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34 Best Things To Do In Florence In 2024 + What To Skip

Our family lives just outside of Florence and my husband and I spend quite a bit of time in the city – with the kids at parks and museums, on date nights at wine bars and restaurants, for work meetings, and just living our daily Italian life. 

My husband was born and raised here in Florence, and it’s been my home city since I first set foot in Italy in 2003. Our children were born here.

We may be a little partial, but we think you’ll love Florence too. 

Florence (Firenze in Italian) is known worldwide for its incredible art, culture, fashion, and food.   In addition to visiting Florence’s museums, eating at its restaurants, and attending cultural events, we also love exploring its green areas and finding the best views of the city and its surroundings. 

We’ve put together this list of our 34 recommended things to do in Florence.  Keep in mind that unless you’re staying for a while, it will be difficult to see/do/experience all of them.  If you’re planning on heading to other parts of Tuscany, check out our list of Things to Do in Tuscany.

The historic center of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (one of eight in Tuscany) and it’s easily walkable.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take any breaks though.  Museum visits can be exhausting, and Florence is hot in the summer, so slow down and take time to have a glass of wine at a sidewalk café or a scoop (or two) of gelato in its birthplace. 

Our recommendations are divided into the following categories:

  • Museums
  • Views
  • Eating & Drinking
  • Nature
  • Shopping
  • Culture

We’ve also listed a few things that you may want to skip on a visit to Firenze.

Use the Table of Contents below to jump ahead if you know what you’re interested in.  Or check out the entire list and pick and choose to create your perfect Florentine itinerary.

Gnamo!  (Pronounced NYAH-moh, it means ‘let’s go’ or ‘come on’ in Tuscan dialect.)

Florence Quick Facts

Infographic with facts about Florence, Italy, including population, name in Italian, why you should visit, and where it is in Italy.
  • Location – Central Italy. It’s the capital of Tuscany.
  • Population – 366,527 (as of April 2023, istat.it)
  • Famous For – Being the birthplace of the Renaissance.  Hub of art, culture, history, and fashion.
  • Name In Italian – Firenze, pronounced fee-REHN-tsay

Map of Things To Do In Florence

Museums In Florence

Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is internationally known and could probably stay how it is and continue to draw visitors from around the globe.  But, efforts have been made to keep it interesting for visitors and locals.

Even if you’ve been to the Uffizi in the past, it’s worth another visit to see how it’s changed.  After a massive remodel in the winter of 2020/2021, the museum reopened with women artists being showcased, a new self-portrait room, the museum’s first street art, and more. 

The museum is continuing the Terre degli Uffizi program (having works from the Uffizi on display in other parts of Tuscany and it’s expected that the Vasari Corridor will finally open to the public in May 2024.

It’s a good year to visit the Uffizi!

Visit the official website of the Uffizi Gallery for hours and ticket info.

Accademia Gallery

Michelangelo's statue of David on display in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy.
David, on center stage in the Accademia

The Accademia is the home of Michelangelo’s David statue, and the reason most visit the museum.  It’s worth a visit to see David, even if you aren’t an art lover.

While you’re there, see Michelangelo’s ‘Slaves’ and head to the small room housing the Medici family’s musical instruments.  The interesting and well-maintained collection has a vertical piano, wood instruments, and unique string instruments.

Read about avoiding long lines at the Accademia and how to visit the Accademia with kids.

Bargello Museum

The Bargello is one of Florence’s quieter museums, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it.  A prison until the 18th century, it now houses some of the Renaissance’s greatest art. 

Did you marvel at Michelangelo’s David statue in the Accademia?  In Italy’s first national museum, you’ll see three more takes on David – two by Donatello (one in marble, one in bronze) and one by Verrocchio (in bronze).   

Visit the official website of the Bargello Museum for hours, ticket info, and the Donatello exhibition details.

Palazzo Strozzi

While it’s probably not the first museum that comes to mind when you think of Florence, it’s worth looking at the exhibition calendar to see what’s going on while you’re visiting.  Palazzo Strozzi has interesting contemporary art exhibits and has hosted artists like Ai Weiwei, Marina Abramović, and Jeff Koons.

