Looking for a Florence itinerary for 3 days? Here all my best tips and exactly where to go and when!
Ever since I first visited one of Italy’s most famous cities, I knew it’d forever be a favorite. Back then I only had an afternoon as a high schooler to wander historic streets and shop at one of the markets, but even with this limited experience, I fell in love.
After well over a decade, I finally made it back to this city that I’d built up in my head, and I was overjoyed to find out Florence (aka Firenze) lived up to the memory! My friend, Elissa, and I spent a few days sightseeing, clocking in nearly 20,000 steps a day, and, most importantly, eating. I even went on two runs along the Arno! With a few days dedicated to only the city, I finally felt like I got a chance to know it a lot better than I did as a student.
With that said, I thought I’d put together a Florence itinerary for you guys! Not to brag, but I think it’s a pretty perfect guide that can easily be adapted and will cover everything you could want – culture, food, and views. Not to mention there’s time carved out to simply wander so you can see why this city, of all places, gave birth to the Renaissance.
Tips for Your Florence Itinerary
Stay closer to the train station
I highly recommend staying close to the train station. Whether you’re flying in or taking the train, you’ll end at Firenze Santa Maria Novella and have to walk unless you plan on taking a taxi. You really don’t want to deal with lugging your suitcase further than 10 minutes, especially with how a lot of Florence is made of stone walkways.
We wound up staying at Hotel Palazzo Dal Borgo, only an 8-10 minute walk from the train station. It’s a really beautiful historic hotel that’s shockingly inexpensive for its location and design. Also all the concierges we interacted with were really friendly, and the breakfast selection was quite extensive.
|Hotel Name||Distance from Train Station||Where to Book|
|Hotel Palazzo Dal Borgo $||8 minute walk||Hotels.com, Booking|
|Hotel Alba Palace $||7 minute walk||Hotels.com, Booking|
|Relais Luce Florence $$||4 minute walk||Hotels.com, Booking|
|Golden Tower Hotel & Spa $$$||11 minute walk||Hotels.com, Booking|
Keep in mind that Florence very much a student city
Listen, I’m just warning you that you might feel a little old and unstylish if you visit Florence during the school year and are over 22. There are stylish international students everywhere giving the city a really fun, young vibe, but I’m not going to lie – I felt every year of my 29 while there lol.
Also keeping in line with it being a student city, the cheaper food spots will most likely be packed during mealtimes, so expect lines if you go. Mercato Centrale on a Friday night is poppin’. (Omg did I just make myself seem even older).
Bring good walking shoes
I know I’m getting older because my tolerance for shoes without insole support is next to nothing when I definitely used to be able to walk miles in slightly too tight shoes lol. Anyway, I clocked in well over 10,000 steps everyday and found myself grabbing my sneakers a lot. This is my plug for you to get proper insoles and not just the cheap kind you can get at the drugstore. My obsession is the sustainable brand Fulton, which I had in my Allbirds.
The weather errs on the warm side
One of the many nice things about Florence and the Tuscan region is how warm it is! We were there in February and the weather was around 50-60F the whole time. I pretty much just wore a regular top with a Heattech top underneath and no jacket or heavy sweater. Double check the forecast before you go because you’ll most likely need a lot fewer layers than you’d think.
Make reservations in advance
Whether it’s dinner, museum entrances, or tours, you’ll want to reserve things in advance especially if you’re visiting on a weekend. There’s a very good chance that if you show up without one, there won’t be room or the wait time absurd.
The Perfect Florence Itinerary for 3 Days
And now for the Florence itinerary! I’ve organized this guide to go from mid-morning on Day 1 to evening on Day 3 with some recommendations if you’d like to stay longer. Obviously, it’s very easy to adjust and cut depending on when you actually arrive and depart!
Day 1 of this Florence Itinerary: Welcome to Firenze
Check-in to your hotel
Regardless of what time you arrive, you should at the very least be able to leave your luggage with your hotel even if you can’t fully check into your room.
