Things to do in Florence

Things to do in  Florence

There’s a new Renaissance in town

Art and architecture reign supreme in the Renaissance city of Florence. The cobblestone streets have hardly changed since the 17th century, and walking tours will take you through hidden plazas (piazze), over the Ponte Vecchio, and past the Brunelleschi-designed Duomo. Opt for skip-the-line tickets to see the Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze and Uffizi Gallery, home to some of the world’s most famous artwork. And be sure to allow plenty of time for leisurely meals featuring the bounty of the Tuscan hills surrounding the city.

Top 15 attractions in Florence

Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell'Accademia)

Once one of Europe’s oldest drawing schools, Florence’s Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia) is now one of the city’s most visited museums, home to Michelangelo’s 17-foot-tall (5.2-meter-tall) David. Other treasures on display include Renaissance paintings by artists such as Botticelli and Lippi, unfinished Michelangelo sculptures, and a collection of rare musical instruments.More

Uffizi Galleries (Gallerie degli Uffizi)

The Uffizi Galleries (Gallerie degli Uffizi) houses one of the world’s most significant collections of art, drawing in more than a million annual visitors who wish to cast eyes upon its many masterpieces. Set in the heart of Florence, the museum contains the works of artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Giotto, among others. It is the premier place to view Italian Renaissance art and is the most-visited museum in Italy.More

Florence Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiori)

No matter where you walk in Florence, chances are you'll spot its famous Duomo—a defining element of the city’s history, geography, and identity—towering above. Beneath its red-tiled dome lies Florence’s largest church, officially known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiori. Together with the Museum of the Duomo, an opera museum, the baptistery of San Giovanni, and Giotto's Bell Tower, the Duomo complex has become the city’s most famous landmark.More

Brunelleschi's Dome (Cupola del Brunelleschi)

Towering above Florence, Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome (Cupola del Brunelleschi) is an important engineering and architectural feat. Completed in 1436, the fact that this symbol of the city still stands tall over the Duomo more than 600 years later is testament to Brunelleschi’s mastery. Climb to the top for some of the best views over Florence.More

Ponte Vecchio

The historic Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is perhaps the most recognized symbol of Florence after Brunelleschi’s soaring red dome topping the Duomo. The three lower arches of this 14th-century bridge span the Arno River at its narrowest point between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti Palace, and a stretch of the famous Vasari Corridor runs along its top. Situated on street level, the Ponte Vecchio is lined with pocket-sized jewelry shops and packed with locals and tourists taking a stroll or snapping photos of the colorful palazzi lining the river bank.More

Piazza della Signoria

Home to the imposing Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria is the most important public square in Florence. The political heart of the city for centuries, today the square is also a vibrant social hub, where locals and tourists gather at the Loggia dei Lanzi and Neptune fountain to soak up the elegant atmosphere.More

Piazzale Michelangelo

The most famous scenic overlook in Florence, Piazzale Michelangelo is beloved for its breathtaking views over the city’s rooftops. From this 19th-century square set on a hillside in the Oltrarno neighborhood, panoramic views stretch over the Rose Garden, Ponte Vecchio spanning the river Arno, the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence's iconic Duomo and bell tower, and the Tuscan hills beyond.More

Palazzo Vecchio

The 13th-century Palazzo Vecchio has been the symbol of this Renaissance capital’s political power for more than seven centuries. With its imposing crenellated roofline and defensive tower, it dominates Piazza della Signoria and is home to the luxurious chambers of the Medici family. Visiting Palazzo Vecchio for a peek into Renaissance Florence is a rite of passage for visitors.More

Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti)

Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti) was built by Luca Pitti in the 1400s. A century later, Duchess of Florence Eleonora di Toledo purchased the Renaissance palazzo for her husband, Cosimo I de' Medici, and it remained the official residence of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until the early 20th century. Today, Pitti Palace is Florence's largest museum complex.More

Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Repubblica is one of the most important and elegant squares in the heart of Florence, lined with porticoed 19th-century palazzi, Grand Dame hotels, high-end boutiques, bustling restaurants, and historic cafés. A stroll through this beautiful public space is a must during any Florence sightseeing tour.More

Florence Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni)

Situated just west of the Duomo Cathedral, the Florence Baptistery of St. John (Battistero di San Giovanni) is one of the oldest structures in Florence. Its iconic octagonal structure dates back to ancient Rome, while its 16th-century bronze doors—sculpted by Lorenzo Ghiberti—were dubbed the Gates of Paradise by Michelangelo himself.More

Giotto's Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto)

After Brunelleschi’s soaring dome, Giotto’s elegant bell tower (Campanile di Giotto) is perhaps the most recognized landmark emerging above the rooftops of Florence. Admire the intricate polychrome marble covering the entire 270-foot (82-meter) height, and climb the more than 400 steps to the top for one of the best views over Florence.More

Florence Santa Croce Basilica (Basilica di Santa Croce)

One of the most striking and important churches in Florence, Santa Croce Basilica (Basilica di Santa Croce) is a classic example of Tuscan Gothic architecture. It’s also home to myriad works by Giotto, Gaddi, della Robbia, and Donatello, plus the tombs of numerous luminaries including Michelangelo, Galileo, Ghiberti, and Machiavelli.More

