You’ll never run out of things to do in Florence, Italy. Whether it’s art, cuisine, culture or history, Florence has it all — and then some. Here are six of my Florence picks!
Florence is the kind of place you can never visit too many times; each trip is a new, breathtaking adventure with endless opportunities for exploring.
Case in point? When I first went to Florence as a senior in high school, we walked the Ponte Vecchio, climbed the Duomo, visited museums and shopped for Murano glass.
When I went back to Florence almost 10 years later, the city hadn’t changed – but my experience did.
Instead of walking the Ponte Vecchio during the day, we explored it at night. Instead of climbing inside the Duomo, we enjoyed it from the outside while sipping cappuccinos in the Piazza del Duomo.
And instead of shopping for Murano glass on the main stretch, we wandered onto some side streets and ended up in a jewelry shop, where we met a new, four-legged Italian friend — and a shop owner excitedly showing us puppy pictures on his iPhone.
My point? Well, I could follow the cliche and tell you Florence is always a good idea (and so is Paris, and so is London, and so is… you see where I’m going).
But more than anything, Florence is a haven for Wanderlost adventures. Even if you’ve visited a hundred times, you can always find a new way to experience this big, beautiful city.
The Ponte Vecchio dates back to the 1200s and was, for many years, the only bridge across the Arno into Florence.
Despite its strong history, the bridge always reminds me of a children’s book illustration. Misaligned yet magical houses colorfully fill the side of the bridge, and in my little fairy tale, those whopper-jawed houses are home to all of the king’s jesters.
All right, so in reality these magical “jester houses” are actually small shops where bridge goldsmiths and jewellers can house and sell their products. But I kind of like the fairy tale version myself…
When visiting Florence, you have two ways to see the Ponte Vecchio: day or night. (Genius, I know.)
If it’s your first time to Florence and you’ve never seen the Ponte Vecchio, go during daylight. It’s beautiful at night, but few things are more magical than watching the bridge’s gold and rust-colored houses shimmer under the sun.
If you’ve already seen the Ponte Vecchio under the sun, check it out below a glittering night sky. The bridge’s glowing reflection on the water makes for a frame-and-hang-worthy photograph.
So many museums and galleries in Florence, so little time. I hear you. It’s tough to fit it all in.
If you have to choose just one gallery to visit in Florence, I’d 100 percent recommend Accademia Gallery, home of the Statue of David.
Similar to the Mona Lisa, the Statue of David is a must-see, and all the photographs online or in magazines will never truly do it justice. You have to see it with your own eyes.
Tickets are roughly 25 euro, and you can purchase them online ahead of time to avoid the long lines. (Trust me, this is the best move because the lines get frustratingly long.)
Taking up what seems like an entire block, the Florence Cathedral is 8,300 square feet of beauty. It’s one of the largest and grandest cathedrals in Italy, and the Duomo that sits atop it is an iconic symbol of Florence.
Interestingly, the inside of the Cathedral isn’t nearly as ornate as the exterior. It’s much simpler. The high, arched ceilings and visitors’ hushed whispers give the Cathedral a hollow, almost empty feeling.
Although it’s not decked out on the inside, it’s still worth a visit at least once in your life. And, heck, if you’re going in anyway, you might as well climb the old spiral staircase to the top of the Duomo for the best 360-degree views of Florence (along with the worst case of claustrophobia). Entrance to the Cathedral is free, and tickets to climb those wicked 463 steps are about 10 euro.
After a long day of exploring, sometimes all you want is a deliciously hoppy beer. (Or stout, or wheat, or whatever pint you prefer.) As you’d imagine, this isn’t always an easy find in wine country.
Yes, most places serve beer, but that doesn’t mean it’s good beer. It’s beer beer – gold, carbonated, and a European version of Bud Light. Gah.
But then sometimes you hit the jackpot, and stumble into one of the greatest hop heavens of them all: BrewDog.
We accidentally found our way to BrewDog after paying our respects to the Ponte Vecchio. Not knowing where we were actually going (a common theme in the maze that is Florence), we randomly went down a side street and almost fell over when we saw BrewDog — THE BrewDog — in front of our hop-thirsty eyes.
Sure, we had a hotel happy hour with unlimited bruschetta to get back to, but that could wait. It was time for BrewDog, Florence style.
If you’d prefer to plan ahead than stumble into it, BrewDog Firenze is located on Via Faenza, right near the Basilica di San Lorenzo.
Antico Noe Restaurant
Food lovers, do everything you can to find yourself near the Piazza San Pier Maggiore alley at lunchtime or dinner. One of its handful of restaurants – Antico Noe – may just be the best Italian meal I’ve ever had (and that’s a bold statement). We went there after a night of imbibing, which probably made their pasta with fresh tomato sauce and burrata cheese that lined the bottom (yes – the entire bottom of the pasta dish) even better. It’s delicious perfection, and a spot we’ll definitely be visiting on our next Florence trip.
Views from Piazzale Michelangelo
To get the best views of Florence, head across the river and hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo, a scenic overlook with views of the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and beyond. The viewing terrace has food stands, music, artists and even a church to dodge the heat (because come summer, that hike can get pretty warm!). Of course, you can always cab up to the top, but believe me – the climb through Florence’s small, hilly streets makes the view even more rewarding.
Know before you go
Florence is one of the most popular tourist destinations, especially during summer. To optimize your time, purchase tickets for your must-see attractions in advance. Nothing prohibits adventures more than standing in a line for hours and hours. Even I can’t get Wanderlost in a rope-corralled line!
Are you exploring more of Italy? Check out all of my favorite Italy trips!