After having visited a few Italian cities, I can confidently say that Florence is one of the most beautiful. You should plan on spending at least 3 days in Florence, incorporating travel time, but even that felt like the bare minimum. Even with 3.5 days, you won’t get to see nearly everything, but you’ll be able to take in all of the highlights without being too rushed.
While you can travel to rural Tuscany after your time in Florence, the city would also make a wonderful base to explore so many charming towns (Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena), which are less than two hours away. However, Florence’s location means that it fits neatly into a broader Italy trip itinerary. The Italian trains are fast and can take you all over Italy in under two hours. Milan and Venice in the north are two hours away and Rome is reachable in under two hours.
Especially if you are going during high season, you need to keep in mind that it will be crowded and expect to find long lines at all the main attractions. The best way around this is to skip the lines with a Florence City Pass (affiliate link.) The pass will give you skip-the-line entry to the Uffizi, Accademia (to see the David), and the Duomo. Plus you will get a round trip airport transfer to the city center and 24-hour tickets for the Hop on Hop off bus.
Three Days in Florence with Teens
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Want local tips and personalized advice for your trip to Tuscany? Connect with Stefano from Go Ask A Local! He’s a local guide, hiker, and sommelier based in Florence who works all over the region and offers trip planning consultations on Zoom.
Day 1 – Arrive in Florence
You’ll arrive in Rome and can take the train from Fiumicino airport to Rome’s main train station. From there, you can take the train to Florence on Italy’s amazing high-speed railroad, only a 1.5-hour journey on the train in what would’ve been a three-hour car ride. If it is your first day in Italy, you will be tired and may only want to visit a site or two.
We visited Florence’s synagogue. The building was an absolutely beautiful synagogue in the style typical of North African synagogues. The main room was covered in red and blue designs with richly decorated arches.
After that you should go for dinner near your hotel, we went for dinner at Quattro Leoni on Florence’s south bank, only a short walk away. Florence’s south bank is like Florence’s Brooklyn. A bohemian neighborhood with so many good restaurants! The restaurant was situated in a picturesque Florentine piazza and served wonderful ravioli and fresh appetizers like Florence’s prosciutto di Toscana, different from regular prosciutto in that the meat is aged with spices.
We went back to our hotel, the Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni, situated right on the Arno. If you choose to stay here (which I recommend), go up to the balcony for some wine and catch an amazing view of Florence at night.
Day 2 – Food Tour of Florence
To kick off your first day in Florence, a food tour with Taste Florence food tours is a wonderful option. The company does small group tours with no more than 15 guests. It was a wonderful way to begin our journey in Florence as we got a feel for the whole city and received restaurant recommendations. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about Florence’s food and history.
I think my family’s favorite stop was a tour of Florence’s Central Market. We went to two or three stalls, tasting pasta, pastries, and vegetables. The tour ended with a stop at a Florentine shop specializing in cheeses, wines, and sweets. A table was set up in the shop’s massive wine cellar so that you can try wines, cheeses, Tuscan meats, and balsamic vinegar. Side note: real balsamic vinegar is not what we think! By EU law, it must come from a handful of cities in Emilia-Romagna. It’s a sweet, syrupy vinegar, that has converted me into a lover of balsamic vinegar!
For dinner, you should take restaurant recommendations from the tour; we went to Trattoria Cammillo, also on the south bank of the Arno. Of all our dinners in Florence, Trattoria Camillo was our favorite. The restaurant was a favorite of NYT food critic, Mimi Sheraton who went every time she visited Florence. Needless to say, we agreed with her review! You’ll gorge yourself on the homemade pasta and Tuscan fried vegetables. On the way back to your hotel, you can stop for gelato at Emporio Gelato, right next to the Ponte Santa Trinita. Solid gelato, but a wonderful place to sit next to and watch the sunset over the Arno.
