Insider’s Guide: Things to Do in Florence

Whether you’ve got a few hours or a full day, there are plenty of things to do in Florence, home to some of the world’s greatest pieces of art. (And plenty of great places to eat and rest your head, too—stay tuned for parts two and three of my Insider’s Guide to find out where!)

Things To Do in Florence

Things to do in Florence

Florence Baptistery

Half-Day Itinerary

When in Florence, a visit to the duomo (pictured above) is truly a must and one that can be accomplished alongside a few other notable sights, given the city’s intimate historic centre. So, if time is limited, walk around the duomo’s exterior (there is often a line to gain access to the inside) to catch its intricate façade and appreciate Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome and Giotto’s Bell Tower from various angles.

Conveniently adjacent is the Baptistery. Even if you don’t have time to check out its interior, don’t miss stopping in front of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s doors. Then, just a 10- to 15-minute walk away, is the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, home to Michelangelo’s David. To save time waiting to get in (we’re talking hours here), be sure to order your tickets in advance—you can do this before your trip, or your hotel concierge can help once you’ve arrived in town.

Full-Day Itinerary

If you have a full day in Florence, consider touring the duomo’s interior and perhaps exploring Brunelleschi’s revolutionary achievement first-hand by climbing to the top of the dome. Next, head to the Accademia to check out David or, if you prefer, visit the Uffizi Gallery to see the some of the greatest works of the Renaissance. (The Uffizi is the most-visited museum in Italy, so you’ll want to give yourself time to see all its highlights.) Then, for more modern works of “art,” head to the Ferragamo Shoe Museum. This will probably inspire some of you to invest in similar artworks yourself, and Florence has some wonderful shops to hit. In the evening, after a relaxed meal, a gelato and a stroll is an ideal way to experience Florence at night. To ensure that your gelato is first-rate, navigate your stroll to include one or both of Florence’s most heralded gelaterias.

Historical Buildings & Museums

Things to do in Florence

Michelangelo’s David

The Duomo and Campanile (Bell Tower)
Piazza del Duomo
Bask in the massive grandeur of the duomo and, after visiting the church’s interior, climb to the top of the dome. For a similar bird’s-eye view of the old city, as well as great photos of the dome itself, you may instead choose to ascend Giotto’s Bell Tower.

Florence Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni)
Piazza del Duomo
Deemed by Dante his “bel San Giovanni,” this is one of the oldest and most revered buildings in Florence. Don’t miss the colourful 13thC mosaics of the Last Judgment inside, nor Ghiberti’s doors, dubbed the “Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo.

Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze
Via Ricasoli 60; Reservations (011-39) 055-294-883; Closed Mondays
Not only is Michelangelo’s David a must, so are his mystical unfinished sculptures. You will also find an important collection of 15thC and 16thC Florentine paintings. Ensure your entry and shorten your wait in line by reserving your tickets in advance.

Things to do in Florence

Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, just one of many famous works in the Uffizi Gallery.

Piazzale degli Uffizi 6; Closed Mondays
The Uffizi Gallery, born of the incredible wealth of the Medici family, is home to some of the most famous and venerated works of the Renaissance and is an absolute must-see! In order to avoid the long lineups—and to ensure you get in—reserve your tickets from home before your trip.

Ferragamo Shoe Museum
Via Tornabuoni 2
Curious about the history of that famous name in shoes? Want to see the models for some of the most famous feet in Hollywood? For a fun alternative to the sometimes overwhelming Renaissance scene, head to the second floor of the Ferragamo building for a fascinating walk through the history of one of Florence’s most famous families.

About the Author

Things To Do in Florence

Christina Cain first crossed paths with B&R a decade ago in Italy, and we haven’t let her out of our sights since. She now harnesses the expertise she gained while guiding a couple trips (and by “a couple” we mean about 70) into crafting exceptional adventures as one of our Private Trip Designers.

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