Florence Travel Guide

The Best Things to Do in Florence in 2024

Thu 02 May 2024

The Best Things to Do in Florence in 2024

Coming to Florence in 2024? From amazing art to breathtaking views and street food, these are the best things to do in Florence right now.

No other city in the world crams as much history, art and culture into a denser package than Florence. As the cradle of Renaissance Italy, beauty courses through the city’s very veins, and it’s useless trying to resist its charms - with Florence, it tends to be amore a prima vista - love at first sight! 

You probably already know that Florence is an unrivaled destination for art lovers, but from medieval apothecaries to mouthwatering cuisine and paradisiacal gardens, there’s an awful lot more to occupy you in the city of the Medici than oil paintings and sculptures.

As a practicing art historian and guide, I’ve spent untold days, weeks and months pounding the pavements in Florence both for work and pleasure - and I’m always learning something new about this wonderful city. Whether it’s your first trip or your umpteenth return, here’s what I think you need to experience on a visit to Florence in 2024!


The best Florence itineraries

1. Come Face-to-Face with David



  • Why It’s a Must: For a transcendental art experience


Some artworks transcend their historical contexts to such a degree that they are instantly recognisable the world over. And Michelangelo’s David is right at the top of that particular list. When in Florence, make your way to the Accademia Gallery, and gaze up in wonder at the divinely-chosen shepherd boy who bravely triumphed over the fearsome Goliath. 

David’s proud and muscular presence, supremely confident in his readiness to dispatch his much-vaunted enemy, seems to recall something of the young Michelangelo himself, just 26 years old when he unveiled his masterpiece to a disbelieving public. At a stroke this towering miracle of realism, with blood seemingly coursing  through his marble veins, changed what was possible in art. Seeing David in the flesh is a spine-tingling experience you won’t want to miss. 




2. Climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome



  • Why it's a Must: For great frescoes and breathtaking views


Towering over the streets and squares of the city, the Duomo is Florence’s most dazzling landmark. Its gorgeous pink, white and green marble facade epitomizes the values of Tuscan Gothic architecture; but it is Brunelleschi’s glittering orange-tiled dome, a miracle of Renaissance engineering, that will really take your breath away. And if you’re anything like us, the first time you lay eyes on the dome you’ll feel the urge to climb it. An excellent idea!

It’s quite the schlep to make it all the way to the top, and if you are claustrophobic you might want to think twice. For the rest of us, it’s well worth it: along the way you’ll get an up-close look at Giorgio Vasari’s stunning Last Judgment fresco on the interior of the dome before reaching the summit, where a breathtaking panorama of Florence awaits.


3. See the Best of the Renaissance at the Uffizi 




  • Why it's a Must: To see the best of the Renaissance


No matter whether you’re a committed art buff or couldn’t give two figs about the finer points of brushwork and composition, you need to spend a few hours exploring the Uffizi Gallery when in Florence. Boasting the finest collection of Renaissance masterpieces in existence, the Uffizi’s heady cocktail of Botticelli and Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci will likely make a true believer out of even the biggest art skeptic. 

A word of warning - the Uffizi is massive, and it’s not easy to know what to prioritize on a visit. It’s worthwhile considering joining a tour of the Gallery to help you navigate your way to the highlights you can’t afford to miss!


Uffizi Gallery Tour 


4. Gaze in Wonder at the Gates of Paradise 




  • Why it's a Must: To swoon over medieval craftsmanship 


Cantankerous Michelangelo was not an easy man to impress - so you know that the doors described by him as “The Gates of Paradise” are something out of the ordinary. The doors in question, originally designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti for Florence’s Baptistery and now beautifully displayed in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, are decorated by a dazzling series of gilded panels portraying scenes from the Bible. 

Alongside these glittering examples of the art of goldsmithery, the museum is a treasure-trove of other delights, from masterful Donatello sculptures to one of Michelangelo’s final works and a model of Brunelleschi’s era-defining dome for the adjacent Cathedral. It’s also never crowded, making it one of the best museums to visit in Florence.


5. Enjoy Street Food at the Mercato Centrale




  • Why it's a Must: To get an authentic taste of Florence


To truly get into the swing of real Florentine life, you’ve got to follow the locals as they make their way in hungry hoards to street-food vendors all across the city. This is a time-honored daily ritual that’s equal parts history, tradition and gastronomic alchemy - all concealed in the humble disguise of a simple sandwich. 

Whether you plump for traditional lampredotto (a Florentine take on tripe that is a lot more delicious than it sounds), bollito (slow braised beef with salsa verde) or something more modern, one of the best places to sample Florentine street food at its best is the fabulous Mercato Centrale. Pretty much all of the market stalls here are worth a visit, but follow your nose to Nerbone on the ground floor for a real taste of Florence magic! 

