12 Best Things to Do in Florence Italy on Your First Visit!

People are right when they say that Florence is the city of love. Not just because there are lots of romantic things to do with your partner (or best friend), but also because the city itself will make you fall in love. In Italy, Florence is one of those towns that has it all, from great food and wine to the most thrilling sights. To make sure you see the best parts, you should plan.

First, everyone knows that Florence has some of the best art in the world. The Uffizi has Renaissance art, and the Accademia has Michelangelo’s marble work. But in between its famous sights are cute coffee shops, food markets, and great places to eat pasta, pizza, and other foods. Are you ready to love Florence too? You can’t miss these 12 things to do in Florence.

1. Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: This is a must-see in Florence, and you really can’t miss it. There is a cathedral called the Duomo in the middle of the city. It is the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower.

Why you should go: When it was first built in the 1400s, the Duomo was the world’s biggest church. It’s now the third largest in Europe, but that’s still pretty big. The dome is the highest place in Florence, so if you can handle the 463 steps, it’s a great view. We promise you that the view of the city’s steep buildings and clay roofs is worth it.

2. Palazzo Vecchio

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: Florence’s City Hall is a well-known building in Piazza Signoria.

Why you should go: The “old palace,” which got its name after the “new palace,” Palazzo Pitti, was built across the river, and is packed with beautiful art and rooms full of paintings. You can see Dante’s death mask in this museum, and you can even go on a tour that goes through the palace’s secret tunnels. When you go, make sure you climb the tower. The famous Savonarola was locked up in these rooms before he was put to death in the piazza in front of the building. You can see them on your way to the top.

3. The Uffizi Gallery

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: The best-known art gallery in Florence, and for good reason.

Why you should go: Whether you’re a big fan of Renaissance art or not, the Uffizi Gallery will make you love it even more than you thought you could. Botticelli’s great works, like “The Birth of Venus,” are kept there. Beautiful art can be found for hours, but the building itself is worth the trip on its own. It was created by the Italian artist Giorgio Vasari. For the best view, get there as early as you can, before it gets too crowded.

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4. Galleria dell’Accademia

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: The place where Michelangelo’s even more famous work of art is kept.

Why you should go: There are more historical works of art in the Galleria dell’Accademia than in most towns put together. However, this museum was built to present David. You’ll want to look at the guy that Michelangelo, who was 26 years old at the time, carved out of a single block of marble over 500 years ago. He paid attention to every detail, right down to the veins in his arm. It’s one of the most important things to see in Florence, even if you have to wait in line for a while. The selfie with David himself is well worth it.

5. Cappelle Medicee

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: You can see things inside the Duomo that you can’t see in the chapels that were made by the famous Florentine family.

Why you should go: The second biggest dome in Florence is often forgotten because the Duomo is so well-known. This is a terrible mistake. Marble and sparkling gems cover this beauty from floor to ceiling, making it look like something from a movie. If you can take your eyes off of the beautiful frescoes long enough, go to the smaller church to see some of Michelangelo’s most beautiful sculptures. The best thing? This spot might even be all yours.

6. Mercato Centrale

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: Two floors full of great food.

Why you should go: Avoid the new fast-food restaurants that are opening up in the middle of town and instead go inside the Mercato Centrale, which was built in the 1800s. On the ground floor, you can find vendors selling wine, fruit, meat, fish, cheese, oil, and spices. Both tourists and locals come here.

If you can’t decide what to eat with your group, the food court upstairs is a great place to go. You can get fresh pasta, pizza, dumplings, a truffle bar, fried fish, cold cuts, or veggie or meat burgers from Florence. If you want to enjoy your lunch here, come here when it’s not normally open for dinner.

7. Arno River

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: After the Tiber, this is Italy’s most famous river.

Why you should go: You can try paddleboarding on one of the world’s most famous rivers with Toscana SUP when touring on the water sounds better than baking in the sunlight in Florence. You’ll be able to go under the famous Ponte Vecchio and see the city from the water, without having to deal with people or the summer heat. This is great if you’re tired of museums (we’re looking at you). You’ll also have a great story and great pictures.

8. Caffé Gilli

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: You can get coffee and cakes in a fancy, old building.

Why you should go: Many businesses in this city still do things the same way they were done years ago. Stopping by Caffé Gilli, which has been around since 1733, is a great way to do this. It’s on the corner of Piazza Repubblica, and you can drink your coffee at the marble bar with the other Florentines who come by. First, make sure you pay and order your coffee at the register. Then, take your ticket to the bar and ask the barista for your coffee. For an espresso, ask for “un caffè,” and for an espresso with a bit of steamed milk, ask for “un macchiato.” People from Italy usually just stand at the bar and quickly sip their drinks, so if you want table service, it will cost extra.

9. Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: A drugstore that was started by Dominican friars in the 1600s.

Why you should go: In the Renaissance, Florence was known all over Europe for more than just its art, buildings, political ideas, and crafts. It was also famous for its herbalists. Many older Florentines still go to the erboristeria instead of the chemist for minor illnesses, and the more traditional shops are fun to look around in even if you don’t need to get better. The Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is the most well-known. It has churches, frescoes, chandeliers, and a history lesson, as well as selling lovely creams, perfumes, and even things for your pet.

10. La Pizza by Romualdo Rizzuti

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: In a very modern space, pizza is made in the best way possible.

Why you should go: If you go to Italy, you have to eat pizza, even if it’s made in the Southern Italian style. Romualdo Rizzuti is now open in the Mercato Central food court, just like the other food stands there. It lives up to the hype. His secret is a dough that stays soft for 30 hours before it is used to make standard pizzas like Margherita and Napoli. The toppings will change with the seasons, though. You should also try the traditional fried pizza and panuozzo, which is a southern Italian street food snack that is toasted in the pizza oven and then served piping hot.

11. Vivoli Gelato

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: A dessert shop in Florence that is both old and good.

Why you should go: Did we say that gelato may have been created in Florence in the 1600s? No matter how true the stories are, today the best gelaterias in the city, starting with Vivoli, are competing for your business. They began making gelato in the 1930s, a time when ice had to be brought down from the Apennines in large blocks. Even though there is cooling now, the tastes are still very rich. There are lots of leather shops nearby, which is helpful since you might need a new belt after this.

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12. Leather Shops and Markets

Things to Do in Florence Italy

What it is: In Florence, the best places to find leather goods are the neighborhood markets and shops.

Why you should go: In the Renaissance, Florence was known for more than just its art, banking, and political drama. It was also known for its leatherwork. It’s still done that way in the high-end shops and street vendors in San Lorenzo. You can go to the leather school behind Santa Croce church to get a new belt or gloves. You can also find coats at Massimo Leather and handbags at La Pelletteria Artigiana Viviani.

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