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A One Day in Florence Itinerary You’ll Want to Steal

Last Updated on 2nd December 2022 by Sophie Nadeau

If you’re thinking about including a day-long stop in Florence during your Italy itinerary, then this post will be the perfect guide to making the most of your one day in Florence, which is known as Firenze in Italian.

Florence is one of those magic European destinations that you must visit at least once in your lifetime. Unlike many other bigger Italian cities, the capital of the Tuscany region is a truly pedestrian-friendly town that can be easily discovered in a day with just a bit of beforehand planning and some organisation. If you’re visiting Florence as part of a wider Tuscany trip, be sure to check out our suggestions for spending one week in Tuscany.

florence italy

Getting to Florence

Florence is located in the upper central area of Italy, which means that the city is just a short train ride away from many other important spots in the country. For instance, it will only take you a few hours from Milan, Venice, or Rome to get to Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s main train station.

How much time do you need to get to Florence from some of the most important Italian cities by train?

Milan – Florence: 2 hours
Turin – Florence: 3 hours
Rome – Florence: 90 minutes
Venice – Florence: 2.5 hours
Naples – Florence: 3 hours

florence city centre

Organising your trip

Planning in advance is key to making the most of your day in Florence, keep in mind that the city is one of the most important cultural destinations in the country. This means that Florence is not just full of museums and art galleries that you will want to check out, but also that these attract millions of visitors from all over the world all year round.

Therefore, buying entrance tickets way in advance will be the best way to guarantee that you can do as much as you want. Remember that since you just have one day to spend in town, the last thing you need is to waste precious time deciding on last-minute things to see.

florence duomo

In the past, it was possible to turn up at the Galleria degli Uffizi, for instance, get your ticket and access the premises. Those times are long gone. Unfortunately, today you need to book your tickets in advance.

This is especially the case if you’re interested in checking any particular exhibition or work of art. The same goes for other attractions in town, such as the Accademia Gallery or a special climb to the Dome of Florence’s Cathedral.

If, instead, you’d rather have someone take care of all these practicalities and just enjoy your time in town without putting much effort into the planning phase, then looking for a day trip with an expert local guide might be the right fit for you. Are you that kind of traveler? Then, a proposal like this one might be worth considering.

Accademia Gallery

Is 1 day in Florence enough?

Florence is a large city with plenty of attractions and even more to see. As such, you won’t be able to cover everything that there is to do in Florence over the course of 24 hours. With that being said, if one day is all the time you can allocate to visiting Florence, then it’s better to go and get a taste for the city than forgo it altogether. The ideal amount of time to explore Florence is three to five days.

How to get around Florence

Just like many other fascinating European towns, Florence is one of those places that are pedestrian-friendly, and where art is around every corner. In its way, this aspect of Florence reminds me of Prague or Bruges , other two ideal destinations for a short city break of a day or two that never disappoint. 

The city is easy to navigate on foot, with most attractions just steps from each other. Besides, the main areas of the historic centre are closed to the traffic, making moving around town quite easily.

There are also several squares and gardens you can visit where you can head to when you feel your feet need a break. Sitting at an outdoor café for a short break is a great idea to see the city and locals going
about their daily business from a different perspective.

florence aerial view

When to travel to Florence

Florence is a popular destination all year round, receiving millions of travellers no matter the season and the weather. However, since discovering the landmarks of the city centre would require you to walk, it is advisable to avoid extreme cold or hot weather to make the most of your day.

The city gardens are more beautiful and enjoyable during the spring when flowers blossom and spending long hours in the outdoors can be pleasant, if you are a fan of sunny days and mild temperatures, then getting to Florence between the end of March and late May can be an excellent idea.

Alternatively, autumn is a good moment to travel to Florence as days are not as short, so you can expect more daylight hours than in winter. Besides, temperatures are not yet so low, and you might also find better prices for food and accommodation.

florence at night

A suggested itinerary for Florence in a day

The Duomo

When arriving at Florence’s Train Station, don’t waste a minute and head directly to Piazza del Duomo, Florence’s heart and historic center to visit the gorgeous Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s impressive duomo as well as its bell tower and baptistery.

A magnificent example of Italy’s Renaissance, Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral hosts one of the most incredible cupolas you can admire in the whole country. The famous dome was designed back in 1436 by the genius artist Filippo Brunelleschi in 1436.

Giotto tower
View from the Giotto Bell Tower

Considered the largest masonry dome built in history its inside frescoes are one of Florence’s most visited masterpieces. In the same square, do not miss the imposing Bell Tower, locally known as Giotto’s Campanile, nor the magnificent doors of Saint John’s baptistery designed by Botticelli.

Brunelleschi, Giotto, and Botticelli are considered three of the most important Italian Renaissance artists of all times. If you are a fan of unique visits, then why not book a visit to the cupola of the Cathedral to admire the spectacular intricate work of engineering as well as to admire the landscape of the city from a different perspective. Purchase your dome ticket here.

florence cathedral

Piazza Della Signoria

Within walking distance from Piazza del Duomo, you will reach another famous square in Florence, Piazza Della Signoria with the ancient Palazzo Vecchio on one of its sides. This castle-like construction is better known for displaying a copy of the famous Michelangelo’s David right at the entrance. 

