Florence Bucket List: Attractions & Experiences in Italy’s Top City

To say I love traveling to Florence is an understatement. With so many destinations left on my bucket list, you’d think revisiting places wouldn’t be the smartest decision. But Florence? It keeps calling me back.

This city is loaded with fun things to do, see, and taste—from stunning museums to high-end shopping and the best pasta in the world. Did I mention the pasta?

If you are lucky enough to visit Firenze, as the locals call it, then you might want to tick a few of these experiences from your own Florence Bucket List.

Top Attractions & Experiences in Florence

WHAT TO SEE + DO


1. Go To The Museo Zoologico La Specola

Let’s get a little weird and wonderful in Florence, shall we? Head over to the Museo Zoologico La Specola (or more commonly known as La Specola). Curious minds should definitely check out this site, which has everything from enormous elephant skeletons to an astounding collection of incredibly realistic anatomical wax models.


2. Climb To The Top Of The Duomo

Named after Santa Maria del Fiore, construction of this huge Gothic building started in the late 13th century and took over 140 years to complete. The Dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1418, showcases frescoes of the Last Judgment by Giorgio Vasari and offers an amazing aerial view of Florence.

Climb to the Top of the Duomo

But to see all this, you have to climb about 463 steps to the top of the Duomo! It’s quite a workout, but the view (and the burned calories) is totally worth it.

Climb to the Top of the Duomo

3. Then, Climb Giotto’s Campanile

Located within the renowned Florence Cathedral complex (along with the Duomo, this impressive Gothic bell tower is a remarkable 84.7 meters (277.9 feet) in height—414 steps! And you can climb it too. 


4. Stroll Through The Flower Market In Piazza Della Repubblica

From herbs and cacti to Christmas trees, you’ve got to hit up the flower market in Piazza della Repubblica. Head there early—like, crack-of-dawn early—because by lunchtime, the cut flowers are mostly gone, and the vendors are already packing up. 


5. Rub The Nose Of The Fontana Del Porcellino

Locals call this bronze fountain of a boar ‘Il Porcellino.’ They believe it brings good luck if you rub its nose, because a female wild boar was traditionally seen as a lucky symbol. It’s worth a shot! 

Insider Tip: You’ll find Il Porcellino near the Mercato Nuovo. But, go early because it’s a popular spot in the city—I went at 7:00 am and had it all to myself!

Rub the Nose of the Fontana del Porcellino

6. See The Killer View From Piazzale Michelangelo

The view from Piazzale Michelangelo is picture perfect, with Florence laid out below you like a Renaissance painting. You can see the Arno River winding through the city, the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and the terracotta rooftops shining in the sun. Wow!

TIP: Getting there is part of the adventure. If you’re up for it, walk up from Piazza Poggi or take the shady route via Michelangelo from Piazza Ferruccio. Not in the mood to walk? Catch bus 12 or 13, or even the red sightseeing bus for an easy ride. 


7. Escape To The Neighboring Town Of Fiesole

Sometimes, even a city as amazing as Florence needs a break. Just outside the city, in the Tuscan hills, is Fiesole—a charming town perfect for a day trip. Think wide-open views, ancient Etruscan ruins, and a laid-back vibe that feels miles away from Florence’s busy streets.

Visiting here is what I do in Florence every time I come

Explore the remains of the Etruscan city walls or wander around the ancient Roman amphitheater. The beautiful San Francesco church is a great spot to see Renaissance art. And, of course, don’t miss the stunning views from Piazzale Michelangelo.

Visiting here is what I do in Florence every time I come

8. Stroll Through Boboli Gardens

The Boboli Gardens, connected to the stunning Palazzo Pitti, are as green and as lush as can be. Created in the 16th century, these 45,000 square meter gardens offer more than just grass and flowers. They provide a refreshing break from visiting museums and ancient buildings.

I always make a stop here when visiting the city!

The gardens showcase interesting sculptures from the 16th to 18th centuries. The main lawn features an obelisk, a fountain, and exotic flowers and plants, along with large ponds and impressive water features. It’s the perfect place to enjoy nature right in the heart of the city.


