What to do in Florence in Only 24 Hours
Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, is one of the world’s most sophisticated and creative cities. This is a magical and intriguing site to enjoy history, art, and gastronomy.
With this one-day Florence itinerary, we’ll show you Florence’s amazing maze of little alleys, dotted with exquisite, antique palazzi, medieval cathedrals, and world-class art museums.
When to go to Florence
It will always be a fantastic experience to visit Florence. If you want to avoid the crowds during the peak season, plan your vacation in the shoulder seasons of spring or fall, however, don’t expect the city to be deserted. Florence, like Rome, has a fairly nice temperature virtually all year round, with an abundance of sun even during the Italian winter.
If you want to make the most of your one day in Florence, go in March, April, May, September, or October. Those are the ideal months to enjoy the weather while avoiding the massive throngs that descend on Florence during the summer months.
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Traveling to Florence
Tuscany has two international airports: Pisa’s Galileo Galilei International Airport and Florence’s Amerigo Vespucci Airport, better known as Peretola. The Pisa airport, located only 80 kilometers distant, is the largest of the two and offers the greatest international flights and connections.
You have several options to get into Florence city center from Pisa airport:
- Transfer – the quickest and most convenient option, you can book in advance.
- Taxi – grab a cab, which will cost you around €170 and take about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Bus – The Autostradale Airport Bus Express leaves every 40 minutes between 4.45 am and 00.40 am daily, for the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station. The journey takes 1 hour and 10 minutes and costs €7.50 one way.
- Train – From the airport, take the 5-minute PisaMover train to Pisa Centrale train station. Then take a Trenitalia train to Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station, a 50 to 80-minute journey depending on the train’s speed and the number of stops. Tickets cost €8.70 for the cheapest fare.
Where to Stay in Florence
If you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a truly central location, book a room at the sleek and sophisticated Hotel Spadai, which is only a minute’s walk from the Duomo (and five to the train station) and known for generous upgrades when they aren’t fully booked. This is our top selection among Florence hotels, with elegant guestrooms and modern bathrooms, a HUGE breakfast buffet, and pleasant service.
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The Soprarno Suites, located in the popular Oltrarno area, are on the opposite side of the Arno river but no less luxurious for it. The historical style and ambiance of this Residenza d’Epoca (old mansion), along with individual care from the Florentine proprietors, make this a fantastic one-night stay in Florence.
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Florence Things to See & Do
If you just have one day in Florence, you must plan your itinerary carefully. Because Florence is one of the world’s most visited cities and there are so many must-see things to do in Florence in one day, buying tickets on the day is impossible. If you want to plan a Florence one-day itinerary with limited time slots so you can see all you want to see, reserve at least two months in advance online.
If being organized isn’t your thing, or if you’re visiting on the spur of the moment, a Florence walking tour is a terrific way to get a taste of the UNESCO World Heritage site that is Florence. You’ll see everything vital (from the outside) and get a true sense of the city.
Piazza del Duomo
The most frequented area in Florence, Piazza del Duomo, is home to Florence’s best architectural and historical treasures. If you only have one day in Florence, this is a must-see. Despite the unavoidable throngs, the spirit of the city and its rich history can still be seen and felt all around.
The other Duomo attractions (the Dome, the Crypt, San Giovanni’s Baptistery, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the Piazza del Duomo Museum) require a timed ticket, which may be purchased on the official Duomo website, which also has a wealth of information on the complex.
Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral
Santa Maria del Fiore is one of those wonders that demands your attention. Filippo Brunelleschi, who also designed the famed dome, finished it at the beginning of the 15th century. The cathedral is designed in the Gothic style and is completely coated with white, green, and pink marble panels. Inside the cathedral, you’ll find a couple of artworks from Florence noblemen who helped fund the church’s construction. There is also a crypt that includes Brunelleschi’s grave and the remnants of the former ancient church of Santa Reparata.
