A Few Days in Florence

A guide to help you figure out what you want to see, when, and how.
white and black concrete buildings at golden hour

Florence is the most popular city for tourists in Italy. With four main areasthe Old City (the center of Florence), the Duomo (The Cathedral), Santa Croce (The Franciscan Church) and The Giardini Di Boboli (the park)—you could easily spend days exploring each area individually. But how about combining them all into a single day trip?


In this guide I will walk you through each area with maps and directions so that you can navigate through the city with ease. I will also include recommendations for visiting each area along with a detailed list of museums and churches to see within that area. I will explain how much time it should take to see each museum or church so that you can make the most out of your day trip!


The Old City (Città Vecchia)

In the Città Vecchia, the historical part of Florence, you will find many great museums and places to shop.


Where to Stay:

  • Duomo Hotel ($145 per night per person). Close to the train station.
  • Santa Croce Hotel ($125 per night per person). Slightly closer to the station, and it has a great breakfast buffet.
  • Hostel Italia ($28 per night per person). For any seeking out something affordable! Located next door from the train station. Perfect if you plan to take any intercity trains during your stay.
  • Hotel Massimo D’Azeglio ($125 per night per person for double rooms). A great place to stay right next to St. Mark‘s Square. The hotel has a rooftop terrace where you can see the square and the Basilica from above.
  • Hotel Albergo dei Poveri ($80 per night per person for double rooms). Located around the corner from St. Mark‘s Square. This spot offers both historic views and afforable doubles.
  • Hotel San Frediano ($140 per night per person for double rooms). This hotel offers great views of St. Mark‘s Square from its rooftop restaurant.
  • B&B La Meridiana ($100 per night per person for double rooms). A private bed and breakfast offerings private rooms above the square. We love this place—we’ve taken tons of photos through it’s windows.

The Duomo (The Cathedral) and Other Churches

There are hundreds of churches in Florence and some of them are really cool. The best way to see them is to visit them early in the morning before they open for Mass. If you arrive too late they will be closed.

Churches in Florence are usually open in the morning around 9am or 10am. Try to get there before 10am on Sundays. We like to stroll at sunrise and then either sneak in or wait outside once the morning Mass begins, then head back to our hotel or a cafe for lunch.

A Few Notable Churches:

  • The Baptistry. This church was built in the 11th century and is located right near the Duomo. One of the most iconic sights in Florence. Free to enter and you can climb up the stairs yourself to see St Joseph‘s Chapel.
  • Santa Maria del Carmine. A popular church in Florence where many couples get married, this church is about a 20 minute walk from the train station. It has some beautiful stained glass windows so make sure to check them out! This church also has an interesting history involving St John which has led many people here over the years. I recommend going early if you want a quiet visit!
  • San Lorenzo. Also known asSaint Lawrence this church was originally built for Dominican monks but was taken over by Franciscan monks after they were expelled from San Marco. The interior of this church is nicely decorated with mosaics but there isn‘t much else that differentiates this from any other church. The exterior though is beautiful with giant stone pillars on each side of the building that remind me of a portico.
  • Fra’ Filippo Lippi Church. This small chapel was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici in 1442 who wanted to honor his favorite artist, Fra’ Filippo Lippi. The artist had died shortly before construction began so Cosimo had his body brought here from its resting place under Cosimo’s home, which is now Palazzo Vecchio. There are some great frescoes inside as well as an impressive altar piece painted on wood by Fra’ Filippo himself!

Santa Croce (The Franciscan Church)

Santa Croce is a popular tourist destination alongside Piazza Signoria, but is only open during certain hours. It’s a great place to visit if you want to get a little bit of history and art history while you’re in Florence. You could easily spend a couple of hours here reading about each painter featured on the walls and getting lost in paintings. We somehow managed to get a lot out of our own visit even though we couldn’t read Italian!

Where to Stay:

  • Hotel Santa Croce ($140 per night per person with doubles).
  • Hostel La Cigale ($33 per night per person). It’s private rooms start at $33 per night plus taxes which makes it one of the cheapest hostels in Florence!
  • Hotel Accademia ($130 per night per person). Located right across from Santa Croce, only about 300m away.

The Giardini Di Boboli

The Boboli Gardens are a beautiful park in Florence that is often overlooked. They were designed by Robert Adam between 1765-1769 and have since been renovated multiple times since its creation. After visiting this park, we ended up spending two more days wandering around Florence because we loved seeing all these beautiful buildings surrounded by greenery. It made us wish we had stayed longer than our one day trip allowed us too!

Where to Stay:

  • Hotel Granduca ($160 per night per person). A short walk away from Villa La Pietra.

Other Tips & Tricks

Public Transportation is Easy & Convenient

Florence has one of the best public transportation systems in Italy. It‘s easy to get around the city by bus, tram, or train. There are also a lot of bus and tram stops located right outside of some of the main attractions like the Duomo or Santa Croce so you could easily walk from one station to another without ever needing to get on a bus or take a tram. You could also spend hours walking from one area to another without ever needing to take public transportation at all!

You can buy tickets for public transportation before your trip or at any local bar or cafe.
Most major attractions in Florence are located near the train station. The downside is that every ticket has to be validated and only the first ticket you validate at each gate. Sometimes people leave their ticket in the machine and come back later so if you happen to run into someone who bought a ticket for Villa La Pietra but hasn’t used it yet, you can ask them if they’d like to use it on your ticket!

Don’t Speak Italian? No Problem

Florence has one of the highest percentages of English speakers in all of Italy. This makes it easy to get around even without speaking Italian. The main languages spoken here are English, German, Spanish and Russian because they have so many people coming through from Europe on business or just visiting friends and family. This makes navigating Florence much easier than other Italian cities. You can always ask someone where something is located or to point something out with confidence.