3 Days itinerary in Florence Italy
Guides and Itineraries,  Italy

3 Days Itinerary in Florence (For a Perfect Long Weekend)

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If you are planning a trip to Florence, Italy, you are probably wondering how much time you need to take it all in and how exactly to fill your days. While you could really spend a whole week here and not see it all, you can see the most important and iconic sites within a 3 day period.

In this article, I will share with you a 3 days itinerary in Florence that will satisfy any type of traveler. If you like museums, history, or architecture, love to be outdoors, or are a foodie, there is something special for you.

In this 3 days Florence itinerary I will only include the absolute best of the best in Florence, including the most monumental sites, important museums, and memorable activities. I will also include my personal favorite spots to fuel up and enjoy some classic Tuscan cuisine along the way.

How to Get Around Florence

Florence is a very small city, making it an easy city to navigate and very walkable. Because the city is so densely packed with historical landmarks, outdoor sites and monuments, the city is best enjoyed on foot.

Fact: Florence is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site because of all its beauty, art, architecture and history built into its walls.

You can see most of the largest sites without taking a single bus or cab ride. Everything is within a 25 minute walk (at the absolute most). Even for the longest distances, all you need is a good gelato pit stop and it’s easily manageable without feeling worn out.

People in Florence Italy

For visitors who aren’t up to walking, Florence is still very much well connected by public transportation. Autolinea Toscana runs reliable buses and trams throughout the city center walls and beyond. Tickets can be purchased online or at independently standing newsstands and tabaccai scattered throughout Florence.

Another alternative to walking is to travel by bike in Florence. You can easily rent bikes from different stores or easier yet sign up with ridemovi and rent either regular or electric bikes or electric scooters. The city is very safe to ride bikes in, especially if you stick to the designated bike paths (marked with red or painted bike symbols).

Tips for Visiting Sites and Museums in Florence

Most of the suggested sites and museums listed in this 3 days itinerary in Florence require tickets which should be pre-booked to avoid wasted time in long lines.

Before purchase, be sure to inform yourself either online or at the ticket desk of all the ticket combinations. Many sites offer combined tickets granting you access to more than one of the most famous tourist attractions (the Duomo has many ticket combinations, for example).

The absolute best deal is the Firenze Card, a pass valid for 72 hours granting you access to many of Florence’s most popular activities and sites. While not everything is included, it’s still a very good deal!

3 Days Itinerary in Florence

Without further ado, here’s a 3 days in Florence itinerary so you can make the most out of your stay in this beautiful city.

Day 1

Spend the first morning on a self-guided walking tour of Florence, helping to orient yourself to the city and get a sense of the historical, architectural and artistic impact the city has had across time.

Start at Piazza del Duomo and make your way down Via Roma to Piazza della Repubblica. Here, you will find many famous bars like Gilli and Caffe Concerto Paszkowski with outdoor seating opening up onto the square.

Giotto's Bell Tower in Piazza del Duomo
Giotto’s Bell Tower in Piazza del Duomo.

Gelato Recommendation: Stop off for your first gelato in Florence at one of the many gelaterias close to the Duomo, most notably Edoardo, Grom or Perché No!

Gelato in Florence Italy
Gelato – one of the must-eats in Florence!

Swing over to Via Calzaiuoli to Piazza della Signoria (home to Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall,  and The Uffizi). Be sure to check out La Loggia dei Lanzi, a portico opening onto the piazza and home to many famous sculptures. Don’t miss the replica statues of Giuditta e Oloferne by Donatello and David by Michelangelo.

On the other side of Palazzo Vecchio, you will find The Fountain of Neptune, an enormous newly restored fountain adorned with a statue of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati and Giambologna.

Piazza della Signoria Florence
Piazza della Signoria Florence.
Fountain of Neptune - a must-see in 3 days in Florence itinerary
Fountain of Neptune.

From here, walk down to the famous Ponte Vecchio, the most iconic bridge in Florence connecting the city center to the Oltrarno over the Arno river. What was once home to trade between local butches, fish mongers, blacksmiths and bakers, is now the center for gold and jewelry in Florence. Even if you aren’t in the market to buy, there is nothing more fun than window shopping as you walk across.

