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How to Spend One Day in Florence, Italy

Welcome to Florence, Italy! As the birthplace of the Renaissance, home to some of the most iconic art and architecture ever created as well as some of the best food in the world, it’s no wonder that this remarkable city attracts over 15 million visitors each year! We had the pleasure of spending one day roaming the ancient streets, gazing at the breathtaking art and architecture, and of course, indulging in the culinary delights! From taking in the views from the top of the Duomo and the Bell Tower to laying eyes on the famous David statue for the first time to watching the sunset from the Piazzale Michelangelo, and so much more, our time in Florence was nothing short of magical! Of course, we could have spent a week here and not been able to do, see, and eat everything, but if you’re a time-crunched traveler like we are and want to fit in as much as possible during your visit to Florence, then you’ve come to the right place! In this blog, we’ll share with you how to Spend One Day in Florence, Italy, and make the most of your time in the birthplace of the Renaissance!

Be sure to watch our “How to Spend One Day in Florence, Italy” travel vlog for a closer look at our time in this beautiful city!

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Now let's get into the itinerary!

9:00 am: Coffee/Breakfast

This will be what fuels your adventures for the next few hours at least, so choose wisely! If you’re like us and don’t typically have a big hearty breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast, etc.), then you’re in luck because neither does Italy (generally speaking)! While it’s not impossible to find stacks of pancakes and waffles in Florence a more typical Italian breakfast will consist of espresso-based drinks and fresh pastries. That said, if you are looking for a place that offers more of your typical American breakfast/brunch dishes, the last three spots on the list below will not disappoint.

  • BEN Caffè (where we went - Via dell'Oche, 7, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Coffee Mantra (Borgo La Croce 71r, Via della Mattonaia, 24r, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Ditta Artigianale (Via dei Neri, 30/32 R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Ala Grande Caffè (Via S. Gallo, 29R, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Shake Cafè (Via del Corso, 28, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

Breakfast pastries, coffee, and chai at BEN Caffe
BEN Caffe - Via dell'Oche, 7, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Built between 1420 and 1436 to a plan created by Filippo Brunelleschi, Brunelleschi's Dome (or simply the Duomo as many call it) is the most iconic piece of architecture in Florence and defines the city’s skyline. To this day Brunelleschi's Dome is still the largest masonry vault in the world and no visit to Florence is complete without taking in its beauty. If you’re up for the challenge, we totally recommend making the climb up the 463 steps to the top of the dome for some incredible views of the city. In addition to a strong heart, the climb will also require a timed entry ticket/reservation that you will need to book in advance – and arrive at least 10-15 minutes early. We recommend booking the Dome and Cathedral Complex combo ticket which gives you access to Brunelleschi's Dome (Duomo), Giotto’s Bell Tower, Museum of the Duomo, and Santa Reparata Crypt.

Views from Brunelleschi's Dome (Duomo)
Views from Brunelleschi's Dome (Duomo)

11:00 am: Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square)

After the climb to the top of the dome, take some time to catch your breath and explore the rest of the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). If you’re feeling up for it, make the climb up the 414 steps to the top of Giotto's Bell Tower for the best views of the Duomo!

  • Giotto's Campanile (Giotto's Bell Tower)

  • Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral)

  • Baptistery of San Giovanni

Views from Giotto's Bell Tower
Views from Giotto's Bell Tower

12:15 pm: Gelato

I know, I know… We haven’t even had lunch yet, but after climbing up and back down 877 (if you did both the dome and the bell tower), you deserve a treat! And there’s no better treat when in Florence than fresh gelato!

  • Gelateria Edoardo il gelato biologico (where we went - Piazza del Duomo, 45/R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Gelateria La Carraia (Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25/r, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Gelateria dei Neri (Via dei Neri, 9/11R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Il Procopio (Via Pietrapiana, 60R, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Gelateria Santa Trinita (Piazza de' Frescobaldi, 11/red, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy)

Edoardo il Gelato Biologico
Edoardo il Gelato Biologico - Piazza del Duomo, 45/R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

12:30 pm: Lunch at All'Antico Vinaio

Typically, I like to offer a few options for meals in our itineraries, but when you’re in the city that is home to what is said to be the #1 panini in the world, you eat paninis! There are multiple locations, but for the sake of this itinerary, we recommend going to the Via Ricasoli location. That said, if you choose to go to the Via dei Neri location (the original location that opened in 1989) you’ll find that there are actually a total of 4 locations all within a stone's throw of each other… Yes, that’s how we measure distance in the South.

