The Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio are the two buildings that dominate Florence’s skyline and are a must-visit when in Florence. However, there are other places you can cover when you only have 1 day in Florence.
From its early beginning as a Roman town, Florence became the Cradle of the Renaissance where Italy transitioned from the Middle Ages to the modern period. With a compact historical center, walking and shopping could be your favorite pastime.
Our walkable guide walks you through the must-visits you can cover within 24 hours in Florence. The highlights include-
- The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
- Palazzo Vecchio
- Uffizi Gallery
- Pitti Palace
- Boboli Gardens
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Where is Florence?
A city established as a settlement for veteran soldiers by Julius Caesar, a brief capital of the Kingdom of Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and the foundation of the Italian language. This is Florence.
With a humid subtropical climate, Florence has hot summers with cool, damp winters. Although tourism is a major industry in Florence, manufacturing, commerce, food, and wine production is important to its economy.
By the early 14th century, Florence was the center of textile production in Europe and is regarded as the birthplace of the modern fashion industry in Italy. Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, and Roberto Cavalli are all headquartered in Florence.
Among its notable residents include Leonardo da Vinci, Guccio Gucchi, Niccolò Machiavelli, Dante Alighieri, and Salvatore Ferragamo.
The two distinctive features of this city are its dominating skylines which are the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio and the imposing dome of the Duomo. Another feature is the layout of the city that was built as an army town.
Florence has a long history that dates back to the 1st century. From the 8th to 9th century BC, the Etruscans formed a small settlement in Arno Valley. Julius Caesar established the present city as a settlement for his veteran soldiers.
He named the town “Florentia” which meant the “City of Flowers” as the city was now on fertile lands and along important roads that led to Rome. The golden age of Florence began in the 2nd Millenium.
With the Arno River as a primary resource, the city had access to international trade while the river provided helped its textile industry. The merchant bankers of Florence were its asset as their skills were recognized after they brought financial innovation to the financial sector.
By the 14th century, Florence had an estimated population of 120,000 which was reduced in half by the Black Death Plague. By the 15th century, Florence was considered a wealthy and economically successful city.
During World War 2, the city was occupied by the Germans and liberated in 1944 by the British, South African, and New Zealand troops. The soldiers who perished are buried in cemeteries outside of the city.
Today, Florence is a major tourist destination and continues to do so. In 2021, Florence was nominated for the European Capital of Smart Tourism 2022 along with Valencia, Copenhagen, Dublin, Bordeaux, Palma de Mallorca, and Ljubljana.
To determine whether you need a visa to enter Italy would depend on your nationality. As Italy is the founding member of the European Union this means that some nationalities would require an additional Schengen Visa for Italy.
You can determine your visa requirements by answering several questions on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website. Alternatively, you can use the iVisa portal in Italy to determine if you need a visa.
As Italy is part of the European Union, citizens from member states of the EU would only need to present an identification document to travel within the joint Schengen Zone. However, you may be required to present other documents such as proof of financial means for the duration of your stay in Italy and a return ticket.
For a short-term Italian Schengen Visa application, you would need:
- Italian Schengen Visa Application Form
- A passport-sized photo that complies with Italian immigration photograph requirements
- Valid passport
- Proof of accommodation such as a hotel reservation
- Round trip ticket reservation or flight itinerary
- Schengen Travel Visa Insurance with a minimum coverage of €30,000 per person
- Proof of sufficient financial means for the duration of stay
The final decision to allow entry into Italy lies with Italian immigration. Always ensure that your passport is stamped once you pass Italian immigration. Entry without a stamp on your passport could result in a fine or detention upon exit from the country.
How do you get around Florence?
From walking to bike-sharing, getting around Florence is easy. The historic city center contains the main tourist attractions while an efficient public transportation system takes you to the airport and connects you to other cities in Italy.
Walking is the best way to get around Florence. With cobblestone paths, quaint alleys, and plazas, the historic center of Florence was made for walking. At its center, lies Duomo Plaza with the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore.
Walk south from Duomo and you come to Palazza Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery. Once you cross Ponte Vecchio, you reach Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. If you walk west from the Duomo, you come to Palazzo Strozzi and the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella.
While the city center is walkable, it is not disable-friendly. The cobblestone paths make it difficult for wheelchair users to navigate.
The second option, after all that walking, is to hop on the local bus. Autolinee Toscane is a bus company that operates within the city. To save money, buy your bus ticket using the Tabnet app or in person at the Santa Maria Novella bus station.
