Salt & Wind Travel

21 Top Off-The-Beaten Florence Italy Attractions (2024)

If you’re looking for unique, less crowded, more authentic, and maybe even sometimes downright hidden Florence, Italy attractions, this is the article for you. When visiting a popular place like Florence, it’s easy to hit the absolute must-see locations like the Uffizi Gallery, Boboli Gardens, and the Galleria dell’Accademia.

Florence Italy Attractions

But where do you go if you’re looking for something else, maybe something new or entirely different? That requires insider tips and knowledge! With a travel expert in your back pocket, you can do exciting things, such as taking a peek into life as it was in the 15th century, discovering hidden gardens, and experiencing one-of-a-kind dining and entertainment. 

Having lived in Florence for over a decade, I have visited many Florence Italy attractions first-hand, from the world-famous to the hidden gems. Living there, day in and day out, for over a decade, I not only met many locals but became one myself. And it’s because of my vast knowledge about all things Florence, that I now help clients with curated Italy Travel Planning.

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21 Unique Florence Italy Attractions 

To give you just a taste of what we can offer (and because I’m often asked about unique things to do in Florence), I am sharing 21 of the best things that are lesser-known but not to be missed on your next trip to Italy.

Palazzo Davanzati

If you’ve ever wondered what living in Florence in the Italian Renaissance or Middle Ages was like, look no further than Palazzo Davanzati. This historic building was the home of the Davanzati family until the mid-1800s, so it’s a prime example of Renaissance living. In the early 20th century, it was restored to its original glory, complete with 15-16th century beds, a bathroom, a living room, and period decorations. The walls alone are worth the visit as some rooms are covered in elaborate frescoes. 

Visiting here is like stepping back in time and visiting Florence as it was hundreds of years ago, but without the downsides, like the plague and no AC! Tip: Don’t miss a visit to my absolute favorite feature of the house: the kitchen, where you can find a note scribbled on the wall announcing to the staff that Giuliano de Medici had been assassinated! These kitchen notes served as a kind of “whiteboard” because paper was expensive, and it was a way to share information throughout the house. This particular note is from 1478!
Palazzo Davanzati, Via Porta Rossa, 13, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Museo Horne

If you like the idea of time travel from the previous example, you don’t want to miss a stop at the Museo Horne. This palazzo was built in the 14th century and was eventually bought by the important collector Herbert Horne in the late 19th century. He restored it and filled it with Renaissance art as a personal collection and museum. His massive collection includes an outstanding assortment of domestic objects, including original silver and ivory cutlery, needles, mirror holders, and more. 

I worked there for a few years and explored the collection up close and personal. It’s still one of my favorite must-see locations for art history lovers as the collection, palazzo itself, and entire family history are so interesting. It also contains an impressive painting collection, including works by artists such as Giotto and bronze sculptures by Giambologna and Bernini. You can even tour a 15th-century kitchen and learn how ovens worked in the Renaissance. This place is a gem for art lovers and history buffs alike and even kids enjoy a visit here because of its relatively small size and exciting collection of objects.
Museo Horne, Via dei Benci, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Stibbert Museum

Located outside the city center, it is a whimsical palazzo worth every effort it takes to reach it. Not only can you enjoy a spectacular villa, but Stibbert’s collection boasts more than 50,000 objects from all over the world, including a massive collection of armor from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, as well as art, decorative objects, weapons, and more. 

The villa is situated in a large garden that is open to the public, so after exploring the villa, a walk in the sun or time to let the kids run around would round out a perfect day. 

We took my daughter there when she was about a year and a half old, and be warned, it’s not stroller-friendly. That said, kids who can walk independently will love the outside grounds and the fascinating interior. Visits to the museum are timed in small groups, and a guide must accompany you, so check the schedule before going. There is also a gift shop with some snack items if you plan to make a day of it.
Stibbert Museum, Via Federico Stibbert, 26, 50134 Firenze FI, Italy

Hit the Big Three Fashion Museums

This is an absolute must-see attraction for fashion lovers, as there is no other place in the world where you can explore the Gucci, Ferragamo, and Pitti fashion museums all in one day. During your visit, you will travel through the rich history of Italian fashion from the Renaissance to the modern day. Explore trends, see outfits worn by famous actors and actresses, and learn about the history of these fashion powerhouses.

