How to spend 2 days in Florence

Travel Itinerary
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Arianna
Itinerary by: Arianna
5 months ago
Traveller
Duration: 2 days

Itinerary Introduction

You got your ticket and you booked your home-away-from-home in the Italian capital of culture and art. You made a quick google search for “What to do in Florence in 2 days” and found out that the city offers A LOT. This agile guide - written by a local - will give you all the information required to get the most out of your weekend, see the best Florence has to offer, and maximise your enjoyment in the process. Photo by Heidi Kaden on Unsplash

Useful information about Florence

The history of Florence

As you’ll be able to tell from its spectacular historic architecture, Florence has a rich and illustrious past. Founded by the Romans, Florence became a wealthy city in the Middle Ages, and continued as such into the Renaissance period. This was largely due to the banks that were based in the city, which helped transform Florence into Europe’s economic centre. One of these banks was owned by the Medici family, who essentially ran the city from the late-fourteenth century to the late-fifteenth century. The Medicis supported artists such as Michelangelo, da Vinci and Botticelli, and Florence’s great wealth helped art, literature and science all flourish here. After the end of the Medici line, Florence remained a powerful city, and even became the capital of Italy in 1865, until Rome joined the Kingdom of Italy and superseded it in 1870.

The economy of Florence

The local economy in Florence is thought to be twice the national average of Italy, and it’s the fourth-richest city in the country. Today, as well as tourism, the economy is based on industry, commerce and services, and Florence also draws a lot of international students to its universities. The surrounding area produces food and wine, with the Chianti region's famous wine produced to the south of Florence.

A fun fact from Florence

In 1339, Florence became the first city in Europe to have paved roads.

The language in Florence

Like the rest of Italy, Italian is the language spoken in Florence. To get you started, some useful words are: “Ciao” (Hello), “Arrivederci” (Good bye), “Per favore” (Please), “Grazie” (Thank you) and “Prego” (You’re welcome). You’ll also need “Si” for yes and “No” for – you guessed it – no. Say, “Parla Inglese?” to ask if someone speaks English.

Best times to visit Florence

You might think that summer (June–August) would be the best time to visit Florence, as the weather will be bright and sunny. And this is certainly a beautiful time to visit the city, but it can be a little too hot for exploring on foot, especially in July and August. As these months coincide with European school holidays, they’re also the busiest time to come, with longer queues for attractions and restaurants becoming more difficult to book in advance. What’s more, in August, many Italians leave Florence for one or two weeks, meaning that businesses often close while they’re away. Instead, the best time to visit Florence is just outside of the summer, in May or September, when the weather is warm but not too hot, so you can still dine outside, and the crowds have dissipated. Later in autumn, October is still a pleasant month to visit, but the weather is fairly cool by November, when it can also be rainy. Winter in Florence (December–February) can be cold, but the weather won’t fall below freezing, and it’s also the cheapest time to visit, so this can be a great time to visit Florence if you’re on a budget. The weather will start to heat up by spring (March–May), meaning this is a good time to visit Florence if you’re happy to wear a few layers in the evening, with the rates still remaining lower than peak season.

Getting to Florence

Florence is served by the international Florence Airport, Peretola. It’s just 6km from here to the city center, meaning a taxi will only set you back around €25. A cheaper option, however, is to take the tram, which will whizz you to the main train station – Stazione Santa Maria Novella – in twenty minutes, from where you can connect to destinations across the city. Alternatively, board the ATAF Volainbus shuttle, which departs from the airport every thirty minutes, and takes around twenty-five minutes to arrive into the city center.