9. Fountain Of Neptune Piazza Della Signoria

Right in the middle of Piazza della Signoria, you’ll find the impressive Fountain of Neptune. This isn’t just any fountain—it’s a giant statue of the sea god made from shining white marble, which is why it’s called “Il Biancone” or “The Big White One.” Look closely, and you’ll notice that Neptune’s face looks a lot like Cosimo I de’ Medici, who was the Duke of Florence back then. This detail hints at Florence’s power at sea.


10. Buy Your Signature Scent The Officina Profumo Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novella

The Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is like a hidden treasure; if you don’t know where it is, you will probably miss it. Located in an unassuming building near the train station, it’s one of the oldest cosmetic stores in the world. This 600-year-old shop still uses ancient secret recipes to create some of the most amazing perfumes.

Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

The store is relaxed and friendly, even though it sells high-end products. One of its best-sellers is ‘Acqua di Rose,’ a rose water made by 14th-century monks to help fight the Black Death, and it’s still popular today.

Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

11. Visit The Porte Sante (“Holy Gates”) Cemetery

The Porte Sante Cemetery, also known as the Sacred Doors Cemetery, is a must-see for history and art lovers. It feels more like an outdoor museum, filled with ornate tombs and sculptures that share stories of Florentines from all walks of life. You might even find the graves of famous figures like Carlo Collodi, the author of Pinocchio, or Pellegrino Artusi, the “father of Italian cuisine.”

One of the most famous statues here shows siblings Mario and Maria Mazzone frozen in a dance. Mario, a WWI pilot, died in service, and his sister Maria passed away just before her wedding. Their grieving mother had this statue made as a touching symbol of their reunion in the afterlife.


12. Go To Forte Di Belvedere

This 16th-century fortress might not have seen any battles, but it offers one of the best views of the city. Picture capturing the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge, the Duomo’s dome, and the terracotta rooftops all in one shot!

Forte di Belvedere is more than just a great viewpoint. Explore the elegant Palazzina di Belvedere, a Medici villa full of frescoes and sculptures. Check out the ever-changing exhibits or wander through the maze-like gardens of Giardino Bardini – perfect for a relaxing stroll after sightseeing.


13. Watch The Sunset Over The Arno And Ponte Vecchio Bridge

Lined with souvenir shops and sparkly high-end jewelers, the Ponte Vechhio medieval bridge is a must-visit in Florence. It gets crowded with people, so be prepared for some hustle and bustle! After the chaos and shopping, head to the next bridge to watch the sunset over the Arno River, which lights up the Ponte Vecchio in all its glory.

Watch the Sunset over the Arno and Ponte Vecchio Bridge

Don’t forget to make a quick stop at Gusta Pizza beforehand to get a take out pie to bring to the river!

Watch the Sunset over the Arno and Ponte Vecchio Bridge

14. Take The Stairs To San Miniato Al Monte

Perched on one of the city’s highest points, this beautiful Romanesque church offers sweeping sights that will leave you breathless. Now, full disclosure, the 400ish stairs are no joke – they’re steep and seemingly endless. But, the feeling of accomplishment (and the killer Instagram pics) you’ll get at the top are totally worth the leg burn!

TIP: You can start at the Piazzale Michelangelo for this one. However, if you have more time in your hands, there’s also a longer route which starts at Ponte Vecchio and takes you to different sights along the way.


15. Buy Leather at San Lorenzo Market

Near the San Lorenzo church you’ll find San Lorenzo Market, a place that is known for high-quality Italian leather. The thing about it is that not every item that claims to be ‘Made in Italy’ is authentic, so do some research. You do, however, have A LOT of options available to you.

Haggle at San Lorenzo Market for Leather

16. Walk Through Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi is a lively 15th-century Renaissance palace. It hosts some of the most interesting temporary exhibitions in Florence, with world-class displays that change every few months.

One day, you might explore Florentine fashion from the 1500s, and the next, you’re looking at contemporary photography. Palazzo Strozzi always keeps things fresh and exciting, so you never know what amazing art you’ll see next!


