These are the best tours in Florence to make the most of your time in the city, covering everything from culinary adventures, artistic history, Renaissance intrigue and, of course, wine.
Whether you dream of riding a Vespa through the rolling green hills of Chianti, learning to make pizza like a pro or following in the historic footsteps of the Medici family, Florence has a wide range of tours tailor-made to fit any traveller’s desire. With so many to choose from, here are Culture Trip’s top picks for the best tours in Florence.
If you’ve ever fantasised about jumping on a Vespa, revving it up and riding through the Italian hills, then this tour is for you. Zipping through town, you’ll drive up steep hills to take in spectacular views of the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio and the stunning surrounding hillside at Florence’s most famous panorama, Piazzale Michelangelo. Ride onwards to the historic convent of San Miniato, then whizz higher up into the hillside. High above the city, you’ll stop at Fiesole, beloved by Florentines for its Etruscan-Roman ruins and unbeatable views. This is a tour for those who want to see Florence from a whole new angle. Note: to take part in this tour, you must have a valid driver’s licence and Vespa driving experience – or be travelling as a passenger with someone who does.
Take the time to sip on a good red while admiring the rolling green Tuscan countryside | Courtesy of curiousappetitetravel.com
No one – and we mean no one – should leave Tuscany without spending a day wine tasting in the heart of Chianti. This classic tour, put together by sommelier, food writer and boutique travel pioneer Coral Sisk is guaranteed to be one of your trip’s highlights. You’ll start off with a scenic ride by private coach into the lush heart of the Tuscan countryside for a curated tasting at a family-run winery. Here, you’ll experience the beauty of the vineyards first hand and learn the art, tradition and history behind the legendary chianti classico. With a full day to delight your palate, you’ll visit two wineries, taste a variety of wines, tour wine cellars, sample olive oil, explore nearby picturesque villages and enjoy a fabulous Tuscan lunch.
Nobility. Power. Intrigue. For Renaissance history buffs, there is no name more important than Medici. Long-time rulers of Florence, patrons of Michelangelo, Leonardo and Galileo, the Medici reign gave rise to the artistic and architectural wonders that transformed 15th-century Florence into the cradle of the flourishing Renaissance. Taking you from the courtyard of the Medici family home, past Brunelleschi’s stunning cathedral dome, onwards to Palazzo Vecchio and across Ponte Vecchio to admire the facade of their palace, Palazzo Pitti, this reasonably priced walking tour will give you a view of Florence through the eyes of the most prominent, powerful and influential family in the city’s history.
Every city has its secrets. With a history steeped in power struggles, bitter factions, uprisings, scandals and assassination plots, Florence teems with them. As the sun goes down, you’ll follow your guide through darkened alleyways into the shadowy heart of Florence, revealing the Tuscan capital’s notorious past – from Palazzo Vecchio’s looming tower to the city’s oldest bridge, Ponte Vecchio. You’ll learn about the buried, forgotten Medieval stories and legends that shaped the city that would ultimately rise to become the gilded capital of the Renaissance. From the long, bloody feud between the Guelf and Ghibelline clans, to an elaborate assassination plot to end the Medici line of succession, you’ll leave with weird and wild Tuscan tales to tell your friends.
Strap on your helmet and hit the streets of Florence in style with a local bike tour. You don’t need to pack spandex shorts or be a professional racer or BMX champion to enjoy this relaxing, family-friendly ride through the centre of Florence. Cruising along in a guided group, you’ll take in Brunelleschi’s awe-inspiring dome, zoom past Florentines clinking cocktails in the bustling cafés of Piazza della Repubblica and glimpse the Uffizi corridor’s striking outdoor sculptures – stopping along the way for gelato, of course. End by zigzagging across the River Arno, where you’ll enjoy picture-perfect views.
If you ask any Florentine what you should do when you visit the city, the answer would be simple: eat. Followed, quite likely with the caveat, “Eat often, eat well.” There is no better way to enjoy the pride and joy that is Tuscan cuisine than by taking a cooking class. Start off with a visit to the city’s historic central market. Take in the sights and scents of the stalls and, under the guidance of your instructing chef, pick out the freshest ingredients. Next, take your wares over to a cooking academy, where you’ll prepare your multi-course Tuscan tasting adventure. In true Italian style, the highlight is pranzo (lunch) all together, where you can savour the food, the company and the memories, accompanied by the finest Florentine wines.
Pappa al pomodoro, schiacciata, pasta fresca, cantucci… what better way to spice up your typical city walking tour than to build it around sampling local delicacies? On this street food tour, you’ll stroll through the city’s centre to get a basic lay of the land and overview of Florentine culture, with a focus on local culinary traditions. Your guide will lead you through the hum of the daily market – filled to bursting with meats and cheeses, spices and oils, fresh fruits and vegetables – to experience traditional Florentine food culture first hand. You’ll also visit a handful of specially selected foodie spots designed to give you a fun-filled afternoon sampling the tastes of Tuscany. Wear comfy walking shoes and come with an appetite.
When you’re travelling, one of the quickest, best ways to dig right into the heart of a place’s culture and history is to take a walking tour as soon as you land. As a popular tourist destination year-round, Florence has no shortage of guided walking tours to suit your tastes, timetable and budget. The historic centre is compact and easily walkable – with an experienced guide, you’ll get a great overview in two to three hours. This classic tour ticks all the boxes. Highlights include: Brunelleschi’s cupola atop the Duomo (viewed from outside), the shop-lined Ponte Vecchio, Dante’s birthplace and a guided visit inside the historic Basilica of Santa Croce (entry included).
Florence’s ornate marble cathedral topped by Brunelleschi’s cupola is a testament to the heights of human artistry and architectural ingenuity. This guided tour of the Duomo complex leads you through the cathedral doors, into the ancient baptistery and on to the Duomo museum – home to the cathedral’s original sculpture-filled facade, master works by Michelangelo and Donatello and the mesmerising original gilded baptistery doors. While not part of the tour, your integrated Duomo ticket grants you admission to climb Giotto’s bell tower afterwards. The same ticket also allows you to climb the dome, but be forewarned: it operates on timed entry only, and advance reservations are required. Slots frequently fill up days (or even weeks) in advance, so if you have your heart set on climbing the dome, book your slot ASAP.
There are statues, and then there are statues – seeing Michelangelo’s Davidwill change the way you look at sculpture forever. Don’t leave Florence without visiting it (and no, the outdoor copies around town by other artists don’t count). Carved from a single “flawed” slab of precious white carrara marble, David towers massive, lifelike above visitors in all his eternal, mythic glory. To truly experience it, it’s more than worth taking this one-hour tour, led by an art historian. You’ll save precious time by skipping the infamously long entry line. You’ll also get expert insight into the life and work of Michelangelo, and learn why he remains revered to this day as the master of masters.