Stretch your legs with a walk over to the Duomo
Once you’ve dropped your bags off at your hotel, it’s time to stretch your legs! For me, the perfect welcome to the city is the Duomo di Firenze (Florence Cathedral). Every major Italian city has a main cathedral centerpiece, and this is Florence’s. Not even the best photograph or video can compare to seeing it in person. Honestly, just go and circle the whole building to properly admire.
For those curious about what makes this duomo so unique, check out this quick video from NatGeo that explains the architecture. To this day, experts aren’t 100% certain how Brunelleschi pulled it off.
If you have time, buy tickets to either climb up the dome or the bell tower. I’ve only been up to the bell tower back when I was sixteen, and that was because you got a bird’s eye view of the city with the famous dome included.
Grab a panino at Panini Toscani
Time to grab a bite to eat! Now, usually I’d advise you to walk far away from any major attraction to find food that’s actually good and not overpriced, but with Florence I’m making an exception. As you circle the duomo, keep an eye out for Panini Toscani. Once you enter the bustling shop, you’ll be able to sample their cheese, bread, and meat before putting together your own panini.
There’s only seating outside, and if it’s full like it was when I went, that’s fine! Just find one of the stone benches that surrounded the duomo to sit and eat with a view.
Alternate: If you’re not in the mood for a panini or are vegetarian, Pizza Napoli 1955 is also nearby and absolutely delicious. Get the heart shaped margherita pizza!
Get your first gelato at Antica Gelateria Fiorentina
A visit to Italy is simply incomplete without gelato, no matter what region you’re in, the time of year, or your lactose tolerance levels (get ye to a pharmacy to get lactaid pills!). This is especially true for Florence where, it apparently originates from.
The thing about the authentic, artisanal gelato shops is that they close well before restaurants open for dinner, so if you want the 3€ sweet treat, make it a post-lunch dessert instead of post-dinner.
For Day 1, that shop is Antica Gelateria Fiorentina. This whimsical gelateria is down an alley by the duomo. It only has some benches to sit, so I recommend getting your gelato in a cone to walk and eat.
Spend the afternoon wandering
Now is the time to stretch your legs and wander. It’s so easy to just stroll around Florence and come across ancient landmarks, piazzas, and sights!
You could easily do a walking tour if you want something guided, but I think one of the best things to do in the city and Italy in general is to just set aside a few hours to meander. Stroll down alleys, find the River Arno and cross on the of the bridges (Ponte Vecchio is the most famous), and just enjoy your surroundings. You’re seeing centuries of history laid out in one place, take it in!
For Runners: I’m adding this because I was in the midst of training for a 15km race while here. Florence is a pretty runner-friendly city, so this is a good time to squeeze in a run if you need it. I found running along the river and out to Parco delle Cascine to have the smoothest paths and the least amount of crowds. I don’t recommend running into the main parts of the city in the afternoon; it’ll be to crowded.
Grab dinner at Antica Trattoria da Tito
When it comes to dinner, a great first day place has to be Antica Trattoria da Tito. It’s a bit of a walk away from the Duomo area, but not that far. They serve all the Tuscan greatest hits from ribollita to bistecca and, on top of that, the vibe is so fun and friendly. We wound up splitting a bistecca and this maltagliati dish which reminded me of a deconstructed soup dumpling!
DON’T FORGET: This is your reminder to make reservations ahead of time for all dinner restaurants!
On your stroll back home, be sure to go through the Piazza del Duomo to see it bustlin’ with everyone out and about. You may even see a busker or two.
Day 2 of this Florence Itinerary: Museums & Sightseeing
Whoo, Day 2! Grab breakfast at your hotel and get ready to see some famous art, eat more delicious food, and see two of the best spots to see Florence from.
Spend the morning at two of the most famous museums in Florence.
