Looking of the best things to do in Florence Italy? Florence is by far the most beautiful city in Tuscany and one of the most popular destinations in all of Italy. Every year, several million tourists come to Florence to visit the famous cathedral, the Ponte Vecchio bridge or the world-famous museums. You are literally blown away by all the sights and the sheer beauty of the city. There is an incredible amount to discover here, so we will show you the 10 best things to do in Florence and tell you the best tips to get around the beautiful city.

Hi Guys!

We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.

Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers

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Overview of Florence

Florence is the capital of Tuscany and with its nearly 370,000 inhabitants also the largest city in the region. Florence is considered the cradle of the Renaissance and offers an incredible wealth of art and cultural history and is therefore also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. Here is probably the largest collection of famous and important works of art in the world.

A major role is played by the powerful Medici family, through which many of the most beautiful buildings in the city were built and through which Florence became an emerging economic power in Europe.

10 Best Things To Do In Florence Italy

Some of the most famous artists in history are associated with Florence such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo or Galileo Galilei. Their artworks and influences are visible throughout the city. Florence is therefore, in our opinion, on a par with the Italian cities of Rome or Venice and should not be missed on any Italy road trip. Florence is simply incredibly impressive!

The Best Things To Do in Florence Italy

You could certainly check off the most beautiful highlights of Florence within one day and then head for the next destination on your Tuscany road trip. But we would recommend you to spend at least 2-3 days in Florence. There is simply too much to discover and experience. We visited the city in autumn, but it is also the perfect place to go in Winter. There are a lot of things to do in Florence in Winter as well. We are actually not city people and appreciate the nature usually much more, but in Florence I just could not get enough.

Florence is famous for the Renaissance architecture of its old town and the world-famous works of art that can be seen in the numerous museums. These include Michelangelo’s famous statue of David and many paintings by Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. Whether you have only 4 hours or 4 days to spend in Florence. Here are the main highlights of Florence that you must not miss under any circumstances.

Florence Cathedral

Opening hours: 10-17 h (nave)
Admission: free (nave), 10-30€ for everything else
Tickets: Skip-the-Line tickets*

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (or simply called Florence Cathedral) is probably the most striking and imposing building in Florence. Moreover, it is visible from far away, as it is not only one of the most beautiful buildings in the Tuscan capital, but also one of the tallest.

The cathedral was inaugurated in 1436 and its nave can fit up to 5000 people, incredible isn’t it? This makes Florence Cathedral the fourth largest church in Europe, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and Milan Cathedral. The cathedral’s massive dome, visible from afar, is considered a masterpiece of the early Renaissance.

10 Best Things To Do In Florence Italy

Another masterpiece stands right next door, the 85 meter high Campanile di Giotto is a bell tower that belongs to the cathedral complex and can and should also be visited, because from here you have a wonderful view of the cathedral standing next door.

But not only from the outside the cathedral is very impressive, but also from the inside you should visit the cathedral of Florence. This can easily become a day-filling event, because not only is there an incredible amount to discover inside, you’ll also have to wait in line for an extremely long time. Fortunately, entry to the cathedral itself is free, but of course that doesn’t mean you won’t have to stand in line. Even in the off-season, you’ll have to wait in line for hours. But if you want to see more than the nave, you have to buy a ticket.

Here is a brief overview of the different types of tickets for Florence Cathedral:

NameWhat to expectPriceTicket
Brunelleschi PassYou can visit all parts of the cathedral. Valid for 3 days!30 €Book Now*
Giotto PassBaptistery, Bell Tower, Opera del Duomo Museum & Santa Reparata. Valid for 3 days.20 €Book Now*
Ghiberti PassBaptistery, Opera del Duomo Museum & Santa Reparata. Valid for 3 days.10 €Book Now*
Skip-the-Line-TicketSkip the line and visit the Cathedral29 €Book Now*

There is also the possibility to visit the cathedral and the sights around it without having to stand in line for hours. This makes especially sense if you have only 1-2 days in Florence.

You can book a Skip The Line ticket here* to get into the nave of the cathedral only. This usually doesn’t cost anything, but even in the off-season it involves hours of queuing.

Here you can get a ticket* where you can also get to the Baptistery and the dome without having to wait in the long line with the others. Costs a little more, but you save yourself a lot of lifetime!