San Miniato al Monte

With so many unforgettable sights in Florence, it’s tempting to skip San Miniato al Monte, perched high up on a hilltop in the outskirts of the city. However, the church’s stunning 13th-century mosaic and sweeping views over Florence make the effort well worth your while.More

Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli)

Pass through the arched entrance of Florence’s stately Pitti Palace and into the serenity of the sweeping Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli), once the private playground of this Renaissance capital’s ruling Medici family. Dating from the 16th century, the Giardino di Boboli is among the earliest examples of formal Italian gardens, commissioned for the wife of Cosimo I de Medici in 1540. The gardens were expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries, and now cover 11 acres (4.4 hectares) of hillside and include a collection of outdoor sculptures dating from ancient Rome through the 17th century, making it a veritable open-air museum.More

Trip ideas

Don't-Miss Dishes in Florence

Don't-Miss Dishes in Florence

Top activities in Florence

Skip the line: Uffizi and Accademia Small Group Hidden Highlights Walking Tour
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Small-Group Wine Tasting Experience in the Tuscan Countryside
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Pastamania - Pasta making class

Pastamania - Pasta making class

Electric Cart Tour Florence

Electric Cart Tour Florence

Pizza and Gelato Cooking Class at a Tuscan Farmhouse from Florence
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Skip-the-Line Florence Duomo with Brunelleschi's Dome Climb
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Skip the Line: Florence's Accademia Gallery Priority Entrance Ticket
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All about Florence

When to visit

Summer in Florence brings key cultural events, including the Città dei Lettori literature festival in August, Florence Jazz Festival in September, and the four-month-long Estate Fiorentina. However, lines for most top attractions become interminably long—making advance tickets essential. Low-key travelers looking for cooler (sometimes rainy) weather and lower prices are better served in the offseason, roughly from October to March. Fall is for foodies, with a seasonal cuisine of local mushrooms, game, and white truffles in full harvest.

Getting around

Florence is made for walking. Its compact, UNESCO-listed historic center hasn’t changed much since the Renaissance, when it was built (mostly) for pedestrians. Exploring by two wheels, whether on shared e-bikes or e-scooters, has become popular in recent years, but dedicated lanes are lacking. A smart network of public buses and trams connects the center with the train station, with some buses going as far as surrounding hill towns such as Fiesole and San Gimignano.

Traveler tips

If you’re planning on spending more than one or two days in Florence, look for discount cards that offer time- and money-saving deals. Versions offer free or discounted admission to most city museums and sights and provide access to unlimited public transportation for a small additional cost. If you’re an EU citizen, the card extends the privileges to your family as well.

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A local’s pocket guide to Florence

Rebecca Winke

The cradle of the Renaissance is a second home to travel and food writer Rebecca, and it's where she heads to scratch her art and culture itch.

The first thing you should do in Florence is...

check out the roster of local concerts and events. Florence is one of the hottest spots in Italy for everything from live music to contemporary art exhibitions.

A perfect Saturday in Florence...

starts with a bracing espresso to fuel at least one morning museum visit, followed by a few hours browsing artisan workshops. After sundown, head to Piazza Santo Spirito for the city’s top nightlife.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Michelangelo’s David statue, a towering masterpiece that is truly one of the artistic wonders of the world.

To discover the "real" Florence...

cross the Arno River to wander through the few neighborhoods where local Florentines still live, including San Frediano and San Niccolò.

For the best view of the city...

there is only one place to go: Piazzale Michelangelo. The good news is that the sunset view from here is spectacular, but the bad news is that the word's out and it's packed come dusk.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking that the only art options are the crowded Uffizi and Accademia. Florence is home to dozens of world-class museums that are refreshingly quiet and crowd-free for those who venture off the must-see trail.

People Also Ask

What is Florence famous for?

Birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is home to some of the most recognized works of art and architecture in the world. Topping the list is the Duomo, the city’s soaring cathedral famous for Brunelleschi’s dome, and Michelangelo’s iconic 17-foot (5-meter) David statue, now housed in the Accademia Gallery.

What is the best month to go to Florence?

More than 5 million people visit Florence in an average year, so the city is overrun during the high-season summer months. Time your trip for early spring (March through April) or late fall (October through November) to avoid the tourist crush and enjoy the museums and sights in relative peace.

How many days do I need in Florence?

Plan to spend at least two days in Florence. Tour the historic center, outdoor markets, and the Accademia Gallery (home to Michelangelo’s David) on the first day. On the following day, explore the Uffizi Gallery, Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, and artisan workshops in the Oltrarno neighborhood.

How do I spend a day in Florence?

If you only have one day in Florence, begin with a walking tour through the historic center to take in highlights like the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, and Ponte Vecchio. Then make a beeline to the Accademia Gallery (book your ticket in advance) to marvel at Michelangelo’s David.

What should I not miss in Florence?

The two headliners in Florence are the Duomo (cathedral) and Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery, both a quick walk from the train station and easy to visit in a few hours. Other A-list sights include goldsmith-lined Ponte Vecchio spanning the Arno River and main Piazza della Signoria.

What attractions are free in Florence?

Florence’s top sight—the Duomo—is free, though you need to purchase tickets to climb the dome or bell tower or visit the baptistery. The city’s famous outdoor markets and Ponte Vecchio also cost nothing to explore. At sunset, head to Piazzale Michelangelo for the best free view of the city.

Frequently Asked Questions