Located on the banks of the Arno River, Florence (Firenze in Italian) is the most popular city in Tuscany. It’s one of those places you must see at least once in a lifetime. In fact, no visit to Italy is complete without a visit to Florence.
Firenze is known for its impressive cathedral, Brunelleschi’s dome and the Chianti wine! The city is also associated with the creative genius Leonardo da Vinci, the world-famous brand Gucci and the House of Medici.
The powerful Medici family ruled the city for almost 300 years. Thanks to their patronage of culture and the arts, Florence became the cradle of the Renaissance in the 15th century.
2 Days in Florence itinerary
Florence is filled with iconic sites and monuments and you’ll need probably a week to see everything. Yet, two days are a good start to see the city’s highlights.
This Florence itinerary is perfect for all visiting the capital of Tuscany for the first time. I’ve also included helpful tips on how to skip the lines for the Duomo, Uffizi and Accademia Gallery. And if you have some additional time, I’d recommend you take a day trip to Pisa or Lucca.
There is one thing I can really recommend – buying tickets for the most visited attractions in advance. Florence is one of the most popular destinations in Italy and there is no low season. The city is always full of tourists and the waiting lines are hours long.
This is especially true if you’re visiting in the busy summer period. Believe me, you don’t want to spend hours in lines in the heating summer sun. In addition to that, you’ll waste a lot of time in queues and it won’t be possible to see everything in two days.
Why: perfect central location, walking distance to the Duomo and the train station
What I like: spacious, soundproof rooms, fantastic breakfast buffet
Already have a hotel booked? Then check your hotel’s location and make sure it’s in a good area (see my guide to where to stay in Florence).
Find a map of my 2-day itinerary for Florence (with all attractions and restaurants’ websites) at the end of the blog post.
Having said that, let’s get to the main question – how to spend 2 perfect days in Florence?
2 Days in Florence (perfect itinerary for first-timers)
- Day 1: Accademia Gallery, Florence Cathedral, Loggia dei Lanzi, Palazzo Vecchio, Basilica of Santa Croce
- Day 2: Pitti Palace, Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, Piazzale Michelangelo
2 Days in Florence – Day 1
Have breakfast at Vecchio Forno
08:00 AM – 08:20 AM
Start your day with some Italian pastries at Vecchio Forno. They offer the best croissants and pastries in all of Florence.
Admire Michelangelo’s David
08:30 AM – 09:30 AM
The first stop on your Florence itinerary is Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia). The gallery houses one of the most famous works of Michelangelo, David. The marble statue represents the biblical figure David and it’s 5.17m (17 feet) tall!
Most of the people visit Galleria dell’Accademia mainly because of the statue of David. So, take advantage of the early opening times (at 8:15 AM) and see the artwork without the crowds.
Besides David, the gallery features many other works by Michelangelo, including the unfinished Slaves in the Hall of the Prisoners. You’ll also find a collection of Renaissance paintings.
The gallery is not big, so you’ll need no more than an hour to see it all.
Entry ticket: Skip-the-line Galleria dell’Accademia (free cancellation up to 24 hours)
Best guided tour: Galleria dell’Accademia Highlights Tour – see the masterpieces of Renaissance art, including Michelangelo’s David, the Prisoners and San Matteo
Florence Cathedral and Baptistery of Saint John
09:40 AM – 12:30 PM
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (or simply known as the Duomo) is Florence’s most iconic landmark. It has dominated the city’s skyline for more than eight centuries.
The exterior of the cathedral is extremely beautiful, decorated with a mix of pink, green and white marble. Yet, the Duomo is most famous for its impressive brick dome, constructed by Brunelleschi.
The construction of the cathedral started in 1296 and it took nearly 150 years to complete. The dome was added later in the 15th century.
Located on Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral is part of a great complex. It includes the Duomo, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera Museum. It’s free to visit the cathedral, but you have to pay to climb the dome, the bell tower or visit the baptistery.