Palazzo Vecchio

Opening hours: 09.00 – 21.00
Admission: 22-25 €
Tickets: Buy on site with waiting time or online without queuing*

Palazzo Vechhio, with its 94-meter Arnolfo Tower, is visible from afar and is one of Florence’s top landmarks. Palazzo Vecchio once housed the city’s parliament and nowadays is Florence’s city hall. You can also enter the Palazzo for free and then you will reach the courtyard, which is richly decorated with frescoes. But there are many other sights in Palazzo Vecchio.

Among them, for example, the famous Sala dei Cinquecento (“Hall of the 500”), which is well worth seeing. With a height of almost 18 meters, the Sal is the largest room in Florence and is still used today for special occasions. Unfortunately, you can discover it only with a paid ticket. Tickets for the Sala dei Cinquecento and the Arnolfo Tower are available here*.

Piazza della Signoria

Opening hours: always open
Admission: free of charge

Right in front of Palazzo Vecchio there is a huge square called Piazza della Signoria. This is one of the most famous and most visited squares in Florence. Sights of the square are the Medici statue, the Fountain of Neptune and the Loggia di Lanzi, an arcade in which there are many sculptures from Roman mythology. Even if you don’t go to the square specifically, you will definitely pass by here during your walks through Florence, because the square is really super central between the Ponte Vecchio and the cathedral.

Ponte Vecchio

Opening hours: always open
Admission: free of charge

The Ponte Vecchio (Ital. old bridge) is probably the most famous bridge in Florence and spans the Arno River for a total of 84 meters. The bridge is not really one of the most beautiful bridges in the world and also architecturally there are certainly more exciting bridges. Nevertheless, the Ponte Vecchio is very worth seeing, as it is the longest segmental arch bridge in the world and also the oldest bridge in Florence.

In the past, it was mainly home to slaughterhouses and leather tanners, but the waste produced was probably too much for the Medici, who ruled at the time, and so jewelers were settled here, as they do not produce waste. Today, the entire bridge, which is lined with buildings on both sides, is exclusively occupied by jewelers.

You also don’t necessarily realize that you’re on a bridge, as you can only see the water on a short stretch in the middle of the bridge. Since the bridge is quite central, does not necessarily offer much space and is still one of the most famous sights, there are always a lot of tourists here. Therefore, it makes sense to look at the bridge rather from outside, this is best done from the bank of the Arno.

Basilica di Santa Croce

Opening hours: 11.00-17.00 (except Tuesdays & Sundays), 13.00-17.00 (Sundays)
Admission: 8 €
Tickets: Tickets without queue*

The Basilica di Santa Croce is architecturally somewhat similar to Florence Cathedral. Only it is a lot smaller and the square in front of it is also much less crowded. The Basilica is a Franciscan church, whose architect, by the way, was also responsible for the designs in the Florence Cathedral. Therefore, the similarity with the “big brother”.

The church houses the tombs of some famous Italian artists such as Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei. The church itself is rather simple inside, but still has something to offer artistically, as works of art by Giotto and Brunelleschi are waiting for you here.

You can book a guided tour of the church here*.

Piazzale Michelangelo

Opening hours: always open
Admission: free of charge

Piazzale Michelangelo is a large square on a hill on the southern bank of the Arno River and from here you have a super spectacular view of the entire old town. A visit to this square is a must-do, especially at sunset half the city gathers here.

But also during the day the square is worth a visit, because you can see all the highlights of Florence. From the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, Giotto’s Bell Tower to the mountains of the Apennines in the background, the panorama here is simply unbeatable.

You can get there by car or walk up from the old town in about 20 minutes. You can also visit the rose garden, a beautifully landscaped garden that you automatically walk through when you walk from the old town to Piazzale Michelangelo.

10 Best Things To Do In Florence Italy

Galleria degli Uffizi

Opening hours: 8:30-18.30 (closed on Mondays)
Admission: 20 €
Tickets: Ticket without waiting time*

The Uffizi Galleries are probably the most famous museum in Florence. If you’re just a little interested in art, then you have to get in here. Here are works of art by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and many other world famous artists. The building, which is located directly on the Arno, was built in 1560, like many other buildings in Florence, by the Medici family. At first it was used as an administrative building and only in the course of time has developed into an art gallery.

To visit the museum, of course, you have to buy a ticket and, unfortunately, wait in line for a long time. So it is important to buy a ticket in advance and even better a ticket where you do not have to stand in line. You can get it here*.
If you do not want to wait so long or you are not so interested in art, then it is worth here to see the Uffizi only from the outside. Architecturally, the museum building is also quite worth seeing.