17. Check Out The Statue Of David At Galleria Dell’Accademia

The Galleria dell’Accademia is home to the ‘Statue of David’, Michelangelo’s most famous sculpture. Just like seeing the Mona Lisa in Paris, it is a top thing to do in Florence and won’t take long to get a glimpse. 

If you are a museum lover, then this one also has many other sections with interesting works, like one that displays musical instruments from maestros such as Bartolomeo Cristofori, the guy who invented the piano.

Pre-Book a Ticket: Timed Entrance Ticket to Michelangelo’s David

You could also always just opt to see the strikingly similar ‘Statue of David’ replica that sits in Palazzo Vecchio. And they allow photographs there, but not inside the Galleria.

Check out the Statue of David at Galleria dell'Accademia

18. Attend An Opera At St. Mark’s Anglican Church

The Opera at St. Mark’s Anglican Church is really like no other Opera in the world—it’s intimate and dramatic. Built within a former Medici Palace, the church has been renovated to reflect the Neo-Renaissance style that is slowly beginning to influence many locations in Florence.

You can see upcoming shows and buy a tickets on Classictic.com.


19. Go To The Uffizi Gallery

I’m not a gallery kind of gal, but I will make an exception for the Uffizi Gallery. Outstanding works of art such as Doni Tondo (by Michelangelo); The Ognissanti Madonna (by Giotto); Madonna of the Goldfinch (by Raphael); and The Birth of Venus (by Botticelli) are just some of the renowned pieces you will find when you visit the Uffizi Gallery.

Go to the Uffizi Gallery

Tip: This is a super popular museum and if you go during peak season, you could wait up hours just to enter! So, I’d recommend buying tickets in advance, which you can easily do on the Uffizi Website, but sometimes the site can get confusing so you can also buy a ticket on Get Your Guide.

Go to the Uffizi Gallery

20. Bargello National Museum

Located not far from the Palazzo Vecchio, the Bargello National Museum in Florence is a must-visit if you enjoy both art and history. This powerhouse museum, housed in this former barracks and prison, boasts the most mind-blowing collection of Renaissance sculptures you’ll ever see. We’re talking iconic works by Donatello’s fierce David, Verrocchio’s enchanting Lady with a Posy, and Michelangelo’s early masterpieces – all under one roof.


21. Basilica Santa Croce

The Basilica di Santa Croce, known as “The Pantheon of Florence” for good reason, is a gem of the Renaissance just waiting to be discovered. Located in Piazza di Santa Croce, a couple hundred meters southeast of the Duomo, Santa Croce isn’t just a pretty face, it’s also home to tombs of Italian greats like Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. 


22. Dante’s House Museum

Ever wondered what it was like to walk in the footsteps of one of history’s greatest poets? Well, Dante’s House Museum in Florence is your time machine. Tucked away on Via Santa Margherita, this reconstructed house offers a glimpse into 13th-century Florence and Dante’s formative years (who, by the way, is best known for his work, the Divine Comedy). You’ll see replicas of everyday objects and clothing from the era, and delve into the historical and political landscape that shaped Dante’s writing. Plus, there are exhibits dedicated to his exile and lasting influence on art and literature.


23. Tour Galileo Museum

The Galileo Museum at Palazzo Castellani will take you on a trip through the history of scientific discovery, starting with the actual telescope that Galileo used to find moons orbiting Jupiter (mind-blowing, right?). Other highlights include elaborate human body models and fascinating early microscopes.

But wait, there’s more! The Galileo Museum also houses some pretty quirky exhibits, like Galileo’s own preserved middle finger (legend has it he kept it after a nasty duel – ouch!), and a massive armillary sphere that will give you the impression that you’ve entered a pirate’s chart room.


24. Giardino Bardini

Perched on the hill opposite Piazzale Michelangelo, the Giardino Bardini offers a peaceful oasis right in the heart of Florence. Here, you can wander through three distinct sections, each boasting its own special charm – the Italian Garden (don’t miss the Baroque Staircase!), the English Wood (with its exotic plants and Anglo-Chinese influence), and the Agricultural Park (wisteria tunnels and a fruit orchard).