We love visiting Palazzo Strozzi because the exhibits are different from Florence’s typical museums, and they’re often

In 2024, Palazzo Strozzi will host Anish Kapoor, Anselm Kiefer, and Helen Frankenthaler.

Visit the official website of Palazzo Strozzi for the exhibition calendar, hours, and ticket info.

Medici Chapels

The Medici Chapels, or Cappelle Medicee are part of the Basilica di San Lorenzo and are another of Florence’s treasures.  Built for the powerful and influential Medici family, the chapels are the burial place of many of the family members. 

Don’t miss the two tombs by Michelangelo in the new sacristy.  Look up at the beautifully decorated inside of the dome. 

New For 2024:  While you’re in the chapels, know that below you are some of Michelangelo’s wall drawings.  Only discovered in 1975, Michelangelo drew them while he was hiding from the Medici and the Pope.  The wall drawings haven’t been available for public viewing until the ‘Secret Room of Michelangelo’ opened in late 2023. The opening is temporary for now, expected to last through March 2024. Currently, tickets are sold out, but you can check on the official site – B-Ticket.

Visit the official website of the Medici Chapels for more info on hours and tickets.

Palazzo Vecchio

View of Palazzo Vecchio from the left side.  You can see a bronze statue of Cosimo Medici I on a horse in the foreground.  The Palazzo is in Florence, Italy.

The Palazzo Vecchio houses a museum and it’s the headquarters of the Florence mayor and city council. 

A former Medici residence, it has many elaborate and interesting rooms to visit.  Don’t miss the Hall of Maps (currently closed), the Hall of the 500 (Salone dei Cinquecento), the studiolo, and the statues by Donatello and Michelangelo.

Outside the building, see a replica of Michelangelo’s David and Michelangelo’s ‘street art’ on the Uffizi side of the building.

Visit the official website of Palazzo Vecchio (in Italian) for hours and ticket info.

Museo Galileo

Seeing some of Galileo’s fingers seems to draw a lot of people to this museum… and they end up really loving looking at all the mechanical contraptions, maps, and scientific instruments. 

It’s a great museum for kids if they’ve had an introduction to Galileo (although the museum isn’t just about Galileo).

Visit the Museo Galileo’s official website for contact and ticket info.

Gucci Garden

Part of the exhibit at Gucci Garden in Florence, Italy.

Need a break from looking at some of the world’s most incredible Renaissance art?  Step into this Gucci exhibition – it’s surprising, quirky, and odd.  It will stimulate your senses in a different way than viewing Michelangelo’s David or Botticelli’s Primavera. 

Hungry after?  Have lunch at Gucci Osteria.

You can do a virtual tour on the official Gucci Garden website.  But I wouldn’t – it will ruin the surprise.

La Specola (Part of the Natural History Museum)

Boys looking at the displays of taxidermized animals at La Specola Museum in Florence, Italy.  You can see a tiger and wild dogs and cats.

Florence’s Natural History Museum is spread throughout the city.  Our favorite department is La Specola, with its more than 500 taxidermized animals, stone and mineral collection, and skeleton hall.  My boys especially love looking at all of the insects.  We haven’t yet visited the anatomical wax collection (it’s by appointment only).

La Specola has been closed for years(!), but it’s scheduled to reopen on February 21, 2024!

Visit the official website for La Specola for the most up-to-date info on its reopening.

Palazzo Pitti

While this museum isn’t on my ‘must-see’ list for Florence, I do have friends and family visit and love it, so I feel the need to include it. 

It’s extravagant, not particularly well-organized, and to me, a bit overwhelming.  Unsurprisingly, there is some incredible art inside. 

Go without expectations and when you’re done, wander through the Boboli Gardens outside.

Visit the official website for Palazzo Pitti for more details.

