A practical travel guide to visiting Florence in one day. 1 day Florence itinerary with the most famous attractions and practical tips for time-poor visitors.
Florence is a city full of attractions and things to see and a place that deserves well over a day to be fully explored.
However, it is also a city with a compact city center and since most of Florence must-see attractions and landmarks are in this area, you may see a good amount of places even with a limited amount of time.
In this guide, we are going to share our itinerary for a day in Florence and what you can see if you have only a few hours in the city, for instance, if you are visiting Florence as a day trip from Rome.
These are the best places to visit in Florence in 1 day or, if you only see the attractions from the outside, a few hours.
To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature. – Mark Twain, American writer(Find more quotes about Italy here)
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Visiting Florence in one day: need to know
If you are in Florence for its museums, the best way to plan your day is to book a visit there first and stay flexible with what else to do during the day.
The Uffizi in particular is huge so it is wise to make that the focus on your day and consider the rest a nice-to-have, if you get to it.
I highly recommend you book tickets in advance. My favorite tickets providers and tours are (check the small print for cancellation policies, they are usually very generous):
Good to know: the Uffizi are just beside Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio. Accademia is close to Santa Maria del Fiore and Mercato San Lorenzo. Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens are close to Ponte vecchio and Piazzale Michelangelo.
This is not an excessively long walking itinerary however, if you are visiting Florence with young kids, you may want to check out our family-friendly itinerary instead.
One day Florence Itinerary: morning
If you only have one day to visit Florence, chances are you are either staying in the city center the night before or you are coming to the city by train.
So our itinerary (which is the one we ourselves followed) starts from Florence’s main train station, Santa Maria Novella.
Good to know: If you are spending one night in the city, you can find the best area to stay in Florence for sightseeing here.
Start the morning at Santa Maria Novella
Santa Maria Novella is one of the most important and beautiful churches in Florence and it is just beside the main city’s train station by the same name.
The church overlooks a large square and I feel it is a great introduction to the city of Florence.
It has a stunning facade and interior and very interesting history that immediately allows you to tap into the medieval and renaissance past of the city.
Close to the church you also have a fantastic and unique place: the ancient Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy (Officina Profumo Santa Maria Novella), dating back to the 1300s!
Head to Piazza Duomo
As you leave Piazza Santa Maria Novella, you will see another incredible building peeking through traffic and houses, a building with a distinctive colorful facade and massive orange dome: Florence’s duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore)!
From Santa Maria Novella it is a short stroll to the duomo along a commercial street and while you have the view of the cathedral in front of you most of the time, nothing prepares you for the real thing once you get to its feet.
Florence’s duomo is simply stunning!
The complex of the duomo is made of 3 elements, all complementing each other and each more beautiful than the next: the duomo itself, the bell tower (Giotto’s campanile) and a baptistry.
All of them are worth visiting but first, I highly recommend you sit in one of the cafes in the square and take it all in (check prices: some are surprisingly reasonable but some are not!).
The best way to visit the cathedral and tower is to book access in advance. Some tours to consider are:
- Official Duomo Tour
- Florence Cathedral, Dome and Terraces Guided Tour
- Florence Duomo Complex Guided Tour
- Giotto’s belltower and museum tour
Have lunch in Mercato Centrale
After visiting the duomo chances are you will be ready for a bite to eat.
This area is generous with restaurants and cafes so you will really have zero issues finding a place however, one place that is worth considering is nearby Mercato Centrale.
The market is in the area of San Lorenzo, which is also where you find the Medici Chapels, worth seeing, and it is a great place for lunch as it has lots of choices and some fun artisanal food stalls worth seeing.
Good to know: the market has both food shops and restaurants and a great place to learn fun and interesting facts about Italian food by locals!
One day in Florence: afternoon
Walk to Piazza della Signoria
After lunch, you are ready to dive into the heart of Florence city center, the area between Duomo and Piazza della Signoria.
The walk is short but beautiful and will bring you among historic palazzi and shops and then to the piazza and its famous buildings and statues
Your attention will probably first be grabbed by the tall towers of stunning Palazzo Vecchio but there is a lot more to see here too.
The Loggia dei Lanzi is beautiful, the statues and fountains dominating the piazza are all worth seeing and you also find yourself close to the Uffizi, which occupy an impressive building
As I mentioned above, if you want to see the Uffizi and you only have one day in Florence, the best way to do so is to book that first and plan your day around it.
For this itinerary, I am assuming you are not going into the museum but only admire its outside.
Walk across Ponte Vecchio
After Piazza della Signoria you find yourself crossing the external yard of Uffizi building and then on the Arno river, at Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio is a bridge connecting the city center to the area called Oltrarno but it also much more than that.
Unlike a normal bridge, it has shops on both sides (mostly jewelers and goldsmiths) and you feel like you are on a street rather than a bridge!
Ponte Vecchio is worth crossing by before you do so, make sure you take a photo of it from the banks of the river: one of the best photo spots in Florence.
Fun fact: when Ponte Vecchio started operating as a market area, the shops here were mostly grocers and butcher, who would use the river to throw the left overs of the day’s trading. This created a terrible stench in the area and, finally ,broughthte city to declare only goldsmiths and jewellers could trade from here! You can learn this and more fun facts about Florence here.
At the other end of Ponte Vecchio you find yourself in the area of Oltrarno, a nice leafy local area with important attractions and pleasant feel.
Here you have the famous Pitti Palace with the Boboli gardens, the beautiful Santo Spirito Church and you also have access to the climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo, from where you get stunning views over Florence.
The walk to Piazzale Michelangelo is not too long but it is up a hill: if you prefer not to tackle it, you can get the bus – it only takes a few minutes.
Evening: Dinner in Santa Croce
Depending on how much time you spent at each of these stops, you may be able to add an extra one: dinner in the are od Santa Croce (if you don’t, Oltrarno is also lovely for dinner)
This is a beautiful area in Florence city center, back on the side of the river where the duomo and the station are, and it has a large number of restaurants and bars.
It is a lovely place to end your evening before heading back to your hotel or the station and a lovely place to finish your one day in Florence.
I hope you enjoyed this walking itinerary around Florence and it helped you decided the best places to see. Safe travel planning!