A Jam-Packed One Day In Florence Itinerary

Florence is a breathtaking showcase of medieval and Renaissance art, offering the traveler a rich journey through history. The city is aliving museum where the legendary works of Botticelli and Michelangelo are yours to explore.

Florence’s entire historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. As you wander through its streets, you’ll encounter stunning art and architecture at every turn. I promise you’ll fall in love!

My one day in Florence itinerary guides you through the city’s absolute must see sites. One day isn’t much time. But you can still have an unforgettable experience in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

cityscape of Florence

Snapshot Of One Day in Florence Itinerary

Here’s a glance of what you’ll see with my detailed, hour by hour, Florence itinerary.

  • Oltrarno Viewpoints
  • Pitti Palace
  • Boboli Gardens
  • Ponte Vecchio
  • Florence Cathedral Complex
  • Brunelleschi’s Dome
  • Uffizi Gallery
  • Galleria Accademia
  • Palazzo Vecchio

To see it all, you’ll need to pre-book skip the line tickets and I’ve linked them below.

Piazzale Michelangelo, with a copy of Michelangelo's David statue
Piazzale Michelangelo, with a copy of Michelangelo’s David

One Day in Florence Itinerary

1. 8:00 AM: Oltrarno Viewpoints

Start your day bright and early by sipping espresso at Cafe degli Artigiani, a coffee lover’s dream cafe. You can also grab pastries at Dolcissima Firenze.

Then, get ready for some amazing views over the city from the Oltrarno. The best viewpoints in Florence are at Piazzale Michelangelo and the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte.

When people visiting Florence want a panoramic view, they usually head to Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence’s famous lookout square.

To be sure, Piazzale Michelangelo is nice, with a replica of Michelangelo’s David sculpture. But it’s also filled with bus loads of tourists and vendors hawking trinkets.

view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

For a far superior experience, don’t stop walking. Head 5-10 minutes further uphill to the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte. It’s worth the arduous climb, I promise.

San Miniato is an oasis of calm away from the hurly burly of Florence with amazing Gothic art and unsurpassed views. The perspective over the city is absolutely extraordinary. This is where you have the best view of the Duomo.

Don’t forget to head inside. The ancient Romanesque church is a unique and harmonious blend of medieval architectural styles, pre-dating Florence’s Renaissance treasures.

Florence's crowning glory, the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte
Basilica of San Miniato al Monte
view of Florence from San Miniato al Monte
view of Florence from San Miniato al Monte

Right behind the basilica is the Porte Sante Cemetery, which also boasts great views. Built in the 19th century, the cemetery was designed by Niccolo Matas, who was also the architect for the facade of the Santa Croce.

The graveyard is an open air museum, stuffed with beautiful funeral art, mausoleums, and memorials of illustrious Florentine Catholics.

The private temples and tombs are in varying architectural styles, from Renaissance to Art Deco. Many of them are inspired by Florence’s churches.

Some are decorated with symbols, allegorical figures, and sentimental portraits. The most famous effigy (shown above) depicts the Mazzone siblings dancing together, fully united in the after life.

view of the Pitti Palace from the Boboli Gardens
view of the Pitti Palace from the Boboli Gardens

2. 9:00 AM: Pitti Palace

After taking in the panoramic views, head to the Pitti Palace. Built in the 15th century, the palace is a magnificent example of Renaissance grandeur. originally built for the Pitti family in the 15th century.

The magnificent Palazzo Pitti was the regal home of the Medici family.

The palace is the largest palace in Florence and one of Florence’s most stunning architecture gems. Built in 1457, it was built for Florentine banker Luca Pitti, a Medici rival.

To visit the Pitti Palace is to immerse yourself in beauty and history. The palace is an incredibly unique combination of splendor, in situ Renaissance art, lavish royal apartments, and beautiful gardens.