Views Of Florence

Climb a Tower

Duomo

For a close-up view of Brunelleschi’s dome, climb to the top of the Duomo.  You’ll also be rewarded with spectacular views of Florence and the surrounding countryside.

You can also climb to the terraces.

Good To Know:  Check out the Duomo’s Museum, the Opera del Duomo Museo.  The often-overlooked museum is full of original artworks from the Duomo, baptistry, and bell tower – by Michelangelo, Donatello, and more.  You can also see important works being restored in the Restoration Workshop on Via dello Studio, next to the Duomo.

Giotto’s Bell Tower

View of the Duomo and Florence from Giotto's bell tower in Florence, Italy.
Our view of the Duomo, Florence, and the Tuscan countryside from the bell tower climb

While we enjoy the Duomo climb, our family prefers climbing the Duomo’s bell tower.  There are a few viewing platforms on the way to the top and we love the view of the Duomo’s dome and Florence. 

Good To Know:  The top is fenced in, which some photographers will find annoying.

Arnolfo Tower (Palazzo Vecchio)

Another big climb with big views.  Combine this with a visit to Palazzo Vecchio, and when you’re done with the climb, have a coffee in Piazza Signoria.

Torre San Niccolo

On the other side of the Arno, the Oltrarno, (if it’s open) climb the Torre di San Niccolò for views of Florence’s famous monuments.  It’s shorter, so it’s an easier climb than the Duomo, its bell tower, or the Palazzo Vecchio’s tower.

Walk Up To Piazzale Michelangelo

View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo.
A view of Florence on our walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo from the San Niccolò neighborhood

It’s no secret that the views from Piazzale Michelangelo are spectacular. Check out the replica of Michelangelo’s David watching over Florence.

Bring snacks for a little picnic or come up to see the sun setting over the city.

Climb up a little further to San Miniato al Monte for even better views, and an aperitivo spot. 

If you go earlier in the day, you can visit the Cimitero delle Porte Sante (Cemetery of the Sacred Doors), a beautiful Florentine cemetery.  It’s the resting place of Pinocchio’s author (Carlo Collodi), and Pellegrino Artusi (author of Science In the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, and one of the fathers of Italian cooking).

Relax in a Piazza Cafè

Woman sitting outdoors at Caffè Gilli in Piazza della Repubblica in Florence, Italy.
On a Gilli coffee/tea date with a friend

It’s not a view of Florence from above, but it’s equally beautiful, and often more interesting.  Choose a café on a piazza (yes, you’ll pay more, but it’s worth it), order a coffee or glass of wine, and watch the Florentine world pass by.  Tourists, locals with their groceries from the market, children walking to and from school, little old men out for their morning stroll, women dressed in the latest fashions cycling by on their way to work. 

Two cafès we recommend on two main squares in the center:

A nice (free) spot on a summer evening is on the steps of La Loggia in Piazza Signoria.  Sometimes musicians are playing and it’s a beautiful place to pass time. 

Walk Across the Ponte Vecchio

Nighttime in Florence, Italy. The Ponte Vecchio bridge is lit up and reflects on the Arno River. Lit up buildings line both sides of the river.
Ponte Vecchio on our evening stroll in Florence

Florence’s ‘Old Bridge’ has earned its name.  Built in the 1300s, it’s one of Florence’s iconic landmarks

The Ponte Vecchio is another prime place to see the sunset in Florence, looking out over the Arno River.  In the summer, there are often musicians playing in the center of the bridge. 

Other times during the day, visit to see the city’s gold shops in action.  They’re not just tourist shops – many Florentines purchase their jewelry from a favorite store on the Ponte Vecchio. 

Eating And Drinking In Florence

Shop & Eat at a Local Market

Sant’Ambrogio Market (Mercato Sant’Ambrogio)

Closeup of fresh produce on display at the outdoor section of Sant'Ambrogio market in Florence, Italy.
Produce for sale at the Sant’Ambrogio Market

This is my favorite market in Florence, and not just because it’s next to one of my preferred parking garages.  Locals descend on the area for the open-air market, which is filled with a mix of everything from plants to fresh fruit and vegetables to jewelry and vintage clothing.  You can also head inside to the permanent market for quality meats, cheeses, and more. 

