In today’s post, I’m sharing our 1 day Florence itinerary.
We finished off our recent trip to Europe with a week in Italy. Adding Italy to the end of a Europe itinerary is like an insurance policy on your travel plans: no matter what happens, if you end the trip in Italy, it will have been a good trip.
We happened to be planning our trip around the same time as some of our close friends, so we all kind of moved our itineraries around to overlap in Italy. We all stayed in an Airbnb in Tuscany together with our kids and had SO much fun. (My thoughts on visiting Tuscany with kids and our time in San Gimignano here).
The villa we stayed in was in Montaione, a tiny town about an hour outside of Florence.
We daytripped as a group to Florence one day, and then Tyler and I drove over and spent one morning in Florence by ourselves. (We organized one “date day” with our friends where we all took turns watching each other’s kids. Genius, if I do say so myself).
I had only been to Florence once before in college as part of a whirlwind rampage through Italy before my study abroad program started. I was SO excited to go back with Tyler and the girls.
Florence is such a fun city. It’s full of renaissance history and architecture and seems to run on this captivating hum. Like Rome on a smaller scale, it’s chaotic and crowded, but you can’t help but fall in love.
Because it does get quite crowded, you’ll want to be strategic about your time, especially if you’re visiting in the busy summer months.
I’ve put together a straightforward itinerary that includes our “musts.” You can easily spend several days in Florence, but if you prefer to avoid the chaos and want to be in and out, this post is for you.
(Nearly every guide I write starts with coffee, and for that I couldn’t be more proud).
Ditta Artigianale Neri is, admittedly, one of the more “touristy” coffee shops in Florence, but as you’ll see with most of this guide, sometimes things are touristy for a reason. Order yourself a cold brew or espresso and get ready to take the city by storm.
And for those who have been subsisting on pizza and pasta (as you should be), there is an amazing smoothie shop called Base V just down the street.
Once you’re properly nourished and caffeinated, it’s time to head to the Academia. This gallery famously houses Michealangelo’s David sculpture and is well worth a visit.
However, the queue is notoriously long because they only let a certain number of people in at a time. Ideally, you’ll want to purchase tickets and reserve a time slot ahead of time on this website. If you know your travel plans, do this ASAP because tickets sell out far in advance.
If you can’t get tickets in advance, here’s what we did to skip the line:
Our plans were a bit up in the air for our week in Italy, so we didn’t purchase tickets to the Academia ahead of time. When Tyler and I spent the morning in Florence by ourselves, though, we decided to make our way over and take a look at the line. How bad could it be? Well, we arrived 15 minutes after the gallery opened, and the queue was already 3 (three!) hours long.
After waiting in line for 20 minutes with zero forward progression, I made my way over to a group of guys holding those “skip the line” tour group signs. I asked one of the guys when the next tour was leaving, and he said in an hour. THEN I asked him, “what if I have my own tour group?” He told me that if I could come up with 4 other people, he could get us in right away.
So, I went and gathered a few of our line buddies, and the guy collected $30 from each of us (exactly double the price of a standalone ticket). He introduced us to our lovely tour guide and walked us straight into the museum! This was well worth the extra cost to skip the line and have our very own tour guide which gave us a much richer experience than if we had just walked through on our own.
After your date with David, you might be ready for some lunch. All’Antico Vinaio is a world-famous sandwich shop that serves up stacks of meat and cheese on their gorgeous housemade focaccia bread. This place is ridiculously popular, and rightfully so. There are actually a handful of storefronts all on this same street, so even though it looks crowded, everything moves pretty quickly and smoothly.
After lunch, the right thing to do is grab a scoop (or two) of gelato from Gelateria del Nero.
After lunch, spend the afternoon wandering Florence’s sites.
I recommend following Rick Steves’ Renaissance tour which you can listen to with an AirPod as you walk, if that’s your thing. His Renaissance walking tour and walking tour of the Academy can both be found at this link if you scroll down to the Florence section. Or, grab his pocket guide to Florence if you prefer a physical copy.
This tour starts at the Duomo, so if you are interested in climbing to the top, now’s the time. (This is a very cool but very claustrophobic experience).
The tour will take you through the city, making stops along the way. If you’re visiting Florence with kids, veer off at stop #6 and head to the Piazza della Repubblica where there is a gorgeous vintage merry-go-round. My kids LOVED this.
Stop #12 of the tour is at the Uffizi Gallery–if you have time in your day to tour the museum itself, go ahead and plan to do so at this point.
The tour ends at the Ponte Vecchio, a historic bridge on the Arno River.
Optional schedule switch: In a perfect world, you’d be out at 7am to explore the city’s most iconic sites before anyone else wakes up. This is my absolute favorite way to see a new place. If you can do the walking tour first thing in the morning, go ahead and plan on that before you hit the Acadmedia. However, I know that early mornings don’t always happen which is why I’ve placed the walking tour after lunch on this itinerary.
Order a bellini or espresso (or, both, if you’re like us), and relax. I love to balance a busy day of exploring with an hour of people watching at a cafe. And the Gucci bar is, in my opinion, worth the hype (although we did not order any food!).
And if you’re not in the mood for a drink during your walking tour, circle back later in the day.
Once you make it to the Ponte Vecchio, cross the river and make your way over to the Villa Bardini. The gardens at this villa are gorgeous and set on the hillside, making this a perfect place to escape the crowds and catch a view of the city. Grab a drink at this bar at the top of the gardens and enjoy the views.
If you’re daytripping into Florence, you can either end your day here or head back into the city center to find a drink and dinner.
Because we were only in Florence during the daytime, we didn’t have any nice sit down meals–tragic, I know! However, we did receive a bunch of great recommendations, so I’m going to mention a few of them here:
Trattoria Sergio Gozzi (famous for their ravioli!)
I hope this post was helpful! Have the best time in Florence.
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It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?