Things to do in Florence Italy: The Don’t Miss List

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As a city rich in culture, art, and architecture, there’s no shortage of things to do in Florence, Italy— but what are the ones that are on the “don’t miss list?” Keep reading to find out.

What’s the “don’t miss list”? These are the touristic things to do in Florence that you’ll wanna hit while you’re in the Tuscan capital.

Not into touristy? Check out these unique things to do in Florence Italy and if you’re only going to be in Florence for the day, check out my One-day Florence Itinerary.

Things to do in Florence Italy:

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Visit the Uffizi Gallery:

The Uffizi Gallery is a world-renowned art museum and one of the most famous things to do in Florence. It was founded in 1581 by the Medici family and is one of the oldest art museums in the world. The Uffizi’s collection includes masterpieces from the 13th to 18th centuries, including works by Botticelli, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

Some of the most famous works on display include Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera,” and Raphael’s “Madonna of the Goldfinch.” The Uffizi is world renowned for its impressive collection of Renaissance art, including many works by the artists of the Florentine school such as Giotto, Fra Angelico, and Filippo Lippi.

The museum is huge, so plan to spend a good amount of time there— there’s a cafe that has a rooftop seating area that has great views of Palazzo Vecchio and the duomo in the distance. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Italy and receives millions of visitors each year— so you’ll want to get tickets in advance or you’ll be waiting in long lines.

There are several ways to get tickets to the Uffizi Gallery:

  1. Online: You can purchase tickets to the Uffizi Gallery online from the official website of the museum. This is the most convenient way to get tickets as it allows you to avoid waiting in line at the museum.

  2. In-person: You can purchase tickets in person at the museum’s ticket office, but be aware that there may be long lines, particularly during peak tourist season.

  3. Tour Operators: You can also purchase tickets through tour operators that offer guided tours of the Uffizi Gallery. These tours typically include skip-the-line access to the museum. This is my favorite.

  4. Accademia and Uffizi combined tickets: you can also buy a combined ticket for Accademia Gallery and Uffizi Gallery at a discounted price.

Palazzo Vecchio:

Palazzo Vecchio is a palace located in the heart of Florence, Italy. It is one of the most important and iconic buildings in the city. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting Florence, it’s a great place to learn about the city’s history and culture, and to see some of the most beautiful works of art in the city.

Palazzo Vecchio is characterized by its impressive architecture, which is a mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles, it also has a bell tower that you can climb, which offers great views over the city.

It was once the residence of the Medici family and the seat of government for the Republic of Florence. Today it’s a museum that is home to many beautiful works of art, such as frescoes by Vasari and Zuccari, and sculptures by Donatello and Verrocchio.

If you’re a Dan Brown fan, you’ll recognize the Palazzo Vecchio from Dantes Inferno, and you can even sign up for a Dan Brown Inspired Tour of The Palace— which is a unique take on the more touristic things to do in Florence.

To get tickets to visit Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, you can purchase them online through the official website of the palace or at the ticket office located at the entrance of the palace on the day of your visit.

It is recommended to purchase tickets in advance to avoid long lines and ensure entry on the day and time of your choice. Keep in mind that the palace is closed on certain days so please check the official website or call before you plan your visit.

The Duomo:

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo, is arguably the most famous landmark in Florence.

The Duomo is considered one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in Italy and it’s a must-see attraction for visitors to Florence. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s open to the public, you can take guided tours of the cathedral or explore it independently.

Construction of the Duomo began in 1296 under the direction of Arnolfo di Cambio and was completed in 1436. The dome of the cathedral, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, is considered an engineering marvel and is an important example of Renaissance architecture. The cathedral’s exterior is decorated with intricate sculptures and embellishments.

Visiting the inside of the Duomo is free and visitors can admire the beautiful frescoes and artwork, including works by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari. The cathedral also houses several chapels, including the Cappella dei Pazzi, which is known for its beautiful frescoes and the Cappella dei Magi, which features a famous painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio.

With an entrance ticket, you can can also climb to the top of the dome for panoramic views of the city, and also, they can visit the Baptistery and the Bell tower, which are located next to the Duomo and they are also open to the public.

Climbing the Duomo:

One of the best things to do in Florence is to Climb the Duomo.

There are two ways to reach the top of the Duomo:

  1. Climbing the stairs: You can climb the 463 steps to the top of the dome, which takes around 45 minutes. This option is not recommended for those with mobility issues.

  2. Taking the elevator: You can take an elevator to the base of the dome and then climb the remaining steps to the top. This option is recommended for those who are unable to climb the stairs or for those who want to avoid the climb.

When climbing the dome, You should be prepared for tight spaces and steep stairs, and it’s recommended to wear comfortable shoes and to be in good physical condition.

