The Best Things to Do in Florence

Florence is one of my all-time favourite cities in Italy and perhaps all of Europe. The very first time I came here I felt as if I was on cloud nine. There’s incredible architecture, history, art, some of the world’s best gelato and so much more to discover! So here are the top 20 must see attractions in Florence to help you plan your first visit to Florence, Italy.


20 Must See Florence Attractions

Post updated October 2021

1. Florence Cathedral

You can’t come to Florence and not see this – the Florence Cathedral – not in the way that suggests you really should make the effort, but because you actually cannot be in Florence and not see this gigantic structure, standing at 114m tall and took 140 years to build!

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2. Ponte Vecchio

If there’s one thing we all love about Florence, its the gorgeous bridges that cross the Arno River. But there is no bridge more renowned (and more crossed by travellers – expect chaos!!!) than the shop-lined bridge of Ponte Vecchio. Be sure to wander over the bridge and window shop your way through the crowds, as on the other side of the bridge there is still much of Florence to be explored beyond the historic centre!


3. Palazzo Vecchio

The Florence town hall – Palazzo Vecchio – overlooks the Piazza della Signoria, a large common square, so it is likely that somewhere on your meanderings you will cross through here (or more likely the case that you will wind up here a handful of times)! The Palazzo Vecchio is built like a fortress and thus a distinct architectural work in Florence, from both the inside and out. If you fancy going inside, you can book your Palazzo Vecchio tickets in advance to save time on the day.

Basilica of Santa Croce - Florence

4. Basilica of Santa Croce 

The Basilica of Santa Croce is another one of those “hard to miss” sights in Florence, mainly due to its’ grandeur and size. This is the principal Franciscan church in Florence and as such is a very important landmark in the city. It is also the burial place of some of Italy’s most famous nationals including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini.

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5. Uffizi Gallery 

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the world’s most celebrated museums. Fittingly there are many highly celebrated artworks on display by some of the world’s greatest artists, including (but certainly not limited to): The Ognissanti Madonna (by Giotto); Annunciation (by Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi); Adoration of the Magi (by Gentille da fabriano); The Birth of Venus (by Botticelli); Doni Tondo (by Michelangelo); and Madonna of the Goldfinch (by Raphael). You can book your Uffizi Gallery tickets in advance to save time on the day.


6. Statue of David

The Statue of David is one of Florence’s most visited attractions, putting one of Michelangelo’s most famous works on display to the public. The statue was once on display in the piazza, however has since been replaced by a replica to protect the real statue of David inside the walls of the Accademia Gallery.


7. The View from Piazzale Michelangelo 

When visitors come to Florence they are often astounded by the winding and narrowly constructed cobblestone streets that they are absolutely determined to see the city from above. Well I’ve got good news for you! The best views over Florence are to be had at Piazzale Michelangelo and are entirely FREE! Make your way there on foot by crossing one of the many bridges to the ‘other side’ of Florence. Beware of the many steps to the top that feel as if you’ve run a marathon in the summer heat!

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8. Bargello

The Bargello Museum is another one of the most important museums in Florence and a must see for lovers of fine sculptures, including the bronze David by Donatello. You could spend half a day here, but if you only have a couple of hours, that will be enough to breeze through the highlights.

9. Boboli Gardens

While there are many great reasons to be indoors in Florence (the museums and the simple act to escape the Italian sun), there are also many great reasons to find yourself outdoors. A visit to the Boboli Gardens is a pleasant break from the stuffiness of museums, and will leave you in awe of the 16th-18th century sculptures in their outdoor habitat. Bring a packed picnic to really top it off!

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10. Palazzo Pitti

For something a little different to all the other mentions in this compiled list of the best things to do in Florence, head for the Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace in English) to observe a Renaissance palace in all its former glory. The Palazzo is located a short walk from the Ponte Vecchio on the south side of the Arno river.

via Unsplash

11. Basilica of Santa Maria Novella 

Unusually located across from the main railway station is another of Florence’ famous churches, Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. This is the city’s principal Dominican Church and certainly worth a visit for those interested in religion and religious history.

florence brooke saward

12. Piazza del Duomo

The Duomo of Florence is hard to miss. It is located in the heart of Florence and is not only one of the most visited places in Italy, but in all of Europe. You’ll be hard-pressed to miss it! If you prefer to do your sightseeing without crowds, be sure to visit in the early hours of the morning. By visiting just after the sun has risen you will avoid bumping shoulders with fellow tourists.

13. Medici Chapel 

Prepare to be amazed as you walk inside the Medici Chapel (actually, two structures and commonly referred to as the “Medici Chapels”.) The Medici Chapel dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries and were built as an extension to Brunelleschi’s 15th-century church. The interior is beyond words – be sure to take a look!

14. San Miniato al Monte

This stunning little Basilica stands atop one of the highest points in the city and has often been dubbed one of the region’s finest Romanesque structures. If you’re interested in seeing architecture beyond the Renaissance period, this is a great opportunity to do so.

Florence | World of Wanderlust

15. Giardino Bardini

For something more secretive and less-touristy, head to the Giardino Bardini – a Renaissance garden that has only recently been opened to the public.

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16. San Marco

Another interesting sight if you have more time on your hands is to make your way to the once convent and now museum, San Marco.

via Unsplash

17. Palazzo Medici Riccardi

This is another Renaissance palace that was built in the mid-late 15th century for the head of the affluent Medici banking family. You can tour the palace and wander its many halls, see the well-preserved interior decor and appreciate what life must have been like for this aristocratic family.

Brooke Saward in Florence

18. Wandering the Historic Centre of Florence

One of the most underrated activities in Florence is that which you do daily often without realising it – wandering through the Historic Centre. When you think back to your time in Florence, it is likely this you will remember more so than the gallery paintings, sculptures, and how ill you felt after stuffing yourself with carbonara on that Thursday afternoon. So don’t forget to take the time to take it all in!

San Gimignano - Guide to Tuscany

19. A Wine Tour through Tuscany

Interested in escaping the city and seeing more of the Tuscan countryside? I’m delighted to say you will be spoiled for choice! There are many tours running daily from Florence to outlying areas of Tuscany with a high focus on wine from the region. When in Rome!

Florence | World of Wanderlust

20. Giotto’s Bell Tower

This free-standing campanile is part of the Florence Cathedral, but distinguishes itself as its’ own entity as it is incredibly overwhelming when viewed both from afar and up close! If you dare, climb the 414 stairs to the top!

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Brooke Saward
Brooke Saward

Brooke Saward founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen, with a particular weakness for French pastries.

Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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1 month ago

Florence is stunning! We visited on our first trip to Italy on a group tour. We only had a day in Florence — not nearly enough! We need to go back and see the Uffizi!

2 years ago

I appreciate you sharing such a good post. Thanks

Kristine Watson
2 years ago

Florence is a great place to visit. The city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture, and politics.

2 years ago

I love Florence. I also suggest you to eat to “All’Antico Vinaio”, it’s amazing!!
Miki x