The birthplace of the Renaissance and still a major cultural hub, few cities have stayed as relevant for as long as Florence. With a history that includes names like Da Vinci, Alighieri, Medici, Machiavelli, and Galileo and museums containing the work of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Titian, and Ghiberti, Florence is a tourism hub for its history, culture, art, and food. With the surrounding Tuscan hillsides and beauty of the River Arno, Florence is a city that remains enchanting, mysterious, and captivating.


Itinerary Overview

This two day itinerary highlights the best of Florence, including the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, and Michelangelo’s David. It may stand on its own or fit into days four and five of our Nine Day Italy Itinerary.

DAyLocationHighlights
1FlorenceMercato Centrale
The Accademia (Michelangelo’s David)
The Duomo & Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
2FlorenceUffizi Gallery
Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce Churches
Ponte Vecchio
Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
Also Included in this Article

Day One

Arrive in Florence in the morning. We caught a 10:00 AM train from Rome and arrived in Florence by 11:30 AM. Drop off your bags before heading out for the day.

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Day One Walking Map

  1. Lunch at Mercato Centrale
  2. The Accademia
    8 min walk from Mercato Centrale
  3. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore & the Duomo
    6 min walk from the Accademia
  4. Giotto’s Bell Tower (Campanile)
    1 min walk from Santa Maria del Fiore
  5. Baptistery & Ghiberti’s Bronze Doors
    1 min walk from the Bell Tower
  6. Duomo Museum
    1 min walk from the Baptistery

Mercato Centrale

Time frame | 1 hour

Mercato Centrale is a huge 2-story indoor market, with vendors selling fresh produce, fish, meat, cheese, wine and local spices on the bottom floor, and food-court style restaurants selling prepared meals with open seating on the top floor.

The market is huge and typically very crowded. We actually lost each other here for a half an hour, with no cell phone connection to get in contact. So stick together, especially if you have kids!

After exploring the market and maybe stocking up on a few snacks and bottle of wine, head upstairs for lunch. There is a huge variety of options to chose from. Matt is a bit more adventurous when it comes to eating and ordered a beef tongue sandwich that he stills raves about to this day. But fear not, there are also plenty of more mainstream Italian options, like pizza and ravioli, for the pickier eaters.

The market also spills out onto the surrounding streets. You may get distracted, like we did, by the leather market selling a variety of locally made leather products, on your way into Mercato Centrale.

The Accademia

Time frame | 1-2 hours

Ticket Cost
Regular | €12.50 ($15)
With Firenze card | Free

Operating Hours
Closed Monday
Tues – Sun | 9:00 AM – 6:45 PM

You may purchase tickets online here.

After lunch, head to the Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s David. What you can’t tell from photos is how huge the statue is! Standing at 17 feet tall, the marble sculpture is a representation of the perfect human anatomy. The rest of the Academia is small and somewhat unimpressive, but David alone makes it worth a visit.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore & the Duomo

Timeframe | 1 hour

Ticket Cost
Cathedral Entrance | Free

Operating Hours
Monday – Saturday | 10:00 AM – 4:55 PM
Sunday | 1:30 PM – 4:45 PM

Find more information and purchase tickets for the Cathedral, Campanile, and Baptistery here.

Next, take a 7 minute walk to the Piazza del Duomo to see Florence’s iconic Duomo of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

While the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore was completed in the 13th century, the famous dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and added to the cathedral in the 15th century. Entrance to the cathedral is free, but a limited number of people are allowed inside at a time so the lines can be very long.

Attire: Shorts, tank tops, hats and sandals are not permitted inside. Large bags must be checked at the Duomo Museum across the street.

The Duomo Museum

Time frame | 1 hour

Ticket Cost
Baptistery, Bell Tower, Duomo Museum | €18 ($22)
With Firenze Card | Free

Operating Hours
Closed Wednesdays
Thursday – Tuesday | 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM (last tickets sold at 5:00 PM)

Admission to the Duomo Museum is €18 and includes entrance to Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Baptistry. At the Duomo Museum, you can see Ghiberti’s original bronze doors and learn more about the architecture of the Cathedral and Duomo. This museum is often overlooked, but its free with a Firenze card and worth a quick visit.

