Best things to do in Florence: itinerary ideas and city guide

ponte vecchio - best things to do in florence italy

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Whether you are planning your first Florence itinerary or your fifth, no doubt you have the same romantic notions about the Renaissance city that I have.

Florence was the place I most wanted to visit in Italy and the city I yearn to return to time and again. 

Is it the city’s enchanting buildings, views and priceless works of art that draw me back? Or perhaps it’s the idea of wandering romantic cobbled streets in search of artisan made goods, stopping for a long lunch over a bottle of chianti.

top 10 things to do in florence

Of course, it is all those things and so much more. Our guide to the best things to do in Florence uncovers the classic sights, the quirky shops and classic views of this fascinating city.

I hope it helps you to build your perfect itinerary for Florence.

Top 10 things to do in Florence

Florence is a small city so it is easy to simply wander and enjoy roaming from one historic piazza to another.

You literally walk the same paths as some of the most important people in history – Michelangelo, Dante, Galileo and Donatello.

That being said there are some Florence highlights you should not miss.

Visit Florence Cathedral – Santa Maria del Fiore

Santa Maria del Fiore Florence tourist attractions

One of the most enduring images of Florence is her magnificent cathedral or ‘Duomo’. Rising high above the city, its famous dome can be seen for miles.

You will be awestruck by the detail and craftsmanship of the exterior. Pink and green marble inlays and carvings are the hallmarks of the cathedral site. The interior is quite plain in comparison although you will be awestruck by architect Brunelleschi’s dome. 

There are three buildings in the cathedral complex – the Duomo itself, the octagonal Baptistery of San Giovanni and Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower). Each have fascinating histories and are well worth exploring. Make sure to enter the Baptistery through its ornate bronze doors. The mosaic inlaid golden interior is incredible.

ⓘ Visitor information: you can enter the Duomo for free but you need a combined ticket to climb the dome and visit the other buildings. Your access to the dome is at a set time and cannot be changed. Buy your advance tickets for Duomo on their sometimes confusing website. An alternative is to use online English language ticket and tours site Get Your Guide – click here for Duomo combined ticket.

Stroll across the Ponte Vecchio

ponte vecchio best views of florence

The oldest, and for a long time, the only bridge in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio is one of the emblems of the city. The cobbled bridge is almost 700 years old and for most of that time there have been shops on either side.  In the 17th century that the butchers and bakers were moved on to make way for goldsmiths, many who remain to this day.

Your Florence itinerary must include a walk along the bridge to enjoy the atmosphere, making sure to take in the romantic views from either side.  

This is a view of the bridge taken from the Uffizi Gallery. You can see the covered passageway, known as the Vasari corridor, that allowed Florentine rulers the Medici family to move with ease from the Pitti Palace to the Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio.

Unfortunately it is not possible to walk through there these days but you get the idea that the bridge has always been an important part of life in Florence.


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Get your art fix at the Uffizi Gallery

uffizi gallery - places to see in florence italy

One of the finest art destinations in the world, the Uffizi Gallery has masterpieces in every corner from the priceless collection amassed by the Medici.

The collection was bequeathed to the city by the last remaining descendant of the family, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici who ensured it remained intact and is able to be enjoyed by so many people.

The museum is a must see attraction when you are in Florence but you need to be prepared for crowds and lines if you don’t prebook your tickets or a tour.

ⓘ Uffizi Gallery tickets: we strongly recommend purchasing skip the line tickets for the Uffizi Gallery at most times of the year except mid winter. You can buy them using the museum site (be warned it is not easy to use, especially with foreign cards). Or get your tickets via an English language official ticket partnerWe use and recommend Get Your Guide for booking tickets and tours in Europe – read our full review here. To book your Uffizi Gallery timed entry tickets click here

Highlights of the Uffizi Gallery

  • The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
  • Medusa by Caravaggio
  • Doni Tondo by Michelangelo
  • Venus of Urbino by Titian
  • Filippo Lippi’s Madonna and Child
  • Various works by Leonardo da Vinci

ⓘ Uffizi Gallery tours: having both explored the gallery on my own and with a tour, I highly recommend joining a tour. A guide helps you discover the meaning and context behind the art and navigate the different rooms so you don’t miss the key pieces. This 2 hour Uffizi Gallery tour starts before the main opening time so you miss the crowds. 