25. Medici Chapels

Tucked inside the Basilica di San Lorenzo, these chapels are the Medici’s answer to a family mausoleum. Only, WAY more dazzling.

One of the chapels, the New Sacristy, houses the tombs of two lesser-known members of the family: Giuliano de’ Medici and Lorenzo de’ Medici. There are also several statues here, all sculpted by Michelangelo. On the other hand, the walls of Cappella dei Principi (or Chapel of the Princes), are decorated with colorful marble and semi-precious stones, a testament to the Medici’s insatiable love for luxury.


26. Museo Stibbert

For those of you who get a thrill out of a good collection, then the Museo Stibbert will surely deliver. Perched on a hill in Montughi, this 19th-century villa once belonged to a passionate collector named Frederick Stibbert. His life’s work? Amassing a mind-boggling collection of over 50,000 objects.

During his lifetime, he collected objects from all over the globe, from paintings to furniture to even arms and armor coming from Europe, Islam, and even Japan. With over 56 rooms to go over, you’ll definitely be here for a while, so be sure to allot an hour or two for this one.


27. Museum of San Marco

The Museum of San Marco is best known for its incredible collection of frescoes by Fra Angelico, a monk-turned-artist whose work is serene and simply stunning. His use of color and light will wow you; it’s like walking into a living Renaissance altarpiece.

Among Fra Angelico’s most well-known pieces are the poignant “Crucifixion” in the Chapter House and the serene “Annunciation” at the top of the dormitory stairs. These frescoes aren’t just beautiful, they’re steeped in religious symbolism – so keep an eye out for hidden details that might surprise you.


28. Take a Day Trip to Pisa

Florence might be your home base for exploring Tuscany, but trust me, venturing out for a day trip to Pisa is a must! This little town leans into its most famous landmark – the Leaning Tower of Pisa, of course. And you need to go there for the iconic photos. But, Pisa is more than just a tilted tower, and here are just some of the many things you should check out:

  • Pisa Cathedral, Baptistry, and Cemetery: Together with the leaning tower, these four make up the Square of Miracles, or Piazza dei Miracoli, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knights’ Square): Once Pisa’s political hub, it is now home to the Church of the Knights and the Clock Palace. A statue of Cosimo I de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, is also located here.

WHAT TO EAT + DRINK


29. Have Lunch At Mercato Centrale’s Upper Floor

The Mercato Centrale in Florence is a two-level foodie haven. The bottom floor is filled with an array of Italian products: fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other local specialties. 

Once you have done a bit of walking around and maybe grocery shopping on the market’s first level, you should take the time to have lunch (and a glass of vino) at the newly renovated and decorated upper floor where you will find trendy food stalls with all the Italian favorites.

Have lunch at Mercato Centrale’s Upper Floor

30. Eat Pizza—Everywhere!

Here in Italy, pizza isn’t just a cheesy, greasy meal; it’s an art form. From the simple yet divine Margherita to the more adventurous options with truffles or wild boar sausage, Florence offers a pizza pilgrimage for any true foodie. Some pizza places I recommend include Il Pizzaiuolo, Mister Pizza, and Gustarium Firenze


31. Drink Your Cappuccino Standing Up

There are a few things you should know about drinking a Cappuccino in Florence, and Italy in general; there are rules that should be followed (I surely broke all of them, on more than one occasion!).

Some of these cultural rules include things like:

  • Never drink your Cappuccino after or even with your meal, unless it’s your breakfast.
  • Never drink your Cappuccino after midday.
  • Never drink a Cappuccino with anything savory.

But the one that stands out, so to speak, is that you should drink your Cappuccino standing up and at the bar. Sitting down will cost you much more; sometimes as much as four times more! This is how the locals do it, and you know what they say about being in Rome—it applies here too.

