Ultimate Guide to 2 Days in Florence

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Even just 2 days in Florence will stir your creative soul with its renowned art, stunning architecture, and innovative culinary scene. Read on for what to do when you have 2 days in Florence. 

The first time I was in Florence was on a Monday—the day all its famous museums are closed. The second time I was determined to see the David and the air conditioning broke in the Galleria dell’Accademia, and the museum closed. This time, I let go of any expectations of the city, made no plans, and fell in love with Florence.

Looking out over the stunning cityscape of Florence. Photo courtesy of Comune di Firenze

Historical Sights in Florence

While Florence is known for its museums, I’d argue that you could skip them all and wander the small, cobblestone streets of the city, drinking in its architectural beauty. The city is a living, breathing museum. Around each corner, my husband and I marveled at the sights we saw. Buildings that would be THE iconic symbol of another city are just part of the everyday landscape in Florence.

The Famous Duomo

As you walk through the city, finding your own unexpected gems is part of the fun, but one wonder you can’t miss is Florence’s famous Duomo. The Duomo, or Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, is one of the largest churches in the world and dominates the Florence skyline. It dates to 1296, and its ornate façade demands that you spend time taking it all in. Each time you look, you’ll find something new to appreciate. While the Duomo is probably the most beautiful church I’ve seen on the outside, the inside isn’t as impressive. Don’t waste your time standing in the hours-long line to get into the church. Instead, head to Capelle Medicee and prepare to be wowed.

The iconic Duomo in Florence. Photo by Dena Roché.

Capelle Medicee in Florence

The Capelle Medicee is a domed basilica with the interior you expect to see at The Duomo. It plays second fiddle to the Duomo, which means you’ll likely have the place nearly to yourself to enjoy an interior dripping in semi-precious stones, sculptures, and gold. Built as a mausoleum for the Medici family in the 14th century, the building also houses the New Sacristy designed by Michelangelo. In this room, you’ll also find several sculptures by the famous artist.

This is what the inside of a dome should look like! Photo by Dena Roché

Museums in Florence

While you could pass on the museums in Florence, you’d probably be remiss not to see at least one. Since I gave up on my idea of seeing The David, we decided to skip the long lines at the Galleria della’ Accademia and the wait at Florence’s most famous museum, The Uffizi. Instead, we headed to a lesser-known museum to see Michelangelo’s genius on display without the crowds.

The Bargello National Museum, housed in the ancient Palazzo del Podesta, is a former barracks and prison turned art museum featuring five works by Michelangelo and sculptures by Donatello, Cellini, Verrocchio, and more.

The Bargello is a great place to see Michelangelo’s works. Photo by Dena Roche

View of Florence

Located on a hilltop overlooking Florence, Fiesole has attracted the wealthy and influential since the 14th century. It was the home of noble families, played host to luminaries like Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein, and boasts campuses for Harvard and Georgetown. It’s also the hometown of my husband’s ancestors.

We take the number seven bus from Florence, and 20 minutes later, we’re deposited in the town’s main square, Piazza da Mino di Fiesole, just in time to see a newly married couple emerge from the Cathedral of Fiesole.

In the small town, you can explore its Etruscan Roman Archaeological area to see remains of a Roman theater and bath and a Civic Museum with over 150 ancient artifacts. Afterward, climb to the Monastery of San Francesco for sweeping views of Florence.

The hillside town of Fiesole. Photo by Dena Roché

Gelato in Florence

Gelato is an art form in Florence. The city claims this creamy treat was invented here in 1615 at the court of Catherine de Medici—and maybe it was. Regardless of its origins, having a cono (or 10) is a must in Florence.

Many places sell gelato, but head to Vivoli to ensure you get the best artisanal gelato in the city. For nearly a century, this family-run small shop near Santa Croce has churned out the top version of this sweet treat. My husband, who orders nocciola at any gelato shop in the world, proclaims the Vivoli version is one of the best.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Florence Gelato. Photo courtesy Comune di Firenze

Good Eats in Florence

Thanks to my job, I’ve enjoyed some damn fine food all over the world. So, it’s saying a lot when I say the experience at Locale Firenze was one of my favorite meals. Chef Simone Caponnetto deserves a few Michelin stars for the culinary magic he’s making at the restaurant housed in the 13th-century Concini Palace.

