Julie Italy 3 Comments

Home to the amazing Uffizi Gallery and Michelangelo’s David, famous piazzas and historic bridges, towers to climb, and of course, the Duomo, there are many wonderful things to do in Florence.

Florence is a relatively small, compact city but there is a lot to do here. To get to everything on this list, it would take you about four to five busy days.

If you are planning your first visit to Florence and have just a few days, take a look at our article Things to Do on Your First Visit to Florence. It lists the top 10 things to do in Florence, the perfect list for those with limited time.

This article goes deeper into what you can do in Florence. Visit beautiful gardens with amazing views of Florence, tour the numerous cathedrals in the city center, and visit one or two rooftop bars in Florence.

We do our best to keep the hours of operation and pricing up to date for each attraction, however, these can change at any time. I recommend getting updated hours and pricing for your dates of travel. The link to the official website is provided for each site.

Interesting Facts about Florence

Florence (Firenze in Italian) is known for being the birthplace of the Renaissance. From 1450 to 1527, artists such as Cimabue, Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Donatello, and Brunelleschi painted, sculpted, and designed the cathedrals and domes, not only in Florence but throughout Italy.

Many of this Renaissance artwork is on display in various museums and cathedrals in Florence, including the Uffizi Gallery, the Opera del Duomo Museum, the Bargello, the Baptistery, and the Florence Cathedral.

Florence is a relatively small, compact city. In the historic city center, which is a maze of narrow streets and piazzas, you will find the majority of Florence’s top sights.

The historic center of Florence is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only will you see buildings that date back to the Renaissance, but also the 14th century medieval walls that once protected the city.

The Arno River runs through Florence. Ponte Vecchio is the most famous bridge crossing this river. On the north side of the river, you will find many of important cathedrals and museums in Florence. The south side of the Arno River is where you will see villas, gardens, and viewpoints for sweeping vistas of Florence. You can get an idea of where things are located on our Florence map, near the end of this guide (or skip ahead now).

Arno River | Best Things to Do in Florence

Arno River

Best Things to Do in Florence

In no particular order, here is our list of the best things to do in Florence. At the end of this list, you can see all of them on a map.

1. The Florence Cathedral

The Florence Cathedral, also called the Duomo di Firenze and Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, is one of the most recognizable cathedrals in the world.

Florence Cathedral | Best Things to Do in Florence

Florence Cathedral


Florence Duomo Interior | Best Things to Do in Florence

Inside the Florence Cathedral

Construction began in 1296 but it took until 1436 for most of the structure to be completed.

Brunelleschi built the dome, taking inspiration from the dome of the Pantheon in Rome, with construction lasting from 1420 to 1436. This dome is considered to be one of the most important Renaissance projects and seeing this dome, both inside and out, is one of the best things to do in Florence.

The Duomo is just one part of what is called the monumental complex of Santa Maria del Fiore. This “complex” includes not only the cathedral, but also a museum, the bell tower, the dome, the baptistery, and Santa Reparata. Some of these will show up later in this guide because they are also essential things to do in Florence. For more information, read our detailed guide on How to Visit the Florence Cathedral.

How to Visit the Florence Cathedral
It is free to enter the cathedral. You do not need a ticket.
The entrance is at the front of the cathedral and the line wraps around the left side of the building. There tends to be a line all day, with the longest lines from mid-morning through early afternoon.
However, this line tends to move fast, so don’t be discouraged. I got in line midday, getting in line near Porta della Mandorla (which is the entrance for the dome climb) and waited about 15 minutes to enter the cathedral.
Once inside, the cathedral looks rather barren, at least compared to places like St. Mark’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Basilica. Some stained-glass windows were designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti, as well as paintings and frescoes within the cathedral. And while you are here, make sure you gaze up at the dome.

2. Climb the Steps to the Top of the Dome

Climbing the steps to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome, which sits atop the Duomo, is one of the most popular things to do in Florence.

Brunelleschi constructed the dome between 1420 and 1436. The ceiling of the dome was painted with scenes from The Last Judgement from 1572 to 1579, mainly by Giorgio Vasari. Vasari died during this time and the dome paintings were completed by Frederico Zuccari, Bartolomeo Carducci, Domenico Passignano, and Stefano Pieri.

The Duomo and the dome are considered to be one of the most important projects during the Renaissance.

