I instantly fell in love with Florence, Italy. After spending three days in Venice, Justin and I took the high speed train to Florence (to Firenze Campo di Marte station over the larger Firenze Santa Maria Novella station as it was closer to our accommodation). After checking in to our apartment accommodation, we were ready to spend a wonderful 3 days in Florence.
3 Days in Florence: Travel Tips
Before I get right into my Florence itinerary, I have a few things to share about traveling to Florence before you go.
How to Get Around Florence
I mentioned that we took a high speed train to get to Florence. Any time we visited a small Tuscan town on a day trip from Florence, we used a regional train. To get around Florence, we walked everywhere. There’s no need to rent a car or take any taxis unless you plan to travel far away within the city limits. You can walk to every attraction in Florence that I mention in this article.
I really don’t recommend renting a car when you’re staying in Florence. It’s difficult to find parking, and there are lots of road rules and restrictions on the places you can drive. It’s possible to get hefty tickets and fines based on where you drive, and you don’t want to end up with a bill worth hundreds of dollars.
Buy Tickets to Attractions in Advance
Many attractions and museums in Florence are incredibly popular and very busy. Buying tickets in advance will help you avoid disappointment. Many places of interest in Florence have timed entries, and you might miss out if you don’t plan in advance.
How Many Days in Florence?
This blog post details how to spend 3 days in Florence. In reality, we spent longer than 3 days in Florence. Justin and I used Florence as a home base for a few day trips in Tuscany. It’s always more relaxing when you can “move in” to one hotel for several nights rather than hopping from place to place. Florence is a city that’s near many small medieval towns and the Tuscan countryside.
I suggest that you visit Florence in 3 days, and take the train to nearby destinations for a few more days. I have a list of recommended day trips from Florence at the bottom of this article. But first, here’s how you can spend 3 perfect days in Florence, Italy. Here are our suggestions for the best things to do in Florence in 3 days.
Day 1 in Florence
For our first day in Florence, we took the train from Venice and checked into our accommodation. It was a sunny and warm day in May, so we made the most of the beautiful weather by walking around everywhere. May is actually a fantastic month for traveling to Italy. The weather is warm and it’s not as crowded as it gets in June, July and August.
Lunch at Il Vegano
Justin and I actually dined at a vegan spot in town called Panino Vegano, which has sadly since closed down. However, I’ve found a suitable replacement that I’d love to try on a future trip to Italy. Il Vegano is a healthy, organic, and vegan restaurant in Florence with lots of delectable dishes. Here are some more vegan restaurants in Florence, too.
Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find on the menu: vegan burgers (seitan, spinach, soy or quinoa burgers); a seitan goulash with mushrooms, carrots and potatoes; black rice with vegetables; spinach and vegan cheese croquettes, eggplant Parmesan with vegan cheese; vegan chicken salad; and an assortment of sandwiches and hot dogs.
Once you’re feeling full from lunch, walk over to the Galleria dell’Accademia, home of Michaelangelo’s David. It’s one of the most famous statues in the world, and one of the top things to do in Florence. If you want a chance to see David in person, head over to Galleria dell’Accademia.
It’s easy to spend an hour or two at the Accademia Gallery because there’s much more to see there than David. The Hall of Models is another place to check out with dozens of marble sculptures by Lorenzo Bartolini. You’ll also find walls and walls of ancient paintings depicting religious imagery.
Be sure to buy your tickets in advance online to reserve a time slot. The available time slots are marked as “Intero/Full”. Once you purchase your tickets, you’ll receive an email with a voucher. Bring that voucher to the ticket desk in person a few minutes before your visit to exchange it for a ticket.
Shake Cafe for Gelato
Throughout this article, I’m going to make gelato recommendations for each of your 3 days in Florence. Eating gelato is an absolute must when you’re in Florence, so why not enjoy a scoop or two every day? There are tons of places to get vegan gelato in Florence if you follow a plant-based diet like I do.
Shake Cafe is a gelato cafe that we accidentally stumbled upon, but we’re thankful that we did. They have a bunch of fruit gelato flavors (sorbets) that are mostly all vegan. The combination of strawberry and banana gelato is super tasty!
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
Right across the street from Shake Cafe lies the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. It’s a 13th century church that lies on the site of the 9th century oratory of Santa Maria delle Vigne. It is the first great basilica of Florence and the city’s main Dominican church. Admire the stunning exterior of the church and venture inside to marvel at its famous frescoes.
Wander Around or Take a Walking Tour
One of my favorite things to do in a new place is wander around at my own pace. We spent a good portion of the afternoon simply walking up and down the streets of Florence. Exploring on foot is one of the best things to do in Florence because the whole city is like a living museum. There are brilliant statues, massive old doors, and beautiful works of architecture around every turn.
