Have you already visited many of the classic tourist spots in the Italian city of Florence?
Maybe you are looking for something a little unusual or out of the ordinary.
Some of these are hidden gems and some are right there in plain sight.
There are so many cool and different things to do in Florence if you know where to look.
Here are a few of my favorites.
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What Cool Things Can I Do Besides the Museums
I am so glad you asked!
While many people love and appreciate art, not everyone loves to spend hours touring the galleries. The sheer quantity of museums you can visit in Florence is overwhelming.
So, for those who would much rather spend the day in the great outdoors, no worries. Florence outside of the museums and the galleries is a feast of artistic beauty. Just wandering from street to street will be a treat without ever buying an entrance ticket.
The buildings’ architecture is a joy to behold. From Medival to Modern and everything in between.
Artists can’t help but be inspired by the masters in Florence and you can watch them create right before your eyes.
In the area surrounding the Duomo, you will come across many painters, sculptors, and street artists engaged in work. You can stand around and appreciate their skill for free, or even better purchase an original work of art to take home as a souvenir. I am cherishing this little watercolor of the Duomo I picked up last time I was there.
I could spend all day finding art in the streets, but I would never bypass the art museums in Florence for anything.
If you hate long lines and crowds this could be a challenge but there are some key tips to help avoid those.
First, just buy a ticket for the earliest time slot to be there as early as possible. We did this for the Uffizi and because it is so large it felt practically empty for the first 2 hours.
Second, buying a skip-the-line tour pass to get in early and also to have an official guide to give you context and history of the art.
Check availability to skip the line and see Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery. This tour has a max of only 9 people. Even better.
We did this for a tour of the Vatican in Rome and it was worth every penny. It does cost more than the ticket alone but how many times in your life will you visit the Sistine Chapel? That was my mindset.
It turned out only 4 of us booked and it felt like a private tour. So worth it.
Quirky Things to Do in Florence
Strolling the stunning Piazza della Signoria is a popular activity. Not to mention, the enormous Fountain of Neptune will immediately catch your attention.
Here you will find the Gucci Garden.
A delightful, sensory experience you will not soon forget. Not only that, the 5 euro admission is a bargain.
Telling a story of recent Gucci fashion Archetypes this offbeat museum will surprise you in the best ways.
One room contains mammoth collections of butterflies to cuckoo clocks and all mirrored to create an infinite effect.
Traveling from room to room you’ll be discovering some hidden surprises and may even find yourself dancing before you’re through.
The Gucci Garden consists of a bookstore, boutique, restaurant, and cocktail lounge. All fashionably done of course.
If you can’t make it in person be sure to check out their website. It is fun, 3D, and interactive. It includes an audioguide and transcript explaining the creative process behind the venue. We discovered Gucci Garden not knowing what was inside but I would have loved to read about it before we had gone in.
Lastly, before you leave the Piazza Signoria, pop into the Palazzo Vecchio, a medieval palace that is just too gorgeous inside to miss.
It’s free and requires just a quick look, but the open-air courtyard in the center is magnificent. If you happen to duck in during the rain prepare yourself for an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
Cool Things to Do in Florence
Since when is getting a tattoo not cool? That makes getting a tattoo in Florence Italy even hipper.
This activity will take some pre-planning on your part.
Begin with some email communication to the artist or business.
Initially, this will help confirm the date, time, and general price. Subsequently, it will allow you to collaborate with the artist before you meet.
The studio is a short cab ride from the historical center or about a one-hour walk.
However, why not make this adventure even more memorable and rent a Vespa?
A Hidden Gem in Florence
Get your picture taken in an old-school photo booth.
Fotoautomatica are vintage, restored photo booths sprinkled around the city.
A passion project of a former film set designer, Matteo Sani, who scouted them out and brought them to the streets of Florence.
These photographs are the real deal, nothing digital here.
For this reason, be prepared for a 5-minute wait for the development of the image to take place. Then handle with care along the edges until dry.
Trust me, it’s worth the wait.
