When visiting Florence this year, don’t just follow the crowds. Discover a more authentic side of the city, with this list of the best things to do in Florence in 2018. Explore the hip San Frediano neighbourhood, take a free tour of Florence, explore the fascinating Medici palaces, discover an unusual museum. And get the chance to see an original manuscript by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci. Here we show you a side of Florence that will make your trip that much more rewarding.
All the best things to do in Florence in 2018
Aperitivo time in the coolest quartiere
San Frediano in the Oltrarno was once famous for its artisans and its shabbiness. Today the Lonely Planet has put it back on the map labelling it the coolest of Florence’s neighbourhood. Here life revolves around Borgo San Frediano and the narrow alleyways that are far from the madding crowds of the Duomo. There are loads of spots to choose from, but your best bet for an aperitivo is Gesto with its vintage-feel. There’s cool sounds and great cocktails at Mad Soul & Spirits, and Santarosa Bistrot near the Arno has an atmospheric urban garden. Circolo A.s. Aurora has an intimate atmosphere and creative twist making it popular with locals too.
Climb the Duomo
Climbing to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome is a rite of passage in Florence. Firstly because it gets you up close to one of the architectural wonders of the world. Secondly because the view over Florence from the top is breathtaking. And lastly because it’s the ultimate spot to take a holiday selfie! Get climbing.
Romance is always in the air in Florence, so would you like to discover the top romantic things to do in Florence?
Take a free tour of the city – Florence Free Tours
This is a perfect introduction to the city of the Renaissance, and takes in the main squares and churches from Piazza Duomo to Piazza Signoria and Santa Croce. Or take the Medici Tour for a fascinating look at Florence and its most famous family, and brings to life all the real drama of Medici. The Florence Free Tours are tip-based, and run every day starting in front of Santa Maria Novella Church.
Discover all the great things you can do in Florence for free!
By the way, if you’re a Medici fan, you might be interested in exploring the Medici Palaces.
Leonardo and the Codex Leicester – October 2018
This October, Da Vinci is in town. The Codex Leicester by Leonardo da Vinci will be on display at the Uffizi from 29th October 2018 to 20th January 2019, courtesy of Bill Gates (the current owner). It’s a unique opportunity to see this original Da Vinci manuscript and some of his famous drawings. This Codex is where Da Vinci wrote down his theories about the science of water, a subject that fascinated him throughout his life.
Lose yourself in a Florentine Market
Markets are an institution in Italy, and Florence has some of the best around. Apart from the world-famous San Lorenzo – where you’ll find a chic indoor food market with various eateries on the first floor, just outside the leather and souvenir market. We advise you to go in search of the more authentic side of Florence in the Sant’Ambrogio Food Market, and the nearby Mercatino delle Pulci (antiques, bric-a-brac and flea market) in Piazza dei Ciompi where you can hunt for colourful keepsakes and little pieces of Florentine history. Alternatively, visit the daily market in Santo Spirito, a favourite with locals and students.
If you’re planning a trip to Florence and Tuscany this year, check out our suggestions for the best places to visit in Tuscany in 2018!
The moving stories of the Museo degli Innocenti
This city is famous for its celebrated museums, but its well worth trying some of the less well known ones too. The Museo degli Innocenti has been beautifully restructured to become a ‘memorial’ for all the orphaned children who once found a home here. The first baby was left outside its doors in 1445 and the last in 1875, and this museum tells their humble stories which are very much part of Florence’s history. Here you can also admire various important works of art, including some by Botticelli and Ghirlandaio.
Are you an art lover? We can give you insider tips on the best museums to visit in Florence.
Palazzo Strozzi. Contemporary art in a Renaissance setting
Florence is not all about ancient art. Palazzo Strozzi is one of the best venues in town for contemporary art, and it’s always worth checking out their program. This year, from 16th March to 22nd July 2018, it’s time for the fascinating “Nascita di una nazione, tra Gottuso, Fontana & Schifano”. It’s an exploration of Italian art, politics and society in Italy from the 1950s to the late ’60s”. From 21st September 2018 to 20th January 2019 there’s an expo dedicated to Marina Abramovic.
Walk to Piazzale Michelangelo. Definitely one of the best things to do in Florence in 2018.
Many people get the bus to reach this gorgeous panoramic terrace, but walking up there can be a treat in itself, even if it is a little steep. Take it slowly, and you’ll appreciate how the view of Florence slowly reveals itself to the wanderer. You can have a rest at the beautiful and scenic Rose Garden before ending up at the Piazzale Michelangelo and the best view of the city.
If you like walking, check out the Best Gardens in Florence!
Get to know Lorenzo de’ Medici
This year will see the launch of the second season of “Medici Masters of Florence”. It lifts the lid on all the dramatic secrets in the life of Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449-14492), also known as ‘The Magnificent’. A young statesman, a talented poet and a powerful ruler, Lorenzo tried to keep the peace in Italy, and barely escaped an attempted murder inside Florence’s Cathedral. He was a great patron of the arts, and it was partly thanks to him that the Renaissance flourished in the way it did. In Florence you’ll find plenty of reminders of him – from his residence Palazzo Medici Riccardi where he invited his protegeè Michelangelo to live with his family, to his tomb in the new sacristy of the Medici Chapels in San Lorenzo Church, designed by Michelangelo.