The perfect itinerary for 1 day in Florence, Italy

Nov 23, 2022

Do you have just 1 day to spend in Florence (Firenze), Italy? 

Florence is my absolute FAVORITE place in Europe.

It sounds cliche, but the city really does breathe with art, romance, history, and charm. From the narrow, winding, cobblestone streets to the incredible marbled fountains, world renowned art museums, and unbelievable food, sights, and culture, how can you make the most of just one perfect day there?

Also, Florence is also the birthplace of gelato. So what are you waiting for?!  Check out my carefully curated 1 day Florence itinerary!

How to spend 1 day in Florence, Italy

With only 1 day in Florence, you really need to stay at a hotel within easy walking distance to the city centre that includes breakfast. To make the most of your one full day, breakfast is the meal to skimp spending precious time on. As a foodie, I don’t usually recommend a hotel breakfast over hitting the streets to find authentic food, but in Florence, prioritize getting lunch and/or dinner out- not breakfast. I stayed at Hostel Archi Rossi, which was an easy 10 minute walk to the heart of the city and included a hot breakfast buffet. 

Morning

Accademia Gallery, Uffizi Gallery, Piazza Della Signoria 

Florence is a bucket list art destination, and even if you’re not into art, this is a “when in Rome” moment. It’s also a special places because this is the city in Italy where I discovered that water is more expensive than wine more often than not .

Of the many galleries in Florence, the 2 you absolutely can’t miss are the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia Gallery.

Whether you want to hit the well known highlights (Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Donatello, Botticelli, Cellini) or are an art history and Renaissance buff, both of these galleries are unmissable. I guarantee you’ll have a quiet moment of peace observing at least one masterpiece that moves you.

Because of the insane caliber of art in these 2 museums, they also come with crowds and massive lines. You don’t have time for that with your 1 day in Florence– I recommend visiting on a weekday if you can, or better yet, maximizing your time with a guided skip-the-line tour.

This is the exact tour I took and it included a private guide, skip-the-line access at both galleries, and a brief walking tour through Florence between them. I think it was a bargain for the price and is the best way to soak in as much as you can! 

Want a little preview of Florence’s 2 best art museums? Take my 60 second tour! Newbie note- don’t be fooled by the incredible replica of the David outside in Piazza della Signoria (Duomo Square), opposite the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace). The original David is in the Accademia Gallery!

Afternoon 

Mercanto Centrale and optional San Lorenzo leather market

Exhausted from taking in hundreds of masterpieces all morning, it’s time to eat like the Florentines do. Warning: drool-worthy descriptions ahead.

Head to Mercato Centrale, a cool indoor market conveniently located in the heart of the city with 20+ local chefs, food artisans, and a lot of popular Florence street food. Welcome to heaven, feat. Florence’s best bread and bakery products, truffles, fresh pasta, fresh fish, charcuterie, cheeses, gelato, and more. Grab a famous Florentine panino sandwich and an aperitivo (you should never pay more than 4 dollars for an apertivo by the way- authentic places won’t rip you off!).

If you decide the skip Mercato Centrale in favor of a restaurant, beware- so many restaurants in busy areas are totally inauthentic tourist traps and I’d hate for you to miss out on real Italian cuisine! Be sure to remember these 5 ways to tell that a restaurant in Italy is a tourist trap.

The market is also close to the famous San Lorenzo leather market if you want to do some shopping. Leather is a thing in Florence- if that interests you, read more here. I walked through the market, but nothing makes me as uncomfortable as haggling for things I don’t need when I’m short on time (and honestly, luggage space). 

Florence Cathedral Of Santa Maria Del Fiore (Il Duomo)

The Duomo is as iconic to Florence as the Colosseum in Rome or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 

Visiting the Duomo “in full” consists of 6 separate sights. The inside of the cathedral is free to visit, but the other 5 sights (the dome, baptistery baptisterium, museum, and bell tower) require separately booked tickets. Doing all 6 of these with only 1 day in Florence isn’t realistic, and honestly most of the locals I spoke to recommended doing just 1 or 2 anyway.

