Here’s a guide to the marvelous city of Florence, nestled in the heart of Tuscany. Known for its natural beauty, art and culinary delights, this city is a gem waiting to be explored. If you’re planning a visit, here are the best things to see in Florence in 3 days.
Three days in Florence is an excellent choice for your next visit to Italy. Renowned globally, Florence is often referred to as the “Cradle of the Renaissance” due to its significant contributions to art, architecture, culture, and politics during the Renaissance period. The city houses works from artists like Michelangelo and Botticelli. Additionally, it’s also known as “Giglio”, a name derived from the city’s coat of arms which features a red lily on a white background.
Regardless of the name you choose to call her by, the allure of Florence remains undiminished. It’s no surprise that the city’s historic centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll discover this firsthand during your three-day exploration of Florence, as you wander its streets and traverse its squares. Immersed in a rich tapestry of churches, historical palaces, cathedrals, theatres, and parks, the city’s enduring charm will become evident.
In this city, you’ll experience an atmosphere that’s vibrant, effervescent and dynamic, where history seamlessly converges with the present. It feels akin to observing a living painting. And when it’s time to dine, the tantalizing aromas wafting from your plate… But let’s not anticipate anything. We’ll delve into what to eat in due time, as we have ample to discuss in the section dedicated to food and wine.
What to see in Florence in 3 days
Recognized by directors of all stature, Florence has frequently been chosen as the setting for significant films. Notable examples include Monicelli’s “My Friends”, Franco Zeffirelli’s “Tea with Mussolini”, and Kenneth Branagh’s “Much Ado About Nothing”, among others and just to name but a few.
But let’s get ready to leave. We will guide you to the best attractions for a three-day visit to Florence.
If you’re questioning whether a weekend is truly sufficient, rest assured that with a practical guide to lead the way, it can indeed be enough. Purchasing tickets online for certain museums can enhance your experience even further! However, if you have additional days to spare, consider taking the time to explore the surrounding areas of Florence, immersed in its unforgettable rolling hills.
To avoid waiting in lines and purchasing tickets at each attraction, you might want to consider the convenience of the Firenze Card. This card provides access to the main museums, including the Uffizi and Accademia.
The Firenze Card is priced at €85.00 per person and can be purchased either online or at a point of sale. The card remains valid for 72 hours from the moment it’s first activated upon entering a museum.
The Firenze Card includes:
- Entry tickets to attractions
- Additional charges for exhibitions
- Reservation costs with priority access to all museums on the circuit. (Please note: PRIORITY ACCESS to the Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Gallery and Brancacci Chapel is only possible following a free, but mandatory reservation.)
- Free entrance for children under 18 years of age from the same household as the card holder.
Visit Florence in 3 days: the itinerary
Here’s our tried-and-true three-day itinerary for exploring Florence, born out of our love for traveling in Italy. Our adventure in this city was one of the most memorable experiences. We concentrated on the historical center, home to the most significant monuments, museums, churches, and historical palaces.
Within the city’s perimeter, you’ll find the ZTL – Zona a Traffico Limitato, or Restricted Traffic Zone. You’re not permitted to drive within this zone, but given its modest size, it’s easily navigable on foot.
Alternatively, there are several transportation options available. These include buses and trams, the City Sightseeing tourist bus, and bicycle rentals. Electric buses (running on lines C1, C2, C3, and C4) operate in the city center on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on public holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Local ATAF and LI-NEA transport buses and trams also serve Florence and its surrounding areas, including Scandicci, Bagno a Ripoli, Sesto Fiorentino, Campi Bisenzio, and Calenzano. For those looking to venture further afield, the Busitalia line extends to locations such as Mugello, Siena, San Gimignano, and the Tuscan coast.
Piazza della Signoria with Palazzo Vecchio
Here’s what to see in 3 days in Florence: let’s start with the first stop located between Piazza del Duomo and the Arno river, Piazza della Signoria. This lively square is filled with quaint cafes and outdoor eateries.
It’s here that you’ll find the 13th century Palazzo Vecchio and its museum, which houses works by renowned artists like Michelangelo Buonarroti, Donatello, and Verrocchio. Nearby stands the Arnolfo Tower, designed by architect Arnolfo di Cambio in 1310, soaring to a height of 95 meters.
The Palazzo Vecchio, symbolizing Florence and serving as the city’s municipal headquarters, maintains its medieval structure despite having undergone several name changes. It transitioned from Palazzo Priori to Palazzo Signoria, then to Palazzo Ducale, and finally to Palazzo Vecchio when Duke Cosimo’s court relocated to the “new” Palazzo Pitti in 1565.
At the entrance, you’ll encounter masterpieces by famed artists such as Donatello and Marzocco. Among them are Judith and Holofernes (the original is housed in the Bargello Museum), sculptures of Adam and Eve, a replica of David’s statue, and Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli. Inside the Palazzo Vecchio, you’ll find Giorgio Vasari’s celebrated Salone dei Cinquecento.
