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The 20 Best Things to Do in Florence, Italy, for First Timers

Galleria dell’Accademia

Florence is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy as it is the capital of the Tuscany region. It is known for its historical landmarks and for both its arts and culinary scenes. It is a fascinating city to visit, with a wide range of things to see and do during your stay. To get the best out of your time in this amazing city, you should plan your trip in advance to make sure you include all the activities that suit your interests and give you a well-rounded experience in the city. Here are the 20 best activities to enjoy in Florence, Italy, for first-timers.

Palazzo Pitti

20. Go to the Palazzo Pitti

The Culture Trip recommends a trip to the Palazzo Pitti, which is a palace that was bought in 1550 by the Medici family as their official residence. The palace sits in a prime position at the foot of Boboli Hill, and it is connected to Boboli Gardens. Within the palace, there is the largest museum collection in Florence. The exhibits are divided into sections, including the Museum of Costume and Fashion, a Modern Art Gallery, and the Palatine Gallery. After you have perused the museum collections, you can spend some time enjoying the grounds of the Boboli Gardens.

Archaeological National Museum

19. Spend Time at the Archaeological National Museum

One of the oldest museums in Italy, the National Archaeological Museum of Florence has a wide selection of exhibits that will appeal to people of all ages and interests. Visitors have the chance to explore the history of civilization through archaeology. The impressive collections include Roman relics, ceramics from ancient Greece, an Egyptian collection with 14 thousand artifacts, the private collections of the Lorena and Medici families, and a collection of Etruscan sarcophagi. Due to the diversity of the collections exhibited, it is a fascinating place to visit.

Da Vinci Museum

18. Visit the Da Vinci Museum

Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most famous Italian artists and inventors. One of the best places to see his artwork, designs, and innovative plans is at the Da Vinci Museum. At the museum, visitors can enjoy many interactive exhibits that give people a greater understanding of the mind of this genius. The displays cover an array of topics that interested Da Vinci, such as design, mechanics, and gravity.

Ponte Vecchio

17. Walk Across Ponte Vecchio

Although it has been rebuilt many times throughout its history, there is evidence that this historic bridge was first built in 996 AD. The 14th-century version of the bridge has shown huge resilience, as it has survived several wars and natural disasters. The structure of the bridge housed many shops, tunnels, and secret chambers. It is now a popular landmark to visit and photograph in Florence.

Giotto’s Bell Tower

16. Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower

You can visit Giotto’s Bell Tower when you buy a ticket to the Duomo Complex. The exterior of the building is interesting because it is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Florence. It is 85-meters tall, and it is adorned with lozenge reliefs, hexagonal panels, and marble. However, it is to climb to the top of the tower that most people visit the tower. There are 414 steps to climb, so it is a challenging climb for many people, and you may need to stop for breath halfway up the climb. Once at the top, you are treated to impressive views across Florence.

Basilica di Santa Croce

15. Go to the Basilica di Santa Croce

Although the architecture of this cathedral is noteworthy, most people come to pay their respects to the notable Italians for which the cathedral was their final resting place. These include political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli, artist Michelangelo, and scientist Galileo Galilei. Visitors also enjoy viewing the frescoes by Giotto.


14. See the Battistero

One of the most important historical landmarks to visit in Florence is the Battistero or The Baptistry. This is the oldest building in the city, although the façade was added later in the 11th-century. According to legend, the hexagonal building was originally a temple dedicated to Mars, the Roman God of War. The interior of The Baptistry is filled with artwork and murals by famous artists.

Mercato Centrale Firenze

13. Wander Around Mercato Centrale Firenze

A free activity to enjoy is a wander around the Mercado Central Firenze. The building that houses the market is interesting. It was designed by Giuseppe Mengoni in 1874, and it is constructed from glass and iron. The ground floor of the market is devoted to fresh, local produce. You can buy cheese, vegetables, meat fish, olive oils, and other foods produced in the local area. Many stalls offer samples to try before you buy. Upstairs, there are multiple food stalls where you can sit down and grab a bite to eat. There are also vendors selling leather, artwork, clothing, pottery, jewelry, and souvenirs.

Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo

12. Visit Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo

This massive museum is spread over three floors and 25 rooms, and it is home to more than 750 works of art. Therefore, you should set aside a minimum of half a day to make sure you get the most out of this attraction. Local experts say that it is best to visit this museum before heading to the Duomo, as the museum gives visitors an understanding of the historical context of the cathedral to the city.

Piazza Della Signoria

11. Stroll Around Piazza Della Signoria

The Piazza Della Signoria is an open-air museum that was designed by Orcagna in the 14th-century, says US News. There are many interesting arches, sculptures, and architectural features to admire. It is free to wander around this open-air museum, and you can then grab a bite to eat at the strip of cafes close to the Fountain of Neptune.