We started with a traditional Italian aperitivo at their bar, which was named one of the top 50 bars in the world. I love the concept of aperitivo, with its substantial nibbles that come with your drink. I must remind myself not to fill up before a dinner that turns out to be a dizzying array of wine-paired courses chosen by Chef Caponnetto. We feast on dishes like cuttlefish risoni pasta and melt-in-your-mouth turbot. Four hours and many courses later, I wonder if I can move out of the booth.

Other must-visit restaurants during your stay in Florence include Luca’s Restaurant from Michelin-star Chef Paulo Airaudo and La Buona Novella for fine Italian cuisine on its terrace in Santa Maria Novella Square.

Beautiful presentation and even better taste await at Locale Firenze. Photo courtesy Locale Firenze

Art Hotel in Florence

If you don’t want the art to stop when you head home for the night, stay at the Grand Hotel Minerva. Located in Santa Maria Novella Square, the hotel dates to the 1860s. It was renovated by famous architect Carlo Scarpa in the 1950s and refreshed again in 2018. The public spaces and the rooms are brimming with art from Emilio Greco, Giuseppe Chiari, and other influential Italian artists. The hotel’s aesthetic and welcoming Italian hospitality made me fall in love with it.

Florence is often hot, and the best way to cool off is in the hotel’s rooftop pool. It was the first of its kind in the city, and relaxing with a glass of bubbles in hand, viewing the Duomo from the water can’t be beaten.

One of my favorite views in Florence. Photo courtesy Grand Minerva Hotel

Five-Star Sleep in Florence

Florence’s newest five-star property is the design-driven Hotel La Gemma. The 39-room family-run hotel in the 19th-century Palazzo Paoletti is the mastermind of Design by Gemini studio in Milan. Throughout the hotel, colors of green and pink, designed to remind you of the palette of the Duomo, pop. The liberal use of velvet and silk gives the space an opulent feel.

After a day of walking miles in the city, returning to relax in our junior suite is a welcome retreat. While the plush king-size bed and velvet green sofa were perfect for a cat nap, we decided to rally to enjoy my favorite part of Hotel La Gemma.

Tucked off the hotel’s fourth floor is a small rooftop that affords big views. The Duomo rises so close you can see the people who’ve climbed to the top of the copula. We also have a great view of the Palazzo Vecchio. Its tower is my husband’s favorite building in the city.

Design is at the forefront of Hotel La Gemma. Photo courtesy Hotel La Gemma

Insider Tip for Exploring Florence

Book ahead of time if seeing any major museum is a must for you. While you may be able to stand in line the day of, you’ll eat up your two days in Florence fast and miss seeing so much. Also, many tourists wrongly assume the famous David is in the equally famous Uffizi. It is not. If you want to see this Michelangelo masterpiece, you get tickets for the Galleria della’Accademia.

Other Places to Check Out in Florence

With only two days in Florence, you can’t see everything. Depending on your interests, here are a few other highlights to check out.

Shopping for Florence’s famous leather goods
Snapping a picture for your ‘gram from the Ponte Vecchio
Exploring the food stalls at the Central Market
Taking in the view from Piazzale Michelangelo
Seeing Pitti Palace

Articles Related to Visiting Florence

The Art Lover’s Guide to Florence
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The Top 10 Must-Visit Cities in Italy
Romantic Getaway to Florence

Spending 2 Days in Florence

Major American cities have direct flights to Florence’s Amerigo Vespucci airport. Other options are to fly into Rome or Milan and take a short flight or train into Florence.

In the summer, Florence is overrun with tourists; the mercury often pushes the 100-degree mark. Avoid the hottest months if possible in a city where many things aren’t air-conditioned. April and May or September and October are ideal times to enjoy Florence.

Whether your idea of art is what is found in a museum, stunning architecture, or what’s found on the plate of chefs elevating food into art, a trip to Florence will stir your creative soul. We invite you to explore Wander With Wonder for more things to do during your visit to Italy. We also invite you to check out more of our 2-day guides to places around the world.


Ultimate Guide to 2 Days in Florence