Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, there are fortunately many inexpensive things to do in Florence, Italy. Firstly, check out free attractions like the Ponte Vecchio, Piazzale Michelangelo, and the Rose Garden. Visiting the city’s many gardens is also one of the best things to do in Florence, Italy in April, when flowers start blooming. As for non-touristy things to do in Florence, head to Bardini Gardens, a total hidden gem.
There are many things to do in Florence, Italy in June, but beat the heat by enjoying a scoop of ice cream or two from Vivoli Gelato. As for things to do in Florence in October, head inside and visit either the Uffizi Gallery or Accademia Gallery. Here are more fun things to do in the city, which you should immediately bookmark on your Florence, Italy map.
1. Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio (or Old Bridge) is an enclosed medieval stone bridge that crosses the Arno River. One of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the current bridge was built in the 14th century. It was, in fact, the only bridge in the city to not get destroyed in World War II. Its shop fronts were once home to butchers, farmers, and tanners. However, when you walk across the Ponte Vecchio today, you will find a plethora of jewelry stores and souvenir shops.
2. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Often called The Duomo due to its location in Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the city’s most recognizable building. Construction on the cathedral began in the 13th-century, but it wasn’t completed until two centuries later. Its defining feature is Brunelleschi’s Dome, which was both an architectural and engineering feat at the time. The cathedral complex also includes the adjacent Campanile (Bell Tower) and Saint John’s Baptistery. It’s free to enter the cathedral, but visitors can pay to climb either the dome or the Campanile.
3. Uffizi Gallery
Established in the 16th century, the Uffizi Gallery is one of the world’s most famous museums. It’s renowned for housing an unparalleled collection of ancient sculptures and paintings – from the Middle Ages to the present day. The Uffizi Gallery features work from greatest Italian artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Botticelli. Two of its most important pieces include Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Caravaggio’s Medusa. It’s true what they say – a visit to Florence isn’t complete without stepping inside the Uffizi Gallery.
4. Palazzo Vecchio
Overlooking Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio is the city’s town hall building. Established in 1299, it has been a political symbol of the city for seven centuries. Today, Palazzo Vecchio operates as both a town hall and an art and history museum. See a copy of Michelangelo’s infamous David sculpture at the entrance and then visit the historic Salone dei Cinquecento (Room of the Five Hundred), which once held the Council of the Five Hundred and now houses amazing frescos; and Loggia del Saturno for sweeping views.
5. Pitti Palace
The city’s largest palace and a 15th-century architectural marvel, Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace in English) is a symbol of the influential Medici’s power over Tuscany. Today, it houses several different museums: the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, the Palatine Gallery, the Imperial and Royal Apartments, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Porcelain Museum, and the Museum of Costume and Fashion. Behind the Pitti Palace, you’ll find Boboli Gardens – one of the world’s finest Italian gardens. But more on that below!
6. Galleria dell’Accademia
Another prestigious art museum, Galleria dell’Accademia (Accademia Gallery) is most well-known for housing Michelangelo’s world-famous David sculpture. Although this is what initially draws people to visit the Accademia Gallery, it’s also home to Michelangelo’s Slave masterpiece, as well as work from prominent Italian artists like Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Andrea del Sarto. Accademia Gallery’s permanent collection also includes many pieces commissioned by the powerful Medici family, such as the 50 musical instruments on display in the Department of Musical Instruments.
7. Piazza della Signoria
Home to the aforementioned Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria is the city’s most famous square. A prominent meeting place for both locals and tourists, Piazza della Signoria and the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi are decorated with multiple copies of sculptures crafted by some of the city’s most legendary artists, including Michelangelo’s David outside Palazzo Vecchio. At the center of the L-shaped square is Ammanati’s Neptune Fountain, which looks spectacular lit up at night. Surrounded by everything from cafes to fine-dining restaurants, Piazza della Signoria is one of the best places to visit in Florence, Italy at night.
8. Boboli Gardens
As mentioned, Boboli Gardens is located behind Pitti Palace. The Italian garden can be described as an open-air museum of sorts, as it features hundreds of classic marble statues, as well as fountains, centuries-old oak trees, a small lake, pergolas, and grottos. Developed over four centuries (15th to 19th), Boboli Gardens is one of the city’s largest green spaces. Together with Pitti Palace, it’s clear that visiting these two attractions is one of the best things to do in Florence, Italy.
9. Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is the city’s most famous lookout point, with crowds particularly heaving at sunset. Located on the Arno River’s left bank, it offers incredible panoramic views over the city center. Named in honor of the legendary artist, Michelangelo, there are bronze copies of his popular sculptures adorning the 19th-century piazza. To reach Piazzale Michelangelo, you can walk, take the public bus, or simply get a taxi. While in the area, visit the 11th-century Abbey of San Miniato al Monte, or the adjacent Rose or Iris Gardens.
10. Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo is one of Europe’s most-visited places. The city’s historic heart, locals and tourists alike visit the square to marvel at the spectacular Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (also simply called The Duomo), along with the Crypt of Santa Reparata, Saint John’s Baptistery, the Campanile, and Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. For an impressive bird’s eye view over Piazza del Duomo, climb to the top of either the cathedral’s dome or bell tower.
