Florence is among Italy’s most magnificent cities, capital of Tuscany and birthplace of the Renaissance. Its UNESCO-listed historic center is a treasure trove of artistic and architectural masterpieces, plus fascinating artisan workshops and a vibrant dining and imbibing scene. It’s easy to get overwhelmed on your first visit (or even a return trip) and can be a challenge to know what to prioritize if your time is limited.
You could spend a month in Florence and still not see all its sights, but most travelers have much less time in the city to explore the highlights. Here is a suggested Florence itinerary for a one-day visit that focuses just on the city and a suggested Florence itinerary for a three-day visit that gives you time to strike out to the surrounding Tuscan hills. Both combine culture, cuisine, and stunning views.
Florence boasts three of Italy’s most iconic cultural landmarks: the Duomo, the Accademia, and the Uffizi Galleries. Your morning should be dedicated to taking in at least one of these (though you can probably fit in the Duomo from the outside with either gallery). Time is limited to take in the soaring cathedral architecture by Brunelleschi and Giotto and masterpieces by Michelangelo along with Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. We recommend a guided walking tour that will focus on the city’s A-list sights like Ponte Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria so you can tick them off in just a few hours, plus includes skip-the-line entrance to the museums to avoid spending hours in line.
After dedicating your morning to Florence’s artistic masterpieces, it’s time to experience its world-class cuisine. A food and wine tour on foot is a great way to enjoy an overview of the city’s culinary offerings, with stops at the historic markets, street food stands, and top eateries and wine bars. We also love to recommend the Florence for Foodies “Nude and Food” tour that combines a stop at the Accademia to take in Michelangelo’s “David” with a food tour (it runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) for a one-day Florence itinerary. You can also opt for a hands-on cooking class to learn how to prepare Florence’s most traditional dishes, then sit down for dinner featuring what you’ve made with your chef instructor paired with Tuscan wine.
One of Italy’s most picturesque cities, Florence is especially captivating at dusk when the setting sun makes the historic center glow golden and the streetlights along the Arno river twinkle to life. The best locations to enjoy the sunset and watch the streetlights come to life are Piazzale Michelangelo on a hillside above the city or the waters of the Arno river. Reach the panoramic square on the Oltrarno side of the city on foot or with a taxi from the center or join an evening Arno river cruise for a memorable end to your day in Florence
Make every minute count on your first day of this three-day Florence itinerary by making a beeline to the Accademia to stand in wonder in front of Michelangelo’s David before the crowds arrive. Join an early-access tour that includes entry first thing in the morning without wasting time standing in line, then head to the Duomo to marvel at the city’s most iconic architectural landmark. Again, optimize your time with pre-booked skip-the-line tickets or a tour that includes priority entry to the complex to visit the church, baptistery, bell tower, dome, and museum without wasting hours in line. Once you’ve ticked off two Florentine cultural treasures in the morning, spend your afternoon exploring the Renaissance center. Wander on your own or with a guide to visit iconic sights like Palazzo della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio and get off the beaten track a bit with a stroll through the Oltrarno artisan district.
Avoiding the crowds is the name of the game in Florence, so an early morning visit to the Uffizi is the best bet to marvel at works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo without having to elbow your way through the throngs. You can join a guided tour with early entry to explore the galleries before they open to the general public; we always suggest visiting this world-class museum with a guide to head straight to the most important works and avoid being overwhelmed by its vast size and collection. Since you’ve spent the past day and a half in Florence immersing yourself in the city’s culture, now it’s time to enjoy the cuisine. You can take a food tour of the city to sample its street food offerings or aperitivo scene, or a home or restaurant kitchen cooking class that includes both a lesson to prepare beloved local dishes and dinner afterwards.
Florence attracts millions of visitors each year, drawn to its incredible Renaissance art and architecture. After two days in the city, you may be ready for a break from the crowds. Take your third day of this Florence itinerary to explore the rolling countryside or hill towns of Tuscany. You can visit a number of villages in Chianti, pairing your explorations with a winery tour and tasting lunch (San Gimignano is a perennial favorite, but this area of the region is rich in charming historic villages). Foodies can opt for wine and food tours and active travelers can explore the countryside on horseback, by bike, or by vintage Fiat 500. If you’re not bothered by the crowds and want to see another Tuscan city, Pisa, Lucca, or Siena are easy day trips from Florence. Otherwise, you can head to the coast to visit the five fishing villages of the Cinque Terre in the neighboring region of Liguria. Any of these options gets you back to Florence by late afternoon in time to pack and prepare to continue on to your next stop in Italy.
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