16 Amazing Things to Do in Florence on Your Italian Adventure

Steve Cummings

Florence, Italy

We have compiled a guide on some of the best things to do in Florence.

It's not a very frugal city, with many museums and entrances to all of these that will involve you handing over some of your hard-earned money. However, it is a beautiful city that everyone should visit if they can. 

Be warned, though, that this city can get busy (very busy), and we recommend visiting either side of the main tourist season as it will be a bit cooler and less busy.

1. Climb The Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto)

Campanile di Giotto
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First on our list of things to do in Florence is the bell tower. If you only have the choice or time to climb the bell tower or the Duomo, then we think you should go for the bell tower. This is because you can enjoy the view of Duomo, which is the nicer building to look at from up high. 

Something to be aware of, though, is that it's a massive 414 steps to the top and a very narrow walk up, and in the summer months, it can be jam-packed. The heat is also something to watch out for as it can get very hot.

Our tip is to plan, make sure you book ahead, and, if you can, go for an early morning time slot before it gets too hot. It's also going to be less busy at that time.

2. Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo
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This piazza in Florence offers the best views of Florence and the historic center and has replicas of Michelangelo's famous sculptures, including David.

To get here, you need to climb a steep hill, but the views at the top make it worthwhile, especially at sunset when the area is lit up beautifully. You can take a taxi or a car tour up the hill or even pass by the piazza on a Vespa tour through Tuscany from Florence.

The piazza provides a panoramic view of Florence, the surrounding hills, the River Arno, and a glimpse of the Tuscan countryside. The centerpiece is a bronze statue of David, which is different from the city center's.

3. Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Gallery
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The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is one of the best museums in Florence and is famous for its collection of Italian Renaissance art, with works by artists like Botticelli, Titian, Michelangelo, and da Vinci.

We suggest booking your tickets in advance to avoid entry issues, as it can get hectic like most places on this list. The gallery has some of the most famous paintings in the world, so it's a good idea to think about when you want to visit. Going early can mean you get to see famous paintings, like ‘The Birth of Venus,' without too many people around. 

The art, especially Botticelli's paintings, is impressive in person. You should list what you want to see because there's so much art in the Uffizi. You could spend a few hours here easily, but it's worth it. Also, the toilets are very fancy – with lots of green marble.

4. Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo
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Piazza del Duomo in Florence is one of the main squares in the city, right up there with Piazza della Signoria. 

It's home to some of Florence's most famous buildings, like the Duomo, the Baptistry, and Giotto's Campanile. The square leads into Piazza di San Giovanni, surrounded by restaurants, bars, and places to get gelato. 

It's an excellent place for people to watch the world go by.

The square looks beautiful in the evening, especially when the bell rings.

One tip is to be careful with your things because there can be pickpockets.

5. Galleria dell'Accademia

Galleria dell'Accademia
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The Galleria dell'Accademia is well-known for being the first school of drawing. 

Now it's a museum with a lot of art, but it's most famous for its sculptures by Michelangelo, especially the statue of David. When a member of the Frugal Expat visited Florence, he forgot to plan regarding buying a ticket for here. The only way to get one was through a 3rd party reseller, which cost double the price. Therefore, make sure you buy your ticket about a week in advance.

If you are not interested in David, we don't think you should visit here. David is fantastic, but after you have seen him, there's not much else to do here as you probably only need another 30 minutes or so. 

It's also hard to get a good picture of him as everyone in front of him is trying to take selfies with him.

6. Duomo

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The Duomo is one of the best things to see in Florence and is famous for its vast dome, designed by Brunelleschi, a renowned architect from the Renaissance. If you're up for it, you can climb 463 steps to the top for amazing views of Florence.

When people think of Florence, the Statue of David might come to mind first, but the Duomo is the star for buildings. It's huge when you see it up close, and it's incredible to think about how they built such an immense structure back then. The bell tower and the baptistry go well with the cathedral's design.

It's a good idea to book a tour of the cathedral. It's not just beautiful; it has a fascinating history, and the painted ceiling inside is incredibly stunning. 

 Inside, it's simpler and less decorated, but the paintings inside the dome are beautiful. 

7. Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria
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Piazza della Signoria in Florence is the city's central political spot. It has some significant buildings and monuments, and it's here where you will find the Palazzo Vecchio, the Loggia dei Lanzi, and the Uffizi Gallery.

This square is one of the free things to do in Florence and has things that make you feel like you're back in the Renaissance.

There are many statues, including a copy of the Statue of David. So, if you're short on time or money, you can see the replica here, which we honestly think is just as impressive, with no queue, less money (which we like), and it's higher up, so there are fewer people to get in the way of your photos.

There are other cool statues near the city hall, like the Centaur, Hercules, Perseus, and the famous Fountain of Neptune.