Note, that there are no separate tickets for each attraction, you have to choose between 3 passes:
- Brunelleschi Pass (access to all the monuments of Piazza del Duomo)
- Giotto Pass (all the monuments except the Dome)
- Ghiberti Pass (only the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the Opera del Duomo Museum and the basilica of Santa Reparata)
Entry ticket: Brunelleschi Pass (access to all monuments of Piazza del Duomo)
Best guided tour: Piazza del Duomo Highlights Tour – visit all the monuments on Piazza del Duomo and climb Brunelleschi’s Dome for stunning views
Visiting the Duomo
Before visiting, I’d recommend you take a look at some photos of the interior of the cathedral. Although the exterior is outstanding, the interior is rather plain.
Also, note that the cathedral opens at 10 AM. This means that even if you go before its opening time, there already would be a line. So decide if you really want to visit the cathedral, before queuing.
There is a strict dress code to enter the cathedral, your knees and shoulders should be covered. So be sure to dress appropriately, otherwise, you’ll be turned away at the entrance.
Climbing the cupola of the Duomo
To get inside the cathedral’s dome, you have to climb up 463 steps. The entrance is from Porta della Mandorla (north side of the cathedral). The climb is totally worth it, as the views from the top are phenomenal. Yet, if you suffer from vertigo or claustrophobia, you’d better skip it.
Unlike the cathedral, the cupola opens at 08:15 AM. To climb it you have to book tickets (Brunelleschi Pass) in advance for a certain time slot.
For a view of the cupola and its surroundings, climb Giotto’s Bell Tower (414 steps to the top). The climb is as claustrophobic as the cupola, but there will be fewer tourists.
Visiting the Baptistery of Saint John
The Baptistery of Saint John (Battistero di San Giovanni) is the most ancient church in Florence. Named after St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence, the temple dates back to the 4th century AD.
The baptistery is decorated with three sets of splendid bronze doors. The most important one, the East Door leads to the cathedral. It’s known as the Gates of Paradise, a fully Renaissance masterpiece by Ghiberti and his assistants.
Note that these doors are not the originals. The original ones are kept in the Museum Opera del Duomo.
Lunch at Raviolo è Raviolo
12:30 PM – 01:30 PM
For the best ravioli in Florence, visit Raviolo è Raviolo. They offer super tasty and fresh ravioli.
You can select from a wide range of ravioli and sauces, creating your favourite combination.
Admire the sculptures at Loggia dei Lanzi
01:30 PM – 02:00 PM
Right next to Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio, you’ll find Loggia dei Lanzi. It’s a beautiful arched gallery from the 14th century.
The gallery houses a number of statues, including the Perseus with the Head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini. There is also a replica of Michelangelo’s David.
Tour Palazzo Vecchio
02:00 PM – 04:00 PM
Initially called Palazzo della Signoria, the building was the seat of the city government in the 14th century. Later in the 16th century, the palace served as the residence of Cosimo I de’ Medici.
However, it all changed when he married the Spanish princess, Eleonora di Toledo. Cosimo I de’ Medici moved his residence to the more luxurious Palazzo Pitti because it was better suited for his wife’s taste. And Palazzo della Signoria changed its name to Palazzo Vecchio (the old palace).
The artist Vasari built a secret passage that connects the old palace and Palazzo Pitti, crossing the Arno River through Ponte Vecchio. As you may have guessed, this is the famous Vasari Corridor.
Nowadays, Palazzo Vecchio houses a museum. Some of its highlights are the Hall of the 500, Vasari’s tapestries, Dante’s death mask, the map room, and many more. You can also climb Arnolfo’s tower for better views of the city.
Entry ticket: Skip-the-line Palazzo Vecchio (free cancellation up to 24 hours)
Best guided tour: Palazzo Vecchio Highlights Tour – discover the palace, including the imposing Salone dei Cinquecento and learn more about the famous Medici family
As you probably have noticed, Arnolfo’s tower is not centred on the front. This is because the tower initially belonged to the ancient palace of the Foraboschi, standing on the site of the current palace.