Visit David at the Accademia

david at accademia best museums florence

Michelangelo’s masterpiece David is found at The Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia).

The statue  stands 17 feet high (over 5 meters) and was made from a single block of Carrara marble over 3 years. It depicts the Biblical hero David ‘the giant killer’ and is said to represent the city of Florence and its fight to protect its civil liberties from threats from Rome.

Apart from David, the Accademia has a large collection of priceless Renaissance art including more works by Michelangelo and paintings by Botticelli.

In my eyes David is breathtakingly beautiful and should be seen in person. However, if you are short on time or not a huge art fan, you can see a replica of the statue in Piazza della Signoria. This was David’s original location for 370 years before being moved to the Accedemia in 1873 for conservation and protection. 

ⓘ Accademia Gallery tickets: second only to the Uffizi in popularity, expect long lines to enter the gallery if you have not pre-booked tickets (except in winter). The gallery’s ticket site is here or you can book your timed entry with audio guide in English via official partner Get Your Guide – click for ticket prices

Admire the piazzas

Piazza signoria - must see in Florence

Florence is home to some of the world’s most beautiful public spaces. Which piazza will be your favorite?

The Piazza della Signoria has a collection of statues that rivals most galleries.  You could spend hours admiring the art under the Loggia dei Lanzi. I like the triumphant bronze statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa.  Close by you will find the replica statue of David and gushing fountain of Neptune pictured above. 

In contrast, the Piazza della Republicca is lined with elegant buildings and historic cafes. Once the site of the Roman forum and old market, the piazza was remodeled in the 19th century. The large triumphal arch and porticos on its west side are particularly beautiful. As is the antique wooden carousel – a favorite with children.

Piazza Santa Maria Novella close to the train station is a wide open space where you can sit on a bench and admire the Renaissance facade of the basilica that dominates the square.

Explore the Palazzo Vecchio

palazzo vecchio florence highlights

You can’t miss the Palazzo Vecchio. The city’s imposing town hall and historic place of government was the scene of many an intrigue and mystery. The Medici family ruled the city from here during the Renaissance.

You can appreciate the building from outside in the Piazza della Signoria but, if you have time, take a tour of the interior.

After the Uffizi, the Palazzo Vecchio is one of my favorite places to visit in Florence. It is the place to go if you want to imagine how life was like when the city was at its peak.

From the moment you enter the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of 500) with its impressive panelled ceilings and frescoes there is no doubt that Florence was a wealthy and influential city.

Visit the hall of maps and the private rooms of the Medici family, all restored to their Renaissance glory. Don’t forget to look out over the city rooftops towards the Duomo from the upper floor windows and learn about the secret passageways within the palace.

ⓘ Palazzo Vecchio tickets and tours: you can easily buy tickets at the entrance or prebook on the museum website. We recommend taking a guided tour so you can appreciate the importance of the building and discover its secret passageways. You can even climb the tower for stunning views of Florence and Tuscany beyond – click here for tour information

Take in the views at Piazzale Michelangelo

florence landmarks from piazzale michelangelo

It is a steep climb up the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo but I promise you it is worth it. (In any case, there are always taxis!) From here you can take in the panoramic view of the city below pictured above. It’s simply breathtaking.

You will find an (overpriced) coffee bar and restaurant at the terrace below the piazza but we suggest taking a walk down the hill to the artistic San Niccolo neighbourhood.

This is the perfect spot to stop for lunch or do some shopping before you head back over the river via the Ponte alle Grazie. 

Another culture fix at the Pitti Palace 

pitti palace florence points of interest

The Medici family moved to Palazzo Pitti on the other side of the Arno once they had outgrown the Palazzo Vecchio. It is a magnificent Renaissance palace full of treasures that the family acquired over several centuries, and is an extension of the Uffizi Gallery. 