Galleria dell’Accademia

Opening hours: 08.15 – 18.50 (closed on Mondays)
Admission: 16 €
Tickets: Official website (Italian only) or ticket without waiting time*

Next to the Uffizi Galleries, the Galleria dell’Accademia is probably the most famous museum in Florence. In the museum, which used to be a hospital, you will find the largest exhibition of works of art by Michelangelo.

Among them is the world-famous statue of David, completed in 1504. Michelangelo has shaped the cultural history and the cityscape of Florence like no other.
Since the crowds of visitors here are always very large, it is worth buying a ticket online in advance*.

Palazzo Pitti

Opening hours: 08:15-18:30 (closed on Mondays)
Admission: 13 Euro
Tickets: Ticket without waiting time*

Palazzo Pitti is located south of the Arno River, in the somewhat quieter area of Florence. In the past, the palace was a residence, who would have thought it, of the Medici family. Today it houses several museums such as the Palatina Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art or the Silver Museum. Since the museums are very popular, it makes sense to buy tickets online in advance*.

Even if you don’t want to or can’t go to the museum, the large square in front of Palazzo Pitti is a popular meeting place and invites you to linger.

10 Best Things To Do In Florence Italy

The Old Town of Florence

Even if you could fill two weeks of your vacation with visiting the most beautiful Florence highlights mentioned above, we also advise you to simply stroll through the old town without going anywhere or waiting in line for tickets for a museum.

Florence is even without the above listed sights simply a beautiful city and has much more to offer than the listing above suggests. You can safely stroll through the city without a destination and without a route, and you are guaranteed to be overwhelmed by the architecture and the cityscape.

Travel Tips for Florence

Florence in one day?

If you are short on time and have many more destinations waiting for you on your Tuscany road trip, then the main highlights of Florence can be covered in one day.

You should visit the following destinations in one day:

  • Ponte Vecchio
  • Florence Cathedral (at least from the outside)
  • Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Piazza della Signoria

10 Best Things To Do In Florence Italy

Is a visit to Florence worthwhile?

Even though Florence is extremely crowded, especially in the summer, and you may have to stand in line for several hours at some of the most famous sights, we think a visit to the Tuscan capital is definitely worth it. Florence is so incredibly impressive and offers so many highlights of architecture, art and history that you should not miss Florence on a Tuscany road trip.

Florence or Siena?

We have often been asked which city is more beautiful and which city you must definitely visit on a Tuscany road trip, Florence or Siena.

The answer is of course: both. Both cities are worth seeing and are so close to each other that both should be visited. But of course Florence is far above Siena in the city ranking, at least in our opinion. Florence is much more beautiful, exciting and worth seeing than neighboring Siena. A big disadvantage of Siena, in our opinion, is that cars drive through every little alley in the old town. This is not the case in Florence.

So should you only have time for one city, it should be Florence.

Florence with Dog

We take our dog Aaro with us whenever we travel and Florence was no exception. If your dog is used to crowds and walks well on a leash, then it should be no problem to take your four-legged friend on a stroll through Florence. Of course, you should keep in mind that it is often extremely crowded here. For the dog, of course, this also means stress and you should plan enough breaks and also have enough water with you.

You should also be aware that you will not be able to enter any museums or churches. Unless one of you waits outside as long as the other sights from the inside look.

10 Best Things To Do In Florence Italy

Is Florence very touristy?

This question can be confidently answered with “Yes, definitely”. Florence is really incredibly touristy in the sense that it is always very crowded here. Since Florence is a year-round destination, there is no real off-season in Florence. So whether you come to the capital of Tuscany in the summer or like us in November, the museums are full and everywhere at the famous sights you sometimes have to queue for several hours.

Tip: The only remedy is the well-known “Skip the Line” tickets, which you can find at GetYourGuide*

Facts about sightseeing in Florence

Florence is big, but pedestrian friendly
Florence is a big Italian city and, as with other big cities, it’s not fun to drive around the city in a car. Traffic is extreme, there is hardly any parking and the old town is a ZTL zone (Zona a Traffico Limitato), which means that it is forbidden for non-locals to drive into this zone at most times.

This is also rigorously controlled with cameras. An exception is if you have booked a hotel in the old town. Then your hotel can activate your license plate for the ZTL zone.

