Florence or Firenze in Italian is the biggest city in the Tuscany region and my favourite city in Italy. I have spent years working as a tour guide in Italy, guiding tourists around some of the most amazing cities. Florence was one of those places I couldn’t wait to return to each time. Imagine cobbled streets, 16th-century palaces, statues, bridges across the River Arno and so much charm and magic. Especially on summer evenings.
This Florence in 2 days itinerary combines my knowledge of what to see, what to do as well as what to eat in Florence to have absolutely the best time here.
Can you see Florence in 2 days? Absolutely. While you might never want to leave, this gorgeous city filled with art and incredible architecture can be easily explored on foot as it is quite compact.
However, you need a plan!
This 2 day Florence itinerary will help you prepare – what tickets or tours you need to prebook to avoid disappointment and how to schedule your busy days in Florence.
Plus you might have an extra day to take a day trip from Florence. In that case, I have some suggestions too.
Here is a quick overview of all the highlights included in this itinerary. Plus I will give you a few amazing places to have a delicious lunch, dinner, and how not to get overcharged for gelato and pay 9 euros. LOL.
You either call it the best day ever or a tourist scam!
Day 1 of 2 Days in Florence:
Piazza Del Duomo, Duomo & Baptistiry & Campanille
Piazza del Signoria & Palazzo de Vecchio and Loggia
The Uffizi Gallery
Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
Day 2 of 2 Days in Florence:
Santa Croce Church
Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset
Florence in 2 Days Itinerary – Day 1
Start the day exploring Florence with a walking tour that will allow you to see the historic centre.
Duomo (meaning cathedral) is what most locals call the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It’s simply magnificent and monumental. It took 150 years to build and there are three types of marble from Carrara (white), Prato (green) and Siena (red) which creates a colourful and very rich facade.
The terra-cotta tiled dome was built by Brunelleschi and his design was ingenious, and even to this day is considered an architectural and engineering masterpiece. The double-walled dome rests on a drum and the entire dome was built without scaffolding, the bricks being laid in a self-supporting pattern, and took 16 years to build.
It was the first dome in the world built without central support and the 1st octagonal dome.
The facade of the main cathedral in Florence – The Duomo
You can visit the Duomo free of charge, but a dress code applies (no short shorts, or singlets). You will most likely see the line form leading to the big door. If you wish, you can simply purchase theskip-the-line ticketthat will get you inside through the express security check at the designated time.
Visitors are able to climb 463 steps to the top of the dome and see how the inner shell supports the outer shell. You will need a ticket for this, but it could be the perfect way to start your morning in Florence.
See the mosaic floors and all the frescos inside while keeping nice a cool, the cathedral is always cooler and provides a break from the heat in the summer.
If the lines are simply too long, you might pop in later on in the afternoon and instead enjoy the Duomo from the outside.
You will feel like the Duomo appears at every corner in Florence. You’ll see it through the small side streets and of course from the other side of the river Arno.
Campanile(designed by Giotto) is the bell tower right next to the Duomo and you could also climb it – 414 steps to the top.
The Campanile in Florence
Inside the Duomo
The Baptistry is the third structure in this square and it is renowned for its 3 sets of bronze doors, with relief sculptures by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Michelangelo dubbed them the “Gates of Paradise”. Have a look at them, it took 21 years to complete.
After visting Piazza del Duomo head down the main street Via dei Calzaiuoli towarrd Piazza Del Signoria. The street has many shops and cafes that sell coffee, gelatos and paninis. It’s a good place to grab something if you have spent significant time at the Duomo.
Gelato tip: In Florence, they will often ask which cone you wish to have your gelato in. But be careful, if you choose the huge cone covered in chocolate or nuts they will fill that with gelato and you will pay 9 euro for lots of ice cream which is almost impossible to eat. So don’t be afraid to ask about the cost before you order and the size.
An “L” shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace), for centuries this has been the scene of Florence’s social and political life. Today it still serves as a town hall and you can wander through the courtyard.
It’s an open-air museum, with lots of sculptures, a fountain, a palace and a museum.