Some travelers like to book a guided walking tour as their first experience in a new place. You’ll be spoiled for choice in a city like Florence. There are so many Florence tours if you prefer to explore the city with a knowledgeable guide.
Dinner at La Capanna
Justin and I were hungry in the middle of Florence, so we walked into the first pizzeria that we found. (It didn’t take long to find pizza in Florence). La Capanna was established in 1906. They’ve been around a very long time, so they must be doing something right.
It’s easy to find vegan pizza at pretty much any pizzeria in Italy. A simple yet delicious marinara pizza has marinara sauce, garlic, and spices. You can also add some veggies to the pizza if you’d like. The crust was perfectly chewy and the sauce and spices were fresh and delicious. Head over to La Capanna if you’re in the mood for pizza!
Day 2 in Florence
Ready for another fun-filled day in Florence? On day 2, we explore some of the most famous sights and Florence attractions, starting with the iconic Duomo.
Visit the Duomo
If you travel to Florence, one of the most popular tourist attractions is the Duomo. It’s the main church in Florence, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Located in the heart of Florence at Piazza del Duomo, it’s the home of architectural and artistic wonders. There are several buildings in Piazza del Duomo: Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistery of St. John, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, and others, including the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral.
The Cathedral is the biggest structure in medieval Europe and the fourth largest in all of Europe in the present day. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the Historic Center of Florence. Here’s a really fantastic Duomo Florence guide with all of the information you need to plan your trip there.
We suggest that you purchase a ticket to visit the top of the dome and upper levels of the cathedral. With your ticket, you have access to six attractions: the cathedral, duomo, baptistery, bell tower, crypt, and museum. One ticket is €18 and we recommend buying tickets in advance. You must book your entry time for the Duomo ahead of time. Plan in advance because the tickets do regularly sell out.
Gelato at Perche No
Perche No is our favorite gelateria in Florence, and it’s been around since 1939. Perche No is said to be the first gelato shop to serve vegan gelato made from soy and rice milk. There is an entire case devoted to vegan gelato, and not just fruit flavors. There’s also vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, and a chocolate sorbet. Mixing the chocolate and hazelnut gelato together is a wonderful combination.
Piazza della Republicca
Piazza della Republicca is one of the main city squares in Florence. It was once the city’s forum, then the city’s market, and then its ghetto. This area of the city underwent many renovations and reconstructions in the 1800s, and sadly many old buildings were demolished. There are lots of cafes and restaurants if you decide to stop for a coffee. There’s also a merry-go-round in the middle of the square.
Ponte Vecchio and Arno River
Next, take a stroll along the Arno River and cross the iconic Ponte Vecchio. Also known as the Old Bridge, it’s a symbol of Florence. While shops have opened to the public since the 13th century on the bridge, it wasn’t until 1593 that Ferdinand I decided that only goldsmiths and jewelers could sell their wares there. Before then, fishmongers and butchers had shops that created a lot of waste and an awful smell. Nowadays, you’ll find jewelry stores, art shops, and souvenir stalls.
Lunch at 5 e Cinque restaurant
5eCinque is a vegetarian restaurant across the Arno River near the Boboli Gardens. It’s in an adorable Italian square called Piazza della Passera. Even though the whole menu was in Italian, the patient server helped us select our menu items.
I ordered an asparagus risotto, and Justin got a spelt pasta with tomato sauce, olives, and capers. We also split a giant chickpea pancake. Everything was very delicious and an entirely unique vegan meal that we weren’t able to try anywhere else.
Coffee at Cafe degli Artigiani
It’s time for a coffee break! We actually enjoyed some coffee at Cafe degli Artigiani before 5 e Cinque opened. It’s also in Piazza della Passera. If you arrive a little later in the day, as I’ve suggested in this Florence itinerary, feel free to enjoy your coffee after your meal. There’s a delightful little patio outside where you can sip your coffee and watch locals and tourists alike.
The Boboli Gardens
The Boboli Gardens are an impressive green space and park, and it’s a must visit place when visiting Florence in 3 days. Designed for the Medici in 1766, it’s a prime example of an Italian garden and inspired many future European gardens. In addition to gardens and greenery, there are many fountains and statues dotted throughout the property.
The Pitti Palace was constructed in 1458 and was purchased by the Medici in 1550 as their new residence in Tuscany. Nowadays, it’s the largest museum complex in the city. There are four museums: the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, the Palatine Gallery and the Imperial and Royal Apartments, the Gallery of Modern Art, and the Museum of Costume and Fashion. You can combine a visit to Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens, and there’s enough to see that you could spend the whole day visiting them both.
