You can’t really see Florence in 3 days. The capital of Tuscany is packed with beautiful churches, art galleries galore, museums and much more and you’d need weeks to discover them all. However, if you just have 3 days in Florence, you can definitely visit the most famous landmarks in town, take in the amazing views throughout, taste some delicious food and wine and ultimately appreciate the incredible atmosphere.
Still deciding how long to stay? Head over to my post How Many Days In Florence Are Enough?
My friend and I recently visited Florence and we literally only had three days there. As this is a city where tourist crowds mean lines at ticket booths and we didn’t want to miss the most iconic attractions, we had to plan every single day very carefully. I thought it’d be useful to share my 3 days in Florence itinerary with you, so that you don’t have to worry about the planning – just enjoy the city!
Continue reading to discover how to make the most of your 3 days in Florence.
3 Days In Florence Itinerary
The starting point of this 3 days in Florence itinerary is that you have 3 full days in town. When we visited last time, my friend and I arrived really early in the morning and spent 3 nights there too.
You’ll be on a mission to explore, so plan to get up, out and about early. Traveling is serious business! We drafted this itinerary in a way that was logical, so we’d visit all attractions in one area of town on the same day and walk everywhere without having to rely on public transport.
This itinerary also includes a selection of places to stay, restaurants and bars – for a full experience.
Make sure you book all tickets to the attractions in advance – pretty much all galleries, museums, attractions and even churches in Florence require advanced bookings. It’s anyways much easier to show up with a ticket in hand than have to find a ticket counter!
Finally, let’s see how you can also discover the best of Florence in 3 days.
Day one: off to an easy start
Map of day 1 Florence itinerary
You can see a map of the itinerary you’ll have to follow on your first day by clicking here. It goes all the way to Piazza della Signoria, after which you will start a bike tour all the way to Piazzale Michelangelo. If you want to pack your itinerary even more, you can see if there’s anything interesting along the way and mark it down. On the other hand, feel free to remove places you are not interested in.
Santa Maria Novella Church
Among the many important religious structures that are located around Florence, Santa Maria Novella Church is high on the list. This stunning church that was completed in 1350 features a marble front on the exterior but the interior is where you’ll see the most fascinating features.
Stained glass windows dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, Gothic features mixed with striking frescoes and a statue of the Madonna and the Child are some of them. There are also many Florentine Renaissance artworks by well-known artists of the time.
Head over to my post A Guide To The Basilica Di Santa Maria Novella.
Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy
Although it’s not a pharmacy that sells medicines and remedies, the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy is said to be the oldest pharmacy in the world. Dating back to the year 1221, this perfumery and herbalist shop was established around the time that the Dominican monks started experimenting with alchemy.
Today, the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy is a museum and shop producing and selling beautiful handmade fragrances, lotions and potions that are sought out by beauty aficionados around the world. The museum has pottery and books from the 16th and 17th centuries and there’s a tea room where you can grab some refreshments and take a break before moving on.
Fontana del Porcellino
Situated in Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, this is a famous bronze fountain of a boar. It’s worth it to take a stroll through this piazza and check out the fountain that was created by Baroque artist Pietro Tacca around 1634. It is said that anyone who rubs the boar’s snout will return to Florence in the future. Good luck comes to those who place a coin in the boar’s mouth.
The statue is actually really close to the market, which is also a good place to grab lunch!
Piazza della Signoria
Once the center of action in Florence, this was a place of public events that included executions. It’s a large, airy square where the most striking landmarks include the Loggia dei Lanzi – literally an open air art gallery; and the Neptune’s Fountain, dating back to 1575 when the Medici commissioned it to Bartolomeo Ammannati to celebrate the city’s maritime successes.
At 94 meters (over 308 feet) tall, the Arnolfo Tower, which was constructed in the early 1300s, looms majestically over Florence and you can climb the 233 steps to the top where you’ll enjoy incredible views from the city. At the top, you’ll also see two bell towers, a large weathervane and the former prison cell that held Cosimo il Vecchio and Savonarola. The clock that’s built into the tower still has features from the mid-1600s.
You can get tickets to Torre di Arnolfo here.
