Wondering how to spend 3 days in Florence?
While I could easily spend far longer exploring Florence, three days is enough time to see a lot of the top sights.
Keep reading for my suggested itinerary!
Often people visit Florence as part of a wider Italian or European trip.
Maybe you've been to Rome or Venice and are stopping in Florence en-route to your next location, or have just a few days before or after a cruise.
This means that maximizing your time is crucial to ensuring you get the most out of visiting Florence!
Keep reading for our guide to having a great time during three days in Florence, including:
Before getting into the details of my suggested Florence itinerary, there are a few things to think about to help refine your plans.
This seems a very basic question, but what do you want to do during your trip?
Are you someone who wants to see as many churches in Florence as you can, or would you prefer to spend your time wandering around the streets of the historic city center?
Your activity level and interests will heavily influence whether my suggested itinerary is right for you.
Luckily the center of Florence is pretty small so if you want to change things up or take it slower, you can still make it work.
If you are planning to visit in the summer months, think about what you need to book in advance to avoid standing in long lines in the intense heat.
You also should check if you are planning a trip around the time of a national holiday.
Day 1 of our Florence itinerary is all about getting to know the city.
Wherever you are staying in Florence, get up early, grab a quick coffee and pastry at a bar and make your way to the Piazza del Duomo.
This piazza is the heart of Florence's historic center.
It is home to the majestic Florence cathedral, and has been the focal point of the city for centuries.
Starting at the very center of the Piazza del Duomo, at the intersection with Via Martelli, you have an excellent view of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, the Florence baptistery and Campanile bell tower.
Walk around the piazza to get a good look at the incredible architecture and marble design of the three coordinating buildings.
We'll be back here tomorrow for a closer look inside the complex, but if you want to go inside the cathedral now, get in the queue early to ensure you don't spend too much time standing around.
Be sure to walk around the baptistery and admire the wonderful panels on the bronze doors.
This is the oldest of the buildings in the Piazza del Duomo and for centuries was where everyone in Florence was baptised.
En route, turn up to the right to see Piazza della Repubblica if you have time for a detour.
The famous carousel is in this piazza, as are many of Florence's historic cafes so this is the ideal time for a coffee break!
Once you've reached Piazza della Signoria, start by walking around the l-shaped space, surrounded by medieval buildings.
Ignore the looming Palazzo Vecchio for the moment and admire the different monuments in the piazza, which tell the story of Florence's political history.
The Neptune fountain was the first public fountain in Florence, created in the 1500's under orders from Cosimo I de'Medici.
Multiple artists worked on it and the grand styling was designed to make it clear how powerful the Medici family were.
Opposite this fountain is the large equestrian statue of Cosimo I himself, destined to stand tall above the crowds of people forever.
Piazza della Signoria was also the location for public executions for centuries, and you can see a plaque just in front of the Neptune fountain which commemorates the spot on which preacher Savonarola was burned in 1498 after he had overthrown Florence's rulers.
Before we take a closer look at Palazzo Vecchio itself, stop at the outdoor gallery known as the Loggia dei Lanzi and get up close with the classic sculptures on display.
Now that you've explored the piazza, you're ready to take in the stark beauty of Palazzo Vecchio.
Originally built to be a safe place for Florence's magistrates to go about their business in the early 14th century, it was later taken over by the grand dukes of the Medici family as their residence until they moved to the Pitti Palace in 1589.
It continued to be an important civic building through Florence's history, and today it is home to the city hall.
The palazzo also houses a museum where you can see some of the stunning architecture and decor from the time of the Medici.
You can purchase tickets to go inside the museum and climb the steep bell tower, but for this itinerary, get a glimpse of the splendor without paying anything!
Pop inside the entrance courtyard and admire the artwork before leaving, but don't forget to pay your respects to the replica of Michelangelo's David sculpture just outside!
The original statue of David stood here until 1873 when it was moved to the Accademia Gallery to protect it.
