One Day Florence Itinerary – How to Spend One Day in Florence

One Day Florence Itinerary – How to Spend One Day in Florence

Spending one day in Florence and wondering what to do? This Florence itinerary shows you not only the best things to do, but also what to do and where to eat.

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Florence is one of the most visited cities in Italy and is also one of my personal favorites! It is rich in culture and history, has delicious food and wine, and is the gate way to many amazing places to visit in Tuscany.

Florence was once one of the most powerful cities in Europe, being the financial and political center. The rise of the banking and wool industry in Florence provided a basis of growth for the city. Before the Black Death struck, Florence had a population of between 80 to 90,000 people. However its population fell dramatically due to the Black Death.

However I first learned about Florence during my Medieval art history class in College. During the class we learned about the Renaissance and how Florence was the birth place of Renaissance.

You probably already know that during the Renaissance, there was a surge in art, architecture, literature and science and Florence was at the center of all these actions. Some of the most famous artists such as Michelangelo, Giotto, Dante and Leonardo Da Vinci come from Florence. So you can see how important Florence is in its influence on the world.

But you don’t need to be a history buff to enjoy Florence. Really, even if you know nothing about Florence you will still fall in love with its architecture, museums and its yummy food! Below I will give you a sample itinerary if you only have a day in Florence as well as useful travel tips for Florence.

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How to get to Florence

Italy is well connected by train, making it super easy to get to Florence from any city in Florence. The best way to get to Florence is by train, followed by flying.

By Train

If you are planning to travel to Florence from Milan or Rome, I would recommend taking the train to Florence. The main train station in Florence is Stazione Santa Maria Novella.

Below are the time it takes to get to Florence:

  • Rome to Florence: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Milan to Florence: Less than 2 hours
  • Venice to Florence: 2-2 hours 30 minutes

I use either Rail Europe or TrenItalia to buy my train tickets in Italy. I actually prefer Rail Europe because in cities like Rome and Florence, there is more than one train station. Rail Europe allows you to just put “Rome” or “Florence” and gives you the best and cheapest routes. TrenItalia asks for you specific train stations and you may not know what is the best train station within a particular city.

By Plane

There is an airport in Florence, with the airport code FLR. It is about 6 kilometers from the city center where you will have your adventure.

Once you land, you can take a Tram from the airport to the city center. Or if you have a lot of luggage, you can get a taxi, which obviously costs more.

By Driving

You can drive to Florence with a rental car if you are doing a roadtrip in Italy. I did one when I went to the Dolomites and rented my car from Discover Cars. I had to get an automatic and they had it!

However I don’t really recommend driving in Florence since I don’t even know where you would part in the city center. I didn’t drive to Florence when I went since train travel was so easy. But if you are planning to explore Tuscany without a tour then you can consider renting a car.

Now that you know how to get to Florence, you can start your amazing day in Florence with my sample itinerary.

How to spend a day in Florence

For the purpose of this itinerary I am going to assume you have one full day (morning to evening) in Florence. This itinerary is meant for someone who is visiting Florence for the first time ever and want to see the highlights of the city (while eating some yummy food). I also will give you some options so you can pick and choose what you want to do!

I have book marked all the important and popular attractions in Florence on the map below in yellow (restaurants are in red) so you can see how far things are from each other.

Note that Florence is large and for a first time visitor (and for this itinerary), we are looking at the historic city center of Florence.

Morning in Florence: Start Your Day in San Giovanni

San Giovanni is the district that constitutes the heart of the Florence historical city center with the highest concentration of art in the world.

As you walk around the historical center of Florence, you will see the numerous churches, statues, museums and historical building that fill every corner you turn.

Stop 1. The Duomo (Florence Cathedral)

The Duomo in Florence from the outside | best things to do in Florence in one day

The Duomo (also known as the Florence Cathedral) is a beautiful cathedral that attracts millions of visitors a year. It is a masterpiece of art and the symbol of Florence. There are actually a number of different buildings in the Complex of Santa Maria del Fiore, with the Duomo being the most famous. 

I recommend visiting the Duomo as the first thing to see during your one day in Florence since the Duomo is perhaps the most famous and important structure in Florence. It is located in Piazza del Duomo, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in historical Florence.

You need to book tickets to visit the dome, and in the peak summer time the line to get in can be over 1 hour even around 9am. Booking tickets online and reserving a time slot to visit the Dome is the fastest and most efficient way.  

