What to See and Do in Florence According to a Local
Whether you’ve got a few hours or a full day, there are plenty of things to see and do in Florence—home to some of the world’s greatest works of art and world-class shopping.
Courtney Mundy, our expert on all things Tuscan and local resident, shares below how to spend your time in Florence.
The Must-See Gardens of Florence
Any of these green spaces in Florence offer a breath of fresh air in the heart of the city.
For some of the most breathtaking views over Florence, be sure to stop by the Boboli Gardens. The park was originally designed for the Medici family but opened to the public in 1766. A classic representation of the Italian Garden, it would go on to inspire countless European courts.
I love to take my family here to spend some time outdoors with them outside (but not too far outside) of the city bustle. The experience in the gardens really come to life for little ones by doing a scavenger hunt.
Nothing enchants quite like the wisteria-laden pergola canopy of Villa Bardina. Marco Polo was the first to bring wisteria to Italy from China in the 18thC, and today it serves as a telltale sign of the arrival of spring, revealing its lilac hues between April and May.
Adding to the gardens’ whimsy are a peppering of stone statues, a magnificent Baroque staircase and views of the Duomo that will stop you in your tracks.
Nestled alongside the Arno River, the calm atmosphere and stunning location of this park make it a perfect spot for an early-morning run. There are play areas for the kids and some interesting monuments scattered throughout. It’s definitely a favourite spot for locals!
The Lesser-Known Museums of Florence
The Uffizi and Accademia galleries are obvious choices when it comes to sightseeing in Florence, and both are certainly worthy of a visit if you want to witness classic Renaissance works and Michaelangelo’s ever-famous David. For some less-famous spots that still boast incredible pieces of art and impressive architecture, here’s where I suggest.
Opera del Duomo
Founded by the Republic of Florence in 1296, the Opera del Duomo was the workshop that oversaw the construction of the Cathedral and Giotto’s bell tower. It recently underwent a massive restoration and is incredibly impressive, with over 750 works of art and a striking sculpture gallery.
This wonderful sculpture museum is usually rather free of crowds. It’s housed in one of the city’s oldest buildings, dating back to 1255. Notable works include Michaelangelo’s Brutus and 14thC sculptures by Donatello.
The Palazzo Davanzati offers an incredible peek into a medieval tower house in Florence, walking you through the domestic life of a Florentine family during the Middle Ages.
This beautiful Renaissance palace hosts major travelling modern exhibitions, so it’s worth keeping an eye on their program before your visit to see what’s on.
Experience Tuscany With B&R
Tuscany Biking Trip
Some come for the sun and to be seen, but on our Tuscany Biking trip, we’ve got better plans: sumptuous spreads, behind-the-scenes tours, award-winning wines, and spectacular biking through picturesque hills.DETAILED ITINERARY
Tuscany & Umbria Walking Trip
There is something eminently peaceful in wandering through medieval hilltop towns, passing vines tended to for generations, and savouring traditional, local and eminently fresh cuisine. Need more convincing? See for yourself on our Tuscany & Umbria Walking trip.DETAILED ITINERARY
Where to Shop in Florence
A city built upon traditional crafts and artists, it should come as no surprise that Florence is home to some seriously good shopping.
For lotions and potions, make a stop at the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella where you’ll find a variety of sumptuous skincare, and visit AcquaFlore Firenze for customized perfumes.
When it comes to fashion, leather reigns supreme. One of my favourite spots for leather goods is Il Bisonte. Slick bespoke footwear can be found at Stefano Bemer, and Madova is known for its gloves. Jazz up your new pieces with fun costume jewelry from Angela Caputi Giugiú.
For a deeper dive into the best shops in Florence, take a look at this article.
It has a glorified food court upstairs selling Italian specialties ranging from gelato to truffles and everything in between. Open from morning until midnight.
This is a more locals’ market (where I shop) with a very neighbourhood vibe. Open only in the mornings until 2 pm. There’s also a very casual restaurant inside for a quick and cheap lunch.