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Explore Florence in 3 days

Often people visit Florence as part of a wider Italian or European trip. Maybe you've been to Rome or Venice and are stopping in Florence en-route to your next location, or have just a few days before or after a cruise.

Exploring Florence in three days is a delightful challenge, brimming with the promise of art, history, and culinary delights.

Your visit will be a combination of visiting various museums, galleries, churches, palaces, taking stunning photos of the bridges over Arno River, tasting delicious food and wines, shopping from small artisanal shops.

duomo complex florence 30

On day one, immerse yourself in the Renaissance soul of the city; visit the Uffizi Gallery to witness Botticelli's masterpieces and then stroll to the Florence Cathedral to marvel at Brunelleschi's dome.

Day two could be dedicated to the Accademia Gallery, home to Michelangelo's David, followed by a walk across the Ponte Vecchio to explore the Pitti Palace.

Reserve the third day for a trip to the Tuscan countryside, perhaps a wine tour in Chianti or a visit to the medieval town of Siena. Each evening, unwind with a gelato while wandering the cobblestone streets, soaking up Florence's timeless charm.

A few useful tips for visitors...

Florence is one of the most visited destinations in Italy all-year round, especially from April until November so keep in mind that it will be very busy.

This is the good reason to book skip-the-line tickets for some major sights such as the Uffizi Gallery, Brunelleschi Dome, Opera del Duomo Museum, the Accademia Gallery, the Palazzo Vecchio, Medici Chapels, the Bargello... You'll waste your precious time and quickly enter the sights. If booking a guided tour, it's good to book in-advance to get the date and time you want.

As well, you'll need to be aware that if one of your days is a Monday, most of the museums will be closed. Florence Card doesn't cover anything at the Duomo (Dome, museum, baptistry, etc) and you still have to make advance timed-entry reservations for the Uffizi, Accademia and Brancacci Chapel if using the card.

The good news for scheduling that if you buy the one of the Duomo passes or the combo ticket for the Pitti Palace and the Bobili Gardens they are good for several days so you have some freedom about the day and time you visit. 

Florence in 3 days - Day 1

Start your morning with an espresso and pastry at one of the many cafés in the historic centre.

Next, take your time and spend an hour discovering historic centre and passing near the most iconic squares and monuments. This is the way to get to understand what are they located sights you want to visit later on.

The Florence Cathedral and the Giotto's Bell Tower in FlorenceThe Florence Cathedral and the Giotto's Bell Tower in Florence

Now, we recommend heading to Piazza del Duomo, where you find the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral (the Duomo), the Baptistery of Saint John and Giotto's Tower. Behind the Duomo, there is also Opera del Duomo Museum (many visitors skip this but it has wonderful artworks of great artists of the Renaissance).

Walk around, admire the architecture and snap some amazing photos from different angles. Get in the line to enter the Cathedral and visit inside (20 minutes is enough here; be aware that knees, feet, and shoulders needed to be covered when entering inside).

If you want to climb the dome (this is the opportunity to see the inside of the dome - which is beautiful, plus enjoying amazing views), you'll need to book the ticket with time slot (you can do this also with Florence Pass).

Note! The staircases when climbing the Dome are steep and very narrow at times so this is not experience for those who are claustrophobic or are scared of hights.

Make sure to check the opening hours of these sights, as they may vary based on seasons and religious holidays (some museums are closed on Monday).

For visiting whole Duomo complex in a short time (2.5 hours), consider taking this guided tour which includes skip-the-line entrances (plus you'll have an access to secret terraces for stunning views).

Once you explored the Duomo Complex, take Via dei Calzaiuoli to reach Piazza della Signoria, one of the most beautiful squares of Florence. Here you can admire amazing sculptures and palaces even without entering them.

The Palazzo Vecchio is the most famous one and important civic building through Florence's history (today it is home to the city hall). You can't miss it - it dominates the square. Inside the palace is museum where you can admire arts and the ceiling decorations from the time of the Medici.

The courtyard can be entered without paying anything, but if you want to visit the museum or climb the bell tower, you'll need to buy a ticket. We suggest taking this guided tour that focuses on the highlights of palace (plus, you see some extras bits that a regular entrance ticket doesn't cover).