Since you only have one day in Florence you definitely do not want to spend time just waiting in line, especially in the summer heat.

Interior of Duomo Florence
Interior of the Duomo

The Dome at the Duomo is open at 8:15am Monday to Saturday. Time slot is every 45 minutes. The Cathedral is closed to visitors on Sundays and religious celebrations.  Check the official website for opening hours of the cathedral and the dome (they are different).

If you go up to the roof, you will definitely love the view of Florence from the red roofs to the view of the Giotto’s Bell Tower and the museums. It will instantly make you fall in love with Florence.

top of the Duomo in Florence

Dress code for the Duomo: similar to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, you should be aware that to enter the Duomo you should not wear short shorts, sandals, sunglasses, hats, etc when inside.   

Stop 2. Visit the other structures in Piazza Del Duomo

2 minute walk from the Duomo

There are a number of other structures in Piazza del Duomo, such as the Baptistry of San GiovanniGiotto’s Bell TowerCrypt of Santa Reparata, and the Opera Museum. They are not as popular as the Duomo but if you have time be sure to visit them as well (I personally have never gone up Giotto’s Bell Tower but I’ve seen people up there). 

Piazza del Duomo in Florence Italy: Best Florence one day itinerary

Stop 3. Check out Mercato Centrale (Florence Central Market)

6 minute walk from the Duomo

Depending on how long you spend at the Duomo as well as the surrounding structures, I recommend that you walk to the central market afterwards before spending the rest of the day in San Giovanni.

The Florence Central Market is a popular and touristy indoor (and outdoor) market in the center of Florence and it is something you do not want to miss during your one day in Florence.

As you start walking towards the Central Market, you will see a lot of vendors on the outside of the market selling leather goods, ranging from leather jackets to bags and wallets.

If you are in the market to shop for leather goods, this is not a bad place to be. I bought a leather jacket in Rome only to discover the same jacket at this market for nearly half the price!

Florence Central Market Leather goods

The inside of the Central Market sells food (raw and cooked). There are food stands, pizzeria, and restaurants. There are actually 2 levels inside the Central Market.

On the ground floor you will find produces, such as meat, fruits, vegetables, cheese, olives, and fish. The upper level of the market have a lot of tables and chairs and various stalls selling cooked food. Think of the 2nd floor of the San Lorenzo Central Market as a food court.

Florence Central Market food stand

The market opens around 10am everyday so you can definitely stop by to grab a snack or even lunch depending on the time of the day.

If you decide to not eat at the Central Market (or skip it altogether) but still need to grab lunch, I highly recommend grabbing a sandwich that Florence is famous for.

Some of the best rated sandwich shops near the historical center include Panini Toscani, I’ Girone De’ Ghiotti, All’Antico Vinaio and I Fratellini. They are all marked on the map above.

Florentine Sandwich

Afternoon in Florence: Explore the different squares & museums in Florence

After your culinary adventure at the Central Market in Florence, walk back to the San Giovanni historical center in Florence.

There are numerous public squares and amazing museums in Florence. I will recommend a couple of the most popular museums in Florence and you can decide if you want to visit them or do some alternative activities since it is not possible to do it all.

Stop 4. Roam the Piazza della Repubblica

10 minute walk from the Central Market

Florence Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Republicca used to be the center of this Roman City. It is one of the main squares in Florence. In the medieval times, the area around the column was densely populated.

Now the square looks very different than what it used to look like. This is where street artists perform after sunset, and there are many cafes, restaurants and stores on the side of the square. Sometimes there will be a carousel in the square. During the holiday season there are many Christmas lights around the square, making it a fantastic place to walk through.

Stop 5. Fontana del Porcellino

3 minute walk from Piazza della Repubblica

Fontana del Porcellino

While on your way to the other squares in Florence, you may come across a famous bronze boar, called Fontana del Porcellino.

This fountain figure is a bronze boar sculpted by Pietro Tacca. Legend has it that the boar would turn into a man every night and fell in love with one girl one day. He told the girl to keep his secret or he would become a boar forever. Seeing how the boar is still here today, we can guess whether or not the girl kept her secret.

Another superstition surrounding the boar is that if you touch the boar’s nose you will one day return to Florence. You can also toss a coin into the grid between the boar’s legs for good luck.

Aside from the legend, Fontana del Porcellino is an actual fountain, used to provide water for the merchants.

