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  • Writer's pictureNate + Christa

The Best of Firenze: Top Things to do in Florence

Updated: Jun 21

Dreaming of strolling through a local Italian marketplace for artisan cheese and wine, luxury leather handbag shopping, renown renaissance attractions and museums, and some of the best plazas to enjoy people watching over a campari spritz? Located in the heart of Tuscany, Florence is truly one of the most well rounded destinations in all of Europe and a must visit on your next trip to Italy!

If you're still asking yourself if Florence is a good fit on your next trip, we'll breakdown this glorious city and provide an action packed itinerary with all the best things to do in Florence.

Find on the Blog:

Top Museums + Landmarks

Best Restaurants

Our Favorite Rooftop Bars

Top Gelaterie

3 Day Itinerary

Florence is renowned as the birthplace of the Renaissance, making it a treasure trove of art and architecture. The city is home to iconic masterpieces such as Michelangelo's David, Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, and Brunelleschi's Dome. The Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery house some of the world's most significant art collections.

Looking for world class architecture? Florence showcases remarkable architectural wonders. The Florence Cathedral, with its magnificent dome, is an architectural masterpiece. The city's skyline is adorned with beautiful towers, including Giotto's Campanile and Palazzo Vecchio, a medieval fortress-palace that symbolizes the city's political power. During it's peak prominence in the Renaissance era, the opulence and intellectual prowess of Florence is clearly displayed.

The historic center of Florence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a unique and charming atmosphere. Strolling through the narrow, picturesque streets, you'll encounter historic buildings, vibrant piazzas, and quaint shops. The city's layout itself reflects its rich history, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in its medieval past. You can spend 3 days alone just meandering the medieval streets and never get bored!

Of course Florence is steeped in culture and intellectual history. It was a hub for renowned thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, Dante Alighieri, and Niccolò Machiavelli. The city's libraries, universities, and museums continue to foster intellectual and artistic pursuits, creating a vibrant cultural scene. Everywhere you turn, the impressive history of this worldclass city is on display.

You cannot ask for a better location than Florence's given that it's conveniently located in the center of Tuscany, it’s truly an ideal base for exploring the region. Within a short distance, you can visit picturesque Tuscan towns, such as Siena ( the famous Palio di Siena horse race) and San Gimignano (the famous towering plazas clusters together), renowned for their historical importance and captivating beauty. Consider a wine tasting tour from Florence of this region. Also, one of the lesser know but even more impressive is the town of Volterra, known for their ancient Etruscan ruins.

Here is our list of the top things to do and places to eat during your trip:

Top Museums + Landmarks in Florence:

  • Florence Cathedral (Il Duomo): The iconic symbol of Florence, this stunning cathedral features a magnificent dome designed by Brunelleschi, offering breathtaking views of the city. Book a skip-the-line ticket or a ticket to climb to the top of the dome if you're adventurous!

  • Uffizi Gallery: One of the world's most renowned art museums, the Uffizi Gallery houses a vast collection of Renaissance masterpieces, including works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. Consider this guided small group tour with skip-the-line.

  • Galleria dell'Accademia: Home to Michelangelo's famous sculpture, David, the Accademia Gallery showcases a remarkable collection of Renaissance art, including other works by Michelangelo. Take a guided small group tour combining the Accademia Gallery and Duomo if you are short on time.

  • Palazzo Vecchio: This medieval fortress-turned-town hall stands in the heart of Florence. Visit to admire its impressive architecture, beautiful frescoes, and explore the grand Salone dei Cinquecento.

  • Ponte Vecchio: Florence's oldest and most famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio spans the Arno River. Lined with jewelry shops, it offers picturesque views and a romantic atmosphere.

  • Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti): Originally the residence of the influential Medici family, the Pitti Palace now houses several museums and galleries, including the Palatine Gallery, showcasing Renaissance artworks. Skip-the-line with a guide on this small group tour.

  • Boboli Gardens: Adjacent to the Pitti Palace, the Boboli Gardens are a magnificent example of Italian Renaissance gardens, featuring lush greenery, beautiful sculptures, and stunning panoramic views.