Since the museums get busier as the day goes on, you’ll want to do any museum visits first thing in the morning. Florence is like museum city (seriously there’s gotta be a museum every few feet), but the two you don’t want to miss are the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’Accademia.
The Uffizi is pretty big, so I’d recommend at least an hour or more depending on how long you like to be in art museums. You may even want to get a tour or a private tour so you can have someone explain the art in more detail. Otherwise, I’m not going to lie, the many, many iterations of the Virgin Mary start blending together. It’s also here that you’ll find Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.
Another must-see stop is the Statue of David at the Galleria dell’Accademia. (Despite what photos may imply, he’s in the Accademia, NOT the Uffizi). Back in 2008 when I came to Florence, either the building or the statue were under construction, so I was determined to finally see the famous statue I’d spent a year learning about in high school! You can book a tour, but the museums is really, really small so it’s not necessary.
Booking Tickets: Tickets for both museums are by time. If you come during the weekdays during a slower season, you probably can just buy your tickets at the office. However, for weekends or high season, you must book tickets ahead of time. You can do this on their websites, but if you’re having trouble like I did, you can book on Get Your Guide. For the Uffizi, book here and for the Accademia, book here.
Lunch at Alimentari Uffizi
A couple we met during our cooking class (more on that below) recommend this lunch spot, and I went on one of the days I extended my stay. As you might guess from the name, it’s fairly close to the Uffizi and a good spot to stop for lunch.
The owner doesn’t speak English, so it was a lot of pointing and looking a bit lost on my end. But basically he’ll come out with this delicious plate of meats, cheeses, and bread and either wine or soda. SO good. Seating inside is pretty limited, and it’s cash only. Don’t worry if you don’t have cash on you, I think the ATM was literally right across the way.
Get some gelato at Gelateria dei Neri
Time for gelato! This time at Gelateria dei Neri, an artisanal gelato shop that’s been around since 1982 and under the same owner since 1989. Pretty sure I got the pistachio here. It’s also right down the road from Napoli Pizza 1955 if you eat lunch there instead of Alimentari Uffizi.
For views over the city, head to Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte & Piazza del Michelangelo
Time for a not-so-little stroll and some of the best views fo Florence! To see the city from afar, the most popular spot is the Piazza del Michelangelo. It’s situated across the river and a bit of an uphill walk to get to. Don’t miss the David statue when you go!
However, I read multiple places and was told by Elissa via her tour guide that the piazza gets pretty crowded, so if you want somewhere quieter, go further up to Abbazia di San Miniato. This basilica sits even higher up on the hill and dates back all the way to 1018.
I say do both! I would say Abbazia is definitely nicer if you want to watch the sunset, so I’d go to the piazza first and then wait up there. However, if you’re not worried about waiting, head up to the Abazzia first and then go to the piazza on your way back down.
My favorite shot is through the trees, which is actually across the road from the basilica!
Dinner at Regina Bistecca
Time for dinner! I have two recommendations for this. If you’re eating right after coming down from one of the viewpoints above, eat at I’Pizzacchiere which would be on your way back to the river. The thing is it’s only open Friday – Monday, and I, for the life of me, couldn’t figure out where it was. But I have it on good authority that it’s delicious!
For my other option, I recommend washing up a bit back at your hotel room and then going to dinner at Regina Bistecca. It’s a bit fancier buts till cozy and the perfect place to try the famous bistecca alla Florentina.
The bistecca here is melt-in-your-mouth good, and if I wasn’t eating on my own and trying to keep my stomach empty, I’d have devoured all that freshly baked bread they serve beforehand.
Day 3 of this Florence Itinerary: Cooking Class & Shopping
Today is for cooking and doing a little souvenir shopping. The only major thing Elissa wanted to do in Florence was a cooking class, and I wanted to learn how to cook pasta properly, so we signed up for this class specifically. It included a market tour in the beginning, taught us how to make two different kinds of pasta and tiramisu, and then finished up a little after lunch.