Stop 6. Piazza della Signoria & Piazza Vecchio

3 minute walk from Fontana del Porcellino

Piazza della Signoria is one of the main squares in the Florence historical center. It was once sitting at the political center of Florence, with the towering fortress of Palazzo Vecchio standing behind them.

The Loggia della Signoria is a building on the corner of the Piazza della Signoria, consisting of wide arches open to the street and various sculptures, with a copy of Michelangelo’s David statue.

Loggia dei Lanzi at Piazza della Signoria in Florence Italy

Palazzo Vecchio, on the other hand, is a hidden gem that many first time visitors miss (and they really shouldn’t). Although Palazzo Vecchio looks like a fortress on the outside, it is actually a beautiful museum with Renaissance art and secret passages.

Stop 7. Pay a Visit to Uffizi Gallery

1 minute walk from Piazza Vecchio

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous art museums in Florence and in Italy. It is world renowned for its collection of paintings, sculptures and art pieces, including those of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto, Raffaello and many other famous European painters.

Uffizi Gallery Florence interior

I have to be honest here and say that a few hours is not enough to explore Uffizi Gallery. If you are an art lover, you could literally spend the entire day exploring Uffizi. However if you only have one day in Florence and you just want to see the most famous paintings, then you should spend the rest of the afternoon in Uffizi.

Uffizi is a huge museum with different rooms (and floors) in a U-shaped renaissance building. There are different sections dedicated to specific time periods, so make sure to grab a map once inside.

Uffizi art work in Florence | Best museums in Florence Italy

If you want to maximize your one day in Florence and not have to wait in line (or worse, get turned away), you should book your Uffizi tickets online ahead of time. Children under 18 can enter for free. You can also pay for a tour if you want to actually understand what you are looking at.

Accademia Gallery (Alternative to Uffizi)

David Statue at Accademia Gallery

Accademia Gallery is another world renowned art gallery in the historical center of Florence. It is another popular gallery to visit and I actually visited this gallery the first time I was in Florence (instead of Uffizi). I went to Uffizi the second time I went to Florence.

Accademia Gallery is popular to visit because of the statue of David by Michelangelo, one of the most famous statues in the world. If you know just a little bit of art history then you probably have seen this statue. This statue is actually the reason I wanted to Accademia Gallery the first time I was in Florence.

If you plan to visit this gallery you should also book your tickets ahead of time to avoid the long wait. When I first visited I was such a noob I didn’t realize you had to book ahead, so I ended up waiting in line for an hour just to enter. The only good thing was that I visited in November so it wasn’t hot.

Late Afternoon: Walk across Ponte Vecchio & Watch the Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo

Stop 8. Ponte Vecchio 

2 minute walk from Uffizi

view of Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Ponte Vecchio is the oldest and the most famous bridge in Florence over the Arno River. It was originally built in 1345. There are a number of merchants selling different tourist souvenirs and other merchandises on Ponte Vecchio. It is an interesting experience to walk across it and definitely a landmark bridge to visit.

Stop 9. Piazzale Michelangelo for Sunset

20-25 minute walk from Ponte Vecchio

View of Florence from Piazzale-Michelangelo
View from PIazzale Michelangelo

I hope you still have energy after walking around all day in Florence, because I am about to tell you the best free viewpoint in Florence – Piazzale Michelangelo, a public square and viewpoint.

The Piazzale Michelangelo was built on the hills across the Arno River from the historical center of Florence. Today the piazza is filled with tourists hoping to capture the beautiful view of Florence.

The walk to the piazza is about 20 minutes or so with the some uphill but it really is a nice place to enjoy the view especially around sunset. I strongly recommend walking to Piazzale Michelangelo during your one day in Florence because the view is just incredible.

Evening in Florence: Grab dinner, gelato and walk around town

If you do make it to Piazzale Michelangelo for the sunset then it is the perfect time to grab some dinner after. After dinner, be sure to walk around Florence (unless you need to leave town) and grab some gelato!

Where to Eat in Florence

Breakfast Restaurants and Coffee Shops in Florence

Assuming you have the whole day in Florence, you should get up early and try to grab coffee and some breakfast. I mean what can beat having Italian coffee to start your day with?

When we visited, we got breakfast at La Milkeria, an cute restaurant with waffles, crepes and coffee. What’s great is that they also serve gluten free waffles for those that are gluten intolerant.

