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Traveling through Italy and looking for the perfect 3-day itinerary for Florence? Three days might not seem like enough time to see the birthplace of the Renaissance in all its beauty, but it’s not an impossible feat.
With only 72 hours to work with, you’ll need to plan your Florence, Italy, itinerary carefully. This three-day Florence travel guide covers some of the best tours, detours, and suggested food and gelato stops to help you plan the perfect Florentine vacation.
Including everything from the top sights like the Uffizi Gallery to lesser-known spots like the Stibbert museum, here is your guide to spending three days in Florence.
Top Sights in Florence – Unmissable Attractions
If you only have three days to see the best of Florence, you don’t want to miss any of these top sights when planning your itinerary.
Topping the list of best museums in Florence, the Uffizi Gallery houses one of the most impressive collections of art in Italy. You’ll find everything from ancient sculptures to paintings dating back to the middle ages. The museum features artists like Giotto, Raffaello, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Notable artworks include Caravaggio’s Medusa and the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli.
Pitti Palace & Boboli Gardens
No 3-day Florence itinerary is complete without the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. The palace is named after the original owner, a Florentine banker named Luca Pitti, who built the palace in the mid-1400s. After that, the palace passed through the hands of the Medici and the Habsburg-Lorraine and Savoy dynasties.
The result is a magnificent property beautified and enhanced with art collections, fantastic furniture, and decor over the centuries. The palace today is divided into five different galleries, each offering a unique look into the past.
Behind the palace, the Giardini di Bobolo showcases beautiful fountains, statues, and grottos. There’s also an 18th-century Rococo-style pavilion, which stands out among the Florentine architecture.
As the name (“Old Bridge”) suggests, the Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence and crosses the Arno River. The structure you’ll see today was built in 1345 and was predated by a smaller bridge that collapsed due to flooding. It’s not only the oldest bridge in Florence but also the only bridge in the city that survived World War II.
The main draw to this small art museum is the magnificent white marble sculpture of David by Michelangelo. The Accademia Gallery is home to the largest collection of Michelangelo sculptures but also features Renaissance art by other famous Italian artists.
These include paintings by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, and Alessandro Allori. The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze also houses the Musical Instrument Museum, which displays all sorts of classical instruments and delves into the invention of the piano, credited to Bartolomeo Cristofori.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Also known as the Duomo or Cathedral of Florence, this cathedral complex is one of the best-known attractions in Florence. The Duomo complex consists of the Cathedral, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and a baptistry.
The dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and is visible from various points in the city. You can easily spend an hour just climbing and admiring Brunelleschi’s Dome, with the rest of the attractions around Piazza del Duomo requiring even more time. So you’ll want to budget at least 2-3 hours to visit this Florence icon.
Santa Croce Basilica
The Santa Croce Basilica is the world’s largest Franciscan church and has 16 chapels featuring frescoes by Giotto. The basilica was completed in 1442 and houses a range of tombs, cenotaphs, and funerary monuments of some of the most influential Florentines. Two of the most important tombs are those of Galileo Galilei and Niccolò Machiavelli.
Palazzo Vecchio & Piazza della Signoria
The Palazzo Vecchio (“Old Palace”) is one of the most important government properties in Florence and one of the city’s best-known landmarks. Built between 1299 and 1314, the palace was initially named “Palazzo della Signoria.” It sits on one of the most significant squares in Florence, Piazza della Signoria.
In the square, you’ll find a replica of Michelangelo’s David sculpture — an excellent free sight if you’re visiting Florence on a budget.
Santa Maria Novella Church
This Dominican church is a must-see attraction in Florence. With its beautiful mid-14th century facade, completed by Leon Battista Alberti, and interiors decorated by some of the greatest renaissance artists, it’s a visual masterpiece. The Santa Maria Novella Church houses works like Masaccio’s Holy Trinity, a crucifix by Giotto, and incredible frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Another highlight of visiting this basilica is the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy behind it, which is one of the oldest in Europe. It dates back to 1221 when Dominican friars would use herbs from the convent garden for illnesses and ailments. Today, the pharmacy sells perfumes, soaps, and skincare products, still prepared with age-old recipes.
