A 3-day Florence Itinerary: 14 Things to Do + Where to Eat

Ah, Florence. A city that doubles as a living museum, filled with centuries worth of art and culture and history. You might be wondering is Florence worth visiting? Well, I’m convinced that it’s impossible not to fall for this city. Whether you’re gazing up at the intricate details of the Duomo, staring directly into the eyes of David, or walking the immaculate hallways of the Uffizi, you’ll find yourself constantly reminded that some of the most famous creatives to ever live have found their inspiration while wandering these exact Florentine streets.

How Many Days in Florence?

So you’ve decided you want to visit the city but you’re wondering “how may days in Florence is enough?”

Despite it’s small size, Florence is the type of city that you could spend weeks in. Weeks getting lost in the narrow cobblestone streets, trying all the gelato shops to determine the best one (more on that later), and visiting the 72 museums that are scattered across city. It may seem like there is never enough time. But, how many days in Florence is enough to see the highlights?

With so much to do in Florence, planning a trip to this iconic city can be a bit overwhelming. We personally spent 5 days in Florence and I’m still left with so many reasons to go back. I firmly believe that Florence is a city that should be explored slowly and thoughtfully, but I realize that most of us don’t have the luxury of spending weeks in the city (but what a dream that would be, right?).

That’s why I’ve consolidated this guide into 14 things that you could easily fit into a 3-day Florence itinerary. In 3 days in Florence, you can see many of the highlights, and some non-touristy things too. 

Things to do in Florence
Ususual things to do in Florence

The Highlights: 3-Day Florence Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Florence, late lunch at All’Antico Vinaio or Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio, wander around Santa Croce, climb The Brunelleschi Dome at sunset, go for a late dinner
Day 2: Early morning at the Duomo di Firenze, Galleria dell’Accademia (Statue of David), an afternoon walk at Boboli Gardens, sunset at Piazza Michaelangelo, dinner and drinks in Oltrarno
Day 3 : Moring visit to Mercato di San Lorenzo, take a Florence food tour, visit the Uffizi Gallery, dinner at Trattoria ZaZa

3-DAY FLORENCE ITINERARY Details:
14 Touristy and Unusual things to do in Florence

get up early to experience the marvel of david

You know what they say … early bird catches the worm. If there’s one thing worth booking an early ticket for, it’s the Statue of David at Galleria dell’Accademia. Yes, THAT David.

In order to fit as many things as possible into your 3-day Florence itinerary, cannot stress enough how important it is to book your ticket ahead of time for the museums in Florence. Otherwise, you risk waiting hours in the standby line instead of our roaming the Florentine streets. 

We opted for the first time slot of the day at 9:00 and wow – it was so worth it. We came fact-to-face (feet?) with the iconic David with almost no one else around. It felt surreal. Within 15 minutes, the room was packed with other visitors so this is an attraction that’s worth the early wake up. 

Tickets: Book Galleria dell’Academia tickets on the official website here. The cost of booking ahead is 16€.

Statue of David
Statue of David
Come face-to-face with some of the world's most famous art at The Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is home to some of the most important art in the world. Housing the works of artists like da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raffaello and more, it is an attraction that cannot be missed.

As you’d imagine, every Florence tourist wants to visit Uffizi. So, similar to Galleria dell’Accademia, you should absolutely book tickets in advance to avoid waiting in lines all day in the hot Florence sun. We want to fit as much as possible into our 3-day Florence itinerary after all, don’t we?

Tickets: You can buy tickets in advance here. The price of 24€ might seem a bit steep, and you may be tempted to buy tickets the day-of and save 4€ but buying in advance will save you (potentially) hours of time.

Skip the crowds + Experience early morning golden hour at the Duomo di Firenze

Perhaps the most iconic building is the Duomo di Firenze, or the Florence Cathedral. We’ve all seen the photos of pink, green and white-sided masterpiece, but in real life, it is truly mind-blowing. The details are immaculate.

As you can imagine, the area around the complex gets really busy during peak daytime hours, which is why I really recommend an early wakeup for this one. During the early morning hours, the rising sun hits the building and highlights it in the perfect shade of gold. This is the perfect time to walk around the exterior, and take in all the intricate details of the building. It’s an incredible work of art.