Visit the Basilica of Santa Croce
04:15 PM – 05:00 PM
Basilica of Santa Croce is the second largest church in Florence, exceeded only by the Duomo. This 13th-century basilica is the final resting place of many famous Italians. Among the numerous tombs, you’ll find the names of Galileo Galilei, Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Dinner at Osteria Dell’Osso
Finish the day with a dinner at Osteria Dell’Osso. The Bistecca alla Fiorentina was cooked perfectly, pasta was fresh and the tiramisu was fabulous!
More ideas for your 2 days in Florence – Day 1
Take a food tour
To enjoy the best of Tuscan cuisine, I recommend joining this Authentic Evening Wine & Food Tour. What I love about the tour is that you visit local spots to try authentic specialities and wines.
Find more tours in my complete guide to the best food tours in Florence.
See the religious art at the Museum of San Marco
Housed in a 15th-century convent, the Museum of San Marco has the largest collection of sacred art in Florence. The museum is home to the beautiful Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio and many of Fra Angelico’s paintings.
Basilica of Santissima Annunziata
Basilica of Santissima Annunziata is a gorgeous 15th-century church, right next to Accademia Gallery. If you have a few spare minutes, take a look inside and see the Miraculous Annunciation.
According to the legend, the painter Friar Bartolomeo fell asleep despaired, because he couldn’t paint the face of the Virgin Mary. When he woke up, he found the painting completely ready, finished by an angel’s hand.
Museum of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure
It’s a small museum, featuring a unique exhibition of marble inlay artwork. I promise you’ll be wowed by the craftsmanship of the artisans of the Medici family.
Marvel at the Medici Chapels
Medici Chapels (Cappelle Medicee) is the final resting place of the Medici Family. Among them are Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano. The architecture of the building is quite impressive and you can see many statues by Michelangelo decorating the tombs.
You can book your Cappelle Medicee skip-the-line ticket here.
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is the first landmark you’ll see on your way to the city centre from the train station. This 13th-century church is one of the most important Gothic churches in Tuscany. Even if you don’t go inside, stop for a 5min and enjoy its beautiful marble facade.
2 Days in Florence – Day 2
Have breakfast at La Loggia degli Albizi
08:00 AM – 09:00 AM
Start the second day of this 2-day Florence itinerary with breakfast at La Loggia degli Albizi. Try the croissants with ham and cheese.
If you get up early enough, try to pass by the Duomo before breakfast. You’ll have the chance to appreciate its beauty and grandness without the crowds. Before 8 AM, the cathedral’s square was almost empty.
Tour Pitti Palace
09:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti) is one of Florence’s largest architectural monuments. It was initially built for the Pitti family in 1457 (hence the name). However, in 1549 the Medici bought the palace to serve as their main residence.
Nowadays, Pitti Palace houses several museums – Palatine Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, Treasury of the Grand Dukes, Museum of Costume and Fashion, Imperial and Royal Apartments. The ticket to Palazzo Pitti gives you access to all of them. It’s up to you to decide which ones you want to visit (or all of them).
Entry ticket: Skip-the-line Pitti Palace (free cancellation up to 24 hours)
Best guided tour: Pitti Palace Highlights Tour – discover the palace, including Medici’s rich collection of artworks at the Palatine Gallery and the beautiful Boboli Gardens
The only thing that is not included in the admission price is Boboli Gardens, which lie behind the palace. You’ll need a separate ticket to visit the gardens.
If you get to the palace early enough and buy your ticket before 08:59 AM, you’ll have a 50% discount on the price of admission. Note that the tickets are timed and in this case, you have to enter the museum in the first time slot (from 08:30 AM to 09:25 AM).
Stroll along Ponte Vecchio
11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Built in the 14th century, Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence. What makes it so special, is that the Vasari Corridor goes over the bridge. Also, there are still shops along Ponte Vecchio, as it was during medieval times.
To get the best view of the bridge, go to Ponte Santa Trinita and look to the side.
Salami and cheese platter
12:00 PM – 02:00 PM
For lunch stop at La Prosciutteria Firenze. Delicious simple food, great wine and friendly atmosphere!
