in Milan. 

Keep in mind that, as a religious site, visitors must be wearing appropriate clothing (e.g., no short shorts, tank tops, sandals, hats, or sunglasses).
Sounds like something you’d like to experience? Trust the experts at Journy to build an itinerary from scratch just for you with all the must-see sights and hidden gems.

3Eat Your Way Through Mercato Centrale


Mercato Centrale, 50123 Firenze, Italy
The 19th-century built Mercato Centrale is a gastronomic nirvana, a 95m-long neoclassical food market that is both culinarily and architecturally impressive. The market is essentially an enormous maze of food stalls, which are bursting with local produce, astonishingly fresh fish and seafood, artisan bread, cured meat, and extra creamy Buffalo mozzarella. All the shops are run by artisanal traders who are passionate about their craft, so feel to chat them up as you ogle, taste, and purchase. On the ground floor, you'll find the butchers, fishmongers, fruit and vegetable vendors, and small specialty shops selling local olive oils, meats, cheeses and much, much more. Recently re-opened to the public and renewed in 2014 is the second level to the market, a food hall open seven days a week. 

Protip: Parini's is a great stop for Tuscan salumi, cheeses, and dried goods to bring home. They will vacuum seal on request!

4Visit Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze


60, Via Ricasoli, 58, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze is the art museum that’s home to Michelangelo's Renaissance masterpiece: the David sculpture. Although you’ll definitely have to endure a line to see the David in all his glory, the famous statue is absolutely worth the wait. The subtle details are impressive and outstanding, from the veins in his arms to the leg muscles and knowing expression on his face. Michelangelo is also the master behind the unfinished San Matteo and four Prigioni, which are also displayed in the gallery.

5Go Shopping at San Lorenzo Market


Piazza San Lorenzo, Firenze, Italy
The San Lorenzo Markets are actually made up of two separate markets. One is known as the Central Market (Mercato Centrale), which is a two-level indoor food market (you’ll find butchers, fishmongers, produce, and specialty shops with quality pantry items). The other is an outdoor market filled with stalls selling leather, clothes, and kitschy souvenirs. It’s a great place to search for bargains and little trinkets, rather than high-quality, place-specific gifts. 

6Tour The Uffizi Gallery


Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The Uffizi Gallery is located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria and is home to the world’s greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art. Florence’s most renowned gallery occupies the massive U-shaped Palazzo degli Uffizi, which was constructed in the 16th century between 1560-1580. The collection has some of Italy’s most well-known art, including Piero della Francesco's portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino, a room filled with works of art by Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, Madonna della Seggiola by Raphael, and masterpieces from the likes of Michelangelo, Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Raffaello, and more.

Protip: Book a two-hour guided tour ahead of time online and, if you're up for it, head to the Museo Galileo afterwards—it's not too far away from the Uffizi Gallery.

7Explore The Giardino di Boboli


Piazza Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze, Italy
Located near the Piazza de Pitti, Boboli Gardens is an elegant park that houses a collection of sculptures dating from the 16th through the 18th centuries. After a steep climb to the top of the garden, you’ll be rewarded with green trees, blooming flowers, and spectacular views of the city from the terrace of the porcelain museum. Be sure to bring water and wear comfortable shoes that are suitable for climbing. 

8Visit Piazzale Michelangelo


Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is one of Florence's most iconic squares, popular due to its sweeping, panoramic views over Florence. Located in the Oltrarno district of the city, it was created fairly recently (by Florence standards, at least) in 1869 by the architect Giuseppe Poggi. As its name suggests, the square was built to pay homage to Michelangelo, with the hillside building intended to house his works. Today, however, it is home to a well-known restaurant, La Loggia, and a coffee bar—along with a bronze replica of the David. 

9Explore Piazza della Signoria


Piazza della Signoria, 50122 Firenze, Italy
Piazza della Signoria is a storied cultural hub; a meeting place with historic cafes that have been attracting locals for leisurely, early evening apertivi since the 13th century. In the past, townsfolk congregated at the piazza whenever the city was amidst political crises. Upon visiting, pay particular attention to the equestrian statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna in the center of the piazza, as opposed to the copies of Michelangelo and David sculptures. 

