2 Days in Florence
Our final stop on our two week Italy adventure was Florence! Florence (Firenze in Italian), is much smaller than Rome, but it’s still loaded with history and charm. It was the heart of the Renaissance, is full of Michelangelo’s work, and according to UNESCO, the city houses 1/3 of the world’s art treasures! We had heard some great things about the city, especially about the gelato, and we were very excited to end our trip here. And while we only had 2 days in Florence and we had to work both days, making our time a bit rushed, we still managed to see a ton of the famous sights, wander around, and of course, eat! 🙂 It is a city that we could see ourselves spending a long period of time in just working from a cute Airbnb and eating tons of gelato and sandwiches everyday.
If you’re headed to Florence, we hope this 2 days in Florence travel guide makes your trip planning a bit easier and that you fall in love with the city like we did!
PS: For more Italy ideas, watch our Italy vlog series and check out the rest of our Italy guides:
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Tips for a Great Trip
- When we got to Florence (via train), we tried to hop on a bus to get to our Airbnb. It was pretty late and we were tired and our bus never came, despite the schedule saying it would. So instead we lugged our luggage 20 minutes to our Airbnb, where we were greeted by our host who told us the busses are super unreliable, especially at night. We ended up walking the rest of our time in Florence and it was great!
- If you plan to visit a lot of museums, buy the Firenzecard, which gets you into over 78 museums within 72 hours for €85 a person. To determine if this is a good fit for you, we recommend making a list of your top museums, adding up the cost, and seeing if it’s less than €85 a person.
- You must cover your shoulders and knees when entering religious spaces, such as in the Duomo.
- Wake up early to beat the crowds. It’s 100% worth it!
- In Italy, they do not drink lattes (especially flavored ones) or many of the other coffee drinks we are used to in the US. The main drinks to order are: an espresso, macchiato, or a cappuccino (but only before 10:30 AM). We drank lots of macchiatos and loved them! Coffee is also way cheaper than in the US! You also usually drink your coffee and then pay, which is different than we were used to.
- Tipping is not expected in Italy like it is in the US. Some places do charge a small service fee or charge a little more for table service though.
- There is a rumor that gluten and dairy sensitive folks can eat gluten and dairy in Europe. Kathryn is gluten free in the US (and doesn’t eat much dairy) and decided to test the theory and felt fine the whole trip (and we ate a TON of gluten)!
- If you’re driving, make sure to get an International Driving Permit. You can get this from AAA for only $20. Make sure to bring your actual driver’s license with you too!
- We highly recommend getting an internet plan for your phone or SIM card. Relying solely on wifi can be a bit stressful at times and it’s worth the cost to be able to use your phone freely. We also suggest downloading offline Google Maps so you can use maps without eating up data.
- Buy an adapter before you go! Also, make sure your hair dryer and straightener (and other electrical items) are dual voltage. We took this hair dryer and this straightener with us during the trip and they worked great!
- None of our Airbnb’s had keypads so we had to meet the hosts in person, which wasn’t a huge deal, but this can be a tad trickier if you arrive somewhere late so keep that in mind. You also have to pay a tourist tax for all Airbnbs (this should be in their listing) and they will ask to see your passport, so don’t be alarmed when they ask!
- Bring Euros! We used Euros WAY more than we thought we would. We took out some Euros at our bank beforehand to ensure we had some on hand, but then used bank ATMs the rest of the trip (the ones in actual banks, NOT the ones just on the street in the big cities—those will charge you massive fees). We ended up spending around 500 Euros in cash over two weeks. In the smaller cities, don’t expect everywhere to take a credit card, but even in some of the larger cities, some gelato spots or restaurants only took cash. You also need some coins handy if you want to use public restrooms.
- If you’re staying at Airbnbs and need somewhere to store your bags, we recommend checking out Bagbnb. We have used this in many cities and it is a huge help!
- Sometimes restaurants/coffee shops/gelato spots weren’t open when Google said they would be (and we never knew why). We ran into this issue in almost every city, both big and small. We learned to not trust Google for hours and to not get too set on going somewhere because there was a chance it wouldn’t actually be open. Being flexible is key!
There are a couple ways to get to Florence depending on where you’re coming from. We took a train from Rome to Florence and it was super easy and quick (Side note: trains in Italy ROCK! We would travel by train over plane any day! We had so much space and it was super nice!)