At the Pitti Palace you can tour the state rooms and private apartments and see masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Rubens and VanDijk. Each room is dripping with art and luxury the likes of which were only surpassed by the Palace of Versailles in France.

Include Palazzo Pitti in your itinerary if you are returning to Florence, are obsessed by art or have a week in the city. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance with minimal queuing.

More information about opening times and ticket prices on the Pitti Palace website

Wander the Boboli Gardens

must do in florence boboli gardens

The Boboli Gardens of the Pitti Palace are a destination in themselves. Once the private estate of (yes you guessed it, the Medici!), the gardens feature formal and informal spaces, fountains, statues and even an amphitheater.

Sprawling over 111 acres, they are one of the largest green spaces in Florence and are a lovely place to stroll if you have art fatigue or just need some fresh air. From the higher points of the gardens you enjoy sweeping views of the city.

Within the gardens you can also visit the Buontalenti Grotto – an ornate cave that looks straight out of a fairytale. 

The main entry to the gardens is via the Pitti Palace. There you can buy your tickets for the garden or a combined ticket to enter the palace – click here for more information

Discover Santa Croce

santa croce - florence italy attractions

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the final resting place of famous Florentines, Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. You can see their tombs inside the basilica which has 16 chapels, many adorned with frescoes by Giotto depicting the life of Saint Francis.

Outside in the piazza, a brooding statue of Dante keeps an eye on proceedings. Here local children play and people enjoy a coffee or aperitivo at the bars lining the square. This is a favorite spot of mine to visit at sunset as the Tuscan light bounces off the marble facade.

There is not usually a line to enter Santa Croce. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance on the left hand side of the church as you approach from the piazza – more information

Florence beyond the main sights

florence neighborhood

Even if you are not an art fanatic, it’s hard not to be charmed by the slower, more refined pace of Florence.  It is a city for leisurely lunches, cocktails with swoon worthy views and browsing artisan boutiques.

Favorite neighborhoods

If wandering and stopping to soak up the atmosphere is your travel style, head out of the central historic district and stroll around these neighborhoods. 

  • Santa Croce / Sant’Ambrogio – close to the basilica you will find a vibrant local market and fun restaurants
  • San Niccolò – a restaurant and artisan shopping hub just under Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Santo Spirito – enjoy the local markets and cafes under the shady trees of the piazza Santo Spirito in the Oltrano district

Other noteworthy churches and sights

Santa Maria Novella - florence hotels near train station

Florence is a city of curiosities and churches and museums full to the brim with art and history. If you have more than a couple of days in Florence, seek out these sights of the city.

  • Il Porcellino statue [Piazza del Mercato Nuovo] – this bronze statue of a boar brings good luck if you place a coin in its mouth
  • Santa Maria Novella – one of the city’s oldest churches with a Renaissance facade and art by Botticelli
  • Bardini Gardens [Costa San Giorgio, 2] – beautiful Italian Renaissance gardens with sweeping views of the city
  • Santo Spirito [Piazza Santo Spirito] – Brunelleschi’s basilica has a plain facade but there is incredible art inside by Michelangelo, Lippi and other Renaissance masters
  • Basilica di San Lorenzo [Piazza di San Lorenzo] – frescoed Medici family church where they are buried and a library designed by Michelangelo

ponte santa trinita - florence attractions

  • Ponte Santa Trinita – a beautiful bridge with statues and views of the Ponte Vecchio
  • San Marco [Piazza San Marco] – holds the relic of a mummified saint
  • Gucci Garden [Piazza della Signoria, 10] – museum space, cafe and store dedicated to the fashion house Gucci
  • San Miniato al Monte [Via delle Porte Sante, 34] – fabulous views and interior from this Romanesque church just outside the city walls

Where to shop in Florence

Pop your head into a shop or two in Florence and you won’t believe your eyes. Some of these establishments have been trading or developing their craft for centuries.

From leather goods to stationery, food and beauty products, you will find unique and interesting gifts and souvenirs in Florence.