A single-ticket costs €1.50 ($1.50) and is valid for 90 minutes while the ticket on board the bus costs €2.50 ($2.50) per person. Always ensure that your bus ticket is validated on board as traveling with an unstamped ticket could set you back by a fine of €50 ($50).
This is the least preferred method to get around Florence. The historic center of Florence is designated as Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL) which means Limited Traffic Zone. This means that it is off-limits to tourist drivers. Limited parking spaces also make driving and parking here a troublesome experience.
There are many CCTV monitoring this zone and anyone found breaking the rules would find themselves with a heavy fine.
If you are looking for convenience, then traveling by taxi is your best option. While there are abundant taxis all over Florence, the metered rate is expensive and starts at €3.30 ($3.30) between 6 am to 9 pm.
The rates on weekends and public holidays go up to €5.30 ($5.30). As hailing a taxi is illegal in Florence, you must request a taxi at Taxi 4242 to arrange a pick-up. A call-up fee applies above the regular rate.
Mimoto and RideMovi are two green methods you can use to explore the city. RideMovi offers electric bicycles while Mimoto offers cute Vespa electric scooters. With 94 kilometers of bicycle paths and about 600 mopeds, 1,000 e-bikes, and 2,000 bicycles, the future of Florence is a green one.
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How can I spend 24 hours in Florence?
David of Michaelangelo
The first of our 1 day in Florence is to admire the most famous sculpture in the world, the David of Michaelangelo. The statue at the Accademia Gallery was originally intended to be placed on the roof of the Florence Cathedral.
This statue is a masterpiece of the Renaissance and is a symbol of strength and youthful beauty. David of Michaelangelo is a break from tradition as it symbolizes David before his battle with Goliath.
You can see this in his tense neck, drawn brow, and curved torso which gives the impression that he is about to move. This statue stands at 17 feet and weighs more than 12,000 pounds.
How much does it cost to get into Galleria dell Accademia?
The regular ticket price is €12 while a reduced rate of €2 is charged for European Union citizens between the ages of 18 to 25 years. A convenient option would be the Accademia Gallery skip-the-line entry ticket where you access the gallery through a separate entrance.
Is Galleria dell’ Accademia worth it?
Yes, Galleria dell’ Accademia is worth it. Admire the various works of Michaelangelo, including his unfinished Prisoners sculptures that were intended for Pope Julius II and Florentine paintings from the 13th to 16th centuries.
Take the Accademia Gallery Tour by visiting the Medici family collection of musical instruments. End your tour with the collection of paintings by Lorenzo Monaco and other 16th-century artists.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
The second of our 1 day in Florence is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore or the Florence Cathedral. The cathedral is about 500 meters or an easy 6-minute walk from the Accademia Gallery.
Walk along the marble cladding and beautiful decoration of the side entrances. Admire the elegant south door of the bell tower and the north door that was named after the old gate of the city walls.
Although the entrance is free, take the Cathedral Tour of the Terraces and Brunelleschi’s Dome. The tour takes you to the Baptistery, the Crypt of Santa Reparata, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the Opera del Duomo Museum.
The third of our 1 day in Florence is Palazzo Vecchio which is about 450 meters or an easy 6-minute walk from Florence Cathedral. This palace is a beautiful combination of Roman ruins, a medieval fortress with a collection of Renaissance paintings and chambers.
The palace was built on the ruins of the Uberti family homes and was made from rusticated stonework and enhanced with a simple clock tower. At the entrance, you will find a replica of David’s Michaelangelo and Hercules and Cacus.
Is the Palazzo Vecchio free?
No, Palazzo Vecchio is not free. The ticket price for the Palazzo Museum costs €10 ($10) for adults and a reduced fee of €8 ($8) is charged for children between the ages of 18 and 25 years and college students.
For an ultimate experience, take the Palazzo Vecchio Museum and Tower Guided Private Tour which comes with a private tour guide and priority entrance.
The fifth of our 1 day in Florence is Uffizi Gallery which is about 25 meters or an easy 1-minute walk from Palazzo Vecchio. This is one of Italy’s most visited and important museums as it holds priceless works from the Renaissance.
The works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael are placed here along with many of the Medici family’s collections of ancient busts and statues.
Get the Skip-the-Line Uffizi Gallery Timed Entrance Ticket and combine it with a Uffizi Gallery Tour with an expert guide. Listen to the stories behind the masterpieces and enjoy the museum at your own pace after the tour.
