Florence, (or Firenze as the locals say), is a picturesque city, with surrounding rolling hills, impressive artwork, and delicious cuisine! Although small, the heart of Tuscany offers an abundance of sights, and things to do for any traveler. A visit to this famous Italian city is sure to be packed with non-stop activities! If you’re planning a weekend in Florence make sure to check out our top 10 things to see and do.
Cross Ponte Vecchio
The famous bridge constructed in 1345, used to be home to butcher shops. Now it hosts several luxury jewelry shops, selling all kinds of gold, diamonds, and precious gems. Apart from its unique architecture, the bridge also has a lot of history. It is the only bridge in Florence to survive completely intact after World War II. As a result, Ponte Vecchio is now one the most photographed bridges in the world!
For a bit of greenery in Florence, head straight to the Boboli Gardens. The vast gardens behind the Pitti Palace act as an open air museum. With statues, fountains, sculptures, and ancient oak trees all waiting to be discovered! They date back over four centuries, and some say they’ve inspired many other European Royal Gardens, such as, Versailles. The gardens are a perfect stop during any season, and a must see during a weekend trip to Florence.
The Uffizi Gallery is one the most visited museums in Italy, and one of the oldest in the Western World. For all of you Renaissance art fans, this is definitely a must-see during your time in Florence! The gallery houses works from some of the world’s most famous Renaissance artists, like Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci. Make sure to reserve your tickets online because the wait can be up to five hours during high season.
Watch the Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo offers some of the best views of Florence! Located on the opposite side of the Arno River, Pizzale Michelangelo sits high on a hill near the Boboli Gardens. The views at the top are definitely worth the climb! Bring a picnic, and enjoy watching as the sun sets over the city. Hopefully some local musicians will be there to liven the mood!
The Accademia Gallery is home to one of the most renowned sculptures in the world of Renaissance art: The David, by Michelangelo. The David was originally supposed to be an outside decoration of the Cathedral of Florence, but now remains as a symbol of freedom and independence, as well as, mankind’s fight for survival. Apart from the “David,” the Accademia Gallery houses quite a large number of famous sculptures, in addition, to paintings from the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. Similar to the Uffizi, waiting times to enter the museum tend to be quite long, so it is highly recommended to book tickets in advanced!
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo)
The Florence Cathedral, or simply the Duomo, is the icon of Florence, and one of the most celebrated cathedrals in the world. The exterior of the Gothic style Cathedral is decorated with white, green, and pink marble. The inside is quite plain in contrast, but the centerpiece is Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes of the Last Judgment painted on the inside of the dome. Climb the 463 steps to the top of the famous red dome to enjoy some of the best views of Florence!
Climb Campanello di Giotto
If the queue to climb to the top of the Duomo is unbearably long, (which it usually is) then head over to the bell tower right next door! Giotto’s Bell Tower is one of the four main monuments in Pizza del Duomo, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful bell towers in Italy! After climbing the 414 steps you will be rewarded with an amazing view of the city, including the famed red cupola of the Florence Cathedral.
Eat Pizza at Gustapizza
When in Florence, you must eat as the Italians do, and that means plenty of pizza and pasta! While I’m sure you can’t go wrong with a slice of pizza from any local shop, trust me when I say that Gustapizza is worth a trip to the other side of the river! Located near Piazza Santo Spirito, the small restaurant makes hundreds of brick oven pizzas everyday. Take it to go, and enjoy your delicious pizza while taking in the views from the Arno, or wait for a much coveted seat and eat inside. The famed pizza place is delicious, and the low prices won’t break the bank. If you’re lucky they might even make your pizza into the shape of a heart!
San Lorenzo Market
A weekend in Florence is incomplete without a visit to the famous market! The market, composed of an indoor and outdoor section, is the perfect place to enjoy a local Tuscan meal, shop for some fresh ingredients, buy some souvenirs, or splurge on some handmade leather goods! The outdoor section of the San Lorenzo market has hundreds of stalls with vendors selling everything from pottery, to clothing, souvenirs, and leather goods. Feel free to bargain for the best price on all your new purchases. After spending hours roaming through the stalls outside, it is time to head indoors to Mercato Centrale. The two level indoor market, is a food lover’s paradise! You can buy local fresh produce, have lunch, or even take a cooking class!
Wine tasting in Chianti
If you have a day to spare in Florence, a trip to Chianti is a must! The rolling Tuscan hills, ancient castles, and miles of vineyards are a great alternative to the hectic city center! The world famous region is located between Florence and Siena and is home to one of Italy’s most famous red wines: Chianti Classico. Book a wine tasting at one of the many local wineries and enjoy a day of breathtaking views and rich wine under the Tuscan sun!
If you’re a lover of the arts, wine, or simply just a lover of travel, I’m sure you will fall in love with this small Tuscan gem. For those planning a trip to Florence, check here to search for cheap flights, hotels, and rental cars! Finally don’t forget to take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Planning Weekend Trips, to help with all of your future travels!