You should also read my post Where To Get The Best Views In Florence.
It took 23 years to build with construction being completed in 1322 so the Palazzo Vecchio has a long and fascinating history! The first thing you’ll notice about this structure is its impressive tower soaring tall over Piazza della Signoria. Inside Palazzo Vecchio, you’ll find the Medici family chambers and art collection. Today, the building also serves as Florence’s city hall.
For a Palazzo Vecchio secret passages tour click here.
Make sure to also read my post How To Get Tickets To Palazzo Vecchio.
Take a Bike Tour
Finish off the first of your 3 days in Florence with a bike tour! A great way to see much of Florence is by bike and a great bike tour to join is one that stops at many of the well-known landmarks including Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, the Duomo, Piazza della Repubblica and the lively neighborhood of Oltrarno. Another tour – the one we did – goes to Piazzale Michelangelo. This is where you’ll enjoy spectacular views from one of the best overlooks in the city.
To book your electric bike tour of Florence that goes to Piazzale Michelangelo, click here.
Day two: get the classics out of the way
Map of day 2 Florence itinerary
Click here to download the map you’ll have to follow on your second day in Florence.
The Duomo is one of Italy’s biggest churches and has been a symbol of the Renaissance period since the 1300s and it served as inspiration for many artists from that time onward. Its construction was quite advanced for the time with many architects still amazed by the feat that was undertaken.
A climb to the top reveals stunning views of the city and as you tour the inside, you’ll see dozens of stained glass windows from the 14th and 15th centuries, a monumental crucifix and artworks including Dante Before the City of Florence by Domenico di Michelino and the Equestrian Statue of Niccolò da Tolentino and Andrea del Castagno.
Opening times of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral vary seasonally so you are better off checking on the official website here. Admission is free. For a better experience, you may want to join a guided tour. The one we did also included the Brunelleschi Dome (more about it below) and the terraces of the church, from where we enjoyed a great view of the city, as well as the Accademia. You can book it here.
The famed designer Filippo Brunelleschi came up with the plan for Brunelleschi Dome in the 1400s and today it towers over the city of Florence. It’s one of the places you really should not miss during your 3 days in Florence.
This great masterpiece that stands over the Florence Cathedral is the biggest masonry dome ever constructed. Inside the dome, you’ll find frescoes created by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari in the 1500s and you’ll be able to climb 463 stairs to the top where you’ll enjoy some more incredible views of Florence.
To go up the Brunelleschi Dome you will need the Brunelleschi Pass, which is the most expensive of the Duomo Religious Complex passes and includes visits to all the monuments, with a single valid ticket for three calendar days selected. You can get the Brunelleschi Pass here.
You can also go there on a guided tour like the one we did – book it here.
To reserve your ticket to Brunelleschi’s Dome, you can also click here.
Admission is also included in the Florence Pass which you can get here.
While the Galleria dell’Accademia is most famously known for being home to the epic statue of David by Michelangelo, there are many other notable artworks and sculptures to enjoy on a tour of this amazing art museum. Coronation of the Virgin by Jacopo Di Cione, Slaves by Michelangelo, Tree of Life by Pacino di Buonaguida and many other artworks by Florentine artists that thrived during the years between 1300 and 1600 are just some of the works you’ll see.
Be sure to check out The Musical Instrument Museum which is also housed in the gallery building where you’ll see instruments and other artifacts related to opera, theater and classical music.
In order to visit, you must book a time slot well in advance – it gets sold out regularly. Opening hours are 8:15 am to 6:50 pm. The Gallery is closed every Monday.
Admission is also included in the Florence Pass which you can get here.
For a guided tour of the Accademia Gallery, click here.
Make sure to read my post How To Get Tickets To The Galleria Dell’Accademia.
You should also read my post The Best Museums In Florence.
Have lunch at Mercato Centrale
While there are many amazing restaurants around Florence, at Mercato Centrale, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of vendors who serve local specialties. This is one of the best places to enjoy lunch when you’re spending the day touring this area of the city.
