Florence is one of those gorgeous Italian cities that needs little introduction. It’s the kinda city that’s perfect to visit on a trip across Italy and one place I’m almost certain you’ll want to go back to. That’s the thing about it, there so many incredible and the best things to do in Florence that one trip just isn’t enough.
That being said, holiday time is precious and although you might not be able to see everything on your first trip, you can surely give it a good go. This is why I wanted to share some of the best things to do in Florence on your trip to the city.
So, in my opinion, the last thing you want your holiday to Florence to become is stressful. This is why it’s important to prioritise some of the key things to do and some chill time to just enjoy the city. After all, that Tuscan wine isn’t going to drink itself! 🍷
Take a look at some of the best things to do in Florence, below. Have the best time.
1.) Gorge on a Florentine Steak
No first-time visit to Florence can be completed without devouring a steak Florentine. It’s easily one of the biggest and best things to do in Florence if you’re not a vegetarian. For obvious reasons, if you are a veggie, you might wanna give this one a miss.
For one of the best Florentine steaks in the city, pop on over to Bucca Mario where you’ll be whisked away into the centuries-old restaurant that sits in the historic part of Venice. They serve up the tastiest Florentine steak.
Just remember, the Florentine Steak is rare in the middle, so consider this before ordering if you don’t like more rare-cooked meals.
Also, 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
This unique bridge is one of the oldest in Florence and possibly the most recognisable bridge in Italy. Filled with little shops and stalls, the market is a bustling place with visitors, so expect big crowds.
That being said, it’s one of the best things to do in Florence if you haven’t been before. Just make sure to wander the banks of the river Arno, too. You’ll get some impressive views of Ponte Vecchio from there.
With almost a thousand years of history, Ponte Vecchio is a must-see.
3.) Dine Like a Tuscan
Okay, so Florence is known for its tasty food and little independent restaurants that are dotted all across the city. And you know what, that’s one of the many reasons why I love Florence… the food!
Being a foodie’s dream city, there are literally thousands of places to gorge in the city. For a proper informal, but totally tasty spot, head over to La Bussola. It’s an intimate Florentine pizzeria and seafood haunt where you can actually sit with the chef cooking right in front of you. It’s such a great place to spend an evening after exploring all the best things to do in Florence.
Oh, and don’t forget to ask them about their Tuscan wines. They know so much about wines of the region.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a few more spots, head over to; Le Cappelle Medicee (for their tasty pasta), Ristorante Brandolino ( a traditional bistro) or B.O.r.G.O. (for their regional meals). You won’t be disappointed.
4.) Stroll through Piazza della Signoria
Florence has a lot of gorgeous piazza’s to explore, but there are some that really stand out. Piazza della Signoria is one of those!
It’s easily one of the best things to do in Florence if you love history and want to see a little slice of the city’s past. Plus, you’ll be able to see Palazzo Vecchio right from the Piazza itself. Now, the piazza itself is filled with statues, so keep your eyes peeled for these.
Some to look out for are the’ 500-year-old Fountain of Neptune, Perseus with the head of Medusa and Michelangelo’s David (which is a replica). Though, the latter is a replica, with the original housed inside the Accademia Galleries. That being said, if art is your thing, head across to Uffizi galleries which right by the piazza.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for a small sign showing where the execution site of Savonarola happened and the fire of the Vanities. Gruesome.
5.) Climb Giotto’s Campanile
Take a wander around (and inside) Giotto’s Campanile that has stood in Florence for many hundreds of years. After all, it’s one of the most recognised and best things to do in Florence that you can’t really miss.
The tower itself is situated right next to the Florence Cathedral and only a stone’s throw from the bustling Piazza della Signoria. This makes it really easy to see whilst seeing the Uffizi galleries or after being in the Duomo (cathedral) itself.
There are about 400-450 steps to get to the top (and no lift), so make sure you’re feeling fit before attempting the steps. That being said, the views from the top are incredible! Plus, you’ll have worked off enough calories for a massive gelato after.
Oh, and don’t forget to keep a lookout for the hexagon panels around the base, it tells the story of mankind through the ages.
6.) Watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo has to be one of the best things to do in Florence if you want to see a gorgeous sunset. It’s still one of my favourite places to just come and sit and watch the city turn from day to night.
