Before going to Italy, I had really high expectations about Florence, I knew it was not a huge city like Rome, and as Rome had more things to do I didn’t need to spend as much time in Florence, but I still had high feelings about my trip.
Florence is the capital city of Tuscany, a region popular for its good wine and romantic sights.
Although the city completely fulfilled my expectations and is without a doubt one of my favorites in Italy, It is not so big and it is easy to navigate, saying this, you can easily visit Florence in two days, and in this guide, I will show you how.
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2 Days in Florence Itinerary: Best Things to do in Florence
Planning your visit to Florence
- 🏨 Find the perfect accommodation in Florence. Booking, HotelWorld.
- 🚖 Book your airport transfer here.
- 👨🏫 To learn more about the city, get a guided tour through Florence here.
- 💳 Get free access to the main attractions with a City Pass. Florence City Pass.
- 🍕 Enjoy the best of Tuscany cuisine with this Florence Food Tour, or try the Street Food Tour in Florence.
- 🚌 Book a City Sightseeing bus.
During your trip, especially the short ones as two days in Florence it is important to save time to make sure you will be able to see the most during your stay, a good way to do that is by buying the Florence City Pass, which gives you free skip-the-line pass to the Uffizi Gallery and Brunelleschi’s Dome alongside an audio guide to listen to on your phone.
It is always good to guarantee skip-the-line passes as usually the main attractions are very crowded and the lines can take hours.
Another way to save time and money is getting a Hop-on Hop-off bus ticket, these buses will bring you to the main attractions in Florence, without you having to figure out how to navigate in the city.
Arriving in Florence
The Tuscany region is a common destination for those looking for a drive with nice views and good stops along the way. But if a Tuscany road trip is not what you are looking for, don’t worry.
For those wondering, Florence does have its own international airport, which is only the second busiest in the Tuscany region, behind Pisa international airport, which is also an option since Pisa is located just 43kms from Florence. There are transfers to bring you from Pisa airport to your hotel in Florence, you can guarantee it here.
From Florence Airport you can easily take a tram to the city center, it takes around 20 minutes to get there, or go for a private transfer directly to your hotel to assure your comfort.
However, if you are coming to Florence by train, you will probably arrive at the main railway station, called Firenze Santa Maria Novella, just a short walk distance from the central area, pretty close to the Duomo there are many hotels in this area.
Another common station to arrive at is called Firenze Campo di Marte, in this case, you will have to take bus 12, 13, or 33 to the city center.
Day 1 in Florence – Piazza del Duomo, Academia Gallery
Santa Maria del Fiore – Duomo di Firenze
Why not start your trip with the cherry on the cake of Florence?! Santa Maria del Fiore is the main tourist attraction in the city, located in the Piazza di Firenze, pretty close to the main station and if you are lucky, close to your hotel too.
Seeing the photos online I wondered if it was really that big, and it didn’t disappoint me, it is the 4th largest church in the world for a reason. The construction started in 1296 on the site of the 7th-century church of Santa Reparata and was only finished in 1436, when completed, Santa Maria del Fiore was the largest church in Europe.
It is dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore, the Virgin of the Flower, an allusion to the lily, the symbol of Florence.
It is free to visit the church, however, there is usually a long line at the entrance, so be prepared to wait. If you wish to avoid the line, you can get a skip-the-line ticket here.
In contrast with the façade, the inside of Santa Maria del Fiore is rather sober, with little decoration and plain walls, your eyes will most likely be dragged to the enormous Dome, with its beautiful works of painting. The fresco representes the Last Judgment by Giorgio Vasari.
Talking about the Dome, besides admiring it from below, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to climb Santa Maria del Fiore’s Dome, to have one of the most beautiful views from the city of Florence. To get to the top, you will have to make your way up the 463 steps, but, trust me, you won’t regret it! From there you can see the whole city and the Tuscan hills.
👌 Florence City Pass: Your skip-the-line entrance with a visit to Brunelleschi’s Dome is already guaranteed with the Florence City Pass, alongside tickets for more attractions in the city of Florence.
Best Guided Tours of the Santa Maria del Fiore
- 1 – Skip-the-line ticket to Santa Maria del Fiore – Skip-the-line guided tour where you will be able to avoid the long line at the entrance of the church and save time on your visit.
