Florence in One Day – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

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What to Do for One Day in Florence

Birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is one of the world’s most cultured and artistic cities. Enchanting and captivating, Florence is a place to revel in history, art, and cuisine.

Packed with remarkable art and architecture, we’ll show you Florence’s wonderful tangle of narrow streets, lined with elegant and historic palazzi, medieval churches, and world-class art museums, with our one day Florence itinerary.

In this Florence travel guide, you’ll find a complete itinerary of all the most important must-see Florence attractions, with an interactive map, organized to make the best use of your time. We also share recommendations for central places to stay, ideas about where to eat local food, and tips about how to make the most of your day in Florence.

Florence in one day

Are you planning your trip to Florence last minute?

Be sure to book your accommodation and tours in Florence ahead of time to ensure availability! Here are our top picks!

  • Top Hotels in Florence:
  1. Luxury: Hotel Spadai (we stayed here, it’s right by the Duomo)
  2. Mid-Range: Soprarno Suites (loved it, just 5 mins from Ponte Vecchio)
  3. Budget: Hotel Perseo (great reviews at a good price)
  4. Hostel: Ostello Bello Firenze (top rated hotel in Florence’s centro storico)
  • Top Activities & Tours in Florence:
  1. Grab this Florence guided walking tour to see a bit of everything!
  2. Get your Duomo and Brunelleschi’s Dome tickets for the top attraction
  3. Foodies should book this top pasta and dessert cooking class!
  4. Discover Florence’s art when you book this Accademia guided tour
  5. Explore history with this top rated Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens tour

Things to See & Do in Florence

Interactive Map

ROUTE: Accademia Gallery – Piazza del Duomo – Florence Cathedral – San Giovanni’s Baptistery – Museo dell’Opera del Duomo – Ponte Vecchio – Pitti Palace – Boboli Gardens – Basilica of Santa Croce – Giotti’s Bell Tower – Palazzo Vecchio

How to use this map – Use your fingers (or computer mouse) to zoom in and out. Click or touch the icons to get more info about a place, and click the arrow in the box at the top left to open the index. To add to your own Google Maps account, click the star next to the title of the map.

Itinerary Notes

  • If you only have a single day in Florence, it is vital that you organize your trip well in advance. Although Florence is one of the most walkable cities in Europe, this is a packed itinerary and you don’t have much time, so it’s important that you plan your route around the historical center to ensure you get to see all the best places.
  • Because it is one of the most visited cities in the world and there are quite a few things you’ll want to do in Florence, getting tickets on the day is not advisable. Booking online at least two months in advance means you can be uber-organized and you won’t waste your precious time waiting in line.
  • If organizing your Florence trip yourself is not your bag, or you’re paying a last-minute visit, a Florence walking tour is a great idea to get a snapshot of the UNESCO World Heritage site that is Florence. You’ll see all the important stuff and top places (from the outside) and get a real flavor of the city.
  • Is this your first time visiting Italy? Get all the information you need in our Italy Travel Guide, including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Morning

Discover the Accademia Gallery

Neck and neck with the Duomo as Florence’s top tourist attraction, it makes sense to visit La Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze first thing because it is the most northerly spot on this itinerary.

The Accademia Gallery is best known for its sculptures by the great Renaissance artist, Michelangelo. Housed in The Tribune is David, the best-known statue in the world, followed by Prisoners (or Slaves) and St. Matthew. Between them, they attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the museum every year.

After David and Prisoners, the top five works of art to see in the Accademia are The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna; Tree of Life by Pacino di Buonaguida; Coronation of the Virgin by Jacopo di Cione, Madonna and Child by Botticelli and Cassone Adimari by Lo Scheggia.

Many of the works of art on display here were commissioned by and were part of the collection of the powerful Medici family and were donated by the last of the family so they could be enjoyed by humankind.

