The City of Lilies offers beautiful landscapes, delectable foods, and is filled with intriguing stories and history. Spending 3 days in Florence will help you find the best things to do and how to experience this city to the fullest.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Italy (Travel Guide)
Known as the “Birthplace of the Renaissance”, Florence is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and one of the top destinations in Tuscany.
Editors Note: I’ll never forget my first visit to Florence. I was backpacking through Italy with my sister and best friend. We spent 5 full days walking our legs off in an attempt to take in every possible sight on offer. Thankfully, it’s a very walkable city and the city center is quite compact, so we were able to see a lot! – Lina Stock, Divergent Travelers
Is 3 Days Enough Time in Florence?
Table of Contents
3 days in Florence is just enough time to see the top sites of the city and truly uncover what makes it so special. This 3 day Florence itinerary will help you make the most of your short time in the city, though don’t be surprised if you leave wanting to come back for more!
3 Day Florence Itinerary – Day 1
On your first day in Florence, you’ll visit some of the most famous tourist attractions, and you will end the day with a delicious Tuscan dinner.
It’s the perfect way to feel the vibe of the city and settle into the rest of your exploration. Get to know the city of Florence, Italy on the Welcome to Florence Guided Walking Tour, or choose to explore the city yourself.
Explore the Duomo Complex
Your first stop in Florence should be the Duomo Complex. It is filled with numerous historical buildings such as the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo, the Cathedral, and the Crypt of Santa Reparata.
You can also visit the famous Brunelleschi’s Dome in this complex and marvel at its interesting architecture. Once you’re done, you can walk up to the top of the dome to get an overview of the city below.
Editors Note: Start your day at the Duomo Complex early! This will give you plenty of time to explore the main sites before it gets too hot. – Lina Stock, Divergent Travelers
Unlock the secrets of Florence’s famous Duomo Complex and Its Hidden Terraces. An architectural marvel designed in the 15th century and the icon of the Renaissance city.
Learn about the history of Brunelleschi’s red-roofed dome as you climb to its very top, stopping along the way to explore hidden terraces and chambers not open to the general public. Be rewarded with panoramic views of Florence.
Related Article: The Mystery of Florence’s Cathedral Dome
Climb Il Duomo
Il Duomo di Firenze is the central church of Florence, Italy, and overshadows, both figuratively and literally, many other nearby landmarks.
Climbing the nearly 500 steps to the top of the Cupola of Duomo and its bell tower is one of the highlights of a trip to Florence.
The view you get of the city is worth the workout and as you climb you can gaze at the many Vasari frescoes that line the dome ceiling.
Travel to the Piazza Della Republicca
The next place to visit is the Piazza Della Republicca. This piazza, one of many squares in the city, is known for its cafes, such as the Caffè Gilli, and Roman ruins. It’s about a 3-minute walk away from the Duomo Complex.
See the Fontana del Porcellino
This unique pig fountain was created back in the 1600s by Pietro Tacca. Its main purpose was to provide water to merchants who sold their goods during the day in the local piazza.
However, it eventually became a good luck charm, and those who passed by it would rub their hands on its nose for good luck. Because of this, you’ll find that the pig’s snout is very shiny.
Picnic at Giardino delle Rose
If you time your visit for the spring or summer, don’t miss exploring and picnicking in the Giardino delle Rose garden, found right near Piazzale Michelangelo and spanning over 2.5 acres.
Exploring a garden is a great way to get some green in when visiting a city and you could spend a good few hours looking at all the different varieties of roses, Italian sculptures, and smelling the zesty lemon groves in this one. So bring some wine and snacks and enjoy this lovely refuge.
Take a Romantic Walk in Giardino Bardini
There are many wonderful gardens to be found in Florence but this is a lesser-known yet beautifully historic option that offers a great view of the city.
The most beautiful part of the garden is the romantic wisteria tunnel with its purple flowers in full bloom and the baroque staircase surrounded by lush greens and mosaic fountains.
A romantic café and chic Villa containing a small collection of Florentine artwork await you at the top of the hill, just be sure to bring lots of water!
Have Dinner at Trattoria da Guido
To end your first day in Florence, you’ll want to travel to the Trattoria da Guido. This restaurant offers some traditional Tuscan and Mediterranean meals so you can experience some authentic cuisine while here.
Related Article: How to choose the best cooking class in Florence
3 Day Florence Itinerary – Day 2
Today you’ll experience some of Florence’s unique architecture and try one of Italy’s most famous creations: gelato. If you haven’t already realized, Florence is a city with a lot to offer its visitors.
