Check out my list of 51 things to see, eat and do in Florence for tips and tricks on how to see the city’s most famous attractions while avoiding tourist traps and experiencing Firenze like a local.
1. Walk along the Arno
Insider tip: The River Arno cuts through the middle of Florence. The most picturesque section of the river is the area that passes below the Ponte Vecchio and the Santa Trìnita bridge. This scenic spot is often full of tourists, so early morning and late evening are the best times for pictures!
2. Santa Maria del Fiore; aka The Duomo
Insider Tip: No visit to Florence is complete without a tour of the Duomo. This iconic cathedral is in the heart of the city, and it’s impossible to miss thanks to the massive crowds that surround it daily. While most tourists only climb to the top of the dome, it’s well worth the hike up to the top of Giotto’s Campanile, also known as the Bell Tower for a truly amazing view.
3. Basilica di Santa Croce
Insider Tip: While the facade is stunning, it’s worth venturing inside the ancient chapel where you can find Dante’s tomb!
4. Palazzo Pitti
Insider Tip: This ancient palace, once home to the Medici family is one of the most awe-inspiring spots in Florence. Take a tour and check out the royal apartments where the family lived along with stunning modern art exhibitions throughout the grounds.
5. Boboli Gardens
Insider Tip: Located outside the Pitti Palace the gardens provide some of the most amazing views if the city. Set aside a few hours to wander around and get lost in the beauty and history of the space.
6. Galleria dell’Accademia Museum
Insider Tip: When you purchase your ticket, go ahead and pay for the “skip the line” option. It’s well worth the few extra Euro to avoid hours of long lines to see Michelangelo’s David.
7. Drink a Bellini
Insider Tip: A Bellini is a mixture of Prosecco sparkling wine and peach purée or nectar. Grab one on a sunny day at one of Florence’s many rooftop cafes.
8. Uffizi Gallery
Insider Tip: If you’re planning a visit to Florence, the Uffizi Gallery should already be at the top of your list. No visit to Florence is complete without a stroll through the world-famous museum. On the first Sunday of every month, all public museums are free making it the perfect time to visit the Uffizi!
9. Eat a Panini in Piazza della Signoria
Insider Tip: This is the perfect spot to catch a street performance or people-watch! Grab a Panini from the world-famous Antico Vinaio, just steps away from the piazza.
10. Climb to Piazza Michelangelo
Insider Tip: My favorite time of day to visit Piazza Michelangelo is at sunset. Grab a bottle of wine (Chianti, of course) and head up to experience one of the most beautiful spots in Italy with students, tourists and locals!
11. Take a Day Trip
Insider Tip: If you’re in Florence for a long-term stay, consider taking a day trip! Train and bus tickets are reasonably priced and you can easily book them online. My favorite day trip destinations are Venice, Fiesole, Lucca and Pisa.
12. Wine Tasting
Insider tip: My favorite place for a wine tasting in Florence is Salumeria Verde, also known as Pino’s. All of the wine comes from the owner, Pino’s vineyard. Pino’s electric personality and the totally reasonable price point make for my favorite wine tasting spot in town.
13. All’Antico Vinaio
Insider Tip: All’Antico Vinaio is hands-down the best Panini spot in Florence. The line outside is regularly down the block, but the wait is always worth it. Each Panini is fresh, made to order and full of traditional Tuscan ingredients. My all-time favorite sandwich is “The Boss”. Don’t leave Florence without checking All’Antico Vinaio out!
14. Salumeria Verdi aka Pino’s
Insider Tip: While I’ll always stand by All’Antico Vinaio as the best Panini spot in Florence, Pino’s is a close second. It’s worth stopping by for a chat with the exuberant owner, Pino and “The Best” Panini, my personal favorite.
15. Osteria Santa Spirito
Insider Tip: This famous restaurant is known for its truffle gnocchi, but everything on the menu is delicious. Order a half portion here. It’s more than enough food for half the price!
16. Gusta Pizza
Insider Tip: Gusta pizza is especially famous among study abroad students. Their Neapolitan style pizza is the best in Florence, and the line to get into the restaurant is almost always out the door. Gusta is only open during lunch and dinner times. Because there is a lack of eating space inside, most people order their pizza to-go and eat it outside in Piazza Santa Spirito.
