One of the most popular destinations in Europe and pretty much always included in a classic Italy itinerary, especially for first-time visitors, 2 days in Florence are just enough to give you a taste of the most important historic and artistic landmarks.
With such a long history, Florence is packed with things to see and do. Even though the historic center is pretty compact, if you are planning to explore all its sites, you would definitely need more than two days in Florence.
But we understand that it’s not always possible to devote more time to a single city, especially if you are spending only ten days in Italy. This guide is aimed at helping you plan a trip to Florence optimizing your time to see and enjoy as much as possible. We have included a visit to Palazzo Pitti after the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio. If you feel your art intake is about enough, you can replace either the Pitti Palace or Palazzo Vecchio with a stop in the gorgeous Santa Maria Novella Basilica.
What To Do In Two Days In Florence
Visit Florence in 2 Days – Day 1
Start early at Giotto Bell Tower
The Giotto bell tower is one of the must-see landmarks in two days in Florence. It’s part of Santa Maria del Fiore complex and in theory, you can do it any time. I suggest ticking this off your list first thing in the morning because you are going to find a shorter line.
You don’t have to book the climb to the bell tower top, but if you are doing it at a time when you know the queue will be long, it’s the most convenient thing to do. We did it early morning as soon as it opened and there was almost no queue, leaving us almost all day available as the visit doesn’t take much time.
Climb Brunelleschi’s Cupola
Climbing Brunelleschi’s dome is one of the top things to do in Florence in 2 days, or even if you are only staying one day. For this, booking is mandatory. You can choose the day and time but I suggest doing it online well in advance otherwise your slot of choice might not be available. You can choose a tour with only the dome climb or Take Walks’ Early Accademia Tour & Skip-The-Line Dome Climb.
Duck into Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral
Heavily damaged by the 1966 flood that hit the city and drew thousands of volunteers from around the world, today Florence’s Duomo is pretty empty. Most of its artwork is kept in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, also one of the places worth including in your Florence two-day itinerary if you can save some time.
The entrance is free and usually, the line is smaller than for the dome. Once inside the cathedral, go also down the crypt to see the relics from the ancient church such as the altar and mosaics, and the tomb of Filippo Brunelleschi.
Visit the Battistero di San Giovanni
The last sight you can’t miss in the Santa Maria del Fiore complex is the 11th-century Baptistery of St. John. Here, too, you will find some queue and there is no need for booking.
This is really a beautiful sight that sometimes visitors skip because of a lack of time. I really recommend including this in your list as it’s not only stunning outside but also the interior and the dome covered with mosaics depicting scenes from the Bible.
Step inside San Lorenzo Basilica
3 minutes’ walk from the Baptistery
Under the rule of the Medici family, this was their private worship place. The city’s oldest cathedral, entering San Lorenzo Basilica is something worth finding time to in your 2 days in Florence.
In the underground, visit the Museum of the Treasure of San Lorenzo, a rich collection of sacred artwork donated mainly by the Medici family.
Once you are done with the church, you can step inside the historic Biblioteca di San Lorenzo right beside the basilica. And for 8 euros extra, you can also visit the tomb of the Medici dynasty behind the basilica.
Duck into the Galleria dell’Accademia
6 minutes walk from San Lorenzo Basilica
This is often referred to as “Michelangelo’s Museum” because it’s the gallery that displays the highest number of artwork by the famous Renaissance artist. In fact, the masterpiece that attracts thousands every day is Michelangelo’s David sculpture.
You will easily spot it because it’s huge, well-exposed all by itself and surrounded by nothing but a huge crowd. The best way to skip the crowd and save time is to book a Florence private tour. There are tours that include several attractions and others only to the Galleria dell’Accademia.
Stroll along the Lungarno
Round off your first, super busy day in Florence with a well-deserved walk along the river. The sun will be set or about to, and you can enjoy the lights of the buildings reflecting on it as well as of the city’s bridges.
Among all, look out for the very central and famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, and if shops are still open, take a peek at the beautiful local jewelry and handicraft.
Visit Florence In 2 Days – Day 2
Start early at the Uffizi Gallery
A tour to Florence’s biggest and richest art gallery will take you hours and you won’t even manage to see it all. I suggest ticking this off your list first thing in the morning of your second day in Florence as it’s one of the most time-consuming attractions.
