Florence itinerary ideas to help you decide how many days to spend in Florence Italy and how to best organize your time.
Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and the world, a place with a concentration of treasures so high, it is an unmissable stop on any Italian itinerary.
Depending on the amount of time you have for your trip, you can spend as little as one afternoon in Florence or devote several days to the city.
In this article, we are going to look at how many days to spend in Florence and what you can see for the time you have.
I will concentrate on Florence’s must-see sites and what to do with one day, 2 days or three days in Florence, any longer stay not requiring, I believe, any special planning.
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How many days in Florence?
At a glance, I recommend you spend 1 -3 days in Florence.
With one day in Florence or less you can visit the city center and/or a museum
With 2 days in Florence you can visit a larger part of the city center, the Oltrarno neighborhood and one/two museums
With 3 days in Florence you can visit 3 museums, the city center, Oltrarno and fit in a day trip to Fiesole or Pratolino
One day in Florence recommended itinerary
If you only have one day in Florence or even less than that, maybe an afternoon or a few hours in between trains, having a city itinerary is paramount.
Florence city center is rather compact and while you can be pretty sure to hit some of the city’s main landmarks even just strolling around the city center streets, you may also find that without a walking itinerary you end up missing something beautiful that was just around the corner, had you known about it.
My recommended way to spend one day in Florence is as follows.
Morning in Florence – Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s Duomo, Piazza della Signoria
I love to start my day in Florence hitting some of the city’s main landmarks.
Coming from the station, you will encounter the following Florence monuments in the following order.
Santa Maria Novella Piazza and Church is one of the most beautiful and historical piazzas in Florence and Italy in general.
The space is dominated by the wonderful church of Santa Maria Novella, which is easy to recognize thanks to the multi-colored marbles of its facade.
Santa Maria Novella was founded in 1279 by Fra’ Sisto and Fra’ Ristoro, two Dominican friars, and was completed over the course of two centuries, a long history that explains the several art influences visible in the church.
As well as the peculiar facade, the church is worth visiting for its stunning Gothic cloister and for beautiful frescoes and artworks by Masaccio, Giotto, Ghirlandaio, Brunelleschi and others.
This is one of the best places to see in Florence for art lovers and a very easy place to enjoy for all visitors to Florence city center.
Address: Piazza di Santa Maria Novella 18, Firenze, Italy, close to the train station
Good to know: in Santa Maria Novella you can also visit the Officina Profumo Santa Maria Novella, one of the world’s oldest pharmacies! The story of the pharmacy starts in the 1300s, when the friars started cultivating medicinal plants in the churchyard and is linked to important personalities such as Caterina de’ Medici, who used perfumes created here. The pharmacy opened to the public in the XVII century and has been open ever since.
Piazza del Duomo Only a few minutes walk away from Santa Maria Novella you find Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s cathedral or Florence’s Duomo.
Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the most recognizable and iconic monuments in the city: the facade is made of beautiful multicolored marbles and the church is dominated by the massive dome by Brunelleschi and its distinctive red tiles.
Florence’s Duomo is a marvel and must be visited with the other two buildings forming its monumental complex: the bell tower and the baptistry.
You can choose to climb up to the top of the church or the tower or enjoy them from ground level: you won’t regret your choice either way!
I highly recommend you book a tour and skip the line tickets to make the most of your visit and your time.
- Florence Duomo Guided Tour with reserved entrance
- Santa Maria del Fiore Guided cathedral tour and dome climb
- 1h dome entry and guided tour
- Entry ticket to Brunelleschi’s dome
Lunch in Via dei Calzaiuoli, Piazza della Repubblica and surrounding area
After a full immersion into these two stunning churches, you are most likely in the mood for something to eat and a little break.
Luckily, you are in the heart of Florence city center now and the choice of places to eat and drink is endless!
An easy place to have a snack are the cafes beside the duomo, not all as unaffordable as the location suggests (always check the menu before sitting down, they are available outside) or you can choose a place along Via dei Calzaiuoli or towards Piazza della Repubblica, which is beautiful and also has a historical carousel worth seeing.
Good to know! This is one of the best places if you are visiting Florence with kids
I also like the area of Santa Croce for lunch, which is not far from here.
Afternoon – Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio
After lunch you can visit two more incredible Florence sites: Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio,
they are both very near to the area visited in the morning, so much so that if you decide not to visit the churches inside you may well be able to see them well before lunch, and they have a lot to offer to visitors.
Piazza della Signoria is dominated by beautiful Palazzo Vecchio and is also the home to the replica of Michelangelo’s David, the beautiful Fountain of the Neptune and the remarkable Loggia dei Lanzi.
Ponte Vecchio is only a short stroll away and it is one of the most if not the most famous landmark in the whole of Florence.