- 2 – Skip-the-line ticket + Climb the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore – A guided tour where you will not only avoid the long line to get inside the church but also climb the dome to get one of the best views from the city of Florence.
- 3 – Skip-the-line tour, Climb the Dome, visit the Baptistery and the Opera del Duomo Museum – A complete tour through Santa Maria del Fiore with a skip-the-line ticket, it includes climbing the dome and a visit to the baptistery located in front of the church and the Opera del Duomo Museum behind the church.
Located in front of Santa Maria del Fiore is another remarkable building, the Baptistery. This is one of the most ancient churches in Florence. People in the Middle Ages believed this was an ancient building dating back to the time of the Romans and that it used to be a pagan temple converted into a church.
📝 History Time: Florence was built on the city of another ancient Roman city known as Florentia, named after the noble Roman warrior Fiorinus. The city covered the area which is now known as the ‘historic center’.
The Baptistery we see today though, dates back to the 4th or 5th century AD, as, for its interior, the beautiful mosaic decoration was added in the 13th century. Part of the decoration that used to adorn the interior of the Baptistery such as the Silver Altar and Donatello’s Penitent Magdalene, are now on display in the Opera del Duomo Museum, located behind the Santa Maria del Fiore.
Basilica of San Lorenzo
Another important church, whose dome you will also see from pretty much everywhere in the city, is the Basilica of San Lorenzo, one of the biggest and the second most famous in Florence, it is located just a block away from the Piazza del Duomo and deserves a visit.
Judging by its unfinished façade, it is hard to believe it was the cathedral of Florence for over 300 years until Santa Maria del Fiore claimed the title. Basilica of San Lorenzo can be THE oldest church in the city and was consecrated in 393 AD by Saint Ambrose of Milan, a prominent ecclesiastical figure of the 4th century.
👉 Interesting fact: In 1418, eight Florentine families decided to join forces, and money, to replace the old church with a new and bigger one, each family would have its own chapel, one of these families was the Medici family, and this is how this church turned into the parish church for the Medici family, whose tombs can still be visited today.
Inside the church, you can visit its Treasure Museum, located in an underground chamber, or a crypt (although some people disagree that this is a crypt). There you will find reliquaries, works of art related to the veneration of St. John the Baptist, and liturgical furnishings donated or made for the church and used in important ceremonies.
In the museum, you will also see the artist Donatello’s and Cosimo di Medici’s tombs.
🏛 Interesting fact: You will notice the tomb of Cosimo di Medici was built within the pillar, representing his role as the pillar of the family.
Another highlight of the visit is the Medici Chapels, which you can enter through the back of the church. It is divided into three parts, the crypt, for minor members of the family, the Chapel of the Princes, the huge dome that serves as the final resting place for six Medici Grand Dukes, and the New Sacristy, built by Michelangelo.
It is important to notice that to visit the Basilica of San Lorenzo, you need to buy a ticket, for this, I recommend getting yours beforehand, to guarantee your entrance and avoid long lines.
Also located near the Duomo, the Galleria dell’Accademi, as it is known in Italian, is the house of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the David. This huge naked dude is one of the most important artworks in Italy. Pretty famous worldwide, it is a must-see even if you are not a museum or art enthusiast.
The museum itself is pretty small, and among its collection, you will find artworks of other famous artists, such as Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, etc. It is important to note though, that most of the statues you see here in this museum are but replicas.
To be honest, although I like art in general, I dare to say that besides David, no other statue or painting caught my attention. In fact, you will find many statues, paintings, as well as some religious art here in Academia Gallery, but honestly, nothing so famous or recognizable as David.
✌️ Interesting fact: There are two David statues in Florence. The original one is housed here in Academia Gallery, but there is also a replica of the original statue used to be, before being placed indoors in 1873, the replica is right next to the entrance of Palazzo della Signoria, also known as Palazzo Vecchio.
It is definitely worth visiting though, because of David, so I highly recommend it.
To visit the Academia Gallery it is necessary to buy a ticket. Be prepared, especially if you are visiting Italy during the Summer as you will probably have to wait in a huge line to get inside the museum, here again, I recommend buying your tickets online here so that you don’t waste time, or have to wait under the hot Sun.