The Baptistry & Ghiberti’s Bronze Doors

Time frame | quick stop

The doors of the Baptistry, the octagonal building next to the cathedral, are replicas of Ghiberti’s famous Bronze Doors, known also as the Gates of Paradise. You can see the originals, which once hung on the Baptistery but have since been removed for preservation, inside the Duomo Museum across the street from the Cathedral.

Climbing the Campanile

Time frame | 1 hour

Ticket Cost
Regular | €18 ($22) (or included with purchased of Duomo Museum & Baptistery tickets)
With Firenze Card | Free

Operating Hours
Every day | 8:15 AM to 7:20 PM
*closed first Tuesday of each month

For incredible views overlooking the city, you can climb up both the Duomo and the Campanile, the large bell tower next to the Cathedral. If you are going to climb only one, we recommend climbing the Campanile because you get a unique view of the Duomo from above.

There are 414 steps to the top, and it is a bit of a workout, but the views are worth the climb. At this point in the day I was exhausted and feeling apprehensive about climbing but Matt convinced me and in the end I was glad we did it.

Evening

Head back to your hotel to clean up and rest. For dinner, head to one of our favorite restaurants in Italy, Trattoria 4 Leoni (be sure to try to the pear filled ravioli and fried zucchini flowers).

Day Two

Be prepared to walk a lot on day two! The map below shows the location and order of the places you will visit, along with estimated time to walk between each stop.

Day Two Walking Map

  1. Uffizi Gallery
  2. Santa Croce Church
    8 min walk from Uffizi
  3. Bargello Museum
    4 min walk from Santa Croce
  4. Santa Maria Novella Church 14 min walk from Bargello
  5. Palazzo Vecchio:
    13 min walk from Santa Maria
  6. Ponte Vecchio
    3 min walk from Palazzo Vecchio
  7. Piazzale Michelangelo:
    19 min walk from Ponte Vecchio

Uffizi Gallery

Time frame | 2 – 3 hours

Ticket Cost
Regular | €12.50 euro ($15) + €4 ($5) euro for reservation time
With Firenze Card | Free

Operating Hours
Closed Mondays
Tuesday – Sunday | 8:15 AM – 6:50 PM

You may purchase tickets online here.

Start you morning early visiting the Uffizi Gallery, a museum that houses an impressive collection of Renaissance masterpieces. This is another place where the lines can be extremely long, so it is best to get an early start. For an additional 4 euros, you can reserve a specific entrance time which allows you to skip the lines.

You can take a tour of the gallery for an additional fee, but we opted to use Rick Steve’s audio guide (as we did for most museums in Italy) instead. It’s free here, and we loved being able to explore the museum at our pace. You can listen offline, but make sure to download before leaving for your trip or someplace you will have wifi.

Our favorite paintings at the Uffizi were Boticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera. The paintings are huge, and the gentle pastel tones and whimsical natural environment evoke a dreamlike feel. There is also en exhibit featuring unfinished works by Leonardo da Vinci, which gives you a cool glimpse into the process to develop his masterpieces. Raphael’s Madonna & the Goldfinch and Titian’s Venus were are also worth seeking out.

Plan to spend at least 2 hours at the Uffizi Gallery.

Santa Croce Church

Time frame | 1 hour

Ticket Cost
Regular | €8 ($10)
Children 12-18 | €6 ($7)
Children under 12: |Free
With Firenze Card | Free

Operating Hours
Monday, Wednesday – Saturday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sundays 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM (last admission 4:15 PM)
Closed Tuesday

Next, visit the Santa Croce Church, a gothic church with a style that closely resembles the Duomo and Cathedral of Santa Maria.

Several important Italians are buried here, including Michaelangelo and Galileo. The inside of the church is extravagantly decorated, boasting frescos painted by Donatello and Giotti and floor to ceiling stained glass behind the altar.

Bargello Gallery

Time frame | 1 hour

Ticket Cost
Regular | €16 ($19)
With Firenze Card | Free

Operating Hours
Monday – Sunday | 8:00 AM – 1:50 PM
* closed 2nd & 4th Sunday, 1st, 3rd, & 5th Monday of each month

Take a break for lunch before making a quick stop at the Bargello Gallery, which contains a vast collection of sculptures, most notably Donatello’s David. By this point, we were a little museum-ed out so we spent only a brief time here.