Florence also has an airport, which until we were in Italy, we had no idea it was a smaller airport. We had always thought since Florence was a popular city, it would have a big international airport, but the airport is pretty small compared to Venice or Rome. Because of this, it may be a tad pricier or have less flight options. There is a train that will take you to town from the airport, which was a huge perk!
There is also another airport near Florence, the Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa, which is the larger of the two. You could land here and then take a ~1.5 hour train to Florence.
Where to Stay
The nice thing about Florence is that no matter where you stay, you’ll likely be very close to the main sights! We stayed a little northeast of the tourist attractions and we were worried it would be too far, but it ended up being perfect!
As always, we highly recommend Airbnb, but especially in Florence because the city feels like a smaller city and having an Airbnb makes you feel a bit more like a local. We loved our Airbnb! It was the cutest loft and was great for working, relatively cheap ($108/night with taxes), had an awesome coffee maker called a Moka pot that we took full advantage of, and our host was very kind when we arrived super late. Here are a few Airbnb options, including ours, that would be great to stay at!
PS: If it is your first time staying at an Airbnb, click this link to get $40 off your first stay!
Warning: they are a bit pricier than most Airbnbs!
Similar to the other cities we visited in Italy, we do not recommend renting a car unless you are visiting Tuscany after Florence (we unfortunately didn’t have enough time). Florence is such a walkable city and we walked everywhere! It was amazing! Not only did we get to eat more gelato because of how much we walked, but we also got to see a lot of the city this way! They do have busses, but we had a bad experience waiting for one on our first night (see our tips above) and decided to not waste our time again.
If you want to enjoy Florence at a more leisurely pace, two days is perfect. But since Florence is much smaller and easier to get around than Rome, you could try to squeeze as much of this guide into one day and still have a great experience!
- Start your morning with coffee and pastry at Ghibellina Forno Pasticceria Bakery.
- Climb to the top of the Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore). The Duomo is probably one of the most iconic sights in Florence. It is 463 steps to the top, but don’t let that scare you–it’s totally worth it! The views at the top are incredible and the climb up is super fun. You do have to climb through some narrow spaces, shared with people going up and down, so we recommend getting here when it opens to avoid having to squeeze by too many people. It’s €22/person to buy “skip the line” tickets, which really just means you get to enter at the designated time on your ticket, but definitely helps shorten the wait a bit.
- Note: This is included on the Firenzecard and you can find instructions on how to get your ticket here. It may be trickier to get tickets right when it opens if you have the card, but you could still go very early!
- Another great view of the city is from Giotto’s Bell Tower. The advantage of this viewpoint over the Duomo is that you get to see the Duomo from the top. We did not personally go up the bell tower, but if you have the time to do both, we hear that it’s fun to check them both out and see which you prefer. It’s also included in the Firenzecard, so if you have that, it’s no extra cost for you!
- Walk over to the Basilica of Santa Croce. This church is gorgeous on the outside and is the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini, and Machiavelli. There are also 16 family chapels inside, built by well off families. We only admired the church from the outside, but you can go inside for €8/person (this is also included in the Firenzecard). The piazza that the basilica is in is also huge and fun to hang around in!
- Enjoy a sandwich at All’ Antico Vinaio, which was one of our favorite things we ate in Italy. For €5 you get a large sandwich packed with flavor! We highly recommend the Dante or Inferno (The Dante was our favorite though!). We loved this place so much we bought a total of 8 sandwiches in two days haha–4 of them just for our flights home. They open at 10 AM and we recommend getting there early to avoid the lines! There are 3 locations all right across from each other, so if one looks busy, head to another one!
- Grab gelato at Gelateria dei Neri. This place is super good, but do not get the Caramello flavor unless you LOVE sugar. It’s basically caramel fudge, but we thought it was gelato and were very surprised. It’s delicious, but extremely rich and not something we could eat a lot of.
- Visit the Uffizi museum. Disclaimer: we aren’t huge art museum people, so we did not go into this museum. But it is one of the top art museums in the world and famous sights in Florence, so if you enjoy art, we’d consider this a must-do!
- Spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around the city. If you bought the Firenzecard, this would be a good time to check out some other museums that the card covers!
- End the day with one of our favorite experiences in Italy: dinner + show at Teatro Del Sale! We had seen this spot on “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” and were dying to experience it for ourselves. We weren’t totally sure what to expect, but we loved it! When you arrive, you’ll wait a bit in the lobby area until they let you enter the dining area. Once you enter, you find a seat (you may have to sit with others) and then the eating begins shortly after!