Piazza della Signoria is also open-air museum, with amazing the Neptun Fountain (created in the 1500'), the sculptures of Michelangelo's David (the copy), the Hercules and Cacus. Loggia dei Lanzi is also pretty with all these sculptures you can admire for free.

If you want to sightsee without crowds, visit Orsanmichele Church and Museum, situated close to Piazza della Signoria. The church is beautiful inside and outside and from the museum's top floor, you can admire amazing views of the Florence (wooden benches you'll find there are ideal for making a short break). Museum features bronze and marble sculptures of saints made by great Italian masters.

Orsanmichele Church and MuseumOrsanmichele Church and Museum
Ponte Vecchio in FlorencePonte Vecchio in Florence

From Piazza della Signoria, you can easily walk to the Ponte Vecchio, a must-see when in Florence. This unusual bridge with shops lined across it is a great spot for taking amazing photos of the Arno River and other bridges.

You may consider walking up to Piazzale Michelangelo, a wide piazza from where you can enjoy amazing views of the sunset over Florence (you'll need 20 minutes on foot to reach). 

Finish your day with a strolling down Oltrarno streets or along Arno River and dining in one of many local restaurants.

Tickets for sights and tours you'll need:

Florence in 3 days - Day 2

Get up early to reach the Uffizi Gallery (located near the Piazza della Signoria). The Uffizi Gallery opens at 8:15 and this is the time when it's not so crowded. This famous museum of Florence houses a huge number of paintings and sculptures from famous Italian artist (and some European ones).

Remember to book your entrance tickets in advance to avoid long lines (for exploring you'll need at least 2-3 hours). To make the most of the visit, we recommend taking a guided tour - we recommend this small group tour with local guides (you'll learn lot about the museum itself and about each art piece).

Walk to the Ponte Vecchio, cross it to reach the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. Pitti Palace houses significant museums in Florence, including the Palatine Gallery, the Royal Apartments, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes and the Gallery of Modern Art. Explore art and furnishings treasures from the 16th-20th century across the various museums.

Then, embrace the sunny skies of Florence in the esteemed and bright green Boboli Gardens, an ideal spot to relax after exploring. With a grand feel, it’s a great picnic area. Have a lunch at one of local restaurants and enjoy.

If you're staying right in the city, your accommodation (this lovely apartment is a great place to stay!) can be a lovely oasis to take an afternoon break.

Fill the afternoon with a visit to the Accademia Gallery  which is renowned as the home of Michelangelo’s sculpture David and features many of his other sculptures. It’s also home to a vast range of paintings by local Florentine artists across the 1300-1600 period.

What is the best way to spend the evening than to wander the streets of Florence and eating delicious food.

End your day with exploring city's vibrant food scene and join an evening food tour (in Oltrarno neighbourhood). Eat local specialities such as schiacchiata, ribollita and of course Florentine steak (and much more!).

Florence in 3 days - Day 3

Start the day with a visit to the Accademia Gallery  which is renowned as the home of Michelangelo’s sculpture David and features many of his other sculptures. It’s also home to a vast range of paintings by local Florentine artists across the 1300-1600 period. It opens at 8:15am.

There are so many charming piazzas to sit and chat with your family or read a book with a cappuccino. One of them is Piazza della Repubblica, one of the largest squares in Florence.

Located only 2-3 minutes from the Duomo, this piazza has iconic carousel in the centre (great fun if you are with the kids). You'll find also numerous shops surrounding the square (including La Rinascente and Le Feltrinelli book store.

Now, continue to explore more museums. We recommend Orsanmichele Church and Museum, between the Duomo and Piazza della Signoria. The church is beautiful and the museum is a great for having a break and enjoying more views of Florence (from the top floor).

Orsanmichele Church in FlorenceOrsanmichele Church in Florence

Visit Bargello Museum with stunning architectural building full of sculptures, paintings and antiquities of centuries ago from Florence. The biggest starts of this museum are the Michelangelo and Donatello rooms that showcase Michelangelo's first major sculpture, Bacchus, Donatello's Bronze David and many other masterpieces of these two artists.