  • Basilica of Santa Maria Novella: This Gothic-style church is renowned for its exquisite frescoes and beautiful facade. Inside, you'll find impressive artworks, including Masaccio's famous Trinity.

  • San Lorenzo Market: A bustling market near the Medici Chapels, San Lorenzo Market offers a vibrant atmosphere and a wide range of goods, including leather products, clothing, and local delicacies.

  • Bargello Museum: Housed in a former prison and palace, the Bargello Museum showcases an exceptional collection of sculptures, including works by Donatello and Michelangelo.

  • Basilica di Santa Croce: Known as the "Temple of Italian Glories," this Franciscan church is the final resting place of many notable figures, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli.

  • Medici Chapels: Located in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the Medici Chapels are mausoleums adorned with intricate marble work and sculptures, honoring the Medici family. Consider booking an expert guide for a tour of the chapels.

  • Palazzo Strozzi: An impressive Renaissance palace, Palazzo Strozzi hosts temporary art exhibitions and cultural events, showcasing a diverse range of contemporary and historical works.

  • San Miniato al Monte: Situated on a hill overlooking Florence, this Romanesque church offers stunning views of the city. Its intricate marble facade and beautiful mosaics are worth exploring.

  • Museo dell'Opera del Duomo: Located near the Florence Cathedral, this museum displays original artworks and sculptures from the Duomo, including Ghiberti's famous Gates of Paradise.

  • Palazzo Medici Riccardi: This palace, once home to the Medici family, showcases Renaissance architecture and houses the Medici Riccardi Chapel, featuring beautiful frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli.

  • Museo Galileo: Dedicated to the history of science, the Museo Galileo houses an impressive collection of scientific instruments, including telescopes, astrolabes, and globes.

  • San Marco Museum: Located in the former Dominican monastery, San Marco Museum houses the works of Fra Angelico, including stunning frescoes in each of the monk's cells.

  • Piazzale Michelangelo: A panoramic square situated on a hill, Piazzale Michelangelo offers breathtaking views of Florence's skyline. It's a popular spot to enjoy stunning sunsets.

  • Museo Marino Marini: Located in the deconsecrated church of San Pancrazio, this contemporary art museum displays the works of Marino Marini, an influential Italian sculptor.

Our Favorite Restaurants:

  • Enoteca Pinchiorri - A renowned Michelin three-star restaurant offering an exceptional dining experience with innovative cuisine, an extensive wine list, and elegant surroundings. Website

  • Ora d'Aria - With a Michelin-starred chef at the helm, Ora d'Aria offers a contemporary gastronomic journey with artistic presentations, unique flavors, and a focus on local and seasonal ingredients. Website

  • Il Palagio - Situated within the iconic Four Seasons Hotel, Il Palagio combines Tuscan flavors with modern interpretations, serving exquisite dishes crafted with the freshest ingredients. Website

  • La Giostra - A charming family-owned restaurant with an intimate atmosphere, La Giostra serves Tuscan and international dishes, prepared with passion and served in a cozy setting. Website

  • Trattoria Sostanza - A hidden gem loved by locals, Trattoria Sostanza offers traditional Tuscan cuisine in a rustic and lively setting. Website

  • Borgo San Jacopo - Located along the Arno River, Borgo San Jacopo offers contemporary Italian cuisine with a creative touch. The restaurant boasts stunning views and a stylish ambiance. Website

  • Cibrèo - Led by renowned chef Fabio Picchi, Cibrèo offers a sophisticated dining experience, showcasing Tuscan specialties made with high-quality ingredients and traditional techniques. Website

  • Buca Lapi - Housed in a historic building, Buca Lapi is a traditional Tuscan trattoria serving classic dishes like bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine steak) and homemade pasta in a cozy, rustic atmosphere. Website

  • Il Latini - A beloved institution in Florence, Il Latini offers a lively and convivial atmosphere along with generous portions of traditional Tuscan dishes, including hearty meat and pasta dishes. Website

  • Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco - Nestled in the heart of Florence, this cozy osteria specializes in Tuscan cuisine, including wild boar (cinghiale) dishes, homemade pastas, and a selection of regional wines. Website

  • La Ménagère - A unique and trendy restaurant located in the heart of Florence, Italy. Housed in a beautifully restored former houseware store, it combines a restaurant, café, flower shop, and home decor boutique all under one roof. Website

These restaurants offer a range of culinary experiences, from Michelin-starred fine dining to cozy trattorias, all showcasing the rich flavors and traditions of Tuscan cuisine. Enjoy exploring these fantastic dining options in Florence!

Tip: Sign up for "The Fork" to make reservations and find dining discounts! You will find many restaurants across Europe on here. Earn 2000 Yums (points) for your first reservation on TheFork, and you’ll get a £50 discount on your next meal for signing up!

Looking for a rooftop? Check out these picturesque bars:

  • SE·STO on Arno - Located on the rooftop of The Westin Excelsior Florence, SE·STO on Arno offers breathtaking panoramic views of Florence's skyline and the Arno River. Enjoy creative cocktails, a selection of fine wines, and a menu featuring Mediterranean flavors. Website

  • La Terrazza Lounge Bar - Situated atop the Hotel Continentale, La Terrazza Lounge Bar provides a stunning view of the Ponte Vecchio. The bar offers an extensive list of cocktails and an elegant atmosphere, making it the perfect spot for a romantic evening. Website

  • Rooftop Bar at Hotel Minerva - Perched on the top floor of Hotel Minerva, the Rooftop Bar offers panoramic views of Florence, including the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio. Sip on refreshing drinks, relax by the pool, and soak in the beauty of the city. Website

  • Terrazza Brunelleschi - Situated on the top floor of Hotel Baglioni, Terrazza Brunelleschi provides breathtaking views of Florence's skyline, including the iconic Duomo. Indulge in creative cocktails, a selection of wines, and gourmet cuisine. Website

  • SE·STO on the Roof - Located atop The St. Regis Florence, SE·STO on the Roof is a rooftop restaurant and bar offering stunning views and a sophisticated ambiance. Indulge in gourmet cuisine, creative cocktails, and a selection of fine wines. Website

  • Empireo Rooftop Bar - Situated on the top floor of Hotel Continentale, Empireo Rooftop Bar boasts a stylish and contemporary atmosphere. Savor signature cocktails, unwind with chilled beats, and admire the panoramic views of the city. Website

  • The Penthouse Rooftop Bar - Located on the top floor of Hotel Torre Guelfa, The Penthouse Rooftop Bar offers a cozy and intimate setting with stunning views of Florence's historic center. Enjoy a wide selection of cocktails and a relaxed atmosphere. Website

These rooftop bars provide a wonderful opportunity to sip on refreshing drinks, soak up the beautiful views of Florence, and enjoy a memorable evening in a stylish setting.

Best Gelaterie:

  • Gelateria dei Neri - Known for its rich and creamy gelato, Gelateria dei Neri offers a wide variety of flavors made with high-quality ingredients. Website

  • Perché No! - Since its opening in 1939, Perché No! has been serving artisanal gelato with a commitment to quality and tradition. The name "Perché No!" translates to "Why not!" in English, reflecting the spirit of joy and adventure that comes with enjoying their delicious gelato. Website

  • Vivoli - A historic gelateria with a legacy dating back to 1932, Vivoli is famous for its traditional gelato recipes and top-notch flavors. Website

  • La Carraia - Located near the Ponte alla Carraia, this gelateria is popular among locals and tourists alike. La Carraia offers a wide selection of gelato flavors and generous portions. Website

  • Gelateria Santa Trinita - Situated near the Ponte Santa Trinita, this gelateria delights visitors with its artisanal gelato, made daily with fresh ingredients and traditional techniques. Website

