2 DAYS IN FLORENCE – Secret tips from a local!
Are you going to Florence (Firenze) in Italy and you only have 2 days to discover it? That indeed is a tricky task, but here we come to help you plan your perfect itinerary!
I have spoken with Antonia Fest, a Florence expert, to get you covered!
In this guide, we will show you hour-by-hour how to see the best of Florence in 2 full days and truly make the most of your limited time in this magical city!
To make the planning easier we have selected the best hotels, restaurants, and activities including those secret spots only locals know about.
Let’s dive in!
Table of contents
FLORENCE – BASIC FACTS
Florence is one of the most visited cities in the world. And it doesn’t matter if you are young or old, traveling on a budget or seeking a luxurious escape, a solo traveler, or a family, Florence will have something for everyone!
Why is it so special? First of all, it is the main city in Tuscany, a world-famous region in Italy. Secondly, As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city’s historic center brims with beautiful and important sights, one after the other! Lastly, its food and wine will make any trip an enjoyable experience.
But let me tell you one thing. This 1 day in Florence will certainly not be enough time to fully explore the city, but it is more than enough time to fall in love with it!
So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive in and plan the perfect 2 days in Florence for you!
CHECK OUR GUIDE TO 1 DAY IN FLORENCE HERE
ARE 2 DAYS IN FLORENCE ENOUGH?
2 days are a good start to see Florence. Of course, you will not get to see all it has to offer, but you will cover the majority of the famous sights and landmarks and eat at some of the best and most authentic restaurants. That said, those two days will be action-packed and you better have some comfortable shoes on!
In the itinerary below, we have done our best to cut all that is unnecessary and worked on logistics from getting from one place to another to help you fall in love with Florence by showing you the best of it in 48 hours.
Florence is located in the central part of Italy in the famous region of Tuscany (Toscana in Italian). There are many ways of getting to Florence:
If you come from outside of Italy then it will be easiest for you to fly to Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR). It is located about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the city center, making it very accessible either by taxi (around 25 EUR) or public transportation.
In case you cannot find a direct flight to Florence or the direct flight is too expensive (which is often the case) try flying either to Pisa or Rome.
Florence is very easy to reach by train from other cities both in Italy and Europe, especially if you only plan on spending 1 day here. The main train station in Florence is called Santa Maria Novella. If you travel across Italy then you will be very easily and quickly able to get to Florence from major Italian cities such as Rome, Milan, Venice as well and Naples, making it a convenient and environmentally friendly way to travel.
CHECK ITALY'S 10 BEST RESTAURANTS WITH A VIEW HERE
BEST TIME TO VISIT
As anywhere in Italy avoid at all costs July and particularly August. It will be not only overcrowded but also overpriced! So when should you go? Ideally from May until mid-October. That said if you are lucky with the weather mid-April can be amazing and much emptier than other months. If you do come in April make sure to avoid Easter and the days around it, as it will be expensive and again overcrowded.
PRO TIP: If you do decide to come in late spring or summer try coming during the week, avoiding the weekends.
CHECK OUR GUIDE TO THE 10 BEST THINGS TO DO IN LAKE COMO HERE
2 DAYS IN FLORENCE – ITINERARY
The secret to experiencing Florence in 2 days is getting an early start and finishing off late so make sure you have an early night the day before are full of energy and have comfortable shoes on! Off we go!
If you want to skip breakfast at the hotel and enjoy it like the locals, head to Piazza Santo Spirito. Enjoy your cappuccino and cornetto on the outdoor seats at Cafe Volume and watch Florence wake up.
The Uffizi Galleries are not to be missed. This is one of the most important museums in the world and displays masterpieces by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and more.
TIP: Make sure to book your ticket ahead so you don’t waste precious time standing in line. Always go to the Uffizi in the morning (doors open at 8:15) and on a weekday as it tends to be less busy.
Drag yourself from the endless delights of the Uffizi and wander over to Via Tornabuoni with all its luxury shops. Among them is Procacci, a wine and truffle bar serving finger-sized brioche sandwiches filled with truffle paste (a secret recipe!). One or two of these will fill you with renewed energy and keep you going!
Just a few steps away from Procacci is your next stop. The Collezione Roberto Casamonti is a modern and contemporary art collection located in a marvelous 16th-century palazzo. Enjoy the contrast between old architecture and new art by some of the world’s most iconic names.
Otherwise, if you need a break from art, visit a market to inspire the eye and tickle the tastebuds. The Mercato Centrale’s lower floor is full of individual stalls selling seasonal produce piled high. It is tempting to purchase one of everything to take home with you! One floor up, you will find food stands serving ready-to-eat Tuscan treats in an equally lively space.
If you want to shop like the locals, then head towards Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio which is a more authentic marketplace. You can already stop for lunch here at Trattoria da Rocco a no-frills nook within the market hall. You can’t beat the dishes, the vibe or the service.
Its not always easy to find excellent restaurants in the touristic areas but Vini e Vecchi Sapori is an exception. Tucked behind the Piazza della Signoria, this informal and homely osteria serves not only high quality but also low fuss dishes.
