See Florence in 3 days with our popular itinerary. Where to go and what to see in the cradle of the Renaissance.
Let’s be realistic. One day isn’t nearly enough to take in this city as there’s just too much to see. It’s not called the Cradle of the Renaissance for nothing! But if it’s all the time you’ve got, here’s a way to see the best of Florence in 3 days without too much stress.
Florence in 3 days – Day 1
Start with an early morning walk along the Lungarno. The lovely views will put you in a good mood for the rest of the day. Stop for a nice cappuccino at one of the bars near the Ponte Vecchio and enjoy the sight of the old bridge waking up. Stroll up towards the Mercato Nuovo, stopping to touch the Porcellino for luck. Then make your way to the Uffizi Gallery. Book your ticket in advance to avoid the queues. (The gallery opens at 8:15am. Allow at least 2 hours for a visit).
In the Uffizi Gallery Cafe you can enjoy a view over Piazza Signoria. Walk outside and admire the collection of sculptures in the Loggia dei Lanzi.
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For lunch, walk to the Duomo and on to San Lorenzo Market. Grab a freshly made sandwich, or a slice of pizza, and stroll around the outdoor souvenir market.
It’s time to see the Cathedral (open 10-4.30pm). The entrance to the church is free but you must book in advance and buy a ticket if you want to climb the Dome.
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If you’re still feeling energetic, take a walk or catch a bus up to Piazzale Michelangelo where you can admire the sunset and the best city view ever. Alternatively stroll around the shops on the elegant via Tornabuoni, via Calzaioli and Piazza della Repubblica.
If you’re in Piazzale Michelangelo, have dinner in San Niccolo’. It’s a lively area and good for after dinner nightlife.
Bear in mind, if you’ve only got one day in Florence, fitting in a museum can be challenging. But if you do, pick one beforehand and book. A bit of advance planning will save you a lot of time and queuing.
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If you’re spending a few days in Florence, you’ll want to prioritise your time. Rick Steves Florence is a good guide to have with you.
First things first. You can’t visit Florence without seeing the real David in the Accademia Gallery. It’s worth the trip but book ahead, and allow yourself at least two hours. A good place for a coffee and a pastry is Robiglio Cafe in Via dei Servi. Pop over to Santissima Annunziata square to have a look at the loggia of Spedale degli Innocenti built on the original designs of Brunelleschi.
If you are a fan of frescoes, visit the intimate San Marco Museum, a former monastery filled with atmospheric early Renaissance frescoes painted by Fra’ Angelico.
Make your way down Via Dei Servi towards Piazza Duomo, and from there take Via del Proconsolo on towards Borgo Albizi. This street and adjoining Via del Corso is full of lovely little shops to browse in. At the end of Borgo Albizi you’ll find Piazza San Pier Maggiore which is a nice place to stop for lunch.
In the afternoon, head along to Santa Croce to see Santa Croce church and square. Inside the church there are tombs of many greats, including Galileo and Michelangelo. Don’t miss the Pazzi Chapel. If you decide to stay in the Santa Croce area you’ll find a lot of artisan leather shops, and plenty of charming little eateries. It’s a lively spot in the evening too.
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You can dedicate the day to Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli gardens. Palazzo Pitti has many interesting museums, the highlight being the Galleria Palatina with its collection of Renaissance paintings. The Boboli gardens are a vast park behind the palace where you can spend a few hours to escape the crowds.
Alternatively Michelangelo fans will find more of his work at the Medici chapels. It adjoins San Lorenzo Church but it has its own separate entrance and ticket. For a full immersion in Renaissance sculpture that includes an early work by Michelangelo, visit the Bargello Museum.
After lunch take a walk to the Oltrarno. This is a lovely area to while away the afternoon, and it still has many of the original Florentine artisan shops that have been a feature of the area for centuries. The heart of the Oltrarno is Santo Spirito which is a lively area and a perfect spot for an evening aperitivo.
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Seeing all of Florence in 3 days is almost impossible. After you’ve spent a bit of time walking the streets you’ll realise just how much there is to see. You could organise a week’s holiday around a particular interest like art, shopping, or even food. But part of the charm is often just wandering around the less touristy areas and discovering all the city’s hidden corners and views.