24 hours in Florence
Welcome to Florence: a city of artists, thinkers and dreamers. If you’re travelling through Italy by train, you must visit this jewel of the Renaissance, filled with history, culture and delicious food. Here’s the best way to spend 24 hours in this treasure trove.
8AM // MORNING MAGIC
See Florence from above
Get your heart racing by climbing the dome of Florence’s most iconic sight, the Duomo. Also known as the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, this magnificent cathedral complex sits in the heart of the city and is impossible to miss. With 463 steps, Brunelleschi’s dome is not a climb for the faint-hearted, but you’ll soon be rewarded with breathtaking views of the sun rising across terracotta rooftops.
Too early to climb? From the ground, admire the cathedral before heading north to the Mercato Centrale. This bustling market contains fresh and local products, including fruit, meat, pasta, olive oil and warm bread. Stock up on your favourites before they’re sold out, and don’t be afraid to ask for samples!
10AM // HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS
Join a free walking tour
Stop for an espresso and pastry at one of Florence’s colourful cafés, copying the locals by eating at the counter. Then, head to Piazza degli Strozzi for a free walking tour. At the 13th-century fortress Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti Palace, learn about the Medici family, a dynasty that shaped Renaissance Florence into the city we see today. Spot a copy of Michelangelo's 'David' in the Piazza della Signoria, before crossing the Arno river by the beautiful Ponte Vecchio bridge.
1PM // PIZZA IN PARADISE
Lunch in a secret garden
Grab lunch from Gusta Pizza, the best pizzeria in town. But before you dive into heaven, walk west to the Bardini Gardens (Giardino Bardini) for an incredible picnic spot. Most people visit the Boboli Gardens, stretching behind the Pitti Palace, but Giardino Bardini is a hidden paradise. Here, along endless hillside terraces, enjoy your pizza with all of Florence at your feet.
3PM // MUSEUM MARVELS
Explore the delights of the Uffizi Gallery
Back on the north side of the river, it's time to visit the Uffizi. It's one of the best galleries in the world, containing works by great Italian artists such as Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto and more. Top picks include Botticelli's 'The Birth of Venus', 'Primavera' and Caravaggio's 'Medusa', but plan your visit in advance to make the most of the gallery.
Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for more climbing, you can return to the Duomo and scale Giotto’s Bell Tower for perfect photos of the dome. Heading into the cathedral itself? Remember to wear appropriate clothing, but keep the Tuscan heat in mind!
8pm // PERFECT PANORAMAS
Watch the sun go down at Piazzale Michelangelo
A trip to Florence wouldn't be complete without witnessing a sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo. Located on the south side of the river, the elevated square is the perfect location for sweeping panoramas. Watch the sun settle across the river before heading back down to the city to enjoy your evening. Try Florentine specialities like Bistecca alla Fiorentina and Lampredotto in local square Santa Spirito, or move straight onto dessert with gelato at La Carraia or Vivoli, the oldest gelataria in Florence.
9am // FAREWELL FUN
Visit Porcellino Fountain for good luck
Just before you catch your train, make sure to visit the Porcellino Fountain located in the Mercato Nuovo. To bring you luck for your travels through Europe, rub the nose of the bronze boar and put a coin in its mouth. If it falls into the grate, you’ll return to Florence soon!
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