Florence in One Day: How to Plan the Perfect Itinerary

Do you want to visit Florence but don’t have much time? Don’t worry. It’s possible to see Florence in one day, at least the main sights, although the city is worth staying longer. We’ll focus on a walking itinerary so that you won’t miss the most beautiful Florence landmarks. 

Whoever travels to Italy for the first time has three cities on their bucket list: Rome, Venice, and Florence. Usually, they’re followed by the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast.

By all means, Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is a real open-air museum. There’s a surprise at every corner. Just let your eyes wander up and around while walking through the alleys of the center; every few steps, you’ll discover some splendid palace, a sculpture, a fountain, or a fantastic staircase.

Florence Panorama

Florence is truly spectacular and unique. The city that’s the cradle of the Renaissance is also undoubtedly a top Unesco World Heritage Site in Europe and the world. To first-time visitors, Florence is enthralling. But it’s one of those cities which will always fascinate you, no matter how many times you’ve been there. Since my brother lives in Florence, which is less than two hours from Milan by high-speed train, I’m lucky because I can quickly go there time and again. Believe me, there are so many things to see in Florence that time is never enough. And every time I go, I discover something new.

Planning one day in Florence? Know before you go

Getting to Florence

  • Airports: Florence Peretola is the closest airport, but the number of international flights is limited. Pisa is a better option since many low-cost airlines land there. If you’re traveling from another continent, you’ll probably arrive in Milan or Rome.
  • Train: Thanks to high-speed trains, reaching Florence from Milan, Rome, Bologna, Venice, and Naples has become very fast. Try to buy your ticket in advance, if you can, because you can find fares. However, beware that discounted tickets are for a specific train, therefore you must stick to your plan. Check the timetables and fares on Omio.
  • Car: Getting to Florence by car is a very bad idea unless you want to have a road trip to Tuscany or other regions in Italy. My brother lives in Florence, so I go there often. Driving in the city is a nightmare: there are plenty of areas where traffic is limited, and thus, getting a fine is almost guaranteed. Useless to say that parking is a nightmare. If you really have to get to Florence by car, I advise you to park it, forget about it during your stay, and use public transportation. When I rent a car, I usually rely on Rentalcars to find the best option according to my needs.

Getting around in Florence

  • Actually, the best way to get around in Florence is… to walk! All in all, the Florence Historical Center is not that big, but you certainly have to get ready for a long way. Thus, comfortable shoes are a must! There’s no subway, so you can only rely on ground transportation, which is not always efficient. To get the best of Florence in a day, I suggest you walk and, if tired, catch a taxi.

Where to stay in Florence

  • Tornabuoni Suites Collection Residenza D’Epoca is located only a 5-minute walk from Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Piazza della Signoria. The hotel features elegant contemporary rooms, standard rooms, and junior suites with private terraces.
  • The elegant and stylish Arte’ Boutique Hotel is close to many Florence landmarks. Its rooms feature many amenities, some of which offer a view of the cathedral.
  • Hotel NH Collection Palazzo Gaddi is located in a Renaissance building in the city’s heart. The rooftop terrace boasts spectacular views of Florence.

Find out more about where to stay in Florence in this dedicated article (with tips on neighborhoods)

How to get the most out of one day in Florence?

Florence’s historical center is small enough, and you can walk everywhere. Actually, walking is the best way to discover the city. However, get ready to cover a lot of distance and wear comfortable shoes!

I advise taking advantage of the daylight to explore the city and see the most beautiful Florence landmarks. One day in Florence is really a short time, and you’ll be able to visit only a few monuments and maybe one museum, which depends on your interests. There are, however, a few places in Florence that are must-see, but more on that later.

Late in the afternoon, you can head to a couple of spots from where you’ll get the best views of Florence, especially at sunset.

Florence Santa Croce
Florence – Santa Croce

If possible, try to stay overnight because Florence, bathed in night light, offers yet more magic views. And it’s incredibly romantic! Also, try to leave early in the morning and buy online Florence skip-the-line tickets for the attractions you don’t want to miss. Mornings are generally less crowded, and although you may still have to queue a little at the top spots, you’ll avoid wasting time.

Overall, exploring Florence in one day is undoubtedly a challenge. That’s why I recommend booking one or two guided visits to some of the main Florence landmarks or a tour of Florence’s major attractions. Here are a few tours that are worth looking at: 


One day in Florence Itinerary

One day in Florence is a very short time, and you’ll be able to discover only a small portion of what this unique city has to offer. That’s why I created a route largely focused on the historical center, allowing you to see some of the most beautiful Florence landmarks. 

Follow the map, and let’s start going through your Florence 1 day itinerary!