If you’re interested in a hotel room with Duomo view, keep reading to see where we stayed.

Duomo Florence
Duomo Florence
Duomo Florence
Duomo Florence
Climb 463 steps to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome

Now, there’s lots to do at the Duomo di Firenze. And the cost of visiting all these different attractions can add up quickly. You can visit the Cathedral for free but make sure to go early because the line gets very long. In my honest opinion, the Cathedral is beautiful, but it wasn’t a highlight for me which is why I didn’t include it in this 3-day Florence itinerary.

However, there is one thing that is really worth doing. If you’re going to pay for one thing to do at Duomo di Firenze, then I can really recommend climbing to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome.

And I know what you’re thinking – 463 steps sounds really intimidating (especially if you’re visiting during a summer heat wave like we were). But the stairwell itself was surprisingly cool and I promise it is worth the effort to see the incredible work of art that is Brunelleschi’s Dome. Then, once at the very top, you’ll be welcomed by the most beautiful open-air views over Florence and the Tuscan countryside in the distance. It’s a must-do!

Tickets: Brunelleschi’s Dome tickets must be purchased in advance here. The cost is 20€ and the tickets are known to sell out many days in advance so be sure to plan ahead to avoid disappointment. 

Brunelleschi’s Dome
Brunelleschi’s Dome view
Eat your heart out in FLorence's food scene

From traditional Tuscan fare and trendy apertivo bars to very local markets, there is no shortage of good eats in Florence. I’m a firm believer that cities are best experienced through your palette – here’s a few of the best restaurants in Florence to indulge at:

Il Santino Bevitore: You’ll see this trendy osteria show up on a lot of foodie lists, and for good reason. It’s wildly popular with locals and foodie tourists both trying to snag tables. The menu features classic Florentine staples with a bit of a modern twist, and everything is made with such high quality ingredients. If you can’t get a table at Bevitore, you can head next door to the restaurant’s wine bar (that’s what we did!). There you can taste some of the best natural wines the region has to offer and order small plates off the restaurant menu.

Trattoria ZaZa: From the outside, Trattoria ZaZa looks like everything I would avoid in a restaurant while travelling: touristy location, massive menu, and a patio over-looking a big square. It has all the characteristics of a tourist trap. I had read a lot about it but I wasn’t going to go, But, I had a couple locals reach out to me on Instagram and tell me that despite being touristy, the restaurant is a cultural institution for both locals and tourists alike. So, I gave in and we decided to try out this iconic spot. And you know what, the food was fantastic. Everything we tried was so well-made (I still have no idea how they do it with the size of their menu), and it was such a good value. Don’t write off ZaZa!

All’Antico Vinaio: You’re probably heard of this super famous panini spot, it’s on literally every food recommendation list in Florence. If you walk past, it’s hard to miss the seemingly mile-long lineup of people waiting to get a panini. I’ve heard stories of people waiting as long as two hours to try this world-famous panini. Before we stopped by I was so confused by the hype – I mean, how good can a panini really be? We lucked out and walked past around 3:00pm, after the lunch rush calmed down and only waited about 15 minutes in line. The panini was a great value at around 5 euro for a huge sandwich. And it was really delicious. But, was it the best panini I had in Florence? Not quite. To me, it’s more about the hype and experience. Keep reading or skip to the local market section to hear about my favourite panini in Florence…

Vin & Delizie: If you’re looking for a spot to grab a pre-dinner apertivo, this is a great little patio with a nice drink selection and a super friendly host. For some other fun apertivo spots, head to Oltrarno and check out some of my favourite spots there.

Hosteria il Desco: For a traditional Florentine meal, this is a great spot to go. Here they serve of local must-try dishes like Florentine steak and regional pastas. 

iO Osteria Personale: If you’re looking for something a bit less traditional, and a bit more trendy, iO Osteria Personale is putting their own spin on traditional Florentine food and serving a tasting menu filled with creative dishes with local influences. This spot is a bit of a splurge, but was a good value for the high quality.