The palace has always been an important centre of power, hosting Florence’s city hall since Medieval times. It was built back in 1299 and it has since remained the main symbol of the city’s politics and history. You can learn a lot about Florence’s history with a tour of the Palace as well like this one.

Always on the same square, just steps from Palazzo Vecchio, it is possible to check out another important building, the Loggia dei Lanzi which hosts some of the most incredible sculptures in town, making it a sort of open museum with no entrance ticket.

Piazza Della Signoria

Gli Uffizi

The next logical stop in your day around Florence should be the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most incredible art exhibitions in the whole world, hosting famous works of art from some remarkable Italian and worldwide artists. 

Just a few steps from River Arno, the art gallery is located on the first and second floors of the so-called Vasari palace, an aristocratic building of extreme beauty and refinement built between 1560 and 1580. 

Inside the Uffizi there is one of the most magnificent Renaissance art collections in the world, featuring works by Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Giotto, Raphael, and Tiziano among others.

Although you would need more than a day or two to explore every masterpiece exhibited, spending just a few hours around the gallery will certainly depict a fantastic panorama of the Renaissance and its legacy to the world. 

The best way to see the right selection of masterpieces is by booking a guided tour like this one that will not only offer the right tools to appreciate the masterpieces but will also take you directly to the most important works exhibited in the gallery.

Uffizi Gallery

Galleria dell’Accademia

Although not necessarily close to the Uffizi, the Accademia should be the next place to discover for those who are visiting Florence to explore its incredibly rich artistic scene.

The Academy is an austere building close to the centre of town that features the original David made by Michelangelo as well as several other works by the same artist. Also on the premises, there is a small but super interesting music instrument exhibition worth taking a look at. 

If visiting both the Uffizi and the Accademia is part of your agenda, I strongly recommend you
book a combined tour with an expert that will be ready to explain every detail of these two
unique art exhibitions. Check prices and availability here.

Ponte Vecchio

If visiting both the Uffizi and the Accademia are not part of your plans, then you can walk from Piazza Della Signoria to cross one of Florence’s most famous landmarks, Ponte Vecchio, and from there, head to the tranquil neighbourhood of Oltrarno.

Ponte Vecchio is an ancient bridge (Ponte Vecchio translates as old bridge) that crosses the Arno, the river that cuts Florence in half. The bridge, which hosts dozens of exclusive jewellery artisan shops, is one of the many remaining medieval bridges that take you from one side of town to the other one. 

Ponte Vecchio

This bridge is probably the most picturesque one with its stone arches and paved walkway, offering gorgeous views of the city. According to different sources, the bridge used to host butchers and tanneries during the Middle Ages.

Although it has now become a more exclusive shopping area, the place has remained a picturesque pedestrian area that you don’t want to miss. The best time to capture photos of the bridge is at golden hour, particularly in the morning when the crowds are at their fewest.

ponte vecchio

Palazzo Piti and Oltrarno

Once on the other side of Ponte Vecchio, slow down your pace to soak in the laid-back atmosphere of Oltrarno (literally meaning “on the other side of the Arno), this big neighbourhood is the best place to enjoy a quiet and more affordable lunch with typical Tuscany products, but also to visit the Boboli Gardens and, time allowing, access the exhibition hosted in the imposing Palazzo Pitti.

Pitti Palace was built for the Pitti family back in 1457, the building was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and used to be the home of the powerful Medici family that ruled Florence for decades.

Inside this lavish Renaissance palace, you can now admire an extraordinary collection of art that includes the works of Raphael, Caravaggio, and Tiziano among others, or you can also visit a fine collection of modern art. Check prices here.

Palazzo Pitti

Boboli Gardens

As an alternative, you can just buy a ticket to enter the gardens of Pitti Palace. The impressive Boboli Gardens can be an excursion on its own. The well-manicured gardens feature impressive fountains, symmetrical spaces, and bizarre baroque sculptures hidden in unexpected corners. 

From different areas around the gardens, you can admire the views of Florence’s skyline, including the red-tiled roof of the Cathedral’s dome and Giotto’s campanile or bell tower. Getting your ticket in advance will ensure cutting down on waiting lines and making the most of your day. Check prices here.

boboli gardens

Grab a quick lunch

Not far from the palace and the gardens, sit back and sample a variety of local sandwiches at Alimentari Del Chianti, a simple but delicious eatery located in Pitt Square serving delicious panini, salads, cold cuts, cheeses, and a variety of delicious Italian aperitivi and drinks. Check out their Facebook page here.

Florence’s Gelato

Those who know better claim that gelato was born in Florence. Several historical record prove that this was the first city where this now worldwide famous and delicious sweet was first made and sold. 

