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Studying Abroad In Florence: What To See, Eat, & Do

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Studying abroad in Florence, Italy

So you’re studying abroad in Florence?! Lucky you! I studied abroad at Florence University of the Arts during the fall semester of 2017. My semester began by traveling throughout Italy with a man named Umberto (who had the most epic mustache I’ve ever seen) and about 30 other adventure-seeking college students. When I moved into my apartment in Florence in early September, I had already gotten my feet wet in Italian culture and couldn’t wait for all the travel and carbs to come.

Between September and December of 2017, I traveled all around Italy and internationally to Greece, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Morocco, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. Since returning home from my semester abroad I’ve visited a few more cities, but no place will ever compare to Florence. Living there for four months was truly a dream come true, and I am so excited to finally be sharing all my recommendations!

For anyone currently in Florence or thinking about studying there in the future, I hope you find this helpful, and feel free to reach out to me directly with questions!

Studying Abroad In Florence: What To See

Piazza del Duomo

You can’t miss the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral during your time in Florence (actually though – it’s huge!). This church was constructed in the 1300s and is the 4th largest church in the world! Aside from the church, there is a nearby bell tower and baptistery. The church is free to enter, but I recommend finding the nearby ticket booth and purchasing the ticket that will allow you to go into the baptistery, climb the bell tower, and climb the dome!

Basicilia di Santa Croce

Franciscan church in Florence, Italy with a large square in front for soccer games and Christmas markets!

Piazza della Signoria

Square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. This square is the political focus of the city and is where the original David statue once stood.

Ponte Vecchio

One of the oldest bridges in the world! It was built in the 1300s and stretches across the Arno River in Florence. Today there are several jewelry shops on it where I recommend treating yourself to something special! Just be aware of pickpockets here.

Piazzale Michelangelo

Located on a hill overlooking the Arno River and the city of Florence below, this was my favorite spot to hang out during my time in Florence! Be sure to plan accordingly so you have enough time to hike up, catch a sunset, and hear the live music that is usually performed.

Galleria dell’ Accademia

Home to Michelangelo’s famous David statue. This museum is pretty small, so you probably only need about an hour here, but be sure to buy tickets in advance!

Uffizi Gallery

Awesome art museum with a rooftop cafe. Get tickets online and in advance to see the beautiful frescos and statues inside! I recommend setting aside about two hours for a visit.

Studying Abroad In Florence: What To Eat

Don Nino

This cafe is first on the list, because it has the BEST cannolis in the city. It is located to the left of the Duomo and the workers will create your cannoli in front of you. To say I was a regular here would be an understatement!

Il Procopio

Amazing, authentic gelato. Our Italian RA, Lorenzo, introduced it to us, so it has guaranteed local flavor. Find it – you won’t regret it.

Gelateria de Neri

Another really good, authentic gelato spot. Be aware of any gelateria with pounds of gelato in the window – it isn’t real!

La Milkeria

Really good for breakfast if you are craving sweets. Great spot for crepes, french toast, or waffles covered in Nutella.

La Ménagère

A French cafe located near the Basilica di San Lorenzo. Not only are the pastries and teas delicious, this was my favorite place to do work and blog during my semester abroad. The aesthetic is 10/10.

Centro Mercato

Above the Central Food Market near the Basilica de San Lorenzo is a food court that is definitely worth the visit. They offer some of the best pizza I’ve ever had, dumplings, and truffle pasta that is to die for. Truffle is a bit pricey, but I promise you, each bite is so worth the cost.

All’ Antico Vinaio

Arguably the best panini shop in the city. During peak hours, there are lines down the street! This shop got so popular that they had to open two, one on each side of the street. Each sandwich is 5 Euro and is the size of your face, leaving you full and happy for hours.

Pino’s Sandwiches

Really good paninis with tables inside to stay and eat. The owner, Pino, loves study abroad students and will most likely have your school’s flag hanging in his shop. I miss him!


This pizza shop is located across the river on the quieter side of Florence, but always had a line out the door! They are known for their heart-shaped, delicious pizzas that can be taken to-go up to Piazzale Michelangelo for a sunset dinner.

