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Things to Do in Florence

Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is the capital of Tuscany and the region’s artistic gem. This medieval city of red-tiled roofs is full of world-famous art, and is one of the most popular destinations in Italy. Florence's historic center is home to the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia, both must-see stops for visitors, with artwork by the likes of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and more. For fantastic views over the city, climb to the top of the Duomo, Brunelleschi’s architectural masterpiece and an iconic shape in the skyline. See where Michelangelo’s David first stood in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, and count the number of replicas now placed around the city. A stroll across the Ponte Vecchio provides views of the Arno River and the bridge's jewelry shops, while the Boboli Gardens and the Palazzo Pitti showcase the former home of the powerful Medici family. And, of course, when in Italy, it’s all about food: sample Tuscan cuisine, browse the colorful stalls of the Mercato Centrale at San Lorenzo, or take a cooking class. To explore outside of the city, try day tours into the Tuscan countryside to climb the leaning tower of Pisa, sip Chianti wine, see the medieval towers of San Gimignano, or walk around Siena's main square, home to the famous Palio horse race.
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Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell'Accademia)
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Once one of Europe’s oldest drawing schools, Florence’s Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia) is now one of the city’s most visited museums, home to one of the world’s most impressive works of Renaissance art—Michelangelo’s 17-foot-tall (5.2-meter-tall) David. Other works on display include 15th- and 16th-century paintings by the likes of Botticelli and Lippi, unfinished Michelangelo sculptures, and a museum of musical instruments.

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Uffizi Galleries (Gallerie degli Uffizi)
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The Uffizi Galleries (Gallerie degli Uffizi) houses one of the world’s most significant collections of art, drawing in more than a million annual visitors who wish to cast eyes upon its many masterpieces. Set in the heart of Florence, the museum contains the works of artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Giotto, among others. It is the premier place to view Italian Renaissance art and is the most-visited museum in Italy.

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Florence Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiori)
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No matter where you walk in Florence, chances are you will spot its famous Duomo—a defining element of the city’s history, geography, and identity—towering above. Beneath its red-tiled dome lies Florence’s largest church, officially known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria dei Fiori. Together with the Museum of the Duomo, an opera museum, the baptistery of San Giovanni, and Giotto's Bell Tower, the Duomo complex has become the city’s most famous landmark.

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Ponte Vecchio
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The historic Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is perhaps the most recognized symbol of Florence after Brunelleschi’s soaring red dome topping the Duomo. The three lower arches of this 14th-century bridge span the Arno River at its narrowest point between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti Palace, and a stretch of the famous Vasari Corridor runs along its top. Situated on street level, the Ponte Vecchio is lined with pocket-sized jewelry shops and packed with locals and tourists taking a stroll or snapping photos of the colorful palazzi lining the river bank.

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Piazza della Signoria
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Home to the imposing Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria is the most important public square in Florence. The political heart of the city for centuries, today the square is also a vibrant social hub, where locals and tourists gather at the Loggia dei Lanzi and Neptune fountain to soak up the elegant atmosphere.

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Piazzale Michelangelo
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The most famous scenic overlook in Florence, Piazzale Michelangelo is beloved for its breathtaking views over the city’s rooftops. From this 19th-century square set on a hillside in the Oltrarno neighborhood, panoramic views stretch over the Rose Garden, Ponte Vecchio spanning the river Arno, the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence's iconic Duomo and bell tower, and the Tuscan hills beyond.

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Palazzo Vecchio
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The 13th-century Palazzo Vecchio has been the symbol of this Renaissance capital’s political power for more than seven centuries. With its imposing crenellated roofline and defensive tower, it dominates Piazza della Signoria and is home to the luxurious chambers of the Medici family. Visiting Palazzo Vecchio for a peek into Renaissance Florence is a rite of passage for visitors.

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Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti)
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Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti) was built by Luca Pitti in the 1400s. A century later, Duchess of Florence Eleonora di Toledo purchased the Renaissance palazzo for her husband, Cosimo I de' Medici, and it remained the official residence of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until the early 20th century. Today, Pitti Palace is Florence's largest museum complex.

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Piazza della Repubblica
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Piazza della Repubblica is one of the most important and elegant squares in the heart of Florence, lined with porticoed 19th-century palazzi, Grand Dame hotels, high-end boutiques, bustling restaurants, and historic cafés. A stroll through this beautiful public space is a must during any Florence sightseeing tour.

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Arno River
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Stretching 150 miles (241 kilometers) from Mount Falterona to the Ligurian Sea, the Arno River is Tuscany’s largest body of water. While the Arno runs through Casentino and Pisa, it is most often visited in Florence, where it divides the city in two. Florence’s bridges—including the iconic Ponte Vecchio—are renowned for their River Arno views.

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More Things to Do in Florence

Florence Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni)

Florence Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni)

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Situated just west of the Duomo Cathedral, the Florence Baptistery of St. John (Battistero di San Giovanni) is one of the oldest structures in Florence. Its iconic octagonal structure dates back to ancient Rome, while its 16th-century bronze doors—sculpted by Lorenzo Ghiberti—were dubbed the Gates of Paradise by Michelangelo himself.