My shopping address book

At Alessandro Dari, [Via di S. Niccolò, 115R] a jeweller, they create intricate contemporary pieces inspired by the city’s Renaissance past. 

Visit Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella [ Via della Scala, 16] for historic elixirs, cures and perfume. Almost 800 years old, the pharmacy’s signature scent was made for the Queen of France – Catherine de’Medici

Scuola del Cuoio [Piazza Santa Croce, 16] keeps the Florentine artisan leather making tradition alive and produces pieces from the finest hides. Visiting the store in the monastery of Santa Croce is an adventure too. 

Il Papiro [Piazza del Duomo, 24r ] is famous for marbled papers, sealing wax and leather bound stationery. 

Sant’Ambrogio Market [ Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti] is the place to go for local produce – fresh cheeses, pasta, fruit and vegetables. The market is a short walk from Santa Croce. Vendors will vacuum pack cheeses for you to transport home.

Madova [Via de ‘Guicciardini, 1] makes fine leather gloves 

Cocktails with views

ponte vecchio best things to see in florence italy

One of my favorite things to do in Italy is enjoy aperitivo (pre dinner drinks and snacks). And it is even better with a view of beautiful Florence. Here are some spots you might enjoy

Suggested Florence itineraries

duomo view - florence landmarks

Ideally you would spend 3 days in Florence, but we know that can sometimes be hard to fit into schedules and budgets.

Here are some Florence itinerary ideas to help you include all the activities and that you want to see in the time you have available. 

1 day in Florence – art highlights and views

If you only have one day in Florence we suggest picking one gallery to visit and spend the rest of the time exploring the Ponte Vecchio, romantic piazzas and Duomo. There is time to experience Tuscan cuisine and wine so you get a taste of the Renaissance city too.

  • Morning – Uffizi Gallery (make sure to prebook tickets here), Ponte Vecchio
  • Lunch – suggestion –  Tuscan dishes at Trattoria Ponte Vecchio [Lungarno degli Archibusieri, 8] or wine tasting and snacks Le Volpi e L’Uva (Piazza dei Rossi)
  • Afternoon – Piazza della Signoria, Piazza della Repubblica, Duomo – prebook tickets
  • Gelato stop – suggestion – La Strega Nocciola (Via Ricasoli, 16r) 
  • Dinner – Mercato Centrale 

TOUR SUGGESTION: See Florence in a day on a small group tour with an expert from the fun team at The Roman Guy. Their 6.5 hour highlights of Florence tour visits the Duomo, David statue, Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, the Bronze Boar, Ponte Vecchio. Use code ‘UntoldItaly‘ to claim a 5% discount on Roman Guy tours in Florence – for more info click here

2 day Florence itinerary – a classic tour

Day One – Duomo, Accademia and views

Day Two – Uffizi Gallery, Pponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, Piazzale Michelangelo

  • Morning – Uffizi Gallery (make sure to prebook tickets here) and stroll over Ponte Vecchio
  • Lunch –  suggestion –  Tuscan dishes at Trattoria Ponte Vecchio (Lungarno degli Archibusieri, 8) or wine tasting and snacks Le Volpi e L’Uva (Piazza dei Rossi)
  • Afternoon – Boboli Gardens and/or Pitti Palace followed by Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Gelato stop – Il Gelato di filo [Via S. Miniato, 5]
  • Evening drinks – Piazza Santa Croce, if you have time visit the church
  • Dinner – Caffè Cibreo [Via Andrea del Verrocchio, 5R]

ponte vecchio florence sightseeing

3 days in Florence – the grand tour

Day One – Duomo, Accademia and views

Day Two – Uffizi Gallery, Pponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, Piazzale Michelangelo