Dinner at Konnubio
Konnubio features traditional Tuscan cuisine in a gorgeous fine dining setting. When we visited Konnubio, about half of the menu was vegan. Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly as many vegan offerings nowadays, but there’s still at least one vegan option for each course. The dishes are all very inventive, and it’s a really romantic spot for a date night. While I no longer see the vegan lasagna on the menu, I’m still dreaming about that dish (bring it back!).
Day 3 in Florence
Here’s the third day of 3 perfect days in Florence, Italy. It’s time to check out one of the most important galleries in Florence, as well as a few other memorable attractions around the city.
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous art galleries in the world, showcasing a massive collection of western art through the ages. There are a number of priceless pieces throughout the gallery, like The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli and Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio. If you’re looking for what to do in Florence, I’m sure that the Uffizi Gallery is near the top of your list.
There are a seemingly endless amount of rooms and spaces featuring paintings, sculptures, and other ancient works of art. You’ll likely spend all morning here, wandering through gallery after gallery of awe-inspiring art. Be sure to purchase your ticket online in advance as there are mandatory timed entries that do sell out.
Lunch at Libreria Brac
Libreria Brac (also just known as Brac) is one of the prettiest restaurants in Florence, and I’m sure it graces many Instagram feeds. It is a peaceful vegetarian restaurant, cafe, and bookshop. You’ll wander through a quiet and beautifully decorated courtyard to reach the main dining space. There are plants, bicycles, and pastel streamers hanging from the ceiling.
I also ate my very favorite pasta in all of Italy here, which I realize is a bold claim. The pasta was topped with an oil and garlic sauce, oven-dried tomatoes, and crunchy breadcrumbs.
Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria is a square in front of Palazzo Vecchio, and it’s near both the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery. Historically, it’s the political center of the city and it’s still a main meeting point today. The Loggia dei Lanzi is a structure with wide open arches that essentially functions as an open air public sculpture gallery.
There are many statues all over the piazza, both inside and outside of the Loggia dei Lanzi, including a copy of Michaelangelo’s David. Two of the notable statues are by the sculptor Giambologna: The Rape of the Sabine Women (there is a copy of this statue in the Accademia Gallery) and Equestrian Monument of Cosimo I.
Palazzo Vecchio is the old town hall of Florence. You can take a tour of Palazzo Vecchio, witness the ruins of an ancient Roman theater that lies underground, and you can venture up to the top of the tower for incredible views.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit Palazzo Vecchio during our 3 days in Florence. In fact, Piazza della Signoria was completely packed with people. At the time, crews were filming the movie, Inferno, and Tom Hanks was inside Palazzo Vecchio shooting some scenes. We hung around among the crowds for a little while in the hopes of spotting Tom Hanks (sadly, we didn’t!).
Gelato at Gelateria dei Neri
Gelateria dei Neri is another vegan-friendly gelato spot in Florence. There are many fruit flavors, as well as dark chocolate, hazelnut, and mint. The flavors rotate so it will be a surprise as to which ones will be available when you visit.
Views from Piazzale Michelangelo
Admiring the stunning scenery of Florence from Piazzale Michaelangelo is the perfect ending to 3 days in Florence. While it’s picture perfect at all times of the day, the sunsets from Piazzale Michaelangelo are amazing. You’ll soak up sweeping views of the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Tuscan hills off in the distance. Some of the best views of Florence are found at the terrace of Piazzale Michaelangelo.
Dinner at Dolce Vegan
Justin and I visited Dolce Vegan when it was at a different location than the present one. Dolce Vegan appeared to have closed down…and then reopened! I’m so happy to learn this because it was one of our favorite restaurants in Florence. It’s also a great spot to check out if you’re sick of eating pizza and pasta and need a break from Italian cuisine.
We both ordered vegan cheese burgers at Dolce Vegan seitan burger, mayonnaise, vegan cheese, onion, ketchup). They were incredibly messy to eat, but totally worth it. Make sure to save room for dessert. Dolce Vegan has many beautiful cakes for every taste. Justin got a slice of chocolate cheesecake, and I ordered a vegan version of tiramisu (I suppose I did eat some Italian cuisine after all!).
Day Trips From Florence
Florence is surrounded by many amazing destinations throughout Tuscany and beyond. It’s really easy to take a regional train to most of these places, so there won’t be a need to rent a car. If you do want to explore at your own pace and without a train schedule in mind, compare car rental prices online to get the best rate.
A day trip to Lucca from Florence was my favorite of them all. First, it was very easy to travel by regional train from Florence to Lucca. The entire city is surrounded by old fortification walls. Nowadays, the walls are repurposed as a green space and a park. We rented bicycles and took them out for a spin around the city fortifications before biking around town.
Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is a unique, elliptical shaped piazza and the center of town life. It used to be the town’s amphitheater, but it’s now encircled with medieval houses. There are restaurants and cafes, and it’s a lovely place to enjoy a pint or a glass of wine on the patio.
Siena and San Gimignano
The nearby medieval towns of San Gimignano and Siena have a fascinating history and valuable stories. It’s possible to visit both towns in one day, and both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Siena is an exceptional medieval city with a preserved Gothic appearance, divided into 17 contrade (neighborhoods). Twice a year, the 17 contrade compete in the Palio di Siena, a horse race that represents the competitive nature and historic rivalries between the contrade. There are lots of amazing places to see in Siena that you’ll notice merely from walking around: Piazza del Campo (where the Palio di Siena takes place), the Siena Cathedral, and the Basilica of San Domenico.
San Gimignano is best known for its dozen medieval towers that are likened to an ancient city skyline. It’s a wonderful place to explore on foot, wandering down each cobblestone street and hidden alleyway. You’ll only really need about an hour or so here (it isn’t that big of a town), but be sure to take some time to admire the Tuscan countryside surrounding the town while you’re there.
We hadn’t heard of Ferrara until friends of ours invited us to spend the day there with them. Ferrara is about halfway between Florence and Venice, and it’s such a great day trip from Florence. The town doesn’t have as many tourists as some of the more popular Tuscan villages, and there are just as many historic gems.
For instance, Ferrara has 9km of Renaissance fortification walls that are still in tact. There are wide open spaces of green parks near the fortifications, which are some of the best preserved in all of Italy. Also, don’t miss visiting Castello Estense, a medieval castle surrounded by a moat. Walking across its drawbridge felt like I was being transported back in time.
Justin and I traveled to Pisa by train as we moved on towards Cinque Terre after our visit to Florence came to an end. Pisa is a great place to stop for half a day on your way to the five villages of Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. It’s only about an hour from Florence by train, so you can also plan your half day visit while staying in Florence.
Of course, you’ll want to check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Feel free to admire it from the ground or purchase a ticket to climb its 300 stairs to the top. Next, there are many other structures on the grounds next to the Leaning Tower. The Pisa Cathedral, Pisa Camposanto Monumentale, and Pisa Baptistery are all worth checking out.
Where to Stay in Florence
We stayed at La Farina Apartments in Florence. Their apartments are clean, comfortable, and modern. I loved the spacious kitchen to enjoy breakfast each morning (and snacks at night!). We only required a one bedroom suite, although they do have other apartments that accommodate families and multiple travelers.
It’s about a fifteen minute walk from La Farina Apartments to attractions like the Duomo. We liked staying a little outside of the busier attractions, but still within short walking distance of everything. It was also really nice being a short walk away from a train station where we could take some day trips.
3 Days in Florence Itinerary Map
Here’s how we spent 3 days in Florence with the travel plans completely mapped out for you. Feel free to open this Florence travel map and save it to your Google account so you can access it while you’re out and about in Florence.
|Essential Italy Travel Guide|
|Getting There: Italy has numerous international airports and major train stations. When we spent 3 weeks in Italy, we flew into the Marco Polo Airport in Venice and out of Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport. The national airline of Italy is Alitalia, although we flew from Toronto with Air Transat. |
Getting Around: I highly recommend traveling by train throughout Europe. It’s an easy and stress-free way to travel. While you don’t need to book train tickets to some regional trains in advance, I recommend booking all high speed train tickets ahead of time. Most long distance trains open their bookings up between four and five months in advance. I suggest booking them as soon as possible for the best rates. The longer you wait, generally speaking, the more you will have to pay. Here’s where you can book your train tickets to Florence.
Fast Facts: Euro is the currency. Power voltage is 220 V 50 Hz using Power Sockets F and L.
SIM Cards & Mobile: You can rent a portable Wi-Fi device with unlimited data that works in 130+ countries worldwide. We’ve used our portable device all over the world and love how we’re always connected!
Travel Safety: Don’t forget to get travel insurance before your trip. Whether you have an accident, have a flight delay, experience a theft, or need to return home sooner than anticipated, it’s always best to cover your bases. Get a travel insurance quote now for the best rates.
|Browse all of our Italy photos and read more of our Italy travel blog posts.|
There are so many things to do in Florence that will make you fall in love with the city. I feel that this is a well rounded Florence itinerary for history, culture, food, and free time to wander. There are many more churches, museums, and other Florence attractions to check out if you’re looking to spend 4 days in Florence or more. We really enjoyed our time there and hope to return someday in the future.