Don’t leave home without: Florence (National Geographic: Destination City Map)
Piazza Della Signoria
As your second day in Florence begins, you’ll want to go first to the Piazza Della Signoria. This is the main square in Florence which is why you’ll find various museums, courtyards, statues, and cafes here.
Before you try to rush to see as many places as you can in this piazza, there are three places you’ll want to make sure you see.
These are the Loggia Dei Lanzi, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Fountain of Neptune. The Loggia del Lanzi was created by Orcagna during the 1300s with the intention for it to be an open-air sculpture gallery.
You can view many unique pieces of art here while enjoying the day outside.
This short, small-group tour is a wonderful introduction to Florence for first-time visitors. Your guide walks you through medieval streets as you stop at some of the key historic sights, including Piazza Della Repubblica, Piazza Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, and the Duomo.
End your tour at the Mercato Centrale for an included sample of wine and salami.
Learn your history at the Baptistery of St. John
The Florence Baptistery is a minor basilica and one of the oldest buildings in Florence having been constructed around the 11th century.
Its uncommon octagonal shape and famed bronze doors (dubbed by Michelangelo as the “Gates of Paradise”) are what makes this building so unique.
The Palazzo Vecchio is a large part of the Piazza Della Signoria. It is the town hall of Florence and an iconic part of the city because it’s a historical landmark.
The Palazzo Vecchio was once the main government complex when Florence was Italy’s capital.
After seeing the Palazzo Vecchio, you can just walk right over to the Fountain of Neptune. This statue by Bartolomeo Ammannati depicts Neptune surrounded by horses and other figures.
The fountain is a popular tourist attraction now, but when it was first revealed, the people of Florence despised it.
Because of this, they used the fountain’s water as a washing place for their clothes. This ended up leading to the fountain being severely damaged over time.
Explore the heart of the Renaissance by Segway tour. Led by a local guide, pass top attractions such as the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, and Piazza Santa Croce.
Cover more ground than a walking tour as you hear the history behind this famous city from your guide.
Shop at Sant’ambrogio Market
It’s always a good idea to visit a local market and the Sant’ambrogio market happens to be the oldest one in Florence! It is open from 7 am Monday-Saturday and is located in Piazza Ghiberti.
It has both an indoor and outdoor space where you can find fresh produce, flowers, clothes, and just an enjoyable shopping atmosphere.
Here, the locals outnumber the tourists which means this market is much less pushy. There is even a great budget restaurant inside to try!
Walk Across the Ponte Vecchio
This iconic structure, also known as the Old Bridge, is known throughout the world for its picturesque scenery. You can stroll across this bridge (the oldest in Florence) and browse through the various shops and markets on it.
The Arno River flows beneath it so you can gaze down at the boats as they pass by.
Visit Venchi for Ice Cream
The next thing to do is to head to Venchi for an ice cream break. Venchi offers some delicious homemade gelato in many delectable flavors that you can try like Cremino and even offers homemade sorbet flavors like mango and lemon.
Strolling around Florence with a treat from Venchi can be a great experience. You can enjoy your gelato while listening to church bells ring through the air or while taking in Florence’s remarkable scenery.
Explore the Basilica di Santa Croce
This Franciscan church is yet another historical place you must visit on your second day in Florence. You can explore the church’s various rooms, climb up to its bell tower, or see one of its many intricately designed chapels.
The tombs of the famous scientist Galileo Galilei and the artist Michelangelo can also be found here.
Have Dinner at La Martinicca
As your second day in Florence comes to an end, you’ll want to take one last stop at La Martinicca. Here you can enjoy many delicious dishes, including the Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
This steak dish is sautéed in fresh olive oil and herbs to give it a mouthwatering flavor. It is sure to be a meal you’ll never forget.
3 Day Florence Itinerary – Day 3
Today, you’ll spend your last day in the city traveling to some of Florence’s iconic art museums and gardens.
You’ll start at the Galleria dell’Accademia and eventually wind your way to a famous local deli for lunch and other spots until you reach your final vacation day’s dinner destination.
Browse Through the Galleria dell’Accademia
The first stop on your third day here is the Galleria dell’Accademia. It is here that you’ll find the famous David statue by Michelangelo. There are also many other works by notable Italian artists that you can view.
This museum has free admission on the first Sunday of every month.
Enjoy direct access to Florence’s Accademia Gallery with this skip-the-line admission ticket. Explore the home of Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece, the ‘David,’ and see the renowned sculpture up close.
Get the chance to admire some of Michelangelo’s unfinished works, including ‘Prigioni,’ along with paintings by Sandro Botticelli and more.
