Before going to Italy, I had really high expectations about Florence, I knew it was not a huge city as Rome, and hear that Rome had more things to do and that I didn’t need to spend much time in Florence, but I still had high feelings about visiting Florence.
Florence is definitely the most famous city in the Tuscany region, a region popular among those looking for 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 a big city and you can definitely visit Florence in 2 days, I would say 3 days if you are a super fan of museums and art, particularly, I prefer the museum in Florence rather the ones in Rome.
But 2 days will be enough to visit the main tourist attractions in Florence, and in this guide, I will show you what to do and see in Florence in 2 days, to make sure you will make the most of your trip, just like I did.
You can also choose to do a day trip from Florence to the city of Pisa, both cities are really close, about an hour away, and it is pretty simple to get there.
So one alternative for the 2 days itinerary in Florence above, is to take one morning to visit Pisa leaving from Florence, otherwise, you can also choose to spend one more day in Florence and do the day trip through the region, however, I think one morning is enough to visit Pisa, as long as you wake up early.
For more tips on how to enjoy Florence, check this travel guide to Florence by Sara from Journey of Doing.
2 Days in Florence Itinerary: Best Things to do in Florence for First-Timers
Coming to Florence, you have the option to arrive in one of the two train stations in the city, the Santa Maria Novella Station and the Campo di Fiori Station.
I would pick accordingly to where your hotel is located. Both stations are in good locations, however, Santa Maria Novella is really close to the Duomo, you literally just need to follow straight and in less than 5 minutes you will be in the heart of the city.
So I recommend you to book a hotel close to the Duomo and arrive at Santa Maria Novella station. The street that links the station to the Duomo has many good hotels.
The first thing you can visit is definitely the main square of Florence and its famous Duomo. 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 in the site of the 7th-century church of Santa Reparata and was only finished in 1436.
It is free to visit the church, however, there is usually a long line to enter. It is also possible to climb the top of the Duomo to visit its cupula. From there you will have a beautiful view of the city.
Another important church, whose dome you will also see from pretty much anywhere in the city, is the Basilica di San Lorenzo, one of the biggest and the second most famous in Florence, it is located a just a block away from the Duomo and deserves a visit.
It was consecrated in 393 and can be one of, if not THE, oldest church in Italy. Back in the time of its construction, it was located outside the city walls.
Also close to the main square is the Academia Gallery, the house of our dear David, the huge naked guy by Michaelangelo. To get inside you must buy a ticket, David is one of the most famous masterpieces in Italy so do expect a line in the entrance. Especially in high season, I recommend buying the skip the line ticket as usual.
Academia Gallery is a really small gallery that can be visited pretty quickly, it does have some interesting pieces, like some statues but most of them are just a replica. David is indeed the most important piece inside the gallery, and being honest, the only one that really fascinated me, although there are some quite cool naked people there.
Going to the other side of the Duomo, Piazza della Repubblica is one of my favorite places to spend the sunset and night in Florence. It is a huge open area with beautiful buildings that remind us of the main square of Milan, for me, the charming point here is the merry-and-go that makes the square even more beautiful at night.
The Piazza della Repubblica was built in the site of the city’s old Forum and nowadays offers a variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes. During the day sometimes there are events and festivals.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take a cooking class in Florence
Let’s start the day by heading to the Piazza della Signoria, a weird 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 the 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, in the entrance you will note two statues, one of which is a replica of David by Michelangelo. The building was called Palazzo della Signoria before, hence, the name of the square.
Visiting inside, you will find a mix of Roman ruins and Renaissance paintings, this ticket also gives you access to the Arnolfo’s Tower.
Adjacent to it, there is the Loggia dei Lanzi, that consists of big arches opened to the street, that is an open-air gallery, displaying many sculptures.
Next to Loggia dei Lanzi is one of the most important museums in Florence and one of the most visited in the world, the Uffizi Gallery. 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 since the sixteenth century, becoming a museum in 1865.
Among the famous art pieces 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.
For those interested in visiting it, I recommend buying the ticket for the Uffizi Gallery in advance, as one of the most visited museums in the world, the Uffizi Gallery’s ticket is a must due to the among of people and the long lines in its entrance.
Outside the gallery, you will also notice many statues of important figures for the history of Italy and the world, such as Galileo Galilei, Dante, Leonardo Da Vinci, Donatello, etc.
Following in direction to the river, it is possible to see the Ponte Vecchio, the iconic medieval bridge. It also conserves the complete medieval look, conserving the shops alongside the bridge, something that was common back in the Middle Ages.
The bridge we see nowadays was built in 1345 but it first appeared in the record in 996, the first bridge was destroyed by a flood though. Back in the old time, the shops were mainly occupied by butchers, nowadays it got fancier, you will find art shops jewelry, souvenirs, etc.
To spend the end of your day with one of the most beautiful views of Florence, I recommend going to Piazzale Michelangelo close to the sunset, the time of the day the view gets even more beautiful. This is the perfect spot to take the best panoramic photo of this amazing city.
Piazzale Michelangelo is located on the top of a hill, close to the downtown, so you can walk your way there. But if you wish, you can take a bus, both buses, number 12 and 13 passes by Piazzale Michelangelo and can be caught in the central area of Florence.
For those traveling through Tuscany, check the best things to do in Bologna.
Where to stay in Florence