There is a replica of the statue of David in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. The original of Michelangelo’s “David” stood here until 1873, when it was replaced with a replica for fear of weather damage. Trust me, the real David is much better. As you look around the square facing the palace, on your left, you will see a bronze statue of Grand Duke Cosimo and “Neptune’s Fountain”.
Just behind the fountain are water taps to refill your water bottle and one of them is sparkling! So stay hydrated on the way here.
On the right, you will see a lot of statues under an arched roof – lookout for the bronze statue depicting “Perseus with the Head of Medusa”.
But let’s continue through the wonderful arches of the Uffizi courtyard. Uffizi Gallery is the main museum in Florence for Renaissance art. It used to be the offices (hence the name, Uffizi means office) of the Medici Family that once ruled Florence.
They also had their own private art collection that paved the way to the museum that it is today. The absolute highlight includes:
Italian for “old bridge”, this is the oldest surviving bridge (hence the name) in the city built in 1345. It spans the narrowest part of the river Arno and is one of the last bridges that still has shops along with it, a common feature in the Middle Ages.
Originally the shops were blacksmiths, tanners and butchers, who used the river as a handy dumping ground, but in 1593 Duke Ferdinando evicted all the tenants and replaced them with goldsmiths and jewellers, as they were able to pay higher taxes (and smelled less bad). Many still occupy the premises today.
You will see the bridge as you reach the river from the Uffizi, this is also the best place to take photos.
Ponte Vecchio – Photo taken from Ponte Santa Trinita
There is a secret corridor that runs above the shops, along the eastern side to allow the Medici to go from their residence to the town hall without mixing with the commoners.
You can follow the crowds and walk onto the bridge.
The former palace of the Medici Family with beautiful gardens is worth walking across the bridge to see it. The palace houses some additional Renaissance art and you can relax later on and walk through the gardens.
Florence in 2 days itinerary – Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
But if you are short on time or simply too hot, you can skip this part and have a relaxing afternoon or maybe visit Uffizi Gallery.
You might need a little afternoon break after this as I didn’t create this Florence in 2 days itinerary to be brutal. It might be a great idea to return to your hotel have a shower, refresh and head out for the aperitivo and dinner in Florence.
You can walk across the bridge and see some other streets of Florence or you can also choose to walk along the bank of the river Arno and stop at the bridge Ponte Santa Trinita where you can take a gorgeous photo of Florence with Ponte Vecchio.
Here are a few options I recommend:
Aperitivo – SE·STO on Arno Rooftop Bar – A popular venue with magnificent views of the city. A unique setting in the heart of Florence to enjoy aperitivo.
Dinner – Trattoria Il Bargello – It can be difficult to choose where to eat dinner in Florence, as there is fantastic food everywhere. This charming old-world trattoria offers typical Tuscan fare like Florentine steak, pasta and delicious regional wines.
The Academia is a small gallery that was initially founded in the 16th century as an academy of fine arts. It was the first school in Europe to be set up to teach drawing, painting and sculpture.
Michelangelo’s “David” (1501-1504), depicts the biblical hero who defeated the giant Goliath. It symbolises the small state of Florence standing up to its tyrannous neighbours, its original setting outside State offices cemented this.
The Statue of David is a must-see during your 2 days in Florence
David is considered a true masterpiece – the anatomy is perfect and it was carved from a single block of marble without the help of any clay models and is believed to represent Michelangelo’s view of the perfect human form.
Other Michelangelo works are displayed here, as well as Botticelli and Giambolgna, and also an extensive collection of old musical instruments.
The Academia is not open on Mondays and it opens early at 8.15 am.
Time to explore the Central Market of Florence, which is only a few minutes away from the Academia. This is THE market for all the foodies! There is another market, San Lorenzo which can be great for some souvenirs shopping. But as the Central market closes after lunch, you want to come here first.
The Central Market is a two-level food market. The ground floor houses butchers, delis, specialty shops selling pasta and olive oil, vegetables and fruit sellers as well as florists. There are a few food places, but more range of food you must head upstairs.
The Upstairs of the market is like the best food court and must do on your 2 days in Florence itinerary.
Hoesntly you can eat anything here and it will be good. There is a special Napoli-style pizza, so if you are a pizza lover maker sure you try it! There is, of course, a wine bar, to try some of the local Chianti and you can buy gelato.