Find out all you need to know about Florence's street food culture here with our guide. 


6. Gaze over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo




  • Why it's a Must: To drink in the Florentine sunset


With its array of churches and towers, palaces and charming tiled rooftops, the Florence skyline is spectacular by any estimation. But where can you find the city’s best view? That would be Piazzale Michelangelo on the south side of the river Arno - make the climb up here at sunset to witness the city’s wonderful Renaissance skyline in all its glory, with the immediately recognisable form of  Brunelleschi’s soaring cathedral dome the jewel in the crown. This is the most memorable, and most photographed, panorama in Florence for good reason. 



7. Experience the Buzzy Nightlife of Oltrarno



  • Why it's a Must: To rub shoulders with the locals


Life’s good south of the river in Florence. Less well-known than the area of the city north of the river, there's nonetheless plenty to see and do in the neighborhood known as Oltrarno (which literally means “beyond the Arno”). From the vast Pitti Palace to stunning churches and chapels, artisan workshops and more, Oltrarno is one of our favorite areas of Florence. 

Oltrarno is also chock-full of great restaurants and wine bars, many of them clustered around Piazza di Santo Spirito, and is one of the few areas of Florence where the locals invariably outnumber the tourists. It’s the perfect place to let your hair down after a day touring the sights. Come join us on our Florence at Twilight tour, where you’ll finish your evening exploration of Florence with a drink on us in Oltrarno!

 Join our Oltrarno stroll


8. Stop off at the World’s Oldest Pharmacy




  • Why it's a Must: To be transported back in time


It’s a good bet that the stunning Santa Maria Novella pharmacy is a tad older than your local neighborhood chemist. Founded by Dominican Friars in the 13th century, the historic pharmacy has been selling medicines and herbal remedies concocted from plants grown in their monastery’s garden ever since.

Even if you don’t need any medical interventions, it’s well worth stopping by. Boasting a magnificent interior decorated with frescoes, stuccoes and chandeliers, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you browse the shop’s time-honored potions - like the Acqua di Santa Maria Novella, originally crafted as an ‘anti-hysteric’ elixir by the monk Angiolo Marchissi way back in 1612!


9. Say Hi to Florence’s Other David at the Bargello




  • Why it's a Must: To experience Florence’s best sculpture museum


If you spend any time in Florence, you’ll soon come to realize that David is a bit of a hero in these parts. The tale of the humble shepherd boy turned savior of his people really struck a chord with the tyranny-hating Florentines, and Michelangelo’s iconic sculpture in the Accademia is just one of many versions of the subject you’ll see in the city. Almost as impressive is Donatello’s portrayal in bronze at Florence’s Bargello Museum, a standout collection of Renaissance sculpture housed in a medieval fortress. 

Here David is a foppish, callow youth, naked but for a provocative pair of boots and a jaunty helmet - liberal Florentine connoisseurs loved Donatello’s somewhat louche creation, and today it provides a fascinating contrast with Michelangelo’s famous sculpture across town. Other highlights of the collection include works by Cellini, Michelangelo, Bernini and Giambologna to name just a few - making the Bargello one of the best museums in Florence.


10. Get your nature fix at the Bardini Gardens




  • Why it's a Must: To relax in flowery bliss


A visit to Florence is inevitably a somewhat “culture-heavy” experience. If you can’t face the thought of another art gallery or museum, then head to one of the city’s lovely green spaces to immerse yourself in nature. The historic Boboli Gardens offer welcome respite after a spin around the Pitti Palace, but for our money there is an even better spot to get your nature fix.

The picturesque Bardini Gardens boast amazing views, and are awash with fragrant flowers from April to June - come in mid April and if you’re lucky you’ll see the Garden’s famed wisteria archway in full bloom.



Want to see another side of Florence? Find out with Rob!  


11. Tuck into a Bistecca Fiorentina at Trattoria da Gozzi



  • Why it's a Must: To Taste the Best in Tuscan Gastronomy


You’ll eat well wherever you go in Italy, and Florence is no exception. Do yourself a favor and keep things local by acquainting yourself with the noble tradition of Tuscan cuisine: amongst the many highlights on offer, meat-lovers will be drooling over the mouthwatering bistecca Fiorentina, a T-Bone behemoth that typically weighs in at a minimum of 1.5 kilos and is charred to perfection on a charcoal-fired open grill. To go with it? A bottle of Chianti, naturally! 

There is no shortage of restaurants serving up excellent bistecche in  the city, but one not to miss is Trattoria da Gozzi, centrally located on Piazza di San Lorenzo. It’s only open at lunchtime and doesn’t accept reservations, so arrive early and get your name on the list. In recompense you’ll be treated to some of the best, most authentic food in Florence - and it won’t break the bank either. 