Spend the morning at Mercato Centrale
Even if you don’t do a cooking class, spend the final morning of your Florence itinerary wandering the downstairs market at Mercado Centrale. While the upstairs area is all food spots, downstairs is for the market! I imagine if I lived here, I’d stroll through here for my groceries.
On our market tour, our chef, Tommasso, took us to a few different stalls and told us a bit about each. I’m pretty sure he was friends with all the owners. I wound up buying some pecorino truffle cheese and jam because it was so good. They can vacuum seal the cheese so it lasts the rest of your trip and through customs.
Enjoy the cooking class & delicious lunch after
The rest of the morning will be taken up with your cooking class! Over all, we worked on making tagliatelle al ragù, squash ravioli, and tiramisu with a break for wine, cheese, and meat in between!
The food was so good, and we made so much I couldn’t actually eat all of it! I know, I cried a little too. Nothing is worse than filling up before I’m ready. Anyway, we got recipes to take with us, and I made the ravioli and tagliatelle for Silvia in Norway (though we did a creamy sauce there instead of the ragù).
Do some souvenir shopping around the Oltrarno side
Time to do some shopping! Or window shopping if you have limited luggage space and budget. There were three places specifically I bought something from:
- Cecchi Carlo di Ricchi Giuliano – a “secret” jeweler who’s created pieces for the likes of Dior and Gucci. He’s so friendly and is used to visitors, so he’ll show you how he makes his pieces and then leave you to peruse his creations.
- Frau Leman – a bespoke leather creator who uses leather leftover from larger wholesale orders. While she has a few smaller items available for sale, anything bigger or bespoke you’ll have to put in an order. Her waitlist is around 2 months.
- Sileno Cheloni – a perfume atelier. I picked up a citrus scent.
Grab a gelato at Sbrino Gelatificio Contadino
While you’re shopping around Oltrarno, don’t forget to get your last gelato of the trip! This time at Sbrino Gelatificio Contadino, which uses an organic dairy farm and the best of all the ingredients to make their gelato. Try the speculoos flavor, it’ll be the perfect last gelato!
There’s no seating, so take your gelato back to Piazza Santo Spirito and enjoy the people watching.
Finish your trip with dinner at Trattoria Zà Zà
Still here for dinner? I’m going to bet you’re feeling pretty full from the cooking class! Get a light-ish dinner at Trattoria Zà Zà, which is a nice, classic Florentine restaurant with cozy seating and a delicious menu. I liked the ravioli dish, but if you’re pasta’d out, they have plenty of other dishes!
If you’re still crazy full and can’t fathom doing a proper dinner, you can also go to one of the spots in Mercato Centrale for a lighter dinner! I was obsessed with the chicken cacciatore sandwich at Trapprezzino (didn’t love the meatball one).
FAQ for this Florence Itinerary
I mean, my first trip was a mere afternoon and I felt like we saw a decent amount! To really enjoy the city, I recommend at least 2 full days but 3 is ideal.
Yes and yes! Two days is enough to enjoy the city, try a number of its incredible restaurants, see a famous museum or two, and sightsee. Three is my ideal and what this post is geared towards.
I’d plan to do 2 days in each or 3 days in Rome and 1 day in Florence depending on what you want to see. It’s only about 90 minutes by high speed train to get in between the cities, so you can easily do a day trip.
And that’s my advice for the perfect Florence itinerary for 3 days! Any questions or suggestions? Ask away below!
For more Italy travel, read these next:
- 28 Venice Travel Tips to Read Before You Go
- Why You Should Visit Venice in Winter
- Visiting Cinque Terre: A Complete Travel Guide
- How to Spend 3 Days in Milan
- How to Visit Trento, a Gateway to the Dolomites
- Where to Eat in Bologna: 10 Mouthwatering Recommendations
- Pitigliano: A Guide to this Beautiful Tuscan Village
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