Quieter than the other museums and cool to sit out of the heat and hustle and bustle of the city. A must visit for sure.

You have many great recommendations here - the only one we would add is the Sant'Ambrogio market. It is every morning (except maybe Sunday) and has the most gorgeous produce, fresh meat, seafood, cheese - and more! It is both inside and outside of a big warehouse just a block from Piazza Sant'Ambrosia (near Santa Croce). Have fun! Florence is wonderful.

While there, visit Basilica di Santa Croce, a Gothic-style church that dates back to the 14th century and holds many artistic masterpieces, including stunning frescoes by Giotto. Santa Croce is where Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei, amongst many others, were buried.

But you can pick up three less familiar but remarkable Davids at the same time at the comparatively crowd-free Bargello museum. In its grand 14th-century hall are Donatello’s marble and bronze statues of David, next to a bronze by Andrea del Verrocchio.

So, since your itinerary for visiting Florence in 3 days is ready, discover your dream place to stay with our Florence apartments and hotels collection.

Useful tip

If you want to optimize your time and see as much as possible in a couple of hours, take a guided walking tour in the historic center. A local tour guide knows all the routes and will tell you the history of the places you are seeing.

Later on you'll have more time for exploring hidden Florence streets, eating local food and shopping quality goods. Of course, you can explore Florence countryside, which is famous for beautiful nature and vineyards.

Here are the most popular tours of Florence:

  1. Florence in day guided tour: For a completely hassle-free exploration of Florence and visiting the most important sights and museums (Academia Gallery and Uffizi Gallery included) in only 5 hours, join this guided tour (starts at 9:45am).

  2. Best of Florence small-group tour: This 3-hour tour takes you to view Michelangelo's David in the Accademia Gallery, then you'll hear the secrets of the Duomo (skip-the-line tickets). Afterwards, you'll explore several other top spots in Florence to learn more and take amazing photos. Ideal for seeing a lot in a short time!

  3. Highlights & Hidden gems of Florence (private tour): On this tour you can create an itinerary that focuses on the main highlights of places that interest you. Your private guide will teach you a lot about the history of Florence in a short time.

  4. Florence sightseeing tour for kids & families: This 2.5 hour walking tour is ideal for families with kids. Your guide will take you through the streets of Florence (to see the highlights) and keep your kids engaged with interactive activities using iPads and flash cards. A great way to get an overview of the city!

Alternative activities when visiting Florence in 3 days

Joining a food tour (group or private)

For foodies, we recommend taking a food tour or cooking class while in Florence.

On the food tour, your group will walk down the streets of Florence, stop at best food places to taste local food while hearing fun stories from the guide. You'll have the change to taste for example, schiacciata with salami, lampredotto or pappa al pomodoro. Not to mention loads of wine, dry cantucci cookies and creamy gelato, enjoyed on most tours!

Tourists love this morning food tour of historic centre and this private food tour that takes you to local food market and other great places.

Taking a cooking class (pasta...)

On a cooking class the chef will teach you how to make a variety of pasta (from scratch), such as ravioli, fettuccine or tortellini as well as sauces. Or maybe appetizers, gnocchi, tiramisu and other local dishes. The best part is enjoying wonderful food you made! Kids will love these classes!

One of the most popular cooking classes are these (include cake and limoncello in the end) and these small-group classes held in cooking school on the other side of Arno River.

Florence e-bike tour (with Piazzale Michelangelo)

See the major tourist attractions of Florence during this 2-hour bike tour. You'll stop at spots such as Piazza della Signoria, the Duomo, Piazza della Repubblica and explore narrow lanes of the Oltrarno, an artisan neighbourhood of Florence. The tour also takes you up to Piazzale Michelangelo for seeing amazing view of the whole city. Choose from several departures daily!

Florence hills e-bike tour (with gelato)

Explore Florence hills with a lots of fun on guided 2 hour e-bike tour. Start from the heart of Florence, then follow your guide from the city to the hills. Once outside the city, immerse yourself into the sound and scents of Tuscan countryside. Pass through olive groves and small vineyards, then end this tour with tasting one of the best gelato in the city. We highly recommend this fun experience!