Practice your Italian and walk away with a full belly or a new pair of vintage Levis. 

Good To Know:  The Flea Market is just across the street.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to shop at it, but if you’re at the Sant’Ambrogio Market already, you may want to walk across the road to check it out.

Visit the official website of the Sant’Ambrogio Market for contact info and to learn about the shops.

Mercato Centrale

Practice your Italian, mingle with the locals, and buy something to fill your belly at the Mercato Centrale.  It’s right in the middle of everything, next to the Basilica di San Lorenzo.  The ground floor is a bustling, authentic Florentine market – you’ll find locals doing their daily shopping.  Head upstairs for the Italian take on a mall food court.  The stands include:

  • Fresh pasta
  • Pizza
  • Fish
  • Wine & beer
  • Fried food
  • Meats & cheeses
  • Vegan & vegetarian
  • Lampredotto
  • Gelato
  • Bread
  • Truffles
  • and more!

Participate In A Cooking Class

There are many cooking classes on offer in the city, and my favorite is with Jacopo and Anna in their Florentine apartment (they also have a class in the countryside).  You can visit a market with them to gather ingredients, then use your fresh ingredients to create a delicious, authentic Tuscan meal.  Buon appetito!

Visit the official website of Let’s Cook With Jacopo & Anna to organize your class.

Have A Gelato (Or Two)

Close up of a hand holding a gelato cone in Florence, Italy.
A cone from Perché No

I probably don’t even need to suggest this, but don’t forget to sample gelato while you’re in Florence!  The consensus is that gelato was invented here by Bernardo Buontalenti in the 16th century.  Five centuries later, sample buontalenti gelato or go for other classics:

  • pistacchio – pistachio
  • stracciatella – chocolate chip
  • nocciola – hazelnut
  • fragola – strawberry
  • limone – lemon

Or, try less-common flavors:

  • lavanda – lavender
  • ricotta e fichi – ricotta and figs
  • rosa – rose
  • miele e sesame – honey and sesame

Our family’s favorite gelaterie in Florence include Perchè No (via dei Tavolini, 19/r) Gelateria de’ Medici, and La Sorbettiera.

Check out my round-up of where to find the Best Gelato in Florence

Try Trippa Or Lampredotto

Tripperia Pollini kiosk in Sant'Ambrogio, Florence, Italy.  Customers are eating and waiting in line to order.
Tripperia Pollini near Sant’Ambrogio Market

Florentines love their animal innards.  Be adventurous and stop by a food stand or kiosk (chiosco) to try one of Florence’s specialties.  Trippa (tripe) is the inner lining of cow stomach, and lampredotto is made with the final (fourth) stomach of the cow.  They’re slow-cooked and usually served on a bun with a special sauce.  Grab a stool and hang with the locals for lunch. 

L’Trippaio di San Frediano – Piazza dei Nerli (San Frediano)
Tripperia Pollini – via dei Macci, 126 (Sant’Ambrogio)

Dine In One Of Florence’s Michelin-Star Restaurants

View of Gucci Osteria table from above.  You can see the pink menu and tableware.
Ready for our lunch at Gucci Osteria

Florence and Tuscany have more than their share of Italy’s Michelin-starred restaurants.  Try one of them for lunch or dinner. 

NameStarsStyle
Enoteca Pinchiorri3Modern Cuisine
Santa Elisabetta2Creative, Mediterranean Cuisine
Borgo San Jacopo1Modern Cuisine, Contemporary
Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura1Modern Cuisine
Il Palagio1Modern Cuisine
Chic Nonna di Vito Mollica1Contemporary

See the complete list of Tuscany’s Michelin-Star restaurants.

