Florence, or Firenze to the Italians, is truly an incredible place. During the middle ages, Florence rose to prominence and it prospered considerably through trade to become one of the wealthiest cities of the time.
It was an environment that fostered some of the world’s greatest artist. Today, Florence is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Florence is saturated with museums, art and culture. It is a magical place that offers something for everyone, no matter their interests.
It’s easy to get lost in this historic and enchanting city. It would be easy to spend weeks if not months and still not see it all or tire of it. Unfortunately, most people don’t have weeks or months to spend visiting.
Don’t worry! There is still plenty to do and see, even if you only have a few days in Florence.
Our Top 7 Things To Do in Florence if you’ve only got 2-3 Days
1. The Boboli Gardens (Giardino Boboli)
Situated behind the Pitti Palace, the Boboli Gardens are a large park that is home to sculptures and statues from the 16th to 18th century. Built as a private garden for the Medici family, the gardens are well manicured and quite lavish (especially if you imagine them as a private garden and not a city park!).
It is easy to spend several hours just exploring the statues, fountains, and grottos, but our favorite part is the sweeping view of the city. Hike up the stairs leading away from the Pitti Palace, and there you will come to a place that provides a great vantage point for viewing the city. It is really nice and a must do while visiting Florence.
2. The Bardini Gardens (Giardino Bardini)
Entrance to the Bardini Gardens is included with your ticket to the Bobili Gardens. The gardens are a short walk from the Bobili Gardens as you exit towards Fort Belvedere (If you like beautiful vistas, go to Fort Belvedere for a couple of photos :)).
The Bardini Gardens are much smaller and more intimate than the Bobili Gardens, but, of the two, they were our favorite. The gardens are beautiful; there are many types of flowers and fruit trees including an almost-medieval hillside terrace planted with olive trees. Additionally, there is a small cafe where you should grab a drink, sit back, relax and take it all in.
3. Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is a large plaza that offers incredible panoramic views of the Florentine skyline. Although extremely popular with tourist, and therefore really crowded, taking in the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo is a must do activity while in Florence.
Large crowds gather on the stairs to watch the show that Mother Nature puts on each night. Conveniently, there are vendors on site to provide beer, wine, soda, and a variety of other snacks and souvenirs.
Tip: If you’re an early riser and/or you prefer not being around large crowds, give Piazzale Michelangelo a try in the morning. It’s equally as beautiful, but way less crowded.
You can reach the plaza by walking, by bus (12 or 13) or by car (there is a parking lot and a restaurant at the top of the hill).
4. The Duomo
The most iconic landmark in Florence, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore or Il Duomo as it is commonly referred, is one of the most amazing structures we’ve ever seen. The massive dome dwarfs the surrounding buildings, making the size and stature even more pronounced. The exterior is wonderfully intricate and features beautiful green and pink marble while showcasing beautiful Gothic architecture.
Entrance to the cathedral is free so it is something that I suggest that you do if you are interested. The inside of the cathedral is pale in comparison to the exterior but still the high arches and some other artwork is still worth seeing.
Additionally, you can climb to the top of the cupola to get a birdseye view of Florence and to complete your experience with the Duomo.
5. Walk the Streets, Eat Gelato
There is definitely no shortage of options for great gelato while you are in Florence. It can get extremely hot in Florence during the summer months. So hot, in fact, that it almost becomes a requirement to have a cone of gelato at all times just to be able to survive the day!
OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but any reason that we could come up with to eat more gelato was a good one for us! Seriously though, get a couple scoops and just stroll through the historic city, exploring all of the cute shops and enjoying all of the sights and sounds that this amazing city has to offer.
A perfect street to give this a try is Via dei Neri. It’s a narrow street with lots of charm through which we really enjoyed meandering. There’s a great gelato place called Gelateria dei Neri where you can arm yourself for your walk.
6. Central Market
The Mercado Centrale Firenze is an inviting market where you can buy fresh fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, pastas and lots of other items from local vendors. It is a really fun place to walk around and take in all the colors, smells, and sounds.
You can easily lose track of time wandering through the various shops inside the market, but even better, you can get lost for hours walking through all of the vendor shops surrounding the market. Outside the market, there are hundreds of vendors selling everything from Italian luggage to engraved kitchen aprons.
Lastly, the second floor of the market features a modern food court where you can eat your heart out or have a refreshing adult beverage.
7. Piazza della Signoria
Said to be the emotional heart of Florence, Piazza della Signoria has served as the center for political life in Florence since the 14th century. The L-shaped square will inspire as you take in beautiful statues while admiring the magnificent Palazzo Vecchio that overlooks the square. You can read some great information about Piazza della Signoria and the works of art that are located there before visiting to give yourself a greater appreciation. But even if you don’t, it would be almost criminal to Florence and not spend time at Piazza della Signoria.
Piazzo Santo Spirito
The Santo Spirito neighborhood might have been our favorite part of Florence. Santo Spirito is a little off the beaten path (which we loved) as it relates to Florence’s most popular tourist attractions, but it has a laid back, charming feel to it.
Visit this charming piazza during the evening as it bustles with energy as patrons enjoy the lively restaurants and bars that line the square. We dined al fresco at Trattoria Borgo Antico which served really good pizza and it was one of our favorite nights that we had during our time in Florence.
Also, if you are a beer drinker, located about a 3 minute walk from Piazzo Santo Spirito is Archea Brewery. This small bar serves some of its own brews as well as a wide selection of craft beer from Italy and all over Europe.
Florence is a vibrant and beautiful destination with plenty to do, regardless of how much time you have to spend. The top activities shared in this post are must do’s if you’ve got only two days, or if you got two weeks!
What do you think about our list of top things to do? If you’re spending time in Florence and want to get outside the city, check out these great day trip ideas from Florence.
Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments.
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