It’s also worth noting that there are restrictions on the number of people who can climb the dome at one time, and there may be lines and waiting times, especially during peak tourist season, so it’s recommended to plan your visit in advance and to purchase tickets online.

Once at the top, you’ll find panoramic views of the city and its terra cotta roofs. Climbing the Duomo is a unique and exciting way to take in the beauty of the city’s architecture and art.

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The Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio, which means old bridge in Italian, is a medieval stone arch bridge that spans the Arno River in Florence, Italy. It is one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks in the city and is one of the few bridges in Europe to have survived World War II. The bridge is lined with shops selling jewelry and other luxury goods.

The bridge’s origins date back to Roman times, but the current structure was built in the 14th century. It is believed that the bridge was used by the wealthy Florentines to walk across the river to reach the Palazzo Pitti, which was the residence of the powerful Medici family.

Ponte Vecchio was also known for its butcher shops, but they were removed in the 16th century for their stench and replaced by goldsmiths and jewelers.

See the David

One of the most famous sculptures in the world, Michelangelo’s David, is located in the Galleria dell’Accademia. Visiting it is one of the top things to do in Florence.

The statue depicts the Biblical hero David, who is famous for defeating the giant Goliath. The statue was commissioned by the city of Florence in the early 16th century and was completed by Michelangelo in 1504.

The original statue of David was located in the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, but it was later moved to the Accademia Gallery for preservation. Today, you can still see a replica of the statue in the Piazza della Signoria.

The statue is considered one of the greatest works of art of the Renaissance period and one of the most famous sculptures in the world. It’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in Florence, and one of the most important works of art in Italy.

To visit the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy, you can purchase tickets in advance through the official website of the gallery or at the ticket office located at the entrance of the gallery on the day of your visit.

It is recommended to purchase tickets in advance to avoid long lines and ensure entry on the day and time of your choice. You can also purchase a Florence Museum card, which allows you to enter several museums in Florence, including the Galleria dell’Accademia and the Uffizi Gallery. You should also consider the time you want to visit the gallery, as it can get quite busy during peak tourist season.

Keep in mind that the gallery is closed on Mondays and certain other days, so please check the official website or call before you plan your visit. It is also recommended to book an audio guide to enhance your experience.

Palazzo Pitti

Palazzo Pitti is a large palace located in Florence, Italy. It was originally built in the 15th century for the Florentine banker Luca Pitti, but it was later acquired by the Medici family, one of the most powerful and influential families in Renaissance Florence. The palace served as the main residence of the Medici Grand Dukes and their court, and it was later used by the ruling families of the Kingdom of Italy.

The palace is a complex of several buildings, gardens, and museums. It is home to several art collections, including works by Raphael, Titian, and Caravaggio, as well as a large collection of porcelain and other decorative arts. The palace also features several beautiful gardens, including the Boboli Gardens, which are considered to be some of the most beautiful gardens in Italy.

Palazzo Pitti is considered one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Florence and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visit the Santa Croce Church

Santa Croce is a basilica church located in Florence, Italy. The church was built in the 13th century and was originally intended to be a Franciscan monastery. It’s considered one of the most important examples of Tuscan Gothic architecture and one of the most visited churches in Florence.

The church is known for its impressive frescoes and artwork, including works by Giotto and Cimabue, and it’s also known for its chapels, which are dedicated to famous figures such as Dante Alighieri, Galileo Galilei, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli. It’s also home to the tombs of some of the most important people in the history of Florence and Italy, such as the tomb of Dante Alighieri, Galileo Galilei, and Michelangelo.

How to visit Santa Croce Church

Visiting Santa Croce Church in Florence, Italy is a relatively simple process. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your visit:

  1. Check the opening hours: Santa Croce Church is open to the public, but it has specific opening hours that vary depending on the day of the week and season. It’s recommended to check the opening hours in advance and plan your visit accordingly.

  2. Purchase a ticket: Entry to Santa Croce Church requires a ticket, which can be purchased at the church’s ticket office or online in advance. Prices vary depending on the type of ticket and whether you want to access the chapels or not.

  3. Dress appropriately: Santa Croce Church is a religious site, and visitors are expected to dress respectfully. This means covering your shoulders and legs and removing hats or hoods.

  4. Be aware of tour groups: Santa Croce Church is a popular tourist destination, and it can get crowded, especially during peak tourist season. Be aware of tour groups, and plan your visit accordingly to avoid crowds.

  5. Guided tours: Guided tours of Santa Croce Church are available, and they are a great way to learn more about the church’s history and art. Guided tours can be booked in advance or on the spot.

  6. Accessibility: Santa Croce Church is accessible to visitors with disabilities, but keep in mind that some areas of the church may be difficult to access due to stairs.

