Florence is an amazing city and the Euro Travel Coach team just can’t get enough! It’s one of those places that we seem to return to time after time. There’s amazing art, architecture and history…and of course, lots of wonderful food and wine! How you spend your time really depends on what you want to do and how much time you have to spend. We plan trips for clients who visit Florence in a day, some who have two days in Florence, and for others who want to stay for a week. Florence is often filled with tourists but they go there for good reason! So, what should you do while you are there? Below you’ll find our list of 7 things you must do in Florence!
Note: We would recommend purchasing a Firenze Card for priority access at most major museums. This eliminates the need to make reservations at the more popular sites such as the Uffizi gallery and the Academia. The card is active for 72 hours after you use it for the first time.
Visit the Mercato Centrale
This two level food market is an absolute must see for any food lover. It’s located in a beautiful 19th century building featuring an abundance of cast iron and glass. On the ground level, you’ll find traditional butchers, fishmongers, produce vendors, and specialty shops that sell olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pasta, cheese and more. In our experience, the vendors love to talk about the products they’re selling and are more than willing to give samples. This level also has a fantastic, super traditional food stall called Da Nerbone. It’s as old as the market itself and little has changed in the 150 years since it opened. It doesn’t even have a website. It’s staff dishes out classic Florentine lunches such as lampredotto (tripe) and boiled beef sandwiches to crowds of regulars and in the know visitors. This is in addition to fabulous pork sandwiches, delicious pastas and many other offerings.
On the second floor, you’ll find a modern food court which has several small stalls that serve pizza, pasta, wine, beer, and even Chinese dumplings! There’s also a more formal sit down restaurant on this level. Note that the stalls on the ground floor start to close in the early afternoon while the second floor restaurants are open all day.
Enjoy Dinner at il Santo Bevitore
This is one of our favorite restaurants in Florence and we always try to have lunch or dinner here when we’re in town. Located slightly off the beaten path south of the Arno River in the Oltrarno neighborhood, this fabulous trattoria offers a modern take on traditional Italian cuisine. They also have a wine bar next door with great snacks, small plates and wine. Florence at night is awesome - and busy. Be sure to make a reservation here in advance when you go or ask us to do that for you!
Climb Giotto's Bell Tower
Many people clamor to climb the cupola of the Duomo, but the lines are typically shorter at the Bell Tower. The views are just as impressive, and you don’t have to book a time slot for your climb (as you do for the dome). As a bonus, you actually get to admire Brunelleschi's Dome once you make the climb, something you obviously can’t do when you’re standing atop it!
If you purchase a Firenze card, you will have access to all the sites of the Museo del Duomo. If not, you will need to buy a ticket in advance of your visit (it is valid for a 72 hour window, beginning on your selected date).
Be Awed by Art at the Uffizi Gallery
A visit to the Uffizi gallery is a no brainer when you’re in Florence. This legendary museum is home to the greatest collection of Italian paintings anywhere. To get the most out of your visit, we recommend either booking a guided tour, or doing a self guided tour (such as the one in the Rick Steves Pocket Florence book) to avoid getting overwhelmed by the massive amount of paintings and sculptures. A tour really helps give meaning and perspective to your visit.
Note that The Firenze Card allows you to use a priority lane, however we’d still recommend going early (9:00am or earlier) to avoid a wait. If you don’t purchase a Firenze pass, be sure to book your time in advance (its an extra €4 for an entrance reservation, and well worth it during busy times).
See Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia
Did you really go to Florence if you didn’t see the David? Well yes…there’s plenty of other amazing things to see and do in this city, BUT it is quite awe inspiring to see this famed work in person. In the words of Italian historian Giorgio Vasari, “After seeing this, no one need wish to look at any other sculpture or the work of any other artist.” That said, there are lots of other incredible pieces by Michelangelo in the Accademia that are well worth your time. Again, we’d recommend a guide or some sort of reading material to accompany your visit.
The Firenze Card allows you to use a priority lane, however we’d still recommend going early (9:00am or earlier) to avoid a wait. If you don’t purchase a Firenze Card, be sure to book your time in advance.
Stroll through Boboli Gardens
Enjoy a very different type of museum in this beautiful park behind the Pitti Palace. These gorgeous gardens contain centuries-old oak trees, spectacular sculptures by famed artists, beautiful fountains, a stunning amphitheater, beautiful pergolas, and much more. Boboli Gardens are said to be the inspiration for the grounds of many royal estates around Europe, most notably, Versailles.
Entry is covered by the Firenze Card or tickets can be booked online.
Admire the View from the Piazzale Michelangelo
It’s a bit of a trek to this hilltop square, located south of the Arno river, but it’s well worth it for the panoramic views of Florence that it offers. Enjoy!
There is so much more to see, do, and eat beyond this list (Wine tasting! Florentine steak! Michelin starred dining! Leather! Gelato! Palaces!), but we hope this gives you a little taste of what the wonderful city of Florence has to offer. If you’re planning a trip to Florence and need help mapping out your itinerary or ironing out the details, we can help! Check out our Custom Itineraries and Coaching services and we’ll help your Florentine dreams come true!
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