Florence doesn’t really need an introduction. Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, it’s a romantic and enchanting city in Tuscany and is a personal favorite for many people who visit Italy. No matter if you are here for its art and history, or for the gourmet Tuscan cuisine, I would say it’s nearly impossible not to like Florence.
There are few cities in Italy (and in the world) that are this compact in size but have such a rich array of art and architectural masterpieces to behold at every turn. Just by roaming the city center, you’ll feast your eyes on medieval chapels, marble basilicas, world-class art museums, and fresco-filled churches, and no tourist attraction is more iconic than the Duomo. It’s no wonder the entire city was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Needless to say, Florence needs to be on your epic Italy itinerary!
If you plan on visiting Florence in 2 days, no worries. It’s enough time to check out the main attractions and more. Read the suggested itinerary below to maximize your 48 hours in Florence.
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How to Get Around Florence
If possible, the very best way to get around the city is on foot; the city of Florence is practically made for walking! Make sure you wear a pair of comfortable shoes to explore the city as you’ll find tons of cobblestone streets. You’d end up hating your heels!
Another great option to get around Florence is via bus. Hop aboard one of the ATAF buses that offer an efficient transportation solution for around the city. At the time of writing, one-way bus ticket costs 1.50 euros (1.70 USD). You can buy the ticket at any Italian tobacco store, and newsstands in some cases.
If you prefer to have more flexibility with your route, you can also opt to rent a car, but I’d recommend this option only if you intend to travel outside of Florence because driving within the city center is a bit difficult, especially within the Limited Traffic Zone. You would also need a ZTL permit before you are allowed to drive in the city. The next challenge with renting a car is where to find a parking spot. The parking compounds are located on the outskirts of the city. In some cases, you would have to walk to get from your parking spot to your desired tourist attraction.
So, maybe it would be a smarter choice to just rent a car for those days where you want to go on a day trip from Florence (although you might just want to take the train if you take a day trip from Florence to Rome).
Lastly, you can hop on taxi to get around in Florence. It’s the most convenient option, but it’s also pretty expensive. The taxi meter starts at 3 euros (3.40 USD), and taxi rates are higher on Sundays and at night. If you are on a budget, avoid taking taxis.
Day 1: The Highlights of Florence
There’s so much to do and see in Florence that it can feel overwhelming if you are trying to cram everything in 48 hours. If you only have 2 days in Florence and it’s your first visit, I highly suggest to book a comprehensive tour that will show you some of the main attractions on your first day. And guess what? I went on a tour hat I can 100% recommend.
When we booked the Florence in a Day Tour, it was mainly because it was Fran’s first visit to Florence. After all, I had visited Florence multiple times (Bologna, the city I’m from, is just 40 minutes away by speed train) and I surely didn’t need a guide… or so I thought. Well, I ended up learning so much about the city, that I would recommend joining a tour to everyone. It’s so different to look at buildings and art with someone who will tell you all about its history and anecdotes, and our guide Nebojsa was an inexhaustible source of knowledge.
➤ The Florence in a Day Tour with David, Duomo & Uffizi is as packed as it sounds. You will spend 7 hours exploring the history, art, and architecture of Florence. You’ll skip the long lines at Michelangelo’s David and the Uffizi Gallery, then take to the streets for a walking tour through Florence Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and a few other sites. Your local guide will provide historical insight so you can have a full understanding of each sight’s history.
CHECK IT OUT HERE
➤ If this tour sounds too intense for you, you can check out this other one that combines the highlights of the Uffizi Gallery and the David of Michelangelo in half a day. BOOK IT HERE
But if you don’t like guided tours, no worries. I drafted this sample Florence itinerary based on our tour, and you can follow it to explore Florence on your own. If you decide not to go with a tour, I still strongly recommend booking entrance tickets to the Galleria dell’Accademia (where you can find Michelangelo’s David) and Uffizi Gallery in advance, possibly a skip-the-line ticket, otherwise it will be almost impossible to get to complete this super packed itinerary in one day. But enough ranting, let’s get started with your itinerary.
9.30 AM: Admire Michelangelo’s David
Start your day by visiting the famous Galleria dell’Accademia (Accademia Gallery) in Florence, which is home to Michelangelo’s David. This is easily the most recognizable statue in the world, so you really shouldn’t miss it when visiting Florence.