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Brunelleschi's Dome (Cupola del Brunelleschi)

Brunelleschi's Dome (Cupola del Brunelleschi)

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Towering above Florence, Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome (Cupola del Brunelleschi) is an important engineering and architectural feat. Completed in 1436, the fact that this symbol of the city still stands tall over the Duomo more than 600 years later is testament to Brunelleschi’s mastery. Climb to the top for some of the best views over Florence.

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Piazza Santa Croce

Piazza Santa Croce

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Piazza Santa Croce, dominated by the Basilica of Santa Croce, is one of the most important squares in central Florence. Home to the intricately frescoed 17th-century Palazzo dell’Antella and the 15th-century Palazzo Cocchi-Serristori, this vibrant public space hosts a number of outdoor markets and fairs each year.

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Palio of Siena (Palio di Siena)

Palio of Siena (Palio di Siena)

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Every year in July and August, Piazza del Campo hosts the raucous Il Palio, a historic, bareback horse race between 10 of Siena’s 17 contrade (town districts). The festivities also encompass religious services, pageants, and banquets.

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Ponte Santa Trinita

Ponte Santa Trinita

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Built in the 16th century by Bartolomeo Ammannati with advice from Michelangelo, Ponte Santa Trinita, or Saint Trinity Bridge, connects the two banks of Florence’s Arno River and offers unobstructed views of the Ponte Vecchio. The bridge was rebuilt with its original materials in 1958 after its destruction during World War II.

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San Miniato al Monte

San Miniato al Monte

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With so many unforgettable sights in Florence, it’s tempting to skip San Miniato al Monte, perched high up on a hilltop in the outskirts of the city. However, the church’s stunning 13th-century mosaic and sweeping views over Florence make the effort well worth your while.

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Florence Santa Croce Basilica (Basilica di Santa Croce)

Florence Santa Croce Basilica (Basilica di Santa Croce)

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One of the most striking and important churches in Florence, Santa Croce Basilica (Basilica di Santa Croce) is a classic example of Tuscan Gothic architecture. It’s also home to myriad works by Giotto, Gaddi, della Robbia, and Donatello, plus the tombs of numerous luminaries including Michelangelo, Galileo, Ghiberti, and Machiavelli.

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Basilica of Santa Maria Novella (Basilica di Santa Maria Novella)

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella (Basilica di Santa Maria Novella)

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The city’s first basilica, Santa Maria Novella (Basilica di Santa Maria Novella) is one of Florence’s most beautiful and important churches. With a striking Gothic-Renaissance facade, interior chapels housing artistic masterpieces, and Dominican cloisters, the basilica is one of the top sights in Tuscany’s capital city.

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Orsanmichele Church and Museum (Chiesa e Museo di Orsanmichele)

Orsanmichele Church and Museum (Chiesa e Museo di Orsanmichele)

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In a city known for its Renaissance architecture, the Gothic-style Orsanmichele Church and Museum is a standout. With ornate doors and windows, some of the oldest stained glass in Florence, and statues by Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Della Robbia, Nanni di Banco, and Donatello, this little-known landmark is worth a visit.

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Basilica of San Lorenzo (Basilica di San Lorenzo)

Basilica of San Lorenzo (Basilica di San Lorenzo)

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The Basilica of San Lorenzo (Basilica di San Lorenzo) is one of the most important Renaissance churches in Florence. Commissioned by the powerful Medici family and designed by Brunelleschi, it is home to magnificent sculptural and architectural works by Michelangelo, including the Medici Chapels (Cappelle Medicee) and the Laurentian Library.

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Giotto's Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto)

Giotto's Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto)

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After Brunelleschi’s soaring dome, Giotto’s elegant bell tower (Campanile di Giotto) is perhaps the most recognized landmark emerging above the rooftops of Florence. Admire the intricate polychrome marble covering the entire 270-foot (82-meter) height, and climb the more than 400 steps to the top for one of the best views over Florence.

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Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli)

Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli)

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Pass through the arched entrance of Florence’s stately Pitti Palace and into the serenity of the sweeping Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli), once the private playground of this Renaissance capital’s ruling Medici family. Dating from the 16th century, the Giardino di Boboli is among the earliest examples of formal Italian gardens, commissioned for the wife of Cosimo I de Medici in 1540. The gardens were expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries, and now cover 11 acres (4.4 hectares) of hillside and include a collection of outdoor sculptures dating from ancient Rome through the 17th century, making it a veritable open-air museum.

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Florence Central Market (Mercato Centrale)

Florence Central Market (Mercato Centrale)

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The renovated Central Market (Mercato Centrale) is a trendy gastronomic mecca in the heart of Florence. On the ground floor, you’ll find 19th-century architecture and traditional food stalls; upstairs, there’s an urban food court featuring more than a dozen stands and shops, as well as a cooking school.

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Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi

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One of the finest examples of renaissance architecture in Florence, Palazzo Strozzi was built in the 15th century for the wealthy Strozzi family and today serves as an exhibition space hosting some of the city’s most prestigious shows. Though not among Florence’s most famous venues, it will appeal to visiting art aficionados.

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