Whenever I talk about Italy with friends and family, three cities come up in their travel dreams: Venice, Rome and Florence.
With a rich history, the capital of Tuscany is a beautiful city. If you plan to visit, go ahead! There are so many things to do that you won’t be able to do everything.
In this article, I list the 28 best activities to discover in Florence.
The Uffizi Gallery
Starting with the Uffizi Gallery is a great choice!
The Uffizi Gallery is a museum located in the historic center of Florence. It is one of the most famous museums in the world. It houses an incredible collection of artworks from the Italian Renaissance. You will find paintings by Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli.
When you visit the Uffizi Gallery, you feel like you are traveling back in time. As a history buff, I love this type of museum.
Don’t forget to reserve your tickets, as it is often very crowded at the entrance. I also advise you to enter early in the morning to avoid the crowd.
The top of the Duomo
In Italian, Duomo means “Cathedral.” It is therefore logical that all cities have as an activity, the climb to the top of the Duomo.
To reach the top of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, you must climb 463 steps. It’s tiring, but worth it.
You are rewarded with a panoramic view of the city of Florence and its surroundings.
If you’re up for the challenge, you won’t be disappointed by the breathtaking view from the top of the Duomo.
And if you don’t want to or can’t go all the way to the top, come all the way to the Florence Cathedral anyway, as this is the next activity I recommend.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
This cathedral is a symbol of the city and one of the greatest jewels of Italian architecture.
The cathedral is in the heart of Florence and is distinguished by its huge dome. The beauty of the cathedral’s interior, with its white and green marble walls, colorful stained-glass windows and magnificent sculptures is absolute.
After your visit to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, go to the Baptistery next door.
The Academy’s gallery
The Academy Gallery is a famous art gallery containing incredible masterpieces, including the famous sculpture of David by Michelangelo.
In addition to the sculpture of David, you can discover paintings by Botticelli, Pontormo, Bronzino…
The garden of Boboli
In Rome, I loved the Borghese Gardens. In Florence, it’s the Boboli Gardens!
The Boboli Garden is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in Florence. Located just behind the Pitti Palace, this garden offers a magnificent view of the city and a pleasant escape from the noise and bustle of the city.
You will stroll for hours, between the cypress alleys, the fountains, the sculptures and the colorful plants.
Visit the Boboli Garden during the beautiful days of the year, when the temperatures are mild and the flowers are bright.
The Palatine Gallery
The Palatine Gallery is another symbol of the art and history of Florence located in the Pitti Palace.
This art gallery is renowned for its collections of paintings and sculptures that tell the story of Florence from antiquity to the Baroque period.
Parmigianino and Titian are probably the most famous artists highlighted by the Palatine Gallery. In addition to the paintings and sculptures, you can admire the magnificent frescoes and decorations of the palace that testify to the opulence that otherwise reigned in Florence.
La Badia Fiorentina
The Badia Fiorentina is one of the most interesting churches in Florence. It is in the city center, near the Ponte Vecchio.
The Badia Fiorentina has exceptional architecture and unique interior decorations. It has an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures.
The Badia Fiorentina is a must see for lovers of history, art and culture in general.
On Sundays, attend a Latin mass, which is still practiced in the church according to tradition.
Piazzale Michelangelo is an amazing square located high up in the city of Florence. This emblematic place of the city offers a breathtaking view of the city.
You are in the perfect place to see the most famous monuments of Florence, such as the Brunelleschi Cathedral, the Palazzo Vecchio and the Basilica of Santa Croce.
Take advantage of this opportunity to take a break from sightseeing, thanks to the many cafes and restaurants near Piazzale Michelangelo.
On sunny days, the square is often animated and hosts animations, musicians and artists.
The Basilica of Santa Croce
The Basilica of Santa Croce is another proof that religious buildings in Italy should be part of your visits.
This basilica houses several famous tombs, including those of the sculptor Michelangelo, the poet Dante Alighieri and several other important figures.
The basilica’s greatest attraction is undoubtedly its impressive Gothic architecture and sumptuous interiors. You will see remarkable works of art, including the frescoes painted by Giotto on the outer wall.