To climb to the top of the dome, you will walk up 463 steps. These can be steep, narrow, and winding at times and there is no elevator.

On the way up, you will walk on a walkway around the base of the dome, which gives you a great view of the frescoes of The Last Judgement.

The Last Judgement Florence | Best Things to Do in Florence

The Last Judgement frescoes

After you see the frescoes, it is still quite a few staircases to the very top, and these can be very narrow.

Once on top of the dome, you get 360° views of Florence, making this one of the best viewpoints of this city.

Florence Dome View | Best Things to Do in Florence

The view from the dome

How to Visit Brunelleschi’s Dome: You must make a reservation in advance. You cannot just walk up and get in line for the dome. In order to do the dome climb, purchase the Brunelleschi Ticket online and you will be prompted to reserve a time slot.
The Brunelleschi Ticket also covers the other sites of the monumental complex of Santa Maria del Fiore and you have 3 days to visit everything. Learn more about the ticket types on our Guide to the Florence Cathedral.
In September, we had no problems booking our dome climb two days in advance. In the summer, when Florence is a little busier, I recommend booking your dome climb earlier than this, maybe 5 to 7 days in advance. Keep an eye on the weather because the dome will close during thunderstorms.
If time slots are sold out for your visit, you can join a tour of the duomo that includes the dome climb.

3. Visit the Baptistery of San Giovanni

This is also included as part of the Duomo complex. If you purchase the Brunelleschi Pass to climb the dome, your entrance into the Baptistery is included. The Baptistery is the octagonal building that sits in front of the Duomo.

The Baptistery is older than the cathedral. Built between 1059 and 1128, it was constructed in a Florentine Romanesque style.

The Baptistery is famous for its three sets of bronze doors. Ghiberti created the north doors and the east doors (the Gates of Paradise) and Andrea Pisano created the south doors.

The original Gates of Paradise doors are located in the Opera del Duomo Museum. What you see at the Baptistery is a replica.

Florence Baptistery Doors

Replica of the Gates of Paradise doors


Florence Baptistery

Inside the Baptistery

A visit inside of the Baptistery is relatively quick (10 to 15 minutes) and it is absolutely worth it to see the golden mosaic ceiling.

4. Opera del Duomo Museum

This museum displays a lot of the artwork that once adorned the Baptistery, the Bell Tower, and the cathedral.

On display are Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise doors created for the Baptistery, an exhibit on the construction of the dome, and a replica of cathedral façade.

Gates of Paradise Doors

The original Gates of Paradise doors

This museum is part of the Duomo complex and is included on the Brunelleschi Pass. It is located behind the Florence Cathedral.

5. Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower

For another breathtaking view of Florence, climb the 414 steps to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower. This tower sits next to the front of the cathedral. To get to the top, you will climb a long series of staircases and along the way, can stop at several terraces for a break and a view of Florence.

There is no elevator…it’s just one long stair climb to the top.

This was once one of our favorite views in Florence. On our first visit here, we had an unobstructed view and could take magnificent photos (the photo below). However, a black mesh fencing has been added around the top of the bell tower, so you can no longer take photos from here without also photographing this mesh barrier if you have a DSLR camera. However, a phone with a small camera should be able to take photos without capturing the mesh barrier.

Florence Cathedral Dome | Best Things to Do in Florence

The view of the dome from Giotto’s Bell Tower

I still think it’s worth it for the view, especially since you have a great view of the dome from this spot. A visit here typically lasts 45 minutes and it is included on the Brunelleschi Pass.

6. Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo is the piazza that sits in front of the Duomo. This is a busy place from 9 am through sunset, as thousands of visitors are touring the Duomo, museum, Baptistery, and bell tower.

Piazza del Duomo Florence

Piazza del Duomo

While you are here, it is well worth your time to walk around the Cathedral, gaze up at the dome, and take lots of photos. You also get a gorgeous view of the duomo from near the Baptistery.

For the lowest crowds, get here by 8 am. Evenings around 9 pm and later also tend to be less busy.

7. Piazza della Signoria

This large, open square sits in front of Palazzo Vecchio. On the square there are a few important things to see.

Piazza della Signoria | Best Things to Do in Florence

Piazza della Signoria

Loggia dei Lanzi. This is an open-air sculpture gallery of Renaissance art.

