What you will cover in 1 day
Florence is overflowing with famous artworks. You’ll make your way through the center of the city getting a taste of some of what the city’s art scene has to offer, with a Botticelli at the very least. You’ll also experience life in the Piazza’s of central Florence, integral to the life and history of the city. And if you’ve got the legs for it, you’ll be rewarded with a number of different perspectives of the city from above.
1. Florence Cathedral
The Florence Cathedral’s official name is Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Flore but is more commonly known as the Duomo di Firenze. Gothic style design was begun in 1296 and took almost 150 years to complete. The exterior of the Cathedral displays a mix of pink, white and green marble while the interior walls are a bit less impressive the floors and frescoes are worth your entry, which is free.
2. Duomo Tower
If you’re feeling full of energy after your visit then it’s time to climb up the dome. 463 steps to the top, no elevator. You will need a ticket to enter the dome but you’ll come out in the lantern at the very top of the dome with exceptional city views. If you’re still not out of steam cross over to the Giotto Tower, climb another 414 views and include the Duomo itself in your city panorama. Here are some interesting tips on how to make most of your Duomo visit.
3. Uffizi Gallery
Head over early to this Renaissance art gallery to avoid the masses. You’ll probably want to spend a few hours to make your way through the three floors of priceless artwork. This museum is home to many famous, historical works of art including Botticellis’ The Birth of Venus. On your way out take a moment in Piazza della Signoria, the L-shaped square out front, the center of Florence’s political life.
4. Galleria dell Accademia
This is the home of Michelangelo’s original David. But, unfortunately, with long lines to get a chance to see the 17-foot statue it would take a lot of time out of your single day trip and with one art gallery already on the list we recommend saving this one for your return trip.
5. Piazzale Michelangelo
This piazza is another amazing viewpoint, a little outside of the city center, this spot offers a view of the city skyline, The Duomo and Ponte Vecchio included. The square is full of vendors as well as a bronze replica of Michelangelo’s David.
6. Ponte Vecchio
If you somehow missed it during the day, be sure to get a scoop (or two) of gelato. Try Vivoli, around for 80 years this shop is famous for its classic flavors. From there, if you’d like to spend your evening like a true Florentine, grab a drink from a shop and sit down in whichever piazza you find, chill, chat and enjoy.
8. Evening Cruise
If you have time and energy, go for an evening cruise down the River Arno to see the Ponte Vecchio, and the other buildings lining the banks, lit up against the dark river.
What you cannot do in a day
- Palazzo Vecchio
The city’s town hall is a maze of rooms decorated in art and murals by artists such as Michelangelo and Donatello. With so much art in every corner of the city it’s just not possible to cover it all in one day.
- Medici Chapels
Medici Chapels housed in the complex of the Basilica of San Lorenzo was designed by Brunelleschi, and decorated by Donatello.
Tips to visit Florence in a day
1. Book Duomo climb in advance
Yes, it is a great idea to book a timed ticket if you plan to climb the Duomo’s dome, otherwise expect to queue. It’s debatable whether the Uffizi should be booked in advance. If you are able to get there early in the morning then the line will be short and there will be a separate one for those who do have the pre-booked tickets so you’ll wait either way.
2. No need of any Florence pass
You do not have to buy Firzene card. The Firenze Card does get you past queues however the only option is for 72 hours at €72.00. In just 24 hours you won’t get much value for that amount of money.
For transport, there are bus and tram lines which will get you around Florence. A single ticket for up to a 90-minute ride costs €1.20 and a 24-hour ticket costs €5.00. Be sure you purchase your ticket before entering the transport and validate it. Though you don’t have to present it to the driver ticket checkers do come around and you will be fined if your ticket is not validated.
3. No need for any sightseeing bus
A 24-hour adult ticket for the Florence city sightseeing is €23.00 There are two routes totaling about 3 hours. One around the city center the second slightly outside of it. You could walk the city center route but if you’d prefer to rest your legs hop on the bus and you can also listen to commentary about what you’re seeing.
4. Go for a free walking tour
A Florence walking tour probably won’t show you much that’s not already on your itinerary here. However, if you’d like more historical context then it could be worth it. They should take about 1.5-2 hours for a general walking tour around the must-sees. I will suggest the Renaissance tour that starts at 11 AM
5. Avoid Mondays
Many major museums of Florence are closed on Mondays. When you visit Florence for a day, be sure to note down the opening and closing time of important attractions.
6. Have lunch in San Lorenzo Market
Mercato Centrale , the indoor market houses a gourmet food market. Stop by for lunch. Post lunch, you can shop around for souvenirs.
More than 1 day in Florence?
