A common question people have planning their trip to Italy is: “What’s the best way to spend one day in Florence?” Our answer? Don’t spend one day in Florence—spend more!
While we’d recommend spending more time in this beautiful city, we understand that it’s not always possible. So, we’ve crafted the perfect itinerary for a brief visit, covering must-see attractions, dining recommendations, and useful tips.
Follow along for our guide on the best way to spend one day in Florence.
Morning, Part 1: Breakfast in Florence
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day…or at least it will be when you have an action-packed one day Florence adventure ahead. Enjoy a traditional Italian breakfast (which are sweet, not savory) at Caffè Scudieri. This spot is one of Florence’s most historic caffès and makes the lists for both best coffee in Florence and best pastries in Florence. And if that wasn’t enough, it also offers stunning views of the Florence Duomo.
Indulge in Italian coffee culture with a cappuccino or espresso, and pair it with a traditional pastry like cornetti, ricciarelli, or cantucci.
Another convenient spot for breakfast is inside the Central Market (Mercato Centrale), located just a stone’s throw from the San Lorenzo Market.
Morning, Part 2: Mercato di San Lorenzo (San Lorenzo Market)
San Lorenzo Market, right in the heart of the city, is a lively open-air market known for its leather goods, clothing, souvenirs, and crafts. It’s the go-to spot for browsing and shopping for all things leather, from bags to jackets, and you’ll find plenty of Florence-themed souvenirs too. The market typically opens early in the morning so you can head here straight from breakfast.
Morning, Part 3: Florence Duomo + Michelangelo’s David
Michelangelo’s David and the Florence Duomo are two of the most iconic landmarks in all of Florence (and across Italy).
The Florence Duomo (otherwise referred to as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, The Florence Cathedral, or simply The Duomo) is known for its monumental dome, built in 1431, which remained the world’s largest until 1888. Remarkably, today it remains the largest brick and mortar dome. Climb the stairs inside the dome for panoramic city views, but be prepared for a wait as it can get busy. To save time, you can also stroll around the cathedral’s exterior to appreciate its grandeur without going inside.
Michelangelo’s “David” is a famous Renaissance sculpture, known for its stunning detail and the depiction of the biblical hero David. It’s made from a single block of marble and stands tall at a whopping 17 feet. You can see it at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, not far from the Duomo.
Insider’s tip: Many want to see both of these attractions in one day, but given time constraints and often long lines, it may not be feasible along with other activities. Our advice? Follow our itinerary, prioritize what’s most important to you in advance, and skip what’s less important.
Morning, Part 4: Uffizi Gallery + All’Antico Vinaio
This museum boasts the world’s top collection of Renaissance paintings by famous artists like Botticelli, Raphael, Da Vinci, and others. However, it’s massive and features over 100 rooms brimming with art and art adorning the hallways (which can be overwhelming even for ardent art enthusiasts!).
We recommend choosing the specific works or rooms you wish to explore ahead of time to ensure you don’t feel overwhelmed by the museum’s sheer size during your visit.
Insider’s tip: While heading to the Uffizi Gallery, take a stroll through Piazza della Repubblica (or stop by after). Close by is also the incredibly popular Italian sandwich shop, All’Antico Vinaio. If you’re curious what all the fuss is about (but aren’t in the mood for such a casual lunch), opt to squeeze it in as an early snack to enjoy during your morning adventures. Get there before the massive line starts to form around noon!
Afternoon, Part 1: Lunch near the Duomo
The hardest part about eating in Italy is deciding what to eat, since the great options are truly endless. If it’s your first time in Florence, we recommend some typical Tuscan dishes served at some of the best restaurants in Florence. Opt for the following spots in the vicinity of the Duomo.
- C.IN.TO – Cucina In Torre
- La Giostra (Borgo Pinti, 10/18R)
- Ristorante Vetreria
- B-Roof (Piazza dell’Unità Italiana, 6)
- Ristorante Frescobaldi Firenze
Insider’s tip: Italians are pretty particular about lunchtime, so aim to be sitting down for your midday meal around 1 to 2 p.m. If possible, we suggest making reservations ahead of time to eliminate stress and waiting times. If you are in the mood for a casual grab-and-go lunch, consider the sandwich shop above, or trying lampredotto in Florence.
Afternoon, Part 2: Ponte Vecchio + Palazzo Vecchio
After lunch, while en route to Florence’s renowned Ponte Vecchio, take a moment to visit Palazzo Vecchio, a historic plaza of equal fame in the city.
