Home to 1.5 million people in its metropolitan area, Florence, Italy, is the capital city of the Tuscany region, one of the most gorgeous tourist regions in the world. You will have the time of your life visiting this city, as long as you plan your day carefully. Otherwise, you’ll feel overwhelmed when you arrive. Here’s an itinerary that will help you have a wonderful day in Florence.

Early Morning: Fly into Florence and Drink a Cappucino!

Florence Airport, Peretola (airport codes FLR and LIRQ) is your first stop on your trip. You will deplane and grab your luggage at the airport before you head to Florence center, where you will spend most of the day.

Instead of renting a car, you can use a ride-sharing service like Uber, which recently won a lawsuit to stay in operation in Italy. The distance is only four kilometers at a cost of $15. If you’d prefer to save money, the Volainbus bus shuttle is never more than half an hour away from arrival. This service costs about $6. Your choice comes down to speed vs. price.

On your way, you should stop at Via S. Gallo to have a cup of joe at the best coffee shop in Florence. This restaurant is Caffè Rosanò, and their Facebook page proudly displays their victory in the category. It is officially the best cappuccino in a city known around the world for its distinctive coffee flavors. You’re probably licking your lips at the thought of how great this coffee tastes. What will shock you is that they serve it throughout the day, and it’s cheap! That’s why it’s worth a stop.

Santa croce basilica
Basilica di Santa Croce (The Chruch of Santa Croce).

Midmorning: Visit the Historic Centre of Florence

A lot of fun tourist activities are in quartiere 1 of Florence. Chief among them is the Historic Centre aka the city center. You will spend a lot of time here during your day, and you should familiarize yourself with it early. The city center was home to the birthplace of the Renaissance, which means you’ll find historical and culturally significant works of art almost everywhere you look.

The first building to admire today is the Palazzo Strozzi. Built in 1489, this palace was home to intrigue from its beginning. Filippo Strozzi, the man who commissioned the structure, died in 1491. Giuliano da Sangallo, the man who designed the structure, followed him into the afterlife in 1516. The palace remained unfinished, as the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de’ Medici, claimed the land of his enemy for 30 years.

Today, you can take a trip through history when you visit the Palazzo Strozzi. All elements of the infighting are on display in some form. The Medici influences are unmistakable, but da Sangallo’s core concept of a central courtyard and wrought-iron lamps remains. You will easily lose two hours walking through the palace and seeing amazing works of art.

Noon: Eat in an Old Palace

The maxim of “when in Rome…” applies to the entirety of the country. While in Florence, you’re going to dine on Italian food. Eater has posted a list of the best 38 restaurants in the city. One of them is a short walk away from your current location. Head over to Buca Dell’Orafo to feast on authentic Florentine cuisine.

Buca Dell’Orafo serves farm-fresh ingredients in modern takes on classic Italian recipes. You can’t go wrong with any entrée here, but the funghi porcini, prawns with curry, and groppa scaloppata aka beef and cheese with fried mushrooms are all divine.

Even though you’re eating lunch, you must save room for dessert. The almond biscotti with sweet wine is one of the reasons why this restaurant has such a sterling reputation. Plus, you enjoy your meal while eating on the former site of a palace constructed in 1200 A.D.!

cathedral di santa maria del fiore
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.

Afternoon: Act like a Tourist

While you’re under the Tuscan sun, you’ll have countless tourist opportunities. In Florence, three locations stand out. Conveniently, they’re all within walking distance of one another. Ask your driver to take you to the Piazza del Duomo or Duomo for short. You’ll receive a knowing nod and promptly arrive at your destination.

Here, you’ll visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the 15th century church with the most famous dome in the world. You can walk through the building and then hike outside to admire the dome from both perspectives. Famous artist Filippo Brunelleschi was a native of Florence, and the masterwork of his career is the subject of countless documentaries and art classes.

Once you’re done looking up, walk over to Giotto’s Campanile. You’re about to enter the bell tower and appreciate one of the most charming elements of the city. The campanile features seven enormous bells, each of which has its own distinctive sound.