And if you’re feeling fancy (and hungry), you can punctuate your fashion-filled adventure with dinner at the Gucci Osteria, next door to the Florence town hall, for a world-class dining experience. (Reservations are highly sought after, so you’ll want to book that in advance. And, we can help with that if needed, FYI.) I recommend the tortellini with a glass of white wine. It’s *chef’s kiss* by far the best pasta dish in the city.
Gucci Museum, Piazza della Signoria, 10, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Ferragamo Museum, Piazza di Santa Trinita, 5R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Pitti Museum Of Costume And Fashion, Piazza de’ Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy

Duomo Workshop

The Duomo restoration workshop is on a small street on the south side of the Duomo, just off the Piazza del Duomo. This place used to be where essential works for the Duomo were created. It is now used as a laboratory to restore parts of the famous cathedral. If you’re lucky, you can peek inside the window and see the restorations in progress. 

And, if you want to get a close-up look at some of the magnificent artworks that pass through its doors, you can request a private tour. These are booked only on request and only on certain days, so it’s best to plan.
Duomo workshop, Via dello Studio, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Bardini Gardens

Just down the Arno River from the more famous Boboli Gardens is the “Giardino Bardini” or Bardini Gardens. It’s a more miniature, less busy garden, which is also more beautiful than its more visited neighbor. This is the home of the now-Instagram-famous pergola of Wisteria but also features one of the very best views of Florence. 

I love wandering around here, bringing a book, relaxing, and listening to birds and trickling water sounds in the Angelo-Chinese garden area. You will forget you’re in the middle of a bustling city, and the lack of crowds, even in the high season, ensures a tranquil experience no matter when you visit.
Bardini Gardens, Via de’ Bardi, 1, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy

Michelangelo’s hidden drawings

In 1975, a series of drawers were discovered in a hidden room underneath the Medici chapels when attempting to make space for a new exhibit. History revealed that Michelangelo had hidden there in 1530 and spent his days drawing designs on the wall in charcoal.

The secret room remained closed until 2023 when it was decided they would open it to the public for small groups on specified days of the week for a limited time. Tickets sell out quickly, so snatch yours before heading to Florence. Also, just a note: Kids under 10 are not permitted.
Medici Chapel, Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, 6, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy Florence

Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

The Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy is the oldest in the world, still producing unique products today. It all began over 800 years ago, in 1221 when Dominican friars were given this space to grow their medicines, balms, and ointments. Today, their products are sold worldwide, but visiting the first shop is worth a trip. While there, check out the chapel and consider doing an ancient liquor tasting. These liquors are as fun to taste as it is to imagine the friars dreaming them up for wealthy patrons hundreds of years ago. 
Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Via della Scala, 16, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

La Specola

La Specola is a zoology and natural history museum down the street from the Pitti Palace. It’s an eclectic museum with the oldest specimens dating back to the Medici family’s rule in the 17th century. The collection includes the Medici’s pet hippo (who lived in the Boboli gardens next door) and anatomically correct waxes that are still famous today for their extraordinary details and accuracy. I think it’s also an excellent stop for older kids who may be tired of seeing the “usual” Florentine historical sites.
La Specola, Via Romana, 17, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy

Museo di Storia Naturale: Antropologia e Etnologia

This anthropology museum contains over 25,000 artifacts and objects produced by humans over millennia. Its collection features prehistoric human civilizations from all over the world. The museum also has an assortment of skeletons, plaster models, mummies, and more. If you’re a natural history fan, you will appreciate the curators’ dedication to amassing all these artifacts.
Museo di Storia Naturale: Antropologia e Etnologia, Via del Proconsolo, 12, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Importuno di Michelangelo

Visiting this landmark won’t cost you a penny; you may have walked by it many times and never realized it. This unique thing is a “likeness” of a man’s face! You can find it carved into the side of the Palazzo Vecchio, right in the Piazza della Signoria, just next to the Loggia dei Lanzi, very close to the Galleria degli Uffizi. The exciting thing about this carving is that it is attributed to Michelangelo himself! 

The story goes that Michelangelo sculpted it to ridicule someone he found annoying, but today, many other stories abound. Nowadays, it can be seen as a lasting example of his influence and importance in Renaissance Florence and an interesting open-air artwork by one of the most famous artists of all time.
Importuno di Michelangelo, Piazza della Signoria, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy (Located on the right side near the entrance)

Corridoio Vasariano

The Vasari Corridor was the secret enclosed passageway in Florence that connected the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti. It was built by Giorgio Vasari in 1564 and used by the Medici family to travel from Palazzo to Palazzo, protected from the crowds (and filth!) below. Today, it serves as a kind of portrait museum, and after extensive renovations, it is re-opening to the public in 2024.