Testimony of these roots are the dozens of gelaterie (ice cream parlours) that populate the city of Florence and if you’re planning to taste some of the best flavors in town, then these are the places you should check:

gelato florence

La Carraia: Often described as the top place in Florence for gelato, this place is located in the Oltrarno district, close to another famous Florence bridge, Ponte Alla Carraia, try their  Delizia flavuor with big chunks of chocolate and a touch of tiramisu mousse.

Gelateria Santa Trinita: Also in Oltrarno, this is a wonderful gelato joint in Florence famous for its pistachio and chocolate flavours. This place is located on Frescobaldi Square (8, Piazza de’ Frescobaldi).

Bar Vivoli: Many claim that this is the oldest gelato shop in town dating back to 1929. The most delicious flavours include coffee, cream, and chocolate. This gelateria is located in the Santa Croce district (7, Isole delle Stinche Street).

Basilica Of Santa Croce
Basilica Santa Croce

Piazzale Michelangelo

If you’re looking for the best place to admire the golden hour in Florence, then stay in the Oltrarno district and follow the crowds gathering at Piazzale Michelangelo right before the sun starts to set.

From here, it is possible to take the best photos of Florence’s skyline, the characteristic dome of the cathedral, and the bridges over the sparkling waters of Arno. The sunset picture of Florence is worth the walk to the area.

florence duomo

Florence’s Central Market

End your day with a generous purchase of gastronomic souvenirs. Since Florence’s Central Market is open from early in the morning until midnight and it is just minutes from the central train station, making this the last stop of your day is a great idea to avoid lugging culinary souvenirs all day long in town. 

You can stop here for a delicious bite before catching your train out of Florence, or devote some time to get the last bite of Tuscany’s amazing gastronomy while walking the alleys of this indoor market.

This is the place to go for local delicacies including the legendary lampredotto sandwich (made with cow stomach and flavoured with local herbs). In Italian, the market is known as Mercanto Centrale.

Mercato Centrale

If you have more time than one day in Florence…

I’ve tried to fill this itinerary with the most iconic things you can do in town, however, and since time seems to fly when you’re having a good time you might feel that your day in Florence ended too soon… Even if packed with interesting experiences and unforgettable memories.

Who knows? This might be just the starting point for planning a much longer stay in one of Italy’s most beautiful destinations. For more inspiration, check out our guide on how to spend 2 weeks in Italy, our top quotes about Italy, how to plan a honeymoon in Italy, and the most useful Italian phrases you need to know about.

Take a cooking or baking class

Italian food is world-famous thanks to its simplicity and great taste. Florence is particular is reputed for its Bistecca alla Fiorentina, Florentine beefsteak. Tuscany, of which Florence is a part of, is also one of the greatest wine regions in Europe. Taking a Florence cooking class will allow you to delve deeper into the foodie scene of the city. Find class details here.

Piazza della Repubblica

One of the most charming squares in Florence can be found in the form of ‘Republic Square’. The square has been at the beating heart of the city since Roman Times and today boasts highlights such as 18th-century façades.

Piazza della Repubblica

Fontana Del Porcellino

One of the most famous fountains in the city is of a bronze boar which is fondly referred to as Il Porcellino (the piglet). The original was sculpted and cast in 1634 by Baroque master Pietro Tacca, though this is now held within the Museo Stefano Bardini and has been replaced by a copy.

Local legend suggests that, if you put a coin in the boar’s mouth and watch it slide down into the fountain, you should make a wish! The fountain has featured in a number of films and TV shows over the years, including in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II.

Fontana Del Porcellino

Take a day trip

If you are looking to escape the city for a day, then Firenze is incredibly well located for exploring the rest of the Italian Peninsula. For more inspiration, be sure to check out our guide to the best day trips from Florence.

Bologna Italy

Grab a drink at Babae in Piazza Santo Spirito

If you’ve been researching the best-kept secrets of Florence, then no doubt you’ll have come across the wine windows. One of the most popular wine window establishments in Florence is Babae in Piazza Santo Spirito.

A number of tipples are on offer, as well as an orange wine. During busy periods, you may have to ring the bell at the window to be served! You can go inside afterwards for food and drink after.

Where to stay in Florence

As one of the largest and most popular cities in Italy, Firenze has no shortage of places to stay to suit any budget and taste. Here are some of the best accommodation options based on location and web-reviews:

Budget: If you want to stay in Florence and are on a budget, then the good news is that there are plenty of wonderful hostels dotted across the historic city. The bad news is that they are still pretty expensive when compared with less touristic cities. This hostel boasts amenities such as a pool and bar. Check prices and availability here.

Mid-range: This cosy B&B is in a central Florence prime spot for sightseeing and has air conditioned rooms. Check prices and availability here.

Luxury: For those who are in search of an uber luxurious experience when staying in Florence, this five-star establishment offers the ultimate relaxation experience with all of the frills. Amenities include a spa and bar. Check prices and availability here.

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Gabi Ancarola is a journalist and travel writer who has lived over 20 years in Italy, and has been living in Crete for the last five years. She hosts culinary tours, translates and writes for her Crete travel blog The Tiny Book. She’s written for Greek Reporter and published several travel guides about Greece.

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