Other attractions in Piazza della Signoria include the Loggia dei Lanzi, the Neptune Fountain, and the equestrian statue of Cosimo I.
Orsanmichele Church and Museum
Another must-visit during the three days in Florence is the Orsanmichele Church, situated between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria. This three-tiered structure, originally a granary, was converted into a place of worship in the 14th century.
Even before entering the church, you can appreciate the statues carved by artists such as Donatello and Brunelleschi, displayed in various niches. The ground floor houses the entrance to the two-nave church, where one can admire the altar of St. Anne and the Tabernacle of the Virgin. On the first floor, which formerly served as a grain storehouse, you’ll find a museum showcasing several statues by Florentine Renaissance artists.
Piazza del Duomo
What better place to start your three-day visit to Florence than the Piazza del Duomo? Nestled in the heart of the city’s historic centre, this square is dominated by the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, constructed in the late 13th century. It’s the third-largest cathedral in Europe, surpassed only by St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London.
The cathedral, distinguished by its white, green, and red marble facade, was built on the site of the former Cathedral of Santa Reparata. Here, you can admire Filippo Brunelleschi’s Dome up close, with its interior vault adorned with frescoes depicting scenes from the Last Judgement by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari.
Also worth visiting are the Baptistery of San Giovanni, one of the oldest churches in Florence; Giotto’s Campanile (about 85 metres high and a climb of 400 steps), separate from Santa Maria del Fiore, and – if you have time – the Museo dell’Opera with over 700 works of art by artists such as Michelangelo, Donatello and Andrea Pisano.
Visiting hours for the Baptistery are daily from 9 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Tickets cost €5 for adults and €3 for children aged 7 to 14. A combined ticket for the Baptistery of San Giovanni and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is priced at €10 for adults and €5 for children aged 7 to 14.
The museum is open every day from 9 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. A combined ticket for the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and the Baptistery of San Giovanni costs €10 for adults and €5 for children aged 7 to 14.
The itinerary for visiting Florence in three days should also include a visit to the Uffizi Gallery. This museum, one of the most frequented worldwide, offers a unique “time capsule” experience.
Spread across three floors, this remarkable site invites you on a journey through different eras of painting, timeless masterpieces like Botticelli’s “Venus” and “Spring”, “Medusa”, and “The Holy Family”.
The Uffizi Gallery showcases works by eminent artists such as Giotto and Gentile da Fabriano, to the more revolutionary figures like Masaccio. The exploration continues with Renaissance giants including Botticelli, Leonardo, and Michelangelo, culminating with pieces from Raphael, Titian, and Caravaggio.
Tickets can be purchased both at the gallery and online. Given the high visitor turnout, reservations are recommended. Consult ticket prices on their official website on this page https://www.uffizi.it/pagine/prezzi-biglietti.
Single tickets for the Uffizi also include free admission to the National Archaeological Museum and the Museum of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure.The cost of booking tickets is €4 for the Uffizi. They also offer a combined ticket for the Uffizi, Pitti Palace, and Boboli Gardens, which is valid for five consecutive days.
Constructed in 1345, Ponte Vecchio (“Old Bridge”) is the oldest bridge in Florence, spanning the Arno River. However, it’s more than just a bridge – since the 17th century, it has been a bustling hub of commerce, housing goldsmith shops in its distinctive structures. Originally occupied by butchers, these shops were allocated to goldsmiths by Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici in an effort to lend more elegance to the bridge.
Your three-day visit to Florence, a city teeming with art, culture, and history, should certainly include the Accademia Gallery. If you have the time to embark on this marvelous exploration of pictorial, sculptural, and musical art spanning from the 13th century to the modern era, the Galleria dell’Accademia is worth every moment!
Just the experience of standing before Michelangelo’s original David, a sculpture over 5 meters high that epitomizes Renaissance artistic mastery, is awe-inspiring. Other renowned artists featured include Paolo Uccello, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli, and Andrea del Sarto. In addition, the museum showcases antique musical instruments that once belonged to the Medici and Lorraine grand dukes, from the collections of the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory in Florence.
Ticket prices are as follows: full price is €13; reduced price for 18-25 year olds is €3; entry is free for those eligible under rate 3.
To avoid long queues, it’s advisable to pre-book your visit time either online or at the venue.
Alternatively, reservations can be made by calling Firenze Musei at +39 055 294883 (booking fee: €4.00).
Please note that admission to the museum is free on the first Sunday of every month.
Basilica of San Lorenzo
The Basilica of San Lorenzo, which was Florence’s original cathedral, was established in the 4th century and consecrated in 393 AD in the presence of Saint Ambrose. It is dedicated to the deacon and martyr, Lorenzo.