10 Best Things To Do In Florence Italy

The old town of Florence, however, is not so big that you can not explore it completely on foot. The old town is also godsend, unlike the old town of Siena, completely car-free.
So you don’t need a car in Florence to explore the old town, and you don’t need a hop on hop off bus* either, because everything is within walking distance. Despite the tourist crowds, it’s incredibly fun to explore Florence on foot.

The old town is much more touristy in the north than in the south
The old town of Florence is of course always very crowded with tourists, especially at the highlights like the cathedral or the Piazza della Signoria. But you notice very strongly that the destinations north of the river Arno are much more crowded than all the sights south of it. You’ll notice immediately when you walk south across the famous Ponte Vecchio, for example, that there are suddenly far fewer tourists.

Highlights south of the Ponte Vecchio, such as the Palazzo Pitti or the Piazzale Michelangelo, are much more leisurely than in the bustling north of the old town. Orientate yourself on this if you want to spend a few “quieter” hours.

There is no low season in Florence
Florence is the most popular destination in Tuscany and one of the most sought after destinations in Italy. Therefore, Florence is really full of tourists at any time of the year. Whether it’s August or November, you’ll have to queue for several hours in front of Florence’s most popular highlights, such as the Cathedral or the Uffizi Galleries, at any time of the year.

It is therefore worthwhile to buy so-calledSkip-the-Lines” tickets*, which will save you the queuing.

Staying in Florence

There are many beautiful hotels in Florence and unfortunately they are not cheap. However, we would recommend you to stay in a hotel in the old town. The atmosphere and the mood are incomparable and after a long walk through the city you will be glad not to have to walk far.

We have picked out 2 wonderful accommodations directly in the old town of Florence.

10 Best Things To Do In Florence ItalyAbsolute luxury directly at the cathedral
– Located directly opposite the cathedral of Florence
– Luxury suite with private whirlpool
– Free breakfast & air conditioning
Palazzo Niccolini | Check Rates*

10 Best Things To Do In Florence ItalyStylishly furnished double rooms in the center
– super central location
– beautiful boutique hotel
– Great breakfast & bicycles for rent
Casa G. Firenze| check rates*

Cooking Course in Florence

A special highlight and almost a little insider tip in Florence is to take an authentic Italian cooking course. Since Sabrina gave me such a course for my birthday, I was able to learn from a top Italian chef how to conjure up Italian style gnocchi, tiramisu and other delicious things.

You cook here together with other travelers and are guided by a real and very sympathetic cook. At the end you sit at the table with a bottle of Tuscan red wine and eat all the goodies you have prepared just before. If you love to eat and love to cook, you should not miss such an experience.

You can book the italien cooking course here!*

Parking in Florence

Parking in Florence can be a real challenge. We recommend that you don’t drive all the way to the historic center of Florence – unless you have your hotel there – but to look for a parking space a bit outside. In the city center of Florence there are also (paid and even free) parking spaces, but to find a free parking space is almost an impossibility.

Parking on the street

If you still want to try, then you should at least know the color theory of parking in Italy. Wherever you can theoretically park on the street, there are colored lines on the street that tell you under what conditions you can park here:

  • White parking lines are for residents with parking permit only
  • Blue parking lines indicate a paid parking lot
  • Yellow parking lines are for people with disabilities

Parking in a parking garage

Parking in a parking garage in the center of the city is very expensive, but saves you all the walking. So you are super fast at all sights and can enjoy the city. We recommend the Lungarno parking garage, just a few meters from the Ponte Vecchio. Here you have to pass through the ZTL zone, which is normally only allowed for residents, but this is not a problem.

Because the fee for entering the ZTL zone is already included in the daily rate of 32 €. You can find the parking garage here on Google Maps and here is all the information about booking on the official website.

Parking near the old town

If you spend only 1-2 days in Florence, you can park at Piazzale Michelangelo. There you pay about 2 Euro per hour (convenient with the EasyPark app) and are in less than 20 minutes at the hotspots of the city. And when you return to your car, you can watch the phenomenal sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo.

Free parking outside the old town

If you really want to park for free, and you are willing to walk 30-45 minutes to the center of Florence, there are many completely free parking lots outside the city center. Try your luck south of Piazzale Michelangelo.

Best time to visit Florence

Florence is really worth a visit at any time of the year. Summer is the high season here, as this is also the time when many people head to the Italian beaches. In July and August, however, it can easily get up to 35°C, which can make a city trip very exhausting.

Therefore, spring and autumn are recommended where it is still up to 25 ° C warm, but the oppressive heat is no longer there and also at least a little less tourists in Florence are on the road.

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