Most people come here just to see the David of Michelangelo, which is indeed really impressive (it’s over 5 meters tall). The mastery of Michelangelo in sculpting the body and the anatomical details was incredible!
The gallery also features other works by Michelangelo and other known sculptors and painters such as Giambologna. The museum isn’t too big, though, and you won’t likely spend more than one hour/one hour and a half here unless you’re really into art.
➤ Lines can be over an hour long in the summer and during high season, so I highly suggest buying a skip-the-line ticket, or a tour of the Accademia.
The gallery is open from 8:15 AM to 6:50 PM. Closed on Mondays.
During the first Sunday of every month, all visitors get free admission to the museum – its great if you want to save some money, but it will be incredibly crowded.
11 AM: Walk Around the City Center
Once you’re done at the Accademia Gallery, use the rest of the morning to walk around the (incredibly charming) Florence city center.
The first attraction to check out coming from the Accademia is the Palazzo Medici Riccardi. The Medici family, the most important family of Florence of all times, built this palace, and later sold it to the Riccardi. This Renaissance-style palace at on point served as the seat of the Metropolitan City of Florence. There’s a museum inside the palace that hosts temporary exhibits, but just walk around its beautiful garden and cloister.
The palace is open from 8:30AM to 7PM. Closed on Wednesday.
Next on your list of destinations is Piazza della Repubblica, which is considered as one of the most beautiful squares in Florence. It hosts a carousel and the cafe Giubbe Rosse that was an important meeting point for Futurist artists.
The next stop on your itinerary in Florence is the Fontana del Porcellino. A fun fact: porcellino in italian means small pig, but the statue actually represents a boar… who knows why.
This is a bronze fountain that was sculpted by Baroque artist Pietro Tacca in 1612. You’ll always find some crowds here, that come attracted by the legend behind this fountain.
In fact, it’s believed that touching the nose of the pig and throwing a coin in the fountain will bring you luck. To be more precise, the coin should be laid on the pig’s mouth and if it slips in the fountain, it’s a sign your desire will come true. If you want to make sure to get some luck, choose a heavier coin and let the physics laws help you 😉
From the fountain, the Piazza della Signoria is only a short walk away. This piazza (square) was the symbol of the Florentine republic, and served as the center of political life in the city during the 14th century. It was also the venue where many great triumphs including the return of Medici in 1530 were celebrated.
For this reason, the sculptures that are built on the piazza all have political importance. Before being placed in the Accademia Gallery, the statue of David by Michelangelo that you’ve seen before was here in the square in order to symbolize the Republic’s defiance of the Medici family.
Then, check out Palazzo Vecchio. From the square, you can make your way to this palace, which was constructed in 1299 and served as a symbol of civic power in Florence, hosting the city’s governing bodies over the centuries. Its current appearance is a result of many renovation works that were done when Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici and his wife made it their residence. Today, the building hosts the Florence city hall.
If you have time and want to visit the museum, here you find the opening times and information.
Finally, another nearby attraction is the Loggia dei Lanzi. You can find it to the right of the Palazzo Vecchio and it’s an open-air sculpture gallery. The gallery features curved arches and hosts sculptures from the Renaissance period.
1 PM: Ponte Vecchio + Lunch
For your final stop in the morning, take a 3-minute walk from Palazzo Vecchio to Ponte Vecchio.
Probably the most famous landmark in Florence, Ponte Vecchio (which means old bridge in Italian) is the bridge you see in all the postcards and images of Florence. This is a medieval arch bridge built over the iconic Arno River in Florence. Ponte Vecchio is known as the oldest bridge in Florence, in fact it was first built in Roman times, and destroyed and rebuilt multiple times over the centuries.
Apart from being colorful and just a very cool background for your Florence photos, this pedestrian bridge is famous for the shops built on it, which originally hosted butchers and today hosts mostly artists, artisans, and goldsmiths.
Now it’s time for your lunch break. Among the best restaurants worth trying around here are Ristorante II Ricettario, Trattoria Ponte Vecchio, and Amici di Ponte Vecchio. For something different and quicker, cross the bridge, head to Piazza della Passera, and try the traditional pizza from Rome (which is a lot lighter than normal pizza) at Biancazerozero.
3 PM: Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi) is your first stop as you resume your exploration of Florence in the afternoon… and what a stop! This world-famous museum in Florence is a must-visit for everyone, for both art enthusiasts and people who don’t know much about art like me. It’s that good.