Take a walk through the Oltrarno

Oltrarno is a neighborhood in Florence, Italy, on the opposite side of the Arno River from the main tourist attractions. The name “Oltrarno” means “beyond the Arno” and refers to the fact that it is on the opposite side of the river from the city’s historic center.

Oltrarno is known for its charming streets, picturesque piazzas, and historic buildings, including several palaces and churches, such as the Church of Santo Spirito and the Palazzo Pitti. It’s also known for its artisans’ workshops, where you can see artisans at work creating traditional crafts such as leather goods, jewelry, and ceramics.

The neighborhood is also known for its lively atmosphere and its many bars, restaurants, and cafes. It is considered one of the most authentic and traditional areas of Florence and it’s a great place to experience the city’s culture, customs, and daily life.

Oltrarno is also known for its green spaces, such as the Boboli Gardens, Bardini Gardens and the Rose Garden, which are all located in the area and are popular with visitors.

Oltrarno is a popular spot for visitors who want to experience a different side of Florence and it’s a great place to explore the city’s art, culture, and history. It’s also a great place to stay if you want to be close to the city’s main attractions while still being in a more peaceful and residential area

Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo is a terraced piazza located in Florence that sits above the city, giving the absolute best views of the city. It’s a great place to watch the sunset over the city, and enjoy the musicians that play there while sipping a glass of wine (you can bring a bottle or buy it from the little stand up there)

The Piazzale Michelangelo is also home to the Rose Garden, which is a beautiful park that features a large collection of roses and other plants. The Rose Garden is open from April to October and it’s a great place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature while also experiencing the history and culture of Florence.

There are a few ways to get to Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy:

  1. By bus: The Piazzale Michelangelo is easily accessible by bus. The number 12 and 13 bus lines run from the city center to the Piazzale Michelangelo and they stop at the base of the hill.

  2. By foot: The Piazzale Michelangelo is also accessible by foot. The walk is uphill, but the views of the city are beautiful and it takes around 20-30 minutes from the city center.

  3. By car: You can also drive to Piazzale Michelangelo, there is a parking lot at the top of the hill, but it is limited and it can be difficult to find a spot during peak tourist season.

  4. By bike: You can also rent a bike and ride to Piazzale Michelangelo, it’s a great way to enjoy the views of the city while getting some exercise.

  5. By taxi or car service: You can also take a taxi or car service to the Piazzale Michelangelo. Keep in mind that during peak tourist season, it can be difficult to find a taxi, and it can be more expensive.

It’s worth noting that the Piazzale Michelangelo is situated on a hill, so it’s recommended to wear comfortable shoes and be in good physical condition if you’re planning to walk.

Visit the Leather Market

The most famous place to shop for leather goods in Florence is the San Lorenzo Market, located near the central train station and directly outside of the Mercato Centrale. The market is home to dozens of vendors selling leather products of all types and at various price ranges.

It is also worth noting that there are a lot of counterfeit products, especially in the streets near most touristic places, so it’s important to be careful when buying leather goods in Florence and to look for the “Made in Italy” label, which indicates that the product is authentic and of good quality.

Surrounding the leather market you’ll find many little leather workshops and factories, where you can see the process of leather production and purchase directly from the craftsmen. The leather workshops usually have a small store next to the workshop and it’s a great way to see the leather production process and buy an authentic, handcrafted product.

Visit the Mercato Centrale

Mercato Centrale, also known as Central Market, is a historic food market that has been recently renovated. It is one of the oldest and most famous food markets in the city and is known for its wide variety of high-quality products, including meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, cheese, and more.

The market is divided into two main sections: the upper level, known as the “Mercato di San Lorenzo,” which sells mainly restaurants and street food, and the lower level, known as the “Mercato Centrale,” which sells mainly food products, produce and souvenirs.

The Mercato di San Lorenzo is a great place to try some traditional Tuscan food, including the famous “panino con lampredotto,” a sandwich filled with slow-cooked tripe. You can also find different types of meat, fish, cheese, olive oil and wine.

It’s a great place to experience the local culture and to buy fresh, authentic, and high-quality products. It’s a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, who come to admire the vibrant atmosphere and buy the freshest ingredients for their Tuscan meals.

Boboli Gardens

The Boboli Gardens are situated behind the Palazzo Pitti and were designed in the 16th century for the Medici Family. They are one of the most beautiful and important gardens in Italy.

The Boboli Gardens feature a wide variety of plants and trees, including cypresses, pines, and roses. They also feature several sculptures, fountains, and architectural structures, such as the famous “Grotto of the Buontalenti” and the “Isolotto” a small artificial island.

The gardens also include several terraces and viewpoints that offer panoramic views of the city of Florence. They’re a great place to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. Relaxing in the shade of the trees is one of the most popular things to do in Florence’s summer season when it gets hot.

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