10Visit Cappelle Medicee


Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, 6, 50123 Firenze, Italy
The Medici Chapels are part of the larger San Lorenzo Basilica, constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries as an extension to Brunelleschi’s church. The striking dark marble structures are Florence gems, which somehow remain crowd-less despite the fact that they hold a significant collection of Michelangelo’s magnificent sculptures. The crypt also has an interesting display of relics that have been encased in beautiful gold containers covered with jewels.

11Visit The Pitti Palace


Piazza de' Pitti, 1, Firenze, Italy
The Palazzo Pitti is a vast Renaissance palace situated on the south side of the Arno River. Designed in 1457, the original residence of the city’s former rulers now houses the Palatine Gallery, the Silver Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Costume Gallery, the Porcelain Museum, and the Museum of Carriages. Expect to see intricate amber carvings, glittering tiaras, elaborately frescoed audience chambers, and a collection of 16th-19th century art.

12Explore The Oltrarno


Via Maggio, 50125 Firenze, Italy
Long overlooked and used as a means to reach other destinations, Florence’s Oltrarno neighborhood has recently been transformed into a veritable cultural hub. There’s plenty to do in the reimagined area: enjoy the view from the centuries-old walkway above the ancient Porta Romana, post-up at the ancient buildings that have been repurposed as bars and restaurants, visit the studio of jeweler and artist Marina Calamai, and gawk at the beautiful clothes at Quelle Tre boutique.

13Visit The Riccardi Medici Palace


Via Camillo Cavour, 3, 50129 Firenze, Italy
Palazzo Medici Riccardi is one of the most important architectural sites in Florence, and the storied home to many of the city's most famous residents. Commissioned to Michelozzo in 1444 by Cosimo the Eldest, the palace was the project of many other artists, including Michelangelo. Eventually, the Medici family sold the palace to the Riccardi, who extended the palace, adding Baroque stylings. One of the magnificent features of the palace is the Chapel of the Magi, adorned with famous and breathtaking frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli. Visit the incredible museum to get a sense of the power and wealth these influential families had in the worlds of art and culture.

14Visit The Basilica of Santa Croce 


Piazza Santa Croce 16
The Basilica of Santa Croce is Florence's most iconic Franciscan church and burial site for some of the city's most notable historical figures, including Galileo, Michelangelo, and Vittorio Alfieri. It's decorated with some of the city's most stunning frescoes, including those by Giotto in the Bardi and Peruzzi chapels, and is located on the Piazza di Santa Croce, just southeast of the Duomo. 

15Explore The Piazza della Repubblica


Piazza della Repubblica, 50123 Firenze, Italy
Piazza della Repubblica has been a hallmark of the city center since the Roman era. Today, the 19th-century square is characterized by the Colonna dell'Abbondanza (Column of Abundance), the triumphal arch known as Arcone, and lively cafes that were popular with writers and artists at the turn of the 20th century. 

16Visit Santa Maria Novella


Santa Maria Novella, Firenze, Italy
No matter where you are in Florence, you’ll likely be able to see the green and white marble exterior of the 13th-century basilica, Santa Maria Novella. 

The basilica is formed by a cluster of monastic buildings, such as church cloisters and a frescoed chapel. Housing some spectacular Gothic and early-Renaissance artistic works, including frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio, the basilica is worth a visit for first-time and repeat visitors alike.

17Head to The Top of Giotto's Bell Tower


Piazza del Duomo Historical Center Florence
One of the four principal monuments of the Piazza del Duomo, Giotto’s Bell Tower is a striking, 87.5m tall tower, built in red, white, and green marble. Begun in 1334 by Giotto (he died before its completion), the tower is an iconic example of 14th-century Gothic architecture. Hexagonal panels, lozenges, and reliefs tell the story of the creation of man, and his spiritual and intellectual pursuits. The tower was eventually finished in 1359 by Talenti, who is responsible for the two large windows at the top of the tower, as well as the terrace, which can be reached if you climb the 400 steps to the top. 