The Central Market food court offers incredible Napoli style pizza. Yum!
After you have eaten your body weight you can stroll through the San Lorenzo market which is just outside to shop for some souvenirs. Florence is known for its leather, but trust me you will never buy real leather at the markets.
Make your way to the next place exploring some small streets of Florence again.
A truly beautiful and unique church from the 13th century standing on a huge square. You can admire the church from the outside or visit to see frescos from Giotto and it is home to a sculpture by Donatello called “Crucifix”, though his friend Brunelleschi commented that he made Christ look like a peasant. This is where Michelangelo is buried.
The Basilica of Santa Croce
Lunch at FrancescoVini – Florence in 2 days itinerary
You might want to revisit the historical centre if you wish or visit Basilica San Lorenzo, Church of Santa Maria Novella or Bargello Museum.
At the end of your final day of the 2 days in Florence itinerary, it’s time to see the spectacular sunset Florence is known for. There is no better place than Piazzale Michelangelo which overlooks the city.
You will find locals and many tourists come here to have a drink and watch the sunset. You can walk up, but I recommend catching a taxi up and walking down the hill instead.
Finish your Florence in 2 Days Itinerary with sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
Tonight’s dinner! Treat yourself to one of the specialties in Florence, maybe try the famous Florentine Steak!
If you have another day in Florence, I recommend taking a day trip to the nearby Tuscan cities. Don’t hire a car and drive – trust me it’s not worth the stress. Choose one of these tours:
Where to stay in Florence?
There are many options for accommodation in Florence. It’s all about location in Florence. I’ve listed hotels below that I recommend to suit every budget.
Budget Hotel – Hotel Cestelli is in a fantastic location, at a fair price. This hotel is 200m from the Old Bridge and 300m from the Piazza Della Signoria square. A good option for budget-conscious travellers.
Mid-Range Hotel – FuordArno Bed & Breakfast offers stylish accommodation in Florence, only 400m from Palazzo Vecchio. An exceptional breakfast is included in the rate, this hotel ticks all the boxes. A great option for your Florence in 2 days itinerary.
Luxury Hotel – Hotel Cerretani Firenzeis located in the heart of Florence, the location is unbeatable! The hotel is set in a restored 17th-century building, 300m from Florence Cathedral. This luxurious hotel offers spacious, elegantly furnished rooms and a lounge bar. Breakfast is buffet style and you don’t want to miss it.
Florence is a true foodie city and you don’t have to worry. This Florence in 2 days itinerary has you covered for food as well. Italians eat late, especially in summer. So dinner is usually around 8 pm at night.
If you are hungry before, simply stop somewhere for aperitivo which is usually a drink with a small snack on offer.
Of course, there are restaurants that open early around 6 pm but they will mostly cater for tourists. If you wish to dine with locals, then eat later.
For breakfast and easy lunch on the go – I recommend the Central Market.
The upstairs is the perfect option and some of the panini cafes in the historic centre are quite ok, but if you want a special panini then make sure you visit Osteria All’antico Vinaio only a few minutes away from Piazza Della Signoria.
It’s easy to find – there will be a line outside the shop! There are so many choices for amazing food in our Florence in 2 days itinerary, but these places are highly recommended.
A dress code in Italy applies – no short shorts or singlets are allowed to enter churches – so dress in light airy clothes.
Italians dine late, after 8 pm and a smart dress code is expected.
You will walk a lot in Florence, so wear comfortable shoes.
Watch your belongings – pickpocketing happens especially at the busy market.
Consider doing a food tour– honestly, I think a food tour is always money well spent as it ticks so many boxes, good food, new friends, insight into the culture and you can get some tips of what to do/eat from your local guide on the end! But when you visit a foodie city such as Florence, you really don’t want to miss out on the food!
If you buy anything at the markets – bargain! Start with 50% of the first price quoted.
Hit the streets early or late to enjoy Florence crowd-free. Nothing like watching the sunrise over the city.
Make sure you get travel insurance before hitting the road. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to leave home without. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing, depending on the type of traveller you are.
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