The complex incorporates the cloisters adjacent to the Basilica, the Medicean Laurentian Library, the Medici Chapels, and the Museum of San Lorenzo’s Treasure located in the basement. This area, formerly used for burials and city confraternities, now houses the liturgical furnishings and reliquaries of the Basilica, the tomb of Cosimo the Elder, and a commemorative plaque honouring Donatello.
Noteworthy attractions within the Basilica include the Old Sacristy designed by Brunelleschi, Filippo Lippi’s Annunciation, Rosso Fiorentino’s Marriage of the Virgin, and Bronzino’s Martyrdom of San Lorenzo.
The Complex is open for visits from Monday to Saturday, between 10:00 am and 5:30 pm. Please note that it is closed on January 1st, January 6th, and August 10th.
Tickets for the Complex, which include entry to the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the Old Sacristy, the Cloisters, the Treasury Museum, the crypt, and the monumental underground passages, are priced at €9. Please be aware that the Medici Library and the Medici Chapels are not included in this ticket, and separate tickets must be purchased for these attractions.
Admission is free for children up to 12 years of age, disabled individuals and their companions, as well as tour guides and group leaders.
Church of Santa Maria Novella
Located near the central railway station and facing the square that shares its name, stands the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella (1279). This Gothic and Renaissance style building is distinguished by its stunning white marble façade, capped by the towering bell tower behind it.
Inside, you can admire renowned works such as Masaccio’s Trinity, crucifixes by Giotto and Brunelleschi, frescoes by Ghirlandaio, Filippino Lippi, Botticelli among other Renaissance artists. The tour encompasses the Filippo Strozzi Chapels, the Major Chapel or Tornabuoni Chapel, the Great Cloister, the Cloister of the Dead, the Green Cloister, and the Spanish Chapel.
An interesting fact: Located not far from the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, at Via della Scala 16, is the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. As one of the oldest pharmacies in the world that is still in operation, it offers free visits to the public.
Visiting hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the year, including Sundays and public holidays. From mid-September to mid-July, the complex opens at 1 p.m.
The ticket costs €7.50, which includes entrance to Santa Maria Novella plus an additional €4.00 for the guided tour.
Tickets for visiting the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and the adjacent museum can be purchased on-site or online, the latter being preferable to avoid lengthy queues at the entrance.
Reduced price tickets are available for children aged 11 to 18. Admission is free for children up to 11 years of age, residents of Florence, individuals with disabilities, journalists, and tour guides or leaders of school or group tours.
Basilica of Santa Croce
Known as the Florentine Pantheon for artists and scholars, the Basilica di Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan basilica in Florence. It houses 16 family chapels, each rich in decorations, frescoes, and sculptures. According to legend, its structure dates back to 1212, built by St Francis and his followers. However, the existing building was constructed in 1294 by Arnolfo di Cambio.
Situated in the square bearing its name, Santa Croce stands out with its grand Gothic-style exterior adorned with polychrome marble added in 1863, a striking contrast to the building’s ancient structure.
It is not widely known that the basilica serves as the final resting place for illustrious personalities like Michelangelo, Rossini, Machiavelli, Galileo Galilei, Alfieri, Ugo Foscolo, among others. A memorial to Dante, whose remains are in Ravenna, is also present.
Inside, the basilica hosts artistic treasures such as Donatello’s wooden crucifix; Gaddi’s frescoes in the Main Chapel; Giotto’s frescoes in the Bardi and Peruzzi Chapels, depicting scenes from the lives of St. Francis and St. John the Evangelist; a relief by Donatello, the Annunciation; and a monument dedicated to Giovanni Battista Niccolini.
To the right of the church stands the unfinished bell tower, soaring over 78 metres high, colloquially known as “the rock of Santa Croce”.
Also worth visiting are the three cloisters, tranquil spaces once used for prayer and meditation.
The Museo dell’Opera di Santa Croce, part of the Santa Croce Church complex and adjacent cloisters, showcases more marvellous works from the Florentine school. The Pazzi Chapel, designed by Brunelleschi and an example of Renaissance architecture, can be accessed from the convent’s cloister.
Opening hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. The basilica is closed on New Year’s Eve, Easter, June 13, October 4, Christmas, and Boxing Day.
Tickets cost €8 at full price. Concessions are available at €6 for children aged 11 to 17 and groups of at least 15 people. Admission is free for children under 11, residents of Florence, individuals with disabilities and their companions, tour guides/authorized escorts, and teachers accompanying school groups.
The Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
A must-see for anyone visiting Florence, Palazzo Pitti was constructed in 1457, commissioned by the Pitti family. The design was entrusted to Filippo Brunelleschi and later executed by his pupil, Luca Fancelli.
Over time, the palace, which overlooks the famous Boboli Gardens, was the residence of the Medici family and the King of Italy. Today – in a structure spread over three floors – it houses a complex of museums and galleries collecting works of art of great value.