Drink Your Cappuccino Standing Up

32. Have An Aperitivo Cocktail

Florentines know how to live, and a big part of that living is the aperitivo ritual. You can think of it as happy hour, except much more stylish and delicious. Usually made with lighter spirits and sometimes a hint of bitterness, an aperitivo cocktail is meant to whet the appetite before dinner.

A couple of my recommendations include the La Terrazza Rooftop Bar at Hotel Continentale, the B-Roof at Grand Hotel Baglioni, and the Pasticceria Serafini on Via Gioberti.

Drink Chianti Classico at a Wine Bar

33. Eat A Lampredotto Sandwich

If you are too busy to have a sit-down lunch at Mercato Centrale’s upper floor, you know, because you still have to go rub the nose of the Fontana del Porcellino, climb to the top of the Duomo and catch a glimpse of the Statue of David all before you can watch the sunset over the Arno and Ponte Vecchio Bridge, then you should definitely eat a Lampredotto Sandwich on the go.

A Florentine delicacy, your typical Lampredotto Sandwich is a soft roll sandwiching tender slices of tripe (cooked cow stomach—it’s much better than it sounds!), salsa verde, spicy sauces and heavenly delight. I’ve raved about a Lampredotto sandwich before; clearly, it is a favorite of mine.

There is a delicious Lampredotto food truck right in front of Mercato Centrale.

Eat a Lampredetto Sandwich

34. Eat At One Of The Michelin Starred Restaurants

Michelin stars are basically the Oscars of the fine dining world. Earning one is a huge honor, signifying an incredibly talented chef and an exquisite dining experience. Florence has several Michelin-starred restaurants, each offering a unique culinary adventure.

For an explosion of modern Italian flavors with a playful twist, snag a reservation at Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura. Craving a more classic Tuscan experience? Look no further than Santa Elisabetta, where Chef Rocco de Santis works his magic in a stunning historical setting.


35. Dine Al Fresco

Florence is one of the most artistic and culturally vibrant cities in the world. This means that you will have no shortage of choices should you want to dine in a high-quality restaurant serving some of Italy’s most delicious delicacies. To enhance your experience find one that has outdoor seating (typically right along the cobbled streets) and dine al fresco with the rest of the locals.

Places like Ristorante Sant’ Ambrogio, Bottega Conviviale and Vini e Vecchi Sapori are perfect for those who want to dine Al Fresco on Italian dishes close to all your favorite city center attractions.

Dine Al Fresco

36. Go Wine Tasting Throughout Tuscany

Florence might be a museum capital, but trust me, this city knows how to uncork a good time too! While you won’t find vineyards sprawling right within the city center, going on a wine tasting tour (like the Viator’s Tasting Experience in the Tuscan Countryside or their Chianti Safari) into the Tuscan countryside unlocks a world of rolling hills, charming villages, and of course, incredible wine.


37. Take A Pasta Making Class

Why wouldn’t you want to learn to make pasta from the people who have perfected the art of it? Florence Cooking Classes has plenty of options (including gelato making classes!) and will give you a hands-on pasta class that will have you screaming “Mangia”. 

For something extra bucket list worthy, try the Pizza or Pasta Class with Gelato Making at a Tuscan Farm.

Take a Pasta Making Class

38. Eat A Traditional Bistecca Fiorentina

Traditionally, the Bistecca Fiorentina (that’s an Italian T-bone to you and I) comes from a specific Tuscan breed of cattle known as ‘Chianina’. Although some restaurants use a different breed because there aren’t that many Chianina cows available, the taste and style of cooking Bistecca Fiorentina are similar—typically grilled and topped with a high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

When you go to places like Trattoria Sostanza or L’Osteria di Giovanni you will get to eat some of the best, most juicy and tasty traditional Bistecca Fiorentina in all of Tuscany.


39. Drink A Negroni in the City Where it Was Created

Ever heard of that bitter-sweet, impossibly cool cocktail with a fiery orange peel garnish called a Negroni? This concoction of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth is a simple yet sophisticated aperitivo (think fancy pre-dinner drink) that’s become a global phenomenon along with the Duomo and David.