  • Via Ricasoli, 121r, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy

  • Via dei Neri, 65r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

All’Antico Vinaio, Firenze
All’Antico Vinaio - Via Ricasoli, 121r, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy

1:45 pm: Galleria dell’Accademia (Via Ricasoli, 58/60, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy)

The Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze or "Gallery of the Academy of Florence" is best known as the home of Michelangelo's sculpture David, but it also has other sculptures by Michelangelo and a large collection of paintings by Florentine artists, mostly from the period 1300–1600. Even if you’re not necessarily into art, the Galleria dell'Accademia is worth a visit in my opinion. Seeing the sculpture of David in person is a pretty incredible experience in and of itself, but we especially loved Michelangelo’s unfinished pieces leading up to Daving. The unfinished sculptures are known as Michelangelo’s prisoners or slaves and you really do get a sense that these sculptures are trying to escape the stone that they are imprisoned by. Unfortunately, Michelangelo passed away before setting them free. A visit to the Galleria dell'Accademia should be on every tourist’s itinerary, but be sure to book your timed entry ticket in advance to avoid waiting in extremely long lines. We also recommend downloading the Rick Steves audio tour to help you navigate the museum and make the most of your time.

Galleria dell’Accademia
Galleria dell’Accademia

3:45 pm: The Mercato Centrale (Central Market - Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Via dell'Ariento, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy)

If you're a food lover, then Central Market is a must-visit when in Florence! As part of the San Lorenzo Market, this food market showcases some of Tuscany's finest products, from farm-fresh produce to cured meats and cheeses. If you’re short on time and still full from lunch like we were, then just swing by, meander through the main floor of the market taking in the sights and smells, and make your way upstairs for a cold beer (or wine) and some people watching.

Central Market
Central Market

:: Begin the long but beautiful walk to Piazzale Michelangelo ::

Notable sites along the way:

  • Leather Market (Via dell'Ariento, 51/red, 50123)

  • Basilica di San Lorenzo (Piazza di San Lorenzo, 9, 50123)

  • Leonardo Da Vinci Home (Via de' Martelli, 35 r, 50129)

  • Riccardi Medici Palace (Via Camillo Cavour, 3, 50129)

  • Piazza Della Signoria ( della Signoria, 50122)

4:45 pm: Ponte Vecchio bridge

The Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, was built very close to the Roman crossing and was the only bridge across the Arno River in Florence until 1218. The current bridge was rebuilt in 1345 after a flood. During World War II Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy and on November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood another great flood. Today, while still an iconic site in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio mostly houses high-end jewelry shops, so beyond the historical significance, there’s not much to do here unless you’re in the market for a Rolex or some new diamond earrings. Nonetheless, it’s a must-see when visiting Florence!

Ponte Vecchio Bridge
Ponte Vecchio

5:00 pm: Aperol Spritz break at Spaccio Alimentare Firenze (Via dei Bastioni, 9r, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy)

After making the nearly 1.5-mile trek from Central Market (of course you can take a taxi if you would like, but what’s the fun in that??) you’re probably feeling a bit parched, and what better way to quench your thirst when in Florence than with an ice cold Aperol Spritz! This little trattoria sits just outside the ancient city walls and is the perfect pit stop on your way to Piazzale Michelangelo.

Aperol Spritz at I Bastioni di San Niccolò
Aperol Spritz at I Bastioni di San Niccolò

6:00 pm: Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo

If you think a birds-eye-view of the Florence skyline with the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio emerging from the orange terracotta rooftops in the distance and the Arno River flowing gently in the foreground sounds like a nice place to catch a Florentine sunset, then One… you would be absolutely right, and two… you have to head to Piazzale Michelangelo! And while it may be a classic tourist stop (yes, prepare to spend the evening with a couple thousand of your closest friends), it’s for good reason! This public outdoor terrace is beautiful, romantic, and should not be missed!

Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo

7:30 pm: Dinner

Pasta, Pizza, Florentine Steak… You really can’t go wrong with any of the above, but for us, eating Florentine steak in Florence was high up on the culinary bucket list, so that’s exactly what we did and we have absolutely zero regrets!

  • Ristorante Braceria Auditore (where we went - Piazza del Grano, 13, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • La Buchetta Food & Wine Restaurant (Via dei Benci, 3, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Le Cappelle Medicee (Via del Canto dei Nelli, 30, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Trattoria Mario (Via Rosina, 2r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Brac (Via dei Vagellai, 18/R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

Florentine Steak at Ristorante Braceria Auditore
Ristorante Braceria Auditore (where we went - Piazza del Grano, 13, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

9:00 pm: Gelato

Assuming you have any room left for dessert after that incredible meal, then we obviously suggest capping the night off with one last scoop – or three – of gelato! When in Rome… Err… Florence in this case!

  • Gelateria Edoardo il gelato biologico (Piazza del Duomo, 45/R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Gelateria La Carraia (Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25/r, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Gelateria dei Neri (Via dei Neri, 9/11R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Il Procopio (Via Pietrapiana, 60R, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy)

  • Gelateria Santa Trinita (Piazza de' Frescobaldi, 11/red, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy)


We hope that this guide has helped you plan your visit to Florence, and if it has, we hope that you’ll consider following us on Instagram and subscribing to our YouTube Channel for more travel tips!

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