Visitors can also wander through the museum adjacent to the basilica where religious objects, ancient manuscripts and even historical archives are on display.
The Galileo Museum
The Galileo Museum is one of the most important scientific museums in Italy. It commemorates the life and work of the famous mathematician, astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei.
The museum exhibits an extensive collection of objects related to science and technology, including contemporary and historical instruments and archives that describe Galileo’s journey.
The museum also houses the “Galileo Experience,” an interactive multimedia exhibition.
The Palazzo Vecchio
The Palazzo Vecchio has housed the city council since 1299 and was built to honor the Medici reign. The imposing stone facade hints at the building’s once imposing stature.
The greatest attraction of Palazzo Vecchio is undoubtedly its magnificent Council Chamber, decorated with a mixture of medieval paintings and sculptures.
In the inner courtyard, there is a beautiful fountain. Tourists can admire the majestic statues and incredible frescoes that cover the exterior and interior walls of the palace.
Among other things to see, there is the library of Palazzo Vecchio. It contains ancient and rare manuscripts, some of which date back to the Italian Renaissance.
The Stibbert Museum
The Stibbert Museum is one of the largest private collections of art and military gifts in Italy.
Founded by Frederico Stibbert at the end of the 19th century, it contains an amazing variety of antique armor, firearms and even armored tanks.
The main hall of the museum is filled with medieval armor displayed on marble pedestals with carved and decorated thrones to complete the picture.
Villa Medicea di Castello
The Villa Medici of Castello was built by Cosimo I de’ Medici in the 16th century.
The Villa consists of a spectacular series of buildings, including the main palace which still serves as the residence of the Medici descendants.
The beautiful gardens offer a unique view of the Tuscan hills, and are filled with ancient and modern works of art.
The Villa includes a richly decorated library and houses thousands of rare books, the oldest of which date back to the Middle Ages.
Visitors will also discover the large outdoor theater designed by Bernardo Buontalenti.
The Leonardo da Vinci Museum
The museum is a memorial dedicated to the life and work of Leonardo Da Vinci and includes several rooms that pay tribute to the innovative genius of the Italian painter, inventor and scientist.
Visitors can see life-size reproductions of Da Vinci’s machines, as well as some of his most famous artistic works.
The Pitti Palace
The Pitti Palace is a large five-story palace built in 1458 by Luca Pitti, a wealthy and powerful man who wanted to compete with the rich medieval families of the area.
Over time, the palace has passed through the hands of many famous owners, including the Medici family and the Italian royal family.
Today, the Pitti Palace has six sections representing six distinct activities:
- The Palazzo Vecchio
- The Uffizi Gallery
- A family chapel
- The Boboli Museum
- The Palatine Gallery
- The Stibbert Museum.
The vineyards of Chianti
A visit to the Chianti vineyards is a unique experience for all wine lovers.
Chianti has one of the most beautiful vineyard landscapes in the world, with its gentle hills covered with lush vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see.
It is best to take this tour with a guide who can take you to the tasting places.
The Cathedral of Siena
The cathedral of Siena is also called Duomo di Siena in Italy.
As its name suggests, it is in Siena, a city 80 km from Florence.
Built in the early 13th century, this cathedral is among the great architectural achievements of medieval Italy. Its design incorporates an imposing bronze and a vivid façade that combines Romanesque and Gothic styles. It is adorned with an intricate scroll of colorful columns and sculptures that are perfect for captivating your mind.
Inside is the masterpiece of the Italian sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti: “The Last Judgment”.
The Selfie Museum
Forget about historical museums with a very modern activity: the selfie!
In many big cities, Selfie Museums have appeared. This is also the case in Florence.
The Selfie Museum in Florence is composed of artistic installations that can be modified to create exceptional settings for selfies.
With friends or as a couple, this is a fun activity. It allows you to vary your activities after several visits to the more classical Florentine museums.
The Strozzi Palace is a medieval architectural masterpiece. It was designed by the powerful banker Filippo Strozzi to represent his family, eager to influence Florentine politics.