Read more about Tipping In Italy – When and How Much (+ Printable Quick Guide)

Tuck Into A Wine Bar

Florence (like most Italian cities) is full of cozy wine bars – enoteche.  Take a seat and try wines by the glass.  Choose on your own or ask the staff to make recommendations or take you on a wine ‘journey.’  Most enoteche serve nibbles or light meals.  Salute!

A few Tuscan wines to try:

  • Chianti
  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Vino Nobile di Montalcino
  • Super Tuscans
  • Vernaccia di San Gimignano
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
  • Carmignano
  • Bolgheri

Florence enoteche you should visit:

Try To Finish A Bistecca Fiorentina

Uncooked bistecca fiorentina on display at a restaurant in Florence, Italy.
Bistecca fiorentina on display at Da Lino

You’ll need a partner – they’re that big!  A bistecca fiorentina is a thick T-bone steak from Chianina cattle (of the Chiana Valley in Southern Tuscany), grilled with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and Tuscan herbs (usually rosemary and sage). 

Good To Know:  It’s typically eaten rare, but if you prefer it more cooked, feel free to ask for it medio (medium).

We get ours from a butcher in the countryside, but if you want to try some on your visit, head to Trattoria dall’Oste, Ristorante Buca Mario, or Regina Bistecca

Nature In Florence

Stroll In A Garden

Boys sitting on a green hill full of purple crocus flowers. The hill overlooks the Pitti Palace. They are in the Boboli Gardens.
My boys in Boboli Gardens on a spring day

Florence is home to standout gardens and many are open to the public.  A few of them are best visited in the spring when their flowers are blooming:

Iris Garden 

The iris is the symbol of Florence, so it only seems right to visit the Iris Garden.  Time it right to see the irises blooming.  The garden is only open to the public from late April to late May (but it is possible to view it by appointment outside of that period).  Combine it with a visit to Piazzale Michelangelo (it’s just to the right if you’re looking at the Arno).

See the Italian Iris Society’s official website for more details (in Italian only).

Rose Garden

Best visited in the spring, Florence’s Rose Garden has over 350 rose varieties.  You can visit it on the way up to Piazzale Michelangelo (it’s just to the left if you’re looking at the Arno).  A great place for a picnic too – but it can be hot in the summer.

Boboli Gardens

The Boboli Gardens is the most talked about green space in Florence.  It’s gorgeous, especially in the spring, when the flowers are blooming.  It’s not just a garden – it’s a bit of an outdoor museum, with statues, grottoes, and fountains. 

If you’d like to check Boboli Gardens out, make sure you look for:

  • The Grotta Grande, once home to Michelangelo’s slaves
  • The ice houses that used snow from the Apennines to keep food cold (primitive refrigerators)
  • The limonaia (lemon house) is full of unique and interesting citrus fruits (the Medici were big fans). 

If you have kids that need to run around, they can, but a playground in the city may be a better choice.

Your entrance ticket includes a visit to the Bardini Garden.

Visit the Boboli Garden official website for hours and contact info.

Read our Guide to Visiting Boboli Gardens.

Bardini Garden

For a top view of Florence, make your way to the Bardini Garden, especially in the spring when the purple wisteria is blooming. 

You can grab a coffee or lunch at the Loggia Belvedere terrace café.

While Boboli Garden is huge and very ‘strollable,’ Bardini Garden is steeper, smaller, and best for enjoying the views from the café or the benches scattered throughout the garden.

Entrance to the Bardini Garden is included with a Boboli Garden ticket.

Visit the Villa Bardini official website for details and contact info.

Shopping In Florence

Visit the Old Santa Maria Novella Perfumery and Pharmacy (Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella)

A display of soaps at the Old Santa Maria Novella Profumery and Pharmacy in Florence, Italy.  There is a bronze statue behind the soaps.  On the right you can see a tall display case with more soaps, lotions, and ceramics.
A corner display in the Old Santa Maria Novella Perfumery and Pharmacy

Not only is it the oldest pharmacy in the world, it’s probably also the most beautiful.  Since 1221, this non-traditional pharmacy has been creating perfumes, body products, and remedies for ailments.  Even if you don’t need anything, drop in to admire the gorgeous building and picture-perfect displays.  You may just leave with something, like my favorite melograno (pomegranate) bar of soap.