Piazza Santo Spirito: If you’re looking for a quick lunch or afternoon drink in the sun, I loved the square called ‘Piazza Santo Spirito.’ Here there are tons of options for food. I particularly liked Tamero Pasta Bar for lunch. And GustoPizza is another popular local spot to grab pizza.

Feeling overwhelmed by the Florence food scene and are looking for a local experience, I’ve got you covered… 

All'Antico Vinaio
Pasta in Florence
Il Santino Wine Bar Florence
Il Santino Wine Bar Florence
Experience of the best of Florentine food culture with a Florence Food Tour

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know I love a good food tour. I fact, I almost always try to do one when I visit a new city because it really helps you get a better feel for the local food culture. The food culture in Florence is deep-rooted in tradition, and as a newcomer to the city, it can be a bit overwhelming to know what to eat. Thankfully, Streaty Tours has you covered. 

I absolutely loved the morning we spent wandering a bit deeper around Florence’s local neighbourhoods with Streaty Tours. Operating in various cities across Italy, we had the pleasure of meeting the company’s Palermo-based owner Marco who was visiting Florence while we were there. His passion for food and sharing authentic Italian food culture radiated. Together with the brilliant local guide Gaia, we learned all about Florence’s local food culture and a bit of history of the city.

We started our tour with a visit to a local market – there wasn’t another tourist in site. Here, we tried local meats and cheeses and wine, and learned about the history of these foods. As the tour went on we ate in a very local hosteria where we tried regional delicacies, and were treated to perhaps the most ‘popular’ street food in Florence – Lampredotto (tripe). It was surprisingly pretty delicious.

Click here to book a Streaty Food Tour in Florence.

Things to do in FLorence at Night: Bar-Hop at the trendiest bars in Oltrarno

Are you looking for things to do in Florence at night? Head across the river to Oltrarno to some of the cities coolest bars and restaurants. Here’s a few of my favourites.

 Il Santino Wine Bar: Serving some of the best natural wines in the city and a delicious assortment of small plates, we loved Il Santino Wine Bar so much we went there twice! It’s the perfect spot for an Italian apertivo and the staff was so fun and friendly. Shown bottom left.

Bulli & Balene: Looking for a funky cocktail bar in Florence? Bulli & Balene serves an assortment of fun and innovative spritzes. Shown bottom right.

Le Volpi e l’Uva: Another amazing natural wine bar in Florence with a big selection of local products and a patio made for sipping wine in the sun.

Babae: Another cool place to grab a drink in the area! They also have an iconic Florence wine window that was recently revived to serve drinks.

Il Santino Wine Bar Florence
Bulli & Balene Florence
Admire the best views of the city at Piazzale Michelangelo

Looking for the best view of Florence? Head up to Piazzale Michelangelo. Head over to the south side of the Arno River and take a walk through the narrow local streets to this iconic lookout. You’ll be rewarded with the most beautiful views of Florence and the Duomo in the distance. 

If you’re travelling on a budget – or just want to have the most picture perfect picnic – this is a great spot to do it. Many people say that Piazzale Michelangelo is best visited at sunset, but be prepared to be competing for “the shot” with many other tourists. Even still, the way the city glows at golden hour is worth it.

I’ve included this spot as a sunset stop on this 3-day Florence itinerary, but Piazzale Michelangelo is beautiful at any time of day. Just look at these photos!

Visit a touristy florence food market - and then head to a more local spot

So if you’ve been reading other Florence itineraries, you’ve probably read about the famous market Mercato di San Lorenzo (Mercato Centrale). It’s right in the middle of the city, filled with vendors, and surrounded by the famous Florence leather market. It is an institution in the city and deserves a visit.

Our hotel was close by Mercato di San Lorenzo so I really enjoyed going in there in the morning, grabbing coffee and breakfast, and then wandering around Florence as the city woke up. 

However, Mercato di San Lorenzo has also become very touristy and I was told that many locals now have stopped shopping there. So, if you want a bit more of a local market experience in Florence, head outside of the centre to Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio.