Where Do Locals Hang Out in Florence?
Everywhere really, but sitting outside with a friend having a drink in the evening tops the list. Getting a few blocks out and away from the most tourist-filled streets is a must.
We found this little place, Dorsoduro 3821, serving apertivo on our walk back to our apartment one night. It was honestly so near the center but we were the only tourists around and it was standing room only inside and out.
The owner was originally from Venice, 30 years back, and served us delicious cicchetti and drinks.
He was so friendly, and when he heard we were traveling on to Venice next, he came out to offer us a taste of some blueberry liqueur which we were happy to oblige him in doing. This a beautiful example of generosity and hospitality.
Dorsoduro 3821 – Via S. Gallo, 41/R, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy
As always, after dinner treat yourself to some gelato.
Unexpected Things You’ll Find in Florence
So once I returned home from my trip I learned there is such a thing in Florence called a Wine Window.
What is a Wine Window?
Well, in the 1500s, winemakers found they were allowed to sell wine directly to the public. So, taking advantage of this opportunity, and to avoid paying taxes, they created windows in the walls of their estates through which they could pass bottles of wine and conduct business.
The windows proved handy again in 1634 when The Plague swept through the city of Florence, creating a way for merchants to avoid coming in contact with customers.
Nevertheless, over time, the usefulness of the Wine Windows faded, and they eventually fell out of use.
We all know history has a way of repeating itself, and as a result of Covid in 2020, the need for “social distancing” rose again.
Wine Windows are luring customers back in for a glass of wine passed out through the window as a fun and unique experience.
I can’t wait to discover one on my next trip back.
If you are interested in a half-day off-the-beaten-path tour that includes street art, food, and wine windows check availability here.
Fun Things in Florence
Guaranteed fun at any age is riding a classic carousel.
When near the Piazza della Repubblica, jump aboard this beautiful ride and let yourself feel young again.
Afterward, grab a drink and a snack and listen to the live music you’re likely to encounter.
Relaxing Yet Different Things to Do in Florence
Who doesn’t love shopping a little for interesting things on vacation?
You can often find cute little, out-of-the-ordinary items, by straying from the usual shops.
Thrifting in Florence is a great activity. There were dozens of thrift stores to explore on our recent trip. From funky clothing to art prints, to vintage German WWII military uniforms, we saw it all. Our favorite stop was at Melrose Place. The prices ran from just a few euros to high-end, and there was room after room to rummage through.
Don’t discount the typical souvenir shops though. You may not need another fridge magnet or keychain but this little bobblehead David sure gave me a chuckle. I noticed it in the window as we were waiting on our timed ticket to enter the Accademia Gallery Museum.
Off the Beaten Path
If you have the time in your itinerary, or just want to get out of the city for the day, then truffle hunting may just be the right activity for you.
Many companies offer full or half-day trips to the surrounding countryside for the hike and the hunt.
We ran out of time on our most recent trip, but I am planning to book a tour for the next one.
Check availability for the truffle hunting tour here.
I hope this post full of cool and different things to do in Florence Italy inspires you when you are creating your next itinerary.
Check out these yummy souvenirs to take home from Florence.
For more information about Visiting Italy click here.
If this is your first trip abroad, read this guide for first-time international travel for some great tips.
Florence | Italy, History, Geography, & Culture | Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Florence. Accessed 8 Nov. 2022.
Home. http://www.fotoautomatica.com/fotoautomatica.com/Home.html. Accessed 8 Nov. 2022.
“Italy’s ‘Wine Windows’ Were a Product of the Plague—Now They’re Making a Comeback.” Food & Wine, https://www.foodandwine.com/news/plague-wine-windows-italy. Accessed 8 Nov. 2022.
Magazine, Smithsonian, and Nora McGreevy. “Centuries-Old ‘Wine Windows’ Open for Business in Florence.” Smithsonian Magazine, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/wine-windows-florence-medieval-disease-180975517/. Accessed 8 Nov. 2022.