What to do in Florence is a loaded question.

It’s a bit like asking, “What would you like to do when you grow up?”

There’s a severe problem with that question: it’s way too expansive.

I’m guessing you just have a few days in Florence, so this is designed for you.

I wanna save you 10 hours on the Google, right now.

It’s fun to research your plans for what to do in Florence but at one point you have to stop. Close the screen. Go to bed.

Researching online can be incredible time consuming. It can also lead to pre-trip stress that you’re not gonna “find the good stuff”. Don’t worry. We’re gonna make sure you do.

Right now I’m gonna give you something really groovy:

10 awesome ideas for what to do in Florence.

People pay thousands of dollars to spend the week with me on my small group trips to Italy – and I share with them the same things I’m gonna share with you right now.

This cheat sheet is my list of personal recommendations that are tried and true.

It’s low on museum lineups but high on style.

Let’s get started.

What_to_do_in_FlorenceWhat to do in Florence: Fix 1

Wake up early and go for a walk.

I love San Miniato al Monte, a church built on the highest point in the city. The views are incredible, better than Piazzale Michelangelo, and way less crowded. Even though it’s rated on Trip Advisor as the number one thing to do in Florence, it’s incredibly peaceful. Walk down the steps towards the rose garden and eat lunch at Il Rifrullo in the hidden back garden.

What to do in FlorenceWhat to do in Florence: Fix 2

Hang out in Piazza Santo Spirito.

Piazza Santo Spiritio is the heart of my favourite neighbourhood in Florence – it’s across the river, known as Oltrarno, and it still has a neighbourhood feel. Have an aperitivo at Volume and eat at Osteria Santo Spirito. Sleep in the gorgeous 16th century palace-cum-hotel Palazzo Guadagni which has an incredible wrap around “loggia” that overlooks the piazza. Don’t miss this warm heartbeat of Florence.

What to do in Florence 3What to Do in Florence: Fix 3

Get your shop on across the river in Oltrarno.

The neighbourhoods of San Niccolo, San Frediano and the area around Santo Spirito are less bling and more groove. Transport yourself to another world in Alessandro Dari’s jewellery and metal sculptures studio. I love it when he blasts the opera. Then cruise your buns down to Via dei Serragli and see what Anthroplogy is trying hard to be but will never succeed at in the amazing interior/art cave of Luca. Next door you have an architectural salvage store and a vintage clothing store, Albrici & Paderni. By then you’ll be on a hot roll and can stumble into Ceri vintage; playground of cool Japanese kids with a penchant for dirty vintage work wear. Who knew? Circle back to Via Santo Spirito and drop by Prive, a micro shop with frocks galore. Angela Caputi’s costume jewellery studio is also adorable. Then slump down and eat something delicious at my fave foodie spot in that zone: Il Santino. All addresses below.

4What to Do in Florence: Fix 4

Walk the 463 stairs to the top of the Duomo.

The only thing I’ll stand in line for in Florence, besides gelato, is going to the top of Brunelleschi‘s “La Cupola”. It’s bangin’ gorgeous up there. Bring your camera. And your flats. And then get smug you’ve just stairmastered your way through the Renaissance version of Buns of Steel. The opening hours of the cupola are Monday to Friday from 8:30 – 6:30 Saturday 8:30 – 5:40 and it’ll set you back 8 euro.

5What to Do in Florence: Fix 5

Escape to the countryside.

It’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in all the small streets of the city and not see the surrounding zone. Mistake! If you’ve got a few days in Florence spend half a day in the surrounding hills on a day tour. The peeps at 500 Touring Club Firenze will show you how to drive a vintage Fiat, or you can work off last nights gnocchi with Tuscany Bike Tours as you cycle through olive groves. Eat more and learn Tuscan cooking with Jul’s Kitchen. Wanna escape to a place without train service like Sienna or San Gimignano but don’t have wheels? Call my man Fabrizio to organize his private driver service. Addresses below.

6What to Do in Florence: Fix 6

Get your market on.

The market of San Lorenzo is best cruised in the morning. Peek inside the food market called mercato centrale (closed after lunch) to stock up on gifties for home, then hit the stalls in the streets to gawk at leather bags in every colour of the rainbow. Bring your camera and some cash – cause you’re gonna want both. For lunch fill your face with delicious cheap eats at Da Nerbone inside mercato centrale.