  • Morning – Uffizi Gallery (make sure to prebook tickets here) and stroll over Ponte Vecchio
  • Lunch –  suggestion –  Tuscan dishes at Trattoria Ponte Vecchio (Lungarno degli Archibusieri, 8) or wine tasting and snacks Le Volpi e L’Uva (Piazza dei Rossi)
  • Afternoon – Boboli Gardens and/or Pitti Palace followed by Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Gelato stop – Il Gelato di filo [Via S. Miniato, 5]
  • Evening drinks – Piazza Santa Croce
  • Dinner – Caffè Cibreo [Via Andrea del Verrocchio, 5R]

Day Three – take a day trip or explore the neighborhoods

  • Morning – Santa Croce district – visit the church, Sant’Ambrogio market and leather school
  • Lunch –  Boccadarno [Via di S. Niccolò, 56r] 
  • Afternoon – San Niccolo and Oltrano districts, Santo Spirito and shopping 
  • Gelato stop – Perche’ No [Via dei Tavolini, 19R] 
  • Evening drinks – La Rinascente terrazza [Piazza della Repubblica, 4] – uninterrupted Duomo views
  • Dinner – L’Osteria Di Giovanni [via del Moro, 22] – steak florentine

When to visit Florence

Florence, like most of Italy, has a peak season from May to October. During this time the small city is packed full of visitors and lines for the main attractions are long. Accommodation prices also increase then so it is wise to book well in advance if possible.

The table below has information to help you decide the best time to visit for your travel preferences and plans.

 WeatherCrowdsAccommodationSeasonal events
Spring
March - May
Cool, bring a jacket
Expect rain
Starting to build by MayCost - high
Book 3-6 months in advance
Outdoor terraces open mid April
Flowers in fields and gardens
Scoppio del Carro festival
Summer
June - August
Very hot and humidBusiest season. Huge crowds. Must prebook tours and attractionsCost - very high
Book 6-12 months in advance
Calcio Storico historic football match
Ferragosto - August holiday
Autumn / Fall
September - November
Becoming colder
This is the rainiest season
Crowds thin by November but September and October are still busyCost - high
Book 3-6 months in advance
Outdoor terraces close mid September
Grape and olive harvest
Truffles in season
Winter
December - February
Cold
You will need a coat
Best season for visiting museumsCost - medium
Book 3-6 months in advance
Christmas decorations
Scoppio del Carro -

We enjoy the cooler months of May and October in Florence. At this time the crowds are manageable and temperatures are cooler and perfect for sightseeing.

Where to stay in Florence

Florence is a small city that welcomes over 10 million tourists each year. Make sure to book early – at least 6 months in advance if you can – to secure rooms at the best hotels. Browse our guide on where to stay in Florence or check out our top picks below:

Luxury – Hotel Savoy

 Small luxury hotel on elegant Piazza della Republicca. Most rooms have views of the Duomo or piazza – click here to book

Boutique – Continentale

 Chic hotel with rooftop bar and impossibly romantic views over the Ponte Vecchio – click here to book

Family – San Firenze Suites

 Family friendly hotel close to the Uffizi with two room suites. Some rooms have outdoor terraces – click here to book

Value – Hotel del Corso

 Great value 3 star budget hotel with terrace and city views – click here to book

Click here for our full guide on accommodation in Florence

What and where to eat

Florence is a foodie paradise so you definitely won’t be hungry. From local pasta dishes to pizza and hearty stews with polenta, Tuscan cuisine is famous around the world for good reason.

Make sure you try Steak Florentine. Bistecca alla Fiorentina is steak cooked rare over a wood fire then sprinkled with salt. That’s it! The key to the dish is the specific cut of meat from the local Chianina breed of cow.

Mercato Centrale

mercato centrale - where to eat in florence

The central market in Florence sprawls out onto the street and is a raggle taggle of tourist tat and leather goods imported from elsewhere. If you only make it this far you’ll be quite disappointed.

But, if you persevere and head up the escalators to the first floor food court, you’ll find a whole other foodie world that I promise you is worth the effort. Here you find over 25 restaurants and bars serving fast, fresh and modern Italian dishes.

On our last trip to Florence we did a wonderful market tour and cooking class with a local food writer.  She told us that the pizza at La Pizzeria Sud at Mercato Centrale was among the best she had tasted, ever. And it was in fact chewy, with just the right amount of tomato, topping and cheese.

