Florence is one of those cities that most of us want to experience at least once (but most likely hundreds of times)! Up there with the the likes of Venice, New York and Barcelona – it really does deserve its place as one of the best cities to explore in the world. After all, who could say no to mountains of gelato, stunning views and more history than you can shake a stick at!

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The thing with Florence is that there’s so much to see, do and eat here but if you’re visiting for a short period of time (say a weekend), then it’s gonna be tricky hard to see them all. The last thing you want your holiday to Florence to become is a stressful, seemingly-endless search for sights to see. There’s wine to be drunk after all and bucket-loads of gelato to be eaten.

To that end, we’ve put together the top experiences you need to have in one of our favourite cities!

14 Top Experiences You Must Have When Visiting Florence For The First Time!

1.) Eat half a cow

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No first time visit to Florence can be completed without devouring a steak florentine, or at least trying to! Head to Bucca Mario where you’ll be whisked away into a world of meat, meat and lots more MEAT!

If you’re a vegetarian, you might want to skip this one! 😉

Top tip: Skip the first course. There’s no way you’ll be able to get through a steak florentine and eat a first course at the same sitting! (We tried twice and failed miserably both times).

 

2.) Stroll across Ponte Vecchio 

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This unique bridge is one of the oldest in Florence. Take a wander across and enjoy the little jewellery houses that line its sides. Expect big crowds by mid-day/evening, so head here after breakfast for a little more breathing space.

Top tip: To get the best views of Ponte Vecchio, walk around 200 metres to the adjacent bridge where you’ll have a perfect vantage point.

 

3.) Dine Like a Tuscan!

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Head to one of the thousands of local restaurants and eat till your heart’s content! One great place is La Bussola, an intimate pizzeria and seafood restaurant where you can actually sit with the chef cooking right in front of you. You can’t get more intimate than that!

Top tip: These guys know their wine, ask for a local recommendation, they’ll sort you out good! 🙂

 

4.) Spot a staute or two in Piazza della Signoria!

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You’ll notice that Florence has LOTS of statues that you’ll want to snap, admire and ogle at! Head within the Piazza della Signoria for some of the prettiest and gruesome in all of Florence!

Top tip: Look out for the almost 500 year old Fountain of Neptune.

 

5.) Admire Giotto’s Campanile

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Take a wander around (and inside) Giotto’s Campanile that has stood in Florence for many hundreds of years. The tower itself is situated right next to the Florence Cathedral and only a stones throw from the bustling Piazza della Signoria.

Top tip: Keep a lookout for the hexagon panels around the base, it tells the story of mankind through the ages!

 

6.) Watch the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo

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Piazzale Michelangelo has to be one of the best places in Tuscany to watch the sunset. Visit around an hour before sun down as the area fills up quite quickly just before sunset and choose your spot wisely!

Top tip: Take some water on a summers day, the stroll to the top will leave you parched!

 

7.) Sleep in style

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This Is The Best View In Florence, Italy! (8)This Is The Best View In Florence, Italy! (11)Top Experiences For A First Time Visit To Florence (11)The Antica Torre Tornabuoni 1 is a perfect little slice of Tuscan charm in the beating heart of the city. With rooms decorated in a Florentine Renaissance style and unique views across the city, this hotel really is a special place. A ovely treat if you’re visiting for a special occasion or fancy a little splurge on yourself! 🙂

Top Tip: Eat breakfast on the rooftop, overlooking the whole city!

 

8.) Take a ride in Piazza della Repubblica

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Once an old ghetto within Florence, Piazza della Repubblica is now one of the city’s open piazzas that make Florence so great! Take a wander around its many bars and cafes, admiring the local artists and even taking a spin on a carousel.

Top tip: Buy some local art from Piazza della Repubblica, which is a historic stomping ground for many artists in the city.

 

9.) Ogle at David

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Situated within the  Piazza della Signoria stands a model of Michelangelo’s David, brazenly and unashamedly for us all to enjoy. Then again why wouldn’t he, he has abs for days! 🙂 Take a peek and admire this stunning replica of the original David that now stands, just as proudly, in the Academia Gallery.

Top Tip: Look into his eyes, apparently they stare towards Rome.

 

10.) Discover the city’s windy streets

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There are literally hundreds of small, narrow streets that criss-cross this city and they are filled with some of the most impressive bars, cafes and fashion houses one can muster! Take a little detour and discover some of the beautiful markets and famous Italian brands that now line the streets.

Top tip: Get yourself an offline map for your smartphone! It’ll help you get around so much quicker which is important for trying to see as much of Florence as possible. 🙂

 

11.) Take in the beauty of Palazzo Vecchio

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Palazzo Vecchio has graced the streets of Florence for over 700 years (but doesn’t look a day over  than 21 😉 ). Take a wander through its Courtyards and marvel at its stunning architecture.

Top tip: There are not 1 but 3 courtyards to explore within Palazzo Vecchio!

 

12.) Admire the Duomo di FirenzeTop Experiences For A First Time Visit To Florence (1)

Located within the Piazza del Duomo, Florence Cathedral is one stunning piece of Florentine history! Take a look around and marvel at this beautiful piece of architecture that was considered the largest dome ever constructed (before modern building techniques).

Top tip: Buy tickets early, long queues mount and appear fast!

 

13.) Explore the beautiful, Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte
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Only a few hundred metres from Piazzale Michelangelo, this medieval basilica is the perfect place to make a stop before the sun sets on another day. Take a walk inside and discover one of Florence’s most loved sites.

