Small in size but a giant on the world stage, there’s a long list of wonderful things to do in Florence. With a treasure chest of art, enthralling Renaissance architecture and vibrant culture, get the most out of this Italian city with our curated guide to Florence.   

With remnants of Roman history, mediaeval fortresses and handsome Renaissance buildings, Florence transports you to another era. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, prominent artists sought lucrative commissions that have blessed the city with a bounty of art not seen anywhere else.

Witness the ethereal beauty of Botticelli’s masterpieces, admire exquisite frescoes in quiet churches, and appreciate Michelangelo’s sculptures all left behind in this city of grandmasters.

But to experience the best of Florence, you just need to step out onto the street. Amongst the elegant Italian architecture, urban life stays true to the city’s heritage.

A thirst for culture is found in crafty cocktail bars that co-exist alongside ageing wine bars, unassuming chapels with era-defining art, quiet streets with humble restaurants and world-class galleries devoted to the finest art in the world.

For an excellent excursion from Florence, read our guide to the highlights in Siena Italy.

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Italian flag hangs from a window in Florence




We have included our list of the best things to do in Florence on the below map so you can plot your course for your time visiting the capital of Tuscany.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


Few galleries in the world have amassed such a prestigious collection of art as the Uffizi in Florence. Wander through the collection to witness the progression from early medieval works to renaissance masterpieces with perspective, realistic figures, and human emotion.

Our highlights were the Coronation of the Virgin by Lippi and The Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero della Francesca. Both are in Room 8 and mark the start of the early Renaissance period.

Botticelli’s masterpieces adorn Rooms 10-14 including Spring and the Birth of Venus depicting figures from classical mythology and, The Cestello Annunciation, a striking homage to the Virgin Mary.

There are only 20 Leonardo da Vinci surviving paintings in the world – the Uffizi has two of them as well as Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo.

Uffizi Tickets & Tours // Book timed entry skip-the-line tickets in advance. Alternatively, this guided tour is a great way to get the most out of this remarkable exhibition.  


The green and white marble façade of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as simply the Duomo, is the heart and soul of Florence. Admired from several vantage points across the city, the whole complex includes the duomo, the campanile (belltower) and the Baptistry of San Giovanni.

After 100 years of construction, the cathedral was still missing a dome, until Filippo Brunelleschi’s ingenious design enabled the construction of one of the most recognisable icons in Florence.

The duomo is free to enter, however, the queues can be very long, and the interior is not especially ornate (it’s much less impressive than the Siena cathedral).

Our recommendation is to admire the building from the outside (including the remarkable Baptistry doors) and head up the dome instead.

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The dome of the duomo lacks the typical supporting buttresses of Gothic architecture because Florence was not keen on adopting a style that had become popular with their enemies such as Siena.

It also required ingenious engineering solutions.  

Filippo Brunelleschi designed an internal octagonal dome supporting the external tiled dome and in doing so, kicked off the Renaissance architectural style.

Climbing the dome is one of the best things to do in Florence. Apart from the breathtaking views of the city, you also see the most impressive aspects of the duomo interior – the 16th-century marble floor and the Last Judgement painting under the dome.

Duomo Dome // This Florence dome tour includes the museum and baptistery.


It’s not hard to find a traditional café in Florence where the atmosphere is vintage, the food authentic and the waiters as old as the framed photos occupying every inch of available wall space.

Here are some of our favourite cafes in Florence.

SimBIOsi Organic Cafè – Their espressos, slow brews and pour-overs are made with individual attention to detail. Inside, the medieval walls with contemporary art provide a great place to enjoy your coffee.

Melaleuca bakery + bistro – Right beside the River Arno, Melaleuca has hard-to-walk-past pastries, a regularly changing brunch menu and excellent coffee in a cool location.

Ditta Artigianale – With a casual modern vibe and strict attention to the quality of the coffee, Ditta Artigianale is a diversion from the traditional Florence cafe scene but possibly one of teh best coffees in town.

Facades in florence.


The handsome façade of the Basilica of Santa Croce and the gorgeous square of the same was embellished significantly after renovations in the 1860s.

It’s a thoroughly picturesque attraction in Florence, but the interest continues inside.

The basilica was the preferred final resting place for notable figures in Italian history including Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. There are also commemorative shrines to Leonardo da Vinci and Dante.

There are 16 chapels within the church, many decorated with beautiful art. Don’t miss the impressive frescoes by Giotto di Bondone and the huge crucifix by Donatello.

Santa Croce Tours // This interesting guided tour includes the Bell Tower, Crypt and all 16 chapels.


The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and a civic treasure. A Medieval fortress was built upon the ruins of a Roman theatre which was later restored into a series of beautiful Renaissance chambers.

