Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region, is the “cradle of the Renaissance”. It’s worth a longer visit, but if you only have one day in the city, here’s how to spend it busily exploring the top sights in Florence, Italy.
Kevin and I recently took a group bus tour of Italy. Our first stop was Rome, then wine tasting in Tuscany, and later Venice. Our tour group worked its way up the country, stopping next in Florence. We would have liked a little more time in Florence, but we were at the whim of the tour. Still, we managed to fit a lot in!
Top Things to Do in Florence, Italy
See Michelangelo’s David
Michelangelo’s famed David statue is housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia. Based on the story of David and Goliath, David stands 17 feet tall and came to symbolize the defense of civil liberties against the reign of the Medici family. This giant marble statue was a lot more than I expected, and I definitely recommend checking it out.
Tickets for the Galleria cost €12.
Visit the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (or Duomo di Firenze or Florence Cathedral) is a beautiful Gothic cathedral with an exterior of of pink, white and green marble. The inside is less decorative but still impressive. The Baptistery of St. John right in front of the cathedral is the oldest religious site in Florence.
It is free to enter the cathedral. To enter the Baptistery and other sights (the Dome, the bell tower, the Baptistery, the crypt, and the Opera Museum) you’ll have to purchase an additional pass. Even though there is usually a long line to enter the cathedral, it moves pretty quickly.
See the Statues of Piazza della Signoria
The Piazza della Signoria is where the David originally stood in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Now there is a replica of the David along with statues of Hercules and Cacus, the Nettuno, and the Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air sculpture gallery displaying statues of Perseo holding Medusa’s head, Rape of the Sabines, and more.
Admire the Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery has a huge collection of Italian and Florentine art, encompassing paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the Modern period. The Gallery showcases artwork by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and more.
Tickets are €20 in the summer and €12 euro in the winter.
Walk Across Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio is a medieval bridge spanning the Arno River that has shops built along it. The bridge used to house shops for butchers, fishmongers, and tanners, but now all the shops are mostly jewelers, art studios, and souvenir shops.
Walk Through the Piazza di Santa Croce
The Piazza di Santa Croce has the beautiful Roman Catholic Basilica di Santa Croce as well as restaurants, gold and leather shops, and souvenir vendors. It’s a nice place to walk around and enjoy the Florentine architecture.
You can visit the Basilica di Santa Croce if you feel you have time; the entry fee is €8.
Shop for Gold and Leather
The Gold Market designs unique 18 karat gold and even has some pieces made from authentic Roman coins. Misuri uses the finest quality leather to make jackets, bags, belts, and more.
Walk Through the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella
The Piazza di Santa Maria Novella is another great piazza for sitting and enjoying Florence. We ate some gelato and listened to a street musician here. The Basilica di Santa Maria Novella is the main attraction. It’s the first great basilica in Florence.
If you feel you have time, you can visit the church for €5.
Where to Eat in Florence, Italy
Click here for a more in-depth guide to Florence’s eateries and gelateries.
- Trattoria Dall’Oste — for huge Florentine steaks
- Ristorante Boccadama — for classic pasta dishes
- La Grotta di Leo — for pizza and giant calzones
Where to Stay in Florence, Italy
We stayed at the Adler Cavalieri. This was a much-welcomed upgrade from our hotel in Rome. It was a nice room, and the hotel had a cute cocktail bar with a little outdoor garden. All the top sights were about a 10-15 minute walk from our hotel, so it was a great location.
Read next: Top 5 Tourist Destinations in Italy
More Things to Do in Florence
Explore more of this Renaissance city with these posts on things to do in Florence, Italy.
- Where to Eat (Dinner + Gelato!) in Florence, Italy
- Wine Tasting in Tuscany Should Be on Your Bucket List
- Pros and Cons of Taking a Group Tour of Italy
Ready to visit Florence, Italy? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book your flight to Italy: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find Accommodation: You can find top hotels in Florence using Booking.com.
- Get a Guide Book: Check out the guide books from Fodor’s, Lonely Planet, or Rick Steves for in depth info about traveling to Italy.
What is your favorite thing to do in Florence, Italy? Let me know in the comments!