If you’re spending 2 days in Florence, we’ll show you how to make the most of your time. From world-famous art museums to inspiring architecture, cool bars to traditional markets, here we give you a handy itinerary for 2 unforgettable days in Florence.
Before we start, a few tips. Start your exploring early, as there’s something special about having Florence to yourself before the city wakes up. If you are an art lover, choose a few museums (realistically in 2 days you can squeeze in three), and alternate between a major one like the Uffizi and two ‘smaller’ more intimate museums).
Make the most of Florence in 2 days
Start the day with a visit to famed Florence Cathedral. It’s best to see it early in the morning when there are fewer tourists around. Have a good look around the outside to get a feeling for its incredible scale and dimensions. Marvel at Giotto’s bell tower and Brunelleschi’s gravity defying dome. Take pictures liberally.
If you want to go up the dome, make sure you book in advance (it’s mandatory), preferably get an early time, so that you have the rest of the day to explore. From up there you’ll see over the rooftops of Florence. It’s a stunning view and a great way to start the day. You can book on the official site.
PIAZZA DELLA REPUBBLICA & THE PORCELLINO
From there, walk down Via Roma towards Piazza della Repubblica. For a coffee break, stop off at Caffé Paszkowski for a cappuccino and a brioche. This is one of Florence’s historic cafes. It’s a lovely bar, but if you want to sit outside to look at the piazza please remember they charge extra.
After a wander in this lively Piazza and its arcades, stroll over to meet one of the city’s most famous residents, the Porcellino. This bronze statue of a wild boar is a modern copy, but there’s been a ‘piglet’-shaped fountain in the Mercato Nuovo since the 17th century. This small market was once famous for the traditional straw hats sold here, today you can buy souvenirs and leather goods.
The porcellino is famous as a good luck charm. If you want this luck to rub off on you, simply go and rub his nose. Selfies are almost mandatory here.
From here it’s a short walk to the scenic Ponte Vecchio. This “old bridge” was built in the 14th century and to this day still home to tiny shops selling gold and silver jewellery. Once you’ve walked across the bridge, head for the next bridge along the river – Ponte Santa Trinita.
From here you have the best vantage point for a photo to capture all its higgled piggledy beauty. Look up at the windows at the top of the bridge. That’s the Vasari Corridor through which the Cosimo I de Medici used to walk to void the hoi-polloi.
PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORIA
It’s now time to go to nearby Piazza Signoria. Here take your time to admire the open air art gallery that is the Loggia dei Lanzi.
The Piazza is also home to the handsome Palazzo Vecchio , Florence’s town hall, and out front there’s a copy of Michelangelo’s statue of David. This is one of the most remarkable squares in Florence and a good place to just sit and soak up the spirit of the city.
Just beyond the square is Via dei Neri. Here you can grab a bite to eat at the justly famous “All’Antico Vinaio”. Here you’ll get traditional Florentine style sandwiches, and it’ll keep you going in your travels through the city. It’s usually packed, so expect a queue but it’s worth the wait.
If you want to sit down, this area is filled with traditional osterie and trattorie, where you can gorge yourself on Tuscan delicacies and Chianti wine. Try the bistecca alla Fiorentina, or the trippa alla Fiorentina. Vegetarians will love the typical soups such as Ribollita and Pappa al Pomodoro.
Dedicate a good part of the afternoon to the Uffizi. Booking beforehand doesn’t mean you’ll avoid a queue, but you can reduce the waiting time considerably. There’s a lot to see in this amazing gallery, so it’s a good idea to join a tour or at least plan what you want to see beforehand. (you can book your entrance time on the official site).
There are around 90 rooms filled with masterpieces of mainly Italian Renaissance art. The big hitters are Botticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Bronzino amongst others. Once you’ve had your fill, make your way to the coffee shop above the Loggia dei Lanzi where you’ll get refreshments with a view of Piazza della Signoria.
EVENING IN THE SANTA CROCE DISTRICT
Santa Croce is a lovely neighbourhood to round off your day and evening. It’s filled with bars and restaurants and stays lively at all hours.
On the second day you can choose one of the churches to visit. Either Santa Maria Novella Church which is filled with frescoes and gives you a great taste of the history of art in Florence, or Santa Croce Church which is famous as the burial place for famous Tuscans like Galileo Galilei and Michelangelo.
If you’re a fan of Michelangelo we recommend you visit the Accademia to see the real statue of David and others works by the artist. Alternatively, you can visit the elegant New Sacristy in the Medici Chapel.
The Bargello is a sculpture museum which you can go and sit and escape the crowds.
⇒ Check out the Best Museums in Florence to take your pick!
LUNCH IN SAN LORENZO MARKET
We recommend that you have lunch in San Lorenzo Market. This recently revamped central market is a now a trendy hangout (on the top floor) where you can get anything from pastries and coffee, to traditional lampredotto, gelato and pizza a taglio. There’s a bit of wine tasting going on here and a brand of Eataly. Stock up on pasta and porcini, or anything else your heart desires, to take home with you from the downstairs market stalls.
Outside you can stroll around the souvenir shops in the San Lorenzo outdoor market where they sell leather goods and various souvenirs.
EXPLORE THE OLTRARNO
In the afternoon, cross the Arno and explore the delights of the Oltrarno, an area traditionally associated with the city’s artisans. It’s a bit more laid back on this end and you’ll find lovely squares like Piazza Santo Spirito which is a great stop-off point for an aperitivo at any time of day.
⇒ The most famous attraction in the Oltrarno is the Pitti Palace with its museums and art galleries and adjoining Boboli Gardens. The artistic highlight of the Oltrarno is the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine. It’s a pilgrimage point for art students and the art obsessed.
To finish off your 2 days in Florence make your way up to Piazzale Michelangelo for an unbeatable and romantic view over Florence. You can get there by bus, or if you want to walk it’s roughly an hour.