A trip to Florence is a dream-come-true. This historic Italian city is overflowing with classic art, intriguing architecture, beautiful views, and delectable cuisine.
Whether you visit for a weekend or stay for a few months, your time in Florence is sure to be memorable. To make the most out of your trip, check out this list of awesome things to do in Florence, Italy.
Awesome Things to do in Florence, Italy
1. Stay up late and enjoy a fresh cornetto in Piazza di Santa Croce
Every night around 2 am, long after most of Florence has gone to sleep, secret bakeries throughout the city open their doors. With a license to sell exclusively to cafés and other businesses, these bakeries are not supposed to work directly with consumers. But at 2 am, when they start baking the morning batch, exhausted Florentinians stumble to the back door of these bakeries and buy a fresh pastry to wrap up their night.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Basilica of Santa Croce.
These bakeries are called secret for a reason. Who is open and where they are is constantly changing. However, rumor has it the one on Via Delle Brache is still open. Keep your voice down and have your 1 euro ready. Then, with your mouthwatering pastry in hand, walk to Piazza di Santa Croce. It’s only a block away, and it is an enchanting way to end your night.
2. Visit the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s oldest and most picturesque bridge
There are many bridges crossing the Arno, but none as striking as the Ponte Vecchio. During 1944 of the British army in World War II, the Nazis were planning to destroy all but one of the bridges connecting to Florence to force the British army into a bottleneck effect. The myth is that Hitler told the commander to, “keep the most artistic one.” Whether it is true or not, we are left with the Ponte Vecchio.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Ponte Vecchio.
Appropriately translating to “Old Bridge,” the Ponte Vecchio has been around since 1345. The unique construction and fascinating history make this bridge a common stop for tourists. The shops along the Ponte Vecchio house jewelers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths. Whether or not you decide to shop while you are there, the Ponte Vecchio is a must during your trip to Florence, Italy.
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3. Read a book or have a picnic in the Boboli Gardens
These 16th-century gardens are the largest historical gardens in Italy. It is easy to spend a day getting lost and exploring every inch of the breathtaking landscape. From hidden grottos to tree-lined walkways, there are countless sights to see in the Boboli Gardens.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Boboli Gardens.
Get the most out of the peace and tranquility offered at the Boboli Gardens by spending some time just relaxing and taking it all in. Have a picnic on the lawn or find a cozy grotto where you can read and catch up on your travel journal.
Related Article: Awesome Things to Do in Rome, Italy.
4. See famous artwork at the Uffizi Gallery
No trip to Florence would be complete without a few classic art pieces. While the Accademia is home to David, the Uffizi is home to practically everything else. Giotto, de Vinci, Raphael, and Botticelli are just a few of the famous artists whose work is featured here. In addition to the incredible art, the windows in the Uffizi offer spectacular views of the Arno.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Uffizi Gallery.
Whether you make a quick visit to see Titian’s Venus of Urbino and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus or spend a whole day touring the 45 halls in the Uffizi, this gallery is a must-see.
5. Indulge in 5-cheese gnocchi at Osteria Santo Spirito
Discussing the best food in Florence, Italy would take a whole separate post (or 10 posts for that matter). There is so much to eat in this city, and most of it is delicious. To say any one restaurant is the best is impossible. During your time in Florence, try as many restaurants as you can and enjoy the authentic, fresh Italian cuisine.
That being said, one place that will blow your mind is Osteria Santo Spirito. On the south side of the Arno, this restaurant is a little less touristy and very authentic. While everything they make is mouth watering, their 5-cheese gnocchi is an unforgettable experience. Visit their website for hours and to take a peak at their menu. Oh, and while you’re in the area, keep your eyes peeled for Gusta Pizza next door, arguably the best pizza in Florence.
6. Watch sunrise (or sunset) from Piazzale Michelangelo
Across the Arno and up a healthy-sized hill, Piazzale Michelangelo is a popular spot to watch the sunset. There are various tours that will take you up there for sunset, but a taxi would be much cheaper. Better yet, walk it! The climb is pretty modest, and the view is well worth the hike.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Piazzale Michelangelo.
True adventurers may want to skip sunset and head up to Piazzale Michelangelo for sunrise instead. The Piazzale will be entirely or nearly empty, as apposed to the immense crowds that fill the place during sunset. There are few things as magical as watching the sun turn all of Florence gold. Plus, on your way back you can capture pictures of all the popular sites in Florence, Italy before tourists surround them.
7. Shop for fresh produce at Mercato Centrale
Florence is filled with fresh markets. Almost every piazza has a market at least once a week. These markets are a great place to experience Italian culture, taste fresh Italian produce, and maybe even sample some local olive oil. One of the largest and best-known markets in Florence is the Mercato Centrale.
Outside, the San Lorenzo market consists of purses, scarves, and fun souvenirs for you to browse. Once you step inside, the Mercato Centrale is almost entirely composed of food vendors. Explore the massive produce section or head across the store for Italian candies and pastries. You can even enjoy lunch in the back corner where a group of vendors prepare sandwiches, pasta, and more. Find out the hours and location of the Mercato Centrale here.
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8. See the city from above
There is something about seeing the city from up high that makes you realize just how beautiful this place is. Two of the best views in Florence come from Il Duomo and the Palazzo Vecchio. At the Dumo you have the option to climb the dome or the bell tower. While the bell tower offers uninterrupted views of the city, the duomo is a more exciting climb. The stairs are sideways because of the unique shape of the dome and the way the stairs were constructed. Another benefit of climbing the dome is the opportunity to see the Duomo’s famous frescos up-close.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Palazzo Vecchio.
The tower at the Palazzo Vecchio is another great option. The benefit of climbing here is you get a view of Florence that includes the Duomo, on of the city’s most popular landmarks. Plus, most tourists are at the Duomo, so the line is shorter at the Palazzo Vecchio. At the Duomo, the climb starts at ground level. The Palazzo Vecchio climb begins on the top floor of the museum, so the climb is a bit easier.
9. Take a day trip to Pisa
Florence has plenty to keep you busy, regardless of how long or short your visit is. However, if you have time, a trip to Pisa is a fun half-day excursion. There is not a ton to do in Pisa other than see the tower, so it is the perfect place to visit for a few hours and still have time to get back to Florence for dinner.
There are plenty of ways to get between Florence and Pisa. While Terravision will bring you from airport to airport for €4.99, if you head to the Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence you can get a bus that goes to the train station in Pisa, which is much more convenient for a day trip.
10. Get lost, explore, and find wanders of your own
Florence is an incredible city full of countless wanders. Of course all of the above are guaranteed to make your trip to Florence unforgettable, but the best way to have the trip of a lifetime is to explore on you own. Get lost in some of Florence’s picturesque alleyways and find exciting hidden treasures throughout the city. With a city as diverse and beautiful as Florence, you are sure to find something incredible. Let us know in the comments what exciting places you have discovered so we can check them out during our next trip to Florence!
*All photo credits goes to Sarah Dittmore.
Budget – My Friends
Mid Range – Hotel Spadai
Luxury – Villa Cora
About The Writer
Sarah Dittmore is a born and bred traveler. When she is not bungee jumping over waterfalls in Zimbabwe or spending 10 hours riding a bus through the mountains in India, she is writing about it all on her blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. You can also follow her exciting journey on Instagram (@autobiographyofanadventurer) and Twitter (@sarahdittmore).
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