Caffe Cibreo

caffe cibreo - best places to eat florence

Close to Sant’Ambrogio Market, the menu at Caffè Cibreo is full of interesting dishes with a spin on traditional Tuscan cuisine.  Enjoy a coffee and pastry for breakfast while salads, flatbreads and a moreish Tuscan Club Sandwich made with beef are typical lunchtime fare.

Famous Florentine chef Fabio Picchi experiments with seasonal ingredients at this fun cafe. Our pick are the aperitivo bites and tasting menus featuring the house signature dish – thinly sliced roast beef. 

The cafe is open from breakfast until late at Via Andrea del Verrocchio, 5R 

Recommended addresses

Restaurante Santa Elisabetta  – a great value fine dining option in central Florence

Enoteca Coquinarius [via delle oche 11, Firenze] here you can eat a delicious pasta lunch with wine for around €20.

Boccadarno [Via di S. Niccolò, 56r] I’m still thinking about the lobster pasta we had here. Very friendly neighborhood restaurant

Trattoria Giovanni [Via Sant’Agostino, 38] casual lunch option near the Pitti Palace

Carduccio [Sdrucciolo de ‘Pitti, 10] for light lunches, juices, smoothies and snacks

Eataly Florence [Via de ‘Martelli, 22] – cafe, bar and food store near the Duomo

Trattoria Ponte Vecchio [Lungarno degli Archibusieri, 8]

Del Fagioli [Corso dei Tintori, 47-r]  and L’Osteria Di Giovanni [via del Moro, 22]– delicious steak Florentine

Click here to find and book restaurants in Florence

Best Gelato stops in Florence

La Strega Nocciola [Duomo – Via Ricasoli, 16r] artisan gelato at 3 locations across the city featuring traditional and modern flavors 

Il Gelato di filo [Via S. Miniato, 5] – creamy and smooth gelato close to Piazzale Michelangelo

Perche’ No [Via dei Tavolini, 19R] – try their Tuscan rose and pistachio flavors – worth the wait in line

How to get around

Florence is a walkable city. All the main attractions are within easy walking distance of around 30 minutes.

If you have mobility issues or are just tired from walking then your best bet is a taxi. They are white and you can get them at the taxi stands around the city.

Best activities and tours of Florence

piazza della signoria florence top attractions

The more I travel, the more I love doing tours. I think it’s the best way to learn about a city and its history and culture without studying books for hours (I like that too!). The trick is to choose tours that are for as small a group as possible, and on a topic that you enjoy.

We love food tours and classes, art and history so narrowing the choice in Florence was quite difficult. But here are three specific tours you might enjoy

  • Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio combined tour – if you want to learn (more) about the Renaissance in Florence and the explosion of art and culture in that era, this is the tour for you. I studied Renaissance history and loved every second of this 3 hour tour – click for details
  • Pizza and gelato making class – there’s nothing like bringing a skill home from vacation with you to ensure your trip is memorable. This fun class includes lots of tastings and wine – more information
  • Night walking tour – this 1.5 hour walking tour takes you on a journey through Florence at night. Visit the city’s well known landmarks and hear ghost stories and intrigues – click for details

ⓘ The Roman Guy tours: Our friends at The Roman Guy offer daily highlights tours of Florence. Always in small groups, you are sure to uncover the secrets of the Renaissance city with their fun guides. Use code ‘UntoldItaly‘ to claim a 5% discount on Roman Guy tours across Italy – for more info on their tours in Florence click here

Best day trips from Florence

Pienza Tuscany Italy

Florence is a popular base for those wanting to explore Tuscany. You can reach many popular destinations easily by train, tour or renting a car.

To read our full guide to the best day trips from Florence with DIY instructions and tour options click here

Here are some favorites:

Click to read our guide to the best day trips from Florence

The weather and what to pack for Florence

The seasons in Florence vary dramatically so it’s wise to check the forecast before you start packing. Snow is rare in the city but winter temperatures are cold averaging between 3 and 11 degrees celsius. Summers can be long and hot with daytime temperatures soaring over 30 degrees celsius.

