Florence is beautiful during the day but some might even say it’s even more magnificent at night. When the sun goes down and the city lights up, the atmosphere turns magical, almost fairytale-like. Many of the attractions and shops might be closed but there’s still plenty to see and do. Continue reading for a sample of some of the best things to do in Florence at night.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Things To Do In Florence.
The Best Things To Do In Florence At Night
Take in the view from Brunelleschi’s Dome
Brunelleschi’s Dome is a must-see attraction in Florence and it’s incredible during the day and at night. While the Cathedral closes quite early in the afternoon, the dome stays open much later so if you happen to be in Florence in the right season (ie early spring or the fall) you may enjoy incredible views of Florence at night from there.
To access the dome you will need the Brunelleschi pass which you can get on the official site of the Duomo Religious Complex here. You will have to select a time slot to climb up and I suggest you book the latest one.
Admire Florence in all its glory from Piazzale Michelangelo
The Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the most popular places to see incredible views of the city and watch the sunset with many visitors choosing to make it their final stop on a daytime tour of the city.
Be prepared to get a nice workout if you decide to climb the hill leading to the Piazzale. The hike is about two miles there and back and starts at the banks of the Arno River. Follow the marked footpaths leading to the observation area where you’ll enjoy views of the Florence skyline.
Alternatively, you can take a bus to the top if you don’t feel like walking, or join an electric bike tour that will take you there (that’s what I did, by the way).
To book an electric bike tour of Florence that goes to Piazzale Michelangelo, click here.
It does tend to get crowded at the Piazzale so if you’re seeking a quieter experience, hike a little more up the hill to the San Miniato al Monte where you’ll find equally stunning views. Stick around the area for sunset and stay longer to see the city light up under a dark sky!
Take a guided sunset tour of Florence
Between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm, a tour of Florence is offered to anyone who wishes to get more acquainted with the city and enjoy a spectacular sunset at the same time. Join a local guide who’ll take you from the Piazza Santa Maria Novella and across the Ponte Santa Trinità where you’ll explore the Oltrarno neighborhood.
Walk down narrow streets past stunning murals and see top attractions such as Pitti Palace, Ponte Vecchio Bridge, Piazza Pitti and Piazza della Passera. The best part about this tour, offered by Original Florence, is it’s free!
If you prefer a more private experience, you can consider a guided tour of Florence at night with gelato tasting. You can book it here.
Take in the views of the gorgeous Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio is the most famous bridge in Florence. During the day, this very old bridge is alive with shoppers browsing the shops and taking pictures but at night, the bridge takes on a whole new atmosphere. The shops are wooden boards are placed on the windows for the night – which actually gives the place a truly unique look and feel – but the crowds return just before sunset.
This is when street musicians and buskers come out to entertain the masses as they search for the perfect place to watch the sun go down and see the bridge lit up at night. There’s just something about the sound of an accordion or mandolin filling the air with a traditional Italian tune while you admire the golden tones of street lights illuminating the bridge and surrounding buildings in a soft glow.
Head to nearby Ponte alle Grazie or – even better – Ponte della Trinità to escape the crowds and get a view of Ponte Vecchio from a distance.
Do an after dark museum tour
If avoiding crowds while exploring Florence’s best museums at a slower, more relaxed pace is your preference, you’ll be happy to know that some of these museums stay open into the evening hours.
The Accademia is one of those that stays open later – until 10:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays during certain specific months (ie October). Admire Michelangelo’s David without the crowds and sip on an aperitivo to heighten your senses as you explore the fascinating exhibits housed within these world-class venues.
Visit the Palazzo Vecchio
Constructed in the 1300s, the Palazzo Vecchio is a beautiful old palace with a long and intriguing history and after dark, it’s a spectacular sight. If you happen to be in Florence during the peak season between April and September, you can visit this palace until 10:00 pm every day except Thursdays, when it closes at 2:00 pm.
There’s just something eerie and mysterious about visiting such an old place at night. Maybe it’s the dim lights or maybe it’s the stillness. Whatever it is, the ornate features, grand tapestries, fine artworks by famed artists and statue galleries take on a whole new tone without the boisterous daytime crowds. It feels much more like the palace it once was rather than the town hall it is today!
Hang out in Piazza Signoria
One of the best things to do in Florence at night is to hang out in Piazza Signoria. To be fair, this lively square is much more of a tourists hangout than a place for locals, but who cares, when it’s so beautiful? Sit at one of the cafés, grab a drink and just enjoy some people watching, and take in all the art around you – Piazza della Signoria is indeed home to the Loggia dei Lanzi and to the Fountain of Neptune, among others.
Learn about the city’s mysteries on a night walking tour
For something truly quirky to do in Florence at night, join a mystery night tour and learn about local legends and ghost stories. There are several such tours available. Follow a local guide who will tell you about some of the unexplained happenings in the city through the centuries and show you some of the most haunted and mysterious places.
Wander the streets of Florence aimlessly
A great way to explore Florence at night and find nooks and crannies that you would otherwise never know about from a guided tour or sticking to the beaten path is to walk around the center city aimlessly. And yes, it’s perfectly safe to do this, even after dark.
Florence enjoys a low crime rate and after dark, the old streets are lit in a soft glow that makes it feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine or an open-air museum. Lungarno Torrigiani, Via Maggio, Borgo San Jacopo are a few of the beautiful streets worth walking along but it doesn’t matter what direction you go or where you end up, there’s always something beautiful to see on a walk around Florence.