The Statue of David. Sitting on the square, near Palazzo Vecchio, is a replica of Michelangelo’s statue of David.

The Neptune Fountain. This fountain was commissioned by the Medici family and was completed in 1574. It recently underwent a restoration project and unfortunately it is frequently the target of vandals.

8. Climb the Tower of Palazzo Vecchio

The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and it sits on Piazza della Signoria. Things to do here include touring the museum, taking a tour of the Roman Ruins, or, you can do our favorite activity, climb the Arnolfo Tower for one of the best views of Florence.

This is one of our favorite views of Florence, since this is one of the best spots to get a great photo of the Florence Cathedral.

Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio


Florence Italy

The view from the Arnolfo Tower

How to Visit Palazzo Vecchio:
Cost: Museum €12.50, Tower €12.50; included on the Firenze Card
More Information: Visit the official website for full details on hours, tours, and to purchase your tickets

9. The Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is not only one of the most important art museums in Italy, it’s also one of the largest art museums in the world.

Uffizi Gallery | Best Things to Do in Florence

Uffizi Gallery

This museum contains thousands of Renaissance works of art, donated to Florence by the Medici family. The Uffizi is also one of the oldest museums in the world, opening in 1865.

On display are works of art by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Cimabue, Michelangelo, Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio, and many more.

How to Visit the Uffizi Gallery:
Cost: €25; included on the Firenze Card (advance reservation required)
Hours: 8:15 am – 6:30 pm Wednesday through Sunday; 8:15 am – 9:30 pm Tuesday; closed Monday
Website: Make your reservation online in advance on the official website or through GetYourGuide. Through GetYourGuide, you can cancel your reservation up to 24 hours in advance and get a full refund.

10. The Vasari Corridor

The Vasari Corridor is an elevated, enclosed walkway that connects Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti. It was constructed in 1565 to allow the Grand Duke to walk from his palace to Palazzo Vecchio. The walkway passes through the Uffizi Gallery, past the church of Santa Felicita, and over the Ponte Vecchio.

Vasari Corridor

The path of the Vasari Corridor is marked with the white line.

For many years, this corridor has been closed to the public. The Vasari Corridor recently underwent a major restoration project and it can only be visited on a guided tour. Learn more here.

11. Stroll across Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio, which means “old bridge,” is a medieval stone bridge that spans the Arno River. For centuries, shops have lined the sides of the bridge. Now, most of these shops sell jewelry.

This is a pedestrian bridge. Near the center of the bridge you get views looking in both directions along the Arno River. The Vasari Corridor runs along the top level of Ponte Vecchio.

Ponte Vecchio Photo | Best Things to Do in Florence

Ponte Vecchio


Ponte Vecchio Florence

Overlooking Ponte Vecchio from La Terrazza rooftop bar


Ponte Vecchio Shops | Best Things to Do in Florence

Ponte Vecchio

12. Visit the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens

The Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens sit on the south side of the Arno River.

The Pitti Palace is a palace built in 1457 by Brunelleschi for the Pitti family. In 1550, it was purchased by Cosimo I de’ Medici as the new Grand Ducal residence. Now, the palace contains five museums: the Museum of Russian Icons, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, the Imperial and Royal Apartments, the Museum of Costume and Fashion, and the Gallery of Modern Art.

Boboli Gardens sits behind the Pitti Palace. The gardens contain numerous Renaissance statues and fountains. From these gardens, you also get a very nice view of Florence.

Boboli Gardens

Boboli Gardens

How to Visit the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens:
Cost: €10 for Boboli Gardens; €16 for Pitti Palace; €22 for a combined ticket; included on the Firenze Card
Hours: Boboli Gardens opens at 8:15 am; closing time varies depending upon the season; Pitti Palace is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:15 am to 6:30 pm
Website: Visit the official website for updated hours and pricing for Boboli Gardens and the Pitti Palace. Reservations are required on Saturdays and public holidays.

13. The Bardini Gardens

The Bardini Gardens (also called Giardino Bardini) is the Renaissance garden of Villa Bardini. It makes a nice alternative to the busier Boboli Gardens.

This garden is located on the same hill as Boboli Gardens. The Bardini Gardens are much smaller, but because of their location, offer a better view of Florence.

On a visit here, there are two things to do: stroll through the gardens and visit the villa.