TIP: The Pappardelle di sugo d’anatra (duck ragu’) is excellent and goes well with a fine Chianti wine.
A little bit of shopping never hurt anyone and Florence is certainly full of one-of-a-kind stores. Begin at the Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella on Via della Scala. This historic 13th-century perfumery and herbalist shop hosts room after room of the finest scents in every form. Beyond the products, the rooms themselves are a sight to behold – a true emporium!
Florence is also famous for its leather production. The Mercato di San Lorenzo and the Mercato del Porcellino are two important marketplaces selling almost exclusively leather products. The real shops however tend to have higher quality and value products Benheart is a reliable and fun option selling a large variety of garments and accessories.
Finally, a pair of furlane slippers is always the perfect souvenir. Head to Heart to Heart in Via Santo Spirito for a range of colours and styles. You will want to buy every item! Further down the road is Ortigia, a famous scent shop with bold packaging and strong scents. They evoke summers in southern Italy.
Finally, back on Via Tornabuoni where you enjoyed that truffle brioche, there is Ginori 1735. This is a famous chinaware company, the design of which is synonymous with Florentine style. Their products are at once classic and contemporary, and their regular collaborations with current icons always deliver beautiful collections.
Either continue shopping or if you want to spend the afternoon discovering more artistic masterpieces, visit the Accademia Gallery. Here you will meet Michelangelo’s statue of David, one of the world’s most famous works of art. Beyond this, the small museum displays more paintings and sculptures which trace the rich history of Florence.
TIP: Always book your ticket in advance – there is usually a long queue to see the David!
When you are almost done with your 2-day itinerary in Florence and the golden hour hits, it’s time for an aperitivo. It’s not always easy to secure a seat at Palazzo Guadagni, but a perfect alternative is Hotel Continentale. It is right next to the Ponte Vecchio and you should always book in advance. If you can’t get a seat at any rooftop bar but are desperate for a view, head to Piazzale Michelangelo. It is a large square only reached by an uphill climb, about 20 minutes from the Porta San Niccolo. From there, you can see the entire city glowing under the setting sun. Grab a bottle of Tuscan wine and some nibbles from a supermarket and begin the climb up.
However, if you prefer to stay at ground level, there is the famous Piazza Santo Spirito. Not only is it always buzzing with activity but is also full of locals!
For a truly magical evening, book La Giostra. This restaurant transports you to another world. Fairylights cover the entire ceiling and candles cover the tables. Dishes are prepared and presented with utmost care.
TIP: At La Giostra, the bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine T-Bone steak which you must try) is well-known for its quality.
A perfect day in Florence should end with an after-dinner drink in town. You have a variety of options to choose from. Down the road from La Giostra, is the endlessly elegant Atrium Bar at the Four Seasons which oozes with luxury. If you want to keep drinking those famous Tuscan wines, Il Santino is a low-key wine bar adored by locals.
If you’re still full of energy, head over to Jazz Club Firence next to the Florence Cathedral. Live music performances and an intimate dancefloor promise a great end to the night!
Enjoy a well-crafted coffee at Ditta Artigianale in Via dello Sprone. Depending on the weather, you can sit in the quiet square at the back otherwise enjoy, the cool, vintage interiors. Beyond an excellent caffeine hit, they also prepare a range of pastries as well as cooked breakfast.
20 meters away from breakfast lies the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens. This vast structure was once the residence of the Medici Family, the old rulers of Florence. Within its walls lie countless masterpieces bedecking every inch of the lavish rooms. Another treat are the verdant Boboli Gardens where endless surprises lie in wait as you stroll around. Don’t miss the Tiffany-blue house or the Annalena Grotto!
For a mid-morning snack, head to Sbrino on Via dei Serragli. This makes 100% natural ice cream with all sorts of local and seasonal ingredients! One of the best gelateria in town that only a few tourists know about!
After fuelling up on ice cream, stay on Via Dei Serragli to explore the vintage shops (like Momo Vintage or Recollection by Albrici), designer boutiques (like Ultra) art galleries (like Studio Antonella Bussanich), delicatessens (like Salumeria Pirgher Marzio or S. Forno) which line the street. They contain many treasures regardless of whether you want to max out the credit card or simply enjoy some window shopping.
Get ready to work up your appetite and walk to the other side of town. Located just outside the medieval city walls, this is the friendliest, coziest, does-it-best trattoria. At Alla Vecchia Bettola you will sit at communal tables whilst lively waiters navigate the narrow spaces to serve up some of the most delicious Tuscan treats. Their specialty is the ‘Penne alla Bettola’, a silky smooth tomato pasta which no words are good enough to describe! Make sure to try their tiramisu.
In case it’s booked up, a strong alternative is l’Brindellone. It is very rustic, and unpretentious, and serves bold Tuscan food. The truffle pasta is a must and you will like how little it costs!
After lunch, you have the opportunity to digest by visiting the Florence Cathedral. The spectacular Duomo complex (dome) is the city’s crowning glory (you see it along with the bell tower from miles away!). Its exterior is already a treat for the eyes but inside, there is more to behold. You must see it regardless if you spend 1 or 2 days in Florence! You simpy cannot leave without it!