The bridge connects the two sides of the Arno River and is characterized by two rows of jewelry stores that make the bridge resemble la commercial street more than a river passage!
Snack in Oltrarno
Ponte Vecchio leads you to the other side of the river, Oltrarno: this is a beautiful area but if you only have one day in Florence you are unlikely to have the time or the energy to explore it.
Rather, i recommend you come here for a quick snack in the area of Santo Spirito and, then, head up to Piazzale Michelangelo.
Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo is the panoramic terrace over Florence all the photos with a birds-eye view of Florence are taken from.
The square itself is not particularly beautiful (it is mostly a large parking lot) however, the view is stunning and unmissable,
I love to walk up here as the views from the stairs climbing up are charming and fascinating, but you can also opt to catch a bus from the Arno quays should you be tired of walking.
You can climb back for dinner for a meal in Oltrarno or Santa Croce area.
2 days in Florence itinerary recommendation
If you have two days in Florence I recommend you follow the itinerary above for the first day and then devote your second day to a museum and the area around San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapels.
Morning in Florence – Museum visit
Florence is home to very many museums, the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia being only two of the most famous.
The museums are very different from each other and I highly recommend you spend some time studying the one that is most suited to your taste.
A good way to do so, it is to check out their virtual yours (free) and see which one picks your fancy.
You can find a list of Italian museums with free virtual tours here.
Whichever you choose, I recommend you equip yourself with skip the line tickets:
Lunch in Mercato Centrale
There are so many good places to eat in Florence you don’t really need special recommendations however, in the area Mercato Centrale is a good option.
Here you have a huge selection of food stalls and shops, a dynamic atmosphere and you can also taste and buy local products, thanks to the many stall offering tasting of local specialties.
Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapels) and city center walk
After your lunch, I recommend you explore the area around the market and specifically make time to see the Medici Chapels in San Lorenzo.
The Medici chapels are the place where the powerful Florentine family of the Medici is buried and they have been decorated by some of the biggest names in Florentine art history, including Michelangelo
They are a triumph of beauty and a place not to be missed.
After a visit, i recommend you spend more time in the area between here and Ponte Vecchio: while this is largely the same area you visited the day before, it has so much to offer you will not feel like you are repeating the same experience.
Venture along the smaller roads and the area of Santa Croce and wander at leisure.
3 days in Florence
Morning in Fiesole
If you have 3 days in Florence I recommend you follow the itinerary for day 1 and 2 above and then add a day to visit Fiesole and then The Boboli Gardens.
Fiesole is a small town on the hills immediately above Florence, so close to the city you visit it as if it was a city neighborhood (a normal bus brings you there).
Fiesole is a delight: the village has a central Piazza and some Roman ruins and it is also the place where you can enjoy stunning views over Florence and the countryside around it.
There are plenty of places to eat in Fiesole and one we love in particular: Fattoria di Maiano, a farm and estate with restaurant that will give you the perfect Tuscany countryside experience without having to leave Florence!
Afternoon in Boboli Gardens
After Fiesole, I recommend you spend the last afternoon in Florence visiting the Boboli Gardens.
These are the monumental Gardens of Palazzo Pitti and they are a wonderful example of garden architecture so outstanding in beauty to be world-famous.
The gardens are an attraction, not a pubic park, and they are in Oltrarno so you can visit them, then stroll along the Arno at sunset and then pick a place for dinner nearby to end your stay in Florence in the best way possible.
Practical tips to make the most of this Florence itinerary
Florence has a compact city center and the vast majority of the attractions in this itinerary can be reached on foot.
The only exception is Fiesole, which requires a bus or taxi ride: buses in Florence are straightforward to use and, for Fiesole, you will only need a one-way ticket. Bus tickets can be purchased at newsagents and shops marked as tabaccai as well as at tourism kiosks.
Depending on your exact itinerary and party, you may find it convenient to get the Firenze card, a prepaid museum access card offering discounts to many Florence museums. Find price and details here.
To make the most of your time in Florence the best area to stay is the city center.
You can find a good overview of all the best areas to stay in Florence and recommended Florence hotels here.
If you are looking for specialty shopping, Florence is known especially for leather and artisan paper products. Designer and high street fashion are also widely available.
Wear comfortable shoes for walking: trainers or runners are best.
Wear church-ready attire: short skirts and exposed shoulders may result in being turned away as in breach of church dress codes.
If you have children, bring a stroller but be prepared for having to close it often and some bumpy roads! you can fin our tips for using a stroller in Italy here.
Tuscany and Florence have some of the best regional foods in Italy: make sure you order local specialties for the best experience.
I hope you enjoyed my recommendations and they helped you plan your Florence itinerary. Safe travel planning!