Spending a lot of time at Palazzo Vecchio isn’t necessary unless you’re a Medici history enthusiast, but one thing that could be worth your time is climbing to the top of the tower inside for great views of the city (that is, if you skipped climbing the tower at the Duomo). Take a peek at the Piazza della Signoria and the outdoor statue gallery of Loggia dei Lanzi, as well.
Then, make your way to Ponte Vecchio, one of the most famous and iconic landmarks in Florence, Italy. This historic bridge spans the Arno River and is renowned for its unique architecture, as well as the shops that line its sides, historically occupied by jewelers and goldsmiths.
Afternoon, Part 3: Oltrarno and Spirito Santo
Oltrarno, located on the southern bank of Florence’s Arno River, is a charming and less touristy neighborhood loved for its laid-back and local feeling.
Within Oltrarno, the Santo Spirito district stands out, with its iconic Basilica di Santo Spirito, a serene church designed by Filippo Brunelleschi (the same designer credited with the design and construction of the iconic dome of the Duomo). It’s also home to a plethora of cool spots for shopping, dining and drinking.
The neighborhood’s Piazza Santo Spirito is typically bustling with activities, and the Oltrarno shopping scene is known for its artisan workshops, where you can find unique handcrafted items.
Afternoon, Part 4: Gelato in Florence
As you explore the Oltrarno neighborhood, make time for some gelato. It’s safe to say that gelato is one of the most iconic foods to eat in Italy, and is also the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
While everyone has an opinion on the best gelato in Florence, you can’t go wrong if you follow the golden rules of seeking out authentic gelato:
- Natural colors: Look for flavors that have a natural appearance. Fruit-based gelato should reflect the color of the actual fruit and avoid having bright, artificial colors.
- Simple ingredients: High-quality gelato uses minimal, high-quality ingredients like milk, cream and fresh fruit.
- Flat appearance: Artisanal gelato is typically stored in flat containers and isn’t displayed in big, extravagant mounds (which is common to come across, but is an obvious give away that it’s not very high-quality.
- The local seal of authority: Ask locals what their favorite place is!
P.S.: You only have one day in Florence…but that doesn’t mean you have to only have one gelato. When in Rome…or Florence!
Evening, Part 1: Palazzo Pitti And Boboli Gardens
The Palazzo Pitto (Pitti Palace) is a remarkable Medici Palace with five museums within its grand walls, including:
- Galleria Palatina (Palatine Gallery): Museum featuring an extensive collection of paintings from the Renaissance to the 18th century.
- Galleria d’Arte Moderna (Gallery of Modern Art): Gallery showcasing Italian art from the 18th to the 20th century.
- Museo degli Argenti (Silver Museum): Museum dedicated to silver and jewelry collections.
- Museo delle Porcellane (Porcelain Museum): Museum displaying a vast collection of porcelain and ceramics from various periods.
- Museo della Moda e del Costume (Costume Gallery): Italy’s only museum dedicated to the history of clothing and fashion with insights into the evolution of fashion over the centuries.
The nearby Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens) are renowned among European gardens. They were originally created for the Medici family, and are considered a masterpiece of Renaissance garden design.
Time permitting, we recommend exploring one of the indoor museums and then making your way to the gardens.
Insider’s tip: Depending on your arrival time to this part of the city, make sure you consider the museum and garden operating hours to ensure you’ll have ample time to explore. If you decide you won’t have enough time before they close for the evening, consider skipping some of the earlier attractions.
Evening, Part 2: Dinner in Florence
l’ora di cena. Dinner time.
You’ll find amazing restaurants no matter what corner of the city you wind up in, and Oltrano is no exception. Whether you’re in the mood for something contemporary or more rustic, the Oltrarno restaurant scene has lots of great options that will make for a memorable last meal as you wind down your one day in Florence.
Evening, Part 3: Sunset in Piazzale Michelangelo
End your day with a visit to Piazzale Michelangelo for breathtaking views of Florence illuminated at night. It’s a perfect spot to savor the beauty of the city, and reflect on your busy and productive one day in Florence. Enjoy the views!
Update notice: This post was updated on September 6, 2023.
Spending just one day in Florence is doable—but tricky—with such a myriad of things to see, do, eat, and discover. If you’d prefer to maximize your time with the expertise of a guide, join us on our Florence in a Day Tour, which is another fantastic way to spend one day in Florence.
by Gina MussioView more by Gina ›
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