Inside of the villa there are art exhibits in the various rooms. Our favorite part was the terrace on the top of the villa with its stunning panoramic views of Florence.

Villa Bardini View of Florence | Best Things to Do in Florence

The view from Villa Bardini

In Bardini Gardens, make sure you see the Wisteria pergola. The wisteria was brought here from China by Marco Polo. It blooms in April and May but is pretty all year round (our photo was taken in September).

Wisteria Pergola in September

The Wisteria Pergola in September

At the top of the pergola is a wide terrace with another view of Florence (although the view from the top of the villa is much better) and a small restaurant.

Villa Bardini Terrace Florence | Best Things to Do in Florence

View from the terrace at Bardini Gardens

How to Visit the Bardini Gardens: Enter through Villa Bardini. To get here, it is an uphill walk on Costa San Giorgio from near Ponte Vecchio (you will pass the house of Galileo Galilei on this walk). Tickets cost €10 for the gardens and €10 for the villa. The Bardini Gardens are included in the ticket for Boboli Gardens. Get updates on the official website.

14. Porta San Niccoló

Porta San Niccolòo, also called the Tower of San Niccolo, is one of the remains of the defensive walls of Florence. It is located on the south side of Arno River, within walking distance of Piazzale Michelangelo and the Rose Garden (both of which are mentioned next).

Porta San Niccolo

This was closed during our visit, but it is possible to go to top of the tower on a guided tour. I imagine that the view would be awesome, from its position on the Arno River.

It is only open for tours in the summer months. According to the sign at the base of the tower, tours run from the end of June through the end of September, between the hours of 4 pm and 8 pm. An advance reservation is necessary, which you can do on the official website.

15. Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is free to visit and offers a unique view of Florence. It is located on a hillside, above Porta San Niccolò and just below Piazzale Michelangelo.

Florence Rose Garden

View from the Florence Rose Garden

We entered at Autorita Di Ambito Ato Toscana Centro, on Viale Giuseppe Poggi. It only takes a few minutes to walk through the gardens. Once you are finished, there is a path that leads up the hillside to Piazzale Michelangelo.

16. Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the best viewpoints of Florence. It’s a beautiful spot all day and one of the best places in Florence to watch the sunset. Here is the view during the day:

Piazzale Michelangelo Daytime View | Best Things to Do in Florence

Piazzale Michelangelo during the day

And here is the view at sunset:

Piazzale Michelangelo

The view just after sunset

At Piazzale Michelangelo, there is also a small restaurant. Standing in the upper parking lot is another replica of Michelangelo’s statue of David.

17. San Miniato al Monte

San Miniato al Monte (St. Minias on the Mountain) is a basilica that stands on one of the highest points of Florence.

It is located on the hillside above Piazzale Michelangelo and it takes about 10 minutes to walk here.

From the terrace in front of the basilica you get another amazing panoramic view of Florence. The view is beautiful but we think that the view from Piazzale Michelangelo is better, so if you only have the time and energy for one viewpoint out this way, we recommend Piazzale Michelangelo.

You can also visit the inside of the church and stroll through the cemetery that surrounds the basilica.

San Miniato al Monte

San Miniato al Monte


Views of Florence Photo | Best Things to Do in Florence

The view from San Miniato al Monte


San Miniato al Monte View

Another view from San Miniato al Monte

PRO TRAVEL TIP: From here, it is a long walk to get back to the historic heart of Florence (about a 30-minute walk but mostly downhill or flat). You can walk back to Piazzale Michelangelo and try to hire a taxi.

18. Basilica di Santa Croce

The Basilica of Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is important in that it is the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Dante Alighieri, Machiavelli, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and the composer Rossini. There are also works of art by Giorgio Vasari (the tomb of Michelangelo), Giotto (frescoes and an altarpiece), and Cimabue (Crucifixion).

Basilica di Santa Croce

Basilica di Santa Croce


Tomb of Michelangelo

Michelangelo’s tomb

 Tomb of Galileo | Best Things to Do in Florence

Galileo’s tomb


Cimabue Crucifixion

The Crucifixion by Cimabue

How to Visit the Basilica di Santa Croce: It is open every day of the week although hours vary by day and on holidays. Get updated information on the official website.

19. The Brancacci Chapel

Also called the “Sistine Chapel of the early Renaissance,” this small chapel contains numerous frescoes painted by Masolino da Panicale and Masaccio.

