Top 20 things to do In Florence

A few days spent in Florence rewards you with some of the world's best art and architecture with the city considered by many to be the cradle of the Renaissance.

No matter how many times you travel to wonderful Florence you'll come across new treasures to marvel at. Let us guide you through the city with our countdown and useful tips on the best things to do in Florence.

Take in the following attractions as you wander through its narrow cobbled streets where little has changed since the Middle Ages.

20. Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo

Climb the steps from Lungarno della Zecca to Piazzale Michelangelo or cheat and take the bus. The city views spread out before you make it well worth the effort

19. Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Repubblica has been the heart of Florence since Roman times, but what is on view today is mainly the result of a nineteenth-century tidy up and an interesting place to visit after sunset.

Take a drink in lively cafes like the Gilli or Paskowsk before watching street artists and entertainers.

18. Church of San Lorenzo and Medici Chapels

Church of San Lorenzo and Medici Chapels

The Church of San Lorenzo was never actually finished which accounts for its charming rustic exterior, its interior, however, is a true Renaissance splendor.

Make sure to search out the separate entrance to the Medici Chapels with their princely tombs and Michelangelo sculptures.

17. Hospital of the Innocents

Hospital of the Innocents

The Hospital of the Innocents is one of the achievements of the architect Brunelleschi.

Fifteenth-century Florence had a slight problem of too many babies and not enough parents, so a philanthropic group of gilds got together to commission this beautiful building which stands in the Piazza Santissima Annunziata. A special rotating door allowed babies to be left without parents being seen.

16. Boboli Gardens

Boboli Gardens

Take some time-out to wander across the Ponte Vecchio to the quieter south bank of the River Arno and relax in the Boboli Gardens.

Lying behind the Pitti Palace they are high enough to give views across the city skyline. Stroll around its flower beds and outdoor sculptures before enjoying a drink and alfresco meal in the hilltop cafe.

15. Pitti Palace

Pitti Palace

The Pitti Palace was once a Medici family home and its sumptuous interior is full of the treasures and works of art they commissioned or collected. 

14. House of Dante

House of Dante

The House of Dante is a museum built in the early twentieth-century to celebrate the life and works of the Italian poet.

Spread over three floors it documents not only his words, but paintings, images, and artifacts from his lifetime. 

13. Loggia del Mercato Nuovo and Fountain of the Piglet

Loggia del Mercato Nuovo and Fountain of the Piglet

Just a few steps from the Ponte Vecchio is the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo or New Market. It isn't actually new, having been in existence since the fifteenth-century. Originally a silks market, it's now a great place to buy your leather souvenirs or clothes. Look out for the

Fountain of the Piglet, a local curiosity. If you rub the snout while dropping in a coin legend says you'll discover good fortune. While in the market find the marble Stone of Shame.

Merchants who had the bad luck to fall into bankruptcy stood on it to be publicly shamed before being exiled.

12. Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio is one of Florence's most iconic attractions and the only Arno bridge to survive the Second World War.

It was designed by Varsari to create a link between the Uffizi and Pitti Palace.

These days the Ponte Vecchio takes you from the bustle of the old town to the more tranquil south bank of the river and is lined with market stalls and little shops, many of which sell jewelry.

11. Church of Orsanmichele

Church of Orsanmichele

The beautiful Church of Orsanmichele was built in the early fourteenth-century as a grain market but was soon converted into a place of worship.

Its rather dark interior gives visitors a glimpse of patchy frescoes along with Renaissance statues of the patron saints of city gilds.

10. Palace of Bargello

Palace of Bargello

The Palace of Bargello was originally an austere fortress that was used as a courthouse and prison, but now houses the Bargello National Museum that contains some of the city's best Renaissance and Mannerist sculptures.

Look out for works by Michelangelo and Donatello among other great names. Many say that the Bargello is to sculpture what the Uffizi is to painting.

9. Church of Santa Maria Novella

Church of Santa Maria Novella

If you arrived in Florence by train you probably caught a glimpse of the Church of Santa Maria Novella.

This beautiful church was the first basilica to be built in Florence, consecrated in the late fourteenth-century. Its intricate interior contains a Trinity by Masaccio and other early Renaissance frescoes.

8. The Basilica of Santa Croce

Basilica of Santa Croce

The Basilica of Santa Croce houses the perfectly symmetrical Pazzi Chapel along with the tombs of Michelangelo, Dante, Machiavelli and Galileo making it a must-have stop on any Renaissance pilgrimage. 

7. Baptistry of St John

Baptistry of St John

The Baptistry of St John is one of Florence' stand-out churches with its octagonal design, bronze doors and ornate Romanesque exterior.

The Baptistry is one of the oldest buildings still standing in the city and gained its name as the place where notable Renaissance figures such as the Medici family were baptized.

6. Santa Maria del Fiore

Santa Maria del Fiore

The Santa Maria del Fiore or Duomo is Florence's cathedral. Its huge dome was an engineering feat designed by Brunelleschi and makes a striking part of the city skyline.

The architect's statue stands in the piazza outside looking up at his creation for all eternity. Try to make time to join the queue of visitors waiting to climb the 464 steps to the top of the dome.

5. Giotto's Bell Tower

Giotto's Bell Tower

You can also climb Giotto's Bell Tower which lies next to the Duomo. With slightly fewer steps, the view is well worth the effort.

4. Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi is probably one of Italy's most famous galleries with an outstanding collection of Renaissance art and sculptures from classical antiquity. It is also one of Italy's busiest museums so it's well worth booking in advance.

Set aside several hours to explore its vast collection, taking a lunch break in its cafe that overlooks the piazza outside.

3. Loggia dei Lanzi

Loggia dei Lanzi

The open arches of the Loggia dei Lanzi lie adjacent to the Uffizi and were built in the fourteenth-century to hold public assemblies and ceremonies.

The finished Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna can be found here along with other statues by Cellini and sculptures from Ancient Rome.

2. Signoria Square and Palazzo Vecchio

Signoria Square

The lively Signoria Square is a wonderful open air sculpture gallery that includes a copy of David's Michelangelo.

It's also home to the Palazzo Vecchio  which is now Florence's Town Hall. This imposing symbol of civil power combines art and history and lets visitors wander through Roman ruins, a Medieval fortress, and Renaissance palace.

1. Accademia Gallery and Michelangelo's David

Accademia Gallery

Everyone has heard of and seen images of Michelangelo's David. Once located in Piazza Michelangelo outside the city, this magnificent sculpture is now kept safe in the Accademia Galleria.

Your first view of the Accademia is the Hall of Colossus. The centerpiece of this large room is the plaster model for Giambologna's marble sculpture, the Rape of the Sabine Women.

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We hope you've enjoyed our stroll through the top twenty sights in Florence and found our guide and tipsuseful.

Florence is popular for city breaks all year round but does get extremely hot in the summer months of June to September which is when queues peak at major tourist hotspots. As the weather warms up from April onwards Florence city life moves outdoors and the season of open-air festivals and events begins.

Think about visiting midwinter as Florence has some attractive Christmas markets, museum queues will be shorter and temperatures still pleasantly bearable.