Depending on how long you spend in the Accademia, you might want to take the short walk to Piazza San Marco and the beautifully decorated San Marco Museum. Housed in a former Dominican convent Fra Angelico was a Dominican monk who later became Prior, and decorated the chapter house, cloister, and the brothers’ first floor cells with intricate spiritual frescoes.

Statue of three people in a blue painted hall in a museum

Explore Piazza del Duomo & Florence Cathedral

Piazza del Duomo is probably the most visited of the main attractions in Florence and is home to city’s finest architectural and historical marvels. 

It is an absolute must-see if you are seeing Florence in a day. Despite the inevitable crowds, the essence and rich history of the city can still be seen and felt all around.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is one of those marvels which require your attention. It was completed in the beginning of the 15th century by Filippo Brunelleschi, who also designed its famous dome. 

Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, also known as the Duomo, is built in the Gothic architectural style and is entirely covered in striking white, green, and pink marble panels. Inside the cathedral, you will find a couple of artworks of the noblemen of Florence who financed the building of the cathedral. 

Along with that, there is a crypt, which houses the tomb of Brunelleschi and the ruins of the former ancient cathedral of Santa Reparata. 

The cathedral opens from 10am to 4.30pm Monday to Saturday. As an active consecrated Cathedral, visiting hours on Sundays are very limited, so we suggest going on a weekday wherever possible.

Entrance to the cathedral itself is free of charge, but in the summer you can queue for a long time to get in, even if you arrive at 8am. Even though there is an extra cost, it’s well worth buying skip-the-line tickets to avoid eating into your precious time in Florence.

large religious building with a teracotta dome flanked by yellow historic buildings

Inside the cathedral, you can observe the famous and awe-inspiring Cupola del Brunelleschi from below. The Dome was painted by Giorgio Vasari and depicts the Last Judgement. The artwork is a true masterpiece and will leave you speechless the first time you see it, and for good reason!

To get up close to the artwork and the interior of the world’s biggest dome you can climb the 463 steps along narrow staircases through the structure, admiring the incredible architectural design and ingenuity as you go.  

It is essential that you book tickets in advance to climb Brunelleschi’s Dome. Often they are sold out three to four weeks ahead, and longer for popular time-slots.

Terracotta dome with a city scape spread beneath

Visit San Giovanni’s Baptistery

Also in the Piazza del Duomo is your next stop, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, famous for its unusual octagonal shape. It was built in the 11th century and is the place where many Florentine notable figures, as well as the Medici, were baptized. 

The baptistery is well-known for its incredible golden ceiling and the Gates of Paradise, created by Lorenzo Ghiberti between between 1425 and 1452. The richly embossed golden gates, that depict scenes from the Bible’s Old Testament, can be observed on the outside as you stand in front of Santa Maria del Fiore. 

For the other Duomo attractions including San Giovanni’s Baptistery, Giotto’s Bell Tower, Duomo’s Terraces, the Crypt, and the Piazza del Duomo Museum, you will need to buy timed entrance tickets from the Duomo’s official website, where you’ll also find all sorts of information about the complex.

Octagonal bulding with a black and white marble facade and gold doors

Learn at The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo

Visiting the Opera del Duomo Museum will only make your experience better as you learn about historic Florence. The museum of Piazza del Duomo houses all of the original artifacts of all the architectural wonders, including the Gates of Paradise. 

There is also a religious library, a museum showing the creation of Brunelleschi’s Dome, and lots of statues and busts that were found in the architectural marvels of Florence. 

On the top floor of the museum, you can observe Brunelleschi’s Dome from a closer distance and enjoy an Italian espresso. For espresso with atmosphere, make instead for Piazza della Repubblica en route to Ponte Vecchio, where you can grab a coffee, pizza slice, or a quick bite for lunch in the lively and busy square.

Make sure to stop and admire the Colonna dell’Abbondanza, marking the intersection of the Roman grid roads, the Cardo and Decumanus Maximus, which once formed the center of Ancient Roman Florence.

ornate building with green and pink marbled facade

Afternoon

Cross the Ponte Vecchio

Head south through the atmospheric streets, passing stunning historic buildings and beautiful piazzas. Not long before you arrive at the Ponte Vecchio to cross the Arno River, you’ll pass Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, home to Fontana del Porcellino, a bronze fountain of a boar, where water comes rushing out of the animal’s mouth.