Visit the Galleria degli Uffizi
After gazing at some art at the Galleria dell’Accademia, you can travel to yet another art museum, the famous Galleria degli Uffizi. The difference between this art museum and the previous one is that this one contains works by Leonardo da Vinci and is filled with many halls you can wander through.
It is also home to an extensive Contini Bonacossi Collection. This museum is like a big art maze filled with many hidden treasures which makes it an art lover’s dream.
Just as with the Galleria dell’Accademia, there are different admission tickets you can choose from and the first Sunday of every month has free admission.
Experience the very best of Florence on a single, memorable day. See Michelangelo’s iconic ‘David’ sculpture up close at the Accademia Gallery, and learn the secrets of Brunelleschi’s magnificent Duomo.
Explore the ‘living museum’ of the medieval city with a walking tour of its most important piazzas and outdoor monuments, and finish with a journey through the Renaissance at the world-famous Ufizzi Gallery.
Have Lunch at La Prosciuterria
After traveling to the Palazzo Pitti, you’ll want to make a quick stop at La Prosciuterria.
This deli makes delicious sandwiches that feature local vegetables, meats, and cheeses layered on homemade focaccia bread. You can grab a few sandwiches and eat them in the deli or take them outside to enjoy.
Stroll Through the Boboli Garden
The Boboli Garden features beautiful landscapes filled with fragrant flowers and unique statues. The Boboli Gardens are located near the Uffizi Gallery and is known for housing the 17th-century Pitti Palace and various cafes.
You’ll find plenty of ancient trees here and many winding paths you can wander through. One route to take note of is Viottolone. This path is lined with tall cypresses and will lead you down to a large pond.
Get a personalized tour of Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens during this private excursion in Florence. See the impressive art collections, the architecture, and the lush gardens, accompanied by a dedicated guide.
Do Not Miss the Piazzale Michelangelo
Located on a hill just off the center of town, Michelangelo Square is one of the best panoramic lookouts in Florence and offers pretty spectacular views no matter what time of day you go.
Named for the famed sculptor and artist, Michelangelo, many of the lauded Renaissance icon’s works can be seen replicated in bronze around the square.
Editors Note: The hike up to Piazza Michelangelo is a straightforward, yet steep climb. Most of it is steps. If you’re capable, this is one of the best things to do in Florence during your visits. Worth noting, you can also take a bus to the top. – Lina Stock, Divergent Travelers
Dine at Osteria Cipolla Rossa
To end your last day in Florence, you’ll want to dine at the Osteria Cipolla Rossa. This restaurant will be a great way to end your trip to this city with its delicious foods and wines and ambient setting.
It offers dishes such as homemade spaghetti, Rucola salad, and Tuscan bread. You can also choose from the many wines available that are stored in the restaurant’s cellar.
Recommended Day Trips from Florence
While there is no denying that Florence is a lovely city to visit and that you could certainly fill all of your days in the city, there is more to offer in the area.
I think the perfect balance for Florence is 4 days, 3 days in Florence itself then a chance for one day to explore the surrounding area.
Tuscany is the obvious choice, with many options available, however, if you’re looking to cross another iconic place off your Italy vacation, Venice and Cinque Terre are not out of reach.
Art, history, countryside, food. Tuscany has it all. If you only have one day free, book this Tuscany day trip from Florence to discover the region’s highlights with a local guide.
Explore the city of Siena and the cathedral, and then take to the Chianti hills for a Tuscan lunch and wine tasting.
Roam the streets of San Gimignano, and travel to Pisa to admire the architectural drama of Cathedral Square — home to the UNESCO-listed Leaning Tower of Pisa. Upgrade to include skip-the-line entry, if you wish.
Editors Note: Don’t be afraid to rent a car in Florence and head off on a great Tuscany road trip! There is so much to see and it’s easy to drive in this part of Italy. – Lina Stock, Divergent Travelers
Located along the Ligurian coast, a trip to Cinque Terre is a beautiful day trip from Florence.
Travel through the rolling hills of Tuscany to arrive at the dramatic rocky coastline, and take the train to visit four of the five villages that make up this unique, colorful destination.
Explore Cinque Terre and Portovenere during this 12-hour tour from Florence.
With round-trip transportation included, you can skip the hassle of renting a car for travel to and between Portovenere, Manarola, Monterosso, and Vernazza, nestled on cliffs by the sea.
Travel south from Florence and spend the day in Volterra. Visit the stone town of Colle Val d’Elsa known for its crystal glassware, and then continue to Volterra, once a prosperous Etruscan trading town.