12. Take a day trip to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower



  • Why it's a Must: To see the world’s wackiest landmark


Although we love Pisa and think that too few visitors give it the in-depth treatment it deserves, if you’re on a tight schedule during your trip to Italy then it makes sense to visit the city on a day trip from Florence rather than staying overnight.

Pisa is only an hour away by train, and you’ll have plenty of time to see the unmissable highlights of the Campo dei Miracoli before making it back to Florence for aperitivo hour. The iconic Leaning Tower and the Duomo are givens, but make sure to explore the amazing Camposanto as well - a medieval open-air graveyard built on soil imported from Jerusalem that’s studded with stunning frescoes and tombs. Check out what you need to see in Pisa with our online guide here

Pisa Day Trip 


13. Have a coffee at Caffé Gilli




  • Why it's a Must: To relive the charms of a bygone age


Florence is awash with fine cafes to suit every taste, from sleek modern coffee houses to elegant institutions that seem impervious to the passage of time. Perhaps the most historic of the lot is Caffé Gilli, which has been serving up coffee and delectable pastries to well-heeled Florentines since the 1730s. Stopping off for a caffeine-fuelled recharge in Gilli’s swanky marble-lined interior, located on central Piazza dell Repubblica, is one of Florence’s most unmissable experiences. 


14. Visit the Loggia dei Lanzi’s Open-Air Sculpture Display 




  • Why it's a Must: To experience how art is part of everyday life 


Historically the beating heart of Florence and original site of Michelangelo’s David,  fountain-studded Piazza della Signoria has long served as a hub of political and cultural activity in the city. Dominating the square's skyline is the formidable Palazzo Vecchio, a medieval fortress-turned-town hall that even today gives a clear indication of the civic power that powered the city state. 

The Loggia dei Lanzi really steals the spotlight here, however. This 14th-century arcaded gallery doubles as an open-air sculpture museum, showcasing masterpieces by Giambologna and Benvenuto Cellini. Cellini’s extraordinary Perseus depicts the Greek hero moments after he has decapitated Medusa, a tour-de-force of bronze sculpture that was amazingly cast in a single piece, sealing Cellini’s reputation as the finest sculptor of his generation. 


Loggia dei Lanzi visit 


15. Go Leather Shopping




  • Why it's a Must: To bag an amazing bargain


The leather workers of Renaissance Florence were the most famous in Europe, renowned for the quality of their craft. Little has changed to this day, with countless market stalls, ateliers and high-end boutiques offering up everything from shoes to belts, bags to jackets all across the city.

Oh, and if you pick up some genuine made in Florence articles during your stay, you’re not just paying for style - you’re getting something built to last. The wallet and satchel I secured l from an artisan’s workshop in the narrow lanes behind Santa Croce are both still going strong almost 20 years later, weathered to fashionable perfection!


16. Explore the Unspoiled Monastery of San Marco




  • Why it's a Must: For Fra Angelico’s incredible frescoes


This amazing monastery complex in the heart of the city is a historic marvel: largely unchanged in centuries, you can almost sense the presence of the ghosts of the famous figures who once stalked these corridors. The all-powerful Cosimo de’ Medici kept a spartan monastic cell here where he retreated when the obligations of state-craft became too much, whilst the apocalyptic preacher Savonarola lived here when he had all of Florence in his thrall.

It’s a powerful experience exploring the corridors, cells and cloisters of the peaceful monastery today, which is decorated everywhere you look by frescoes from the hand of Fra Angelico, one of the early Renaissance’s finest painters.


17. Cool off with a Gelato at Procopio




  • Why it's a Must: Because, gelato!


You didn’t think our guide to the best things to do in Florence in 2024 could end without us mentioning gelato, did you? No, we’re not crazy - we’ve just saved the best for last. Although ice cream has origins lost in the midst of time (an ancestor is recorded in Chinese sources from 500 BC), gelato as we know it was at the very least popularized and perfected in 16th Florence. 

Back then, to make the delicacy ice had to be dragged down in great blocks from the Apennine mountains. Things are a bit easier these days, and Florence is awash with fabulous gelaterie. Our current favorite (although given the amount of gelato we eat, this changes with alarming regularity) is Procopio, near the Sant'Ambrogio market. Get the unbeatable pistachio, and thank us later. 


So there you have it! These are our top picks for the best things to do in Florence in 2024. In truth, though, we’ve barely scratched the surface. There is enough to see and do in Florence to last you a lifetime. Through Eternity have been offering small-group and private tours bringing you the best of Florence for more than 20 years. Check out our Florence tours here, and get in touch to join us in 2024!

 Best Florence tours




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