Brancacci Chapel

Brancacci Chapel | Anna Pakutina/shutterstock.com

The chapel is located inside of Santa Maria del Carmine Church. An advance reservation is required and it is only open 4 days a week. Learn more on the official website.

20. The Galileo Museum

This is a great museum for kids. When we visited Florence when Tyler and Kara were 11 and 9, this was one of their favorite experiences in the city.

Galileo Museum | Best Things to Do in Florence

Galileo Museum

Museo Galileo contains telescopes used by Galileo, a huge collection of terrestrial and celestrial globes and armillary spheres, and even the middle finger of Gallileo’s right hand.

This museum is worth it for those with an interest in science or Galileo, or those traveling with kids.

How to Visit the Galileo Museum: This museum sits on the Arno River next to the Uffizi Gallery. Get updated hours and purchase your ticket in advance on the official website.

21. The Bargello

Housed in the oldest public building in Florence, the Bargello contains Renaissance masterpieces by Michelangelo, Ghiberti, and Donatello as well as ceramics, tapestries, coins, and armor.

Michelangelo’s statue of Bacchus is located on the ground floor of the museum.

Bargello Museum

Bargello Museum


Bargello Museum Sculptures

Michelangelos Bacchus

Michelangelo’s Bacchus

How to Visit the Bargello Museum
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday 8:15 am to 1:50 pm with last entry at 1:00 pm; Saturdays 8:15 am to 6:50 pm
Cost: €10 plus a €3 booking fee; included on the Firenze Card
Website: Get updated hours and pricing here.

22. Piazza della Repubblica

This is one of the main squares in Florence. It is just a short walk from the Florence Cathedral. Sitting around the square are several cafes, a great place to take a break and grab a bite to eat or something to drink. Kids will love the carousel that sits in the center of the piazza.

Piazza della Repubblica Florence | Best Things to Do in Florence

Piazza della Repubblica

For a unique view from this area, go inside the Rinascente department store, ride the elevator to the top floor, and visit Tosca & Nino, a rooftop bar with a view of the Duomo.

Tosca and Nino Rooftop Bar Florence

The view from Tosca & Nino

23. See David at Galleria dell’Accademia

Galleria dell’Accademia (also called the Accademia Gallery) is best known for Michelangelo’s statue of David. This statue once stood outside on Piazza della Signoria, but was moved here in 1873.

Michelangelos David

The statue of David is a masterpiece, one of the most famous works of art in the world. Seeing the sculpture in person is an awesome experience and the amount of detail is astounding! We could clearly see the veins on David’s arms, the definition of all of his muscles, and the expression on his face.

If you can tear yourself away from David, there are more things to see inside of this art museum, such as other sculptures by Michelangelo and paintings from other Florentine artists.

How to Visit Galleria dell’Accademia
Cost: €16; included on the Firenze Card (advance reservation required)
Hours: 8:15 am – 6:50 pm; closed Mondays
Website: Get more information and the link to purchase your tickets in advance on the official website.
More Ticket Sellers: You can also purchase an entry ticket through GetYourGuide or take a guided tour of the gallery. The last we checked, tickets purchased on the GetYourGuide website can be canceled up to 24 hours in advance with a full refund.

Italy Travel Guide Rome

24. The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

This is one of the oldest basilicas in Florence and it is filled with artworks from famous Renaissance artists.

The pulpit was designed by Brunelleschi and created by his adopted son Andrea Cavalcanti. Masaccio painted The Holy Trinity, a masterpiece that displays the importance of mathematics and perspective in Renaissance art. There are also numerous chapels with frescoes, a sacristy that contains Crucifix with the Madonna and John the Evangelist by Giotto, and the beautifully painted Spanish Chapel.

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella | Best Things to Do in Florence

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

How to Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
Website: Hours vary by season and day of the week. Get updated hours and pricing here.

25. Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

There are a lot of stores selling perfume in Florence, but this one goes above and beyond the other shops with its gorgeous setting and elaborate decorations.

Oficina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

Florence Perfume Shop

It is sometimes referred to as the ‘oldest pharmacy in the world.’ It started in 1221, when monks began creating elixirs and balms with herbs and flowers. Over the centuries, many different creams, medicines, and lozenges were made here. Now, it is a retail store, tea room, and museum. For sale are perfumes and soaps, great souvenirs or gifts for family and friends.

