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Florence is without a doubt one of my favorite cities in the world. I’m a bit biased because I was lucky enough to live there for a semester during college, but it really is a gem. It has everything – world renowned art history, the best food in the world, Renaissance architecture, live music throughout, a beautiful language, great shopping, it’s walkable… the list just goes on and on. If you haven’t visited Florence, Italy yet, definitely add a visit here to your bucket list. Florence can easily be added to any Italy itinerary and is the perfect jumping off point to multiple day trips including the Tuscany wine country, Cinque Terre, Milan, Venice, etc. If you’re looking for some basic information to know before visiting Italy, check out my recent Milan post. This post is going to cover essential information to know before visiting Florence for a day, including a walkable itinerary, where to stay, and most importantly – where to eat.
Florence In One Day: The Itinerary
Café La Ménagère
Begin your morning with an Italian cappuccino at Café La Ménagère. Located right next to the Basilica di San Lorenzo in central historic Florence, this coffee shop is the perfect place to begin your day. They have plenty of chic seating inside and out, along with an extensive menu. This coffeeshop will always hold a special place in my heart as it’s where I hit publish on my very first blog post in 2017! It’s so crazy to me that I’ve been blogging for 5 years now! And even crazier that my blog is the reason my sister and I were able to visit Florence again for a day this summer.
Address: Via de’ Ginori, 8/R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Florence Leather Market
*4 minute walk from Café La Ménagère*
After a classic Italian breakfast of coffee and a pastry, head over to the leather market near the Mercato di San Lorenzo. Florence is known for its leather and this market is a great place to buy a special souvenir or gift for a loved one. Make sure to bring cash with you and prepare to haggle! You should be able to buy a leather bag here for less than 20 Euro.
Pro-tip: If you want the highest quality, most authentic leather, head to the Leather School. Prices here are much higher, but these goods are made right at the school in Firenze and will last you a lifetime.
Address: Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Via dell’Ariento, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
*1 minute walk from the Leather Market*
Feeling hungry for an early lunch? Right next to the Leather Market is one of my favorite spots in the city – the Central Market. The Mercato Centrale is a two-story warehouse filled with vendors and food stands. The lower level has booths selling produce, meats, and pastas to prepare at home. While this is nice to walk through, make your way upstairs to the real gem. Here you’ll find dozens of booths selling delicious meals. I used to come here when I was studying abroad in Florence and craving everything but Italian food. You can find delicious dumplings up here, sushi, and of course – authentic pastas and pizza too. One of my favorite meals (in the world) can be found here. It’s the creamy black truffle spaghetti at Il Tartufo. You can’t miss it.
Address: Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Via dell’Ariento, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
The Duomo, Bell Tower, and Baptistery
*6 minute walk from the Centro Mercato*
Now it’s time for some early afternoon sightseeing! Head to the Piazza del Duomo to visit Florence’s crown jewel – the Duomo. The Cathedral of Florence, better known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore was built beginning in 1296 and was once one of the largest in the world. Located right next door to the cathedral is the bell tower and the baptistery. This area is a must for some photos, although note – it gets quite crowded here during mid-day.
Pro-tip: Be sure to go INSIDE these buildings! There’s a package ticket you can purchase to explore all three. I did this when my family visited me during my semester abroad in Florence. You don’t necessarily need a guided tour but be sure to see the inside of the cathedral. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, climb the stairs to the top of the Duomo (or the Bell Tower – or BOTH!) for one of the best views of the city. This is an absolute must during your one day in Florence.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
*2 minute walk from the Duomo*
Located adjacent to the Duomo on the left-hand side from the front is my favorite place in the world. Not to be dramatic. I’ve probably written out over 1,000 recommendations throughout the 100 posts on this website and this has to be my number one. Take about 20 minutes or so and treat yourself to a Don Nino cannoli. I prefer the classic ricotta filling with chocolate chips on either end. Enjoy your cannoli at the outside tables. You’ll have an amazing view of the Duomo, perfect people watching, plus there’s usually live music. I lived right around the corner from here on Via Martelli during my semester abroad, so I frequented this place…. often. Don’t miss it during your day in Florence!
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 11, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Piazza della Repubblica
*5 minute walk from Don Nino*
The Piazza della Repubblica marks the former site of the Roman Forum of Florence, and it was the center of the city in the time of the Roman Empire. Today, there’s a picturesque, colorful carousel in the center and tons of vendors surrounding the square.
