Out of all of the Italian cities I’ve traipsed through, Florence, also known as Firenze, is my absolute favorite. It may be the food, the architecture, or that beautiful duomo, but a piece of my heart will forever be in the city. During my last trip around Europe I decided to revisit this Tuscan gem for the second time and spend just 2 days in Florence since I’d been previously. I also think if you want to visit other cities during your trip, 2 days here is just fine.
Where to Stay in Florence
While I recommend staying in the city center or very close to it, that will be determined by your budget. I’ve gathered four hotels, four airbnb’s, and four hostels that I think are more than worth a stay.
Hotels in Florence
- Room Mate Isabella – This is where I stayed during my first visit to Florence and I wrote about it here. It’s affordable, beautiful, and right in the heart of everything.
- Hotel Rapallo
- Berchielli Hotel
- Hotel La Scaletta Florence
Airbnb’s in Florence
- Beautiful Loft in the heart of Florence.
- Newly renovated and centrally located loft.
- Lovely apartment in historic center.
- Panoramic loft with a lift in the heart of Florence.
Click here to get $40 off your airbnb booking.
Hostels in Florence
- Hostel Gallo D’Oro
- WoW Florence Hostel
- PLUS Florence – This is where I stayed in a 4 bed, female dorm during my last visit.
- Hostel Archi Rossi
2 Days in Florence
3 nights and 2 days is the perfect amount of time in Florence but if you can stay longer, it gives you the opportunity to explore other areas of Tuscany.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
For day 1 in Florence I highly recommend purchasing a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus. This is the best time to hit the “hot spots” of the city for those that are actually interested in some of the touristy things to do and various museums. This is especially perfect for those who don’t feel like walking but don’t plan on taking a taxi to each destination. This ticket makes it easy for you to see all of the major sites in one day.
Visit the Palazzo Pitti
South of the Arno River is the Palazzo Pitti, or Pitti Palace. It was initially bought by the Medici Family and housed several royal families since then. The main gallery of the palace is now home to the Palatine Gallery which contains over 500 renaissance paintings and much more.
View the City from Piazzale Michelangelo
During my usual walk around the city and along the River Arno I could see people atop a hill at any time during daylight hours. One morning when I had nothing better to do, I decided to walk toward that hill. It turned out to be the Piazzale Michelangelo, the most popular lookout point over Florence.
If you want amazing views of the city as well as some great photos, then take an hour or so to visit this area. You won’t even need that much time but after my pictures I decided to stroll through the garden.
See the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
The lines to enter the duomo are insane so I highly recommend being among the first in line. If you’re interested in seeing the dome then this ticket is your best friend as it grants you priority access and a tour guide.
I will never stop raving about the Duomo di Firenze as it’s one of the most spectacular works of art I’ve ever seen.
Cross the Ponte Vecchio Bridge
This medieval bridge allows you to cross the Arno River and just like in medieval times, it has built in shops along it. Until 1218 it was the only bridge that connected the two sides of the river and is now the bridge that connects it at its narrowest point. You will have seen this bridge in many photos of Florence and it’s worth a quick visit whether or not you’re heading to the other side.
Take a Day Trip to Pisa, Siena, and San Gimignano
Since you saw the main attractions on day 1, day 2 in Florence can be utilized for getting away from the city. This day trip takes you to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of San Gimignano, Pisa, and Siena complete with delicious lunch and wine in Chianti.
Small Group Wine Tasting Tour
If you went to Italy and didn’t take a wine tasting tour, did you really go? This small group tour takes you to two of the most renowned wineries in Tuscany and I love it because it allows you to get away from Florence for a few hours. Sample six different wines complete with charcuterie, cheeses, and olives.
Chianti Half-Day Afternoon Tour
This tour to Chianti is a quick getaway that allows you to explore the Chianti region of Tuscany. You not only get to visit two wine cellars and sample amazing Chianti Wine, but you get some history in the form of seeing one of the best preserved medieval walls in Italy.
Handmade Pasta and Dessert Cooking Class
I love taking cooking classes all over the world and one of the best places to partake in one is Italy. This cooking class teaches you to make pasta by hand in addition to classic Italian desserts. The best part is that lunch is included so you get to indulge in your creations.
If You Can Only Spend A Day in Florence…
For those that can only spare a day in Florence, I think the duomo should be at the top of your list of things to do. I may be just as in love with this structure as I am with the Eiffel Tower, and that’s saying a lot. I’ve never seen anything like it and to top it off, it’s breathtaking.
If you’d rather skip any of the tours above then consider starting at the duomo and walking south to the Ponte Vecchio bridge. There are too many shops, restaurants, and attraction in between to list. This is perfect if you’re a wanderer on foot like me. I always seek out a popular point of interest and start my trek from there. I also find that restaurant menus on the other side of the river are substantially cheaper, so I tend to enjoy at least one meal near the Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti).
Day Trips From Florence
Just an hour and 20 minutes to the southeast of Florence is the eternal city of Rome. It’s the epitome of bustling and hectic but is also beautiful and mesmerizing. Make the most of this city by going in with a plan because it’s quite easy to feel overwhelmed.
My top recommendation for visiting Rome is to visit Vatican City. Check out this fast track ticket that allows you to visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. If you’d rather see the colosseum and places like Palatine Hill, then check out this tour.
Click here to read about how to spend 3 days in Rome.
Train Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
I was very lucky to visit Venice when I did and I’m hoping to visit again in the near future. It may be morbid, but I believe the predictions that it will one day be underwater, and for that reason I recommend visiting as soon as possible. I also recommend visiting off season as it receives 20 million tourists annually and that number only increases every year. This wouldn’t be such an issue if the city wasn’t as small as it is.
While you could spend your time getting lost in the canals, there’s also a lot to see that’s just a boat ride away. Check out this tour that takes you to the islands of Murano and Burano. These colorful islands are a must see when visiting Venice and it’s a nice getaway from the overcrowded grand canals.
Train Time: 1 hour 53 minutes
While Milan is undoubtedly my least favorite Italian city, I think it’s worth a day trip. Also remember that it’s almost a two hour ride to the Northeast of Florence, so if it’s chilly in Firenze, it may be chillier in Milan.
The two major attractions of Milan are its duomo, also my least favorite of the bunch, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. People tend to flock to the gallery for high end shopping, but the gallery itself is a work of art. The best thing I did in Milan was visit the duomo and pay the fee for the rooftop ticket (get yours here). I also highly recommend this tour that gets you access to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting.
Train time: 1 hour 58 minutes