Tip: To get the best picture at Ponte Vecchio, you actually want to be on either Ponte Santa Trinità or Ponte alle Grazie, which will give you Ponte Vecchio in the background.

Stop in Piazza Santo Spirito and eat at one of the many trattorie, pizzerie, or sandwich shops on the square or on the surrounding alleys. For a very traditional tuscan meal, eat at Trattoria La Casalinga but be sure to pre-book your table.

Spend your afternoon visiting the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens (time permitting at gardens). The palace, once home to the most important Florentine family, The Medici Family, is now a conglomerate of museums including the Gallery of Modern Art and the Galleria Palatina. Also included are staged rooms of the palace.

Good To Know: The Pitti Palace is enormous and it’s hard to see it all in a single visit. Don’t feel like you have to see every room or visit every floor, especially if you want to visit the Boboli Gardens as well. 

If you are interested in seeing the beautifully designed Boboli gardens, do so after your visit to the palace in the summer (it’s far too hot mid-day to enjoy them). The gardens are quite large, spanning across tens of acres, so be prepared for a bit of exercise if you explore the grottos, sculptures and fountains.

Boboli Gardens in Piazza de Pitti
Boboli Gardens in Piazza de Pitti.

End your touring with a well-deserved aperitivo at Pitti Gola, just outside the Palace and enjoy Florence’s golden hour on Palazzo Pitti’s main square.

Dinner Recommendation: Enjoy dinner at either Santo Bevitore or Trattoria Cammillo, just a short walk 10 minute’s walk from Palazzo Pitti for classic Italian cuisine (book ahead).

Day 2

Start your day as the Italians do with a traditional Italian breakfast standing at any bar close to your accommodations. Having a pastry and coffee shoulder to shoulder with Italians is one of the most authentic ways to experience Italy. Pay first at the register and bring your receipt to the counter, asking the barista for what you have paid for.

Visit the Basilica di San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapels (pre-booking recommended Monday-Saturday 10:00 am – 5:30 pm). The Basilica is believed to be the oldest church in Florence, consecrated in 393.

The San Lorenzo Basilica is seemingly uninteresting from the outside but the inside is elaborately decorated, a true treat for art lovers. The chapels, built for the Medici family, were designed by Michelangelo and Brunelleschi.

After visiting the Basilica di San Lorenzo, decompress with a bit of light shopping at the outdoor open air market of San Lorenzo. Here you will find streets lined with vendors selling fine leather goods, shoes, ceramics and other souvenirs. Walk the market up to the Mercato Centrale, identified by its large iron and glass structure.

Downstairs on the ground floor you will find all the local vendors selling various food items such as fresh fruit and vegetables, food souvenirs, meat, fish, cheese, and bread until around 1:00 pm.

Upstairs is home to the Italian food court, a genius formula allowing guests to order at different stalls and eat together at large, communal tables. Enjoy traditional Italian food such as pizza, fresh pasta, gelato, charcuterie boards, truffle treats, and baked goods. Don’t miss their full bar for coffee and drinks (open 9:00 am – 12:00 am).

Mercato Centrale in Florence
Mercato Centrale.

After lunch, make your way to the Uffizi Gallery, Florence’s most famous art museum and one of Europe’s most important museums in general. The collection is incredibly rich, housing most famously works by Botticelli (The Birth of Venus), Leonardo Da Vinci (Annunciation), Caravaggio (Medusa), and Michelangelo (Doni Tondo), just to name a few.

Because the museum is so crowded, you need to book tickets before visiting, Tuesday through Sunday 8:15 am – 6:30 pm. Opt for some form of guide whether it be audio, an actual certified tour guide or with a book to help sort through all of the masterpieces.

Uffizi Gallery - one of the places to see in 3 days in Florence
The Birth of Venus, Uffizi Gallery.

Cafe Recommendation: Get a breath of fresh air and enjoy the view to break up your visit with a stop at the Uffizi rooftop cafe inside the museum, offering respite from all the art overload.