Another cafe that was recommended to us was Caffè Gilli, a cafe that’s been around for quite a long time. There are a ton of pastries you can choose from and if you visit during lunch time, there are sandwiches and other lunch food. But as you can expect, this cafe is pretty touristy and busy.

Lastly another place you can try is Shake Cafe, where you can find acai bowls, bagels, avocado toast and other pastries. It may not be the most Italian place but it is very delicious.

Sandwich Shops in Florence

With just one day in Florence, you probably don’t have the luxury to have a 2 hour sit down lunch. I mean you could, but it takes time out of your precious 24 hours in Florence.

As mentioned above, sandwiches is a huge thing in Florence and there are a ton of popular spots.

Panini Toscani, I’ Girone De’ Ghiotti, All’Antico Vinaio and I Fratellini are some of the most popular sandwich shops in Florence and I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these.

Good Restaurants in Florence

Florence has a number of traditional food that you should try but given you only have one day in Florence I highly recommend trying the Florentine Steak (bistecca Fiorentina).

What’s different about the Florentine Steak is that the cut of the meat can be either veal or from a heifer cattle (a cow that has not birthed a calf yet), and it must be taken from a Chianina breed of cattle that origins in Sienna. The steak then must be grilled over hot coals with bone inside.

I personally have eaten at a restaurant called Trattoria Sostanza TWICE because it is that good! The first time I went it wasn’t very famous yet so we didn’t even need reservation. The second time I went you needed a reservation but we waited there before it opened for dinner, so we were able to grab a seat.

The food to order at Trattoria Sostanza are the Florentine steak and butter chicken. They also have other traditional Florentine food that you can try.

Other good restaurants in Florence include La Giostra and La Buchetta, both require reservation.

Gelato in Florence

How do you go to Florence and not eat gelato? I think I got two gelatos everyday when I was in Italy (not great for my diet I know, but I justified by walking them off)!

Some of the best rated gelato shops in Florence include Vivoli, Gelateria dei Neri, and Gelateria La Carraia. I’m sure there are other ones and you really can’t go wrong with gelato in Italy. But if you do have time, check out one of the three places above.

How to Get Around Florence

Walking is the best way to explore Florence during your one day there. This obviously, assumes you are spending your time in the city center and visiting attractions and galleries/ museums mentioned above.

There is no subway in Florence but you can always find taxis if you need to go outside of the touristy city center. But keep in mind that there is no Uber in Florence!

There are also local buses in Florence, but I don’t think you would need them following this itinerary. But really, for the purpose of this one day itinerary, you will be walking around the entire day so be prepared to pack comfy walking shoes.

Other things to do in Florence if you have 2 or 3 days in Florence

One day in Florence really is quite short although it is enough to see the main attractions of Florence. If you do have more time in Florence (ideally 2 days in Florence or even 3), there are a lot more things you can do in and around Florence.

Museo della porcellane

Museo della porcellane is an art museum with collection of over 2000 pieces. It is located in the Gardens of Boboli.

Boboli Gardens

The Boboli Garden is a fantastic Italian style garden that really is an outdoor museum, populated by ancient and Renaissance statues. The construction of Boboli Garden actually inspired many other European Royal Gardens, such as the Versailles.

Boboli Gardens in Florence

Villa Bardini

Villa Bardini garden view of Florence

The Villa Gardini belonged to a series of powerful families throughout history. It was originally built for agricultural purposes, now it has been transformed into a beautiful Italian garden. The garden has one of the best views of Florence and if you have more than one day in Florence you should definitely put this on your to-do list.

Rose Garden

Another beautiful garden you should consider visiting if you have more than one day in Florence is the Rose Garden (Giardino delle Rose), located just next to Piazzale Michelangelo. Again, this garden has ana amazing panoramic view of Florence.

Visit a Roman Theatre

There is an ancient Roman Theatre about 20 minutes bus ride from Florence that is worth visiting. There aren’t many tourists so you can enjoy the view, see Temple ruins, visit a small museum and explore this ancient theater at your leisure.

Day Trip to Pisa From Florence

Pisa, Italy

Pisa is famous for the leaning tower and it is quite easy to get to Pisa from Florence. You don’t even need a tour, a quick train ride is all it takes. You can spend as little as a couple of hours and as much as one day in Pisa.