Day 3 – Walking Tour of Florence
You’ll start off the day with a wonderful breakfast at your hotel, again I really recommend the Antica Torre for breakfast with a view. Breakfast was served at the hotel’s terrace, overlooking the Arno. You’ll meet your guide at the Accademia Gallery, home to Michelangelo’s David, and other works of medieval and renaissance art. We chose to go with a guide from Freya’s Florence Tours. They do group tours and private tours, and we chose to go with a private tour. It was so easy to work with Freya’s Florence Tours, you can tell them exactly what you want to do and they’ll arrange everything seamlessly.
We met our guide at the Accademia and did our obligatory gawking at the David. However, being an art historian, our guide provided so much information about the David, like the fact that the David is not actually proportional, as the statue was meant to go on the Duomo. After the Accademia, our guide took us on a walking tour of Florence.
We stopped every few feet to get explanations about the history of Florence. Stops included Medici palaces and Florence’s famous Duomo. At the Riccardi Medici Palace, our guide talked about the Medici family’s rise from a banking family to one of the royal houses of Europe. After that, our guide took us to the Duomo and its baptistery. The doors of the baptistery consist of elaborately carved reliefs from the bible. The last stop on the tour was the Piazza della Signoria. There, our guide discussed Florence’s government, a combination of monarchical rule and democracy.
From there, our guide left us at the picturesque Ponte Vecchio and explored Florence’s medieval tradition of commerce. That night, we went to Il Santo Bevitore, a modern Italian restaurant, also on Florence’s south bank. This restaurant was by far the most eclectic and adventurous restaurant we went to, so if you prefer more traditional food, this restaurant is probably not for you. I enjoyed a wonderful plate of steak tartare with Parmigiano-Reggiano and salted nuts.
Day 4 Art, Art, and More Art
Once again, Freya’s Florence Tours provided us with a private guide for the day. The tour began at the Uffizi, and took up most of our four-hour tour. Our guide was another trained art historian, an American expat living in Florence.
The Uffizi is a massive museum with some of the most famous pieces of art in the world and deserves at least of few hours of your time in Florence. You should begin with medieval art, mostly altarpieces, gradually moving into the Renaissance. The museum is arranged such that you can see the evolution of painting and sculpture from the medieval era to the baroque era.
Of course, you can’t miss out on The Birth of Venus, Raphael’s portraits, and one of Michelangelo’s only circular paintings. Our guide was so knowledgeable and was able to communicate all of the art history to a group of amateurs. You should go with a guide or a tour so that you can really learn about the paintings.
After that, our guide took us to the Santa Croce Cathedral, Florence’s second most famous cathedral. It contains the tombs of many famous Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. The church also has an empty tomb, held for Dante, who was buried in Ravenna after his exile. The church is decorated by many famous artists, like Vasari and Giotto. Unfortunately, much of the church’s art was destroyed, so some of the walls are bare. The church also had a lovely garden.
That night, dinner was at Trattoria Romero, located in the hills of Florence. Located at a high elevation, the restaurant had stunning views of the Tuscan countryside. The food lived up to the gorgeous views. Servers presented with a variety of wonderful Tuscan dishes, including the famous Florentine steak.
In Florence, it is best to stay in the city center. It’s not a very large city and its winding streets and brightly colored buildings are suited for walking. From the Antica Torre, nothing was more than a ten-minute walk. If you don’t plan on taking tours, the Firenze Card is a good deal. For 72 euros it offers admission to 72 sites (including the Uffizi, Academia, and the Duomo) and lets you skip the line.
If you stay as long as we did, its 72-hour validity is perfect. Since Florence is so well known for its museums, it’s best to visit early or risk massive crowds. As always, shoulders and knees should be covered at religious sites. Our trip was in July, almost peak season. The heat wasn’t too bad but the crowds were bothersome at times. Many people we spoke with recommended visiting in early spring or fall to avoid the crowds and experience milder temperatures.
PIN THIS FOR LATER
Today’s guest post with a Florence 3 day itinerary is written by my cousin, Zachary Gruber. Zachary offers a unique perspective to visiting Florence with teens (because he is one!) His sample Florence itinerary for three days in Florence is very similar to what I would recommend to my trip planning clients so I hope you find it helpful! I’ve added some of my own tips to the end.