Posted Date: March 7, 2021
Florence is the capital of Tuscany and the center of Italian art. Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, this city is one of the most popular destinations in Italy and is well worth a visit.
I have been to Florence three times now, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. Maybe it’s the romance of Tuscany that lures me in? Or the dim-lit streets at night that take me back in time? It could be the food because food is always my #1 love in life.
Whatever it is, Florence is a spectacular city that has endless things to offer. You will be able to visit most of the main sites in 2 days, and I would recommend no less than 2 days for your first visit.
In this Florence 2-day itinerary, you will find the top things that you must see in Florence on your trip.
Top 10 Things to Do in Florence
Statue of David at The Accademia Gallery
Completed in 1504, the Statue of David by Michelangelo is one of the most well-known works of art in the world. You don’t realize the enormity of the statue until you see it in person. The details and complexity of the work are absolutely incredible.
The statue was originally placed outside in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in 1504 until it was moved to the Accademia gallery in 1873.
The lines to get into the gallery are long, sometimes an hour or longer, so I would recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time online. You can book tickets at the Accademia ticketing site online.
Mercato di San Lorenzo
This is an outdoor market featuring goods made by local artisans. You can find all sorts of souvenirs and leather products here, including backpacks, belts, wallets, and purses.
I bought a leather purse here on my first trip to Italy back in 2013 and used it for many years. It always reminded me of visiting this market.
Even if you aren’t looking to buy anything, it’s fun to walk through the market and check out all of the different items.
The market is open every day from 8AM – 12PM.
After making your way through the Mercato di San Lorenzo, head to the indoor food market called Mercato Centrale. This market boasts different food stalls with local produce – from fruit and vegetable to cheeses and fresh pasta.
The upstairs portion of the market has a bunch of different restaurants. You can stop here for lunch for freshly made pasta, cannolis, baked goods, pizza, and much more. We had dinner here one night while there was a local soccer game on. The food and atmosphere were wonderful.
Note: There is another popular food market called the Sant’Ambrogio Market that is located on the opposite side of the city. Apparently this is the market that locals prefer, so if you have spare time and are a foodie, this could be a fun additional stop.
The Duomo Complex
The most famous landmark in Florence is the Duomo. Towering over the city with its majestic beauty, this is a must-see on your Florence itinerary.
The Duomo complex is more than just the main cathedral. It is actually a complex of monuments, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata, and the Opera Duomo Museum.
To visit the Duomo complex, you can buy an OPA pass, which includes access to all of the sites. The cost is 18€ per person and you can buy it here.
Tip: you will not have time to visit all of the sites of the complex in this Florence itinerary. I would recommend walking around the outside of the Duomo, visiting the Gates of Paradise on the exterior of the baptistry, and climbing either Giotto’s Tower or to the top of the dome.
Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore)
The Santa Maria del Fiore was once the largest church in the world until St. Peter’s was built in Vatican City. Today, it stands as the third largest church in the world and was completed in 1436, after over 100 years of construction.
Take your time to walk around the outside of the cathedral and take it all in.
The inside of the Duomo is pretty plain, so for only 2 days in Florence, I wouldn’t recommend taking the time to visit the inside. If you do want to visit the inside of the cathedral, admission is free. However, lines can get long during peak season (April – October), so if you really want to see the interior, then arrive at opening time.
The dome on the cathedral was designed by Brunelleschi and was an architectural feat at the time.
For an incredible view of Florence, you can climb 463 steps to the top of the dome. To visit the dome, you need to book your reservation days in advance. Time slots book up quickly, so reserve your spot as soon as you know you want to do this.
Baptistry of San Giovanni
You’ll find the baptistry opposite the main entrance to the cathedral. Step inside this octagonal shaped baptistry and enjoy the spectacular mosaics inside of the dome. You can also view the famous Gates of Paradise on the exterior of the building facing the entrance to the Duomo.
Giotto’s Bell Tower
The bell tower sits adjacent to the cathedral and is 278 feet tall. There are 414 steps to the top of the tower, but once you reach the top you will be greeted with a stunning view of the dome and of the city of Florence.
Opera Duomo Museum
This museum contains art and artifacts that have been removed from the cathedral. You can also view the original Gates of Paradise in this museum.
The Uffizi Gallery contains some of the most famous works of Italian art. From Botticelli’s Birth of Venus to The Annunciation by Leonardo Da Vinci, this museum is a must-visit on your Florence itinerary.
I would recommend planning on making sure you have a minimum of 2 hours to tour this museum. 3-4 hours will give you more time to take it slowly.
Buy your tickets ahead of time to skip the line on the official website. Otherwise, you might end up waiting for hours to get inside, and you won’t have time for that!
Completed at the beginning of the 14th century, the Palazzo Vecchio was once the seat of power in Florence. Now, you can tour the incredible rooms in the palace or climb to the top of the tower that overlooks Piazza della Signoria.