Il Porcellino is the Florentine nickname for the bronze fountain that was sculpted and cast by Baroque master Pietro Tacca following a Greek marble original that Pope Pius IV donated to Rome. The fountain originally supplied water to the merchants who sold silks, brocades, and wool cloth in the square.

There is a tradition of placing a coin inside the boar’s mouth and making a wish, but sadly, this led to the bronze boar being stolen or broken as thieves and vandals tried to get to the coins inside. Because of this, the original was moved to the Bardini Museum in 2004.

The most famous bridge in Florence and probably Italy, Ponte Vecchio has Roman foundations and was the only bridge in Florence to survive World War II. Today, the old bridge is lined with shops selling souvenirs, but blur your eyes for a minute and imagine this as a bustling shopping place for Florentines in to buy their daily wares in the Middle Ages.

ancient bridge with houses built along the structure

Visit Pitti Palace

Probably a slightly lesser-known landmark, Palazzo Pitti does not attract quite as many crowds as the Duomo complex does. However, the palace houses some of the world’s best masterpieces and artifacts from Roman and Medieval times and is well worth seeing.

The palace was built in the 15th century and was later sold to the Medici family, who made it their family residence. The prominent Medici family was the most important dynasty in Florence. Famous bankers, the family controlled almost all of the wealth in the city. 

From 1513 to 1630, the family produced four Popes and two Queens of France, before being elevated to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1569. They enjoyed great wealth and position until the Duchy became bankrupt in 1723.  

For this reason, Florence is often called the ‘City of the Medici’. Everywhere you go in Florence you will end up either in a Medici palace, library, church, or garden!

Nowadays, the palace has a couple of levels to be explored. On the first floor is the lavish Palatine Gallery, which houses many artworks from the 16th and 17th centuries, including those of Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, and Rubens. There can also be found the Royal Apartments, which depict the way and style of living of the Medici family.

Then, on the ground floor is the treasury of the Dukes, displaying the family’s riches. Along with that, and if you have enough time, you can explore the Porcelain and Costume Museums, which depict the fashions of the Renaissance period.

Large brick palace surrouned by greenery

Stroll the Boboli Gardens

Head for the Boboli Gardens, which make up the largest green area in the city and provide a welcome respite after a day in Florence. 

While exploring the gardens near the palace you will first see the Amphitheater with the Roman basin and the Egyptian obelisk at the centre. The story behind the basin is unclear and many believe that it was brought there to show off the wealth of the family. 

Other notable spots in the gardens are Buontalenti’s Grotto, the Grand Duke’s Casino, the Cavalier’s Garden, and Neptune’s Fishpond.

wide path thrugh a garden lined with box bushes and statues amongst larger trees

Visit the Basilica of Santa Croce

The beautifully simple Basilica of Santa Croce is the burial place of the great and good of Florence, including Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli.  

The church is one of our favorite places in Florence. It’s the perfect place to find a sense of peace in the late afternoon after the frenetic activity of Florence’s top tourist sights and gives time to reflect on the history and importance of this incredible city.

church cloisters with central grass and a bell tower in the background

Other Italy Travel Ideas

Evening

Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower

Giotto’s Campanile is another great Renaissance marvel of Florence. It was built in the 14th century and finished by Francesco Talenti. Giotto was the designer and architect of the bell tower but sadly did not live long enough to see it finished. 

The bell tower is known for its beautiful views over Florence and its staggering height of 122 meters. To reach the top 414 stairs have to be climbed. However, there are a couple of terraces from which you can overlook the other marvels of Piazza del Duomo and catch your breath, which makes it all worthwhile!

Near the entrance, there are many hexagonal panels, which depict the history of mankind and the creation of Adam and Eve.