Admire the Renaissance art at Uffizi Gallery
02:00 PM – 04:00 PM
Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi) is one of the finest galleries not only in Italy but also in Europe. The gallery features a rich collection of Renaissance artworks. Among them, you’ll find masterpieces of Leonardo, Botticelli, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Caravaggio.
Don’t miss the views towards Ponte Vecchio from the second floor of the museum.
Entry ticket: Skip-the-line Uffizi Gallery (free cancellation up to 24 hours)
Best guided tour: Uffizi Gallery Highlights Tour – see the greatest Renaissance masterpieces and learn the stories behind them
The best view of Florence
04:30 PM – 05:00 PM
Finish the second of your 2 days in Florence with the best view of the city. Piazzale Michelangelo is about a 20min walk from the city centre, but it’s totally worth the detour.
From the square, you look out over the entire city of Florence, including the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio. As it’s a super popular spot to watch the sunset, expect it to be overcrowded.
So, my advice is to climb a little further to the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte. The view is the one and the same with one important difference – no crowds at all. It’s one of the most romantic places to watch the sunset!
Dinner at Ristorante Il Granaio Firenze
Ristorante Il Granaio Firenze is located on one of the most characteristic streets in the heart of Florence. Featuring an intimate and peaceful atmosphere, it’s the perfect spot to end your day with a delicious meal. Both the lasagna and the fresh pasta were fabulous!
More ideas for your 2 days in Florence – Day 2
Admire the sculptures at Bargello National Museum
Bargello National Museum features a remarkable collection of Renaissance sculptures. The exhibit includes masterpieces by Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo and Cellini. Housed in a 13th-century fortress and prison, the building of the museum itself is worth a look.
If fashion is your thing, then don’t miss the Gucci Garden. The museum is housed on the second floor of the shop and it traces the evolution of Gucci design. You’ll have the chance to see some of their iconic outfits!
Basilica of San Miniato al Monte
The Basilica of San Miniato al Monte is just a short walk from Piazzale Michelangelo. Besides the beautiful city views, you’ll find here a small church with a gorgeous marble facade. Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, the basilica is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture.
If you love science, then Museo Galileo is the place to go. The exhibit features a wide collection of scientific instruments and experimental equipment. You’ll have the chance to see instruments from the Medici collections, including a few originals that once belonged to Galileo himself.
If you’re visiting Florence in the summer, I’d recommend you buy skip-the-line tickets for each attraction you want to see. Yet, there are three sights for which if you don’t book in advance, you’d waste hours in lines (even in the low season).
Uffizi Gallery – the most popular museum in Florence (5,600 visitors per day). Lines are always long and tickets are valid for a certain time slot. So, be prepared and book in advance your Uffizi Gallery ticket here.
Galleria dell’Accademia – the city’s second most popular museum. Tickets are again timed entry, specifically for the date you booked. You can book your Galleria dell’Accademia ticket here.
Florence Cathedral – the cathedral is free to visit, but you have to pay if you want to climb the dome. Tickets are timed and often sold out for the day, so book your Duomo ticket here in advance.
Getting around in Florence
Find here a detailed map of this Florence walking itinerary.
The best way to get around Florence is by walking. The historic city centre, where all the tourist attractions are, is small and easily explored on foot. If you book a hotel on the north bank of the Arno River, inside the yellow ring, you won’t need any public transport.
How to get to Florence
Florence is easily accessible via high-speed train from many other Italian cities. The main train station, Firenze Santa Maria Novella, is in the historic city centre, just a 10min walk from the Duomo.
If you’re planning to travel by train through Italy, book tickets in advance (they are cheaper if you buy earlier). Check timetables and book train tickets online at Trenitalia official website.
The historic centre of Florence is declared a Limited Traffic Zone (ZTL). This means that you can’t enter without a permit, let alone park. If you’re arriving by car I’d recommend you leave it in the outskirts of the city (see car parks here) and stay near the Duomo.