7What to Do in Florence: Fix 7

People watch at night perched on a bridge over the river.

Listen up: if you’re going to Florence with your sweetheart then go make out on the bridge. My favourite bridges are Ponte alla Carraia or Ponte Santa Trinita (just for hanging out, not making out). Of course Ponte Vechio is the natural choice too. Indulge in a late night gelato session (especially if you’re not making out — cause you still need some sweetness too). There are gelaterias on the Oltrarno side of the river at the end of all three bridges.

8Do in Florence: Fix 8

Drink awesome coffee in pretty places.

Of course Florence is chockers with groovy places to worship the religion that is caffeine. Like, where do I start? My bud Freya took me to Roberto Cavalli’s cafe just off swish Tornabuoni — fun to people watch. Of course there is also the Gucci cafe (no explanation needed I think). Then there is the awesome rooftop patio of the department store La Rinascente that has a view over the piazza. That’s a great place for a breather. Remember, sitting down at the tables will cost you more than standing up at the bar in many Italian coffee bars. Addresses below.

9What to Do in Florence: Fix 9

Don’t go to bed early.

Italy is not the place to get much sleep. Nightlife in Florence is something you shouldn’t miss; so stay awake and see the fun. Summer nights are spent hanging in the piazza and drinking wine in plastic cups on the sidewalk (everywhere). Winters are spent at cozy concerts inside (in winter go to Caffè degli Artigiani). If you turn into a pumpkin after 10 pm drink an espresso after dinner and jump into the spirit of a youthful Italy that is full of laughter,cocktails and extremely out of tune guitar playing on the steps of Piazza Santo Spirito.

10What to Do in Florence: Fix 10

Eat your face off

I’m a picky bitch when it comes to eating out. I spend a crazy amount of time getting my dinner itineraries just right when I host my group trips to Italy; I read all sorts of reviews, books in different languages and always ask the shopkeepers in each city I go, “Dove si mangia bene?” Then I go and check it out. Is it pretty? Does the staff annoy me? Is the food great or just ho-hum? If the vibe is good and they don’t rip me off then I tell the world. Like I’m about to do right now. Here’s my current hotlist of 2013: Il Santo Bevitore, La Casalinga, Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco, Il Vico del Carmine, Osteria Santo Spirito, Osteria di Giovanni, Hosteria il Desco, Ristorante Accademia (try their wine and dine menu). Addresses below. Don’t miss my other recs at Restaurants in Florence.

Your Florence cheat sheet:


Il Rifrullo, Via di San Niccolò, 55r (lunch buffet in the hidden back garden)

Osteria Santo Spirito, Piazza Santo Spirito (massive portions and al fresco dining)

Il Santo Bevitore, or sister small spot Il Santino next door, 64/65r (always awesome)

La Casalinga, Via dè Michelozzi, 9R (in business for 50 years cause they offer killer value)

Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco, Borgo san Jacopo, 43r (trad Tuscan specializing in wild boar)

Osteria di Giovanni, Via del Moro 22r (a famous Florence eatery)

Hosteria il Desco, Via delle terme, 23r (right near ponte vechio with a gluten free menu too)

Ristorante Accademia, Piazza San Marco 7R (steps from Accademia where THE David lives)

Da Nerbone, mercato centrale (lunch doesn’t get any faster/or cheaper/or better)

Il Vico del Carmine, Via Pisana 40r (pizza place in Oltrarno)

Want more? See my complete list of Restaurants in Florence.

Drinks + coffee

Volume. Piazza Santo Spirito 5 (adorable people and great interior)

Caffè degli Artigiani, Piazza della Passera (live music all winter)

Caffe Giocosa, Roberto Cavalli’s cafe, 10R Via Della Spada (hot barmen, not that I was looking)

La Rinascente, Piazza della Repubblica 1, (take a load off on the rooftop patio of this department store)

Gucci Caffe, Via Tornabuoni 73r – 81r, (serves food and wifi too)

PrintMy shopping list for Oltrarno/San Frediano/Santo Spirito:

Alessandro Dari, Via San Niccolo 115/R (metal alchemist not to be missed)

Luca, Via Dei Serragli, 16/R (reclaimed and restored furniture and art)

Albrici & Paderni, Via dei Serragli 20-22/R (antiques and architectural salvage)

Ceri Vintage, Via dei Serragli 26/R

Angela Caputi, Via S. Spirito, 58/R (costume jewelry)


We offer DAY TOURS!