If you don’t want to queue for hours, I suggest booking online. You can book a private tour, which will make things even faster as along with the fast-track entrance, your guide will take you directly to the most important masterpieces.
If you prefer visiting by yourself, don’t miss the amazing Birth of Venus and Spring paintings by Botticelli, Woman With A Veil by Raphael, Bacchus by Caravaggio, Annunciation by Leonardo Da Vinci, and the large collection of ancient Roman art.
Visit Palazzo Vecchio
2 minutes’ walk from the Uffizi Gallery
13th-century Palazzo Vecchio is in Piazza della Signoria. Florence town hall, the building has always been the symbol of the city’s civil power. Comprising of Roman and medieval ruins and Renaissance chambers and artwork, a visit to the historic Palazzo Vecchio is a must in your two days in Florence.
Although quite big and packed with history and artwork, a visit here takes much less than the Uffizi, so I think you can stretch a bit of time before your next stop.
Make your way to Palazzo Pitti
10 minutes’ walk from Piazza della Signoria
Crossing the river, you will get to Palazzo Pitti, the former residence of the Pitti family. This magnificent palace reeks of opulence and luxury at every corner. It was finally bought by the Medicis after the decline of the Pitti clan.
Pitti Palace is pretty huge and inside you will follow a route that will show you all the chambers and apartments of the noble families that once inhabited the mansion. This is the other big landmark on the second day of this two-day Florence itinerary. The queue here is also quite long but somehow it flows quickly. A visit to Palazzo Pitti is not complete without a tour to the adjacent Boboli Garden, which is your next stop.
Take a stroll in Giardino di Boboli
When you exit Palazzo Pitti, on your right you will see the entrance to the Boboli Garden, which is right behind the palace. The layout was commissioned by the Medici family and quickly became a model of Italian-style gardening.
All around, the garden is decorated with a fascinating collection of ancient and Renaissance sculptures as well as fountains and museums. A tour of the Boboli Garden will give you a complete grasp of court life in Renaissance Florence.
Enjoy the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo
30 minutes’ walk from Giardino di Boboli or 15 to minutes by bus
This is arguably the most stunning viewpoint in Florence and any time of the day it works for snapping a postcard picture. If during the day you are too busy visiting the landmarks and museums before they close, the skyline from Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset will equally give you an unforgettable experience.
Where to eat
The first day you are in Florence if it’s not Sunday, you can enjoy a traditional and cheap meal at Trattoria Sergio Gozzi. Famous for its Florentine steak, it’s right in front of San Lorenzo Basilica, so a great fit in your sightseeing schedule.
Especially because you are staying only a few days, we recommend you pick good Florence restaurants that are either in the city center or easy to reach.
Where to stay
Especially in the high season, Florence accommodation is more expensive compared to other cities. If you can, our piece of advice is always to prefer the low season. Another ruse to find cheaper accommodation is to get out of the historic center.
We stayed at The Little Garden, and although it wasn’t our favorite place ever, we did like the area, well-served with local buses, a supermarket, the bank, a pharmacy and restaurants. It was in Via Luigi Boccarini, where you can find several other guesthouses and apartments like Il Piccolo Nido and Sweet Apartment in Florence.
If you’d rather stay in the city center to save as much time as you can and enjoy Florence also at night, some of the top places are Granduomo Charming Accommodation, Corte Guelfa, and Il Terrazzino Sulla Cattedrale.
How to get around
The easiest way to get around Florence’s historic center is on foot. The area is pretty compact and crowded, so walking is the best way to get from a place to another admiring the buildings on the way.
If you want to move faster, you can rent a bike, a very common means of transportation in the city center. You can also join one of the popular segway tours to see more places and save time in the transfers.
The local public transport is managed by ATAF and it’s pretty efficient. You can buy a ticket or a 10-ticket booklet at the newsagent at the station or all throughout the city. This will give you more freedom of movement as you won’t have to look for tickets all the time. Plus, we stayed in Florence for 5 days and one 10-ticket carnet turned out to be enough.
If you are coming to Florence by train from Rome, you can purchase the bus tickets directly at Santa Maria Novella station. While if you are planning a multi-city Italy trip and the next stop is the capital, you might want to book your train ticket from Florence to Rome in advance to avoid a lack of seats and high rates.
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Rome-based travel writer, blogger and photographer.