8. The Basilica of Santa Croce

The Basilica of Santa Croce
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The Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence is an extraordinary church known for being the most decorated medieval church in the city. 

Inside, you'll find frescoes by Giotto, a chapel designed by Brunelleschi, and some of the best tombs from the early Renaissance period.

This is the final resting place of some of the greatest minds ever, like Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli, which is quite moving when you are in there.

We recommend doing the audio tour as the history you learn is fascinating, and the basilica is stunningly beautiful. Make this one of your list of things to do in Florence.

9. Mercato Centrale

Mercato Centrale
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The Mercato Centrale in Florence is one of the best places to eat in Florence and is a must-visit for anyone who loves food. 

It's part of the San Lorenzo Market and is famous for showing off some of the best stuff from Tuscany. 

Here, you can find fresh farm produce, cured meats, and cheeses, and it's a great place to buy food souvenirs like truffle oil, honey, and aged balsamic vinegar. 

Inside the market, you'll find many different food vendors and a lively, fresh market outside. 

Everything feels like it's from Tuscany or, specifically, Florence.

10. Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio
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Ponte Vecchio is the most famous bridge in Florence and is known for being lined with shops that are primarily aimed at tourists, and the prices can be a bit over the top just because they are on the Ponte Vecchio. Every shop on the bridge sells jewelry, and there are a few places to buy souvenirs.

People who've seen it in movies or pictures often find it exciting to walk over it, but it can get very busy.

You must be careful of pickpockets, as the bridge can get very crowded and the road surface on the bridge is uneven, so we recommend wearing comfortable shoes.

11. Palazzo Vecchio 

Palazzo Vecchio
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Palazzo Vecchio is the medieval town hall in Piazza della Signoria in Florence and symbolizes the city's power and history. You'll find iconic art frescoes, secret tunnels, and Roman ruins inside.

Built in the early 14th century, Palazzo Vecchio has been a major part of Florence's history for hundreds of years. It used to be the main government building and is now a museum.

Visiting Palazzo Vecchio should be on your must-do things in Florence list. The building is fantastic, and you can learn a lot about the Medici Family and other people living there. Our tip would be to get an audio guide, as the descriptions in each room (in English and Italian) are helpful. 

You can also visit the tower, which will cost you an extra 17 Euros.

12. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
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The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, also known as OPA, is a museum with an extensive collection of over 750 art pieces, including many original works from the Duomo and Baptistery that were moved there to keep them safe.

Make sure to go to the top floor, and there aren't just the toilets up there; you will also get a great view of the Duomo Cathedral from there.

13. Palazzo Pitti

Palazzo Pitti
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Palazzo Pitti is a bit outside the main tourist areas, but it's worth a visit as it's one of the cheapest things to do in Florence.

People choose to go there because it's less crowded than other places and there is something interesting about it. 

Our tip would be to visit on the first Sunday of each month if possible, as it's free to get in! 

You'll find yourself looking up a lot because the artwork on the ceilings is incredible. There's so much to see in Palazzo Pitti; you could easily spend hours walking around and taking it all in.

The gardens are also lovely but pretty hilly, so make sure you wear comfy shoes. 

14. Olive Oil Tasting

olive oil tasting
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This may only be something small, but you should taste some real olive oil while you are in Italy, and it's one of the unique things to do in Florence. A member of the Frugal Expat team did this while in Florence, and they were very impressed it was just something a bit different and random.

These can be found in a few places over the city, but we recommend this one

For about 10 Euros per person, you get to taste three different olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a selection of bread and crisps. 

You will find that the olive oil you try will taste so much different from the store-bought stuff you are used to buying.

15. Archea Brewery

Archea Brewery is the best place for beer in Florence. It is just a short walk from Santo Spirito Square and is an excellent brewpub. 

Most people find Archea Brewery by chance, and it's an excellent place to stop for a drink and a break, especially after a long day of walking in the Florence heat. 

If you are unsure what beer is for you, just ask one of the bartenders, as they are very friendly and knowledgeable about beer.

One of the most popular ones is Archea Black Tower IPA (6.2%). 

16. Degusteria Italiana agli Uffizi

Degusteria Italiana Agli Uffizi is Mitchelin's star restaurant and one of the best restaurants in Florence.

They focus on making dishes using top-quality ingredients like cheeses, truffles, and wild game, and they also have a great selection of famous Italian wines. This restaurant is all about celebrating the best of Italian and Florentine food.

The chef and kitchen staff put much effort into making elaborate dishes, paying attention to how different flavors work together. 

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, Florence should be at the top of your list when visiting Italy. There are more than 16 things to do, and the list is probably closer to 50. Is there anything else you would like to see on the list please let us know in the comments below?

Related: 10 Beautiful Italian Cities To Add To Your Bucket List in 2024

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