18Visit The Leonardo da Vinci Museum


Via dei Servi, 66/68R, 50122 Firenze, Italy
Located in the center of Florence, the da Vinci Museum is home to invention models, designs, and art by the Renaissance genius. The space is divided into five interactive sections that give you unique insights into one of the most beautiful minds in history. Wander through the installations on mechanisms (featuring Leonardo’s designs for worm screws, ball bearers, and more), earth (Leonardo’s printing press, odometer, and rolling mill), water (including a hydraulic saw still in use today), air (featuring Leonardo’s parachute and wings), and fire (where you can see da Vinci’s armored tank).

Protip: Don’t miss the fantastic bookshop, where you’ll find fascinating, one-of-a-kind Leonardo souvenirs.

19Visit Gucci Garden


Piazza della Signoria, 10, 50122 Firenze, Italy
Gucci is one of the top names in Italian fashion and, in 2011, the fashion house opened a museum in Florence dedicated to preserving the brand’s history, as well as supporting the local arts scene. Located on the Piazza Signoria in the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia, the museum encompasses three floors of exhibition space, much of which is dedicated to the history of the development of the brand. You can also visit the Icon Store (with exclusive collection items), the Gucci Caffè & Restaurant (great for a bite to eat or a co-working space), Caffè Dehors (an open air café), the bookstore, the gift shop, and the unique Crest of Guilds basement exhibition.

20Pop Into Basilica di Santo Spirito


Piazza Santo Spirito, 30, 50125 Firenze, Italy
The Basilica di Santo Spirito is one of the greatest off-the-beaten-path attractions in Florence. While exploring the Oltrarno area, be sure to stop in this beautiful church. Designed by Brunelleschi and housing a wooden crucifix done by Michelangelo (when he was only 17!), it is one of the best examples of Renaissance art and architecture on this side of the river. 

21Visit The Bargello National Museum


Via del Proconsolo, 4, 50122 Firenze, Italy
Museo Nazionale del Bargello is an essential stop for art and history buffs looking to skip the long Florence museum lines.  The old prison has been converted into a light and airy museum over three floors, with outstanding works of sculpture, pieces of Florentine history (particularly the coin collection), and an impressive display of weapons and armor.

Protip: Since it’s the least popular of the Florence museums, it’s rarely crowded and advance booking is actually more expensive than purchasing tickets at the door.

22Visit The San Marco Museum


Piazza San Marco, 3, 50121 Firenze, Italy
Located on the Piazza San Marco, the museum of the same name is a great spot to check out before or after visiting the Galleria dell’Accademia, as it is only five minutes away. At this beautiful, quiet museum (formerly a Dominican convent), you’ll find many breathtaking frescoes by famous Renaissance artists like Bernardino Poccetti and Fra Angelico. If you love early Renaissance art, the Museo di San Marco is a goldmine. Plus, it's a nice, calm break from the crowds at the David.

23Visit Museo Salvatore Ferragamo


Palazzo Spini Feroni, Piazza di Santa Trinita, 5/R, 50123 Firenze, Italy
The Salvatore Ferragamo Flagship Store & Museum is an all-in-one cultural destination situated in a hard-to-miss medieval castle. Purchased by Ferragamo in the early 1930s, today the castle pays homage to the iconic brand and its rich history. As you explore the castle, you’ll find collections of shoes, bags, ready-to-wear goods, and limited edition pieces juxtaposed with brand photographs and memorabilia. Before you leave, check out the basement exclusively dedicated to Ferragamo's life and work.

24Visit The Stibbert Museum


Via Federico Stibbert, 26, 50134 Firenze FI, Italy
The Stibbert Museum is entirely dedicated to the eclectic tastes of a 19th-century art collector by the name of Frederick Stibbert. Having inherited his fortune, Stibbert eschewed work and instead spent his entire life collecting antiques and artifacts. When he passed away in 1906, his collection was gifted to the city of Florence and opened to the public. Today, the villa museum has 57 rooms (with walls covered in tapestries), as well as a café and bookstore.

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