Day One – Explore Florence’s Centro Storico
The Centro Storico is the best place to kick off your three days in Florence itinerary. This Unesco World Heritage site is packed with many of the top attractions in Florence. Most of them are within walking distance of each other, so you won’t have to waste any time traveling between sights.
Morning and Afternoon – Walk Around Florence’s Historic Center
Some of the finest attractions await you in Florence’s Centro Storico, also known as District 1. We suggest kicking off your day with a visit to the Pitti Palace and a stroll through the Boboli Gardens.
Make your way to Ponte Vecchio to admire the jewelry shops and views of the river. Once you’ve crossed the Arno River, you can visit the Uffizi Gallery or Palazzo Vecchio before taking a break in the Piazza della Signoria.
If you’ve still got a bit of curiosity in you after lunch, head to the Accademia Gallery. Or, explore the various religious sights and head to the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Santa Maria Novella Basilica, or the Basilica of Santa Croce. This will depend on what you’re more intrigued by, but whichever church you visit will be an absolute treat.
Lunch and Gelato Stop Suggestions
- Vinaino Fiorenza – This little traditional sandwich shop is great if you’re keen on grabbing a filling sandwich on your way to the next attraction. They serve affordable, generous sandwiches and even have some great house wines. It’s just off the Piazza della Signoria and is surrounded by many shops if you’d like to do some window shopping.
- Il Cernacchio – This cozy and charming spot sits just off Piazza della Signoria and serves traditional Tuscan sandwiches, soups, and pasta. Stop here for a glass of Chianti and a classic Florentine lampredotto sandwich.
- GROM – Looking for a gelato stop on the way to the Florence Cathedral? The elegant and minimalist GROM is steps from the cathedral and offers ultra-decadent and creamy flavors. Their cones are gluten-free, and their pistachio flavor is excellent.
If you’re looking for more excellent stops in the historic center, consider adding the Bargello Museum to your day-one itinerary. This museum is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Florence and is just around the corner from Palazzo Vecchio.
It opened in 1865 as Italy’s first national museum and is home to one of the most impressive collections of Renaissance sculptures. Highlights of the Bargello Museum include Michelangelo’s bust of Brutus, Donatello’s David, and Giambologna’s Mercury.
Slow down after a day of admiring beauty with a Florentine dinner or a lovely night experience.
End your first day with a classic Florentine beefsteak and one of the many Tuscan and Italian wines available at La Buchetta Food & Wine Restaurant. If you’re craving pasta, their gnocchi comes highly rated. Be sure to try their homemade cheesecake before heading out for a walk along the nearby Arno River.
If you’re not in the mood for steak, head to Cibrèo Trattoria near Santa Croce Basilica for authentic Florentine cuisine in a cozy setting. The ever-changing menu incorporates seasonal produce and traditional Tuscan dishes, which is why it’s equally popular with the locals.
Unwind with an intimate Italian Opera concert at the Church of Santa Monaca. This ex-church was built in the 15th century. Today, it hosts nightly opera concerts for around €25 with excellent acoustics that’ll send a shiver through your spine.
Expert Tips for Day 1 in Firenze
- Don’t rush – You may feel tempted to fit as many attractions into your day as possible, but aim for quality over quantity. Rather identify the attractions that you find most intriguing and plan your day with enough time to enjoy each stop.
- Try to pre-book most of your tickets – Since you’ll be spending day one visiting some of the most popular attractions in Florence, you’re going to want to book ahead. The last thing you want is to stand in a long ticket line, wasting time you could’ve spent admiring the attraction.
- Dress comfortably – You’ll be on your feet a lot, so comfortable clothes and shoes are essential. Have a look at this guide on what to wear in Italy to help you pack appropriate clothing for the weather and country. Keep in mind that shoulders and knees need to be covered to enter many of Florence’s churches.
- Join a city highlights tour – If you want all the admin and logistics sorted for you, join a guided tour that covers all the city’s top attractions. You’ll get even more knowledge about Florence’s history and insider tips on some of the best spots to eat.
Day Two – Go Off the Beaten Path in Florence
With the must-see Florence attractions covered, it’s time to wander off the beaten path and discover the hidden gems in Florence. Some of these sights are tucked away or further from the historic center, while others hide in plain sight.