11. Giardino Bardini
Yes, the city does indeed have an equal amount of natural and historic landmarks. Giardino Bardini (Bardini Gardens) is an expansive Italian Renaissance garden located at Villa Bardini. Spread over four hectares, it features three sections: the Italianate Garden and its baroque staircase, the English Garden, and the Agricultural Park with its orchard and iconic wisteria tunnel. With panoramic city views, it’s hard to believe Bardini Gardens is a hidden gem. Step off the (very well) beaten path and explore Bardini Gardens today.
12. Vivoli Gelato
When on vacation in Italy, the old adage “an apple a day” transforms into “a gelato a day.” Embrace this philosophy at Vivoli Gelato, one of the city’s most popular ice cream spots. Since 1930, the family-owned company has made homemade ice creams with only the highest-quality ingredients, such as Italian whole milk, pasteurized fresh cream, barn eggs, and seasonal fruit. Vivoli Gelato’s ice cream flavors include favorites like chocolate, hazelnut, and pistachio. However, the business also sells homemade pastries, semifreddo, and affogato.
13. Arno River
Stretching through Tuscany for 150 miles, the Arno River serenely winds its way through the city center. There are several bridges crossing the Arno River, including the aforementioned (and very popular) Ponte Vecchio, as well as Ponte alle Grazie and the 16th-century St Trinity Bridge, To explore the river, hop aboard a gondola-inspired private boat or a sightseeing cruise. Alternatively, spend a peaceful afternoon in Terzo Giardino, a riverfront garden, or visit Pescaia di Santa Rosa – a great photo spot.
14. St Trinity Bridge
As mentioned, St Trinity Bridge is located next to Ponte Vecchio on the Arno River. The world’s oldest elliptical arch bridge, the 16th-century Renaissance bridge features three flattened arches. After being destroyed in World War II, it was restored using original stones raised from the river bed. One of the top things to do in Florence, Italy is to visit St Trinity Bridge to take photos of Ponte Vecchio and the surrounding buildings reflected in the Arno River.
15. Parco Delle Cascine
Parco Delle Cascine (Cascine Park) is the city’s largest public park. Featuring a uniquely long and narrow design, it stretches along the river for 160 hectares. Established in the 16th century, it was originally a Medici farm estate. Today, Cascine Park is home to multiple playgrounds, the seasonal Le Pavoniere public swimming pool, expansive fields, large tree-lined walking paths, and a market every Tuesday. It also features cedar trees from the Atlas Mountains, alongside pine and poplar trees.
16. Giotto’s Campanile
Giotto’s Campanile, or Bell Tower, is a part of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore’s complex in Piazza del Duomo. Construction began in 1334 under the direction of Giotto, who unfortunately passed away three years later. A fine example of 14th-century Florentine Gothic architecture, it features the same white, green, and pink marble exterior as the adjacent cathedral. Visitors are welcome to climb to the top of the 278 feet high Bell Tower for city views. However, be warned that there are 414 steps and no elevator!
17. Corridoio Vasariano
Opening in 1565, the Corridoio Vasariano (Vasari Corridor) is an elevated enclosed passageway that connects two of the city’s most important landmarks: Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. Its entrance is also located on the first floor of the aforementioned Uffizi Gallery. The art exhibits continue along the passageway, as its walls display 16th and 17th-century artwork, as well as a special collection of artist self-portraits. A portion of the Vasari Corridor is also located on top of the Ponte Vecchio, so you can imagine the views from that vantage point.
18. San Lorenzo Market
The San Lorenzo Market has two separate sections. Firstly, there’s Mercato Centrale (Central Market), the indoor food market. Head here on an empty stomach, as it’s filled with stalls selling fresh baked goods, meat and dairy products, handmade chocolate, gelato, wine, pizza, and pasta (of course). Meanwhile, lining the streets surrounding the Central Market building is the outdoor market section. Head here with an empty suitcase, as its stalls sell Italian-made leather goods, clothing and accessories, and souvenirs.
19. Opera di Firenze
Teatro dell’Opera di Firenze is a multi-purpose building established in 2011. With an 1890-seat opera house and a 2000-seat auditorium, the modern theater was designed to include only the highest-quality acoustics and latest technology innovations. Centrally located between Piazza Vittorio Veneto and Cascine Park, one of its resident companies is the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra. However, it also hosts ballet performances, symphonic concerts, and theatrical productions. Seeing a performance at Opera di Firenze is one of the best things to do in Florence, Italy at night.
20. Asmana Wellness World Firenze
You will instantly relax as you step inside Asmana Wellness World – the country’s largest day spa. To start, there are multiple indoor and outdoor pool areas, as well as four different saunas and an infrared area. You can also have a Hammam experience or treat yourself to a massage. When you want to simply chill out, there are themed rooms like the Nest Room, the Hay Room, and the Water Room. If that’s not enough, Asmana Wellness World also has three onsite bars and restaurants.
21. The Rose Garden
You will find the Rose Garden (Giardino delle Rose) below the Piazzale Michelangelo. Don’t worry, it offers the same amazing city views. It’s free to visit the French-style garden, which is open until sunset year-round. The 19th-century terraced Rose Garden is home to over 1000 botanical plants, 350 rose species, water lily fountains, and ten bronze sculptures by Jean-Michel Folon. Keep an eye out for the Japanese Shorai oasis too, which was a gift from Kyoto, Florence’s sister city.