Not only were the Sant’Ambrogio and Santa Croce neighbourhoods some of my favourites to roam in Florence, but this market is a true local experience. Here we shopped at tiny local vendors, and ate the best panini I had during my entire trip. The women working there was so friendly and even though she spoke no English, she gestured around to make us each a custom panini. I’m still not exactly sure what was on them but it was one of the best things I ate during my entire time in Italy. 

Take a stroll around Boboli Gardens

Boboli Gardens is a massive 11-acre park in Florence that dates back to the mid-1700s when it was designed for the Medici family. Today it serves as an open-air museum filled with sculptures, statues, fountains, grottoes, and buildings from a variety of eras – and of course, gardens.

I absolutely loved walking around the gardens. You can cover most of the gardens in 1.5 hours and it is definitely worth fitting into a 3-day Florence itinerary.

Tickets: You have to pay for a ticket to visit Boboli Gardens. Tickets are 6€ for adults and can be purchased in advance here.

Cross the river via Ponte Vecchio - a few times

The Ponte Vecchio is an arched bridge that crosses the Arno River and is famous for having shops built along either side of it. Having shops alongside bridges used to be quite a common practice, and it’s believed that this iconic Florence landmark dates back as far as Roman times.

Today, you’ll find mostly jewellers occupying the bridge, and it often gets a bit congested with visitors. However, as touristy as it may be, it’s a fun way to experience an important part of Florence’s history.

Make it your mission to find the best gelato in FLorence

Okay, there are more Gelateria’s in Florence it can seem overwhelming. Lucky for you, I tried a bunch of them so you don’t have to. Here’s, in my opinion, some of the best gelato in Florence:

  • Caminia
  • Perche No
  • Gelateria della Passera
  • Gelateria de Neri
  • Gelateria La Carraia

 

Be mindful that there are gelato tourist traps everywhere in Florence. As a rule of thumb, avoid Gelateria’s that have super bright-coloured gelato (they’ve added something to make it that bright). Also, if you see gelato that is piled SUPER high, it also has something unnatural added to it and it’s just for tourists. 

Perche No Florence
The best gelato in Florence?
Take a day trip from Florence to the Tuscany Countryside

Run out of things to do during your 3-day Florence itinerary? I find this hard to believe. But either way, you should make time in your Italy itinerary to head out to the Tuscany countryside! 

During my recent trip to Italy, we rented a car and spent six days in the Tuscan countryside. However, planning a trip to Tuscany can feel overwhelming.

That’s why we also spent two days slow travelling in Tuscany with KM Zero Tours and I cannot recommend this tour company enough. They take you to tiny local wineries, introduce you to their friends in Tuscany, and offer a truly local and personally curated Tuscany experience. Read more on that here. 

Just wander the narrow city streets

Perhaps my favourite thing to do in Florence is just wander and daydream. This city is made for wandering off-the-beaten path. Beyond the city’s most touristy areas, I got lost in my camera in the tiny corners of local neighbourhoods. 

After a few days wandering in the city, the cozy neighbourhoods of Santa Croce, Porta Romana, San Frediano, and Oltrarno became quick favourites of mine. 

Things to do in Florence
3-day Florence itinerary
Things to do in Florence
Things to do in Florence
3-day Florence itinerary
Things to do in Florence

Where to stay in Florence

When I first started looking for where to stay in Florence, I really wanted to stay on the south side of the Arno River because it felt more local and trendy. However, after a lot of research, it felt like it would be a bit complicated to get our bags from the train station to the other side of the city. Florence is a small city, you can walk almost anywhere in 20-30 minutes. So there is no particularly “bad” place to stay in the city centre.

I decided that staying close to the train station and airport tramline would be best for getting in and out of the city. I stumbled upon Soggiorno Rubino, a small boutique hotel which is located on a main transit line.

We spent five nights total here and it was an amazing value. The rooms are spacious and have incredible views of the Duomo, and owner Andrea was helpful and so kind. I can’t recommend this spot enough!

If you’re looking for a Florence hotel with Duomo views of the Duomo, you’ll want to book this now. 

The best hotel in Florence

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