Tips on What To Do in Florence
Florence is an ideal city for art enthusiasts and history buffs. Historical churches and museums dot the city, all filled with classical masterpieces and renaissance political dramas begging to be told. And while you're here, be sure to check out some of Florence's leather products, a Florentine specialty. Sadly, the one area where Florence might be lacking is attractions for kids; it's probably best to choose a different destination if you're bringing the family.
Those who like a little extra guidance might enjoy some of Florence's top-rated tours, including a guided convoy through Tuscany with 500 Touring Club, a walking food tour with Taste Florence or a mix of exercise and sightseeing with Bicycle Tuscany.
- Obviously, you'll want to check out the iconic masterpieces like Michelangelo's David (at the Accademia) and Botticelli's Birth of Venus (at the Uffizi), but try to make time for less visited but equally worthwhile Florence museums like the Bargello or the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, as well as excursions to outlying sights like Fiesole or San Miniato al Monte." -- Concierge.com
- Start off at the city's most awe-inspiring work of architecture, the Duomo, climbing to the top of the dome if you have the stamina. … Set aside the afternoon for the Galleria degli Uffizi, making sure to reserve tickets in advance." -- Fodor's
As the birthplace of the Renaissance, the huge number of historical buildings (many of which double as museums) and churches should come as no surprise. From Brunelleschi's architectural masterpiece, the Duomo to the shop-lined Ponte Vecchio bridge, you can spend days here and still get lost in the details.
- The Ponte Vecchio. This famous storefront-lined bridge used to be home to some of the city's highest quality jewelers. Today, the stalls are geared more to tourist trinkets. Best to look at it from another bridge -- Ponte alle Grazie or Ponte di Santa Trinità." -- Forbes Traveler
- You can easily explore Tuscany using Florence as a base: enjoy the medieval splendours of Siena, Pisa, Lucca and San Gimignano, and wander the undulating Chianti countryside." -- Lonely Planet
Florence features some of the top museums in the world with pieces from some of the best and most well-known artists in history. It would be a huge shame to go to Florence and not see the Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi). Every room is chock full of artistic masterpieces like Birth of Venus by Botticelli; the Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael and the Venus of Urbino by Titian. Avoid the very long lines and make a reservation before going to the museum.
You can also make reservations to enter the Galleria dell'Accademia north of the Uffizi Gallery to see Michelangelo's David statue. Visitors and art lovers flock around the Plexiglas railing at feet of the giant masterpiece. Created in the 1500s and standing at 17 feet, the statue towers over and overwhelms the Renaissance paintings that fill the rest of the museum.
The Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti) is a palace south of the Arno that now houses a collection of museums and sits in front of the Boboli Gardens. Highlights include the Galleria del Costume, which displays Italian fashions from a span of a few hundred years. The Galleria Palatina features paintings from the 15th to the 17th centuries, including a couple Titian's and several Raphael's, in halls that still look much like the way the Medici family left them.
- Note that museum tickets can be booked in advance for major Florence museums at the Firenze Musei Web site, www.firenzemusei.it. However, only the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Galleria dell'Accademia generally have the kind of lines that make advance booking advisable." -- Concierge.com
- The Uffizi is one of the world's great museums. … The museum is deceptively small. What looks like a small stretch of gallery space can easily gobble up half a day -- many rooms suffer the fate of containing nothing but masterpieces." -- Frommer's
Attractions for Kids
Older kids and teenagers can probably appreciate Florence's art and culture better than young kids. That said though, outdoor attractions like the Boboli Gardens in the Oltrarno are probably your best bet for the little ones. They are free to run through the outdoors, which would be a nice change of pace after a long day of indoor museums.
- Teens like browsing the Piazza Santa Croce because of the area's abundant leather shops. They'll also enjoy bargaining with the jewelry vendors lining the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)." -- Away.com
- So much art and science in one place, it's boggling. While traveling in Florence with kids, take the relaxed view and don't overdo the museums -- also explore the old city walls and gardens in the Oltrarno area." -- Travel for Kids
Florence is a shopper's dream. Street markets, like the Mercato di San Lorenzo across the Arno, are busy and chaotic, with vendors hawking their wares for every price. The city is known for leather, and you'll find that most of the stands are selling it. Be warned: Those on the streets outside of the market tend to display their goods on sheets on the ground for easy and quick transport should the authorities come by. Buying from them is illegal; if caught, you can be heavily fined.
- All the stall keepers promise 'the lowest prices in Florence.' That so-called lowest price is usually far from it, and the best part of shopping here is using every bargaining trick in the book to drive the 'lowest price' even lower." -- Frommer's
- Yes, the flea market in Piazza San Lorenzo is a zoo, but it's a zoo with amazing deals - if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and follow a few tips. First, avoid any stands where the merchant doesn't speak Italian -- that's a sign that those soft leather gloves were actually imported from China. Then, be sure to avoid anyone who barks or wants to haggle -- true Florentine craftsmen won't do either." -- New York Times
Florence is an expensive city and its nightlife is no exception. Cover charges at dance clubs are generally steep and drink prices follow that trend. Look for free flyers on the streets to get into clubs for cheap. Then do as the Florentines do and go to happy hour. Most bars will serve food with the purchase of a drink.
- Florentines are rather proud of their nightlife options. Most bars now have some sort of happy hour, which usually lasts for many hours and often has snacks that can substitute for a light dinner. … Clubs typically don't open until very late in the evening and don't get crowded until 1 or 2 in the morning. Though the cover charges can be steep, finding free passes around town is fairly easy." -- Fodor's
- For a taste of night life, follow the sound of boisterous Italians and techno music to Angels ... where slick 30-somethings meet for midnight martinis." -- Away.com