What is the best time of the day to visit the Uffizi Gallery?
The best time of the day to visit Uffizi Gallery is before 9 am or just before its closing time at 6.30 pm. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 8.15 am to 6.30 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays.
The fourth of our 1 day in Florence is the Ponte Vecchio bridge. This bridge is about 170 meters or a 2-minute walk from Uffizi Gallery. This bridge is a symbol of Florence and spans the Arno River at its narrowest point.
The original bridge was built during Roman times and was subsequently destroyed by floods in the 2nd century. The current bridge was built during the 14th century with shops, especially butchers and fishmongers being the earliest on the bridge.
Today, the bridge is fully pedestrianized and is closed to vehicles as it connects to Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens across the Arno River.
What is special about the Ponte Vecchio?
The unique thing about Ponte Vecchio is that it is the first segmental arch bridge that was built during the Middle Ages. It is considered an engineering marvel in Europe during the 14th century.
Does anyone live on the Ponte Vecchio bridge?
No, no one lives on the Ponte Vecchio bridge. The Vasari Corridor was built in the 16th century and was meant as a walkway between Pitti Palace and Palazzo Vecchio for the Medici family.
The sixth of our 1 day in Florence is the Pitti Palace which is about 350 meters or a 5-minute walk from Ponte Vecchio. What is impressive about this palace is that it was built with Roman-style architecture similar to that of an aqueduct.
The palace was the residence of the Medici family, Napoleon Bonaparte, the House of Lorraine, and finally the House of Savoy. Step into the Palantine Gallery and admire the 500 Renaissance paintings spread over 28 rooms.
Get your Entrance Ticket and take the Pitti Palace Tour where you will discover the masterpieces of the Palatine Gallery, admire the stunning frescoes, and marvel at the Royal Apartments that were once home to the King of Italy.
Who lived in the Pitti Palace?
Luca Pitti lived in the Pitti Palace as it was built as his private residence. Over time, the Medici family, Napoleon Bonaparte, and two powerful dynasties, the Austrian House of Lorraine and the House of Savoy used Pitti Palace as their residence and power base.
What famous paintings are in the Pitti Palace?
The famous paintings that are in Pitti Palace include Woman with a Veil by Raphael, the Holy Family or “Doni Tondo” by Michaelangelo, Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci, and the Pietro da Cortona ceiling frescoes in the Room of Saturn, Room of Venus, and Room of Jupiter.
The seventh and last of our 1 day in Florence is the Boboli Gardens which are just behind Pitti Palace. Although the original garden was designed by the Medici family, its layout was an inspiration for other European courts.
The garden was continuously enhanced throughout the centuries with wide gravel avenues, lavish statues, fountains, and an elaborate grotto that separates the palace from the gardens.
Purchase the Reserved Entry Ticket and take the Guided Tour of Boboli Gardens to learn its history. Admire Grotto Grande, the Amphitheatre, the Knights Garden, and Kaffehaus. End your tour with a beautiful view of the city of Florence.
Should I stay near the Duomo in Florence?
Yes, if you are a first-timer or you simply want to explore the city on foot, then staying near the Duomo in Florence is your best option. The historical center is walkable and the distance from one end to the other is about 30 minutes by foot.
The Duomo is within walking distance of Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, and the Santa Maria Novella which is Florence’s main train station.
Our first choice for 1 day in Florence is the Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy. This 80-room hotel beautifully embodies Tuscany’s personality with contemporary design. The refurbished rooms have maximized space without compromising on comfort. All rooms come with 24-hour room service, white marble bathrooms, and separate showers and bathtubs.
For stunning views of Florence, book the Panoramic Suite which offers enchanting views and vistas of Florence. The positive reviews include the excellent location, friendly staff with well-appointed and comfortable rooms. Guests also loved the delicious breakfast and smooth check-in and check-out process.
Our second choice for 1 day in Florence is Donati Luxury Tower Suites. This 12-room was once a medieval tower that dated back to the 12th century. The hotel is a combination of 2 smaller towers that belonged to two powerful families in Florence, the Ricci family, and the Donati family.
All rooms come with a fully equipped kitchenette, bathrooms with heated marble floors, and free WiFi. Make your way to the rooftop to enjoy the beautiful sunset with views of the most famous monuments in Florence.
Some positive reviews include the excellent location that was close to all tourist attractions, the impeccable service, and the beautiful interior design of the rooms. Guests also loved the fantastic host who made guests feel at home.
