Top things to do in Florence: How to make the most of your trip
27 October 2017 | 0 Comments
Things to do in Florence: How to make the most of your trip
It’s a centre for art and culture, delicious foodie treats and within easy reach of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside – Florence is one of Italy’s greatest and grandest cities. It might be tempting to zoom straight down to Rome when in Italy, but it’s worth spending a good few nights exploring this rennaissance gem. Here’re our top things to do in Florence to make the most of your stay…
Eating and Drinking
First things first… Food. Here’s where to sample the best Italian delights.
For panini perfection paired with local wines, head to I’ Girone De’ Ghiotti on Via dei Cimatori. At this specialist sandwich bar you can select your fresh ingredients from the deli bar, where they’ll be sliced up and piled inside artisanal focaccia and ciabatta to create your perfect snack. This is a great place to grab lunch on the go without skimping on quality and taste. Wines are local and come at excellent prices. Reviewers say this could be the best sandwich bar in the world… definitely a claim worth testing!
The BEST pizza in Florence can be found at Fermento 1889, in the Santo Spirito/San Frediano area on Florence’s south side. We know it’s a bold claim, but once you see their doughy creations – crisp on the outside, with fluffy crusts and delightfully thin and heavily topped in the middle – you’ll believe us. This place is tiny and extremely popular with pizza connosieurs, so it might be worth reserving a spot – the staff speak English so don’t worry about calling them up!
For a bit of a treat – and some traditional Tuscan and Florentine cuisine – head to Il Vezzo, on Via Guelfa near the station. This small and intimate spot pairs its gorgeous food with pretty presentation (perfect for that insta shot) and lovely staff. Diners rave about the Ravioli, but the sea food and meat options are also awesome! It’s not the cheapest place you’ll find, but if you’re nearing the end of your trip then it’s worth splashing out a bit. Prices are still very reasonable, and you can easily find something to eat for under 20 Euro per person. You can reserve online – it’s well worth doing so to avoid missing out.
Tick off the tourist hotspots
Piazza Del Duomo – Make this the first thing you do in Florence. Here’s where you can spot the gorgeous architecture that makes Florence an attraction the world over. The red roof, gorgeous carvings and coloured tiles of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore and San Giovvani Baptistery are truly a sight to behold. Inside the Duomo you’ll find the Museo dell’Opera – a museum containing loads of masterpieces from the Rennaissance era. Climb the bell tower rather than the dome as you’ll get the dome in the view.
Piazzale Michaelangelo – the quintessential view point of the city, here’s where you’ll be able to take your winning sunset shot. You’ll need to stake out a place early though – this is an incredibly popular spot for good reason.
Uffizi & Accademia Galleries – Both Florentine institutions, the Uffizi Gallery is home to one of the world’s best collections of Renaissance art, while the Accademia Gallery features sculptures by Michelangelo – including his world famous David Statue. Wandering their exhibitions will take you right back to the heyday of Italian grandeur.
Obviously you’ve come to Florence to see its world famous sites and landmarks, but aim to go early in the morning or later in the day to avoid the crowds if you can. Especially for the last two galleries, you’ll want to allow plenty of time for queueing as lines can sometimes be hours long.
Discover some hidden gems
Villa Medicea di Castello – need to cool off from the baked teracotta streets of Florence? Escape the crowds to explore the gardens of this beautiful villa. You can roam the formal gardens for free – just take the bus from opposite Santa Maria Novella station and it’s a short 15 minute walk to the grounds.
Mercato Centrale – recently rennovated with a special floor just for food and wine tasting, this market is a must do. It’s slightly off the tourist track, and attracts plenty of locals, so you’ll still be able to have an authentic experience and find some quality treats.
The Bargello – This museum holds one of the world’s best collections of scultures, but without the queues that you’ll find at Accademia.
Piazza Dei Ciompi Flea Market – If you’ve overdosed on art, get some retail therapy while shopping for curios at over 100 stalls in the Sant’ Ambogio quarter of Florence. The main market takes place on the weekend, but you’ll also find a smaller selection of stalls on week days. You can pick up all sorts, from trinkets to furniture, accessories and clothing.
Relax in style
Exhausted yourself with all that art and culture? If you’re in need of a break, chill out at one of the city’s many public baths and spas.
Head to Asmana Wellness World for something different with a touch of luxury. Prices vary according to what you fancy – from around 20 euro for 2 hours at the spa to 33 euros for the full day. You’ll find outdoor and indoor pools, a hammam, sauna, relaxation rooms and more – and if you go on a Friday, there’s also a happy hour! Asmana Aperitivo is an awesome opportunity to enjoy discounted drinks by the pool, as well as snacks from the nearby bistrot. Easily accessible by bus ATAF 30A/30C from Santa Maria Novella station, it’s a great way to escape the summer heat and relax after a fast paced few days!
If you don’t fancy splashing out on a spa day, there are also loads of other public pools, both indoor and outdoor, to chill out in. Some of our favourites are Le Pavoniere, which is tucked away in the city’s lush Cascine Park, and Piscina Comunale Costoli, which offers an Olympic size pool and a diving pool to try out if you dare!
Get out of the city
Florence is perfectly located at the heart of Tuscany, and its excellent train and bus connections mean that it’s easy to discover some of the surrounding region. It’s unlikely that you’ll run out of things to do in Florence itself, but if you fancy something different, why not make a day out part of your trip.
Take the classic tourist shot in Pisa: The Leaning Tower is situated in Pisa, just a 40 minute train ride from Florence. Pisa itself is a very touristy town, so staying in Florence instead will give you better value accommodation and more sights to see.
Explore traditional Tuscan culture in Lucca or Siena: Around 30 minutes from Florence are the quintessential towns of Lucca and Siena. Both are small places so a day is more than enough for a quick nosey, but either makes for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Try a local wine tasting tour, or just lounge in one of the towns’ pretty Italian gardens.
Florence has to be one of our top Italian destinations – smaller than Rome and less jam-packed than Venice, it packs a punch in terms of sights, sounds and sensory delights! Add a few nights in on your way over to Nice to shorten your journey, or sandwich it between Venice and Rome if you’re flying home from the Italian capital. It’s the perfect base to explore Tuscany’s many beautiful regions, with local trains making it easy to explore the surrounding villages and towns. Check out our city guide for even more things to do in Florence!