Window Shop on Via Tornabuoni

Fendi storefront on Via de' Tornabuoni in Florence, Italy.
On an evening (window) shopping trip to Via Tornabuoni

Stroll Florence’s street of high-end boutiques.  You’ll find Tuscan fashion powerhouses (Gucci, Emilio Pucci, and Ferragamo), other Italian designers (Giorgio Armani, Tods, Prada, Fendi), and international luxury brands (Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Celine).

When you need a break from shopping, stop for aperitivo or delicious mini tartufi panini at Procacci.

Find Traditional Paper at Il Papiro

Marbled paper close up from Il Papiro in Florence, Italy.
Marbled paper from Il Papiro

As you wander through Florence, you’ll run across the city’s handmade, colorful marbled paper.  For a closer look, stop into one of Il Papiro’s small shops.  Inside you’ll find the marbled paper sold loosely and on gifts and journals.  You can even get a lesson on how it’s made. 

Buy some marbled paper stationery and send some snail mail home.  Everyone loves getting a real letter!  If someone’s sending you a letter, make sure they know the correct Italian address format.

Visit Il Papiro’s official website for more details.

Note:  I’m also a huge fan of the intimate workshop of Giulio Giannini (note that it’s no longer in front of the Pitti Palace).

Find Your Scent at Aquaflor

Another workshop that’s worth a visit for the building itself is Aquaflor, in the Santa Croce neighborhood.  This perfumery sells perfumes, soaps, and candles, and you can even create your own custom perfume.  If you can, go downstairs to see where the scents are stored, and perfumes are created.

Visit Aquaflor’s official site for details on the shop.

Look for Leather

Florence is famous for its leather.  The leather tanneries in nearby Santa Croce sull’Arno provide leather for many of Italy’s luxury brands.

In Florence, you’ll find quality (and not so nice) leather goods – jackets, purses, belts, wallets, and more. 

Head to the Scuola del Cuoio (Leather School) for a 1-hour visit – you’ll learn about the history of leather-making and see a demo.  Then, stay in the neighborhood and shop in the area’s leather stores.  Visit Sam at Il Perseo Leather (Borgo dei Greci, 24/r).

Culture In Florence

Seek Out Wine Windows – Buchette di Vino

A wine window in the Oltrarno in Florence, Italy.  There is a table with two seats set for dinner on the sidewalk.
One of Florence’s buchette

The Medici are responsible for the creation of Florence’s little wine windows.  The family gave permission to noble families to sell wine from their countryside vineyards to Florentines.  The noble families sold the wine from the little windows (buchette) in their palaces (palazzi).  A buyer would bring his own bottle, negotiate with the servant inside the palazzo, who would fill it up and take payment. 

One to check out is at Babae in Santo Spirito. 

Watch a Calcio (Football / Soccer) Match

Boy with his feet up in the stands at a Fiorentina soccer game in Florence, Italy.
My son at a Fiorentina match

Head to the stadium with the Florentines to cheer for the local soccer / football team, Fiorentina!

Check out How to See a Soccer Game in Italy

Participate in the Passeggiata

In the evening, or on weekends post-lunch, head out into Florence’s streets for a stroll, or passeggiata.  Many Italians will dress up, window shop, and chat with friends or neighbors.

Rub The Porcellino’s Nose

The bronze porcellino, or little pig, statue in the Mercato Nuovo in Florence, Italy.  You can see the colorful market stalls in the background.
Porcellino at the Mercato Nuovo

Like throwing a coin in Rome’s Trevi Fountain, rubbing the Porcellino’s nose ensures a return to the city (Florence, not Rome).  You’ll find the Porcellino (little pig) at the Mercato Nuovo near the Ponte Vecchio. 