17. Grab a Pint at the Irish Pub
Insider Tip: The Irish Pub is located right across from the Duomo. While I typically advise visitors to steer clear of bars and restaurants near tourist attractions, the Irish Pub is an exception. With decent prices and a nice change of pace from wine, the Irish Pub is the perfect spot to grab a pint and enjoy a spectacular view.
18. Club 21
Insider Tip: It’s no secret that while there is a vibrant nightlife scene in Florence, it is nowhere near the scope of cities like Barcelona, Paris or Amsterdam. Florentines like to drink socially at wine bars or listen to live music. They frown upon the binge-drinking culture, and the city has lots of bars but few clubs. When you are in the mood to dance, however, Club 21 is the place to go!
19. Take a Walking Tour
Insider Tip: Take a walking tour at the beginning of your visit. It’ll help you become acquainted with the city and you’ll walk away (ha) with a better appreciation of the city’s history. You can find inexpensive and free walking tours online!
20. Have an Espresso
Insider Tip: You won’t catch an Italian sipping a latte or cappuccino past 10 a.m. Instead, they stick to a quick shot of espresso that they drink standing at the counter of the cafe. Because espresso shots are notoriously inexpensive (typically less than two Euro) you might find yourself tempted to indulge in several throughout the day. Each shot contains more caffeine than a typical cup of coffee, so be careful!
21. Try the Blueberry Steak at Acqua al 2
Insider Tip: Acqua Al 2 is famous for their blueberry steak, but the rest of their menu is just as innovative and delicious. Save room for the strawberry risotto!
22. Drink a Bottle of Wine Along the Arno
Insider Tip: There are no open alcohol container laws in Italy, so you’re free to enjoy wine whenever and wherever. You can purchase great wine for cheap at almost any corner store, and if you ask, they’ll give you some plastic cups for free. Enjoying some wine along the Arno makes for the perfect inexpensive date night or pregame.
Insider Tip: Aperitivo is one of my absolute favorite things about living in Italy. For ten Euro, you can pop into a cafe or bar and get a drink and all you can eat pasta, caprese salad and tons of other delicious appetizers. Aperitivo only happens during the early evening hours. Think of it as the Italian version of Happy Hour!
24. Bistecca alla Fiorentina at Buca Mario
Insider Tip: Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a Tuscan staple. While you can find amazing steak all over town, my all time favorite is from Bucca Mario. You’ll need a reservation to dine here, and it is on the pricey side, so save this for a special night!
25. Brunch at Le Vespe
Insider Tip: Le Vespe serves American-style brunch along with coffee, smoothies and amazing vegetarian options. The amazing food and eclectic, cozy interior makes Le Vespe my go-to brunch spot in Florence.
26. Artists Outside the Uffizi
Insider Tip: On any given day, you can find tons of artists selling their original work outside the Uffizi. An original piece of art makes for the perfect souvenir or gift!
27. Rub the Bronze Porcellino
Insider Tip: This bronze boar fountain is located right in the middle of the city. According to Florentine legend, if you rub the boar’s snout, you’re destined to to return to the city!
28. Gucci Museum
Insider Tip: Gucci was founded in Florence. Recently, the Gucci Museo (museum) has opened and is dedicated to the iconic Italian fashion house. In the museum, you can find classic clothing & handbag exhibits.
29. Gucci Cafe & Restaurant
Insider Tip: You can find Gucci Cafes all around the world. What makes this one special is its location right next to the Gucci Museum and in the bustling Piazza Signoria. This spot is on the pricey side, so save it for a special day!
30. Santa Maria Novella
Insider Tip: The Santa Maria Novella is the oldest Bastillica in Florence. It’s well worth the few Euro it costs to take a tour. While the Piazza around the Santa Maria Novella is charming, avoid restaurants and gelaterias in this area. They tend to be overpriced and touristic.
31. Bardini Garden
Insider Tip: The Giardino Bardini is an Italian Renaissance garden. It was opened only recently to the public, it is still relatively unknown, especially among tourists. This gorgeous spot is one of my favorite places in Florence.
32. Eat a Kebab
Insider Tip: Kebabs are the late-night snack choice among Florentines. You can find 24-hour Kebab stops all around the city, and they’re the perfect snack after a night out.