Now, it’ll take you around 30-minutes to walk to the piazza from Ponte Vecchio, but it’s well worth it for the views. You can even see across the Tuscan landscape and across to the mountains.
Just remember to visit around an hour before sundown as the area fills up quite quickly just before sunset and choose your spot wisely
7.) Sleep in style
The Antica Torre Tornabuoni 1 is a perfect little slice of Tuscan charm in the beating heart of the city. We chose this spot to stay because of its location, but the hotel is so much more than that. It’s a proper
With rooms decorated in a Florentine Renaissance style and unique views across the city, this hotel really is a special place that we loved. it’s a gorgeous treat.
Best of all, you can eat breakfast on the rooftop, overlooking the whole city. It’s so magical hearing the chimes and sounds of Florence as the city comes alive. Sounds cheesy but it’s totally special.
8.) Take a ride in Piazza della Repubblica
Once an old Jewish ghetto within Florence (hundreds of years ago), Piazza della Repubblica is now one of the city’s open piazzas that’s great to see.
That’s the thing about the city, there are so many piazzas that you’ll come across, even by chance. Take a wander around and grab an espresso in one of the little cafes, see the local artists stalls and even taking a spin on a carousel.
Now, lots of the original buildings were demolished, but one column still remains, so Keep your eyes peeled for the column of the Abundance. Although there’s a little restoration work going on at present, it’s still worth a gander at.
9.) Ogle at David
Remember I mentioned visiting Piazza della Signoria? Well, there’s one guy you can’t miss.
Probably the most famous man in the city, seeing Michelangelo’s David is one of the best things to do in Florence. Situated right within the heart of Piazza della Signoria, David stands proudly for us all to see.
That being said, just be aware that this is actually a replica that was placed here to protect the original. If you really want to see the original David, head over to the Academia Gallery.
Also, make sure to look at his eyes, I was told his eyes are facing directly at Rome.
For a great hotel that’s close to Santa Maria Maggiore, check into Hotel Cerretani. It’s a lovely spot.
10.) Stroll the winding streets
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. Honestly, that’s the thing about the streets of Florence, there are just so many to explore and find.
Take a little detour and discover some of the beautiful markets and little stores selling everything you could ever want. Now, I’m almost certain (at some point) you will get lost in the city, so make sure to download an offline map for your phone.
Trust me, 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
Another one of the best things to do in Florence has to be seeing Palazzo Vecchio (and its 311ft high belltower). And guess what? It’s totally easy to see if you’re already in the piazza.
Palazzo Vecchio has graced the streets of Florence for over 700 years and is still as iconic as ever. Take a wander through its Courtyards and marvel at its stunning architecture and the frescoes that adorned the walls. It’s incredible to see all the different works that the Medici’s arranged.
Best of all, admission is relatively cheap, though it can get crowded at weekends.
Also, another gorgeous hotel to stay at in Florence is the Bernini Palace that’s right next to Palazzo Vecchio
12.) See the Duomo
You can’t go all the way to Florence without seeing the Duomo di Firenze. Actually, its full name is the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, but most people just call it the Duomo. It’s easily one of the biggest buildings and best things to do in Florence whilst you’re here.
Located within the Piazza del Duomo, it’s one stunning piece of Florentine history that you can’t miss. Take a look around and marvel at this beautiful piece of architecture that was considered the largest dome ever constructed (before modern building techniques).
Now, in my opinion, the Duomo is more impressive from the outside than it is inside. That being said, you can’t go all the way to Florence without taking a peek inside.
13.) See the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte
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 in Florence.
Take a walk inside and discover one of the incredible Romanesque architecture that is so beautiful to see. Once inside, make sure to see the local marble that adorns the nave and the beautiful frescos that are all over the basilica itself.
One thing to note is that the basilica gets dark quite quickly. Visit before the sun goes fully down and see the beautiful interior.
14.) Watch the sunset from the rooftop bars
One of the most special memories I have of Florence is overlooking the city (on the rooftop terrace) as the sun goes down. It’s something that certain hotels have (and lots of bars in the city). Just make sure to head across a little earlier than sunset as seats can fill up fast.
For some great views, head to the La Terrazza Bar which is perched within the Consorti Tower. Alternatively, head to La Rinascente rooftop for a nice bottle of Tuscan wine and views across the city. Another great terrace is the Terrazza at Hotel Continentale, it’s a beautiful place to spend a few hours and the views are insane.