There is enough art in Florence to fill up many, many days and enough Gelato flavors to go around too! If you have more time we would recommend heading straight to see David and then on to more art and gelato. Check out a 2 or 3 days guide.
Florence - one day itinerary
One day is probably not enough to experience everything that Florence, the Renaissance city, has to offer. If you only have a day to spend in Florence, the first thing is that you don't want to spend all of your time waiting in lines for the main attractions. So here is a one day itinerary that will allow you to experience art, churches, views, food and attractions without the long waiting times:
Start at 8:30 - Go up the Dome
If you know anything about Florence you will know about the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral that dominates the Florentine skyline. At this time of the day, the cathedral itself is not open, but if you book in advance for this time slot, you can be the first one to climb the iconic Dome's 463 steps and see panoramic views of the city as it is waking up. Allow for 30 minutes to go up at a moderate pace. You will also see the fantastic Cathedral ceiling up close on your climb, so you don’t need to come back for a visit to the main Cathedral building later in the day.
9:30 - Walk through San Lorenzo Market
As well as art and history, Florence is known for its shopping. After you have climbed the Dome, head towards the San Lorenzo market for a taste of open air shopping, then go inside to experience some of Florence's local produce.
You will be able to browse a range of Florentine and Tuscan goods, including the local specialty leather article. Make sure to walk through the open air market and indoor food vendors; you will get a taste of the local atmosphere
11:00 - Visit Orsanmichele church and Piazza della Signoria
Head back towards the centre of town down Via Calzaiuoli to the Piazza della Signoria, and along the way stop in at the unique church of Orsanmichele. This beautiful church is famous for being crafted out of a medieval grain market, and it holds many important Renaissance sculptures. Keep walking to reach the open-air museum of Piazza della Signoria, the place of the original David by Michelangelo.
11:30 - Explore the Palazzo Vecchio Museum
Next to the Piazza Signoria is Florence's historic city hall. This used to be the city's centre of government, and is now a stunning museum filled with many important Renaissance works displayed amongst lavish halls and antiques.
1:00 - Lunch around Palazzo Vecchio
If you need to refuel while you are near the Palazzo Vecchio, try somewhere like café Rivoire for an oh-so-Italian espresso and pastry standing at the elegant café. Remember that it will take less time and cost less if you stand at the bar like the locals do.
1.30 - Cross Ponte Vecchio in to Oltrarno
Walk towards the river and cross the picturesque Ponte Vecchio to the district of Oltrarno. As you go you can window shop, and once you have crossed the river you can inspect the many artisanal workshops that Oltrarno is known for.
Along the way, you will experience the hustle and bustle of the Ponte Vecchio jewelry shops and see the many artisanal workshops on the bridge. Make sure to stop by the open spaces along the bridge for views of the Arno and the city. Also notice the Vasari corridor running overhead connecting Uffizi gallery to Pitti Palace across the river.
2:00 - See Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens
Once you are in Oltrarno, go and visit the Boboli Gardens. The Pitti Palace used to be the home of the ruling Medici family in Florence, and now you can go and enjoy the park like grounds, discovering the many grottos, statues, gardens, ponds and trees.
It is a fantastic feeling to see where generations of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany used to live, and to hear about how they fueled the Renaissance movement with their patronage.
3:30 - Walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo and the Monastery of San Miniato
From Oltrarno, you can walk up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a bustling piazza where you can see breath-taking views of the city. Another 5 minute walk up the hill and you will reach the Monastery of San Miniato, a basilica that has sat above the city since the year 1013.
At 5:30pm you can go in and hear the traditional Gregorian chants, and then come out and watch the sun start to descend over the city with even more stunning views than the Piazzale Michelangelo below. (Note: the Gregorian chants are held at 4:30pm in the winter months).
6:30pm - Dinner in San Niccolò
If you walk back through the San Miniato gateway and down the steps of via di San Salvatore you can get to the San Niccolò area. This is a lively little neighbourhood known for its casual restaurants and local bars.
Take a bit of time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere while you refuel from a day of exploring, and top it off at one of the gelaterias. San Niccolo is also a good way to experience some of Florence's best local nightlife
8:00pm onwards - Wander back through the city
If you do not want to stay and enjoy the nightlife in San Niccolò, cross back into the city over Ponte Vecchio or Ponte alle Grazie and wander back through the historic centre. Most of the well-known landmarks will be lit up at night, so head back to Piazza del Duomo where you started the day and see the Cathedral from a whole new perspective. You could also find one of the many wine bars and aperitivo style eateries along the way to continue your evening of food and relaxation.
There are many things you can do there. If you’re there only for a short time, you could just look around the city center and have lunch in one of our trattorias. You could go for the Uffizi but you’ll spend all of your day there and you would lose the most of the city. You should consider staying more!