The food court is where you’ll find traditional Tuscan dishes such as trippa, lampredotto and porchetta. Other popular items you will find at this mercato include sushi, pizza, roasted fish and fried veggies. A variety of small eateries are available including Il Tartufo which specializes in truffles, Pasta Fresca which specializes in Genoese pasta dishes and Il Cioccolato e il Gelato which specializes in sweet treats.
San Lorenzo Basilica
A star of Renaissance architecture in Florence, San Lorenzo Basilica, which was built in the 1400s, is said to be one of the oldest and largest churches in the city. It’s most famously known for being the burial place of well-known members of the Medici family.
It was consecrated in 393 which means it has the longest history of any religious building in Florence. Its most recent reconstruction was in 1461. The interior layout is that of a Latin Cross and other notable interior features include Corinthian columns and a stunning nave.
The church is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. You may want to double check on their website for more detailed information on closing hours due to special events. You can reserve your admission to San Lorenzo Basilica here. This ticket also includes admission to the Medici Chapel.
The Cappelle Medicee comprises two buildings attached to the Church of San Lorenzo that houses the final resting place of members of the Medici family. As you explore this chapel, you’ll see several beautiful sculptures by Michelangelo and many other artworks. It’s a stunning place to add to your Florence itinerary.
Giotto Tower + Baptistery
Situated on the Piazza del Duomo, the Giotto Tower is a square marble structure that stands 84.7 meters (almost 278 feet) and you can climb the 414 steps to the top of this 14th-century Gothic tower. Inside, you’ll also be able to admire a number of artworks, the marble figures known as the Lozenges and statues from various periods.
The Baptistery is home to the tomb of pope John XXIII, AKA Baldassarre Cossa, and a beautiful mosaic ceiling.
Open from 8:15 am daily (closing time vary seasonally), admission to the Giotto’s Bell Tower is included in the Giotto Pass, which you can get here. With it you can visit the Bell tower, the Baptistery, the Opera del Duomo Museum, and Santa Reparata.
Admission is also included in the Florence Pass which you can get here.
Make sure to also read my post How To Visit Giotto’s Bell Tower.
Day 3: all about art galleries and gardens
Map of day 3 Florence itinerary
Click here to download the map you’ll have to follow on your last day in Florence.
Ponte Vecchio and/or Ponte Santa Trinità + Santo Spirito area
Ponte Vecchio translates to “old bridge” and yes, this bridge is quite old having been completed in 1345. In fact, it’s the oldest bridge in the city and this beautiful arch structure crosses over the Arno River and is a must-see when visiting Florence in 3 days. Along it, you’ll find a selection of shops.
Ponte Santa Trinità is not as famous as Ponte Vecchio but it’s still worth a look since you’re in the area anyway! This Renaissance-era bridge that was completed in 1569 also crosses the Arno River and is one of the oldest arch bridges of its type in the world.
In the area of these two famous bridges on the south side of the river, you’ll also find the lively Santo Spirito area and its exciting nightlife. Bars, restaurants, artisanal shops and antique stores are some of the attractions of this neighborhood but just sitting and watching the local people buzzing around on their Vespas, browsing the food stands and going about daily life in this historic place is an experience in itself! Make sure not to miss Santo Spirito church. It’s much quieter compared to other churches you will see in Florence.
Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens
As Florence’s most influential palace, the 15th-century Palazzo Pitti is a must-see combination of history and beauty. You really can’t skip it during your 3 days in Florence. Inside, you’ll find several museums that make up the city’s biggest museum complex.
These include the Silver Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, The Porcelain Museum, the Costume Gallery, the Museum of Carriages and the Palatine Gallery. The last is home to more than 500 Renaissance paintings by famed artists including Raphael and Correggio.
The adjoining Boboli Gardens is a park featuring beautifully-manicured green spaces with lovely views. These Italian gardens first opened in 1766 for the Medici family and today feature ancient oak trees, statues, grand fountains and fascinating caves including the Buontalenti Grotto.
For a cumulative ticket to Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens and Bardini Gardens, click here.
Located in the hills of the Oltrarno area of Florence, Bardini Gardens is a renaissance-era garden at Villa Bardini. The views here are lovely as well and as you explore this park, you’ll find an impressive 17th-century staircase, a 19th-century Chinese garden, beautiful statues and several other gardens from various eras.