The closest airport is Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola (FLR). It’s just 5km away from the city centre. The easiest way to get to the city centre from the airport is to take the tram (purple line T2 VESPUCCI) to Unità station (20min journey).
Day trips from Florence
San Gimignano and Siena
Siena and San Gimignano are two small towns with fascinating medieval architecture. San Gimignano is famous for its towers and because of them, it’s known as the Town of Fine Towers. Siena is known for its stunning cathedral and huge medieval square.
How to get to Siena and San Gimignano
- the easiest way to tour both cities in one day is by taking this Tuscany Day Trip to Siena and San Gimignano. Plus, the tour includes a delicious gourmet lunch at a local vineyard!
- Siena – there is a direct bus (line 131 R). It runs between Busitalia bus station – Via S. Caterina da Siena in Florence and Siena-Via Tozzi (1h20min journey).
- San Gimignano – the most convenient way is by renting a car (there is no direct train or bus from Florence)
Cinque Terre is one of the most dramatic coastlines in Italy. Its name means Five Lands and it comprises of five small fishing villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. You’ll be captivated by gorgeous beaches and scenic walking trails.
How to get to Cinque Terre
There is no easy way to get to Cinque Terre from Florence by public transport or even by car it’s not that simple. Moreover, there are 5 villages to explore! Thus I’d recommend you take this Cinque Terre Day Tour from Florence (it’s the most popular one).
One of the most visited cities in Tuscany, Pisa is famous for its Leaning Tower. Located about 1h away by train, the city is a great destination for a day trip from Florence.
As most of the tourist attractions are packed around the tower, you can easily explore Pisa in a day. Take a look at my detailed Pisa day trip itinerary for more details.
How to get to Pisa
- take this Pisa day trip from Florence (you’ll not only benefit from an expert guide, but the tour includes also free entry to the cathedral and the Tower of Pisa)
- take a train from Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Pisa Centrale (1h15min journey). From the train station to the historic centre it’s about a 15min walk
Bologna is famous for being the food capital of Italy. This medieval city is not only rich in history, but also in food. It’s the place where pasta Bolognese originated.
Find out how to see the city on a day trip in my guide for one day in Bologna.
How to get to Bologna
Take a train from Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Bologna Centrale (40min journey). From there it’s about a 15min walk to the city’s main square, Piazza Maggiore.
Located only 1h30min away from Florence, Rome is a great idea for a day trip. Of course, there is no need to say that you’ll need at least 3-4 days to see the city. Yet, if you’re short on time, a day trip is an option.
For more details take a look at my Rome itinerary 4 days (including how to skip all the lines).
How to get to Rome
Take a train from Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Roma Termini (1h30min journey). From there you can take the metro to the Colosseum, Spanish Steps or Vatican City (depending on what you want to see).
How many days in Florence
Are 2 days in Florence enough?
2 days in Florence are the perfect amount of time to explore the capital of Tuscany. In two full days, you’ll be able to see the most popular sights, including Uffizi Gallery, Galleria dell’Accademia and even climb the Duomo.
What if I don’t have 2 full days in Florence?
If you have less than 2 days, you can still follow this Florence walking itinerary, but with a few modifications. Don’t visit both palaces, choose between Palazzo Vecchio and Pitti Palace. I’d recommend Pitti Palace, as it’s more spectacular.
Also, don’t visit the cathedral, climb the dome only. The interior of the cathedral is rather plain. It won’t be worth the queuing, especially if you’re short on time.
2 or 3 days in Florence?
The more, the better. Besides the most popular attractions, there are tens of gorgeous little churches and art museums. So, all I can say is that 2 days is the minimum to explore Florence.
If you’re planning any day trips to Pisa or Siena (see further in the post), add another day or two.
Best time to visit Florence
Florence is one of Italy’s most popular destinations. Thus, there is no real low and high season, the city is crowded 365 days a year. Yet, in the months of June, July and August, the crowds are unbearable, plus the weather is very hot and humid. Avoid the period if you have any choice in the matter.
The best time to visit Florence is the months of April, May, September and October. The weather is pleasant and the rustic colours of Tuscany are at their best.