READ: Guide To the Medici Palaces in Florence

Mannerist ceiling frescos by Pietro da Cortona
Mannerist ceiling frescos by Pietro da Cortona

The Palazzo Pitti houses several different museums. By far the most important is the Palatine Gallery.

With only one day in Florence, head straight to the Palatine and skip the other museums. The Galleria Palatine occupies the left wing of the first floor.

The gallery houses an impressive collection of over 500 in situ paintings, chock a block on top of each other amid lavish stucco and silk furnishings.

In the five Planet Rooms, there are beautiful ceiling frescos by Pietro da Cortona.

The collection includes works by Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Caravaggio, and other European and Italian painters. Be sure to check out Botticelli’s and Lippi’s Madonna and Child in the Prometheus Room.

Two versions of Andrea del Sarto’s massive Assumption of the Virgin are in the Iliad Room. And one of my favorite artists, Artemisia Gentileschi, has another version of Judith and Holofernes in the Saturn Room.

Click here to pre-book a skip the line ticket.

There’s not much signage in the museum. You may want to book a guided tour and learn all about how the Medici amassed their impressive collection.

Anthony Canova's Venus Italica in the Palatine Gallery
Anthony Canova’s Venus Italica in the Palatine Gallery

3. 10:30 AM: Boboli Gardens

After gazing at these master works, take a quick stroll in the backyard playground of the Pitti Palace, the lovely Boboli Gardens. The gardens are the largest green space in Florence, sprawling over 11 acres.

The gardens are effectively an open air museum, with hundreds of nooks to explore. They opened to the public in 1776.

The gardens are laid out in the Italian style, with beautifully worn Renaissance statues and fountains. The Rococo Kaffeehaus is on the eastern edge of the gardens, and its terrace is the perfect viewing point.

Neptune Fountain in the Boboli Gardens
Neptune Fountain in the Boboli Gardens

The famous Fountain dell’Oceano and the Bathing Venus were sculpted by the underrated artist Giambologna, whose statues grace the Bargello Museum and the Piazza della Signoria.

The Grotto Grande, also known as the Buontalenti Grotto, is a fascinating place.

In 16th century Tuscany, it was the fashion to build decorative grottos reconstructing natural caves. The grotto once had a fresco by Michelangelo (now in the Accademia) and has copies of his four slaves.

Click here to pre-book a skip the line ticket to the Boboli Gardens.

the ancient Ponte Vecchio, a must see with one day in Florence
the ancient Ponte Vecchio

4. 11:00 AM: Ponte Vecchio

Then, take a stroll across Florence’s storybook bridge, the Ponte Vecchio, and cross the Arno River. The bridge is lovely, like cobbled together houses suspended over the water.

The bridge has three arches topped with a jumble of charming shops. In an urban setting, space was at a premium, so the bridge became a sort of mall.

Originally, the Ponte Vecchio housed unglamorous butcher shops. But the Medici didn’t like escorting their aristocratic guests and diplomats over the bridge with the wafting stench.

So they swamped the butchers for goldsmiths. Now, you can buy expensive jewelry and enjoy street performers.

the Ponte Vecchio

5. 12:00 AM: Lunch

Break for lunch and a wander, enjoying the joys of a traffic free Florence. Try Casa del Vino, where you can get sandwiches, crostini, or charcuterie plates with a delicious glass of wine.

All’Antico Vinaio is also a must-try, just minutes away from Piazza della Signoria. Sandwiches are made with a local bread called schiacciata.

You can also grab lunch at Mercato Centrale. It’s a lively marketplace with fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, meats, etc. You’ll find row upon row of vendors selling an array of goods.

There’s a bustling food court on the upper level, offering a mouth-watering selection of options for every taste and budget. 

You could also opt for a lunchtime food tour of Florence or a truffles-gelato-wine tour.

Florence’s Duomo and Brunelleschi’s iconic dome

6. 1:00 PM: Duomo Complex

Head to historic Florence and take in the complex of Florence Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, nicknamed the Duomo.