Built between 1489 and 1538, it is distinguished by a unique style that combines Renaissance and Gothic influences. The windows are adorned with colored stained glass and the roofs are topped by large chimneys with stellar ovens that symbolize its belonging to the Strozzi family.
It continues a long tradition of using noble stones such as marble, onyx, alabaster and ivy on roof gutters.
Palazzo Strozzi now houses several cultural activities, including temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and plays.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is a gothic-style church built between 1246 and 1360.
The basilica houses a rich architectural and artistic heritage, including a collection of artworks created by artists such as Giotto, Brunelleschi and Ghirlandaio.
It also has historical works such as the funerary monument of Cardinal de Medici, medieval relics and an important collection of religious altarpieces.
The highlight of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is its original sanctuary, which contains one of the oldest works of Florentine art still in use today: The Cenacolo di Ognissanti or “Adoration of the Magi” painted by Giotto and dating from the early 14th century.
The San Marco National Museum
Since its foundation in the 14th century, the museum has attracted visitors to admire a large collection of religious and secular works, including paintings and sculptures created during the golden age of Florentine art.
The San Marco National Museum has a magnificent main nave bathed in natural light from the many colorful cross-shaped windows.
The walls are covered with frescoes by Fra Angelico, Lorenzo Lotto and Masaccio while the vaulted ceiling is distinguished by its polychromatic biblical scenes.
In addition, the museum also has a large permanent collection of sacred art dating back to the 15th century, including ancient paintings on wood and statues representing the Virgin Mary and various Christian saints.
The National Museum of the Bargello
The Bargello National Museum in Florence has collections of European art dating back to the Bronze Age and including pieces dating back to the 13th century.
Together, these masterpieces tell the story of Italian sculpture, architecture and decorative arts through the ages.
The major work of the museum is La Pietà di Michelangelo, sculpted between 1547 and 1555 in white marble.
Other works include several sculptures by Donatello and Verrocchio as well as frescoes on wood by Ghirlandaio and Botticelli.
The National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum of Florence exhibits a wide variety of pre-Columbian, medieval, ancient and Egyptian antiquities.
The oldest are probably the thick-walled bronze containers dating back over 2,500 years.
The museum presents a series of Greek and Roman statues as well as works that belonged to the Medici family.
The most notable sculptures include those representing Mars and Minerva.
The Brancacci Chapel
The Brancacci Chapel is a small chapel in the convent of Santo Spirito in Florence.
You will love its important medieval Italian frescoes, painted by Masaccio between 1424 and 1428. Known as the “Scene of Original Sin”, this monumental work tells the story of the complex transaction between God and Adam and its consequence: the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise.
The Brancacci Chapel is a unique place that offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into what was being done in terms of mural art in 15th century Florence. The vibrant colors and meticulous detail of this fresco are extraordinary!
The Great Synagogue of Florence and its museum
The Great Synagogue of Florence is the largest Jewish religious center in Italy. Within it is a museum rich in history that traces the religious and community services of the Jews since the 14th century.
Among the most remarkable works on display are original fragments of the floor dating from the 13th century and a wide variety of traditional ornaments used during religious services.
The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum
The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum is dedicated to the talent of Italian craftsman and designer Salvatore Ferragamo.
The museum offers an amazing array of exhibits that give visitors a glimpse into Ferragamo’s work and classic designs: futurism, modernism, cubism and expressionism.
In the galleries, visitors can see historic shoes, photos, films and other iconic pieces that tell the story of Salvatore Ferragamo’s career.
The Office of the Hard Stone
The Opificio delle pietre dure (OPD) is a museum and art workshop in Florence. Founded in the 16th century by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I, the workshop is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Florentine works of art in stone.
For over 400 years, OPD has been a world reference for the craftsmanship and expertise of Italian artists. It offers a wide variety of products made from the rarest materials, such as jasper, lapis lazuli and onyx, which rival even the most modern technology.
Less known than all the other museums mentioned above, HZERO is a paradise for model train enthusiasts. It is one of the largest museums in Europe in this sector.
The oldest models are reproductions of trains from the 1950s. But the museum does not only exhibit reproductions. It also informs about the past, present and future role of the railway.