If you’re a birdwatcher, you’ll spot several species in the gardens including rock pigeons and blackbirds.
Open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. For a cumulative ticket to Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens and Bardini Gardens, click here.
Basilica di Santa Croce
No Florence itinerary is complete without a visit to the world’s biggest Franciscan church, the Basilica di Santa Croce. This incredible structure was built around 1294 and features 16 chapels adorned with beautiful frescoes and a number of monuments and tombs of notable people including Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei.
Antonio Canova, Donatello, Taddeo Gaddi, Henry Moore and Giorgio Vasari are some of the artists whose artworks are featured in the basilica.
Open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm 6 days a week, and from 12:30 to 5:45 pm on Sundays.
You should also read my post A Guide To The Basilica Di Santa Croce.
Known across the world, the Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous attractions in Florence and one of the oldest museums in Europe. As you explore the exhibits housed in this gallery, you’ll find mostly Renaissance-era artworks but also works from the Middle Ages and more modern times.
Italian artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raffaello and Mantegna are featured along with select artists from other countries around Europe. Also featured is an assortment of statues of busts from the Medici family. Even the building itself, which was built in the mid-1500s, is something to see!
The Uffizi Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:15 am to 6:30 pm; it is closed on Mondays. In order to visit, you have to book a time slot well in advance. The best time to visit is in the afternoon (better after 4:00 pm) – that’s what we did and we highly recommend it. Most visitors leave the gallery at 5:30 pm or so, and when they go you’ll have the rooms to yourself!
Admission is also included in the Florence Pass which you can get here.
For further information, you can read my post How To Get Tickets To The Uffizi Gallery.
Drinks at Sesto on Arno
There’s no better way to finish a long day of exploring Florence than with some drinks at a charming place such as Sesto on Arno. This chic rooftop bar and gourmet restaurant features two scenic terraces where you can enjoy Mediterranean cuisine and a range of cocktails with relaxing music playing in the background. The sunset views from there are simply impressive.
Don’t forget to read my post The Best Rooftop Bars In Florence.
Practical Tips To Plan Your 3 Days In Florence
Guided tours of Florence
To make the most of your 3 days in Florence, consider joining a guided tour. I have already pointed out the guided tours we did when we visited, but below are some others you may want to consider.
Florence Highlights and David Walking Tour
This tour highlights the best Renaissance attractions around Florence. For three hours, you’ll join a local guide on a tour that includes stops at Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace, the Duomo, and Accademia Museum.
You’ll also have some time to browse the designer shops of Via Tornabuoni and the artist’s workshops of the Oltrarno area. Along the way, your guide will share the history of Florence.
Electric Cart Tour Florence
This unique tour is great if you want to see many of Florence’s top attractions but are pressed for time. That’s because you’ll be whisked around in an electric cart! Sit back and enjoy the scenery while your guide tells you about this fascinating city and its long history. Admire some of the top historic attractions along the way.
Florence Vespa Tour: Tuscan Hills and Italian Cuisine
Spend six hours touring Florence and the nearby Tuscan Hills on a vintage Vespa with this tour offered. Follow your local guide through scenic countryside and see top landmarks and attractions, such as the Church of San Miniato al Monte and Piazzale Michelangelo along the way. Finish your journey at a country estate where you’ll enjoy a traditional Italian meal.
Where to stay in Florence
There are plenty of good accommodation options in Florence, suitable for all budgets and taste. If you only have 3 days in Florence, good location is essential – you need something that is central and from where you can easily get to all attractions. Here is a selection.
Hotel Croce di Malta
Looking at Hotel Croce di Malta today, you wouldn’t think it was once a convent! This centrally-located hotel features a swimming pool surrounded by a lovely garden, a rooftop terrace with spectacular city views, and guest rooms with satellite television and free Wi-Fi service. That’s where we stayed when we visited and we found the central location, close to the train station and Santa Maria Novella church, absolutely perfect.
At Borgo Oblate, you’ll enjoy many amenities including a garden, a sun terrace and rooms equipped with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and private bathrooms. Breakfast is served each morning so you can fuel up before heading out on the day’s adventure. Explore nearby attractions such as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Accademia Gallery.