The cathedral is free to enter, although in the summer, expect to wait in line for quite some time. The cathedral is open everyday from 10 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. As an active consecrated Cathedral, visitation hours on Sundays are quite limited, therefore we recommend going on a weekday and arriving about 8 a.m. in the warmer months to avoid having to line for hours.
The magnificent and awe-inspiring Brunelleschi’s Dome may be seen from within the church. Giorgio Vasari painted the Dome, which represents the Last Judgment. The artwork is a magnificent masterpiece that will leave you stunned when you view it for the first time. Climb the 463 steps down tiny stairs within the building to get up and personal with the artwork and inside of the world’s largest dome, enjoying the extraordinary architectural design and innovation as you go.
Tickets for a dome tour must be purchased in advance; they are sometimes sold out three to four weeks in advance, and even longer for popular time slots.
San Giovanni’s Baptistery
The Baptistery of San Giovanni, notable for its odd octagonal design, is also located in Piazza del Duomo. It was constructed in the 11th century and is where many Florentine prominent persons, including the Medici, were baptized. The baptistery is famous for its beautiful golden ceiling and Michelangelo’s Gates of Paradise. These may be seen from the outside while standing in front of Santa Maria del Fiore.
Piazza del Duomo’s Museum
The Opera Duomo Museum will enhance your trip as you learn about old Florence. The Piazza del Duomo museum featured all of the original objects from all of the architectural wonders, as well as the golden Gates of Paradise. There is also a theological library, a museum depicting the construction of Brunelleschi’s Dome, and several sculptures and busts discovered amid Florence’s architectural wonders. On the museum’s top level, you can get a closer look at Brunelleschi’s Dome while sipping an Italian cappuccino.
Head south through the atmospheric alleyways, through spectacular old buildings and beautiful piazzas, until you reach the Arno and cross it by one of the world’s most renowned bridges, the Ponte Vecchio. This Roman-era bridge is packed with souvenir stores, but for a moment, close your eyes and envision it as a bustling retail district for Florentines to buy their daily commodities.
Pitti Palace, a little lesser-known site, probably does not get as many visitors as the Duomo complex. The palace, on the other hand, has some of the world’s finest artworks and relics from the Roman and Medieval periods.
The palace was constructed in the 15th century and afterward sold to the Medici family, who used it as their family dwelling. The Medici family was the most powerful dynasty in Florence. Famous bankers controlled nearly all of the city’s riches. Between 1513 and 1630, the dynasty produced four Popes and two French Queens before ascending to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1569. They had immense riches and power until the Duchy went bankrupt in 1723. As a result, Florence is commonly referred to as the “City of the Medici” Because no matter where you walk in Florence, you will find yourself in one of its palaces, libraries, churches, or gardens!
The palace now has a handful of additional floors to explore. The sumptuous Palatine Gallery on the first level includes many artworks from the 16th and 17th centuries, including works by Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, and Rubens. There are also the Royal Apartments, which show the Medici family’s manner of life and style of living.
Then, on the ground level, is the Dukes’ Treasury, which displays the family’s wealth. Along with it, you may visit the Porcelain and Costume Museums, which depict Renaissance trends.
Head to the Boboli Gardens, the city’s largest green space, for a nice reprieve after a day in Florence. When touring the grounds around the palace, the first thing you’ll notice is the Amphitheater, which features a Roman basin and an Egyptian obelisk in the center. The reason of the basin is unknown, although many assume it was transported there to display the family’s wealth. Buontalenti’s Grotto, the Grand Duke’s Casino, the Cavalier’s Garden, and Neptune’s Fishpond are further significant features of the gardens.
Giotto’s Bell Tower
Another magnificent Renaissance masterpiece of Florence is Giotto’s Campanile. It was completed in the 14th century by Francesco Talenti. Giotto designed and built the bell tower, but he did not live long enough to see it completed. The bell tower is famous for its stunning views of Florence and its imposing height of 122 meters.
There are 414 stairs to climb to reach the summit. There are, however, a handful of terraces from which to take in the other wonders of Piazza del Duomo and regain your breath. Many hexagonal panels at the entryway show the history of mankind and the creation of Adam and Eve.