Join us For an Italian Fix style excursion where we show you the best of the city and our favorite off-the-beaten-path locales. You can join a group or book a private guide HERE

Other tours we find fun:

To the countryside we go:

500 Touring Club Firenze

Tuscany Bike Tours

Wanna learn Tuscan cooking? Hook up with awesome food blogger, author and friend at Jul’s Kitchen.

Private driver in Florence and Tuscany – let my man Fabrizio Massai take you anywhere you like.

Italian Fix tours deliver city, country, style and laughter. Get on wait list for future trips here to join me in Italy next time.

PrintPalazzo Guadagni, Piazza Santo Spirito 9

Wanna see Florence with me one day? See how you can.

 Add your comment! Let’s talk Florence.

What is your fave Florence spot? What are your best Florence memories? What would you like to know?


Thanks for checking out our blog!

Are you interested in travelling to Florence with us on a current trip?

Check out our Florence Day Tours HERE!

(We’ve also got tours in The Cinque Terre)

We’d love to see you in Italy!


42 Responses

    1. Ciao Leela!

      Glad you liked! i always like your travel suggestions too.

      Love, Bianca

  1. I love your blog and I would waaay rather go back to Florence after reading this entry. In fact, I just may 😉
    Thanks for being such a “picky bitch” LOL

  2. It’s been a few seconds since i read it and i am already in love with the place.I really want to get to Florence ASAP and i just might travel to Italy soon.

  3. Hi, I’s trying to send you an email and hopeful that you will see this. We are arriving to Genoa on July 14, (someone suggested). Now like you are mentioning it’s so much work to find a place near Genoa, I’m not sure where to go. But I want to be next to the nice beach, hotel or B&B, up to $250. Can you, please recommend where would be the best beach, and that’s also close to some restaurants, shopping. Next year we go with you. This is too much of work. Thank you, Rita

    1. Near to Genoa you might like to have a look at Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, Camogli, and Sestri Levante. All wonderful beachside places with their own charm, with lots of choices for dining and aperitivo.

      Planning is hard work! We’d love to have you join us on a future date, Rita.

      Enjoy your vacation and we hope to see you next year!

  4. We are a family of 10 traveling to Rome and then by private transfer to Florence this June. I am at a loss as to how we are going to get reservations at great places for so many people. Which places in florence do you recommend for our fun family ranging from 11 to grandparents—all active and fun? Also what town would you recommend for us to visit enroute?

    1. Hi Ellen,
      We have a great chapter on Florence in Gigi Guides that answers all your questions. As for stopping somewhere on the way to Florence, I’d check out San Gimignano, and of course Siena.
      Have fun!

    1. Hi Tasia,
      Sure! Early October should still be nice enough for both places.
      Have fun!

  5. Ha! You included Cinghiale Bianco! Splendid.

    Great list! I too appreciate the Oltrarno area of Firenze and your comparison to it being the “heartbeat” is so perfect!

    1. Raul,
      Yes, Cinghiale Biano is what you imagine a Florentine dining experience to be: traditional, dimly lit stone interior, candlelit, formal but friendly service and … wild boar!

  6. Bianca, love your posts!
    I am looking for some sort of guide to customs and etiquette while I am Italy. I just found out we typically don’t need to tip, for example. can you point me in the right direction?

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Gigi Guides! We have a whole chapter on important stuff to know before you go to Italy, including customs surrounding eating out, how to avoid credit card and ATM fees, what to pack, and how to do things like use the train system and how to rent a car. There’s some invaluable stuff in there!
      Hope that helps!