Walking through it is like walking in the Medici’s footsteps, and it feels like going on a secret adventure as you climb between walls and wander over the top of the Ponte Vecchio. I was lucky enough to do a private tour here before it closed to the public, and I walked through it genuinely feeling like I was going on a secret mission back in time.
Corridoio Vasariano, Uffizi, Lungarno degli Archibusieri, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library

Michelangelo is famous for his paintings and sculptures, but did you know he was also a skilled architect? One of his greatest architectural triumphs was in Florence near the Basilica di San Lorenzo when he created the Laurentian Library. Michelangelo took extensive liberties with his masterpiece; walking through his genius design in person is magnificent. 

In particular, architecture lovers will appreciate his now famous staircase. The staircase defies logic by seeming to pour downwards like lava. The varying width of the treads also creates an almost surreal feeling that one has to experience to understand. Book lovers instead will delight in seeing this historical collection of books up close, as it is home to over 11,000 manuscripts and 4,500 early printed books.
Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library, Piazza di San Lorenzo, 9, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Relic of St. Antonium

This one is for lovers of the macabre. Located in the magnificent (and also worth a visit) church of San Marco are the 550-year-old mummified remains of St. Antonius. In 1459, his unembalmed body was buried in the glass coffin in which he still rests. Curious religious and non-religious lovers of morbid curiosities will find seeing his near-perfect remains fascinating.

I am a bit of a “collector” of relics, not in the literal sense, but I always seek them out when traveling to Italy. St. Antonium remains one of my favorites due to his perfect mummification. While you’re there (or if relics aren’t your thing), tour the entire church; art history lovers will recognize many famous frescos by the famous Fra Angelico.
Relic of St. Antonium, Piazza San Marco, 3, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy

Climbing the Gate of San Niccolò

You may have been told Piazzale Michelangelo is the best place in Florence to get spectacular views of the entire city, but I disagree. To me, one of the best ways to get a great view i at the gate of San Niccolò. It sits just below Piazzale Michelangelo and offers sweeping 360-degree views of the entire Unesco World Heritage site below.

This gate was built in 1324 by the famous Florentine architect Arnolfo di Cambio (he built the tower for the Florence City Hall, the Palazzo Vecchio). It was used as a military defense point when a city wall surrounded Florence. The walls have since been removed, but the tower remains in its original glory.

Climbing the 160 steps to the top and treating yourself to a 115-foot bird’ s-eye view of Florence is a great way to experience Florence like never before. From this vantage point, you can see the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore (aka the Duomo di Firenze), Giotto’s bell tower, Brunelleschi’s dome, and the city’s iconic bridges. Entrances are every 30 minutes, and a guide is required. Be sure to book ahead. I think the best time to go is at sunset for the most magical experience imaginable.
Torre San Niccolò, Piazza Giuseppe Poggi 1, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Cimitero Delle Porte Sante

San Miniato al Monte is above Piazzale Michelangelo, a fantastic little church. Just behind the church is a stunning monumental cemetery. While it may seem weird to walk through a graveyard, this one is worth a visit. The tombs are pure art, and the gardens are beautiful and exquisitely maintained. While there, pop into the shop next to the church and pick up some monk-made honey, deserts, soaps, and more. My favorite treat that they make is the biscotti di dama, little cookies filled with delectable hazelnut cream. 
Cimitero Delle Porte Sante, Via delle Porte Sante, 34, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy

La Berta

Just up the street from the Piazza della Repubblica, on Via dei Cerretani on your way to or from the Florence cathedral, look out for an eerie floating “head” sticking out of the wall of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Affectionately called “La Berta,” according to Florentine legend, the head belongs to a woman whom an alchemist petrified because she denied him water on his way to be burned at the stake. The exact origins of the head (or whose likeness it portrays) are unknown, but it’s fascinating one-off street art, worth a second look, nonetheless.
La Berta, Via de’ Cerretani, 41, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy


Lampredotto is a classic Florentine dish made from a cow’s fourth (and final) stomach. It might sound slightly unappealing, but savory, tender, and delicious! If you feel adventurous and want to eat like a true Tuscan, head away from the more famous Mercato Centrale towards Piazza Sant’ Ambrogio for one of the most authentic lampredotto sandwiches you can find in the city.

It’s located inside the Sant’Ambrogio Market (also worth a look around) and called Il Trippaio Di Sant’Ambrogio and it’s just one of the top things to do in Florence Italy for food lovers. I suggest getting it with the green sauce. Insider tip: If you are a truffle lover, look for the truffle cheese vendor after eating your sandwich for the best slice of your life. 
Il Trippaio di Sant’Ambrogio, Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti (Inside the Mercato Sant’Ambrogio), 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Museo Bottega Antonio Mattei

You may already be familiar with the Italian “biscotto” or “biscotti,” as they are often called in America. But did you know the classic Italian dessert, biscotti, comes from a famous cookie made in Tuscany called “cantucci?” These hard Italian cookies started in Prato, a town just 20 minutes or so from Florence. 

