Though it may be one of the smaller Italian cities, Florence is a destination not to be missed. The capital of Tuscany has plenty to offer, boasting a rich history, impressive beauty and exceptional local cuisine.
Whether you’re planning a solo trip, romantic city break or family holiday, we’re here to make it easy for you. Discover the best things to do in Florence and find information on getting to each location if you’re travelling by train.
The city is home to some of the most spectacular museums and galleries in the world, where you’ll find works by many iconic Italian Renaissance artists. Visit the Uffizi Gallery to marvel at Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, see Michelangelo’s statue of David at the Accademia Gallery or climb Giotto’s Bell Tower.
Take in the iconic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore amidst the bustling Piazza del Duomo or visit the historic Medici residences: Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti Palace.
Next, walk along the famous Ponte Vecchio, then venture across River Arno to Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view of Florence.
If you need a break from sightseeing, you’ll find plenty of shops just a stone’s throw from Piazza della Repubblica, or sit down and relax in a café near Piazza della Signoria.
Here are 11 beautiful Florence attractions to bulk out your itinerary:
- Statue of David
- Uffizi Gallery
- Ponte Vecchio
- Palazzo Vecchio
- Piazzale Michelangelo
- Piazza della Signoria
- Pitti Palace
- Piazza del Duomo
- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
- Piazza della Repubblica
- Giotto's Bell Tower
1. Statue of David
Perhaps one of the most famous artists ever to have lived, Michelangelo features prominently throughout Florence’s galleries, museums, palaces and public spaces.
The statue of David is one of Michelangelo’s best-known works of art and an integral part of Florentine history. First unveiled in 1504, it was originally situated outside Palazzo Vecchio, home of the civic government, and later moved to the Accademia Gallery, where you can see it today.
2. Uffizi Gallery
Spend an afternoon soaking up some culture at the Uffizi Gallery, home to a rich collection of medieval European and Italian Renaissance artworks by notable artists such as Botticelli, Raphael and Titian. Discover the many ancient Roman sculptures donated by the Medici family throughout the gallery.
The large building in which the Uffizi Gallery is situated is an iconic piece of Florentine Renaissance architecture designed by Giorgio Vasari. Explore the majestic rooms and corridors spread across two floors whilst you admire the impressive works on display.
Book your Uffizi Gallery tickets in advance to avoid long wait times, as this is one of Florence’s most popular attractions.
3. Ponte Vecchio
Venice is better known for its beautiful bridges and waterways, but Florence’s Ponte Vecchio is equally picturesque.
Despite numerous repairs and reconstructions since it was built in 1345, you still can spot many medieval features on Ponte Vecchio today, including the arches, shops and central piazza.
Ponte Vecchio is pedestrianised, too! Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll from Palazzo Vecchio to Pitti Palace on the opposite side of the river. If you fancy doing some shopping, stop at one of the many jewellery, art and souvenir shops along Ponte Vecchio.
4. Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio was the seat of the regional government during the Florentine Republic. It overlooks one of the main squares in Florence, Piazza della Signoria, and still serves as the city’s town hall. The medieval palace also houses an impressive museum detailing Florence's civic and political history.
Take a tour around Palazzo Vecchio to admire frescoes by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, ornate gold interiors and secret passageways. Or climb the tower to look out over the city. Palazzo Vecchio is a fun day out for all the family with plenty to explore.
5. Piazzale Michelangelo
For breathtaking views of Florence, it’s worth paying a visit to Piazzale Michelangelo. Situated in the Oltrarno area of the city, on the opposite side of the river, you can easily walk there from Piazza della Signoria in under 25 minutes.
The Florentine architect, Giuseppe Poggi, designed Piazzale Michelangelo in 1869. He created the terrace to display copies of Michelangelo’s sculptures, hence its name. Walk amongst bronze copies of the statue of David and the Medici Chapel sculptures whilst you take in the impressive landscape of Florence below.
6. Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria is the square in front of Palazzo Vecchio. Walking around, you’ll notice many other palaces and historic buildings on the piazza, from the smaller Palazzo Uguccioni to Palazzo di Mercanzia which now houses the Gucci Museum. You could while away an afternoon admiring this iconic square alone.
Since Florence is renowned for its rich artistic heritage, it’s no surprise that Piazza della Signoria features several sculptures by acclaimed Italian artists. Explore Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air sculpture court adjacent to the Uffizi Gallery, before sitting down for a coffee in one of the nearby cafes.
7. Pitti Palace
Pitti Palace lies within the Oltrarno area of Florence, on the opposite side of the river. Once the residence of the Medici family, today it houses four museums: the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, the Palatine Gallery and Royal Apartments, the Gallery of Modern Art and the Museum of Costume and Fashion.
