How to Spend One Day in Florence

one day in florence
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Embarking on my 10-week solo adventure across Europe, it was on the fifth week that Florence, with its timeless allure, welcomed me into its enchanting embrace.  Here I was, reveling in the vibrant streets at 2 am, consumed by an exhilarating energy.  Giggling like a child, I couldn’t contain my joy at the serendipity of landing in this ancient city, where I relished the rare tranquility that replaced the usual tourist crowds.  Perhaps the Chianti wine from a delightful steak dinner earlier, arranged by friendly locals, had added to my elation.  Swaying down the cobblestone streets, my wedges protesting, I hummed along to Taylor Swift, realizing that this moment encapsulated pure happiness—a testament to saying “yes” to adventure and finding myself in the magical embrace of Florence.

Florence, the capital of Tuscany wine region in Northern Italy, remains a cherished destination for art enthusiasts, housing over 60% of the world’s artistic heritage.  Although a true destination in itself, even a fleeting 24 hours in Florence can ignite a profound love for Italian culture, cuisine, and art.

 

1 Day in Florence:  Unraveling the City’s Treasures

After spending six wonderful days in Naples and Rome – thanks to an intense pizza craving I  had after drinking one too many martinis in Budapest (you can read about that here); I hopped on a train north to see what Florence was all about.  Curiosity lingered:  would Florence exceed my expectations or fall pretty to the tourist traps that plagued Venice?  Stepping off the train, luggage in hand, I instantly knew that Florence was all that I had dreamed of and more.

Navigating through twisting roads, maneuvering past taxis, cars, tourists, and locals, I found gelato shops on every corner and pizza joints on every other. Warm smiles and “Ciao Bella!” greetings echoed amidst the flurry of activity. Approaching my apartment – Genteel Home Piazza Pitti, I mustered the courage to cross the famous, bustling Ponte Vecchio Bridge, which gleamed brighter and more captivating under the sun than any filtered photograph on Instagram. Settling into my apartment, I hastily dropped my bags, eager to embark on an exploration of this captivating city.

 


For more information about visiting Florence, including where to stay, don’t miss:  A Complete Guide to Visiting Florence


 

Embracing the Morning and Afternoon in Florence

Begin your morning in Florence with the sunrise, savoring the city’s tranquil moments. Seek respite at Café Scudieri, where an espresso and croissant fuel the day ahead, before venturing across the usually bustling Ponte Vecchio Bridge.  As the city awakens, explore the many “squares” on foot, with over 20 in the city center alone, offering a delightful mix of restaurants, gelato parlors, wine bars, and souvenir shops.  Among the many squares I stumbled upon, Piazza della Signoria stole my heart, boasting Palazzo Vecchio, home to a replica of Michelangelo’s iconic Statue of David.  Continue your journey by crossing the Ponte Santa Trinita for views of Ponte Vecchio, ultimately leading to Pitti Square, where the expansive Palazzo Pitti houses the captivating Boboli Gardens.  Florence’s walkability allows you to experience a significant portion of the city in just a few hours, ticking off essential sites from your list.

 

EAT LIKE A LOCAL!  BOOK A FOOD TOUR WITH DEVOUR TOURS.

 

ACCADEMIA GALLERY – The Treasures Within

Accademia Gallery, holds an esteemed position in art history, featuring the iconic David statue by Michelangelo.  Don’t miss the opportunity to step inside and witness this masterpiece firsthand. Michelangelo, using marble from 1501 to 1504, meticulously crafted David, depicting the biblical figure with awe-inspiring precision.  Palazza Vecchio offers more than just David, as it harbors an array of artistic treasures.  To avoid crowds, arrive early, as the museum opens at 9 am.  I suggest booking tickets in advance so you’re able to skip the line.

 

PITTI PALACE & BOBOLI GARDENS – Tranquility and Delight

As you venture through Florence, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Pitti Palace, a grand architectural masterpiece that holds a rich historical significance.  Located adjacent to the Boboli Gardens, this palatial residence dates back to the 15th century and has a fascinating past.

Originally the residence of Florence’s influential Medici family, the Pitti Palace is a testament to their opulence and patronage of the arts.  It underwent significant expansions and renovations over the centuries, resulting in a stunning blend of Renaissance and Baroque styles.

Once you’ve immersed yourself in the splendor of the Pitti Palace, venture into the enchanting Boboli Gardens that lie just behind it.  Designed in 1549, these gardens are a testament to the artistry and vision of their creators.  Explore the carefully manicured lawns, meandering paths, and hidden corners that reveal a harmonious blend of nature and human ingenuity.  Prepare to be enchanted by the breathtaking vistas of Florence’s cityscape.

I recommend purchasing a combined ticket ahead of time so that you’re able to skip the line and gain immediate access to the palace.