Antonio Mattei was an ingenious inventor, and 160 years later, you can still buy these cookies under his original recipe and label. The shop in Florence sells the cookies and has a museum dedicated to the history of Italy’s most famous cookie. Ask about a cookie tasting to learn more and sample their various options.
Museo Bottega Antonio Mattei, Via Porta Rossa, 76/r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Teatro del sale

If you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path consider becoming a member at Teatro del Sale. Membership is between 10-15 euros and can be bought online or at the door. Your membership card entitles you to join their club of art lovers who indulge in good food and good performances. After admission, you’ll grab your food at a very expansive and delicious buffet, and then you sit and enjoy being entertained by musicians, comics, singers, dancers, actors, and more. Each night is something new, and it’s a bit like going to dinner and a movie, but the performance is live. This might be the ticket if you’re up for something different than the usual night out.
Teatro del Sale, Via dei Macci, 111/r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Renaioli Boat Tours

If you’re looking for something unique to do that is also pretty romantic, consider taking a guided tour of the Arno River! These boat tours are with the “Renaioli” or sand diggers who, until the Second World War, were responsible for digging sand from the Arno to be used in building construction all around the city. While there are no longer renaioli digging along the Arno, their flat-bottom boats have been restored and used, offering these wonderful trips down the river.

These tours allow you to see Florence from below, a perspective few get to experience. You’ll cruise under the old bridge, the Ponte Vecchio and head down towards the Palazzo Corsini before heading back up the river towards the Uffizi. The tours are only available in the warm months and must be booked well in advance. Tip: Pick a tour that takes place at sunset for a beautiful experience!
Renaioli Boat Tours, Lungarno Generale Diaz, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Did you enjoy these 20 unique Florence attractions? Believe it or not, we have even more suggestions, not just in Florence but all over Italy! We have you covered if you want truly unique, authentic Italy trip planning ideas. Contact us today for help booking the Italy trip of your dreams.

Frequently Asked Questions

Florence is home to numerous world-renowned attractions. The top must-see sites include the Florence Cathedral (Il Duomo di Firenze) with its magnificent dome engineered by Brunelleschi, the Uffizi Gallery, which houses works by great Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, and the Accademia Gallery, where Michelangelo's David is displayed.

Other notable attractions are the Ponte Vecchio, a historic bridge filled with jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir shops, and the Palazzo Vecchio, offering insight into the city's rich history and culture.

For many of Florence's most popular attractions, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery, it is highly recommended to purchase tickets in advance to avoid long waiting lines and ensure entry, especially during peak tourist seasons. Many attractions offer timed-entry tickets that can be bought online through their official websites or authorized ticket sellers. If you need help booking private tours, reach out to us!

Beyond the well-known attractions, Florence is filled with hidden gems that offer a quieter yet equally enriching experience. The Brancacci Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine is home to Masaccio's pioneering frescoes, which profoundly impacted later Renaissance art.

The Palazzo Davanzati offers a glimpse into the life of a wealthy Florentine family during the Renaissance with its preserved interiors. The Stibbert Museum, housed in a villa surrounded by a beautiful garden, boasts an impressive collection of armor and weaponry. Another hidden gem is the Bardini Garden, which offers stunning views of Florence and a peaceful escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

Teens riding bicycles along the city wall in Lucca, Tuscany, Italy

Classic Day Trips From Florence

Consider extending your culinary exploration with day trips to nearby Tuscan towns, offering their unique flavors and experiences. Some classic day trips from Florence include visits to Greve in Chianti, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano, Siena, Lucca, and Viareggio. Each town offers a unique perspective on Tuscany and its rich history, culture, and beauty.

Have Us Plan Your Florence, Italy, Trip

Intrigued? This is just the beginning of what we have up our food-loving sleeve. For a seamless and bespoke culinary journey in Florence, contact us at Salt and Wind Travel. Our insider knowledge and passion for Italian cuisine will ensure your trip is as delicious as it is memorable.

Photo Credit: Opening photo by Stefano Cellai; Arno River photo by Team Salt & Wind Travel; Gucci museum by Mark Green; Farmaucetica Santa Maria Novella bottles by Andrei Antipov; Porto San Niccolo by Shahid Khan

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