Wander The Oltrarno

The Oltrarno – the other (oltre) Arno is opposite the historic center, on the other side of the river.  Its charm isn’t exactly a secret, and it’s home to many Florentines and their favorite haunts – local artisan shops, aperitivo hotspots, and quality restaurants. 

Have aperitivo or apericena (aperitivo + cena – dinner) in the San Frediano neighborhood.  Even though the neighborhood has recently been called ‘Florence’s Best Secret Neighborhood’ and ‘The Coolest Neighborhood in the World’ by Lonely Planet, it hasn’t changed or been overrun by visitors. 

We love Borgo San Frediano, a narrow one-way street lined with cafes, bars, and restaurants.

Check out our guide to Aperitivo – All You Need To Know About Italian Aperitif

Attend a Florentine Festival

There’s always something going on in Florence – concerts, theatre, sports, neighborhood celebrations.  Florence does have a few big events:

Scoppio del Carro

The ‘Explosion of the Cart’ takes place on Easter Sunday in the historic center.  Oxen pull a 2-3 story high decorated cart full of fireworks to the square in front of the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral).  The Archbishop lights a little (fake) dove that slides down a wire to the cart and sets off the fireworks. 

It’s quite a sight, but very crowded. 

Calcio Storico (Historic Soccer/Football)

Every June 24th, the final game of the Calcio Storico tournament is played on a sandy field in Piazza Santa Croce.  A cross between rugby and street fighting, it’s passionately played by Florentines from four neighborhoods.  Not for the faint of heart.

Rificolona

Every September 7th, the streets of Florence glow during its Paper Lantern Festival (Rificolona).  The paper lanterns date back to when farmers (on their way to sell at the market in Florence) would cover their lanterns with thin cloth to keep the wind from blowing out the flame.

The main part of the festival is the procession from Piazza Santa Felicita, across the Arno, to Piazza SS Annunziata. 

Anyone can participate, and it’s a festival that Florentine children look forward to each year.

Listen to Music With Florentines

Florence gets its share of visits from international and national musicians.  The city’s larger venues include Visarno the Hippodrome (at the Cascine Park), the Fortezza da Basso (near the SMN train station), the Nelson Mandela Forum (near the Campo di Marte train station), and the Tuscany Hall (along the river). 

TicketOne.it is a large and reliable ticket seller for concerts (and more) in Italy.

You may want to read about Visiting Florence with Teens

Head Outside of Florence

As lovely as the city is, sometimes it’s nice to leave the hustle and bustle for the day.  Travel by rental car or use public transport (trains or buses).

Get helpful advice on
Renting a Car in Italy
Renting a Car in Tuscany
Renting a Car in Florence

Go on a Cycling Tour

Boys and father cycling on a small road outside of Florence, Italy.
Cycling with my husband and boys on a small Tuscan road

Multiple companies run day-long cycling trips in the Tuscan countryside just outside of Florence.  A typical itinerary includes a city-center pick-up, shuttle to the countryside, ride, stop for lunch and a wine tasting, ride a little more, then shuttle back to Florence. 

If you enjoy cycling, it’s a great experience.  Tuscany has some of the best cycling in the world!

Tuscany Bike Tours is an established company, and they even have E-bike tours if you want some help with the Tuscan hills!

Relax at the Beach

Beachfront in Forte dei Marmi, in Tuscany, Italy. You can see the Apuan Alps in the bathroom.  There are green beach umbrellas on the sand and a red lifeguard boat.
Forte dei Marmi on a sunny day

Florence is within reach of beaches on the Mediterranean Coast.  You can travel by car or public transport (train or train/bus).  Read more about Train Travel in Italy.

Some of favorites are Forte dei Marmi (sandy),  Castiglioncello (rocky), and Viareggio (sandy). 

