Three days in Florence

I only have three days in Florence, how should I spend them?

Day 1

The key to cramming Florence's greatest hits into just two days is booking tickets for the Uffizi and Accademia before you leave home; that way you don't waste hours in line (or book a tour that includes tickets and skip-the-line privileges).

When you arrive in town, drop your bags by the hotel and head directly to the Duomo (cathedral) to climb Brunelleschi's ingenious and noble dome for a panorama across the city, then duck into the adjacent baptistery to marvel at the mosaics inside and the massive bronze doors outside—the ones facing the Duomo are so beautiful they became known as the Gates of Paradise.

Be sure you extricate yourself from the cathedral group by 1pm so that you can wander a few blocks south for a lunch on-the-go at I Fratellini, a traditional fiaschetteria, a hole-in-the-wall joint with no seats, just a counter selling wine by the glass and scrumptious sandwiches to patrons who stand in a crowd on the flagstones of the sidewalk and pedestrianized street.

Then continue a few more blocks to the stage set of Piazza della Signoria, filled with statues and lined by buildings the Medici would still recognize.

Opening off the south side of the square is world's premier gallery of the Renaissance, the Uffizi (remember, book tickets ahead of time to save an hour or two of waiting in line).

Spend the rest of the afternoon communing with Giotto, Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Titian until they boot you out the doors at 7:30pm. Have a Tuscan feast at Il Latini before bed.

Day 2

Florence rule #1: Be at the Accademia when it opens to see Michelangelo's David before the crowds arrive (booking ahead helps.)

Don't linger since before lunch you need to swing by Santa Maria Novella church for a look at the first Renaissance painting to use perfect perspective and a Ghirlandaio fresco cycle on which a young apprentice named Michelangelo helped out.

After a quick lunch, and while the city is shut down for the mid-day riposo, make your way over to the Giotto frescoes in Santa Croce church (it stays open all day), Florence's version of Westminster Abbey and the final resting place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini, and Machiavelli with an excellent leather school in the back.

On your way back over to the heart of town, stop by Vivoli for the best gelato (ice cream) the world has ever known. Licking your cone, head back toward the center of town to cross the jewelry shop–lined medieval bridge Ponte Vecchio over to the artisans' quarter known as the Oltrarno.

Here you'll find the Medici's grand Pitti Palace, whose painting galleries will keep you occupied until closing time at 7pm. The Oltrarno is full of good, homey restaurants.

Day 3

My recommendation? Take a half-day cooking class, followed by an afternoon in Fiesole to enjoy its cool pleasures and Roman ruins and watch the sun set over Florence.

No yen for cooking? Then spend the morning in Fiesole, then get back to Florence for lunch, and afterward go back to Pitti Palace, this time to spend more time strolling amid the Boboli Gardens.

In the later afternoon, take in a few of the churches you've missed, or just wander the medieval streets. Shoppers might want to revisit the leather market or hit the fashion strip of Via de' Tornabuoni. Art lovers can head back to the Uffizi.

1 day in FLORENCE | 2 days in FLORENCE | 3 days in FLORENCE

Tips & links

Consider daily tours

Prefer to leave some of the planning and information-providing to a professional? Consider signing up for a guided tour—doesn't have to be a standard bus tour; our partners offer loads of neighborhood and thematic walking tours, private guides, and other fun ways to explore the capital as well.

Walks & Day tours

Longer tours

Make your vacation your own

These are merely blueprints; you really should spend your time on whatever catches your own interest. Some people would rather get a root canal than visit one more museum filled with Renaissance paintings, but for others a day amongst the Old Masters would rank as the highlight of their trip. Same goes for shopping: heaven for some, hell on earth for others. For some less-famous sights to visit, check out Reid's List: Florence

Watch out for Sundays and Mondays

Keep in mind that you may have to adjust these itineraries in case one of the days you're in town happens to fall on a Monday (when most museums are closed) or a Sunday (when many things are closed, and those that remain open tend to operate on shorter hours).

How long does Florence take?

Planning your day: Florence would well be worth a week, but you can still fit a lot into just a day or three.

To help you get the most out of your limited time in the Cradle of the Renaissance, here are some perfect itineraries, whether you have one, two, or three days to spend in Florence.

» Florence itineraries

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If you prefer an expert guide for your sightseeing, here are some walking tours from our partners that cover many of the sights featured on each day (as a bonus, many of those listed under Day 1 also include the Accademia, which would free up the second morning for free time).

Day 1

All sights: Duomo: Uffizi:
Day 2

Many sights:


Santa Croce:

Pitti Palace:

Day 3

Private tours:

Cooking classes

Special meals

Boboli Gardens:

Train tix

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