Address: Piazza della Repubblica, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Piazza della Signoria
*6 minute walk from Piazza della Repubblica*
From the Duomo area, stroll down Via dei Calzaiuoli, one of the main shopping streets in Florence. It’s also pedestrian only which is nice. A 5-minute walk from the Duomo down this road will bring you to Piazza della Signoria, another one of the main squares in Florence. This is where you’ll find a David replica, restaurants, the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, and the nearby Uffizi Gallery.
Pro-tip: If you want to see the original statue of David, head to the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. I would set aside about an hour to visit. I didn’t work a visit there into this itinerary, but you could purchase tickets online and in advance for this if it interests you.
The Uffizi is home to some of Europe’s finest art. I also didn’t visit here this time but strolled through here for a few hours during my semester abroad in Florence. If art history is your thing, don’t miss it during your one day in Florence.
Address: Piazza della Signoria, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
*3 minute walk from Piazza della Signoria*
By now you may be a bit hungry again. Or maybe not… but, you only have one day in Florence so you should squeeze in another meal anyways. Europeans eat dinner extremely late, so don’t feel guilty about grabbing a little ~linner~. This itinerary does include quite a bit of food, but I promise these stops are worth the calories. Plus, all the walking is sure to work up an appetite!
From Palazzo Vecchio, head down Via dei Neri to All’Antico Vinaio. This spot isn’t hard to find. Just look for the lines of hungry humans. This sandwich shop has become so popular over the years they opened another storefront right across the street from the original. I was also surprised to see they added an additional third counter next door to the original one as well. This shop is known for the homemade focaccia and fresh ingredients that make up the best panini you’ll ever have. The best part? They’re cheap! They were 5-6 Euro when I studied abroad in Florence, so I was sad to see they’re now 7 Euro each, but still a great deal! The paninis are literally the size of your head. There’s no seating here, so you’ll see most people snacking on the curb. Another option is to walk 5 minutes to the Arno and eat along the river!
Pro-tip: If you’re following this itinerary closely, we technically ate an early lunch at Centro Mercato a few hours ago, so maybe split one with a friend. They will gladly cut one in half for you to share. This saves $$$ and will still allow you to try one of Florence’s bests during your one day here.
Address: Via dei Neri, 65r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
*5 minute walk from All’Antico Vinaio*
Now that you’re full (again), time to walk some more. Next on the list is a short walk to another one of Florence’s most iconic sites – the Ponte Vecchio. “Ponte” means bridge in Italian and is one of the oldest in Europe. There are numerous bridges that stretch across the Arno River, but this one is by far the most ornate. Merchants actually used to live above the bridge. Today, the bridge is covered in shops – most of which sell jewelry to tourists. I bought a nice necklace here during my semester abroad in Florence, so check it out during your day in Florence.
As you make your way over the bridge, you’re leaving the “touristy”, historic center of Florence and entering the quainter side of the city. Here you’ll find more authentic restaurants, more locals, and less English. There’s a few nice cathedrals and parks on this side to see, including the Boboli Gardens, which you should see if you have more than one day in Florence. Most of the major sites, however, are located within the central historic district and would’ve already been covered.
Address: Ponte Vecchio, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Giardino delle Rose
*19 minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio*
The last major to-do on this list is to see sunset over the Tuscan hillside. I have two recommendations for this. The first is to take some golden hour photos from this side of the river, which provides the best views of the Duomo, and the rolling Tuscan hills in the backdrop. For this, you’ll want to head to Giardino delle Rose. My friend and fellow blogger, Ellinor, shared this tip and I’m SO glad I went! This rose garden is located directly below Piazzale Michelangelo, so it’s super easy to find. The best part? It offers the same exact views with NO people. We visited at golden hour and took some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken here.
Pro-tip: This park closes at 8/8:30 pm during the summer months, which is right at sunset. Try to arrive at the beginning of Golden Hour for photos before working your way up to Piazzale Michelangelo for actual sunset.
Address: Viale Giuseppe Poggi, 2, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
*4 minute walk from Giardino delle Rose*
At this point you’re probably exhausted. It’s been a full day. Sit back and relax with a cheap bottle of wine on the steps of Piazzale Michelangelo and enjoy one of the best sunsets in the world. There’s usually live music up here, the occasional proposal, and a sunset spectacular that is sure to wow. Snap some photos, but really take it in. This view is like no other.