The majestic Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) is full of hidden passages, secret symbols, and ancient history, and is ideal for a visit in the evening. From April to September, the Palazzo is open until 11 p.m. every night except Thursdays. The inside of the 14th-century town hall is magnificent, with exquisite furnishings, complex tapestries, and outstanding pieces of art by Michelangelo and Da Vinci, among others. The structure overlooks the Piazza Della Signoria, which houses a copy of Michelangelo’s David.
Take a Foodie Walking Tour
Why not take a culinary walking tour if you like to avoid the trouble of deciding where to eat? This highly rated dine-around Florence food and wine tour is a genuine restaurant and bar hopping experience that includes three dishes and a variety of great Italian wines – the ideal way to round off your 24-hour stay in Florence.
Florence – Where to Eat
Mercado Centrale at San Lorenzo Market
The wonderful Marche di San Lorenzo, a five-minute walk north of the Piazza del Duomo, is our top choice for lunch in Florence. Head upstairs to the Mercato Centrale gourmet food market, where you’ll find vendors offering local meats, cheese, and a variety of delectable lunch options.
Osteria Enoteca Vecchio Cancello
Osteria Enoteca Vecchio Cancello, a traditional family-run trattoria providing local and Tuscan food, is our favorite restaurant for supper in Florence. This one is worth the ten-minute walk from the Duomo!
Matto Matto is a few minutes’ stroll from the Duomo and serves well-cooked classic Italian food with attentive service for a modest supper closer to the old city.
Top Five Florence Tips
- The greatest time to visit Giotto’s Campanile is at dusk when the city and Brunelleschi’s Dome are illuminated by the setting sun.
- If you have time, take a cab to Giardino Delle Rose and enjoy one of the most lovely (and Instagrammable) vistas in Florence.
- Make reservations for everything you wish to do in advance, especially near the Duomo. Don’t show up on the day expecting to line up; you won’t be able to!
- Carry cash because ATMs in Florence charge hefty fees and some businesses may not accept card payments.
- In Florence, there are three (yes, three!) sculptures of Michelangelo’s David. The original symbol may be found in the Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’ Accademia), which is located 10 minutes north of the Duomo. The second is a beautiful reproduction at Piazza Della Signoria, a two-minute diversion from the Duomo to Pitti Palace. The third is a bronze copy on a platform overlooking the city in Piazzale Michelangelo (close to Giardino delle rose and offering the same amazing views).
Do you have just a little longer to spend in Florence?
Do you have any more time in this wonderful city? With just a half-day more in Florence, you could see at least four additional iconic Florence attractions:
- The Galleria Degli Uffizi has the world’s most important collection of Renaissance paintings by Raphael, Botticelli, and Da Vinci. The Uffizi Gallery is one of Florence’s must-see sites, but it’s large and you could easily spend a whole day there if you only have 24 or 36 hours in Florence. Take a small group tour of the greatest parts of the Uffizi Gallery, just enough to get a sense of the site without becoming overwhelmed!
- The elegantly modest Basilica of Santa Croce is the final resting place of Florence’s great and good, including Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli.
- The frenzied activity of the Piazza del Duomo provides a sense of calm and allows time to ponder on the history and significance of this amazing city.
- Santa Maria Novella is a magnificent church near the railway station, with a lively plaza that is often bustling with people and street sellers. Inside, the church is a treasure trove of art by Giotto, Lippi, and Domenico Ghirlandaio, including some of the greatest frescoes in Italy.
- What to do in Florence in Only 24 Hours
- When to go to Florence
- Traveling to Florence
- Where to Stay in Florence
- Florence Things to See & Do
- Piazza del Duomo
- Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral
- San Giovanni’s Baptistery
- Piazza del Duomo’s Museum
- Ponte Vecchio
- Pitti Palace
- Boboli Gardens
- Giotto’s Bell Tower
- Palazzo Vecchio
- Take a Foodie Walking Tour
- Florence – Where to Eat
- Top Five Florence Tips
- Do you have just a little longer to spend in Florence?