The result is a demonstration of the wealth and power of the Medici family, lavishly decorated by the brushstrokes of several Florentine masters.

The most imposing room is the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred). The greatest Florentine artists were employed to depict victories of the Republic on panelled ceilings and huge frescoes, which include unfinished works by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

A stunning staircase designed by Giorgio Vasari leads to the Renaissance chambers on the first floor, including the Room of the Four Elements. Don’t miss the two small but glorious chapels and the views across the rooftops of Florence to the duomo.

Palazzo Vecchio Tickets // Purchase skip-the-line tickets in advance.


Located between Palazzo Vecchio, the Duomo and the Ufizzi Gallery, Plaza della Signoria feels like the natural centre of Florence. It has existed since Roman times and found notoriety as the location of the Bonfire of the Vanities where the righteous religious burnt objects considered to be sinful.

Outside the Palazzo Vecchio – the town hall of Florence – a copy of Michelangelo’s David overlooks the crowds below. Next door, the portico of the Loggia dei Lanzi contains some of the most evocative sculptures in Florence. Two of Giambologna’s works, The Rape of the Sabine Women, and Hercules and Nessus are stunning.

But our favourite is probably Perseus with the Head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini. It’s an amazing collection of art and one of the best free things to do in Florence.


Under the direction of Donatello, Florentine sculptor Agostino di Duccio originally began working on a huge lump of marble in 1463. Upon Donatello’s death, the project was abandoned, and the marble was left neglected in a workshop of the duomo.

In 1501, a 26-year-old Michelangelo was commissioned to take up the project to produce a statue of David to go on the roof of the duomo. He worked on the sculpture for 2 years by which time it was obvious the massive statue would never get to the roof of the cathedral.

It was placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio before it was moved in 1873 to the Galleria dell’Accademia.

In addition to its most famous resident, there are plenty of other great works in the gallery including 4 incomplete Michelangelo statues in the entrance.

Michelangelo’s David Tickets // Booked timed skip-the-line tickets in advance.


The Medici family came to prominence in the early fifteenth century. Making their wealth in banking and steadily accruing political power, they became the predominant force in Florence. Basilica San Lorenzo by Filippo Brunelleschi became the family church and their final resting place.

The highlights are the impressive Medici Chapels.

The first, Sagrestia Nuova or New Sacristy, was commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1520 as a tomb to hold his illustrious family members. It was designed by Michelangelo and contains several of his magnificent statues.

The second is the Cappella dei Principi or Chapel of the Princes. The octagonal chapel of monumental proportions was constructed in the early 16th century and it’s one of the best things to see in Florence.

Every wall is covered in green and red marble stretching to a dome, 59 metres above the floor.

Medici Chapel Tickets // Booked a reserved skip-the-line ticket in advance.


Walking the little laneways that spread out from the duomo, you are regularly treated to glimpses of the rusty orange dome as it flickers between the buildings.

One of the more local things to do in Florence is to stroll the small streets radiating from the duomo and have lunch watching the world go by.

Malborghetto – Tucked on an unassuming lane in a quiet corner of the city, Malborghetto has a small but excellent menu of daily specials with a good selection of pizzas. They only have 3 or 4 tables on the footpath so you need a bit of luck to grab one.

Osteria Nuvoli – This delightfully no-frills restaurant just around the corner from the duomo has simple dishes at great prices. Don’t miss the biscotti with a very generous serving of sweet wine to finish up.

3 small blackboards containing the details of a pizza menu


Santa Maria Novella is a 13th-century church in the western end of Florence with a greedy stash of art treasures.

The permanent highlight is Masaccio’s, Holy Trinity. Painted between 1425-1427 and as one of the first to use perspective, it’s an important way-marker in the development of Renaissance art.

The church is packed with other goodies but there’s an even more special treat if you plan ahead.

On the first Sunday of every month and every two days that precede it, the 16th and 17th-century paintings that hang in the church are lifted off the walls to reveal 14th and 15th-century frescoes behind them.

Incredibly, they were only discovered in 2004 and were not open to the public until 2017.

Santa Maria Novella Tickets // This entry ticket includes a fascinating audio guide.

santa maria novella florence


The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone bridge stretching across the Arno River; and one of the iconic images of Florence. It’s believed that a bridge was first built here during Roman times and the road – now closed to traffic – was an important connection to other Roman centres.  

Today it connects two busy tourist attractions in Florence: Piazza della Signoria and Santo Spirito on the other side of the river.