This store is located around the corner from the Church of Santa Maria Novella. It is open seven days a week.

26. San Lorenzo Market & Mercato Centrale

San Lorenzo Market is made up of two markets, an outdoor market and an indoor market located inside of the Mercato Centrale building.

At the outdoor market, you can go shopping for leather goods, pottery, and souvenirs. It is open Tuesday through Saturday.

San Lorenzo Market

San Lorenzo Market

Go inside of Mercato Centrale for a culinary tour of Italy. We loved walking around the small shops and gathering food for a picnic lunch.

Mercato Centrale

Mercato Centrale


Mercato Centrale Florence

27. Fontana del Porcellino

Il Porcellino, which means piglet in Italian, is the nickname for this statue. This small boar sits next to Mercato del Porcellino (also called Mercato Nuovo), a small outdoor market in Florence.

There are several legends about this boar. If you put a coin into the mouth of the boar and it falls into the grate, you will have good luck. If you rub the boar’s nose, then you will be ensured a return visit to Florence. So, if you are having a good time on your visit to Florence, give the boar a rub on its nose for a return visit in the future.

Il Porcellino

Il Porcellino

28. Visit a Rooftop Bar

Visiting a rooftop bar or two is one of the best things to do in Florence. If you want drinks with a view of the Duomo, you have quite a few rooftop bars in Florence to choose from.

We have a guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in Florence, but a few of our favorites are View on Art, Divina Terrazza Rooftop Bar, Tosca & Nino, and SE·STO on Arno.

After a day of sightseeing, this is the perfect way to unwind but still gaze across the beautiful city of Florence.

Cocktails can be pricey, but what you are also getting is an amazing view of the city. It’s best to make your reservations in advance because some of these are quite popular.

Divina Terrace Florence Rooftop Bar

Divina Terrazza


View on Art Rooftop Bar

View on Art

29. More Churches in Florence

We already listed several important churches and cathedrals in Florence. Here are a few more:

Ognissanti. Also called Chiesa di San Salvatore di Ognissanti, this Franciscan church is the burial place of Botticelli and 15th century frescoes by Botticelli and Ghirlandaio can be seen in the nave.




Botticelli Tomb

Tomb of Botticelli

Basilica di Santa Trinita. The Roman Catholic church is famous for its Sassetti Chapel, which contains frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio.

Basilica di Santa Trinita

Basilica di Santa Trinita

Basilica di San Lorenzo. Some sources state that this is the oldest church in Florence. In 1419, the Medici family financed a new church to be built at this site and Brunelleschi was the principal architect. It became the parish church of the Medici family and many members of the Medici family are buried here. There are numerous works of art inside of the basilica created by Donatello, Michelangelo, and Fiorentino.

Basilica di San Lorenzo

Basilica di San Lorenzo

30. Take a Day Trip

While in Florence, one of the best things to do is to take a day trip. And you have a lot of choices. For the full list, read our article Best Day Trips from Florence.

Florence is located within Tuscany, so from here, you can day trip to many Tuscan hill towns.

The closest hill towns to visit are Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena, and Arezzo. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half to drive to these towns.

San Gimigano Tuscany

San Gimignano


Arezzo Piazza Grande


Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, Cortona, and Volterra are all farther away (about a 1.5-to-2-hour drive).

Palazzo Comunale Montepulciano



Montalcino Enoteca


From our multiple experiences in Tuscany, the best way to get around the Tuscan hill towns is to rent a car and the next best option is to take a tour. Buses travel to these towns, but the buses are frequently late and sometimes have multiple transfers, meaning you’ll spend a lot of time just trying to get from town to town. You can also get to some Tuscan towns by train, with Lucca, Pisa, and Arezzo being the easiest ones to get go by train. If you don’t want to rent a car, we recommend hiring a driver or taking a tour.

Here are a few highly rated day trip tours that start in Florence.