If you don’t have time to tour the palace, you can get a glimpse into the palace from Piazza della Signoria and walk around the room at the entrance.
You can buy tickets online here.
Piazza della Signoria
The Piazza della Signoria is the main square in Florence. Here you will find the Palazza Vecchio towering over the square, as well a the Loggia dei Lanzi – an open-air museum featuring many sculptures.
It’s also wonderful to walk around the center of Florence at night when everything is lit up, plus the crowds have usually settled down in the evening.
Ponte Vecchio literally means “old bridge.” It was built in 1345 and is one of the most famous landmarks in all of Florence.
Step back into medieval times and cross the bridge over the Arno River admiring all of the shops along the way.
If you want to get a good view of the bridge, then head over to the Ponta Santa Trinita (another bridge) and you’ll be able to get a nice picture of the Ponte Vecchio.
The Boboli gardens are incredibly manicured Italian gardens. Spend the afternoon here and walk around or take a picnic and enjoy. This is one of my favorite spots to escape the herds of tourists and just relax for a couple of hours.
If you have time, you can reserve a spot to tour the Pitti Palace located at the entrance to the gardens. This palace was once owned by the Medici family who bought it in the 1500s.
You can buy tickets for the gardens and palace at the official site.
For an excellent view of the sunset over Florence, head over to the Piazzale Michelangelo. This is one of the top things to see in Florence! If you want to get a good seat, make sure to get there a bit early because every other tourist wants the same sunset view as you.
If you don’t mind having a semi-obstructed view of the city, you can cross the road behind the Piazzale Michelangelo and watch the sunset from the terrace in front of the Palazzo dei Vescovi in San Miniato al Monte. This way you can escape the crowds.
Florence 2 Day Itinerary
Below, I have broken down the activities into 2 days, so you can get an idea of what you can accomplish each day. These are listed in the recommended order from start to finish.
- Accademia – Statue of David
- Mercato di San Lorenzo
- Mercato Central
- Duomo – walk around Duomo and/or visit the interior or baptistry
- Climb to the top of either the dome or Giotto’s Campanile
- Walk around Piazza della Signoria
- Palazzo Vecchio – you can do this at night if you have time (it’s open until 10PM every day except Thursday)
- Uffizi Gallery
- Wander around the Old Town in the afternoon or evening
- Ponte Vecchio
- Boboli Gardens and/or Pitti Palace (if you have time)
- Piazza Michelangelo for sunset
Museum Closures in Florence
Make sure to double check the times of all the museums before planning your stay in Florence. The Accademia, Palazzo Pitti, and Uffizi Gallery are all closed on Monday, so do not plan to visit on a Monday, or else you might miss out on seeing one of the major museums.
The Firenze card is the ultimate pass to all of the sites in Florence. It costs 85 euros for a 72-hour time period. You also have the option to add unlimited transportation to your card for 7 euros.
For only 2 days in Florence, I don’t think it is worth it to get this card. While it covers all of the main sites on this list, you will end up spending more on the card than you would if you purchased the activities in this post individually. You also still have to reserve tickets in advance for the Accademia and Uffizi gallery with the card.
Getting Around Florence
Florence is a very walkable city, plus it’s fun to walk around all of the old Italian streets!
However, if you do want to take public transportation, then you can use the ATAF buses to get around. I have used these buses a couple of times and I just bought my ticket on board the bus. They installed digital card readers on a lot of the buses in 2019. To be safe, you can also buy tickets at tobacco shops, coffee bars, or the Santa Maria Novella train station.
I have read about scams on the ATAF buses and apparently, you should always buy your ticket before you get on the bus and validate it immediately. Otherwise, if you get on the bus without validating your ticket, you could be subject to a fine of €50 per person. So just make sure you get your ticket beforehand or buy it from the bus driver and validate it immediately, then you should be fine.
Book in Advance
As I’ve mentioned several times in this article, make all of your reservations for the climb up the dome and museums in advance. There is a small fee for reserving your tickets online, but it’s worth it because it will save you a lot of time.
Florence Food Recommendations
Florence is full of delicious restaurants to try. Here are a few recommendations to grab a quick bite to eat!
Gusta Pizza – This place is quite popular, but it was some of the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. I would highly recommend stopping here if you have time for dinner. It’s about a 25 minute walk from Piazzale Michelangelo, so you could eat dinner here after watching the sunset.
Gelateria Artigianale La Sorbettiera – This gelato shop was close to our Airbnb last time we stayed in Florence, and I personally think it’s the best gelato shop in Florence. It’s a bit out of the way but not too far from Gusta Pizza. So if you end up getting pizza from there, make sure to stop here for some gelato. It’s not touristy and the quality is excellent.
My Sugar Gelato – This gelato shop is located near the Accademia, so you should stop here after your visit to see the David for a late morning pick-me-up! We loved the gelato here and would highly recommend it.
As always, let us know if you have any questions about your trip to Florence or any recommendations! Happy travels!