The bridge is lined on either side with shops which originally served the city’s basic needs: fish and meat. After complaints about the smell, butchers and fishmongers eventually made way for leather goods and jewellery, which you can still find on Ponte Vecchio today.

It looks its best at dusk when the sun sets over the river and the bridge and buildings glow a yellowy-orange.


Set on a hill in the southeast of town, Piazzale Michelangelo was constructed during Florence’s grand period of urban renewal in 1869. It was dedicated to the artist, but unfortunately, a planned museum to his works was never realised.

It’s not the prettiest square, but it does have one of the best views of Florence.

Take the 25-minute walk up from the centre to enjoy stunning views of the Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, and of course, the duomo dominating the Florence skyline. To the south lies grand Palazzo Pitti and its landscaped Boboli gardens.

Arrive for sunset. As the sun drifts over the horizon and the last rays of light hit the city. Brunelleschi’s glorious dome glitters like half a luminescent orange.



There’s no better place to spend an evening in Florence than on the streets of Santo Spirito. This atmospheric neighbourhood has something for everyone.

Tamerò – For tasty food at good prices on the lovely Piazza Santo, Tamerò keeps the food and wine flowing and the patrons happy.

Babae – The little wine window made famous by Stanley Tucci is a favourite Florence thing to do. Ring the bell, order a Chianti and sip it in the charming street. There’s also a great menu of Florentine classics.

Il Santo Bevitore – This former coach house with wood-panelled walls serving a modern take on Tuscan classics has received a Michelin gong. Reservations are required.

Il Santino Gastronimo – The casual sibling of Il Santo Bevitore serves a collection of tasty small dishes in the cramped interior or on tables on the footpath. If you simply fancy a drink, then join the hubbub on the street outside.


The Pitti Palace was purchased by the Medici Family as a symbol of their power over Tuscany. Today, it’s packed with art museums, grand apartment rooms and ducal treasures.

The Treasury of teh Grand Dukes is a collection of decorative arts in the family’s sumptuous summer apartments while the Palatine Gallery is a lavish art collection containing around 500 pieces.

Directly behind the palace, the Boboli Gardens is a historical park that was one of the first examples of Italian gardens that would inspire many European courts. Immaculate lawns and grottos are decorated with fountains and statues.

Pitti Palace Tickets // Book skip-the-line entrance tickets in advance.

bargello museum florence


There are so many great things to do in Florence that they, unfortunately, couldn’t all make it on our list. If you have time, here are some other suggestions.

Strozzi Palace // The Strozzi Palace holds temporary art exhibitions and it’s always worth checking out what’s on. While we were there Jeff Koons’s shiny sculptures were the perfect contrast to the palace’s grand square and old rooms.

Bargello Museum // The Bargello Museum is home to some fantastic sculptures, dotted around a grand courtyard. There are works by Giamboligna and Michelangelo as well as Donatello’s bronze David, the first nude statue made since antiquity.

Duomo Campanile & Baptistry // The Baptistry of the duomo is worth a stop for its impressive marble pavement and the gold gleaming mosaic ceiling. The Campanile tower is another grand viewpoint over Florence but the top is covered in a wire mesh obstructing the views slightly.


Most accommodation in Florence is based around the historic city centre where you’ll find busy streets packed with shopping, bars and attractions. It’s a great area to base yourself if you like staying in the heart of the action.

Alternatively, Santa Marie Novella is still convenient but a little less busy, and slightly cheaper.



Located in the heart of Florence just 250 yards from the cathedral, this is a comfortable and stylish boutique hotel with panoramic city views.



Located off the beautiful Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Hotel Roma is housed in a 17th-century building with classic design features and elegant furnishings.



Tucked into a quiet neighbourhood near the River, Parione Uno has clean well-appointed rooms which are perfect for families. The friendly host will help with local recommendations.


We recommend 3 or 4 days in Florence to see all the main sights. But you could easily stay for longer and slow down the pace or add in some day trips.

Just a short journey away is breathtaking Tuscan scenery which you can enjoy on a day trip from Florence including the vineyards of Chianti and a number of cities just as intriguing as Florence.


The museums and churches can book out in advance, so book your skip-the-line museum tickets a week or 2 before you arrive.

Similarly, good restaurants are often booked out months in advance, so book early especially in Santo Spirito which is popular with locals and tourists.

The Firenze Card provides access to 58 museums over 3 days and costs €85. As it does not cover the duomo you’d really need to visit a lot of art galleries to make it worthwhile.

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The best things to do in Florence, Italy. Our curated guide covers the best attractions, museums, Florence experiences, food and coffee. | Florence guide | Italy Travel | Florence Travel | Uffizi Gallery Florence | Florence Duomo | Palazzo Vecchio Florence | David in Florence