This museum is located right next to Piazza della Signoria so you can easily walk to it from anywhere you might be in central Florence. It’s also just a 3-minute walk from Ponte Vecchio.
This art gallery is one of the most famous museums in the world – yet another reason to add this to your Florence itinerary. Uffizi Gallery is home to a rich collection of artworks and masterpieces, most of which can be traced to the Renaissance period. The exhibits in this art museum feature some of the greatest works from renowned Italian artists such as Michelangelo, Raffaello, Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Cimabue, and Giotto. And even if you’re not impressed by these names – and you should be – , the interiors of the Uffizi Gallery are incredible, and reason enough to go visit the museum alone.
Unless you really know one thing or two about art history, I really suggest going with a tour guide who will tell you fascinating stories about the artists and the paintings. It really made my visit a much more interesting experience.
➤ You can easily wait in line for hours during the high season, so I highly suggest buying a skip-the-line ticket, or a tour of Uffizi Gallery.
Galleria degli Uffizi is open from 8:15 AM to 6:50 PM. Closed on Mondays.
Again, I highly suggest a tour rather than going on your own to make the most of your first visit to Florence. The Florence in a Day Tour is super comprehensive and highly recommended.
6 PM: Go for Aperitivo to Piazza Santo Spirito
Celebrate happy hour in Florence the way that locals do – what that usually means is that it is aperitivo time! Aperitivo is a pre-dinner drink that usually served with a few snacks, or even a buffet. Typical aperitivo drinks are made with Aperol or Campari, but you can also have any other drink to go with it.
Aperitivo changes throughout Italy, but in Bologna where I’m from, there are some bars where aperitivo comes with so much food that is literally an alternative to dinner, not just a snack. Some of the food you can find at aperitivo time is salumi or cured meats, grilled eggplant, cauliflower fritters, local cheeses, and fried rice balls, to name a few.
Piazza Santo Spirito is one of the best places to go to in Florence if you want to enjoy aperitivo. This square located in central Florence right across the Arno (you can go through Ponte Vecchio) that is flocked by bars and restaurants. This is where the locals go, and where you want to go too!
You can get your sample of aperitivo in Piazza Santo Spirito at Gusta Panino, Tamero, Borgo Antico, and Cabiria, for example.
8 PM: Try the Typical Fiorentina Steak
When in Italy, you never have any issues finding good food – it’s more likely your issue will be stopping eating! If you’re a meat lover, then don’t leave Florence without trying the Fiorentina steak.
The Fiorentina steak is similar to a T-bone, and it’s 3 to 4 fingers high – yep, it can be anywhere from 800 grams to 1,2 kg, so it’s good to be shared.
This steak is cooked over a grill using red-hot coals, and it’s super tasty – don’t ask for it well-cooked, they will think it’s an insult to steak! Traditionally it comes from Chianina cattle, which is an ancient Tuscan breed, but it can come from other breeds too, depending on your budget and taste.
A place I can recommend for an original Fiorentina is Trattoria dall’Oste Chianineria Duomo, which is located a short walk from the Duomo itself. But don’t think because of its location it must be super touristy. This hot-frills restaurant is hotly raved by its diners for the quality of the meal and I tried it personally for my birthday: the reviews are very well deserved. If you would like to try out their steaks while in Florence, the restaurant is open daily from 11AM to 10:30PM.
DAY 2: Duomo, Markets, and Gardens
I hope you’ve had a good breakfast, because on your second day in Florence you’ll have a ton more to explore! Today the itinerary will first bring you to the Duomo, and then outside the city center for some incredible views and a beautiful green space. You’ll end the day knowing how to cook a delicious pasta from scratch… curious? Let’s get started.
9 AM: Visit the Florence Duomo + Climb Up the Dome
Start your day by visiting the Santa Maria del Fiore Complex, probably the most photographed attraction in Florence. It’s easy to understand why, the Florence Cathedral is massive, and beautifully decorated.
The construction of this impressive complex was commissioned in 1294, but it took over 150 years to complete, without counting the dome that took a few centuries more. The complex is home to a number of notable buildings such as the Cathedral, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Duomo Museum, Crypt of Santa Reparata, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the Baptistery of San Giovanni.
Entering the Cathedral is free, but for visiting the rest of the buildings you’ll have to buy a combo ticket. The Dome is included in the ticket, but you’ll need to reserve your ticket in advance.