Here’s what you can visit inside Palazzo Pitti:
- The Palatine Gallery, featuring a collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings, with works from artists such as Raphael, Titian, Rubens, and Caravaggio.
- The Royal Apartments, formerly inhabited by the Medici and Lorraine families. From 1865, these rooms housed the King of Italy during the period when Florence served as the capital.
- The Gallery of Modern Art.
- The Silver Museum.
- The Museum of Fashion and Costume.
- The Museum of Porcelain.
- The Boboli Gardens (established in the 1400s): an example of a Renaissance garden that served as a model for the Palace of Versailles.
Admission hours are from 8:15 a.m. to 6:50 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. The palace is closed on January 1, May 1, and December 25.
Tickets are priced at €16 for full admission. A concession price of €8 is available for individuals aged 18 to 25. Entrance is free on the first Sunday of each month.
Another must-see attraction on your tour of three days in Florence is the small chapel located within the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine. This chapel remarkably survived the fire of 1771 and continues to house invaluable works, including the Brancacci Chapel and the Corsini Chapel.
Within the Brancacci Chapel, you can admire a series of frescoes depicting the life of St. Peter. These were commissioned in 1424 by Felice Brancacci, a wealthy Florentine merchant and politician. The frescoes were painted by Masolino da Panicale and his pupil, Masaccio.
Piazzale Michelangelo with the Rose Garden
Situated a few kilometres from the city centre, away from the hustle and bustle, you can reach Piazzale Michelangelo with the Rose Garden, perfect for a calming stroll. From here, you can admire several of Florence’s monuments, including the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, and Ponte Vecchio, all set against the backdrop of the Tuscan hills.
Located below Piazzale Michelangelo, there is the wonderful Rose Garden, a haven to about a thousand varieties of roses and other ornamental plants, including as many as 350 species of old roses.
The Garden is open all year round with free admission from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m./8:00 p.m. in the summer and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m./5:00 p.m. in the winter.
Nearby you can also visit the Church or Abbey of San Miniato al Monte. It is open from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the summer and from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., then again from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the winter.
What to do in Florence in 3 days
Now that you know what to see in Florence in three days, we can give you some suggestions on what to do.
As always, for the sake of brevity, you can consult this list:
- Capture memorable moments at these scenic spots, which are among the most beautiful in Florence: Ponte Vecchio, offering a sweeping view of the Arno River and the city; Piazzale Michelangelo; the Duomo Bell Tower; and Brunelleschi’s Dome.
- Pay a visit to the Porcellino Fountain, where touching its nose is said to bring good luck. This bronze sculpture is nestled between Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, and Piazza della Repubblica.
- Embark on a tour of goldsmith workshops located on Ponte Vecchio and explore the typical markets such as Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo, Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio, Mercato del Porcellino, and Mercato delle Pulci.
- Savour the local flavours by strolling through typical restaurants and sampling street food.
- If time permits, consider a tour around Florence to visit Chianti, Siena, Pisa, and the surrounding area.
Local food and wine
We now arrive at the “main course” of this guide, which invites you to explore the wonders of Florence. These wonders are not limited to artistic and architectural marvels, but also extend to culinary delights.
If you’re wondering what to eat in Florence, the city abounds with specialities!
The best strategy is to choose a typical local trattoria, perhaps tucked away in a hidden alley near the historic centre, or a wine bar where you can sample platters of traditional cheeses and cold cuts, panzanella, crostini, and bruschetta, all paired with exceptional Tuscan wine.
Here’s an overview of typical dishes and local products you shouldn’t miss:
- Tuscan crostini with chicken liver pâté, enhanced with anchovies and capers.
- Fettunta, which is toasted bread seasoned with garlic and olive oil.
- Ribollita, a soup made with black cabbage, other vegetables, stale bread, cannellini beans, and fresh onion rings.
- Schiacciata, a type of flatbread.
- Crespelle in the Florentine style.
- Florentine tripe.
- Lampredotto, a local delicacy made from the fourth and final stomach of a cow.
- Florentine steak.
- Cantucci, a type of biscotti, paired with Vin Santo, a sweet dessert wine.
How about immersing yourself in the art of pasta making?
If you’re seeking an experience that deviates from the norm, something that could enrich your daily life or even your professional skills, consider participating in cooking classes. These are conducted by local cooks and chefs who will unveil the secrets of typical Tuscan cuisine. This is an experience worth sharing with a partner or your family for a creative, flavourful weekend that’s sure to be anything but ordinary.
Now that you know the perfect 3 Days in Florence itinerary, all we can do is wish you a happy trip to Tuscany! Remember that, with Italia Delight, you can book food and wine experiences and trips, even tailor-made ones. 😍
Cover photo: josh-hild-unsplash
Featured photo: dennis-ottink-unsplash