Getting around in Florence

(1) A combination of walking and bus In the summer and spring, you can easily get around the city only by walking. However, If you are traveling during winter-time or autumn, low temperatures could make walking everywhere unpleasant. For this reason, I recommend a combination of walking and using ATAF - the local bus line - and the “Tramvia" or tram. Make sure you purchase the ticket beforehand, since buying from the bus driver is significantly more expensive and not always an option. If you haven’t bought your ticket beforehand you can look for the automatic ticket dispenser and pay with a Visa card. However, If you don’t own a Visa card, there is still another option left: You can send a text message saying "ATAF'' to the number 4880105. You will then receive your ticket right away in the form of a text message. The bus ticket is valid for 90 minutes and can be used multiple times! (2) Bike around the city This option is suitable for anyone who enjoys riding a bike or wants to avoid potentially crowded buses. Especially in the summer and spring, when the Italian weather is generally good and rain-free, I highly recommend this choice. Bicycling makes every distance significantly shorter and allows you to enjoy the view as well as the breeze on your face. There are several options for renting a bike in Florence but my personal favorite is the Mobike. Mobike’s e-bikes are everywhere in the city center and just one click away from being rented by you, without the hassle of going to a renter's place. Just download the app Movi by Mobike, check on the map the nearest bike and unlock using the QR code. As soon as you're done using it you can just leave it in one of the numerous checkpoints that can be found all around the city center.

Local cuisine in Florence

Like almost everywhere in Italy, the food in Florence is fantastic, and you’ll find lots of Tuscan cuisine here. But be careful not to get stuck in tourist traps – guidebooks and online reviews can help you pick authentic places with reasonably priced food. To try Florence’s local cuisine, look out for bistecca alla Florentina (a huge hunk of grilled, salted steak on the bone), schiacciata alla Fiorentina (a light cake decorated with powdered sugar), or for the brave, lampredotto e trippa (lampredotto or tripe served in bread with a green sauce).

Tipping in Florence

Don’t feel obliged to always tip in Florence, but you will find that tips are appreciated by waiting staff and bar staff. If you do tip, around 5–10% is a good amount.

Discount card for Florence

Use the Firenzecard (€85) for 72-hours of fast-track entrance to museums, palaces and churches within Florence, as well as free entry for children under 18 years old that are in the same family as the card owner.

Florence - Travel Itinerary

Day 1

Florence - Day 1

On your first day in Florence, I've planned the best five places to acquaint you with Florence's cultural and historical highlights.
10:00

Florence, City Centre

Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
Florence's city centre is relatively small. It doesn’t matter where you are, most of the landmarks are within walking distance from each other.
Article By: Arianna

Notes

Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

11:00 - 12:00

The Baptistery of St. John and Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, P.za Duomo.

Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The marble façade of Santa Maria Novella is one of the greatest works of the Florentine Renaissance, as well as one of the most iconic symbols of the city itself. To fully appreciate this masterpiece, let’s talk art history a bit! The church was founded in 1279 by the Domenican Order of the Catholic Church. The architecture of the church combines elements of the Medieval, Gothic and Neoclassical styles. The completion of the church took almost 200 years and it has since then been subjected to modifications and restorations. What are the best things to do in Piazza Duomo? Yes, the Church facade alone is mesmerizing. However, the Florence full experience must include a visit to Brunelleschi’s Dome. The Dome of Santa Maria Novella was built between 1420 and 1436 by Filippo Brunelleschi and is the largest masonry vault in the world (45.5 meters in diameter and 116 meters high!). On the inside, the vault is decorated with frescoes representing the Last Judgement. If you want a breathtaking view of the city and your feeling energetic, you can try and climb Giotto's bell tower. Warning: the tower is 84.7 meters tall and, since there is no elevator, visitors must walk 414 steps. If you are up for it then go for it, however, it is reportedly not suitable for people with heart problems, vertigo problems, or pregnant women. If the prospect of 414 steps doesn’t agree with you, don’t worry! Only 150 steps separate you from the beautiful Duomo's Terraces. The panoramic visit to the terraces allows you to walk around the perimeter of the church, allowing almost a 360 view of the city. All tickets are available here: https://operaduomofirenze.skiperformance.com/en/store#/en/buy! Tip to take the best picture in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella: When trying to take the perfect picture in front of the Cathedral, my suggestion is to either use the wide-angle option on your phone’s camera or try and take a vertical panorama picture. This way you can fit the whole church in the picture, as well as yourself Where to have lunch (or aperitivo!) with a view: If you are craving a glass of Tuscan wine with a breathtaking view, I recommend the View on art Rooftop Cocktail Bar. The terrace faces Santa Maria del Fiore, offering an exclusive view of the church as well as a perfect photo op. It may be best to make a reservation in advance!
Article By: Arianna