End your day with dinner behind the Uffizi at one of the many pizzerias just outside the museums’ exit and around Santa Croce.

Pizza Recommendation: For the best pizza after a Uffizi visit, head to Pizza Napoli in Via dei Neri for traditional Neapolitan-style pizza or Berberè Santa Croce in Via dei Benci for the best sourdough pizza.

Day 3

Wake up early and spend the morning visiting the Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo complex and the Baptistry of St. John, choosing to climb either the Duomo or Giotto’s bell tower. The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is certainly considered Florence’s most iconic monument and deserves a whole morning. It’s one of the places you shouldn’t miss on your 3 days in Florence.

You should pre-book your climb and visit their official website for various ticket and pass options such as the Brunelleschi pass, valid for three days with entrance to Brunelleschi’s dome, the Baptistery, Opera del Duomo Museum, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the Santa Reparata crypt.

Tip: Both climbs up the Duomo and Giotto’s Bell Tower are not easy. Both are over 400 steps. The bell tower is considered slightly easier because there are a few stop-off points to rest while at the Duomo, the staircase can get quite steep and narrow, making it hard to take a short break.

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore
Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore – an iconic structure in Florence.

If you have time before lunch, pop into the Opera del Duomo Museum, which houses all the original artwork of the Duomo and Baptistery, including the famous bronze Gates of Paradise.

Lunch Recommendation: Go to the top floor of the Rinascente (the department store in Piazza della Repubblica) and enjoy a light lunch on their rooftop terrace. The view is spectacular and the menu is perfect for a light lunch. If you can’t get a table, head to Serre Torrigiani in Piazzetta, just next to the Rinascente, a small, shaded outdoor bar/cafe with light lunches, great cocktails, and pizza by the slice.

Visit the Accademia Gallery after lunch where you will find yourself just feet from Michelangelo’s original David. The gallery is also home to many other notable Renaissance masterpieces, sculpture, and a vast collection of musical instruments.

Pre-book a timed entrance to the museum 8:15 am – 6:50 pm Tuesday through Sunday. The line is always outrageously long and there is no shade while you wait.

Michelangelo's David in the Accademia Gallery
Michelangelo’s David in Accademia’s Gallery.

Gelato Recommendation: Don’t miss Carabè gelateria just outside the Accademia, specializing in Sicilian treats such as granita.

End your day with a walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, the most popular and best location to enjoy sweeping panoramic views of Florence at sunset. The large square is very lively, with vendors, street performers, a covered bar and a restaurant.

Piazzale Michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo.

Follow the Arno river To San Niccolò and start the walk up the switchback walkways above the tower. You can also drive or take bus 23 or 13 to the top.

Tip: If you get to the Piazzale early, continue hiking just above to San Miniato al Monte for a less crowded sunset.

Where to Stay in Florence

For a luxury experience and prime location, I recommend Antica Torre. The building is beautiful, centrally located in Via dè Tornabuoni and the individual rooms are clean cut and always well looked after. It even has its own restaurant and bar if you get tired in the evenings and want to turn in early.

Travelers who are in search of a unique accommodation, check out SoprArno located in Oltrarno (on the other side of the city center just off of Piazza Santo Spirito). Each room is designed independently from one another at this boutique B&B, making each stay a unique experience.

For a budget friendly stay, look into Annalena. It’s located just past the Pitti Palace in a very Italian part of the city.

Conclusion

In the end, you really can check most of the boxes in Florence even if you only have 3 days to see it all. After spending various amounts of time in Florence over the years, I can assure you that you do not want less than three days. The city is just too rich to do it in less.

Most of these activities in this 3 day Florence itinerary take half a day and can be swapped out with other alternatives. For example, if you love sculpture, consider the Bargello National Museum instead of the Accademia or the Medici Chapels.

When making changes to a pre-planned itinerary, be sure to account for travel time between destinations. As noted, Florence is small and your walks shouldn’t ever be too long (unless you are going to Piazzale Michelangelo) but some are longer than others.

Has this travel guide on a 3 days in Florence itinerary been helpful to you? If you have comments or questions, let us know in the comment section below!

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