The Duomo complex includes the Duomo, the Baptistry, the Giotto Bell Tower, and the Duomo museum. They’re all eminently worth seeing.

You have to be organized to visit the Duomo and climb the dome. It’s an exceedingly popular activity. 

There are any array of different ticket and tour options. Pick one that best suits your interests:

the terrace of Florence Cathedral
the terrace of Florence Cathedral

The one thing you can’t miss is climbing Brunelleschi’s dome And it’s essential to pre-book a timed entry ticket to climb Brunelleschi’s dome.

The best place to start exploring the complex is the stunning Duomo Museum, the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. It’s the best cathedral museum I’ve ever been in.

The museum is housed in the Piazza del Duomo at the back of Giotto’s Bell Tower, behind the Duomo apse.

The museum space is a fabulous treasure box of sculpture. Its rooftop terrace also offers a mesmerizing view of Brunelleschi’s dome.

The first thing you see is the museum’s well lit showstopper — the Hall of Paradise. The hall contains a magnificent reconstruction of a Duomo facade from the 16th century.

Hall of Paradise inside the Duomo Museum
Hall of Paradise inside the Duomo Museum

The museum also has an unparalleled collection of Medieval and early Renaissance Florentine pieces that once decorated the Duomo complex structures.

You will find pieces by artists such as Ghiberti, Donatello, Michelangelo, Arnolfo di Cambio, and Nanni di Banco.

Then, head to Florence Cathedral — the most prominent, and popular, landmark in Florence.

Construction of Florence Cathedral began in 1296 and spanned 172 years. The city of Florence commissioned the renowned architect Arnolfo di Cambio, who played a pivotal role in shaping the architecture of Florence during the 13th and 14th centuries.

While the cathedral is Gothic in style, it presents a distinct contrast to the light and elegant Gothic of Paris’ Notre Dame. Instead, It’s robust structure made from brown sandstone, with an exquisite facade of pink, green, and white marble.

video of the view from Brunelleschi's dome
view from Brunelleschi’s dome

Filippo Brunelleschi’s magnificent terra cotta colored dome, built from 1420-36, is the highlight.

The burnt orange Duomo cupola is the very symbol of Florence. The inside is decorated with frescos by Giorgio Vasari, a Florentine artist and the world’s first art historian.

For panoramic views, climb up Brunelleschi’s dome. You can admire the Vasari frescos up close and have stunning views over Florence.

Alternatively, you can take in views from Giotto’s Bell Tower. This option has the advantage of giving you view of the Duomo itself.

>>> Click here to buy a Giotto bell tower ticket

the Last Judgment mosaic in the Florence baptistery
The Last Judgment mosaic in the Florence baptistery

Next, stroll to the Baptistery, in front of the main facade of the Duomo. Dating from 1059, it’s over 1,000 years old.

The Baptistery sports three magnificent sets of bronze doors. On the eastern side are the famous golden “Gates of Paradise” designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti and nicknamed by Michelangelo. (The originals are in the Duomo Museum.)

The Baptistry is lined with ancient Roman columns of gray granite, likely repurposed from the ancient Roman Forum down the street.

The highlight is a stunning golden Byzantine style ceiling mosaic telling the story of the Last Judgement. There are over 10 million mosaics.

Right now, the mosaic is under renovation and will be for years. You can still pop inside to see the restoration in progress. You can also buy a ticket to climb the scaffolding and inspect the mosaics up close on the website.

the Uffizi Gallery on the banks of the Arno River
the Uffizi Gallery on the banks of the Arno River

7. 3:00 PM: Uffizi Gallery

Once you’ve taken in the awe-inspiring sights of the Duomo complex, make your way to the Uffizi Gallery.

The museum os Florence’s premier attraction and a must-visit for any art enthusiast. The third most visited site in Italy, the Uffizi lives up to its reputation

The museum boasts the best collection of Italian medieval and Renaissance art on the planet! Its halls are lined with masterpieces by the greats form the 13th through 18th centuries.