The skyline of Florence behind an ornate square bell tower

Explore the Palazzo Vecchio

The imposing Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) is full of hidden passages, secret symbols, and medieval history, perfect for an evening visit. Between April and September, the Palazzo is open till 11pm every night of the week except Thursdays and it’s one of the best things to do in Florence in the evening.

The 14th century town hall has a wonderful interior with ornate decor, intricate tapestries, and fine works of art by Michelangelo and Da Vinci, amongst others. 

The entrance to Palazzo Vecchio is guarded by Neptune’s fountain, commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici and the building overlooks the Piazza della Signoria where the replica of Michelangelo’s David stands.

Just a short walk over the square is the 14th century Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air sculpture gallery of antique and Renaissance art featuring statuary by artists such as Giambologna, Bandinelli, Ammannati, and Benvenuto Cellini, whose Perseus with the Head of Medusa is one of the highlights.

Creamy coloured palace building with crenellated roof and tower, lit up at night

Try a Florence Food Experience

If you prefer to take the hassle out of finding somewhere for dinner, why not try a food experience? This highly rated handmade pasta and dessert cooking class with drinks for an authentic experience is the best option to learn about traditional cooking and the cuisine of Tuscany.

kitchen work surface with pasta and peoples hands rolling dough

Where to Eat in Florence

Mercato Centrale at San Lorenzo Market

Our top recommendation for lunch in Florence is the fabulous Marche de San Lorenzo, a five minute walk north from the Piazza del Duomo. 

Head upstairs for the Central Market, a gourmet food court where you’ll find stalls selling local meats, cheese, and all manner of delicious lunch options.

Osteria Enoteca Vecchio Cancello

Our favorite place in Florence for dinner is Osteria Enoteca Vecchio Cancello, a typical family-run trattoria serving local and Tuscan cuisine like the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina or Florentine steak. Just ten minutes from the Duomo, this one’s worth the walk!

Matto Matto Firenze

For a simple dinner, closer to the old center, Matto Matto is a few minutes walk from the Duomo and offers well-cooked traditional Italian food with attentive service.  

large indoor food market space with people sitting at tables

Top Five Florence Travel Tips

  • The absolute best time to visit Giotto’s Campanile is at sunset, for the incredible view of the city and Brunelleschi’s Dome in the evening light.
  • If you can, squeeze in a taxi ride to Giardino delle Rose or Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte and enjoy the most romantic (and Instagrammable) views over the city of Florence.
  • Avoid the long lines for top attractions and book all the things you want to do in advance, especially around the Duomo. On some days you can’t even queue because all the tickets have been sold online.
  • Always carry cash, as the ATMs in Florence have high charges and some places in the city do not accept card payments.
  • Did you know there are three (yes, three!) statues of Michelangelo’s David in Florence? The original icon is housed in the Accademia Gallery. The second, a superb replica, can be seen in Piazza della Signoria, a two minute detour on your route from the Duomo to Pitti Palace. The third is a bronze replica and is mounted high on a plinth overlooking the city, in Piazzale Michelangelo (close to Giardino delle Rose and a great place to see the same amazing views).
Statue of David from behind

More Than One Day in Florence?

Do you have just a little bit longer in this beautiful city? With just an extra half a day in Florence, you could take one of these amazing day trips from Florence or visit at least three more quintessential Florence attractions;

The Galleria degli Uffizi houses the world’s leading collection of Renaissance paintings from artists such as Raphael, Botticelli, and da Vinci, whose genius is also celebrated in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, also in Florence.

For art lovers, the top must-sees are Adoration of the Magi by da Vinci; Tondo Doni by Buonarroti; The Birth of Venus by Botticelli; Medusa by Caravaggio and The Venus of Urbino by Titian.

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the Florence must-see attractions, but it’s not a small museum and you could easily while away a whole day trip here – not ideal if you only have limited time in Florence. 