Rafting on Arno River (a true adventure)

This panoramic 2-hour ride includes the descent down the Arno River that flows through the historic centre of Florence. The river offers a truly unique perspective giving you the opportunity of taking amazing photos of the famous buildings and monuments. This is a perfect mix of activity and culture. Your guides will tell you anecdotes about the river and the city itself. An unforgettable experience!

Private Photo Walking Tour in Florence

See Florence’s unique Renaissance atmosphere through a photographer’s lens on a customized photography tour. Bring along your camera (even a cellphone) and walk with a professional photographer guide through the medieval city streets and piazzas, to capture unique and beautiful views of the city’s most iconic sites and hidden charms. Get tips on composition and other photo techniques to create a collection of frame-worthy images that memorialize your trip.

Horseback ride and poolside day chillout (with Tuscan lunch)

To escape from crowded Florence, take this full-day trip that takes you to the Florence hills. Once there you'll have plenty of time to chill out by the swimming pool of  an elegant country resort. You'll experience guided horse riding, have a full Tuscan lunch (freshly-made pasta dish, a platter or cheeses, cold cuts and bruschettas and wine, of course).

The rest of the day you'll relax and sunbath by the pool and before returning to Florence, you'll visit a local producer of Chianti wine and olive oil. A heavenly experience in Tuscan countryside!

Tuscany hot air balloon flight - Private (with transport from Firenze)

Get an unbeatable view of Tuscany’s gorgeous countryside on a private hot air balloon flight from Florence. Float on the breeze above rolling hills, vineyards, and medieval villas for a romantic experience that's perfect for proposals, anniversaries, and other special occasions.

Toast your adventure with a glass of sparkling wine back on the ground, and relax as a driver transports your group between the launch site and your Florence hotel.

Best time to visit Florence

There is no bad time for visiting Florence as it is beautiful and interesting all-year round. However, for most people, the best time would be spring and autumn, while the temperatures are pleasant and while the city is not packed with other tourists. It will be busy, but nothing like in the summer.

Despite the high temperatures, Florence is also great to visit in the summer. The nights are warm, which is ideal for a late-night romantic stroll through the city.

Getting to Florence is easy (by train, plane or car)

Travelling to Florence in Italy is possible in so many different ways.

The Florence Airport has many connections from Europe all-year round, but if you fly in from the US or Canada, you will most likely fly to Rome, Milan, Venice or Bologna, then take a train to Florence.

Florence also has great train connections with Pisa, Bologna, Venice, Milan, Rome and Genoa. The fastest trains from Rome to Florence, for example, take around 1 hour and 30 minutes.

From Florence Airport you can easily reach the city by public transport, the tram (line T2; 20 minutes ride; costs 1.70 Euros) or bus.

You can also take a taxi or pre-book private car transfer if you like more comfort and get directly to your accommodation. Or rent a car if you plan to visit other cities in Tuscany or explore the countryside. Be aware that Florence has a restricted traffic zone (ZTL) in the city centre, and non-residents are not allowed to drive within this areas.

Visitors usually combines a visit to Florence with exploring Pisa, Siena, Lucca, Cinque Terre or Chianti region. Most of these places are accessible by train from Florence. For hassle-free visit, choose one of many organised trips from Florence, like Vespa roadtrip or wine tasting.

Where to stay in Florence

Casa di Chiara Apartment in Florence

The historic centre of Florence is a compact little gem so wherever you choose to stay, you are never going to be too far from the main sights and a variety of restaurants, bars and great shops.

You just need to decide whether you want to be in the very centre of the action in the city centre, or stay in less crowded Oltrarno, between quirky osterias and independent boutiques or to escape to the hills, which is great during hot and humid summer months. There's something for everyone in Florence.

We recommend Casa di Chiara, a beautiful and stylish apartment only 20-minute walk from historic centre. Super comfortable and equipped with anything you may need and amazing hosts, this apartment is a great base for exploring Florence.

More useful info you may like:

Rome on a budget

Rome to Florence day trip

Best things to do in Florence

Buying train tickets in Italy

Best Florence food tours