This is where you’ll find one of the world’s most iconic paintings, Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.

If your time is limited, you should focus your efforts. The must see halls include:

  • Hall 2 (Giotto)
  • Hall 8 (Lippi)
  • Halls 10-14 (Botticelli)
  • Hall 15 (Leonardo)
  • Hall 41 (Raphael and Michelangelo)
  • Hall 83 (Titian)
  • Hall 90 (Caravaggio)

You really can’t visit without making a reservation in advance. The lines are epically long. Click here to pre-book a timed entry ticket.

Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venice
Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venice

The Uffizi is also a popular place to take a guided tour, because of its history and the sheer number of masterpieces.

You have several options:

I took the 2 hour private tour last time I was there. The guide was excellent and she made the visit more fun for my husband who is not an art expert.

Michelangelo's David in the Galleria dell'Accademia
Michelangelo, David, 1501-04

8. 5:00 PM: Michelangelo’s David

After the Uffizi, the Galleria Accademia is Florence’s most visited museum. People flock in to see what is probably the world’s most famous sculpture, Michelangelo’s commanding statue of David.

The artist was only 26 years old when he began working on this masterpiece. The statue was carved from a single block of Carrara marble.

It stands at an impressive height of approximately 17 feet, making it a truly monumental work. David represents the Biblical hero David, who is most famous for defeating the giant Goliath.

David was commissioned for Florence Cathedral. The city intended to place the statue high above in a niche. But they decided that David was too beautiful for that location.

Michelangelo's Prisoners. Image: Galleria Accademia
Michelangelo’s Prisoners. Image: Galleria Accademia

But there’s more to the Academia than just David. Michelangelo’s Prisoners grace the Hall of the Prisoners.

They are four unfinished male nudes that were originally intended for the Tomb of Pope Julius II.

You can see Michelangelo’s approach to carving. The figures appear to be emerging from the marble. Another must see sculpture is Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women.

Here’s my guide to how to see Michelangelo’s David. You should definitely pre-book a skip the line ticket for this popular Florence attractions.

Botticelli painting at the Accademia
Botticelli painting at the Accademia

The Accademia is also a popular place to book a guided tour. There are several options. You can book:

If you want to visit the Accademia without crowds, you can also book a guided evening visit.

9. 6:30 PM: Dinner

For dinner, I can recommend several restaurants because I’ve eaten my way through Florence on many occasions:

  • Osteria delle Belle Donne
  • Trattoria Camillo
  • Trattoria da Tito
  • Vini e Vecchi Sapora
  • Buca Mario
  • La Giostra

Be sure to make reservations in advance! The Florentine bistecca is amazing!

For the total Florence food experience and more variety, you can also take a guided food tour or a street food tour for the total Florence food experience. Or have dinner at a winery outside Florence.

the Palazzo Vecchio and the Tower of Arnolfo
the Palazzo Vecchio and the Tower of Arnolfo

10. 9:00 PM: Palazzo Vecchio

The Palazzo Vecchio is one of the few sites in Florence open at night. From April to September, it’s open until 11:00 pm. And that’s the best time to visit to avoid crowds.

The Palazzo Vecchio was the seat of government and one of the three palace-residences of the Medici dynasty. It sits in the Piazza della Signoria, which is essentially a free open air sculpture gallery.

It’s definitely worth going inside the palazzo, though so many tourists don’t. If you’re not too exhausted from your busy day, I’d definitely make the effort.

Hall of the Five Hundred in the Palazzo Vecchio, with Giorgio Vasari frescos
Hall of the Five Hundred, with Giorgio Vasari frescos
Michelozzo-designed courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio
Michelozzo-designed courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio

The Palazzo Vecchio is a doughty medieval fortress on the outside and a resplendant Renaissance palace on the inside.

