All You Need To Know Before Your Visit To Florence

A First Timer's Travel Guide

by Akriti Sharma

The city of Firenze, as Italians call it, Florence has been touted as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Brimming with art, culture, fine food, and old-world charm, a visit to Florence is a must for any art enthusiast. World-class architecture sits shoulder-to-shoulder with picturesque cathedrals, lavish palaces, and museums. The city has been home to many inspiring artists like Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and more.

If you are planning your Florence escapade, then these first timer’s tips will come in handy –

Best time to visit

One of the key elements in planning your visit to Florence is determining the right time to go. You don’t want to lose on the charm the city offers by going at the wrong time. The ideal time is during early spring to late fall. April to May and September to November offer pleasant weather with fewer tourists. If you want to avoid the heat, try not to plan during August.

Book your tickets in advance

Another important tip for your first visit to Florence is to grab your tickets in advance by booking them online. You don’t want to visit the art galleries and museums only to view the crowds and get back disappointed. If you don’t book in advance, you are likely to queue up for a minimum of two hours. Therefore, it is best to book tickets for famous galleries like Uffizi Gallery, Galleria dell’ Academia and Bargello Museum well in advance to beat the crowds and score exclusive discounts. Enjoy the Renaissance works and dreamlike artwork from all the famous artists sans crowds.

Explore the Duomo

Aerial view of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, showcasing its iconic red-tiled dome and intricate marble facade, nestled among historic buildings in Florence, Tuscany, Italy.

Image by Nicola Pavan via Unsplash

Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as II Duomo is one of the most spectacular and fourth largest cathedrals in the world. The Renaissance dome, exuberant exteriors, and austere interiors look out of this world. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the dome remains the symbol of the city and you can savor the most magnificent views from the top of the dome. Make sure to book the guided tour of the complex and book ahead to climb up to the dome to enjoy great views of the city.

Do not miss Piazzale Michelangelo

Overlooking the city, Piazzale Michelangelo is another worthy attraction to check out during your visit to Florence. Walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo to take Instagram-worthy pictures of an undeniably spectacular view of Florence. Enjoy a glass of wine as you savor the view during the sunset.


Go across the Arno River

Scenic view of the Arno River with a serene lady sitting on its bank, enjoying the tranquil waters and picturesque surroundings

Image by Karsten Winegeart via Unsplash

Cross over the Arno River using the arched stone bridge named Ponte Vecchio to explore the jewelry shops. The city has a rich tradition of artisan ateliers who have been creating finely handcrafted gold and silver jewelry. Apart from that, they hold expertise in creating leather goods and marbled paper. The work has been passed down to generations and it is worth checking out. You can shop for quality souvenirs and handmade goods. If you can make it early, you can also catch the beautiful sunrise.

Visit the Boboli Gardens

Boboli Gardens are the lesser-known gems which are spread over 111 acres on a steep hill. They are known for their beautiful layout which was established by the Medici family. Populated with Renaissance statues, the gardens evoke beauty and grandeur which have inspired several European courts. Next to the gardens lies the Palazzo Pitti. This is an extravagant palace with royal apartments which were home to the dukes and monarchs of Florence. You can also book a guided tour of the gardens and the palace to make the most of them.

Be street smart

Shopping in Florence can be challenging as the shopkeepers are open to haggling. Also, plan to shop either early in the day or late in the evening as most shops close in the afternoon from 1 to 4 pm. Instead of going to bigger shops, watch out for small shops in the neighborhood to get the best deals.

Take a cooking class

Florence is not limited to art and architecture. To get the most out of your visit, enroll in a cooking class and learn to cook a thing or two. The culinary experience will take your overall vacation up a notch and who knows you can take home tips to woo your special ones with a home-made pasta and Italian dessert. To begin with, you can take a pasta cooking class to learn the basics of Italian cooking and nail the national dish.

Take a day trip to Tuscany

Rolling hills adorned with lush green vineyards under the Tuscan sun, with quaint farmhouses dotting the landscape.

Image by Johny Goerend via Unsplash

Explore the lush heart of Tuscany with a day trip from Florence. The countryside charm of Tuscany with its vineyards, olive trees and medieval houses will leave you speechless. Spend quality time in the hilltown of San Gimignano, sip on the Chianti wine, head to the marvelous town of Siena for a scrumptious lunch made from locally sourced ingredients and enjoy coffee in charming little cafés. If you are vying for a refreshing break, then taking a private tour of Tuscany is the best way to enjoy the unparalleled sights and scenery without crowds.

Stay alert

Petty crimes are common in Florence. Make sure to stay vigilant and careful of your belongings. Pickpocketing is very common here, especially in crowded areas or while waiting in the queues. It is recommended to carry your important documents like passport and cash in a belt bag and keep it close to you at all times.

Get the right gelato

Gelato is highly popular in Florence but spotting authentic gelato can be a task. Avoid shops selling colorful gelato. A good quality gelato has zero preservatives and is likely to melt in your mouth instantly. The general rule of thumb is to go for a pale gelato than a brightly colored one.


Florence is a small city that can be easily explored on foot. However, it is recommended to make your bookings in advance to avoid intense crowds. If you are running short on time during your visit to Florence, taking a hop-on hop-off Florence tour is the best investment. Not only you will do the sightseeing in comfort but also tick off all the bucket-list-worthy attractions. Also, be prudent while booking taxis as the prices can be steep if you book them off the street. If you are using the bus as a mode of transportation, do remember that the ticket is valid for 90 minutes after purchase. Most museums in Florence are closed on Mondays so plan your visits accordingly. We hope that these tips will help you during your visit to Florence and have a blast!

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