Morning and Afternoon – Pick Your Hidden Sights
Enhance your Florence itinerary with stops at lesser-known attractions like the Hospital of the Innocents — thought to be the first Orphanage in Europe. This spot sits near the Accademia Gallery and other places like the Leonardo da Vinci Interactive Museum and the Florence National Archaeological Museum.
For one last look at the Duomo and some of the works removed from the Florence Cathedral, stop by the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. This museum was once a workshop used during the construction of the Duomo. Eventually, the museum was founded to store, protect, and restore sculptures from the cathedral, baptistry, and surroundings.
If you’re a fan of Dante, head to Casa di Dante near the Bargello Museum to learn more about his work and life in Florence.
The Giardino Bardini sits across the Ponte alle Grazie (bridge) near the Boboli Gardens. These gardens offer dreamy views of the cityscape and the Duomo, while the Villa Bardini serves as a heritage and art museum. Another spot offering city views is the bell Tower of Arnolfo on Piazza della Signoria.
Lunch and Gelato Stop Suggestions
- Da’ Vinattieri – This no-fuss sandwich shop near Casa di Dante is quaint and easy to miss. But you won’t want to skip out on this place. Their lampredotto is a crowd favorite, but other delights like schiacciatta and focaccia are also on the menu.
- Ristorante il Caminetto – With a peekaboo view of the Florence Cathedral, this charming restaurant on a small side street offers excellent pasta and meat dishes. It’s an excellent stop if you’re looking for a more hearty lunch after your visit to the Opera del Duomo Museum.
- Vivaldi – For a quick coffee or gelato stop after visiting the Bardini Gardens, head to this homely spot. They have a great selection of some of the best gelato in the city, including vegan options. And their hot chocolate is equally delectable if you visit Florence in cooler weather.
If you’re looking to go beyond the heart of Florence, a trip to the Stibbert Museum is a lovely detour. Situated in Villa di Montughi, this art museum was once the house of an avid collector, Frederick Stibbert. His large inheritance at 21 enabled him to collect ornate and intriguing objects from around the world, ranging from furniture, armor, art, weapons, and more.
The surrounding gardens reflect Stibbert’s fascination with the “exotic,” with grottos, statues, and even an Egyptian temple dotted among the greenery.
End your second day exploring Florence with a relaxing dinner or nighttime experience.
Finding a restaurant near the Piazza del Duomo that isn’t overpriced and overcrowded with tourists can be challenging. But Lo Scudo Ristorante, down the road from the Opera del Duomo Museum, offers great Florentine steak and pizza at moderate prices.
The restaurant has a traditional feel, with classic red and white checkered tablecloths and exposed brick walls. Pair that with a view of the Duomo at night, and you’re in for a memorable dinner in Firenze.
See Florence’s top attractions in the spotlight on a guided nighttime e-bike tour. You’ll see Florence in an entirely different light while exploring its narrow streets, crossing its bridges, and revisiting some of the city’s highlights.
Alternatively, take a guided sunset walking tour and wine tasting in one of Florence’s best areas to stay, Oltrarno. This region is also home to some of Florence’s wine windows, many of which are concentrated around Via Santo Spirito. So if you’re not up for a tour, perhaps seek a few of the windows out on your nighttime stroll.
Expert Tips for Day 2 in Florence
- Don’t be afraid to get lost – You might just discover even more hidden gems, like a tiny pizzeria in a small side street or a unique sculpture or street art.
- Keep your eyes on the signs – One of Florence’s gems hidden in plain sight are Clet Abraham’s sticker art, which he uses to modify street signs. These stickers usually add a silly or beautiful twist to average signs.
- Learn about Florence’s artisan scene – Another off-the-beaten-path attraction in Firenze is the Scuola del Cuoio near the Santa Croce Basilica. This artisan school and leather goods store forms part of a long-standing tradition of handcrafting. Join this Florence artisan experience to learn more about the craftspeople in the city.
Day Three – Go on a Day Trip From Florence
Once you’ve visited the hidden and not-so-hidden spots in Firenze, you can explore the treasures beyond the city on a day trip from Florence. Enjoy your last day at a slower pace with one of these excursions.
Morning and Afternoon
You could opt for a visit to Pisa, with a scenic transfer from Florence through the countryside. A guided, half-day Leaning Tower of Pisa tour is perfect if you’re fascinated by the tower but don’t have much time to spend in Pisa.