Once you know what the weather is doing then you can plan your outfits and gear. Italians are stylish dressers so if you want to look the part leave the yoga pants and flip flops at home. And if you want to enter churches remember that your shoulders and knees should be covered.

A hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and light scarf are musts for any summer trip. In winter you will need a coat, scarf and gloves. Whatever the season, bring your sunglasses! 

Italy travel essentials

Apart from your clothes,  your should also pack these essential items:

  • battery pack for recharging your phone – we like this one
  • universal adaptor so you can plug in your devices – this one is useful 
  • collapsible water bottle – stay hydrated and use less plastic – click to see our favorite

Click here for our full guide to packing for Italy

How to get to Florence

Most visitors to Florence arrive by train from Rome or other cities in Italy or by plane.

Florence Peretola airport is small and very few flights land there. They also tend to be quite expensive. An alternative, that we use, is to fly into Pisa and catch the train, bus or airport transfer from there.

Click here to check for flight deals to Florence and Pisa  

Note that the last train from Pisa departs from Florence at 21.30pm so if you are flying in from outside the EU you will need to land by 20.00 to ensure you can catch this train.

If you arrive later or just want to relax as you make your way to Florence, you can book a transfer service from Pisa airport.

We use online booking site Hoppa to search, compare and book our transfer service.  They have private cars, vans and minibuses to choose from.

Florence with kids

florence vintage carousel - best things to do in Florence with kids

We are keen family travelers and love taking our kids to cities and cultural experiences. But I would not recommend a more than a day in Florence for families with young children. I would even think hard about taking teenagers unless they had a particular interest in art. 

Florence is a small but busy city with narrow cobbled streets and very few pedestrian only areas. Green spaces and parks are difficult to find and the main attractions are indoor, quiet activities not suited to most children.

Instead, base yourself in family friendly Lucca, Siena or the Tuscan countryside where you can do a day trip into Florence. That way you can enjoy the major sites and retreat to a place where your children can run around safely.

Top tips for a family trip to Florence

Here are some tips and things to do in Florence with kids that will help you make the most of your visit. 

If your kids are small take a baby carrier instead of a stroller to help make moving around easier.

Know where to get gelato – it’s the ultimate bribe for good behaviour. See our favorites above

Book family friendly tours of the main attractions to help engage your children in the sites, art and history. If you have not tried a tour like this you can expect your guide to provide fun activities like treasure hunts, stops for snacks and to be sensitive to tired feet. We recommend:

If you need a break from walking and sightseeing, there is a gorgeous vintage carousel in the Piazza della Republicca

Teenagers might enjoy touring the city on a segway. This is a fun way to get around the major sites, learn about the history and save their legs. Suitable for over 14 years, height and weight restrictions apply –  click here for more information

segway tour florence

The Leonardo da Vinci Museum has interactive exhibits exploring da Vinci’s inventions is worth a visit. Museo Leonardo da Vinci – Via dei Servi, 66 – more information

Take a taxi to the Piazzale Michelangelo for the best views of Florence, and then walk down the very steep hill through the rose garden to Il Gelato di filo [Via S. Miniato, 5] for ice cream. 


Let’s go to Florence!

florence view - must see in florence italy

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2 thoughts on “Best things to do in Florence: itinerary ideas and city guide

  1. Kat says:

    I always enjoy reading your posts because there are loads of information to know about a destination, and I know you’re a perfect guide to Italy! 🙂 My trip to Florence 10 years ago was way too short – a fleeting visit for a few hours before heading to Venice, I think…judging from your guide, it’s really worthwhile to spend a few days here. Cheers!

  2. Amanda says:

    Wow, what a great post! So much information! I now regret not going to Florence, haha. My husband and I spent time in Europe for our honeymoon, but we only visited Rome in Italy because we wanted more time in Greece and Switzerland. Everyone told us Florence was a must-see though, and now I know why! It will definitely be on our list next time!

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