33. Trattoria Za Za
Insider Tip: This traditional Tuscan spot offers everything from pastas to Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Their eclectic style and amazing outdoor eating space makes this my favorite lunch spot in Florence.
Insider Tip: Admittedly, Hookah is not for everyone. For those who are interested or want to try something new, Hookah Lounges are cropping up all over Florence. My favorite spot is Shisha. The atmosphere is a refreshing change of pace, and they have a full service bar for those uninerested in smoking the Hookah itself.
35. Museo Nazionale del Bargello
Insider Tip: This ancient prison turned modern-day art museum is located in the heart of the city. The museum is full of art and history, and its ominous past makes it an interesting way to spend an afternoon.
Insider Tip: You can’t come to Florence and skip out on gelato. There are tons of amazing spots to grab a cone or a cup around the city, but beware of tourist traps. If you see a stand with giant mounds of gelato, it’s probably not fresh, so stay away! My favorite spots are Gelateria De Neri and Gelateria Santa Trinita.
37. Pazzi Chapel
Insider Tip: The Pazzi Chapel is a chapel located in the “first cloister” of the Basilica di Santa Croce. This spot is as picturesque as it is full of history.
38. The Basilica di Santo Spirito
Insider Tip: While the Piazza around this Bastilica is a sight to see itself, don’t miss the Bastilica itself. This is one of the oldest spots in town, and it’s well worth taking time to tour.
39. Abacus Antique Bookshop
Insider Tip: This is an amazing spot to purchase unique gifts and souvenirs!
40. Santo Spirito Market
Insider Tip: Located in Piazza Santo Spirito, you can shop this market every second Sunday of the month. This is one of my favorite stops for fresh produce and eclectic finds!
41. Flower Market
Insider Tip: Located in Piazza della Repubblica, every Thursday morning the flower market ends in August, so check this out during the warmer months!
42. Mercato Centrale
Insider Tip: Located in the San Lorenzo Neighborhood, this giant market has a little bit of everything. Shop fresh produce and more from local venders downstairs and then head upstairs to the food court that boasts everything from craft beer to vegan burgers to classic pizza and pasta options.
43. Piazza Repubblica
Insider Tip: This centrally located Piazza is home to the city’s famous carousel and some of its most well-known cafes. During the day, Piazza Repubblica is the perfect spot for a photo-op and an espresso. By night, it’s the place to be for Jazz music and live street performances!
44. Take a Fiat 500 Tour
Insider Tip: There are tons of companies in Florence that offer Fiat 500 tours. Taking a classic Fiat 500 from Florence to Chianti is an unforgettable way to spend an afternoon. You can drive yourself, or if driving standard isn’t your thing, you can ride with a driver!
45. Take a Vespa Tour
Insider Tip: There are plenty of companies that offer Vespa tours around Florence, but I recommend taking a vespa tour from Florence to Chianti for some truly amazing views.
46. Stroll Through the Oltrarno
Insider Tip: Across the Arno from the center of town, you can find Florence’s artisan neighborhood. This part of town is filled with quaint streets, adorable restaurants and shops and more!
47. Shop for Leather
Insider tip: Florence is known for its leather products. From bags to shoes to belts to key chains, both of Florence’s leather markets have it all. I suggest browsing through the leather markets and stopping into Massimo leather. Massimo, the owner, has reasonable price points and takes a nod from high-end designers (think Stella McCartney and Celine).
48. Piazza Santo Spirito
Insider Tip: Piazza Santo Spirito is located across the Arno River from the major tourist parts of the city. Head here to find a haven from tourist-filled streets and enjoy a more authentic experience.
49. Have a Glass of Wine at Reverse
Insider Tip: Reverse is a Cafe & Restaurant that boasts a cool, modern vibe and is a hangout for students and local 20-somethings. While the food is somewhat overpriced, a glass of wine is never more than a few Euro, and the atmosphere is well worth it!
50. Grab a Beer at BrewDog
Insider Tip: This craft beer joint is at the top of my list when I’m not in the mood for wine. It’s the perfect hangout spot, but be warned, they don’t offer wi-fi to patrons, so prepare yourself for some unplugged time when you visit.
51. Street Art
Insider Tip: Florence is full of art. From renaissance art to modern art to street art, to live in Florence is to be constantly surrounded by creative works. Street artists have made a name for themselves in Florence, and you’ll see their work throughout the city.