AquaFlor Firenze

10. Learn About Perfume Production at AquaFlor Firenze

Italy is famous for the production of many things, including perfume. One of the places in Florence that is famous for its perfume production is AquaFlor Firenze. Visitors to this attraction can learn about the perfume production process, see the unparalleled collection of raw materials to create the scents, and learn about the history of perfume production. There is even the opportunity to have a scent created that is personalized for you.

Bargello Museum

9. Admire the Sculptures at Bargello Museum

One of the most impressive collections of sculptures is located at the Bargello Museum. The building is imposing, and it has had many different uses before becoming a museum. It has been the magistrate’s official residence, the town hall, and a prison with torture chambers. Now, the museum houses a large collection of celebrated works. Some of the most famous include Donatello’s two Davids and the statue of Saint George, Michelangelo’s Drunken Bacchus, and Giambologna’s Mercury. During the summer months, the museum’s courtyard is used to host various events and performances.

Arno River

8. Take a Boat Trip Along Arno River

The most significant natural landmark in Florence is the Arno River, as this river intersects the city. An excellent activity that is suitable for people of all ages is to take a boat tour along the River Arno, says The Telegraph. This will allow you to view the sights and landmarks from a different perspective. There are a variety of boat tours available, taking place during both the days and the evenings. Some of the packages include food and drink on board the vessel. The daytime trips are ideal for families visiting Florence, while evening trips are an excellent idea if you want to enjoy a romantic activity as a couple. If you would rather enjoy the river alone, then you can try paddleboarding instead of embarking on a tour. Once you have mastered the art of standing on the board, this is a fun activity and you can paddleboard your way along the river and under the Ponte Vecchio.

Museo Stibbert

7. See the Historic Collections at the Museo Stibbert

Although it is not the most famous of the museums in Florence, Museo Stibbert is one that you should add to your itinerary as it contains one of the most unusual and fascinating collections. It is the former home of Frederick, and it houses his private collection. It is particularly well-known for its collection of armor from Japan and the Middle East. There is also furniture and artwork that differs from the collections you will see in other museums in Florence.

Palazzo Vecchio

6. Go to the Palazzo Vecchio

The Palazzo Vecchio is the city hall of Florence and the former residence of the Medici family. It sits in the Piazza Signoria, and it is one of the most famous buildings in the city. It is often referred to as the old palace, a name it earned after Palazzio Pitti was built across the river. It is now a museum that contains Dante’s death mask, rooms full of frescoes, and magnificent pieces of artwork.

Giardino Bardini

5. Tale a Stroll Through the Giardino Bardini

A beautiful and peaceful place where you can spend time away from the tourist crowds is the Giardino Bardini. Although the Boboli Gardens are better known, the Giardino Bardini boasts more gardens for you to stroll around, and it is also home to the beautiful baroque staircase that you can see from Arno. You can enter the gardens from either Costa San Georgio or from the Ponte Alle Grazie. Entrance to the gardens is free, and you can spend as much time as you want to explore the gardens.

Piazzale Michelangelo

4. Enjoy the Views at Piazzale Michelangelo

One of the best places to enjoy free views across Florence is at the Pizzale Michelangelo, which across the river and above the San Niccolo neighborhood. Make sure you take along your camera to capture the impressive views of the city and beyond. At the Piazzale Michelangelo, there are always vendors selling souvenirs from their carts, and there are often street performers to keep you entertained.

Galleria dell’Accademia

3. View Michelangelo’s Work at Galleria dell’Accademia

Fans of Michelangelo’s work should head to the Galleria dell’Acaemia, which is home to a large collection oh the famous painter’s work. Outside the museum stands the statue of David, which is a statue of a man that Michelangelo carved out of a single piece of marble. Inside, you will find one of the largest art collections in the world from multiple famous artists.

The Uffizi

2. See the Art at The Uffizi

One of the most famous art museums in the world is The Uffizi in Florence. The main focus of this art museum is Renaissance art, and it is home to Botticelli’s finest pieces, including The Birth of Venus. It is recommended that you set aside around three hours to take in the beautiful artwork at this attraction. In addition to seeing the art, you should also take note of the impressive 16th-century architecture of the building. If you only intend to visit one art gallery in the city, then this is the one that you should choose.

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

1. Admire the Wonder of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

Probably the most significant and famous landmark in Florence, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is somewhere that you must visit during your time in Florence. Its huge dome is an important feature of the Florence skyline. The name of the cathedral translates as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower says Time Out. Until 1881, the famous dome was the largest in the world. Other than viewing the cathedral and its dome, people come to this landmark to admire the views. If you climb the 463 steps to the lantern at the top of the structure, you are at the highest point in the city, and the views are spectacular.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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