👌 Florence City Pass: Your skip-the-line entrance to the Accademia Gallery is already guaranteed with the Florence City Pass, alongside tickets for more attractions in the city of Florence.
Piazza della Repubblica
This area which used to be the Roman Forum of Florence back in the ancient Roman era is the midpoint of the old city. The Colonna dell’Abbondanza, Column of Abundance in English, marks the exact point. There are even stories and tales that say Florence originated in this square.
During medieval times, Piazza della Repubblica continued to be used mainly as a market area but also offered tabernacles and churches. Part of it was also used as a Jewish Ghetto by orders of Cosimo I.
Nowadays it is a huge open area with beautiful buildings, with a variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes, some are quite historical as are the cases of Caffé Gilli, Caffé Paskowski, and Caffé delle Giubbe Rosse, but for me, the charming point here is the merry-and-go that makes the square even more beautiful at night.
Making this, the perfect place to enjoy dinner before going back to your hotel.
Day 2 in Florence – Piazza della Signoria
Let’s start the day by heading to the Piazza della Signoria, a w-shaped square that is known as the main origin of the Florentine Republic. For me, this is one of the best points in Florence to appreciate Tuscany architecture, the buildings around the square are the best examples of it.
In the center of the square is located the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of the city, at the entrance you will note two statues, one of which is the replica of the David by Michelangelo that I told you about, placed in the exact location where the original once stood, before being rehoused in the Academia Gallery.
On the other side of the entrance, you see Hercules and Cacus a sculpture by Baccio Bandinelli.
This building was originally called Palazzo della Signoria, hence, the name of the square, but received its new name, Palazzo Vecchio when the Medici’s duke residence was moved to Palazzo Pitti, across the Arno River.
👉 Did you know?: Palazzo Vecchio was built on the site of an ancient roman theater and its ruins can still be visited today with a separate ticket.
To visit inside the Palazzo Vecchio you must buy a ticket, but it is totally worth it, you will find sumptuous halls with beautiful paintings, such as the Hall of the Five Hundred (Salone dei Cinquecento), with a length of 54 meters, a width of 23 and a height of 18 meters completely covered by frescos and paneled ceilings, decorated in gold with imposing statues, it is impossible not to be amazed by such a view.
Both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were invited to work on the Hall of the Five Hundred, and although both of them started their projects, none were able to complete them.
Inside Palazzo Vecchio, you will also be able to visit some chambers and pass through some secret routes, including one that leads to the studio of Francesco I, a beautifully painted room.
Best Guided Tours of the Palazzo Vecchio
- 1 – Palazzo Vecchio Entrance + Videoguide – Explore Palazzo Vecchio with the help of a video guide, this ticket guarantees a skip-the-line entrance so you don’t have to wait.
- 2 – Palazzo Vecchio guided tour + secret passage visit – Visit Palazzo Vecchio in the company of a tour guide, the ticket includes a skip-the-line entrance. With this tour, you will be able to pass through the secret passage and visit Salone dei Cinquecento to see the beautiful Vasari frescoes.
- 3 – Palazzo Vecchio and Tour Private Tour – If you are looking for a unique experience, I suggest taking this private tour. With it, you will be able to visit both the Palazza Vecchio museum and the tour with a licensed guide just for you and your group!
Loggia dei Lanzi
Right in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, and next to Uffizi Gallery (our next stop), is the Loggia dei Lanzi, which is an open-air gallery. Its building consists of wide arches that house sculptures.
This place was originally built to be the assemblies of the people, holding public ceremonies, and was called Loggia della Signora, later though, received the name Loggia dei Lanzi due to the German mercenary guard that used to have their headquarters here on their way to Rome in 1527.
👉 Curious fact: The Lanzi, or Lanzichenecchi, was a mercenary army, that served as the Medici’s dread bodyguards after a turmoil between the Medici and the Republicans. Emperor Charles V (from Rome) gave full support to the family and later sent the Lanzichenecchi to keep peace in the city.
After 1500, by orders of the Medici family, statues began to be placed in the Loggia dei Lanzi and the place became destined to house masterpieces of different artists. Not all statues on display in Loggia dei Lanzi are original, some are now on display in the museum.