TIP: Book a ticket that allows you to climb the dome. It is a long walk up but the views you get from the top are breathtaking! You are at the beating heart of Florence wth the city and Tuscan hills surrounding you on all sides! Note: don’t do this if you are either claustrophobic or scared of heights!
However, if you prefer to avoid teetering heights and hefty exercise, head to the Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria. This is the official government building of Florence but is also a functioning museum filled with gorgeous gilded interiors.
TIP: If you book a guided tour, you will be shown parts of the Palazzo which aren’t open to the public. This includes a secret passageway to a hidden chapel. You can also climb the Palazzo Vecchio’s tower for more beautiful viewpoints!
By now it’s high time for a well-deserved aperitivo. Head to Le Volpi e L’Uva, just right behind the Ponte Vecchio. This wine bar serves a range of exquisite local wines along with truly delicious crostini.
7:30 or 9:00 PM
Without a doubt, the Dinner at Trattoria Sostanza will be the highlight of your day! This is one of the most authentic and charming restaurants in the entire city! The food, the service as well as the atmosphere are in a league of their own. You must order the artichoke omelette and the butter chicken which arrives at your table still sizzling.
TIP: There are two seatings at dinner (19.30 or 21.00). But the later slot is better as you don’t need to rush through your meal. Also, make sure to book in advance.
To end your 2 days in Florence in pure style, enjoy your drink at glamorous Locale. This restaurant and cocktail bar is in a 16th-century palazzo yet serves cutting-edge cocktails. It creates a beautiful contrast with the historic interiors. Otherwise, Piazza Santo Spirito will once again be your reliable friend. The piazza becomes an open-air bar with crowds sitting in every nook and cranny drinking night away!
TOP TIP: As you stroll around Florence, make sure to go into every church that you pass by. Most are not only saturated with important history and beauty but also home to some extraordinary artworks by famous names. There are hidden gems lying in wait. Our TOP 3 are: Santo Spirito, Santa Maria Novella, and San Minato al Monte.
WHERE TO STAY IN FLORENCE
Even if you visit Florence for 2 nights, it would be nice to stay somewhere authentic and special. Luckily, Florence has a place to stay for every budget, but please find below our top choices for staying in this magical city.
By now, this hotel’s terrace is famous for its prime spot to enjoy aperitivo at golden hour. That said, one should not overlook Palazzo Guadagni for its services beyond its Aperol Spritz. Situated at the social hub of the city, it is ideally located on the corner of Piazza Santo Spirito.
Right in front of the hotel, there is a host of bars and restaurants which both locals and tourists frequent. The rooms are spacious, characterful, and charming, the staff is more than accommodating. Above all, the crowning glory is the view from the bedrooms (and terrace bar) overlooking the Piazza Santo Spirito and beyond!
CHECK MY COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF PALAZZO GUADAGNI OR BOOK DIRECTLY HERE.
Palazzo D’Oltrarno used to be a noble residence for the Florentine elite. However, it is the perfect option for a more budget-friendly yet comfortable stay! There are 6 massive bedrooms and the location is ideal in Borgo San Frediano. This means that you will be close to a bunch of cool new restaurants and bars as well as Santo Spirito. You can book it here.
This fairytale hotel is located on the outskirts of Florence. Even though it is about a 20-minute walk from the city walls it is worth adding in the extra steps. Hotel Torre Belvedere is a medieval palazzo that has maintained all the character of its bygone days.
A bonus is the swimming pool overlooking the stunning panorama of Florence! And if it wasn’t enough the hotel has olive groves and vineyards on all sides. Make sure to also have a drink in the sun-drenched conservatory. It is beautiful and in the evening it is full of candles! You can book it here.
Nothing other than an institution, the Four Seasons is the ultimate luxury hotel experience. Although it is right in the heart of Florence, the ornate rooms breathe the tranquillity of a Tuscan countryside escape. What is better than waking up under 17th-century frescoed ceilings, and indulging in a perfectly crafted cappuccino (or two!) before exploring Florence?
Whether you are staying overnight or dining at the Michelin-starred restaurant you will have a faultless Florentine experience. The service is impeccable, the interiors are a treat for the eyes, and every one of your needs are met.
TIP: Make sure you come and see Four Seasons even if you aren’t staying here overnight! You can for example have a drink at Atrium Bar.
YOU CAN BOOK DIRECTLY HERE.
If you want to enjoy Florence in classic style, look no further than the Hotel Lungarno. It belongs to the Ferragamo family, who are also an important Florentine fashion house.
You will find it right along the river on one of Florence’s best streets. The bonus is that the bedrooms overlook the magnificent Ponte Vecchio! Book here.
FINAL TIPS FOR YOUR 2 DAYS IN FLORENCE
Florence truly is a special place and you will fall in love with the city, even if you only have 2 days to discover it!
Please consider the following points to make the most of your trip:
- Try to visit Florence outside of peak seasons as it gets extremely overcrowded and hence expensive.
- Booking early is key! This applies to hotels, museums, and restaurants.
- Start your day early and beat the queues. It would be a pity to waste time queuing if you only have 2 days in Florence!