During your visit to the Cathedral Complex, you should really try and climb up the dome. You’ll have to climb 463 steps and there is no elevator, but it’s totally worth it. Not only will this give you an opportunity to get close to this architectural wonder, but you’ll also get to enjoy some incredible views of Florence.
The Duomo is an incredible piece of architecture. In fact, it was built by Brunelleschi without scaffolding, and to this day no one knows exactly how – it was extremely advanced considering it was the 15th century! Inside the cupola, there are also some beautiful frescoes designed by Vasari.
➤ If you want to go up the dome, you’ll need to buy a ticket and reserve a time in advance for the climb as limited visitors are allowed per day. By booking the Florence Dome Climb Tour, you’ll get to skip the line and enjoy a 1-hour guided tour within the Dome. After visiting the Duomo, stay as long as you want to visit the rest of the Santa Maria del Fiore complex.BOOK IT HERE
12 AM: Go Shopping at Mercato di San Lorenzo
Let’s head now to Mercato di San Lorenzo (San Lorenzo Market) for some shopping and lunch. There are actually two separate markets: an indoor market known as Mercato Central and an outdoor market.
The outdoor market runs for several streets and you will find tens of stalls selling leather goods such as bags or wallets, souvenirs, notebooks, pottery, and clothing. Feel free to bargain if you see something you like, the vendors usually speak good English.
This is a great place to find Tuscan souvenirs, but since is pretty touristy it’s also known for pick pocketing and scams, so make sure you pay attention to your belongings and always check that the products are authentic (pay special attention to leather products).
The outdoor section of the San Lorenzo Market is open from Tuesday to Saturday.
12.30 PM: Have lunch at Mercato Centrale
Head down to the indoor market, Mercato Centrale (Central Market) for some food. You’ll need the calories for the walk to Boboli Gardens! Mercato Centrale is on two levels; you will find butchers, fishmongers, vegetable and fruit vendors on the ground floor. Here you can also look for cheese, cured meats, and olive oils, which could be good souvenir ideas: who doesn’t love Italian food after all?
Head upstairs to the gourmet food court for lunch. This food court covers up to 3,000 square meters of space and can seat 500 people. There are all kinds of stalls (think like food trucks style) selling pasta, pizza, meat, chocolate, and gelato. We had some incredible vegan burgers!
The food hall at Mercato Centrale is open 7 days a week from 10 AM to 12 AM. The market on the ground floor is open Monday to Friday 7 AM to 2 PM, and Saturday 7 AM to 5 PM.
1.30 PM: Wander Around Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli)
From Mercato Centrale, you can walk to your next stop: Boboli Gardens. It’s a long walk (30 minutes) but a pretty one that is worth taking as you can enjoy a few sights along the way. I recommend crossing the river via Ponte Santa Trinità, which is one of the best spots to take photos of Ponte Vecchio.
If you don’t feel like walking that much, take bus number C4 from Stazione Scalette, which is a short walk from Mercato Centrale, and it will leave you in front of Palazzo Pitti, right in front of the entrance of Boboli Gardens.
The Boboli Gardens are a historic park within the city of Florence, opened publicly in 1766 and originally built for the Medici family. It’s considered one of the most important examples of an “Italian Garden”, and it was later on used as inspiration for the design of many European gardens and courtyards. The park also offers great views over the city of Florence.
The garden is located directly behind the Pitti Palace and it’s quite big, spanning a total land area of 45,000 square meters. No wonder the gardens are so famous – the park is home to centuries-old trees, fountains, peaceful shelters, and sculptures, and it’s really nice to go on a relaxed walk through the gardens. It’s a spectacular showcase of green architecture and was even emulated by the gardens at Versailles outside of Paris!
Can you believe that developing this garden took a total of four hundred years? Here are a few of the landmarks you shouldn’t miss:
• The Amphitheatre is a spectacular feature on the garden; it’s decorated with statues that are based on Roman myths.
• The Viottolone is another notable feature in the garden, which is a steep sloping avenue wherein the trees and foliage form a series of terraces and tunnels.
• Other must-see features within the garden include the Giardino del Cavaliere, Kaffeehaus, and Grotta Grande.
I plan on writing a full post about the Boboli Gardens, so stay tuned for that!
Boboli Gardens are open daily from 8:15 AM to 6:30 PM. Closed on the 1st and last Monday of the month.