Top tip: Visit before sunset, not after… it gets quite dark inside! 🙂

 

14.) Grape it up on a rooftop terrace!

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There’s an array of wonderful rooftop bars to experience in Florence, with stunning views across the city. Head to one of them around dusk, just before a restaurant reservation (for a great way to start the night) and perhaps even after!

Top tip: Drink your weight in prosecco… it’s Italian, after all! Surely it would be rude not to? 😉



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  • MissLilly

    I’ve been in several places in Italy but never had the chance to go to Florence! So looking forward to finally go, but guess will need to wait for next year once I can fly again 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ah! You’ll love it! Florence is such a great city to wander around. You must remember to watch the sunset over the city – honestly, it’s one of the prettiest we’ve ever seen! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Have you been up the Giotto’s tower?The views are great and it’s less crowded than the top of the cathedral:) and Boboli gardens:)

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ah! We wanted to go up the tower so badly but we didn’t have enough time! 🙁

      We definitely have an excuse to return now, Tanja! Haha! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Perfect timing! I’ll be there on Saturday 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      No way! You’re going to LOVE it Jennifer! Have loads of gelato when you’re there – honestly, I think we had like 4 a day!!! It’s all homemade and soooooo moorish!

      Have a lovely time, let us know if you need any other tips or have any questions – happy to help in any way we can! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Looks wonderful! We’ll be in Italy in 7 weeks and Florence is definitely on the list. It’ll be my second time there and I’m no less excited (maybe more so in fact) as the first. We have many of these things on your list on our itinerary, and those that we just won’t have time for? Well we say we’ll be back again another day.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      The weather will be stunning in 7 weeks! I swear you and us both have the same mindset when it comes to travelling – loving a second visit and even more if we can’t fit it all in! 🙂

      Have an amazing time, can’t wait to hear all about it! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Brilliant post! I visited Florence as a teen with my family and definitely didn’t appreciate it enough at the time. I’d love to go back and explore properly, it’s truly gorgeous!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      It really is a gorgeous city Danielle – it’s always the same when we’re young isn’t it! We never truly value the place as much until we become ‘adults’… though, I think adulthood still a long way off for Yaya and me! Haha!

      Lloyd xx

  • Florence is definitely my most favourite place in Italy, it has everything! Check out my reviews of Rome, Ravello, Positano, Capri and Naples!! Xo

    Nikki | http://nikkibstyles.com/travel/destinations

    • HandLuggageOnly

      It really is a stunning city isn’t it!

      It looks like you had an amazing time! xx

      Lloyd & Yaya 🙂

  • After my recent trip I can definitely say Florence is one of my favourite cities! Btw have I told you how much I love your photography? 😉

    • HandLuggageOnly

      So glad you like it as much as we do, Angie! 🙂

      Awwww, thank you so much! That means the world to us. Seriously. 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • omg that steak was massive! I’ve not been to Florence yet but I hear such amazing things about it. Thanks for this list of things to do! <3

    http://abigailalicex.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Right! Honestly, even we couldn’t believe it when it arrived! We literally felt like we had half a cow in front of us! Lol 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I visited Florence only once and immediatelly fell in love with it, there’s so much beauty literally in every corner! Now I can’t wait to go there again, it’s definitely one of my favourite italian cities 🙂 And btw could that steak be any bigger, it would take me days to finish it haha 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      We felt the same! It’s such a wonderful city to explore. Honestly, that steak was unreal! We actually had a few ‘chunks’ and became totally stuffed! Though, we tried our very best to eat as much as we could! Haha!

      So glad you like the city as much as we do Matea! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Zoe

    Wow such an amazing post! I just got back from a trip to Italy where I stayed in Florence and visited Rome, Venice and Pisa for a day each too! I had the best time and I’m happy to say that I was able to tick a fair few of these suggestions off my list whilst I was there!

    http://www.zoethedreamer.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Zoe! Ahhhh – it sounds like you had an amazing trip! So glad you enjoyed yourself in Italy – it really is a stunning country to explore!

      Just checked out your post too! Wow! You managed to fit lots in! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I really need to plan a trip to Florence! SO much history and everything looks beautiful. Plus, that rooftop terrace looks like the perfect way to end the day 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      It really was – who can say no to Prosecco and sunsets… am I right? 😉

      Lloyd xx

  • Leah Mott

    Me and a friend are planning a big trip and stopping in Florence for 5 days so your posts are AMAZING and so helpful! Thank you! Did you have to make any reservations for museums or sights? Also! What camera do you use and what do you use to edit!? 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ah! You’re going to love it Leah! It’s such a great city!

      We didn’t make any reservations but, I’d recommend arriving early to miss the queues for the Duomo. For the camera we use a Canon 6D and we edit our photos on Lightroom. Hope that helps.

      Have an incredible trip! Make sure to eat lots of Gelato too (just not on the main tourist trail where they tried to charge me 10 Euro for one ice-cream when they should cost around 3 euro max.

      Do let us know how it goes.. we’d love to hear your thoughts on the city to:-)

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Jody Thompson

    What time of year do you recommend going?

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Spring and summer are definitely good months to visit – the sun is shinning and the city is bathed in a lovely heat. In truth, any time of the year is great for Florence but I particularly like June as it’s not too hot xx

      Lloyd 🙂

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