There is never enough time to fully appreciate all that Florence has to offer- however, if you have to do it all in 3 days, below are our recommendations for the best activities, gelato, and Italian sandwiches around. Days 1 and 2 of this trip are for exploring within the city walls of Florence, and Day 3 is a day trip through Tuscany. We hope you find some inspiration here!
~ Day 1 ~
10:30am – Arrive in Florence, get “Firenze Cards”
If you arrive in the Santa Maria Novella Train Station like we did, walk across the street to get your Firenze Card. At 85 euros per person, it’s not cheap but it will save you quite a bit if you plan on visiting Florence’s churches and museums. The VAST majority of the activities listed below (minus food and drinks) are included with the Firenze Card. It also includes bus tickets and Wifi. Save a little time by purchasing the voucher online first and then exchanging it for a physical card in Florence (you’ll get to skip the line!)
11:00am – Walk through the Medici Chapels (Cappelle Medicee)
Located at the Basilica San Lorenzo, this building features gorgeous 16th and 17th century architecture and tombs of various members of the Medici family. The Medici family ruled Florence during the Renaissance and were wealthy patrons of the arts and humanism.
12:00pm – Visit the Museo di San Marco
Just a short 8-minute walk from the Medici Chapels is this 15th-century Dominican monastery, featuring the art of Far’ Angelico and many others. Take a stroll around Piazza San Marco as well!
1:00pm – See Michelangelo’s “David” at the Galleria dell’Accademia
Take your time admiring the statues and paintings here- you’ll most likely be waiting in line a while- but it’s worth the wait!
3:00pm – Explore the iconic Piazza del Duomo
Walk around the massive “Duomo” (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore), admire Brunelleschi’s dome, and climb Giotto’s “Campanile” (Bell Tower) for incredible panoramic views of the city!
5:15pm – Cross the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and head to Piazzale Michelangelo
From the Duomo, it will be a 25 minute bus ride or a 30 minute walk uphill to Piazzale Michelangelo. Before you grab a seat for sunset, walk around and take a peek at the replica statues and grab a glass of wine at the beverage cart. You won’t be the only ones here, but we promise you won’t find a better spot for sunset in Florence.
6:15pm – Watch the sun set over Florence at Piazzale Michelangelo
If you’re lucky, you’ll be serenaded with a live vocal and acoustic guitar performance at sunset. The warm glow of the sun on the red-roofed buildings, the glimmering city lights that brightened as the sky got darker, and the dancing cotton-candy-colored clouds make for a simply magical experience.
7:30pm – Enjoy family-style dinner platters of meat, cheese, and other finger foods at La Beppa Fioraia
Just a 7-minute walk from Piazzale Michelangelo is this local Italian restaurant. Make sure to take a peek at their back outdoor area- they had an adorable umbrella display when we were there! Take a peek at their website here.
~ Day 2 ~
9:30am – Grab coffee & pastries to go from Caffe Mario
This small corner coffee shop is the perfect place for a quick breakfast to go, and is perfectly positioned facing the Basilica di Santa Croce across the square. Order a “doppio espresso” for a real jolt to your morning!
10:00am – See Basilica di Santa Croce’s gorgeous architecture and tombs of Italian masters
This Franciscan church houses the tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Dante, Machiavelli, and more. It’s referred to as the “Temple of the Italian Glories.” The tombs aren’t the only attraction here, though- stained glass windows, marble statues, artwork, ornate carvings, and elaborate ceilings adorn the inside.
11:00am – Take your time walking through Museo Galileo – Institute and Museum of the History of Science
If you appreciate science, astronomy, history, space, or telescopes, make sure to add this place to your list! It’s collection of items is extremely impressive, and you may find yourself spending more time here than you thought.
12:00pm – Enjoy a fresh Italian sandwich and a glass of wine from All’Antico Vinaio
Don’t be scared off if there’s a line here- it’s absolutely delicious and the line moves fast! The guys who run this place are energetic, charismatic, and make the BEST fresh Italian meat and cheese sandwiches day after day. Just a heads up- you’ll have to take your lunch to go and grab a seat on the curb, as the inside is pretty tiny.