From Piazza della Signoria, walk up Via Vacchereccia and turn left onto Via Por Santa Maria, which after a short walk brings you to the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno river.
The Ponte Vecchio is an essential inclusion in any Florence itinerary, so take the time as you walk over the bridge to look at its special architecture and views of the river.
Once you're across the Ponte Vecchio, enjoy the walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, about 20 minutes depending on which route you take.
Once you reach the wide piazza, drink in the wonderful view of the entire city and Tuscan hills beyond.
This offers one of the best views of Florence anywhere in the city, which is why I highly recommend coming up here at the start of your trip!
There's more things to see on the hill if you have time, including the beautiful San Miniato al Monte basilica and Rose Garden.
It's also a great spot to take a break and have lunch.
There is a panino stall just off of the piazza as well as a couple of restaurants to choose from.
After you've had your fill of the views, head back down the hill and head to the Uffizi Gallery.
Remember to book your entrance tickets for the Uffizi Gallery in advance (or entrance time slot if you're using the Firenze Pass) to avoid the lengthy queues.
Once inside the Uffizi, take your time and explore.
The palazzo itself is stunning, designed by Giorgio Vasari (who was responsible for the paintings on inside of the Duomo) for Cosimo I de'Medici to be part administrative offices and part private art gallery.
The Uffizi collection originated with the Medici family, and was donated to the city of Florence when they died out.
It has some incredible pieces by famous Italian artists, including the Birth of Venus by Botticelli and the Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, and really demonstrates Florence's influence on the artistic world.
After seeing as much of the Uffizi Galleries as you can manage, it's time to relax!
Eat at one of the many excellent restaurants in this central area of Florence Italy, along with a glass or two of local wine, you've earned it!
Some alternative activities for your first day in Florence could be:
Day 2 of our three days in Florence will take you deep into the city's history through its churches.
Today we're starting at the Basilica di Santa Croce.
Before we go inside, stand in the piazza in front of the church and take in the beautiful facade, which wasn't actually finished until the 1800's.
The basilica dates back much further than that however, so book your entrance tickets for as close to opening time as possible so you can see all that it has to offer.
From the outside it is not possible to grasp how far the complex extends, so as well as the basilica itself, there are also peaceful cloisters, chapels, a crypt and the museum to explore.
Key things to look out for are the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli and Giotto's frescoes in the Peruzzi and Bardi chapels, but there is so much to see!
Our dedicated page will give you more details to help you plan your visit.
Once you've had your fill of Santa Croce, we're heading back to where we started Day 1, the Piazza del Duomo.
This stop will require some pre-planning on your part, as you will need to select and book your ticket option in advance.
There are three ticket options for the Duomo complex to choose from:
The cathedral is always free to enter, with or without tickets to the rest of the complex.
If you want to climb the dome, you will want to book your chosen time slot around the rest of your plans which will allow you to skip the line for the cathedral entrance.
You do not have to select a time slot for any of the other places to visit however.
Unless you're really keen on climbing, you do not need to climb both the dome and bell tower on the same day.
The view of the Duomo up close from the bell tower is incredible but seeing the inside of the dome as you climb up is also super special, so you can't go wrong with either one!
You can of course do both, but this will eat into your time significantly.
Whichever order you visit the different buildings in, I would recommend finishing with the museum.
Seeing the decorative elements up close and following the story of the construction stages is so much more interesting when you understand the context!
Once you've had your fill of the Piazza del Duomo, it's time to visit another one of Florence's must see churches, the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella.
The basilica of Santa Maria Novella was the first one built in Florence, and has been a canvas to generations of Florentine artists, so no exploration of Florence would be complete without visiting.
The basilica is just a short walk across the road from the Santa Maria Novella station so it's very easy to get there either by walking or using public transport.
Both the basilica itself and the museum are open to the public, but on Fridays and Sundays the basilica is open to visitors after services have taken place, so double check the opening hours for when you intend to go inside.