  7. Hi Bianca
    I was in Italy for a glorious 10 days in September. Your site makes me want to go back again! I spent 3 days in Florence and I loved walking the streets on the other side of the river- where I stayed in a great Airb&b inexpensively and found great traditional foodie places. Did quite a few things on your list- I have been to Florence a few times now and always discover . something new. I spent a week hiking in East Tuscany and Umbria -gorgeous. Have not been to Cinque Terre yet– on my next trip I will be consulting you! Thanks

  8. Hi Bianca
    Your website is so cool. We just wrote a note to Christina at I Limoni Di Thule to ask for accommodations for a few days at the end of March. We are thinking of going from there to Florence. That would be on April 1. If we stayed there for two days where would you suggest we stay. Comfortable and not too expensive. We are two couples. Do you think it’s feasible to travel from there to San gimignano and or Perugia? I’d lov e to go to Perugia but don’t know how far it is? Any suggestions would be SO appreciated. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Marina,
      If you’re looking for something budget, B&B La Dimora degli Angeli is a nice, central choice. Claudio, the owner, is super thoughtful and a fount of information about Florence. If that doesn’t work, we have an extensive list of our top picks for places to stay in Florence in Gigi Guides — check it out here. And you can definitely travel from Florence to both San Gimignano and Perugia (Perugia is just two hours away by train).
      Have fun!

  9. how about outlet shopping? what’s the best way to go outlet shopping if you are a group?

    1. Hi Ian,
      Yes, there’s great outlet shopping right outside of Florence. The best way to get to the outlet malls is by car, but you can usually also take the bus, and some places have shuttles too. For high-fashion and luxury brands, check out The Mall. It’s not too far from the Inciso-Reggello exit on the A1 highway. You can take the bus from the front of the main train station too (Santa Maria Novella). Fashion Valley is by this exit as well, and you can catch a private shuttle here (35 euro per person, 2 person minumum) by writing to incoming@fashionvalley.it — they’ll come pick you up right from your hotel. The Barberino Designer Outlet is very close to the A1 Barberino di Mugello highway exit and there’s a 15-euro shuttle from SMN. The Dolce and Gabbana and Fendi factory outlets are right by The Mall, so you can take a cab from there to either. And Prada’s The Space is in Montevarchi. You can only get in with a number, which you get when you walk in, and they only hand out around 100 per day, so get there early.
      Happy shopping!

  10. Hello Bianca,
    Your site is great. We are travelling thru Italy spending time in Rome and Venice and Florence. Will be seeing museum, art galleries in Rome and Venice, do you advice on also seeing the Uffizi Gallery and Galleria De ll Accademia in Florence or would be have already seen enough. Thankyou.

    1. Hi Julie,
      The Uffizi and the Accademia are two of the most important museums in the world of art, so we definitely recommend seeing them, but of course it’s up to you. If you’re not a museum person or you’re all arted out, skip them. It’s your trip, after all. Make it the best that it can be for you.

  11. This is awesome. Santo Spirito is my fave too. Love that you’re a picky bitch when eating out too! It’s a shame I never got to go to up the Duomo I didn’t have the patience to wait in the line. Those stairs might have helped after so much amazing food!

  12. Hi there – I saw that your restaurant hot list is from 2013 – do you have any updates for 2016? Please let me know the chicest and most delicious must sees! Thanks

  13. Hi there

    Thanks for the great post. I see sons of the recommendations are from a while back, we are traveling to Florence this August for a friends wedding are they all still valid?

    Also where would you suggest the best place us for a welcome drink on the first evening all the guests arrive?

    We might need to book a few group tours for a day or two are you able to assist?

    Thanks in advance.


  14. this post just rocked my world. my husband and i just recently arrived in italy and are here for a couple months – with florence as our homebase (quit our jobs and are just travelling for a while). i just read the cinque terre posts and am pretty much following it to the letter this coming weekend. and now, this post. i am happy to say i’ve done several of these already, but will be hitting up the rest. so helpful (and so entertaining to read). thank you so much!

  15. Hi!!
    My sister is getting married in Lucca and after wedding since I will be on my own I wanted to join a tour group and sightsee. Any recommendations? Since I will be traveling solo

  16. Love your blog, especially tips re Florence. Many years ago, Was there and ate dinner many evenings at a place where the patrons sang opera. Can’t remember the name.Maybe something like Butterfly, but in Italian. Would love to find it again, if it is still there. It is a short walk from Palazzo Vecchio, I think. Any ideas? Grazie.

    1. Thanks Ronnie!
      Sounds like a lovely dinner experience, we’d love to find out where that was! Farfalla is butterfly in Italian, but just doing a quick search I’m not coming up with anything that appears relevant to your description. Florence is just so BIG as much as we’d like to say we know it all, there are tons of great places waiting to be discovered. Report back if you come across the info! Thanks for being here Ronnie.

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