I recommend that you take your time wandering around the outside of the Duomo. You may even want to grab an espresso, a glass of prosecco, or a light bite at one of the amazing little outdoor cafes around the Duomo so you can really relax and take it in.

If you were to pick a second sight (and you’re willing and able to climb 463 stairs) go inside Brunelleschi’s dome. You need to buy a ticket in advance, but it’s THE ABSOLUTE icon of Florence, has an incredible architectural and cultural history, and you’ll be rewarded with unbelievable city views. 

If you go inside the Duomo, there’s a dress code. Wear the cathedral’s definition of appropriate clothing: covered knees and no bare shoulders, sandals, headgear or sunglasses. Be sure to check out my complete packing list for Europe to help you make sure to bring everything you need (and pack ONLY in a carry on bag!).

Also, be sure to look up the hours of operation before you go- the Duomo is closed on Sunday and public holidays. 

Ponte Vecchio 

After spending the early afternoon exploring the Duomo, stroll through Florence’s city centre and picturesque alleys toward the Arno river, spanned by Ponte Vecchio.

You’ve seen Ponte Vecchio in all of the pictures- a historic bridge topped with interestingly colorful, proportionate shop fronts.

There have been shops on Ponte Vecchio since the 13th century, and the bridge carries incredible historical significance, somehow surviving an unbelievable number of attacks and catastrophic weather events over the last 7 centuries. Take a stroll across it, stepping into the shoes of Florence’s “royalty,” commoners, and shopkeepers.  

Now, you’re headed to the best restaurant in Florence for dinner!

Evening

Golden View for dinner

On the scenic Arno river by Ponte Vecchio there’s a dreamy restaurant called Golden View. This was hands down the best dinner I had in Italy. Not to mention the restaurant itself is stunningly airy, textured, and comfortable. There are also beautiful views if you can get seated at a table overlooking the water and Ponte Vecchio at sunset like I did!

What I ordered:

  • 6 formaggi (6 tItalian cheese board) 

  • Bistecca alla Fiorentina di Scottona Maremmana (Fiorentina Steak of Tuscan grass-fed Beef from Maremma) 

  • Prosecco x 3

Dining in Italy is slow paced, meant to be enjoyed and savored. If you’re looking for a magical place to enjoy the day turning to night and have heartfelt conversations, I can’t recommend this place enough as a special part of your Florence experience.

Gelateria Edoardo il gelato biologico

Finally, gelato! And even better, authentic gelato by the Duomo at night. I ate at >10 gelaterias in Florence and Rome, and Gelateria Edoardo il gelato biologico was the best! The flavors change daily and you can savor it in the ambiance of Florence’s iconic Duomo, which is a whole new experience in the moonlight (and makes for some beautiful photos!). 

Other tips for what to see in Florence

  • I recommend guided tours, skip the line passes, or the Florence pass depending on how you want to spend your time. That’s because you don’t have time to waste waiting in line, getting lost, or waffling around trying to decide what to do or where to go when you only have one day! You need to make a solid plan and purchase tickets in advance. 

  • Local guides will show you both the famous must-sees and the little known hidden gems. They’re the experts and (in my opinion) will always beat out the DIY tour you put together yourself! Be sure to ask them for recommendations for authentic food and things to do and see outside of your tour. Locals are passionate about their city and eager to share it!

  • If you can do anything to avoid having only 1 full day in Florence, do it. Florence is my favorite city in all of Europe and you really need a minimum of 3 days to take in just some of what it has to offer.

Pro tip: Florence is charming, historic, and made up of all the cobblestone alleyways of your European dreams. Why am I telling you this? Because when you visit Florence, you need to pack light. Have you ever tried dragging a full size suitcase on cobblestone? Or up 8 flights of stairs in a historic hotel with no elevator? Learn my best packing hacks so you can fit everything you need in a carry on bag while still bringing everything you need!

Looking for more? Be sure to check out:

Are you new here? Let’s be friends! I’m Sarah— a solo female traveler (& world’s okayest travel blogger) helping you travel the world, discover surprising destinations, & have a laugh getting off the beaten path. Scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up to stay in touch (I promise not to spam you- just to share the best travel hacks, guides, itineraries, embarrassing stories, and unmissable experiences)!

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