Inspiration for your next holiday
Inspiration for your next holiday
If you are visiting Florence for the first time and only have 48 hours, you are probably overwhelmed with things to see. The cradle of art and culture of Italy—Florence thrives with museums, churches, and all kinds of masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture.
Nestled in the heart of the Tuscan hills, Florence has always fostered a special vibe. The prosperous city has attracted painters, writers, and all sorts of artists for centuries, turning this little gem into a prolific center of culture and beauty.
Florence is quite a small city, considering its fame. You will be easily able to get around the historical center and explore its iconic points of interest in 48 hours. However, in such a short time you will have to sacrifice visiting its mouthful of museums or art exhibits. Which you will have to come back for. And don’t forget the famous cuisine and fine wine—other symbols of Florence.
Wander around the downtown and historic center for some of the most stylish restaurants or rooftop bars overlooking the scenic city views; or lose yourself in the bustling districts hopping around little old “vinai” or “osterie” hidden down lost in time alleys. You will never be bored, or hungry, in Florence.
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The following itinerary has been specifically designed for visitors new to Florence and provides an in-depth introduction to the city.
• Day 1 Morning: Duomo / Downtown and Historic Center
• Day 1 Afternoon: Santa Croce
• Day 2 Morning: Piazzale Michelangelo, San Miniato & San Niccolo’
• Day 2 Afternoon: Santo Spirito
An interactive map for your two days in Florence is shown below. Day one is highlighted in green and day two in blue (Note: zoom in or out to see all of the points and routes)
If you are visiting Florence for the first time, you need to start your exploration from its downtown and historic center.
The first stop is the wonderful Piazza della Repubblica, where you enjoy a coffee or breakfast by the elegant café surrounding the square. Once you are energized and ready to blend with the crowds, head to the stunning Piazza del Duomo, where you can admire two of the highlights of the city: Giotto's bell tower and Brunelleschi's dome.
From here, walk along the elegant Via Calzaiuoli, the main shopping street of the city. You will then arrive directly in Piazza Signoria, where the town hall, Palazzo Vecchio, stands majestically.
Take a breath to admire it, and just a few steps further you will encounter the other beauty of the city: The Uffizi Gallery. One of the most famous and visited museums in the world, this is a must-see in the city. It could take you an entire day to visit though, so you might have to come back for it.
Walk then along the Loggia of the Uffizi, and you will reach the beautiful Arno River.
Stop here to enjoy a wonderful view of Ponte Vecchio, another symbol of the city. Cross it to visit the magnificent jewelers and reach the other bank to view the imposing Palazzo Pitti. From here, you will see Florence from a whole other enchanting perspective.
Stop for lunch in this area, as there are plenty of little restaurants overlooking Ponte Vecchio and offering stunning views of the city.
After your delicious lunch, walk back to the other side of the river by crossing Ponte alle Grazie. This bridge is far less crowded than its neighbor Ponte Vecchio and offers a more scenic view.
Walk through the squares and alleys of Dante's district, which will allow you to appreciate an even more private Florence. Let yourself wander around the little hidden squares and streets off the beaten track and get to Piazza Santa Croce.
The distinctive neighborhood in Florence is a frequent pick by most people coming to visit the city because it is extremely central and close to all main attractions, but it also lends a sense of authenticity that sometimes gets lots nearby the high-end hotels and high-priced shopping stores.
From here, visit Santa Maria Novella and its stunning church. You can spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around the little streets and get lost in the history of the city.
Finally, walk down Borgo La Croce for some of the best restaurants and cafes you can find in Florence. Just pay attention to bikes and pedestrians: this street is always packed and people always seem to be in a rush!
You can relax in this area with a nice glass of wine from one of the many local vinai scattered around alleys. Or have a fashionable cocktail in one of the rooftop bars offering views of the Duomo and the city’s skyline.
After a long day exploring the Tuscan city, you might wonder what people here do for fun. If you search for some evening action in Florence, look no further than Santo Spirito.
Pick this neighborhood for an authentic night out in Florence, surrounded by crowds of tipsy loud Italians. You will smell the distinctive energy—blended with the wine—of such an eclectic city in living in a thin line between past and future.
Piazza Santo Spirito gets crammed at night with groups of young people gathering around the square to sip wine and chat. And if you’d rather skip the crowds, Santo Spirito hosts some of the best speakeasies and cozy little bars in Florence. You just have to get lost in its hidden alleys to find them.
For a unique nightlife experience, pick this fun district and let yourself escape to a night of encounters, good wine, and discoveries.
Now that you have seen a good part of the historic center, we recommend something slightly off the downtown. Still in the heart of Florence, start your second day discovering S. Niccolo’.
Start your day with a nice and relaxing breakfast at one of the cafes in S. Niccolo’ overlooking the banks of the river. This neighborhood is slightly off the radar and offers a calmer experience in the city, while still showing its soul.
San Niccolò is a district of contrasting vibes, and you will find it characteristic and fascinating. Venture inside some of the local artisans’ shops, charming and mysterious at the same time; like preserving some higher knowledge inside their craft.
The riverbank is lined up with laid-back restaurants and warm local wine bars; just a few steps back from the river, up on the hill heading to the stunning Piazzale Michelangelo, a long stretch of elegant villas leading uphill, lost in the nature overlooking Florence.
To reach Piazzale Michelangelo, you need to ascend the steep intimate streets of San Miniato district: nestled in the evocative hill slopes of Florence and trimmed by nature, this neighborhood is filled with romantic villas, gardens, and scenic views.
But there’s no better observation point than Piazzale Michelangelo, at the very top of your uphill adventure. Enjoy here the unforgettable panorama of the entire city.
After your workout up the hill, you might be starving and in need of some local food and wine. Head back down and head to Santo Spirito district to satisfy your needs and more.
Santo Spirito, probably the most 'Florentine' of the districts of Florence, blends with its neighbor “poorer cousin”, San Frediano. This odd combination forms one of the coolest area to visit if you want to experience the real essence of Florence.
Santo Spirito offers a unique insight into the Florentine life of the past and the present. Far away from the touristy spots, you can stroll around the mesmerizing streets, hop around little artists’ stores and boutiques, and make sure you catch a break at the relaxing marvelous green paradise of Boboli Gardens behind the Pitti Palace—called the “green lung” of Florence, you will be impressed by the balanced union of nature, art, and history.
Make sure you visit the Basilica di Santo Spirito, the neighborhood’s namesake church, where you will be able to catch a glimpse of the “secret” side room, which has a Michelangelo crucifix on display.
At the end of your tour, indulge in a choreographic aperitif by the river at sunset, and finally get the party going in one of the many hopping bars of the Oltrarno District.
One entire day in the hectic downtown of Florence is enough for you? If you need to escape the crowds, take a quick trip to the surroundings of Sesto Fiorentino on your second day in Florence. You will be rewarded with some tranquility and beautiful nature.
If you enjoy hiking scenic mountain trails in the woods and discovering hidden panoramic views, head to Sesto Fiorentino and its small town of Colonnata.
There, take a hike up the hills, through the fields and woods of Via delle Cappelle, passing by beautiful rustic villas with olive fields and, if you dare, head up to Monte Morello. The view will be worth your breath. Up the hills of Monte Morello, you can find down-to-earth little restaurants where you will be rewarded with local cuisine and wine.
Florence is a city of wonders that never cease to intrigue or surprise. You will see how just a short trip in its surroundings can introduce you to a whole other vibe of the city.