It goes without saying that if you're vacationing in Italy, you'll have to visit the incredible city of Florence. If you can’t organize to spend a few days in this iconic renaissance city, then you’ll want to plan your day to the T to see and experience the best of Florence; this is our advice…
Everything is more accessible with the Italian high-speed trains. You can get from most of the major cities around Italy to Florence in less than 3 hours. From Rome and Milan, it’s around 1.5 hours, Venice is 2 hours, and Naples is 3 hours. We love the idea of a road trip, but if you are looking to visit a city for a day, we wouldn't recommend driving. Traffic can be a little soul destroying like in every country, and you'd be wasting precious discovery time finding parking.
Seeing a city in a day is actually very simple. Sit down and ask yourself what it is about Florence that appeals to you, where is the magic? If you saw Ponte Vecchio in Hannibal and have been dreaming of it ever since, throw that to the top of your list. Then look into what else you’d like to see, find articles with little insights about the city (Like this one) and use them to create the perfect itinerary in Florence.
Seeing the big attractions:
To start, take a Florence tour. Take advantage of skip the line access, expert and insider knowledge to get all the history of the most important attractions. You'll get whizzed around the most iconic attractions, like the Cathedral and Michelangelo’s David in a timely fashion. You'll then be free to explore the rest of the city in your way, without having missed the headliners. If you take our Best of Florence day trip from Rome, you'll have your high-speed train tickets sorted and a walking tour around the city. To top it off, you'll have a few hours to explore the city at your leisure.
What you need to see:
The Florence Duomo is absolutely iconic, dominating the city's skyline it's a hard attraction to miss, and it would be a mistake to miss this one. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore is a massive Gothic structure that has been standing since the end of the 13th Century. Take the time to climb the 463 steps to the top of the Cupola to witness some of the most beautiful views over Florence. Or climb up the top of Giotto’s Campanile to see the view of Florence, complete with the Duomo.
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most important art museums in Italy. Grown from the private collection of the Medici Family, it houses works from the Renaissance greats like Rubens, Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci and more. Although this is a must see in Florence, if you only have a day you may choose to save it for another time. To see even the highlights of this museum would consume most of the day. If you want to visit the museum, opt in for a Uffizi tour which can help streamline the process. You'll have skip the line access and defined start and finish time so that you can plan the rest of your day around it.
Head down to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see David! Although you’ll be able to see loads of replicas around Florence, you have to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece. It’s central to the Florentine psyche!
Piazza della Signoria is a beautiful square in the heart of Florence and is the political center of the city. To the side of the square, you'll get to see an open-air museum of sculptures at the Loggia dei Lanzi. Completely free to see and well worth the visit. Get some coffee on the square and take it all in.
Get some local food, in true Italian style Florence has a delicious relationship with food. Head down to one of the older cafés like Caffé Gilli which has been around since 1733 and grab some tasty food and a cuppa coffee. If you get the chance try some Lampredotto, which you’ll find all around the streets of Florence. It’s a typical Florentine sandwich made from thinly sliced tripe that’s been slow cooked in broth.
Take a stroll in the Boboli Gardens or about Santa Croce. The Boboli Gardens not only offer an incredible view over the city but it’s also home to loads of Medici commissioned statues and some stunning landscaping. But If you’d prefer to wonder the streets just stroll around the Santa Croce neighborhood, the dainty streets and medieval architecture create a charming atmosphere.
Visit one of the oldest pharmacies’ in the world. Not like the local pharmacy down the road, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella was founded in 1221 by Dominican Friars. It used medicinal herbs to create medications and balms for the monks. In the 1600’s it was opened to the public and has stood its ground since. It’s beautiful architecture, museum and products present a different experience to what you’d expect from a pharmacy. You will find all sorts of wonders there including tantalizing perfumes and colognes for people of all ages.
Watch the sunset from either Ponte Vecchio or Ponte Trinita. You should defiantly go for a walk along the Ponte Vecchio, but if you wait until sunset, you won't be disappointed. The colorful bridge mixed with a stunning Tuscan sunset will set the tone for a great evening.
As you plan to head back to the trains station stop off at the Mercato Centrale for some fresh Italian produce for the train trip home, or to make a delicious dinner. You’ll be inundated with the same raw Italian foods that the locals buy, loads of options and lovely little cafés for some coffee or a snack.