Florence Travel Guide

Florence: Everything You Need to Know to Visit in 2024

Tue 18 Jun 2024

Florence: Everything You Need to Know to Visit in 2024

Although Florence is a compact city, such is the density of its attractions that planning a trip here requires a great deal of care and attention. As the city is very popular with tourists, you’ll also need to make sure that you arrange all the details of your trip, from flights to hotels, museums tickets and dining destinations, well in advance. We think that Florence is easily one of the world’s greatest cities, and we want everyone who visits it to appreciate it as much as we do. That’s why we’ve come up with this comprehensive guide to visiting Florence. 

Bookmark this page to keep this invaluable resource at your fingertips. If you need a helping hand or some expert advice when on the ground, remember that Through Eternity offers daily walking tours of Florence, the Uffizi, and the Accademia. These tours are designed to ensure that you fall in love with Florence. We’re sure you will!

The Complete Travel Guide to Florence



Before you start planning your Florence adventure, you’ll need some background. What exactly makes Florence such an unmissable destination? Well. I’m an art historian specializing in the Renaissance, and have spent more time in the city than I care to think about. And yet, each time I come here I find myself blown away - by the places I know well and have visited dozens of times, and by places that are new to me even after all this time. 

Florence is the cradle of Renaissance Europe, the place where great artists and writers, scientists and explorers came together to forge a new understanding of what it meant to be human. Powered by the patronage of enlightened princes and wealthy businessmen, Florence emerged as one of the richest and most exciting hubs of culture, learning and creativity that the world has ever seen. 

That incredible Golden Age lives on today in the artworks and architecture of the city’s greatest sons and daughters - the sculptures of Michelangelo and the paintings of Botticelli, the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci and the great monuments of the Medici. To visit Florence is to reach out and touch the glories of the past - and to see the origins of our modern world. It’s an amazing and possibly life-changing encounter that everyone needs to experience. 


Top Things to See in Florence



Few cities in the world can match Florence for the array of incredible cultural and artistic sites on show here, a product of the Tuscan town’s heritage as the most important city in Renaissance Italy. It’s no exaggeration to say that you could spend months exploring Florence and still barely scratch the surface - that’s why so many visitors find themselves returning to the city time and again over their lifetimes. But for the purposes of this article we’re just going to stick to the absolute unmissable highlights you need to see on your first trip.


 You probably didn’t need to be told that you need to see Michelangelo’s David when in Florence, but we’re going to tell you anyway. In our opinion this is the single greatest artwork ever made, and no story of Florence is complete without an in-depth discussion of Michelangelo’s era-defining masterpiece. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you don’t need to gaze on David in person, either. Pictures simply won’t cut it: coming face-to-face with the magnificent marble will send a tingle down your spine. 

The Uffizi Gallery is the world’s finest collection of Renaissance painting. It’s here that you’ll find Bottielli’s Birth of Venus and Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo. Here you’ll see Giotto’s greatest altarpiece and Raphael’s most important portraits. The big names just keep on coming. Titian? Check. Caravaggio? Check. Uccello? Double check. This is one gallery that’s not just for art lovers. Nobody can come to Florence and not visit the Uffizi. 

Arguably the world’s most famous bridge, this ramshackle and colorful river crossing is as rich in history as it is picturesque. Such is its beauty, even the Nazis couldn’t bring themselves to destroy the Ponte Vecchio as they retreated from Florence - it’s the only bridge they didn’t damage. Walking across the bridge today towards the neighborhood of Oltrarno across the river, you get the sense that you’re walking in the footsteps of history.  

All roads in Florence seem to lead to Piazza del Duomo. The enormous cathedral is the city’s biggest building, and it seems to take on almost superhuman proportions as it emerges from the narrow tangle of medieval alleys that make up Florence’s historic center. The glittering red-tiled dome that Brunelleschi devised to complete the building is Florence’s most recognizable landmark, a shining symbol of the Renaissance spirit that helped make the city one of the world’s most important cultural centers. 


For more in-depth advice, check out the range of articles on our website here: Florence Travel Guide.


Top Things to Do in Florence



With countless attractions to explore, how do you decide what to do when in Florence? Which experiences are must-sees for everybody, which ones are for the conoisseurs only, and which are perfect family activities? As you've probably guessed, there are no real right or wrong answers here. One man's meat is another man's poison. But here are some great things to do to get you started!


1. Explore Florence’s Array of World-Class Museums

You’d be hard pressed to walk more than a few minutes in any direction without encountering a new museum, church or gallery housing artistic masterpieces and hidden treasures when in Florence. But whilst you’ll certainly be stopping off at the Uffizi and Accademia when in town, there are so many more great collections that are well worth your time. 

To name just a few, the Bargello and Palazzo Vecchio house great Renaissance sculpture collections, whilst Palazzo Davanzati offers an amazing insight into daily life in early-modern Florence. You could easily spend a day in the Pitti Palace, and San Marco is home to the finest collection of Fra Angelico paintings anywhere. 