Walking map of Florence 

Florence in one day: Morning

1. Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo)

Several landmarks in Florence are unmissable, but the most iconic one is likely Florence cathedral square. This tiny area encompasses magnificent buildings whose beauty will leave you speechless. As you can expect, people from all over the world travel to Florence to admire this unique square, and that’s why I suggest you go there first, and as early as possible. 

florence piazza del duomo
Piazza del Duomo

The three main buildings, close to one another, are the cathedral, the bell tower, and the baptistry. Each of them is well worth visiting inside, as the exteriors alone won’t let you grasp their splendor. 

2. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (or Florence Cathedral)

Although it’s worth spending two days in Milan, I often say that if you have time to visit only one landmark, this has to be the cathedral and walking on the Duomo rooftop. Similarly (although one can’t compare Milan to Florence), the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the most famous monument in Florence. You certainly have seen photos or postcards of the city from above, with the cathedral’s dome standing out.

Florence Santa Maria del Fiore Details
Santa Maria del Fiore Facade

Florence’s cathedral construction began in 1296 following the Gothic design created by Arnolfo di Cambio, one of the most important Italian architects and sculptors of the late medieval period. The building was completed in 1436 with the erection of the dome, designed and engineered by Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi. While the structure is a remarkable example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, the elaborated pink, green, and white marble facade was added in the 19th century in the neo-Gothic style.

The cathedral’s interior is as impressive as its exterior. Overall, Santa Maria del Fiore’s interior is relatively simple and austere. However, there are a few frescoes that you shouldn’t miss. The first one is the fresco portraying the poet Dante holding the Divine Comedy by Domenico di Michelino (1465). Two remarkable examples of Renaissance paintings representing the funerary monuments to Sir John Hawkwood and Niccolò da Tolentino, both condottieri during the Middle Ages. Also, look at the stunning decoration of the dome representing the Last Judgment, started by Giorgio Vasari in 1568 and completed by other painters.

TIP: Keep in mind that Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral is closed on Sundays. During weekdays, opening hours are 10:45 – 16:30. Remember to wear appropriate clothes (no shorts, miniskirts, or bare shoulders).

3. Brunelleschi’s Dome and Giotto’s Bell Tower

Florence Cathedral’s dome is an extraordinary architectural work of priceless value. Brunelleschi’s skills in building a roof of such grandeur with the means of the time (15th century) are astounding.

The architectural complex includes Giotto’s Belltower (Campanile di Giotto), a building almost 85 meters high that stands out imposingly on the side of Santa Maria del Fiore. The construction of the bell tower started in 1334. After Giotto died in 1337, it continued under the direction of Andrea Pisano, who thoroughly followed Giotto’s original design

Florence – Giotto’s Campanile
Florence – The Cathedral Dome

I strongly recommend climbing Brunelleschi’s Dome, from where you’ll get breathtaking views of Florence. Get ready to tackle the 463 steps, though!

4. The Baptistery of San Giovanni

The Baptistery completes the architectural complex of the Cathedral of Florence. Also known as the Baptistery of Saint John, this octagonal building is one of the oldest in Florence. It was built between 1059 and 1128 and is a beautiful example of the Florentine Romanesque style.

The three magnificent sculpted bronze doors, the work of Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti, are one of the highlights of Florence Baptistery.

Inside, the decoration is inspired by ancient Roman architecture and, above all, the Pantheon. In addition, the white and green marble geometric designs create an exquisite chromatic harmony. Finally, don’t miss to look up to admire the stunning mosaics decorating the dome, whose creation started in 1225 and finished in 1330. They may not be as unique as Ravenna mosaics, but they’re worth seeing.

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5. Orsanmichele

The lesser-known church of Orsanmichele happens to be one of my favorite Florence buildings. Originally, Orsanmichele was a grain market. However, not even 50 years later, between 1380 and 1404, it was converted into a church. The facade is embellished by 14 niches, with just as many statues. Although small, the interior is beautiful, especially Andrea Orcagna’s gothic tabernacle (mid-14th century) and the frescoes.

Florence – Orsanmichele [Photo courtesy: Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, CC BY-SA 4.0]

Florence in one day: Afternoon

6. The Porcellino fountain

Many Italian cities have a work of art shrouded in legends. For example, you may have heard (or seen) about the Mouth of Truth in Rome, where people dare stick their hands. Or the bull’s balls on the floor of Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. People step with their right heel on the testicles and turn three times counterclockwise, as the bull is said to bring good luck!

