Florence is a monumental beacon of art, history, and culture in the heart of Italy’s Tuscany region. Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, every corner of this city brims with artistic masterpieces and culinary excellence that can you can experience even on the tightest schedules. But how can you genuinely get to know the essence of Florence in 2 days? From marveling at masterpieces by Michelangelo to tasting authentic gelato, this guide will take you on a journey through Florence.
What to Do and See in Florence in Two 2 Days
Day One: Exploring Florence’s Artistic Heritage
- The Uffizi Gallery – A Treasure Trove of Renaissance Art
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most important Italian museums. It contains an extensive collection of priceless works, particularly from the Italian Renaissance. Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is among the most famous artworks in the gallery.
The museum occupies the first and second floors of a large building constructed between 1560 and 1581. Giorgio Vasari designed this structure for Cosimo I de’ Medici to house the offices of the Florentine magistrates. The term “Uffizi” translates to “offices.” At the end of the sixteenth century, this venue started to display the Medici family’s private art collections, thus its transformation into a gallery.
The gallery is near Piazza della Signoria in central Florence. Highlights within this historic space include works by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Raffaello. The Uffizi’s inventory extends beyond paintings to ancient sculptures and busts from the Medici family, which adorn its corridors and consist of classical Roman copies of lost Greek statues.
The gallery’s opening hours vary by season. Typically, it opens from Tuesday to Sunday, starting around 8:15 AM, with closing times depending on the time of year. It remains closed on Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.
You can buy tickets to the Uffizi Gallery online to avoid queues.
- The Accademia Gallery – Home to Michelangelo’s David
The Accademia Gallery, or Galleria dell’Accademia, is another art museum in Florence. The museum is on Via Ricasoli and is close to other important sites, such as the Florence Cathedral.
The gallery was founded in 1784 by the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo. Its original purpose was to serve as a location for students of the Academy of Fine Arts to study and replicate masterpieces.
Michelangelo’s David created between 1501 and 1504, is among the essential works housed at this museum. David was moved to the gallery in 1873 from its initial location at Piazza della Signoria to protect it from damage. The Accademia also houses other sculptures by Michelangelo, including statues from the series called ‘Prisoners.’
This museum opens at 8:15 a.m., Tuesday through Sunday, and closes at 6:50 p.m., with the ticket office shutting down at 6:20 p.m. The museum closes on Mondays, December 25th, January 1st, and May 1st.
- The Florence Cathedral – A Monumental Wonder
The Florence Cathedral, officially known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, is among Italy’s most significant landmarks. The cathedral stands in the Piazza del Duomo, part of Florence’s historic center, which UNESCO has designated a World Heritage Site.
Designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, the cathedral’s construction started in 1296, at the end of the 13th century. Filippo Brunelleschi engineered the church, which was structurally completed by 1436. The dome remains the largest brick dome ever constructed and is noted for its size, architectural complexity, and beauty.
The cathedral houses frescoes by Giorgio Vasari depicting The Last Judgment and a clock face designed by Paolo Uccello. Additionally, you can climb to the top of the dome or visit the bell tower adjacent to the cathedral for stunning panoramic views of Florence.
The cathedral’s opening times may vary throughout the year; however, it is typically open from 10:00 to 17:00 on most weekdays, with different hours for religious services during weekends. Admission to the cathedral itself is usually free. Still, there may be fees for accessing separate parts, such as climbing to the top of the dome.
Day Two: Savoring Florentine Cuisine and Culture
- Morning at the Central Market – Indulging in Local Delicacies
The Central Market, or Mercato Centrale, is in Florence’s San Lorenzo district. Founded in 1874, it is one of the chief structures designed by Giuseppe Mengoni, an Italian architect notable for his work on the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. Covering approximately 25,000 square meters, the market is a must-see in Florence in 2 days to discover the city’s excellent culinary culture.
Positioned near the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the market is readily accessible on foot from Florence’s central railway station, Santa Maria Novella.
Inside the iron and glass structure of the Central Market, you will find many food stalls and shops offering local Tuscan products. Its first floor hosts vendors selling meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables. You can also shop from artisans providing fresh bakery products and traditional Tuscan meals.
- The Boboli Gardens – An Oasis of Tranquility
The Boboli Gardens are an essential park to visit, even if you only have 2 days in Florence. They were made in the 16th century and are behind the Pitti Palace, home of the ruling families of Florence. The gardens are among the earliest Italian gardens that inspired many other European gardens.
The history of the Boboli Gardens begins with Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de’ Medici. Medici bought the Pitti Palace and the land behind it to create the garden in 1549. Over the years, architects such as Niccolò Tribolo, Giorgio Vasari, Bartolomeo Ammannati, and Bernardo Buontalenti helped design the landscape. You will find a mix of flora, sculptures, fountains, and caves in the gardens. All these features represent an idealized natural environment.
Located in the Oltrarno district, the Boboli Gardens cover about 45,000 square meters. Within its confines is a collection of sculptures dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, along with Roman antiquities. Noteworthy attractions include The Kaffeehaus, which offers panoramic views of Florence, and The Knight’s Garden, lined with daytime and nighttime statues.
- Afternoon Gelato Break – Finding the Best Gelato in Town
If, like me, you can’t resist Italian gelato, you’ll be happy to know that there are many gelaterias in Florence. And, to be fair, most of these shops sell delicious gelato. However, my favorite gelato in Florence came from My Sugar, in the Mercado Centrale, and Perché No!, which translates to “Why not?” and is between Piazza Signoria and Piazza della Repubblica.
As for flavors, you can’t go wrong with Italian classics like Pistacchio. Yet, in the heat of the summer, you may be more in the mood for fruit sorbets like mango, lemon, or passion fruit. Whatever you choose, you won’t regret it; there’s no bad ice cream in Florence!
- Ponte Vecchio – A Sunset to Remember
The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone bridge over the Arno River in Florence. It stands out for still having shops built along it, as was once common. Initially, butchers occupied the shops, but the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir sellers. The Ponte Vecchio dates back to 1345, replacing another bridge destroyed by a flood.
The Ponte Vecchio is in the eastern part of Florence, linking the district of Santo Spirito to Palazzo Vecchio. The bridge’s design and survival through various floods, notably the severe flood of 1966, mark it as an extraordinary engineering achievement of the Middle Ages. The Ponte Vecchio spans the narrowest point of the Arno River.
From this iconic bridge, you can marvel at the city’s beauty at sunset, the perfect way to end your 2 days in Florence.
Practical Tips for Making the Most of 2 Days in Florence
When it comes to trying to see as much as possible of Florence in 2 days, you should stay in the city center. By booking a hotel in the center of Florence, you’ll be within walking distance of the main attractions. Hence, you will save time on public transportation or taxi rides and energy not having to walk too much. For more information on this topic, please read our guide with the best areas to stay in Florence.
To visit Florence’s main attractions with fewer crowds, you could plan your trip for the winter or autumn months. Summer is the high tourist season in Florence, so you will have to share space with many people from all over the world under scorching temperatures.
Finally, to make the most of your 2 days in Florence, you’ll benefit from booking a private tour of the city with a local guide. They’ll show you the best spots quicker since they know where everything is.