Santa Maria Novella Church

Tickets Cost
Regular | €7.50 ($9)
Children 11-18 | €5 ($6)
Children under 11 | Free
With Firenze card | Free

Operating Hours
Monday – Thursday, Saturday | 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Sunday 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Friday 11:00 AM- 5:30 PM
In winter (October – March) closed on weekends, 9am-5pm and 11am-5pm on Friday

Next visit the Church of Santa Maria Novella, a gothic church built in the 13th – 14th century that is similar to the Santa Croce Church but somewhat less extravagant. The inside displays impressive frescos by Giotto and Masaccio. Our favorite part of the church was the courtyard, accessible through the church, with its distinctive black and white striped archways.

Ponte Vecchio

Time frame | 30 minutes

Slowly make your way to Piazzale Michelangelo, making a couple stops along the way. First make a brief stop at Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s Town Hall square featuring a replica of Michelangelo’s David.

Next, cross the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge over the Arno River, lined with small shops that mainly sell high end jewelry.

On the other side of the river, unwind with a glass of wine and a waterfront view at one of the restaurants along the Arno River (we recommend Signorvino).

Piazzale Michelangelo

Time frame | 1 – 2 hours

The highlight of this evening is watching the sunset over Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo, a park located on a hill overlooking the city on the opposite side of the river. You seriously don’t want to miss this – it was one of our favorite experiences in Italy!

Make sure to check what time the sunsets in Florence while you are there. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes to an hour before the sunset time to make sure you can get a good seat – the Piazzale Michelangelo does get crowded. Pack some cups and a bottle of wine to enjoy while you watch the sunset.

The Firenze Card

The Firenze Card gives you access to most of the museums and churches in Florence, including the Uffizi Gallery, the Academia, and all the Duomo sites. It is valid for 72 hours and costs €85 per person. For an additional €7, you can get the Firenze Card + which includes unlimited use of public transportation in Florence.

Even if you are planning to visit all the sights on this itinerary, the Firenze Card isn’t actually economical (it’ll cost you roughly 2 euro more than paying for each ticket individually). Additionally, it doesn’t really save much time at the museums because you typically still have to show your Firenze Card to get individual tickets before entering.

If you are planning to spend more time in Florence, and adding at least one additional sight to this itinerary, it may be cost effective. You can purchase Firenze Cards online here.

Transportation

Getting to Florence

You can catch a train from most major cities in Italy to Florence’s Stazione di Firenze Santa Maria Novella. The train ride is an hour and a half from Rome and about an hour from Pisa.

Florence has a small airport, Amerigo Vespucci Airport but its typically easier and cheaper to find flights into Pisa or Rome and then take the train to Florence.

Getting Around in Florence

The cheapest and easiest way to get around the city is to walk. Florence is really quite small – you can walk from one side of the city to the other in under 30 minutes!

The streets in Florence are tiny and hectic, and you need a permit to be able to drive in the city, so renting a car is not a great idea. Some taxis are available, but they are very expensive – plan to use them only if absolutely necessary.

The other option for getting around in Florence is to take the bus. One way tickets cost €1.50 and may be purchased at many convenience stores and cafes.

Eating in Florence

While in Florence, be sure to seek out local wine from the Tuscany region. You can’t beat a good Montepulciano in Florence! Our favorite restaurant in Florence was Trattoria 4 Leoni, serving rustic Italian classics with a modern twist, like pear-filled ravioli and fried zucchini blossoms.

For more on where to eat and drink in Florence, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite places to eat and drink in Florene:

What to Wear

Many of the sights in the Florence, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiori, require conservative attire. Shorts, tank tops, and hats are not allowed. It’s best to dress accordingly while you are in Florence to make sure you are prepared wherever you go. We recommend wearing the following for both days:

  • Long pants or skirt
  • Cardigan/jacket to pull on for cathedrals & churches
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Small bag/purse (large bags can be as hassle, since they must be checked in many places)

Planning a trip to Italy? We’ve put together a 9-day itinerary featuring the best of Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre and Venice to help you get the most out of your trip:

For all things Italy: Italy Travel Guide

Questions or comments about the itinerary? Let us know!

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