So, where do you sip this boozy piece of history? Head to Caffè Giacosa, the bar where the Negroni legend supposedly began, and soak up the atmosphere as you clink glasses with a slice of Florentine history. For a more modern vibe, check out La Ménagère, where they put their own creative spin on this classic. 


40. Drink from a Wine Window

Sipping wine from a Wine Window in Florence is like stepping back into history with a delicious twist. These tiny hatches, called “buchette del vino,” were originally used as early as the 13th century for selling wine directly to customers, avoiding taxes.

Today, they’re making a delightful comeback, and you can find some charming ones scattered throughout and outside the city (check out this wine window list).

There’s usually a menu plastered either on the side or below the window, so you can check out what you want to drink before ringing the bell or knocking on the wine window. You can also ask what wines they are serving for the day.


41. And Yes — Eat Gelato

There is just no way you can go to Florence and not eat Gelato. This has to be by far one of the best reasons for being in the city; there is excellent Gelato on offer almost everywhere you look.

Coming up with a list of who serves the best Gelato in Florence is really hard; they all do. Take your time and sample as many options as you can eat without dying of personal shame. My favorite is a scoop of hazelnut with a scoop of pistachio at Gelateria La Carraia.

And yes — Eat Gelato

WHERE TO SLEEP


42. Sleep In A Hostel

In all my years of traveling I have only spent one single night at a hostel, and it was in Florence at Tasso Hostel. It was not your typical, bare-minimum hostel. It is clean; it is tucked away between residential homes, Florentine craftsmen and restaurants on a side of the Arno that doesn’t see as many tourists. Plus, it has a fully stocked bar that sells cheap wine and a wonderfully decorated and spacious outdoor patio.

If sleeping in a hostel is on your bucket list, there are many others to choose from too. A couple of the other top rated are Academy Hostel and My Friends.

Sleep in a Hostel

43. Rent An Apartment And Stay Awhile

If you need more than a bunk bed at a hostel, and want to stay in Florence for a while, then consider renting an entire apartment. It’s the perfect way to feel like you are living in the heart of the city! Asso’s Place is a beautiful 1,300 square foot place that’s location can give you this unique experience.

Plus, it has a stunning view of the Duomo.

Rent an Apartment and Stay Awhile
Rent an Apartment and Stay Awhile

Florence Hotel Recommendations:

A few other recommended places to stay in Florence:


Honestly speaking, there are just too many things to do and see on just one short visit to Florence. Which is one of the main reasons why it is the perfect city for those who want to experience Italy at its best; it has something for everyone

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More Things to Do in Italy

15 thoughts on “Florence Bucket List: Attractions & Experiences in Italy’s Top City”

  1. Absolutely love Florence.
    This list of things to do is marvelous!
    I’ve done several … most, actually.
    Walking the streets around the Duomo at night, when all the lights are on, is magical.
    Thanks for giving me lots of memories with this post.

    Reply
  2. Thank you for this great article! For someone who lives in Florence, I can confirm that those suggestions are great! Gelateria La Carraia is also one of my favourite place, the ice cream is absolutely delicious! We have a beautiful apartment to rent in the heart of Florence, perhaps next time we will get the chance to host you?

    Check it out here: http://www.fibnb.com/

    Reply
  3. Italy is so far my favorite country in the world. I love the language, I love the food, the landscapes. I have been there over 10 times but I still haven’t made it to Florence. I’ll need to make up for it. And I love the idea of taking a pasta-making class. Hopefully I’d be able to recreate some true Italian tastes at home after that! :D

    Reply
  4. Great suggestions.
    I only spent a few days in Florence when I went and there are things on your list I need to return to see and do!
    I did love Florence and wanted to go since studying A Room With a View at school!

    Reply
  5. I am a Florentinr resident … thanks for your suggestions on Florence. It is a very good list… but I would recommend you visit the Museo del Duomk next time you are in town. It is spectacular and pretty easy to visit in the city centre…. all the best!

    Reply

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