Notes

Photo by Luca Lago on Unsplash

12:00 - 13:00

Piazza della Signoria, P.za della Signoria

P.za della Signoria, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Piazza Della Signoria is one of the most iconic “piazze”, or squares, in Florence. When you first arrive, just look around and let the Italian renaissance atmosphere take you back in time. Here you have the chance to see several bronzes and marmoreal sculptural groups dated from the Middle Age to the 16th century. The iconic Michelangelo's David: You can find the original by Michelangelo in the Galleria dell’Accademia where it has been removed from its original context to prevent it from eroding. The copy is situated in front of Palazzo Vecchio, the real position of the “David”. The Rape of the Sabine Women is situated in the Loggia Dei Lanzi and sculpted by Giambologna in 1583. Perseus with the Head of Medusa, also situated in the Loggia Dei Lanzi and sculpted by Cellini in 1554. On the other side of the Piazza, Nord-ovest of Palazzo Vecchio, you can find the magnificent Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati (1575). Where to enjoy a brief break with a view of Piazza Della Signoria: When you arrive at the Fountain of Neptune, I recommend having a relaxing espresso moment in one of the cafes that face the Fountain. Even in the wintertime, enjoy the typical Italian snack, caffè or cappuccino, and brioches, warmed up by electric heaters and covers. Photo by Matteo Kutufa on Unsplash
Article By: Arianna

Getting there

From Piazza del Duomo, head west toward Via Ricasoli, turn left onto Via dei Calzaiuoli and walk for 400 m. Then turn left onto P.za della Signoria.

Travel time
0 hours 6 minutes
13:00 - 18:00

Uffizi Gallery, Galleria degli Uffizi

Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Between the monumental churches, Renaissance fountains, and picturesque gardens, Florence is a real open-air museum. Yet, one can’t say to have properly seen the city without paying a visit to the Uffizi Gallery. The gallery includes pieces from all of the renewed Italian Middle Age and Renaissance Age artists such as Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raffaello, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio, as well as masterpieces by other European artists. Enter the Uffizi Gallery for a chance to see the real-life version of your Art History book. In the Gallery are featured among some of the most iconic paintings in the world, such as “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli, the “Doni Tondo” or “Doni Madonna” by Michelangelo, or “Medusa” by Caravaggio. The gallery is open every day except for Monday and it is highly recommended to reserve a ticket in advance to avoid long queues. Find your tickets at https://www.uffizi.it/en/tickets! Where to eat after visiting the Uffizi Gallery: You walked through the aisles of the Uffizi and now you are getting tired and justifiably hungry. If you are looking to grab lunch and you want to experience some typical Tuscan street food, the ‘Ino sandwich shop Via Dei Gergofili is the place to go! The informal restaurant is located between Piazza Della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio, just on the way to your next stop. You will be amazed by the quality and wide choice of typical Italian sandwiches, or “panini”. Just make your choice, ask for the best wine to go with your sandwich and you are good to go! Photo by Matteo Lezzi on Unsplash
Article By: Arianna

Getting there

Head south on P.za della Signoria toward Via Vacchereccia 200 m. Then, turn right into Piazzale degli Uffizi.

Travel time
0 hours 3 minutes
18:00 - 19:00

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Ponte Vecchio (literally “Old Bridge” in Italian), is the oldest bridge in Florence and the first to cross the Arno river connecting the two parts of the city. Ponte Vecchio survived all kinds of disastrous events since its creation and is the only bridge that was miraculously not affected by the German bombing in 1944. Today, the bridge hosts among the most refined goldsmiths and jewellery in Florence. Yet, originally the bridge resembled a more common marketplace and included butchers and greengrocer shops. The butchers were forced to move their shops from the city center to the bridge to protect the streets of the city from the smell. However, when the Vasari Corridor was built in 1565, the butchers and farmers were expelled by the local government and substituted with more elegant and exclusive shops. Tip to take the best picture in front of Ponte Vecchio: Walking down the Ponte Vecchio is an absolute must, however, when it comes to picture taking, for a better view of the bridge it is better to go to St Trinity Bridge or Ponte Santa Trinità, around 500 meters down the road from Ponte Vecchio. Where to dine with a view of the Arno river: 1. Panorama Restaurant - La Scaletta: Via de'Guicciardini, 13 ( Hotel La Scaletta), 50125 Firenze Prezzo. Estimated average price per person 35 €. 2. Alla Torre de Rossi: Borgo San Jacopo, 3, 50125 Firenze. Estimated average price per person 35 € 3. Borgo San Jacopo: Borgo San Jacopo 62/r, 50125 Firenze. Estimated average price per person 140€. MICHELIN Special 150 €. Photo by Ali Nuredini on Unsplash
Article By: Arianna