Hotel La Scaletta al Ponte Vecchio
Situated along the Arno River in a 15th-century building, Hotel La Scaletta al Ponte Vecchio is only minutes away from top attractions such as Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo. Enjoy a buffet breakfast each morning and access to amenities including a rooftop terrace, a bar and a restaurant. Guest rooms are air-conditioned and feature hardwood floors, minibars, free Wi-Fi and televisions.
You should also read my post Where To Stay In Florence.
Where to eat
Good food in Florence is everywhere! Here are the places we enjoyed the most during our 3 days in Florence.
At Trattoria dall’Oste, traditional Italian dishes are made using only the finest certified Tuscan and Italian meats. Some of the delicious meat-based dishes on the menu include grilled ribeye steak, grilled Florentine – T-bone steak and grilled steak Marchigiana.
Enjoy an old-world atmosphere and traditional Tuscan cuisine when you dine at La Buchetta. Homemade pasta, gnocchi (their signature dish, pictured above) and bistecca alla Fiorentina are some of the delicious items you’ll find on the menu and you’ll also enjoy an extensive selection of Tuscan and Italian wines.
Mercato San Lorenzo
A Mercato San Lorenzo, you’ll find a wide variety of gourmet foods at the food court serving both modern and traditional Italian meals. You’ll also find a selection of cheeses, wines and baked goods.
How to get to Florence from the airport
There are several ways to get from Amerigo Vespucci Airport to the city center of Florence.
By shuttle tram
The first option is via shuttle tram which is the cheapest way. This shuttle called the T2 leaves the airport and drops passengers off at the Central Station (the last stop is Unità) and runs every five to ten minutes.
There’s also the Volainbus that travels from the airport to the city center near Santa Maria Novella Station. This service runs every 30 minutes and takes about 20 minutes.
There are taxis available at the airport to take visitors to the city center but this is the most expensive way to get to town. Taxis apply a flat rate that varies depending on the time of day and goes up to €25 per trip.
If you plan to rent a car for your trip to Florence and Tuscany, you can rent directly from the airport and drive to the city center. This trip will take you about 20 minutes. I don’t really recommend it though – traffic in the city is hectic, parking a nightmare and you really won’t need a car in Florence.
Coming from Rome? Make sure to read my post How To Get From Rome To Florence.
How to move around
There are many ways to get around Florence but the easiest, cheapest and most convenient way is on foot! It’s possible to walk from one end of the city to the other in just 30 minutes which is impossible to do by car with all the traffic and detours. Walking is the best way to get from one site to another and to see most of the city’s top attractions without the hassle of getting on and off buses and spending precious vacation time stuck in traffic.
If walking isn’t ideal for you, you can always use the convenient and cheap bus system. Hop on an ATAF bus for just €1.50. Tickets are available at convenience stores around the city.
Renting a car in Florence is not advisable – certainly not if you only have 3 days in Florence – but if you decide to go this route, be aware that most of the city center is off-limits to tourist traffic. These areas are known as ZTL zones and they’re clearly marked.
Traveling by taxi is convenient and fast but you’ll pay a lot more than the other methods. Meters start at around €3.
Many visitors choose to get around on a bicycle, e-bike or Vespa because these methods are cheap and fast. Just be aware that there are no bike lanes in the center city and drivers are not all that cautious around drivers on two wheels! Once you get away from the city center, you’ll enjoy a more relaxing ride with bike lanes and less traffic.
The Firenze Card not only gets you discounts at many of the city’s museums and attractions, but there’s also an option to add unlimited public transportation to it and it’s valid for 72 hours – perfect when you have 3 days in Florence.
Planning a trip to Italy that includes Tuscany? These posts will be useful:
- The Best Places To Visit In Italy
- A Classic Italy Itinerary
- The Best Italy Travel Tips
- What To Do And What To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Italy
- How To Plan A Day Trip From Florence To Cinque Terre
- What To Do In Florence At Night
- The Best Day Trips From Florence
- The Best Florence Travel Tips
- How To Get From Bologna To Florence