Best Things to Do in Florence: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Best Things to Do in Florence: Our Recommendations

Top 10 Experiences in Florence

  • Visit the Duomo and climb the dome
  • See the statues in Piazza della Signoria
  • Climb the tower of Palazzo Vecchio
  • Tour the Uffizi Gallery
  • Stroll across Ponte Vecchio
  • See Michelangelo’s statue of David at Galleria dell’Accademia
  • Visit the Boboli Gardens and/or the Bardini Gardens
  • Climb the steps to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower
  • San Lorenzo Market & Mercato Centrale
  • Watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo

10 Best Free Things to Do in Florence

  • See the Duomo from all sides at Piazza del Duomo
  • Go inside the Florence Cathedral and gaze up at the dome
  • See the doors of the Baptistery
  • Stroll across Ponte Vecchio
  • See the statues in Piazza della Signoria
  • Visit the Rose Garden
  • Enjoy the view from San Miniato al Monte
  • Rub the nose of Il Porcellino
  • Visit Piazza della Repubblica
  • Watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo

10 Best Things to Do in Florence with Kids

  • Climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome (best for older kids)
  • See the inside of the Duomo
  • Michelangelo’s statue of David at Galleria dell’Accademia
  • Visit the Boboli Gardens and/or Bardini Gardens
  • Climb the steps to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower
  • Eat gelato
  • Visit the Galileo Museum
  • Climb the tower of Palazzo Vecchio
  • Spend some time in Piazza del Duomo
  • Visit the Uffizi Gallery (this one can be boring for kids but it is such an important place to visit that it should not be missed on a visit to Florence)

Best Views of Florence

The view from Bardini Gardens | Best Things to Do in Florence

More Information for Your Trip to Florence

FLORENCE: Learn how to plan your time with our One Day Florence Itinerary and 2 Day Florence Itinerary. We also have information about how to visit the Florence Cathedral, about the best rooftop bars in Florence, the best viewpoints in Florence, and where to stay in Florence.

DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE: Here are 15 day trips to take from Florence, with practical information on how to plan your day.

TUSCAN HILL TOWNS: Check out our detailed guides to Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, San Quirico d’Orcia, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Lucca, Volterra, Arezzo, and Cortona.

TUSCANY: Get started with our guide to the Best Things to Do in Tuscany. Learn how to plan your visit with our Tuscany Itinerary, which has sample itineraries, whether you have 3 days, 5 days, or an entire week in Tuscany.

SIENA: Plan your visit to Siena with our articles Best Things to Do in Siena, One Perfect Day in Siena and How to Visit the Siena Cathedral.

PISA: Learn how to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa while traveling from Florence to the Cinque Terre and how to combine Lucca and Pisa in one day trip from Florence.

If you have any questions about the best things to do in Florence or how to plan your visit, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Italy

ITALY ITINERARIES: If you are just beginning to plan your Italy itinerary, take a look at our 10 Days in Italy Itinerary for five different ways to spend 10 days in Italy. We also have a detailed 10 day itinerary that includes Rome, Florence, the Cinque Terre, and Venice. For those with more time, check out our 14 day Italy itinerary, which covers the highlights of Italy.

ROME: For a list of the top experiences in Rome, read our article Best Things to Do in Rome. Learn how to put these together in our 2 Day Rome Itinerary. And don’t miss our guides to the Best Views of Rome, best Rooftop Bars in Rome, and our Rome Restaurant Guide.

VENICE: Learn more about Venice in our article Best Things to Do in Venice. We also have guides about How to Visit St. Mark’s Basilica, where to get the Best Views of Venice, and how to spend Two Days in Venice.

CINQUE TERRE: One of the best experiences in the Cinque Terre is to hike between all five towns. If you are traveling on a budget, get our money saving tips for the Cinque Terre.

DOLOMITES: For links to all of our articles about the Dolomites, take a look at our Dolomites Travel Guide.


We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, Basilicata, and Puglia.


Florence Bucket List


Best Things to Do in Florence


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Comments 3

  1. Avatar for Karen Ferraz
  2. Avatar for Aimee

    How much time would you recommend for Basilica di Santa Croce as well as the Florence Cathedral/Duomo/Giatto’s Bell Tower?
    Additionally would you agree that an hour would be enough time for Galleria del Accademi?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Aimee. Yes, an hour is sufficient for the Accademia Gallery. It takes about 4 hours to visit the Florence Cathedral and all of the associated sites. If you only want to see the cathedral and climb Giotto’s Bell Tower, budget an hour and a half. For Basilica di Santa Croce, it takes about 30 minutes to tour it, plus additional time to get to and from the basilica (it’s possible to walk to it from most sites in Florence). Have a great time in Florence! Cheers, Julie

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