You won’t be able to visit all of these museums in one trip, so have a look through our guide to the best museums in Florence to decide which ones you want to focus on: The Best Museums in Florence


2. Experience the City’s Vibrant Wine Bar Culture 

After a long day of sightseeing and taking in culture, there’s no better way to take stock of what you’ve seen and get planning the next day’s itinerary than by settling down at one of the innumerable charming enoteche, or wine bars, that are a feature of neighborhood life in Florence. 

From rustic, no-frills shops serving up carafes of local wine at bargain prices to elegant bars offering the best of Tuscan wine alongside delectable small plates and morsels, there are more great options than we can possibly name. For a start, though, check out our guide to the best wine bars in the Oltrarno neighborhood. And remember, on our Florence at Twilight walking tour we stop off at a local enoteca for a complimentary glass!


3. Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower

The stunning campanile, or belltower, that Giotto designed for Florence cathedral soars over 84 meters into the sky, and its red, white and green marble pattern is a vivid statement of the aesthetic ideals of 14th-century Florence. If you’ve got the legs for it, climbing Giotto’s bell tower is a must when visiting the city; after successfully navigating the 414 steps to the top, you’ll be rewarded with an extraordinary view of Florence and a unique close-up look at Brunelleschi’s cathedral dome, looming so close to you that you can almost touch it.


4. Enjoy the Sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo

To truly get an understanding of any city, it’s fascinating to see it from on high. And with its spectacular skyline studded with church steeples, palace towers and an endless array of red-tiled rooftops, this is perhaps truer of Florence than anywhere else. The best way to drink in the panorama is to climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo on the south side of the river Arno. Here the unforgettable vista of Florence spreads out before you in a spectacular display.

For our complete guide to the best things to do in Florence this year, check out our in-depth list of recommendations here: The Best Things to Do in Florence in 2024.

Are Tours in Florence Worth it?


In our opinion, it’s definitely worth taking expert-led tours to experience the best of Florence. You can certainly have an amazing time in the City of the Medici on your own, just wandering the stunning streets and taking each day as it comes. And you’ll probably get to see the main highlights. But if you want to make sure that you see the best of what Florence has to offer, including the hidden corners of the city known only to locals, then you’ll need an expert helping hand

What’s more, embarking on a solo visit to massive art galleries like the Uffizi can often lead to disappointment - shorn of context and without a clear sense of what to see and what it all means, one Renaissance painting can start to look like another. We hate to hear of visitors not having a great time in Florence’s museums - and it happens far too often.

Why Take a Tour in Florence with Through Eternity?



  • Take the Hassle out of your trip

Our expertly crafted tours are designed to eliminate the stress of travel planning. Forget the complexities of organizing itineraries, booking tickets, and navigating a foreign city where you don’t speak the language. We take care of everything, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of Florence without any logistical headaches. 

  • Skip the Lines Access

Waiting in line is such a waste of time! That’s why with us you’ll stroll past  the long queues at Florence’s most iconic landmarks and get straight to the action. Our tours offer exclusive skip-the-lines access to sites like the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia, saving you precious time. One of the biggest perks of joining a tour is that you’ll maximize your sightseeing experience by not having to stand in line - meaning you can spend more time marveling at the masterpieces.

  • Expert Insight from our Guides

Our tours are led by passionate, knowledgeable guides who bring Florence's history, art, and culture to life. With deep expertise and engaging storytelling, they provide insider insights and fascinating anecdotes that you won't find in guidebooks. Whether it's unraveling the secrets of Renaissance art, or giving you tips on ways to make your time in Florence even better, our guides are on hand to ensure a rich, educational, and entertaining experience.

  • Get a Curated, Customized Experience

If you choose to arrange a private tour with us, you’ll be able to discover Florence in a way that suits your interests and preferences with our curated, customized experiences. No two travelers are alike - and that’s why our team of travel experts make sure that our personalized itineraries are tailored to you - whether you’re a first-time visitor, a history buff or an experienced art lover.


The Best Tours of Florence


We’ve recently put together a comprehensive list of the best tours to take in Florence, complete with detailed descriptions and the reasons we highly recommend them. Check out that article out for more: The Best Tours of Florence to Take and Why.


Or if you’re in a hurry, you can find links to some of our top picks right here.


Where to Stay in Florence




The center of Florence is quite compact, which makes it a very walkable city. For this reason, almost any area in Florence can make a good base for your visit. That’s not to say they are all the same, however! Each neighborhood in Florence is very distinct and has its own feel. Depending on what you’re looking for, some areas will be a much better fit than others. Below are some of the major neighborhoods in Florence that we recommend choosing as a base. 


  • The Historic Center: Stay in the heart of the action, with all of Florence’s major attractions and landmarks just steps away from your hotel.
  • Oltrarno: Located on the south side of the Arno, Oltrarno maintains a local neighborhood feel whilst still being home to incredible sites and a short walk from the centre. 
  • Santa Croce: A buzzy and youthful area unfolding around the stunning Santa Croce basilica, this area is popular with students.
  • San Marco: San Marco is home to Florence’s university as well the Accademia Gallery and the majestic monastery of San Marco. It makes a great base as it’s near the action but feels much quieter than the city center just to the south.
  • Santa Maria Novella: Strategically located near the city’s train station, Santa Maria Novella makes a great base thanks to its combination of great shopping and culture. What’s more, it’s only a short walk to the heart of the centro storico


For our full guide to the neighborhoods of Florence as well as the best hotels in the city, check out our dedicated article here: Where to Stay in Florence - Best Hotels and Neighborhoods.