Go on a Day Trip

Two boys walking on Monteriggioni's medieval walls and looking out at the Tuscany countryside.
My boys checking out the view the Tuscan countryside from Monteriggioni’s medieval wall

Each of these cities can be reached from Florence within 1.5 hours (by car):

  • San Gimignano – walk through the city center – Tuscany’s medieval Manhattan; climb the Torre Grossa for gorgeous views; have a unique flavor of gelato at Dondoli
  • Pisa – see the Piazza dei Miracoli and its Leaning Tower
  • Lucca – cycle or walk the walls; dine in a piazza
  • Bologna – eat your way through one of Italy’s best food towns; explore its porticoes
  • Siena – have aperitivo in the Piazza del Campo; wander the contrade neighborhoods that compete for the Palio
  • San Miniato – come in the afternoon and stay for aperitivo and dinner at one of its trendy and delicious bars or restaurants
  • Monteriggioni – tiny, well-preserved medieval walled town
  • Montepulciano – sample its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano; walk up to the Piazza Grande
  • Pienza – sample its famous pecorino cheese; participate in the passeggiata along its walls
  • Volterra – visit the Etruscan necropolis; watch an alabaster artisan work
  • Chianti towns (Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, Radda in Chianti) – sample Chianti wines; use the towns as bases for walks

Good To Know:  The Cinque Terre are 2.5 hours from Florence by car – too far for a day trip.

Read more about The 25 Best Day Trips from Florence!

What To Skip On Your Visit To Florence

Bike Tours In The City Center

Riding a bike outside the city center is an excellent activity, but inside Florence, I wouldn’t recommend it.  There are too many tricky cobblestones and tourists – it’s just not safe if you’re not an experience cyclist and used to our roads here.

Standing In Line For An Hour To Buy A Sandwich

You may have seen a certain sandwich shop on TripAdvisor.  Yes, it makes delicious sandwiches, but so do plenty of other specialty sandwich shops in Florence!  Your time is precious, don’t waste it waiting in line.

Going On A Boat In The Arno

Yes, it’s beautiful, but the perspective isn’t incredibly different than what you can get from the water’s edge.  If you’ll be visiting other cities besides Florence, there are other places in Italy that are better for boat trips – Venice, and coastal areas like the Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast and islands (Aeolian Islands, Elba, Sardegna).

Da Vinci Museum

My boys on a visit to the Leonardo da Vinci Interactive Museum in Florence

Are you a die-hard fan of Leonardo da Vinci and you’re planning on exploring more of Tuscany?  Skip the Da Vinci museum in the city center and instead visit the Da Vinci museum in Leonardo’s hometown of – you guessed it – Vinci. 

The drive is gorgeous, the museum has models and interactive exhibits, and you can visit his birth house nearby.

Visit the official Museo Leonardiano website for events, contact info, hours, and ticket info.

But, if you’ll only be in Florence, give the Leonardo Museum in Florence a go – my boys love the interactive exhibits!

We hope you enjoy your trip to Florence!

Don’t know where you’re sleeping yet? Check out Where to Stay in Florence.

First time to Italy? 10th? Either way, you’ll want to check out our 200+ Essential Italy Travel Tips!

Things to Do in Florence – FAQ

What should you not miss in Florence, Italy?

Don’t miss the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio, eating gelato, or sampling Tuscan wines.

What is Florence, Italy best known for?

Florence, Italy is best known for its incredible collection of Renaissance art and architecture.  You’ll find works by some of history’s greatest artists and minds, including Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Botticelli, Dante Alighieri, and Filippo Brunelleschi.

Is 2 days enough in Florence?

You can definitely see Florence’s top sites in two days.  If you’d like to get to know Florence, spend more time exploring the city’s lesser-known attractions.

Is Florence worth seeing?

Florence offers some of the world’s most impressive art by history’s great artists, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Sandro Botticelli.  Along with the incredible art, you’ll find simple, flavorful food and shopping to keep you busy for days.  Florence is a stone’s throw from the gorgeous Tuscan countryside and its vineyards.

What is there to do in Florence when it rains? 

Fortunately, Florence is full of first-class museums that you can visit while it’s raining – the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia Gallery, and the Bargello Museum to name a few.  And, the historic center of Florence is small, so you won’t be walking long distances between the sites. 

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