Getting there

Head northwest on Lungarno degli Archibusieri toward Via dei Georgofili. Continue to follow Lungarno Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici for 97 m. Then, Continue onto Lungarno degli Archibusieri.

Travel time
0 hours 2 minutes

Day 2

Florence - Day 2

On day 2 of this definitive guide to Florence, you'll experience more cultural delights, as well as some incredible view points and outdoor oases.
10:00 - 12:00

Pitti Palace, Piazza de' Pitti

Piazza de' Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Palazzo Pitti, or Pitti Palace, was once the residence of the Medici family, one of the most prominent of the Italian Renaissance. Their love for the arts and influence in the politics of Florence was crucial in the history of Italian Humanism. Today, it is possible to visit Palazzo Pitti and its extensive collection of artwork. The gallery is impressive, to say the least, including the largest selection of Raffaello’s paintings in the world, however, the Palace itself is a work of art. Pay a visit to the Royal and Imperial Apartments and you will be mesmerized by the beauty and luxury of its rooms. Walk the corridors that were once walked by Kings and Queens, and find yourself lost in the details of the Frescoes that completely cover the ceilings and walls of the Palace. Photo by Amelia Noyes on Unsplash
Article By: Arianna

Notes

Where to eat like a local near Pitti Palace: After visiting the Gallery, your next stop will be the Boboli Gardens, so be prepared for a nice long walk! In preparation for the visit to the park, I recommend going for hearty meal. Here’s a chance for you to try one of Florence’s most iconic and loved street foods: The lampredotto sandwich at La Buticche di Lampredotto in Nerli Piazza. This street-food eatery is a 10 minutes walk away from the Boboli gardens and is loved by both locals and tourists. Try the trip and lampredotto sandwich, topped with green or hot sauce!

Getting there

From Ponte Vecchio, head towards Borgo S. Jacopo. Continue onto Via de' Guicciardini until arriving in Piazza de' Pitti.

Travel time
0 hours 4 minutes
12:00 - 15:00

The Boboli Gardens

The Boboli Gardens, Piazza de' Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
The Boboli Gardens are a must-see when visiting Florence. With its 45 thousand square meters, the Gardens are one of the largest and most beautiful gardens in Italy. So much so that in 2013 the Park was officially recognized as part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. You will have to walk, but it will be totally worth it. The gardens offer everything you may think of, and much more! Take your time exploring every path. You can use the map that will be provided at the entrance, or you can just relax, enjoying the most scenic and romantic stroll of your life. What makes the Gardens so unique, is the fact that it doesn't matter where you go, you could find a beautiful secluded garden, a secret pond, or an ancient statue hidden behind the bushes. The park is so large and rich in art, it is virtually impossible to see everything. So, here is a Top 3 of what to see in the Boboli Gardens: (1) The Buontalenti Grotto (or Grotta del Buontalenti): The indescribable beauty and fairy-tale atmosphere of the Grotto will amaze any visitor. In fact, the Grotto is one of the greatest examples of the Italian “fantasy caves”, a form of modernist architecture that, during the Renaissance, found incredible popularity among the richest families in Tuscany. With its brilliant mix of art, architecture, and geological formations, the fantasy cave is characterized by a bizarre and magical ambiance that you will never forget. It is composed of 3 rooms, each of which has been entirely sculpted, creating the illusion of human and natural figures emerging from the rock ceilings and walls. (2) The Boboli Amphitheater and the Egyptian Obelisk: In front of the Amphitheater, one of the main buildings and most interesting pieces of architecture that can be found in the gardens, you will be surprised to see an actual Egyptian obelisk! The Obelisk is an original, brought in Italy from Egypt during the first century AD, and is believed that its creation dates back to the reign of Ramsses II. (3) The Kaffeehaus of the Boboli Gardens: The Kaffehaus definitely represents one of the most curious buildings in Florence. Its style is a peculiar late-rococo and its green/blue colors are carefully picked to blend harmoniously with the Gardens. With its peculiar circular shape and onion-shaped Belvedere dome, the Kaffehaus offers a 360 view of the city, as well as a great excuse for a well-deserved break. A piece of advice: to have the best possible experience, you may want to wear comfortable shoes when visiting the park. The Gardens are built over an actual hill and some of its main attractions are on the very top; Not properly a hike, but definitely a memorable walk! Photo by Juli Kosolapova on Unsplash
Article By: Arianna