What to Eat in Florence


Like everywhere in Italy, it’s easy to eat well in Florence. Tuscan cuisine is some of the country’s finest, and the city has a proud gastronomic tradition that ranges from humble street food and cucina povera to mouthwatering meat grills and five-star dining. If you want to get the best foodie experience in Florence then you should generally plump for regional cuisine. Dishes to look out for include vegetarian-friendly soups and casseroles like pappa al pomodoro and ribollita; carboholics are catered to in classic pasta dishes like wild boar ragu.  

Finally, make sure to sample Florence’s fantastic street-food culture, which includes a surprisingly delicious tripe sandwich known as lampredotto and the flavor-bomb panino con bollito - a crusty roll piled high with slow-cooked beef and tangy salsa verde. For more on the best street food in Florence, see our dedicated guide.  

For our full run-down on the top traditional dishes you need to try when in Florence, check out our top ten here.


Where to Eat in Florence


Whilst there are an array of great eateries to suit every budget in Florence, like any city popular with tourists there are unfortunately also plenty of average places more concerned with turning a quick buck than making unforgettable meals. That being said, a few general common-sense guidelines should set you right. 

As a general rule avoid choosing restaurants adjacent to the city’s major monuments or lining the main thoroughfares - a very small detour off the beaten path can bring big rewards. Places with hawkers outside trying to entice diners in are to be avoided, as are restaurants boasting big laminated menus of non-regional specific cuisine in various languages. If in doubt, a great question to ask yourself is whether it seems like a place where locals go. If not, ask yourself why not.

Below are a few tried and true restaurants and eateries in Florence that we keep coming back to over the years. 


  • Trattoria La Casalinga

A long-standing institution right in the heart of the Oltrarno action just off Piazza di Santo Spirito. Traditional Tuscan cuisine is the order of the day here, and a very good job they make of it too. We are addicted to La Casalinga’s thinly sliced roast beef. 

  • I’Brindellone

A locals’ haunt if ever there was one, sporting memorabilia lines the wood-paneled walls where tightly-packed tables are thronged with hungry diners tucking into Florentine classics like ribollita and bistecca alla Fiorentina.

  • Alimentari Uffizi

An excellent choice for a  post-Uffizi lunch, this diminutive deli serves up some of the richest and best curated platters of meats, cheeses and vegetables in the city. Delectable bruschette and foccacce complete the picture, alongside flagons of quaffable Tuscan chianti. Tables out on the sidewalk of a highly picturesque alleyway means you’ll be able to engage in some people-watching whilst you lunch. 

  • I Fratellini

To describe I Fratellini as a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ joint would be almost to overstate its dimensions. But in this case, size really doesn’t matter. This diminutive sandwich shop serves up a fabulous array of panini and schiacciate (a kind of Florentine flatbread) with excellent fillings like fennel salami, anchovies in salsa verde or raw sausage and eggplant.  

  • Trattoria Sergio Gozzi

We love this old-time trattoria, 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. 

  • Da Nerbone

Possibly the best place to sample Florentine street-food classics, this stall in the Mercato Centrale serves up incredible lampredotto and bollito alongside more substantial dishes. Unlike most street-food places in Florence, you’ll be able to sit down here, too.


How to Get to Florence



Florence is serviced by the small Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola international airport. The airport is just 8 kilometers from the city center, and is connected via a convenient tram service. Alternatively, Pisa airport is about 50 miles away, and is an excellent option if you are planning to visit other destinations in Tuscany - especially if you are coming from Europe. Ryanair offers a variety of budget city connections to Pisa from destinations across the continent.


Direct Flights To Florence



Currently there are no airlines that offer direct flights to Florence airport from the United States. You can find connecting flight routes from JFK, Chicago, Washington, Boston, San Francisco and other major airlines to Florence airport, however. The major airlines that service these routes include Delta, Lufthansa, KLM, ITA Airways, Air France and others.


Trains to Florence



The main railway station in Florence is Firenze Santa Maria Novella. Situated right in the heart of the city center, it’s conveniently located for all the major landmarks as well the neighborhoods where you’ll likely be staying. Santa Maria Novella is serviced by high-speed trains from all of the major Italian cities, including Rome, Milan, Venice, Naples and Bologna. Two companies operate the high-speed rail services: Trenitalia and Italo

Slower regional trains will help you get from Florence to other cities in Tuscany and the surrounding regions like Umbria and Lazio. These trains are operated by Trenitalia. Check out their website here for route planning. 





We hope we’ve given you all the information you need to help you plan your visit to Florence! Through Eternity Tours offer a range of insider itineraries in the City of the Medici, so if you’re taking a trip to Florence this year check out our website or get in touch with our expert travel planners today! 




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