Walk slow, take in everything and savor the peaceful atmosphere that befalls this city at night.
Take a night tour on an electric bike
If you’d like to explore Florence at night but prefer a faster pace, a night tour on an electric bike is just the tour for you. Hop on an eco-friendly bicycle and follow a local guide through alleyways, down historic streets and uphill to the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Don’t worry; you won’t have to pedal too hard with an e-bike – I promise it’s fairly easy and not at all tiring (though you still need to know how to ride a bike)! Along the way, see many of the city’s top attractions including Piazza Della Signoria, Medici Palace and Republic Square and listen to fascinating stories shared by your knowledgeable guide.
To book your electric bike tour of Florence at night, click here.
Take a walk along the Arno River
The Arno River is at its most beautiful when the moon reflects off its calm surface. Even when the moon isn’t shining bright in the sky and the water is rough, the river is still a beautiful sight to behold.
After dark, all the museums and shops that line the river are closed but the streetlights cast a glow that eerily reflects over the surface. There are also fewer people around at night so you can enjoy a quiet, peaceful stroll while listening to the gentle flow of the water and admiring the beautiful buildings all around.
Savor a Negroni
Negroni is a popular, traditional Italian aperitivo drink made with gin, vermouth rosso and Campari and it’s best enjoyed after the sun goes down on a softly lit patio overlooking the beautiful city of Florence. Or you could enjoy it at the place where it’s said to have been invented in 1919, Caffé Giacosa which is now the Caffé Roberto Cavalli. Some people claim that this stylish bar also makes the best coffee in town if you’re looking for an evening pick-me-up.
Take a sunset food tour
If you have no idea where the best restaurants are in Florence or what you should order to get the most out of a traditional Florentine dining experience, joining a sunset food tour is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the city’s foodie scene. Eat, drink and be merry as you hop from one amazing establishment to another. You’ll hit wine bars and top restaurants at the best time of day to enjoy a meal in Florence.
Indulge in a traditional Tuscan dinner
Dinner in the Tuscan region of Italy is a lavish and lengthy affair, one that is to be savored over a couple of hours late into the evening. In Florence, many restaurants host traditional Tuscan dinners and you will have a choice of ordering several courses, Italian style.
A full meal here in Italy consists of antipasto (appetizer), after which we have a primo (usually a pasta dish, but it can also be a soup), a secondo (meat or fish / seafood) accompanied by a contorno (side dish which is usually a small salad, some vegetables or potatoes of some sort), a dessert, coffee and a strong liquor we refer to as digestivo (literally digestive – though it honestly won’t help your digestion.
It sounds like a lot of food – and it is. But you don’t have to order everything (unless it’s a set menu). In any case, it’s enjoyed slowly over a few hours and amounts to a foodie experience you won’t soon forget!
Trattoria dall’Oste and La Buchetta are just some of the top restaurants around Florence where you can enjoy an unforgettable meal.
Enjoy the bustle of Florence markets later in the day
Some of Florence’s markets are open later than others. Many people claim that the best way to get a great deal on some souvenirs and have a better chance at negotiating better prices is to go at the end of the day just before the markets close. I actually don’t think so – bargaining for a discount is not something we really do here in Italy, not even at markets.
Even if you don’t get a better deal, it’s still fun to browse these markets at this time of day when there are fewer crowds. Mercato San Lorenzo and Mercato Nuovo are two of the most popular markets in the city. And don’t forget that markets are also a great place to eat! Mercato San Lorenzo has a massive food hall at its top floor, with lots of choices and it stays open until midnight every day.
Do some evening shopping
While most of the shops in Florence are closed after dark, some remain open and the evening is the best time to shop because there are fewer crowds and the atmosphere around the city is more relaxed.
Near the Piazza del Duomo and in the Piazza Della Republica, you’ll find high-end shops that stay open late. Mercato Nuovo is another popular shopping area that stays open late and this is where you’ll find street vendors selling souvenirs and local goods. A more affordable option with many different items to choose from is the San Lorenzo Market.
Get a taste of Italian Opera
No trip to Italy is complete without going to the Opera at least once and in Florence, you have the chance to get the ultimate, intimate opera experience. The setting is the 15th-century Church of Santa Monica in the center of the city and inside, you’ll hear epic Opera performances such as the classic La Traviata, the Barber of Seville and Madame Butterfly performed by seasoned singers and pianists. It doesn’t get much more genuine than that!
Party it up in Florence’s best nightclubs
Tenax, Rex Café, Flo Lounge, the Blob Club. All of these bars are unique in their own way but they all have one thing in common: they provide a lively escape for locals and visitors alike to kick off their shoes and relax with some drinks, good company and good music.
Whether you want to dance the night away or sip on Tuscan wine in a chic wine bar, there’s something for everyone. Most of the city’s best clubs are situated in the city center not far from the iconic Duomo, in the Santa Croce district, or along Via De’ Benci.
Make sure to also read these posts to plan your trip to Florence:
- The Perfect Itinerary For A Day In Florence
- The Perfect 3 Days In Florence Itinerary
- The Best Day Trips From Florence
- How To Plan A Day Trip From Florence To Cinque Terre