Admire the honey-colored Cathedral, Medici Fortress, and City Hall; and stop to savor local wines and a traditional Tuscan lunch at an organic farm.
Pisa & Lucca
Your trip to Italy would not be complete without a trip to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa with your own eyes. Admire the impressive square of Piazza del Miracoli as your local guide discusses the historic buildings around you.
See the Baptistery, the Duomo, and the city’s most iconic attraction, the UNESCO-listed Leaning Tower of Pisa. Afterward, a journey to Lucca for a walking tour of the Cathedral and Piazza dell ‘Anfiteatro.
On this full-day tour, visit both cities in one day with free time to explore at your leisure, and discover top attractions including the UNESCO-listed Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Sample fine Chianti wines at a local winery, and enjoy personal attention from your guide on this small-group tour—limited to eight people.
If you don’t have time for a dedicated visit to Venice but still want to visit, consider a day trip from Florence. Travel north to arrive in this ancient republic built in the middle of the Venetian Lagoon.
See iconic landmarks like the Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Basilica, and more. Truth be told, though, there are so many things to do in Venice that it deserves more than a day trip.
Florence Travel Tips
Florence is an easy city to get around in if you’d like to walk, but you can also use some of the public transport available.
Santa Maria Novella is the central train station in the city. There are also many bus routes that can take you throughout the city.
When in Florence you want to make sure to have some Euros on hand. You’ll need to keep plenty of these around while exploring the city for any museum admissions and food payments you have.
Don’t be a stranger when it comes to the food scene in Florence, as there are so many options. This guide on things to eat in Florence will help you plan the perfect way to eat around the city.
Florence is a beautiful city
Filled with many places to explore. You can gaze at the historic architecture, browse through art galleries, taste homemade gelato, and pasta, and enjoy beautiful landscapes that only Florence can offer.
Recommended Guide Books For Florence, Italy:
Florence, Italy Map: Florence (National Geographic: Destination City Map)
Where to Stay in Florence
Basing yourself in the Duomo Complex will be a great move to access the rest of the city during your visit. Located in the heart of the historical center, the Central Plaza, is very popular because it branches off into so many sights.
From it, you can visit the Florence Cathedral, the Giotto’s Campanile (the famed Bell Tower), the Baptistery of St. John, the Loggia del Bigallo, the Opera del Duomo Museum, and the Arcivescovile and Canonici’s palace
Editor’s Note: My favorite place to stay in Florence is near the Duomo Complex. The author points out that this is one of the places to base yourself, and I couldn’t agree more! – Lina Stock, Divergent Travelers
When in the City of Lilies you’ll want to check out the Tourist House Battistero. I stayed in this hotel which is located near the Duomo Complex.
It’s situated in a 15th-century building, near many of the sights that you’ll visit on this 3 days in Florence itinerary. The rooms are comfortable and offer basic amenities. This hotel will also give you a free coupon for breakfast in a nearby café.
Related Reading: Where to Stay in Florence: Best Districts
How to Get to Florence
Florence does have a small regional airport, Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR), but it has very limited flights. Most visitors will fly into Pisa International Airport (Galileo Galilei Airport, PSA), which is the main airport in Tuscany.
From Pisa, you can reach Florence by shuttle, train, or (a very expensive) taxi. You can also rent a car and drive.
International visitors may find it cheaper to fly into other cities like Milan, Rome, or Bologna and then travel to Florence via car or train.
Florence itself isn’t a very car-friendly city but if you’re visiting as part of a larger Tuscany road trip, it is easily connected to the highway. That said, most of the city is closed to traffic so you’ll need to find parking on the outskirts of the city or find a hotel with parking and then use local transportation to get into the city.
The easiest way to get to Florence is by train. High-speed trains are available from cities like Rome, Milan, Naples, and Venice. There are 3 train stations in Florence – Santa Maria Novella, Firenze Campo di Marte, and Firenze Rifredi.
Editors Note: I have always arrived in Florence by train during my visits. The train station is right in the city center and an easy walk to many hotels. – Lina Stock, Divergent Travelers
Santa Maria Novella is the train station in the city center, so if you arrive at the other two, you’ll want to switch trains and head to Santa Maria Novella.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chrissy Manika is a travel blogger and tourism professional based in Athens, Greece. She writes in both English and French for Travel Passionate, her blog focusing on luxury travel around Europe.
She’s traveled extensively throughout Europe for the past 25 years and has no intention of slowing down. She loves to explore the local culture and gastronomy of the places she visits.
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