After visiting the grand palace’s museums, walk around the manicured lawns of Boboli Gardens, admiring its various sculptures and architectural features from the impressive amphitheatre to Buontalenti Grotto.
8. Piazza del Duomo
One of the most-visited places in Europe, Piazza del Duomo houses the iconic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Baptistery of St. John. The bustling square may be a tourist hotspot, but it’s certainly worth a visit.
Dotted around the square, you’ll find many cafes, shops and restaurants if you need to take a break from sightseeing.
9. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence’s impressive Gothic cathedral is undoubtedly the city’s best-known monument and one of the largest churches in Italy.
Walk around the perimeter of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore to appreciate the sheer size of this architectural masterpiece. Or venture inside to see the incredible Renaissance paintings by Giorgio Vasari on the dome’s interior, depicting The Last Judgement.
If you’re feeling adventurous, climb the 400 steps to the top of the dome, where you can experience 360˚ views of the city below.
10. Piazza della Repubblica
If you’re planning on shopping during your trip to Florence, head to Piazza della Repubblica. The square contains a handful of shops, including the department store La Rinascente. Plus, the surrounding streets are home to high-end fashion boutiques and some other, more affordable high-street shops.
Our dedicated shopping guide has more information on the best places to shop in Florence.
11. Giotto’s Bell Tower
When you’re standing in Piazza del Duomo, you can’t miss Giotto’s Bell Tower. Adjacent to the cathedral, the tower was designed and decorated in the same Gothic style. Named after the medieval painter-turned-architect Giotto who created it, the building is considered one of Florence's best examples of Gothic architecture.
For another spectacular viewpoint over the city, climb the 400 steps of Giotto’s Bell Tower to the viewing platform. Tickets are needed to go inside the tower, but there’s plenty to see outside.
Out and about in Florence
Whilst you’ll never be short of sightseeing opportunities in Florence, the city has plenty more to offer. From world-renowned restaurants serving traditional Tuscan cuisine to Italian designer boutiques, local markets and vibrant nightlife, it’s impossible to be bored in this beautiful city.
We’ve put together a list of the best restaurants, shopping and nightlife in Florence, making it easy for you to plan your trip from start to finish.
Whether you’d prefer an authentic Trattoria serving local dishes, a quick stop for Florentine street food or to sample modern Italian cuisine, you’ll be spoiled for choice when eating and drinking in Florence.
Enjoy typical Florentine fare, such as trippa e lampredotto (tripe and offal), slow-cooked and served street food style in a sandwich. Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine steak) is a local delicacy, whilst you’ll find fagioli (beans) on every menu, often cooked in a rich tomato sauce or added to pasta dishes.
Some of the best restaurants in Florence include:
- La Giostra
- Osteria Antica Casa Torre
- Degusteria Italiana agli Uffizi
- Ristorante Santa Elizabetta
Our dedicated Florence restaurants guide has more information on all the best spots to eat and drink.
Italy is known as one of the most fashionable countries in the world. Whilst Milan might be considered the ultimate destination for shopping, Florence is the birthplace of many luxury fashion houses, from Gucci to Ferragamo.
If you’re thinking of treating yourself to something special during your visit, head to Via de’ Tornabuoni, where you’ll find plenty of high-end designer shops.
But don’t be mistaken – shopping in Florence isn’t all about high fashion. There are many high-street shops, independents and markets to peruse too, where you’ll find jewellery, leather goods, local produce, souvenirs and more.
The best areas for shopping in Florence are:
- Via de’ Tornabuoni
- Via del Parione
- Via dei Calzaiuoli
- Mercato di San Lorenzo
If shopping is top of your itinerary, you’ll love our dedicated Florence shopping guide.
In a city that’s such a rich, cultural hub, it’s no surprise that Florence has a buzzing nightlife scene. From cosy bars tucked down narrow streets to rooftop bars with panoramic views, there are plenty of places to enjoy a drink or two in the evening. If you fancy a dance, discover the array of music venues and nightclubs across the city.
Relax and unwind or dance the night away at these popular bars and clubs in Florence:
- La Terrazza Rooftop Bar
- The Arts Inn
- Bitter Bar
- Santa Cocktail Club
Discover the most sought-after spots and hidden gems in our dedicated Florence nightlife guide.
Taking the train to Florence?
You can easily reach Florence by train from any major Italian city thanks to the frequent high-speed rail connections operated by Trenitalia and Italo. The most popular routes are from Rome to Florence, Pisa Centrale to Florence, Milan to Florence and Venice to Florence.
Need more information about travelling to Florence by train? Check out our dedicated page to trains to Florence.