Or, take a Cinque Terre day trip with a train or boat for postcard-worthy sights and a delightful swim.
Alternatively, you can stay closer to your home base with a Tuscany in a day tour taking in some charming hill-top towns with stunning scenery in the Tuscan countryside and experiencing incredible food and wine. Or, learn all about truffles with a truffle-hunting adventure in San Miniato from Florence.
Lunch and Gelato Stop Suggestions
For lunch, opt for a pizza and gelato-making class in a Tuscan farmhouse for an equally relaxing experience away from the city crowds.
If you’ve still got some free time after your day trip, you might enjoy a short detour to a few more places. You won’t regret adding the San Lorenzo Church to your 3-day Florence itinerary. This renaissance basilica near the Santa Maria Novella station is best known for being the burial place of the Medici family.
Alternatively, head to San Miniato al Monte Abbey. This hilltop spot’s green and white marble facade is almost as beautiful as its Romanesque interiors, which feature frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi. After enjoying the beauty of this spot, head down to the Piazzale Michelangelo for panoramic views at sunset.
If you’re still in Florence on the evening of day three, consider these dinner options.
Try a more edgy dining experience on your final night and head to Essenziale restaurant near the Arno River. As the name suggests, the restaurant focuses on the essentials, which can be seen in its minimalist decor and uncomplicated yet memorable dishes. You’ll find a menu filled with classic Italian dishes — elevated with a playful twist.
Final Tips for Seeing Florence in 3 Days
- Use your last day to catch up – If there are any sights you couldn’t fit into previous days due to delays, use day three to give those spots another chance.
- Pre-book your day trips – Be sure to book your day trips well in advance. Some tours have limited seats, and tickets can sell out fast.
- Sample some street food – Near the San Lorenzo Church, you’ll find the San Lorenzo market and Central Market. Here, you can sample street food or hunt for a few bargains.
Arriving in Florence
The easiest way to get to Florence from within Italy is by train to the city’s Santa Maria Novella train station. Most visitors arrive from Rome so, if that’s in your plans you may want to check out our guide to traveling by train from Rome to Florence. On arrival, you will find the train station close to the main attractions and hotels. You may be able to walk to your lodging however a taxi rank is also available.
Florence’s international airport, Peretola is very small and very few intercontinental flights arrive here. The focus is on flights from within Italy and Europe. This airport is well-connected with public transport and ultra-close to the city center.
On arrival, you can take the tram, bus, taxi, or train or pick up a rental car. The Florence airport is only about four miles from the city center, so your trip shouldn’t last longer than half an hour, depending on your mode of transport.
Where to Stay in Florence: 3 Days
With only three days in Florence, you’ll want to stay near the historic center for easy access to most of Florence’s attractions. Below are some of the best accommodation options for every budget.
Budget: Love & Lilies
This budget-friendly one-bedroom apartment in the Santo Spirito district is the perfect option if you’d like to prepare some of your own meals. The elegant apartment features large, towering windows and is just a short walk from the Pitti Palace.
Mid Range: Hotel Continentale – Lungarno Collection
Owned by the renowned Ferragamo fashion label, this sophisticated and minimalist Hotel Continentale offers views of the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio. This boutique hotel in Florence features an on-site spa and rooftop bar and is around the corner from Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria.
Luxury: Relais Santa Croce, By Baglioni Hotels
The light, bright, and airy Relais Santa Croce offers upscale luxury with a traditional feel. You can expect spacious rooms and suites, high ceilings, and subtle pops of color throughout the decor. As you may have guessed by the name, you’ll find this luxury hotel near the Basilica di Santa Croce.
Concluding Your Three Days in Florence Itinerary
Florence has so many exciting attractions, sights, and gastronomical delights that it may seem impossible to experience them all in three days. But, hopefully, this guide has shown you that three days in Florence can be enough to see the city’s top attractions — and then some.
The Renaissance city has so many beautiful surprises around every corner that you’ll probably be planning your next trip before you leave the city.
If you’re visiting the city on a trip to Florence, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast, have a look at this guide on how to get to Rome from Florence. You may also find this three days in Rome itinerary helpful.