Have you ever dreamed of visiting Florence, but only have three days to spare?
Don’t worry, this article was written just for you! Florence is an extraordinary city, rich in history, art, and culture, and with our guide, you can discover all its wonders even in a short amount of time. We will show you the main museums, neighborhoods, and tourist attractions, so you can organize your stay in the most efficient way possible. Additionally, we will provide you with links to official websites for booking tickets and obtaining all the information you need about opening hours. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or a foodie, a solo traveler or with company, our guide will help you spend three unforgettable days in the most beautiful city in Tuscany.
Let’s start right away with a brief summary of the attractions to visit and links to official sites for booking tickets and obtaining up-to-date information on opening and closing times of the main museums and churches in Florence.
Here is an outline of six suggested places to visit for your first stay in Florence:
- Historic Center, Uffizi Gallery, San Lorenzo
- Accademia Gallery, Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, San Frediano and Santo Spirito
- Opera del Duomo Complex, Santa Croce, Piazzale Michelangelo.
1- Day One
The first stop is the historic center of Florence, where you can admire some of the world’s most famous and impressive monuments. Start from Piazza Duomo, where the majestic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore stands with its dome designed by Brunelleschi and its bell tower drawn by Giotto. Here, you can also visit the Baptistery, one of the oldest religious buildings in Florence, famous for its bronze doors made by Ghiberti and Pisano. From Piazza Duomo, continue towards Piazza della Repubblica, the heart of the ancient city. Here, the two main Roman roads, the Cardo and the Decumanus, met and divided the city into four districts. Today, the square is surrounded by elegant buildings and historic cafes such as Caffè Gilli and Caffè Paszkowski, where you can take a
break and savor the Florentine atmosphere. The third stop is Piazza della Signoria, the political and social center of Florence. Here, you’ll find Palazzo Vecchio, the ancient residence of the Medici family, the powerful family that dominated Florence for centuries. The palace is a true museum,
where you can admire frescoed rooms, tapestries, sculptures, and paintings that tell the story of the city. In front of the palace, you’ll find the Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air gallery that houses some of the most beautiful Renaissance statues, such as Cellini’s Perseus, Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines, and Michelangelo’s David (this last one is a copy, the original is in the Accademia Gallery). In the square, you’ll also find the Fountain of Neptune (called “i’Biancone” by the Florentines), a work by Ammannati that represents the god of the sea with his sea horses.
After visiting Piazza della Signoria, recharge your batteries with a classic Tuscan “schiacciata” and, when you’re full, continue your tour towards the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most important museums in the world. The Uffizi Gallery houses an incredible collection of works of art ranging from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century, with masterpieces by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Raphael. Here, you can admire Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, a painting that celebrates the beauty of the goddess of love emerging from the waters on a shell. You can also see Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni, one of his earliest works in which he represents the Holy Family. And don’t forget the famous Botticelli’s Primavera.
To conclude your day in Florence, I suggest visiting the district of San Lorenzo, one of the most lively and characteristic in the city. Here, you can visit the Basilica of San Lorenzo, one of the oldest churches in Florence, where many members of the Medici family are buried. The church is also famous for its chapels designed by Brunelleschi and Michelangelo, where you can admire the
tombs of the princes and the statues of the saints. In the San Lorenzo district, you’ll also find the Central Market, an ideal place to taste the flavors of Tuscan and Mediterranean cuisine. On the ground floor of the market, you’ll find many stalls offering typical products such as cheese, cold cuts, bread, fruit, and vegetables. On the first floor, you can sit in one of the many restaurants arranged in the large open space of the market and taste delicious dishes such as “ribollita”, Florentine steak, “lampredotto”, and “cantuccini” with “Vin Santo”. Alternatively, you can find many trattorias nearby and also some some bars where you can spend your first evening in Florence.
2 – Day Two
We’re already on the second day, great! Have a quick breakfast and get ready to spend another amazing day in Florence. The morning should be dedicated to visiting the Accademia Gallery, the second most famous museum in Florence, where you can admire up close the famous David by Michelangelo, a symbol of the city and a masterpiece of the Renaissance. Among the most important works are the four unfinished statues by Michelangelo, called Prigioni, which show the artist’s creative process and his struggle with marble. Additionally, the Gallery also hosts a section dedicated to music, with ancient and rare instruments, including the Stradivarius violin owned by Cosimo III de’ Medici.
Continue your walk towards the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest and most characteristic bridge in Florence, famous for its jewelry and goldsmith shops. Cross the bridge and reach the Pitti Palace, which was the residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and the Kings of Italy. Here, you can visit the splendid frescoed rooms, the art galleries, and the museums that host collections of paintings, sculptures, porcelain, and silverware. If the weather permits, don’t miss a walk in the Boboli Gardens, the historic park of Florence that extends behind the Pitti Palace. Here, you can admire fountains, statues, caves, and tree-lined avenues, as well as enjoy a panoramic view of the city, and between us, the Florentines know a thing or two about panoramas!
You are now on the “other side of the Arno,” that is, in the most popular and lively part of Florence. In particular, you are halfway between the district of San Frediano and the district of Santo Spirito. The San Frediano district is the heart of Florence’s nightlife, where you’ll find numerous restaurants and bars where you can taste the local cuisine and have a good glass of wine. I recommend stopping in Piazza Santo Spirito, one of the most beautiful and lively squares in the city, where you can see the eponymous basilica and the market held every morning. To end your day beautifully, treat yourself to artisanal gelato at Ponte alla Carraia, one of the best gelaterias in Florence.
You can choose from many delicious flavors and enjoy your gelato while admiring the sunset over the Arno River.
3 – Day Three
In the morning, you can start from the beautiful Piazza Duomo, where some of the most important monuments of the city are located. The Museum of the Opera del Duomo will introduce you to the history and treasures of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the symbol of Florence. Here you can admire the famous Baptistry of San Giovanni, with its golden doors and mosaics, and the Brunelleschi’s Dome, one of the most ingenious works of Renaissance architecture. If you are fit and up for a challenge, you can climb the 463 steps to the top of the Dome, where you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the city. If you still have time and energy, you can also climb Giotto’s Campanile, 85 meters high and decorated with polychrome marbles.
In the afternoon, you can move to the beautiful Piazza Santa Croce, one of the largest and liveliest in the city. Here you will find the Basilica of Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world and the burial place of many great figures of Italian history, such as Vittorio Alfieri, Niccolò Machiavelli, Galileo Galilei, and Michelangelo Buonarroti. The church is also a masterpiece of Gothic art, with its white and green marble facade and its chapels frescoed by Giotto and other masters. Inside, you can also admire the Crucifix by Cimabue, one of the earliest examples of naturalistic painting.
To conclude your holiday in Florence in style, you cannot miss the Piazzale Michelangelo, one of the most beautiful panoramic points of the city. From here, you can enjoy a spectacular view of all of Florence, with its red roofs, its bridges over the Arno River, and its famous monuments. If you can make it in time for the sunset, you will witness one of the most magical and romantic moments that Florence can offer you. You will see the sky tinged with incredible colors and the city illuminated like a pearl.