 

For lunch, there’s a variety of restaurants to choose from.  If you’re looking for something casual, I suggest Gustapizza, All’Antico Vinaio, or I Fratellini.  For a more elegant, sit-down lunch, I suggest La Menagerie.

 

Embracing the Evening Magic in Florence

No visit to Florence is complete without witnessing the enchantment of Piazzale Michelangelo.  Embark on a rewarding hike to the hilltop and behold the breathtaking panoramic views of the city.  Before ascending, take a moment to grab a bottle of wine… an ideal companion for the awe-inspiring scenery that awaits.  I recommend arriving well before sunset to snag a seat to witness Florence bathed in a mesmerizing glow, resembling a city set ablaze.  As the night unfolds, let the twinkling street lamps guide you back down the hill, leading you into the heart of the town.

After descending from Piazza Michelangelo reward yourself with an authentic culinary experience at one of the many restaurants in town such as Atelier de’ Nerli, La Giostra, Osteria dell’Enoteca, or Osteria Vecchio Cancello.

Before retiring for the night, take a moment to revel in the cozy ambiance of Il Santino.  This intimate establishment offers a haven for wine enthusiasts, serving a delightful selection of local wines.  Or if you’re craving a cocktail – the speakeasy bar Rasputin is an ideal choice.  Either option provides the perfect conclusion to your one-day adventure in this captivating city.

 

ARE YOU PLANNING TO SPEND ONE DAY IN FLORENCE BEFORE RENTING A CAR AND EXPLORING MORE OF TUSCANY?

 

Traveling to Florence

Embarking on a one-day adventure in Florence allows you to immerse yourself in the charm of this remarkable Italian city.  While ideally, more time would be devoted to this captivating destination, here is how to get to Florence from both Rome and Venice.

 

From Rome

Rome is located 170-miles  south of Florence.  There are multiple different ways to travel between the two cities, see your options below!

 

BY TRAIN

Discover the convenience and efficiency of Italy’s renowned train system.  Hop aboard the the train, where you can find a non-stop, high-speed option that swiftly transports you from Rome to Florence in just 1.5 hours.  I prefer to book tickets through Omio for train travel.

 

BY AIRPLANE

For those seeking a quicker alternative, consider flying from Rome to Florence.  With a flight duration of under an hour, you can enjoy the convenience of reaching your destination swiftly.

 

BY BUS

If you prefer a more leisurely journey, a bus ride from Rome to Florence offers scenic views along the way. Opt for Flixbus, a reliable choice when exploring Europe, and prepare for a non-stop route lasting around 3-4 hours.

 

BY CAR

For an adventurous and flexible experience, rent a car and embark on a road trip through Italy.  Enjoy the freedom of navigating through picturesque Italian towns, encountering off-the-beaten-path villages. While the journey takes a little over three hours without stops, getting lost might just lead to unexpected discoveries—a quintessentially Italian experience.

When booking a car, I prefer to use Discover Cars to compare prices across multiple different rental companies.

 


If you are traveling to Florence from Rome (or vice versa), don’t miss:  A Complete Guide to Visiting Rome


 

From Venice

Venice is located 160-miles  northeast of Florence.  There are multiple different ways to travel between the two cities, see your options below!

 

BY TRAIN

Direct trains also operate between Venice and Florence.  This journey will take around three hours departing from Venice Santa Lucia and arriving in Florence Santa Maria Novella.  I prefer to book tickets on Omio when searching for train travel.

 

BY BUS

Opt for the comfort and convenience of a bus ride from Venice to Florence. Flixbus provides reliable service, offering a non-stop route with a travel time of approximately four hours.

 

BY CAR

Similar to the Rome-Florence route, traveling by car offers the opportunity for a scenic road trip.  Rent a car and traverse the Italian countryside, relishing the chance to explore charming villages along the way.  With a travel time slightly over three hours, the journey promises memorable experiences and unexpected delights.

When booking a car, I prefer to use Discover Cars to compare prices across multiple different rental companies.

 

While experiencing the essence of Florence in a single day is ambitious, it is possible to glimpse its treasures.  However, if time permits, I highly recommend extending your stay to fully immerse yourself in the wonders this enchanting Italian city has to offer.

Enjoy your journey through Florence, where history, art, and culinary delights await at every turn.

 

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Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no cost to you.

 


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Kylee is a NICU nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee has been a NICU nurse for 9 years and a travel nurse for 7 years. Since starting her career in travel nursing, she’s worked in six different states, 10 different hospitals, volunteered as a nurse in North Macedonia, worked as a nurse in Saudi Arabia, and has traveled to 45+ countries. Her favorite travel nurse assignment was in Seattle and her favorite destination is Georgia (the country). Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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