Getting there

The Boboli Gardens are located in front of Palazzo Pitti.

15:00 - 17:00

Bardini Gardens, Giardino Bardini

Giardino Bardini, Costa S. Giorgio, 2, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
If you are looking for a garden that’s relaxing, away-from-the-jam and allows the perfect meditative stroll, the Bardini Gardens are the place to go! The Bardini Gardens are located just 3 minutes away from the Boboli, they are just as beautiful but not nearly as famous. This means the Bardini Gardens are almost always virtually deserted as if they are widely loved by locals but not yet fully discovered by tourists. The Park is an example of refined and artistic landscaping, together with one of the greatest views of the Florence city center and the Arno River. The Bardini Garden’s vegetation perfectly frames the city skyline in such a way that you’ll think you just walked into an impressionist painting. I personally love the Bardini Gardens because they truly offer an opportunity for a relaxing and calming walk with a great view-point, without risking ending up in a big crowd of tourists. If you are visiting Florence in spring, then you won’t want to miss out on Bardini’s Wisteria Tunnel. The beautiful purple flower blooms around April/May and is a stunning view. The Gardens’ style takes from the typical Italian style, as well as the English and Chinese, blending the different inspirations and creating a fairy-tale-like atmosphere Photo by Paola F on Unsplash
Article By: Arianna

Getting there

Exiting the Boboli Gardens, turn right to stay on Via del Forte di S. Giorgio, then, procede on Via del Forte di S. Giorgio for 500m.

Travel time
0 hours 6 minutes
18:00 - 20:00

Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Piazzale Michelangelo is where you want to be (preferably at sunset hour) to say goodbye to Florence. The Terrace is more than often crowded, but for a reason: The monumental terrace overlooks the Florence skyline offering a truly unmatched scenery, especially at sunset hour. My advice: Bring with you a bottle of Tuscan wine (for example a classic bottle of red Sangiovese Wine) and some street food for snacking. Consume your typical Italian “Aperitivo”, sit on the gigantic staircase leading to the Terrace, and enjoy a truly spectacular view of the city, together with the youth of Florence. Tip to take the best picture from Piazzale Michelangelo: Piazzale Michelangelo offers one of the best views of Florence’s Skyline, especially of Brunelleschi’s Dome. However, when trying to fit a subject in the picture, you will notice that everything in the background appears much further away than you want. Solving this problem is easy: Just move further from the subject and zoom in! This way, the background will instantly appear closer without messing with the subject’s proportions. Photo by Daniel Seßler on Unsplash
Article By: Arianna

Getting there

From the Bardini Gardens, head north on Costa S. Giorgio toward Vicolo della Cava for 160m. Then, turn right onto Costa Scarpuccia. After around 200m, continue onto Via de' Bardi. Walk for 100m and then continue onto Via di S. Niccolò, take a slight right onto Via S. Miniato and continue onto Via del Monte alle Croci. Finally, turn left onto Scalea del Monte alle Croci and take the stairs.

Travel time
0 hours 17 minutes
Privacy: public

About the author

Hello! I am Arianna, an NGO worker, and wannabe Travel-guide writer.

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