1:00pm – Explore the bustling Piazza della Signoria
This is one of the main town squares, where you can see Palazzo Vecchio (Town Hall), replicas of famous statues in the outdoor Loggia Dei Lanzi, and the Fountain of Neptune.
2:30pm – Admire famous works of art at the Uffizi Gallery
This world-renowned art museum houses Botticelli’s famous “Birth of Venus.” It opened in 1769 and is known as the “Heart of the Renaissance.” Plan your visit online ahead of time to make the most of your time.
4:30pm – Walk to nearby Gelateria Dei Neri for a refreshing afternoon treat
This gelateria is open from 10am-midnight, and was our personal favorite in Florence! The inside is nice, they have a great selection, and the gelato is absolutely delicious. Don’t be ashamed to stop by here a few times during your vacation.
6:30pm – Treat yourself to an authentic Florentine meal at Osteria del Chingiale Bianca
Meaning “White Wild Boar” in English, this restaurant serves… well what do you know, boar! They of course serve amazing traditional Italian food as well. But do yourself a favor and try the board- either as a main event or on your pasta. Their pasta dishes warm your soul, and the service is great. Check out their menu here.
~ Day 3 ~
8:00am – Pick up a rental car in Florence, and get ready for a day trip through Tuscany!
We rented a small 4-door from Hertz, which was all we needed to get around Tuscany. Read up on Italian road rules and rental car information beforehand! Also make sure you have a designated driver if you plan to participate in the wine tastings today.
10:00am – Enjoy a tour and wine tasting at Castello di Verrazzano
This castle was an Etruscan then a Roman settlement, and it has remained there for over 1000 years. We enjoyed the thorough tour of the beautiful property as well as Matt, our knowledgeable and non-snooty guide. The wine tasting experience was lovely- we even got to try some of their balsamic vinegar and see where they prepare the grapes to make “Vin Santo”, also known as “Holy Wine.”
12:45pm – Walk around the hilltop town of San Gimignano
Grab lunch at Pane e Pomodoro- a nice bruschetta, ham, and cheese place off the beaten path. If you’re in the mood for gelato afterwards, try Gelateria Dondoli. Explore the main Piazza del Duomo, window shop, climb the Torre Grossa tower, or try a glass of “Vernaccia” (a local white wine).
3:00pm – Enjoy the Classico tour and tasting at Castello di Brolio / Barone Ricasoli Winery
Located in the Gaiole in Chianti region, the Brolio Castle is the symbol of the Chianti Classico region. The castle is massive and full of interesting historical accounts. The castle and winery are an impressive collaboration of history and modern machines.
5:30pm – Watch the town of Siena turn burnt red-orange as the sun sets
Start at the main Piazza del Campo, see the Duomo and the Fonte Gaia (Fountain of Joy), climb the Torre del Mangia tower, or visit the Permanent Italian Library of Wine (Enoteca Italica Permanente).
6:45pm – Sit down and enjoy an Italian sandwich at La Proscuitteria
This place has Italian meat and cheese sandwiches for reasonable prices, and they have a basement with indoor seating, which can be a plus if you’ve got little ones.
7:30pm – Drive safely back to Florence
The drive home from Siena to Florence should be just over an hour. Be sure to refill the gas tank along the Autostrada just outside of town before you return your car rental!
And that, my friends, is the end of our 3-day tour through Florence!
“Florence’s is a subtle beauty—its staid, unprepossessing palaces built in local stone
are not showy, even though they are very large. They take on a certain magnificence when day breaks and when the sun sets; their muted colors glow in this light.”-Fodor’s
Check out our 25-page Florence Travel Planning Kit to help you quickly and efficiently plan your trip, It includes a detailed hour-by-hour 3-day itinerary spreadsheet, blank packing lists, and other blank travel planning templates for you to utilize and copy. (It’s an instant digital download!)
We hope that this article helps you with planning your Florence vacation! Comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or if you want to tell us what you did with our advice! We’d love to hear from you 🙂