The kitchen has glass windows, so you can watch them make food and whenever it’s done, they open a window and set it out and you get up and fill your plate. For some of the items, they’ll yell something in Italian, which was one of the highlights. It’s basically an all you can eat buffet for an hour, with appetizers, pasta, meat, dessert, and espresso!
After dinner, they have a show, which varies every night. Sometimes it’s comedy (in Italian), but ours was a small concert, which was great! Overall, we couldn’t recommend this more–the food was delicious, the environment was fun, and it was just such a unique experience! To get a reservation, you’ll need to pay a membership fee for the theater, which is €7/person and then email email@example.com with the date you want to attend and number of people. The dinner is €30/person, but you get a ton of food!
- Kickoff day 2 by visiting Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’Accademia! While David is the main attraction here, there are also other sculptures and art to explore, including some unfinished work by Michelangelo. We only spent a short amount of time here, but you could spend a bit longer. This is also a part of the Firenzecard!
- Visit Mercato Centrale for coffee and a pastry. This market has tons of food and non-food items to buy and is fun to explore.
- Wander through the Piazza and Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, another beautiful church!
- Explore Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria. This piazza is full of beautiful statues, including a replica of David. You can admire Palazzo Vecchio from outside, or go inside, which is what we did. If you have the time, we highly recommend going up the tower! The views were incredible of the Duomo and Florence. It was also wayyyy less crowded than the Duomo at the top (there were only 2 other people). This is also a part of the Firenzecard!
- Have lunch at Gustarium. This pizza spot was awesome! They have a variety of pizzas to choose from and you pick the flavor + size you want and they heat it up for you. The flavors here were so unique, including ingredients like fig, seafood, and more. They told us the pizzas are different everyday, which is pretty cool!
- Walk across the Ponte Vecchio, which is a bridge similar to Rialto bridge in Venice, that is lined with shops, although these were mostly all jewelry shops. It’s fun to see and walk across, but we didn’t spend much time here.
- Get gelato at Gelateria La Carraia or Gelateria Santa Trinita or be naughty and get it at both places like we did 🙂
- Take a break from the city and visit the Giardino di Boboli, a garden with museums (part of the Firenzecard). We did not have a chance to visit, but plan to go next time!
- Enjoy sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo. This was one of our favorite spots in Florence. The views of the city and mountains are incredible! We hear that sunset is beautiful here, but busy, so we woke up very early to enjoy it at sunrise. But no matter when you go, it’ll be magical!
- For dinner, enjoy a local delicacy: Bistecca alla Fiorentina (aka: a massive steak!). We went to Il Tuscani for steak, but another good spot is Chianineria Trattoria dall’Oste. This won’t be a cheap meal, but it’ll be delicious! If steak is not your thing, we recommend trying ribollita, a Tuscan soup, at Trattoria Za Za.
- And for the grand gelato finale, go to Gelato at La Strega Nocciola! This was our favorite gelato in Florence and one of our top three gelatos in Italy! You must try the Buontalenti flavor, which is made with mascarpone cheese. It was absolutely incredible!
- To end your trip, walk around at night to see the Duomo and other buildings lit up. The city is very beautiful at night!
If you have extra time…
- Ditta Artigianale
- Bar Pasticceria Piccioli
- Mo’ Si Caffetteria Alla Vecchia Maniera
- Shake Cafe–This healthy spot serves coffee, avocado toast, smoothies, acai bowls, and other food items. We went to the one by the Duomo and it was super cute!
- Caffe Rosano
- Antico Forno Giglio (Another spot from “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” that we loved!)
- Panini Toscani
- I’ Girone De’ Ghiotti
- Trattoria Mario
- Le Vespe for breakfast
- Il Nutino
- La Maremma
- Vini e Vecchi Sapori
- Da Angelo Gelateria
- Perche no!…
- GROM (a chain, but we hear it’s really good!)
- Gelateria de’ Medici
- Il Procopio
- Take a cooking class–this is one thing we didn’t have time for that we regret SO much! It would’ve been so fun to make our own Italian delicacies. There are many different classes to choose from, most of which start in Florence, but take you to the Tuscan countryside. This is a more time consuming activity and does cost a decent amount of money, which is why it’s not included in the main part of our guide.
- Speaking of Tuscany, if we had more time we would’ve loved to have gone to the Tuscan Countryside! If you love wine, this is a must do!
- Visit the leaning tower of Pisa! This would be a good day trip option from Florence!
- Go on a food tour
- Check out more museums
Ready to explore Florence?
Pin this 2 Days in Florence guide to help plan your trip!