Address: Piazzale Michelangelo, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
One Day In Florence: Dinner Recommendations ($-$$$)
If you’ve followed this itinerary exactly, you’ve been out and about for about 12 hours at this point and it’s almost 9 pm, which is the exact time most Italians sit down for dinner. There are countless fine dining options on both sides of the river to enjoy. Make your way down to the river from the viewpoint at Piazza Michelangelo to one of these restaurants for dinner during your one day in Florence.
Budget ($): Gusta Pizza
Gusta Pizza is my recommendation for you if you’re looking for something fast, casual, and cheap. This authentic pizzeria is located on the same side of the river as Piazzale Michelangelo and is delicious. I recommend ordering a traditional margherita pizza and be SURE to ask for it shaped in a heart. This is a secret thing they will do if you ask for it. Take the pizza to the nearby river or dine indoors.
Address: Via Maggio, 46r, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Mid-Range ($$): Osteria dell’Orcagna, Il Bargello, Il David Ristorante
If you’re looking for a sit-down, mid-range dining option with a wonderful vibe, head back to Piazza della Signoria and eat outdoors at one of the several restaurants here. The atmosphere is lovely and lively in the evenings.
Address: Piazza della Signoria, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Fine Dining ($$$): Ristorante Il Paiolo
Upscale, candle-lit restaurant in Florence with outstanding service. My family and I went here when they visited me and got complimentary champagne, limoncello, and a pasta dish. You can’t leave your day in Florence without trying the Fiorentina steak!
Address: Via del Corso, 42, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
One Night In Florence: Nightlife Options
Looking for a night cap to your day in Florence? I love the View on Art cocktail bar. It’s one of the rooftop bars located in Piazza del Duomo and offers one of the best views of the city I’ve seen from the historic district. Try their spritz!
Address: Via dei Medici, 6, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Looking for something a bit more lively? I have a plethora of nightlife recommendations from my semester abroad ranging from relaxed bars to karaoke to nightclubs with bottle service. If you’re a younger traveler, definitely head to Lions Fountain. It’s an Irish pub located very centrally that is covered in college t-shirts. They even have unique shots for most schools in the US. Obviously, I had to take my college’s shot during my visit and was fortunate to find a few fellow Fairfield Stags in the bar to take it with!
Clubs: Space, Yab, Bamboo, and Babylon. Red Garter is the karaoke bar in town. Most of these will pick up after midnight.
Where To Stay For One Night In Florence (Budget – Luxury)
If you spend one night in Florence, like we did – which you should considering this itinerary starts early in the morning and wraps late at night, here are a few recommendations for you located centrally in the city:
Budget ($): Plus Florence
This is where my sister and I stayed during our day in Florence since we were traveling on student budgets. I ended up LOVING this hostel – it was a 15 minute walk from the Santa Maria Novella train station, had a pool, private dorm rooms, and was super clean. Plus, it was located centrally in the city so I recommend it.
Address: Via Santa Caterina D’Alessandria, 15, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy
Mid-Range ($$): FH55 – Hotel Calzaiuoli
Located in the historic heart of Florence Hotel Calzaiuoli, named after the street it is in, is conveniently situated between the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio, just a few steps from the Ponte Vecchio. This comfortable, stylish hotel is in the perfect location to experience the vibrancy of this busy, cosmopolitan city. Its 54 rooms, distinguished by a mix of elegance and style, with high quality décor in neutral, cooling colors and quality furnishings, cater perfectly to every guest’s needs.
Address: Via dei Calzaiuoli, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Luxury ($$$): Hotel Brunelleschi
This charming, luxury boutique hotel is located right between the Florence Cathedral and Piazza della Signoria, so you’re paying for location here. Plus, this property has won dozens of impressive awards, including Michelin Stars for its dining and top hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure.
Address: Piazza Sant’Elisabetta, 3, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
What A DAY! My sister and I did all this in 24 hours during our recent visit to Florence, although I will admit we did the gardens, sunset at Piazza Michelangelo, dinner, Don Nino, and some nightlife the night we arrived in Florence. The whole next day was for sightseeing and more eating, beginning with the Café. We didn’t have a second night in Florence, because after exploring the Ponte Vecchio, we made our way to the Santa Maria Novella train station and headed to Rome! Stay tuned for a guide coming soon for Rome. Until then, ciao for now!
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