Among the most famous statues is the Medici lion, placed in the entrance of the building, one of them is dated back to the Roman era, the other was made by Flaminio Vacca in 1598, “Rape of the Sabine women” by Giambologna, this statue is famous for not being a single viewpoint, and of course, the most famous statue in Loggia dei Lanzi: “Perseus” by Cellini, depicting Perseus holding Medusas’ severed head.
Next to Loggia dei Lanzi is one of the most important museums in Italy, the Uffizi Gallery. The complex was built by order of Cosimo I de Medici to house offices, hence the name “Uffizi”. When the building was completed in 1581, the top floor was made into a gallery for the Medici family and their guests.
The gallery started after the decline of the ruling of the house of Medici when their art collection was handed to the city after negotiation by the last Medici heiress. The gallery is opened to visitors in the sixteenth century, becoming a museum in 1865.
Today the gallery occupies the first and second floors and displays sculptures and painting from the Middle Ages to the Modern Period. Among the masterpieces displayed here, is the Birth of Venus by Botticelli and La Primavera by the same author. There are also works of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, and others.
In the sculpture collection, you will also see ancient statues, copies, and busts that once belonged to the Medici family and now adorn the gallery’s corridors.
If you plan to visit the Uffizi Gallery, and you definitely should, if you like art and museums, remember to buy your ticket in advance, so you can guarantee a skip-the-line entrance as it can get pretty crowded in the high season.
Outside the gallery, you will also notice many statues of important figures from the history of Italy and the world, such as Galileo Galilei, Dante, Leonardo Da Vinci, Donatello, etc.
👌 Florence City Pass: Your skip-the-line entrance to the Accademia Gallery is already guaranteed with the Florence City Pass, alongside tickets for more attractions in the city of Florence.
Best Guided Tours of the Uffizi Gallery
- 1 – Skip-the-line ticket with a guided tour – Take a guided tour through the Uffizi Gallery and learn about the masterpieces of the museum with a licensed guide.
- 2 – Uffizi Gallery ticket + Audioguide – Guide yourself through the Uffizi Gallery and learn about its pieces while listening to an audio guide.
- 3 – Skip-the-line Uffizi Gallery ticket + Accademia Gallery ticket – 2 in 1, buying this ticket you guarantee your ski-the-line entrance to the two most visited museums in Florence, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Accademia Gallery
Ponte Vecchio as its name says (old bridge) is the oldest bridge in Florence. Designed by Taddeo Gaddi, a student of Giotto, a famous Italian painter, and architect of the time.
The bridge was finished in 1345 and still preserves its medieval exquisite look, with shops on both sides of the bridge, that used to be occupied by butchers, tanners,s and blacksmiths, however, Duke Ferdinand commanded to have these shops moved to other areas because of the noise and stench.
🧐 Did you know? A bridge exists in this same location since Roman times, back then, it was built purely of wood. However, the first official record of a bridge here dates back to 996, this bridge was destroyed, unfortunately, in the flood of 1333.
Nowadays though, you will find a variety of art shops, jewelry, and souvenir shops.
In the center of Ponte Vecchio, you will find a bust of Benvenuto Cellini, a Florentine citizen who started his career here in the Ponte Vecchio as a goldsmith.
Piazzale Michelangelo, or Michelangelo Square in English, is an 1860 square that offers the most beautiful view of Florence. It is situated a little further away from the city center, on top of a hill, which gives you an above view of the city.
To get there you can take bus number 12 or 13 from the city center, or the hop-on hop-off bus, which also has a stop at Piazzale Michelangelo. Of course, walking is always an option too, from the historical center, you just have to cross the river and from Piazza Giuseppe Poggi it is just a 10 minutes walk.
Of course, the panoramic view is breathtaking at any time of the day, but I recommend getting there at sunset time, for a truly memorable moment.
Read more about Italy here:
- Things to do in Bologna
- Cooking class in Florence
- Travel guide to Florence
- Cinque Terre region
- Day trip from Florence
- Northern Italy road trip
This text was originally written and posted in August 2018, and updated in November 2022 New information has been added and links have been updated so that it could offer a better experience to the reader.