3.30 PM: Head to Piazzale Michelangelo for Incredible Views
Piazzale Michelangelo is a panoramic square outside the walls of Florence, and it’s one of the best spots in the city for incredible views over the city. Visit at dusk or sunrise for some extra special colors and the perfect photo opportunity. Expect crowds at any time of the day, especially in the high season, but it’s still a spot to include in your itinerary of Florence.
It’s another 30 minutes walk from Boboli Gardens to Piazzale Michelangelo. Otherwise, take bus number 12 from Porta Romana right outside the gardens – it will bring you straight to Piazzale Michelangelo in 15 minutes.
5 PM: Learn How to Make Pasta & Gelato
There’s this stereotyped idea that every Italian knows how to make fresh pasta. I’m sorry to break it to you, but it couldn’t be further from the truth! The art of pasta making is unfortunately dying, and it’s usually just older generations or chefs that know how to make it nowadays. Even I that I’m from Bologna, the foodie capital of Italy, had no idea of what to do. Everybody else, me included, buys it from the store, so I was particularly excited to join a pasta making class in Florence.
The class was led by Raffaella, an Italian chef, in a house located in the city center, with all necessary facilities for a cooking school.
The class starts off with an aperitivo (you know what to expect by now) made of cheese and jam, canapés, pizza, etc paired with white wine…plenty of wine!
The menu for our cooking class consisted of pappardelle with sugo finto, a sauce that looked like bolognese but was 100% vegetarian, and tagliolini with truffle sauce. For dessert, it was gelato with berries.
Raffaella led us through the process of preparing these delectable dishes. We learnt how to make the egg-based pasta dough from scratch (it’s nowhere as easy as it looks!), how to roll the dough and how to use the pasta machine to cut the dough in the right shape.
We then made the sauces for the pasta, and learnt how to make gelato.
When the class is over, we got to sit down in the dining room where our table was already set up, and we had a proper dinner with the pasta dishes we made paired with red wine, followed by the gelato. Let me tell you, it was sooo good! Literally some of the pasta I’ve ever had and trust me, I’ve had my fair share of pasta in the last 30 years growing up in Italy!
I 100% recommend this pasta making class. Fran and I had a blast, we laughed so much, met some very nice people, and learnt some recipes that we most likely will make again in the future (after the class, they sent us an email with the full recipes). It was the highlight of our two days in Florence!
Where To Stay in Florence
Book your accommodation by using the map below ⬇
Best Time to Visit Florence
The highest season in Florence goes from the month of June to August, but in my opinion it’s far from the best time to visit Florence. Yes, there might be more events at this time of the year, but the weather is extremely hot and humid, and the city is overrun by tourists, especially in July and August. Because of these, expect longer queues wherever you go (which you can avoid by pre-ordering skip-the-line tickets), and higher hotel rates.
If you want a better deal on your accommodation and less crowds, an alternative time to visit Florence is during late fall or early winter. The highest amount of rainfall is expected in the months of November and December, so keep it in mind when making plans. When we last visited in November, it rained for two days non-stop which made visiting a few attractions impossible such as the Boboli Gardens.
Personally, I think the best time to visit Florence is between April and June and in the second half of September. as you will enjoy fair weather with enough Italian sunshine and better deals on hotels.
Safety in Florence
Florence is a small city, and it’s also a pretty safe one for to visit, as long as you observe the usual street-smart rules I always recommend for literally any destination.
Avoid wandering the city at night if you are alone. One specific area you should be on the lookout for is Santa Maria Novella near the station, which becomes pretty shady at night. Refrain from entering the narrow back alleys and stick to the main road.
Since Florence is a city filled with tourists, there are plenty of opportunities for pickpockets to take advantage. Make sure to carry your valuable items close to you, especially when you explore the tourist-busy areas like Piazza Del Duomo, San Lorenzo Market, and the Ponte Vecchio.
When buying tickets for popular tourist attractions, avoid getting them from vendors on the street or any random sellers as they could be fake or expired. Always buy them at the official ticket office, or online on trusted sites such as Get Your Guide and Walks.
I hope this post was useful to plan your Florence itinerary! Let me know in the comments if you have any doubts, and I’ll be happy to help!
I was a guest of Walks for the Florence in a Day Tour and the Pasta Making Class. However, all opinions are my own – I truly had a great time and think both experiences provide great value.