Piazza Santo Spirito

Head for Piazza Santo Spirito in the Oltrarno district for a real taste of the Florentine life. Bustling with street markets in the morning and lively bars and restaurants in the evenings, it’s a local favorite. For the best people-watching, grab a drink on the balcony of Hotel Palazzo Guadagni.

Santa Maria Novella Church

Santa Maria Novella is a spectacular church near the Santa Maria Novella train station, with a vibrant piazza always thronged with people and street vendors. Inside, the church is a treasure trove of art by Giotto, Lippi, and a series of incredible frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio that are some of the best in Italy. 

Giardino Bardini

Garden lovers should head for the walled gardens of Giardino Bardini, home to the beautiful staircase you can see from the River Arno. If you’re visiting in April, the magnificent wisteria arch will be in full bloom, which makes for a perfect image, taken at the top of the baroque staircase.

green trees either side of a historic wall

Tuscany Day Trip with Lunch and Wine

If you don’t have time for a Tuscan road trip, head into the Italian countryside on this highly rated and well organized day trip.

Discover the vineyards and medieval architecture of stunning Siena, medieval San Gimignano, and the incredible Leaning Tower of Pisa on this small group full day Chianti journey. Savor an organic farmhouse lunch with homemade pasta, cured meats, and local cheeses, with delicious Chianti wines from the region.

With a professional guide to offer insights, an organized tour is the perfect opportunity to see more of Italy in less time!

seven brick towers rising above small town with olive trees in the foreground

Florence Practicalities

When to Visit Florence

Whenever you go to Florence, it will always be an amazing experience. If you want to skip the huge crowds at the top sights during the high season, then you should plan your trip in the shoulder seasons of spring or autumn, although don’t expect the historic center of the city to be empty.

Like Rome, Florence tends to have a very pleasant climate almost all of the year, and even during the Italian winter, there will be plenty of sun.

However, if you want to get the most from your one day in Florence, consider going in March, April, May, September, and October. Those are the perfect months to enjoy the weather and avoid the huge crowds that flock to Florence during the summer months.

flowering purple Wisteria bush with a domed cathedral and towers in the background

Getting to Florence

When flying to Florence you will land at Aeroport di Firenze-Peretola, only 4km from the city centre. We recommend using Skyscanner to book your flights for the best deals and the largest selection of airlines.

The quickest way to get into Florence is on a tram. Trams from the airport run every 5-10 minutes and take 20 minutes to get to Piazza dell’Unità Italiana, right in the heart of the city. You can buy your tickets at the vending machines at the airport tram station.

For the best start to your Florence trip book a private transfer from the airport with Intui directly to your accommodation in the city center – it’s more cost-effective than you think! Intui works with a large range of local operators to bring the best options and prices for your transfer.

Are you visiting Florence as part of a longer trip? A Tuscan road trip is the best way see this gorgeous part of Italy, and our guide to road tripping in Tuscany has all you need, including maps, routes, highlights and tips, to help you plan the perfect trip.

Where to Stay in Florence

Luxury: Hotel Spadai – Booking.com | Agoda

Our favorite Florence hotel, the Spadai is a minutes walk from the Duomo and even has a view of the famous dome from the breakfast room. The rooms are quirky and orignal, all beautifully decorated and extremely comfortable.

Mid-Range: Soprarno SuitesBooking.com | Agoda

We also like these suites close to the Ponte Vecchio for their historic setting and individually decorated rooms, many with original frescoed ceilings and roll top baths.

Budget: Hotel Perseo – Booking.com | Agoda

Located in a very central location, the Perseo is known for its welcoming staff, comfortable rooms and excellent breakfast!

Hostel: Hostel Archi Rossi – Booking.com | Agoda

In Florence’s historic centre, this hostel offers comfortable private and shared rooms in a colorful environment. There is also a garden and sun terrace for relaxing after sightseeing.

Make sure you have travel insurance you can trust when visiting Italy. We recommend True Traveller for their 5-star TrustPilot reviews, variety of cover options, best activities cover as standard, great prices, and excellent service.

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