Florence Porcellino Fountain
Porcellino Fountain. Photo courtesy [RalfSkjerning, CC BY-SA 3.0]

In Florence, the Porcellino (meaning piglet) is a bronze fountain representing a boar. Since it’s close to Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio, it’s worth making a short detour to get a look. As you look at the Porcellino, you’ll notice its shiny nose! That’s because, according to a legend, you have to rub the pig’s nose to get a good dose of luck! Nose rubbing is not enough, though. To complete the superstitious ritual, you must insert a coin into the pig’s mouth. If the coin falls into the grate and ends in the water, then luck is guaranteed!

7. Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi

One of the main attractions in Florence is Piazza della Signoria.  This is the most famous square in Florence and is home to the Loggia dei Lanzi and Palazzo Vecchio, the city’s town hall.

Piazza della Signoria is rich in architecture and sculpture. Indeed, many statues adorn the square, including a copy of Michelangelo’s David.
The Loggia dei Lanzi is a cloister that houses several sculptures, a sort of open-air art gallery.

Michelangelo’s David
Florence – Palazzo Vecchio

The Palazzo Vecchio, whose construction dates back to the end of the 13th century, houses the museum and the Arnolfo Tower. Inside, you’ll admire the beautiful courtyards and the splendid decorations culminating in the famous Salone dei Cinquecento, one of Italy’s largest and most magnificent halls.

Even if you only have 1 day in Florence, you can’t miss visiting Piazza della Signoria.

8. The Uffizi courtyard and Ponte Vecchio

A stone’s throw from Piazza della Signoria, you’ll come across the Uffizi courtyard, leading to the Arno River and the nearby Ponte Vecchio. Without a shade of a doubt, the Uffizi Gallery is one of the most exceptional museums in Italy and Europe. It houses world-famous masterpieces like Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation, Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni, and many more iconic works of art. But, of course, it’s hard to squeeze in a visit to the Uffizi if you’re visiting Florence in one day. So if you don’t want to miss it, your best bet is a guided visit, with an expert guide leading you to the most important masterpieces.

If you prefer to visit on your own, be sure to book your timed entry ticket to the Uffizi Gallery in advance!

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Florence Uffizi Courtyard
Florence Uffizi Courtyard

Ponte Vecchio is another iconic monument defining Florence’s panorama. The bridge, which spans the river Arno, is one of the city’s symbols. The shops once housed farmers, tanners, and butchers. But at the end of the 16th century, they were replaced by jewelers and goldsmiths. Time stood almost still for a few shops which, to date, still manufacture a large part of their jewels in the ancient workshops.

At the top runs a section of the famous Vasari Corridor, which initially allowed the Medici family to move from Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti without going through the main streets.

Florence Ponte Vecchio
Florence – Ponte Vecchio

9. Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato

By now, it’ll likely be late afternoon. Time to move from the historical center and head uphill to Piazzale Michelangelo, from where you’ll get one of the best views of Florence. Expect it to be crowded since this esplanade is the most popular spot to admire the Florence sunset.

Florence at Dusk
Florence at Dusk

From farther away and above, the panorama of the city is mesmerizing. The cathedral dome and the tower of Palazzo Vecchio stand out in the sky as it turns orange and pink; the atmosphere is magical and utterly romantic. If you’re not too tired, I recommend walking up to Piazzale Michelangelo, climbing the winding alleys where you’ll feel like strolling in a town in the countryside. Alternatively, you can catch a bus or a taxi.

Florence San Miniato al Monte
Florence – San Miniato al Monte

Time and energy permitting, climb further up to the beautiful San Miniato al Monte Abbey before taking a break to catch the Florentine sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo. The basilica stands at the highest point, overlooking the city and offering stunning views. Construction started in 1013, and San Miniato is considered one of the finest examples of the Romanesque style in Tuscany.

Florence in one day: Evening

The Tuscan capital offers so much to see and do that a day in Florence ends in a heartbeat. So unless you’re leaving, treat yourself to a special dinner and taste the best Tuscan food specialties. These include Ribollita (a delicious vegetable soup traditionally prepared with farmers’ products and dry bread), Bistecca alla Fiorentina (an enormous T-bone steak), and many others. In addition, Tuscany is famous for its red wines, which are perfect to combine with local dishes.

After dinner, if you still have some strength, go back to a few of the sites visited during the day. Bathed in the orange night glue, they emanate a different charm and are utterly romantic.

Disclaimer: This post has links to a few selected products or services carefully selected. That means that if you make any purchase, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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About Me

Travel addict and passionate about photography, Simon Falvo started Wild About Travel back in 2009. Leveraging her strong PR background, she developed an extensive knowledge of Digital Communications and Content Creation. Besides travel writing Simon holds workshops and trainings, she collaborated with tourism boards for digital marketing campaigns and participated as a speaker at several events.

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