Our third choice for 1 day in Florence is the Grand Hotel Cavour. This 113-room hotel is in the 13th-century mansion where Dante Alighieri fell in love with his sweetheart, Beatrice. The rooms are individually designed with elegance and quality, befitting their 4-star status. All rooms come with free WiFi, a safety deposit box, a minibar, a hair dryer, a kettle, and an electric kettle.
Some positive reviews include the lovely, comfortable, and quiet rooms, the good variety of breakfast, and the friendly, and helpful staff. Guests also loved the wonderful view from the rooftop bar and the comfortable beds.
Our fourth choice for 1 day in Florence is the Palazzo Vecchieti. This 12-room townhouse was once the home of the Vecchietis, one of Florence’s wealthiest fur traders and merchants. All rooms have bespoke wooden and leather furniture with beautiful chocolate marble bathrooms.
The rooms feature a kitchenette with a Nespresso machine and dishwasher. Its strategic location is an added benefit. Some positive reviews include excellent location, comfortable rooms, and amazing staff. Guests also loved the attention to detail of the wonderful staff and the level of luxury of this small and cozy hotel.
Our fifth and last choice for 1 day in Florence is the Helvetia & Bristol Firenze Hotel. This 67-room hotel is a historic 19th-century residence that exudes elegance while maintaining tradition.
The refurbished rooms have rich colors, antique furniture, and lovingly restored fabrics while the beds have plump pillows, crisp white linens, and Simmons mattresses. Your comfort is a priority with guest relations having huge importance.
Some positive reviews include excellent location, comfortable beds, and friendly staff. Guests also loved the Italian-style buffet breakfast served in the beautiful dining room and the clean rooms.
Frequently Asked Questions on Florence
Yes, Florence is a walkable city. The best way to explore the historical core is by foot and our guide shows you what you must visit when you have 1 day in Florence.
The best time of the year to visit Florence is from May to September. You can expect sunny and pleasant days with cool nights. July is the high season which means more crowds everywhere. August is the hottest month of the year, so hydrate yourself daily.
If you want to avoid the crowds, visit during the autumn months of November to March. During these months, the weather is cool and damp. The Firenze Marathon happens in November with the route passing through the historical core of Florence.
Other than the risk of pickpocketing and bag snatching, Florence is a safe city for tourists and solo female travelers. As always, remain vigilant and use your common sense. Walk on well-lit roads and be aware of your surroundings.
Yes, you can drink tap water in Florence although you may prefer to buy bottled water instead. There are seven “fontanelle” where you can fill up your bottles with pure drinking water that has been filtered to remove any chlorine taste.
While tipping is not customary in Florence, if you experienced top-notch service, a tip of 5%-10% of the bill would be nice. You do not need to tip taxi drivers unless they help carry your luggage.
For hotels, it is normal to give your porter about €2 when bringing your suitcases to your room. A normal rate of 5%-10% is the normal rate given to tour guides as an appreciative gesture although it is not obligatory.
Yes, you would need cash in Florence. Although debit and credit cards are widely accepted, cash is required when shopping at convenience stores, fresh markets, street food stalls, and tour guides.
Dinner time in Florence is from 8 pm to 10 pm although meals can be served after 10 pm. Italians love their food and take time to savor every bite. You can expect your meal to end with coffee and some digestivi which is a warm alcoholic drink that aids in digestion after a heavy meal.
Yes, you can find English-speaking Italians at the popular tourist sites in Florence. Learning basic Italian would help you get around. Be prepared that not everyone speaks English outside the tourist areas.
Yes! With its small-town vibes and supposedly much more romantic than Venice, Florence is a must-visit, at least once in a lifetime. With so much art in Florence, you might think you are at an open-air museum.
Here’s why we think it is worth visiting:
1) Food and wine. Florence is the heart of Tuscany means you have the best food and wine in the region. Be amazed at how much care and love go into each dish.
2) Shopping. Although not as popular as Milan, Florence is known for its high-quality leather. Major brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Salvatore Ferragamo are all headquartered in Florence.
3) Underrated. Unlike Naples and Milan, Florence is much more underrated and beautiful. The city has a relaxed vibe while buzzing with creativity.
These are just some of the reasons why we love Florence. While for art lovers, this city is a must. For those not into arts, you can explore its food and shopping streets. For history lovers, Florence will leave in awe of its beautiful architecture.