For lots more visitor information and tips ready for your visit, take a look at our dedicated page!
The Dominican friars who established the monastic complex here also established a garden, growing plants that they could use for the benefit of their health.
Over the centuries their experience expanded into preparations not just for health purposes but cosmetic and fragrances, and incredibly you can still buy these today at the Santa Maria Novella pharmacy, located a few minutes from the basilica.
I love browsing in their flagship store, which also includes a small museum.
Florence is absolutely filled with churches, so you could instead visit:
On our third day in Florence Italy we'll be starting with the Accademia Gallery, home to the original Michelangelo's David.
We couldn't finish a visit to Florence without going to one of the most impressive art museums anywhere in the world.
The draw of the David is not the only reason to visit the Accademia, there is so much more to see here!
I've spent hours here exploring the different rooms, the collection is eclectic but so interesting.
As with all of Florence's top sights, you'll want to book your entrance tickets well in advance.
Make sure to arrive a little before your entrance time slot, and be aware that there is a mandatory security check which causes a short queue.
You can read our page here for all the details on how to make the most out of your visit, but my top tip is to take your time and not rush straight to the statue of David.
Visitors are let in hourly, so they pour in and more often than not head straight to the main hall.
By taking your time to explore the other rooms first (the historical musical instrument collection is a definite must see), the crowds around the David will have started to ease by the time you get there.
After seeing all that the Accademia has to offer, your next stop is the nearby neighborhood of San Lorenzo.
This part of Florence is where the Medici's built their banking and political empire.
As well as being filled with grand buildings and churches, there are also numerous restaurants, shops and markets to explore.
As the Medici's grew more powerful, everyone wanted to be nearby, so there is a long tradition of quality craftsmanship here.
The San Lorenzo market stalls stretch around the covered cast-iron structure of the Mercato Centrale, selling leather goods, clothing, souvenirs, jewelry and ceramics.
Once you've finished browsing the San Lorenzo market, go inside the Mercato Centrale and indulge at the many food stalls set up here.
You'll find grocery stores selling meats, cheeses, bread, sweets and more, as well as delis making fresh dishes for you to eat there and then.
Make your selection and then enjoy your lunch at one of the communal tables.
Once you've eaten your fill in the market, you have a free afternoon to explore on your own time.
You could continue shopping, head to Ponte Vecchio if jewelry is your thing or Via de' Tornabuoni for designer stores.
For a more active afternoon, you can visit the extensive museum along with the imperial and royal apartments in the Pitti Palace, which was built by the Medici's when Palazzo Vecchio was no longer suitable for them to live in.
Pitti Palace is vast, but you should also make time to visit the adjoining Boboli gardens, filled with interesting sculptures and architectural details.
If you are planning to visit the Pitti Palace, Boboli gardens and Uffizi Gallery all on one trip, you can purchase a combination ticket for all three sights which works out cheaper than getting them individually.
This is valid for five days so you can space out your visits!
If you'd rather do something else on the third day, how about one of these options:
While you can see a lot in Florence in 3 days, there's always more to explore!
If you're looking to stay in Florence for longer, here are some suggestions for how to spend your time:
If you loved a particular site, why not go back to revisit it?
I find that on my first time visiting somewhere like the Uffizi there is so much to see that I miss some of the exhibits, so on a repeat visit I know what I missed and what I wanted to spend more time on!
On a return visit you'll be able to enjoy your experience even more, especially if you don't have any time pressures.
Florence's location in central Italy makes it very easy to get out of the city and take a day trip somewhere else.
You could take the fast train to Rome or Venice, visit nearby Siena, Pisa or San Gimignano or go wine tasting in the Tuscan countryside, there are endless options for extending your time here!
If you'd prefer to explore more of Florence, why not book a special experience?
You can enjoy cooking classes where you learn how to make authentic Italian food, market tours where local experts show you the best of the local culinary scene, go on a Vespa or walking tour of the city, or take a boat ride along the river.