Osteria Santa Spirito

Located across the river near the Santo Spirito cathedral. Try their cheesy truffle gnocchi.

Ristorante il Paiolo

Upscale, candle-lit restaurant in Florence with outstanding service. My family and I went here when they visited me and got complimentary champagne, limoncello, and a pasta dish. You can’t leave Florence without trying the Fiorentina steak!


Mexican restaurant located near the Duomo with build-you-own nachos and really good frozen margaritas. Eat here Monday nights!

Studying Abroad In Florence: What To Do

The Lion’s Fountain

Bar in Florence catered towards American college students. Every college t-shirt imaginable is hanging from their ceiling (find your school’s and sign it!) and they serve school specific shots – the “Fairfield” was too good! This bar is located near a lot of the clubs making it ideal for pregaming.

Uncle Jimmy’s

Another fun, American-influenced bar to pregame at. If you buy their wristband, you get a free shot with every mixed drink you order.

Red Garter

Really fun karaoke bar located near the Santa Croce. You can’t leave Florence without singing a song on their stage!

If you like clubbing…

YAB Discoteca, Babylon, Space Club, Bamboo Lounge & Club

Bonus Tips

  • Visit a leather school to shop: Florence is known for its leather!
  • Get a rooftop photo: Visit the apartment building on top of the Prada shop near the Duomo and snap a pic (like the one above!).
  • Use Santa Maria Novella train station to take trains and buses out of Florence (walking distance from the Duomo)
  • Watch a Fiorentina soccer game!

I hope these recommendations help you to enjoy everything that Florence has to offer! Florence will always feel like home to me, and I can’t wait to go back one day.

PS. Here’s a study abroad packing list I recommend checking out before you go!

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Studying abroad in Florence


  1. Tuinman
    May 21, 2020 / 10:21 AM

    If you are studying abroad in Florence, you can expect to gain some weight during your semester abroad because there is SUCH good food in Florence! Even though it s a pretty tourist-heavy city, if you know the good spots to go, you can eat well and not spend too much of those precious euros. Make sure you visit each of these spots when you re studying abroad in Florence some even have student discounts!

  2. December 26, 2021 / 9:40 PM

    So true! I definitely gained a few pounds, but tried to counter it by walking everywhere! The calories were sooo worth it though!

  3. Danica Glover
    February 5, 2022 / 4:39 PM

    Hi Nicole! Your blog was so amazing and very helpful. I am studying abroad fall 2022 at the Florence University of Arts! I had a question on how the weather was in your experience? Would you recommend bringing warmer clothes or does it get pretty chilly towards the end? Thank you!

  4. February 5, 2022 / 7:47 PM

    Thanks so much for your comment, I’m so glad this was helpful for you! You will have an amazing time!!! The weather in Florence will start out quite hot. We arrived in August and the temperatures were still in the 80s. By the time we left in December it got down to low 40s, so quite a change. When packing, I would pack tons of layers – so cardigans and light jackets you can throw over fall sweaters / long sleeves. I hope this helps!

  5. Tara
    December 7, 2022 / 8:30 PM

    Hey Nicole!
    This article is so incredible! Thank you! I’m moving to Florence for Italian and art history courses in January 2023 (so less than a month) and I am not sure what area to try and find a place to stay in. Where are there a lot of students and nightlife but is also safe for me to walk by myself or with a friend? Also any advice on Florence? Fun little places to go or things to see? I’ll be here from Jan-April.
    Thanks girl! You’re a lifesaver <3

  6. January 14, 2023 / 1:17 AM

    Hi Tara! I’m so glad you saw my post!!! That sounds AMAZING! So historic Florence is very walkable and safe. I recommend staying with groups at all times and not wandering alone at night, but I always felt safe in the heart of the city. The great thing about Florence is there’s tons of other American students too.

    All my best recs are in this blog post – I can’t recommend Don Nino enough for cannolis. And catching sunset at Piazza Michelangelo. You’re going to have the best time!

  7. April Lyons
    May 3, 2023 / 9:20 PM

    I’m interested in studying abroad in Florence Italy in the near future and really appreciate all the helpful tips.

  8. March 10, 2024 / 7:21 PM

    I’m so glad you like the tips! Florence is the best! -Nicole

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