Day Trip to Siena, San Gimignano & Monteriggioni From Florence

One of my favorite activities in Florence was to take day trips to the other towns in Tuscany. In particular I enjoyed my day trip to Siena, San Gimignano & Monteriggioni.

Duomo di Siena
Duomo di Siena

You can get to these towns yourself by train or by car, but having a tour and a guide made everything a lot easier (and you get to understand what you are looking at). San Gimignano also has one of the best gelato shops in Italy and I was super impressed by Siena.

The architecture in Siena was beautiful and I also love the small town feel. I actually want to go back to Siena to spend a couple of days to explore after this tour.

Go to Tuscany for wine tasting from Florence

Chianti wine region day trip from Florence

Florence is a great base to explore Tuscany and as you know, Tuscany is known for its wine.

If you have a car, it would be easy to drive to Chianti and hop around wineries. If you don’t have a car, there are great day trips you can take to experience wineries in Tuscany.

See Cinque Terre

Many people go to Cinque Terre from Florence either as a day trip or multi-day trip. There are trains you can take to Cinque Terre if you decide to spend a few days there.

I personally took a day trip to Cinque Terre just to get a taste of it and it made me want to go explore Cinque Terre again for a few more days!

Cinque Terre view

The tour took us to a few different village in Cinque Terre and it was a great introduction to the area. Again, I liked the tour so much that I think I’m going to spend a couple of days hiking around Cinque Terre the next time I go to Italy! I just can’t get enough of these colorful houses and the view.

Do a cooking class in Florence

I don’t know about you but I love doing cooking classes every time I visit a country. If you want to learn more about the Florence cuisine and get a good meal, I highly recommend taking a cooking class if you have more than one day in Florence.

Shop at the Mall

The Mall” is one of the best known luxury outlets near Florence. It has all the luxury brands you can think of with major discounts. Most of my friends have gone to the Mall at one point and came back with various designer shoes and handbags.

The Mall offers a direct bus from Central Florence for a small cost everyday from 8:45am to 7:20pm. A visit to the Mall is a must do for anyone who wants to shop!

There are so many other attractions near Florence that you can visit if you have more than one day in Florence, these include the Football Museum (Museo del Calcio), Villa del Poggio Imperiale, Villa Medici Petraia, Adventure Park II Gigante, explore the Castello dell’Acciaiolo Park, go clubbing at Tenas Discoteca Club, wine tasting tour at Medici Villa of Lilliano Wine Estate and play golf at Circolo Golf dell’Ugolino.

Best Places to Stay in Florence

If you are planning to spend one night to ensure you have enough time to explore the city, I have a few recommendations from all my visits to Florence.

Since you are only spending a day (or 24 hours to be exact) in Florence, I would recommend staying close to the city center near all the touristy sites. This will help you to minimize travel time and allow you to stay out later to experience night life in Florence.

We stayed at B&B A Florence View is where I stayed at the last time I visited Florence. It was small but sufficient and it was really close to the Duomo. Most importantly it has AC, so important when you visit in the summer.

One of my friends stayed at B&B Cimatori, and they loved it. It included breakfast and was minutes away from all the main attractions (it also has AC)!

You can also refer to this super detailed guide on where to stay in Florence to see more accommodation options and recommendations.

Florence Travel Tips

  • Start your day early: Florence is super popular and people wake up early to wait in line for the Duomo and museums.
  • Buy your tickets online: If you know you are going to visit the Duomo and one of the museums/ galleries, you need to buy your tickets online. Otherwise you will be wasting hours standing in line and feeling miserable
  • Make Reservations for Dinner: Given its popularity, there should be no surprise that any good restaurants you want to eat at in Florence requires a reservation. Unless you can go wait 30 minutes before the restaurant opens (and wish for the best), you probably can’t get into a popular restaurant
  • Be Prepared to Sweat: If you are visiting in the summer, know that Florence is SUPER HOT and HUMID. If you can’t stand the heat, do not visit in the summer. Otherwise be prepared to sweat
  • Bring Hats and Water: Following up on the above point, the heat can be unbearable. Definitely have tons of water with you and bring sunscreen and hats if you don’t want to get burned
  • You need a portable phone battery: I assume you are going to be out all day and taking a lot of photos (and getting directions). Do yourself a favor and get a portal battery, since you know, iPhone batteries are not the best and probably won’t last all day. I have this one and I love it.

Other Italy Travel Resources

If you are traveling to Italy I have some other blogs that might interest you!

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