  • Gelateria della Passera - Tucked away in the charming neighborhood of Santo Spirito, Gelateria della Passera serves a range of flavors, including unique combinations and vegan options. Website

  • Gelateria Edoardo - With a focus on organic ingredients and attention to detail, Gelateria Edoardo offers a delicious selection of gelato flavors, including classics and creative options. Website

  • Gelateria La Carraia - Not to be confused with the aforementioned La Carraia, Gelateria La Carraia is another beloved spot for gelato enthusiasts, serving a variety of flavors in a vibrant setting. Website

  • Gelateria dei Medici - Located near the Medici Chapels, Gelateria dei Medici offers artisanal gelato made with high-quality ingredients, including fresh fruit and fine chocolates. Website

  • Gelateria dei Neri 2 - An extension of the original Gelateria dei Neri, Gelateria dei Neri 2 delights visitors with its array of flavors and exceptional gelato craftsmanship. Website

  • Gelateria dei Custodi - Situated in the Oltrarno neighborhood, Gelateria dei Custodi is known for its quality gelato, made with natural ingredients and passion. Website

These gelaterie in Florence offer a delectable array of flavors, ranging from classic favorites to innovative creations. Be sure to visit one or more of these establishments to experience the delight of authentic Italian gelato!

So, what do you do if you’re a young and adventurous couple that wants to maximize their schedule in Florence but only have 3 days to explore? We’ve put together a jam-packed 3 day itinerary to make the most of your visit to Florence!

Day 1:

  • Morning:

  • Start your day at the iconic Florence Cathedral (Duomo). Climb up to the top of Duomo's dome for breathtaking views of the city. This is probably our number one site for an unforgettable trip. Ascend up the narrow stairs, across the narrow boardwalk overhang and on top of the cathedral for the most amazing views! Note- this activity may not be the best if you are claustrophobic or scared of heights, but if you can get through that, it’s well worth it!

  • Explore the nearby Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile.

  • Afternoon:

  • Visit the Uffizi Gallery, home to a vast collection of Renaissance masterpieces. Make sure to book tickets in advance to avoid long queues.

  • Wander through the historic streets and take in the atmosphere of the city center. Definitely stop by a cafe to rest and soak in the people watching over a few aperol or campari spiritz!

  • Evening:

  • Enjoy a romantic dinner at Trattoria Sostanza, known for its delicious Florentine cuisine and cozy atmosphere.

Day 2:

  • Morning:

  • Take a short train ride to the charming town of Fiesole, located in the hills above Florence. Visit the Roman amphitheater and enjoy panoramic views of Florence. Here you will find ancient ruins from the Etruscan period!

  • Afternoon:

  • Return to Florence and head to the Mercato Centrale, a bustling food market. Explore the stalls and indulge in some local specialties. You can’t go wrong so try to sample as much as possible!

  • Sign up for a cooking or pasta making class (we enjoyed this one) where you can learn to prepare traditional Tuscan dishes paired with local Tuscan wines.

  • Evening:

  • Cruise the Ponte Vecchio and take in this original medieval stone bridge that is the only in the city to survive WWII.

  • Consider this sunset wine and food tour to experience Florence's secrets and rich culinary heritage.

Day 3:

  • Morning:

  • Explore the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens, a stunning Renaissance palace and garden complex. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and enjoy the beautiful views.

  • Afternoon:

  • Visit the Oltrarno neighborhood, known for its artisan workshops and boutiques. Explore the charming streets and shop for unique souvenirs.

  • Stop and try gelato from renowned gelaterie like Gelateria dei Neri and Gelateria Santa Trinita. We made a point to have gelato between meals along with a campari spritz to cool down after an extensive day of walking, it’s the Italian way!

  • Evening:

  • Visit the Piazzale Michelangelo for the best sunset view of Florence on your final night.

  • Conclude your trip with a delightful dinner at Il Santo Bevitore, a popular restaurant serving innovative Tuscan dishes with a modern twist.

Don't Forget: Florence is a very popular and busy city, book tickets and make reservations in advance, especially for popular attractions and restaurants!

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