It’s one of Florence’s most historic and important buildings. In some ways, Palazzo Vecchio explains the entire history of Florence.

The Tower of Arnolfo can be climbed, and provides fantastic views over Florence and the Duomo. And the lines aren’t nearly as long as for Brunelleschi’s dome or Giotto’s bell tower.

Inside, you can admire the stunning Michelozzo-designed courtyard, explore the grand Hall of the Five Hundred, admire Michelangelo and Donatello sculptures, and gaze admiringly at beautiful frescos at every turn.

Hall of Lilies in the Palazzo Vecchio, with Donatello's Judith and Holofernes
Hall of Lilies

It’s rumored that the Vasari frescos in the Hall of Five Hundred may hide a “lost” Leonardo da Vinci painting of the Battle of Anghiari.

READ: All the Paintings of Leonardo da Vinci

On the second floor are the sumptuously decorated private rooms of the Medici, with recently restored frescos in the beautiful Apartment of the Elements.

You’ll also find Donatello’s groundbreaking Judith and Holofernes sculpture in the Hall of Lilies.

Click here to pre-book a ticket to Palazzo Vecchio. A 2 hour guided tour includes the palace and a climb of the Tower of Arnolfo. You can also book a private guided tour.

copy of Michelangelo's David at the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio
copy of Michelangelo’s David at the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio

Tips For Spending One Day In Florence

I’ve written an article with my must know tips for visiting Florence, so won’t repeat myself too much here.

But there are some key things to know to make the most of your 1-day Florence itinerary.

1. How To Get Around Florence

Florence isn’t a big city. You can traverse the entire city in 30 minutes.

So plan to walk for the most part. It’s largely pedestrianized, so there’s not traffic besides the locals and scooters.

the Oltrarno district
the Oltrarno district

But there are lots of other fun ways to get around Florence. You can:

2. What Days To Visit Florence

Get the latest opening hours from the tourist information office. Check your guidebook (or go online) to see which sights are open on which days.

In general, Sundays and Mondays are not ideal days for sightseeing in Florence. Many places are either closed or have shorter hours. Sights may also have shorter hours off-season.

the Duomo in Florence

3. Cards and Tickets

If you’re going in high season, it’s essential to book tickets for the must see attractions and museums in advance. But it’s really better to visit in shoulder season in the spring or fall to avoid hordes of tourists.

If you’re only in Florence one day, you won’t need the Firenze Card, which is Florence’s 72 hour museum pass.

Just pre-book individual skip the line tickets on each museum’s website or on Get Your Guide or Viator.

Porta di San Giorgio in the Oltrarno district
Porta di San Giorgio in the Oltrarno district

4. Where To Stay In Florence

There are plenty of amazing hotels in Florence. You’re really spoiled or choice. 

If you want something central, book at the Hotel Brunelleschi or Portrait Firenze. Portrait Firenze is one of the most sought after hotels in Italy and is just steps away from the Ponte Vecchio.

Of course the Four Seasons is always beautiful and in a quiet location. 

The Palazzo Vecchietti is housed in a beautiful 16th century townhouse. The St. Regis is a beauty too, right near Santa Maria Novella. Il Salviatino has a patrician feel and offers Duomo views. 

In the Oltrarno, I really love Villa Cora with its stunning views and Renaissance style suites.

enjoying the views from the Boboli Gardens
enjoying the views from the Boboli Gardens

I hope you enjoyed my one day blitz itinerary for Florence. You may enjoy these other Florence and Italy travel guides:

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Pinterest pin for one day in Florence itinerary
Pinterest pin for one day in Florence itinerary

4 thoughts on “A Jam-Packed One Day In Florence Itinerary”

  1. Really great and very helpful. Having only one day in Florence I felt overwhelmed and not sure where to start
    so this guide just fit the bill


    • I’m so glad! Florence does need more time. But you can do it with advance planning. I’m heading back in May and can’t wait.


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