Tourists can view the bells and then climb each of the five stages of the tower. Ultimately, you’ll stand 277 feet off the ground, but you won’t know it since the building doesn’t have any windows at that height. Your best view will come when you’re about 80 percent of the way to the top. A multi-story window will show you everything to see in the Duomo. You will want to get out your smartphone camera and start taking pictures at this point.

The last stop during your afternoon adventure in tourism is The Baptistery of Saint John, which is among the oldest buildings in all of Florence. It dates back to 1059 A.D. and is one of the earliest, best-known examples of Florentine Romanesque architecture. More important, this structure includes a series of gates on the south, north, and east sections. The artist Michelangelo, who trained in Florence, named them the Gates of Paradise, and that title has stuck for many centuries. Anyone who visits Florence but doesn’t see the Gates of Paradise has wasted a trip.

Dinnertime: Time for the Meal of a Lifetime

After all of that art appreciation, you’ve built up quite the appetite. Fortunately, one of the finest restaurants in the entire world is close to your current location. La Bottega del Buon Caffe at Borgo San Pietro Hotel & Estate provides an inimitable fine dining experience, and it’s only two kilometers away from the Duomo! You can walk there once you’re done admiring the Gates of Paradise.

At La Bottega del Buon Caffe, Michelin Star-winning head chef Antonello Sardi has constructed an amazing menu of Italian fusion dishes, and he employs farm-to-plate techniques to guarantee the freshness of ingredients. The eatery offers season meals, meaning that the time of year when you visit determines your options. If possible, you should order the Cappelletti pasta or Amberjack fish, the latter of which Sardi serves three ways: as a tartar, filet, and belly.

You will also want to pair your delicious Italian cuisine with the proper Tuscan wine. The restaurant has 1,100 labels on site and an expert sommelier who can suggest the best flavor to match your food. Loosen your belt and go crazy at this restaurant. You may look back on it as the best meal of your life.

Ponte vecchio
Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

Evening: Time to Stroll the Waterways

You may think of Venice as the Italian city surrounded by water, but Florence claims a portion of the Arno River, too. The Ponte Vecchio is south of Piazza della Repubblica is a marvelous place to walk the streets of Florence at night.

You’ll feel swept away by the magic of the Old Bridge as you watch ships sail by in the night. Somewhere in your mind, you’ll realize that you’re standing in a spot where countless others have previously walked, as the Old Bridge dates back to 1218 A.D. Strolling the waterways is the single most romantic thing to do in Florence.

Late Night: End the Night with Bubbles!

You don’t want your unforgettable day in Florence to end, and it doesn’t yet! You still have time to visit one of the famous nightclubs in the region. The best one that’s only an Uber away is Space Electronic, which is precisely what it sounds like. At this club, the dark setting fosters the illusion of outer space, and the thumping electronic dance music will keep you wide awake until the bubbles drop from the ceiling at the end of the night. Only then will your visit to Florence end.

Where to Stay in Florence:

Top Hotels

Your trip budget will determine your accommodations in Florence. You can stay at a lovely property for as little as $150 a night. If you have more disposable income, some of the most breathtaking views in Italy are on display from hotel room balconies in Florence. You will pay $750 or more per night for such panoramic settings, but you’ll have unforgettable memories of your time at the hotel.

To experience some local color, stay at a less expensive hotel such as the Hotel Restaurant La Scaletta or Torre Guelfa Hotel. Both properties have great reviews, and you can book a room starting at $150 per night. The Torre Guelfa resides in a repurposed area that was once a palace! You can walk the 72 steps up the tower to feel like you’re climbing through Italian history. As for Hotel Restaurant La Scaletta, it’s exactly what the name says, a hotel with a restaurant. You can even buy a package that includes a free deluxe dinner.

With a medium budget, your choices are that much better. Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni is among the most beloved boutique hotels in all of Europe. For $350 per night, you can spend the night at the tower-house. While here, you can study the history of Florentine culture or play golf the Italian way. If your location is more important than Italian heritage to you, the Hotel Degli Orafi is closer to Florence center for roughly the same cost.

Guests who don’t worry about money will have their pick of all Florence hotels. The best three options are Golden Tower Hotel & Spa, Palazzo Vecchietti Suites and Studios, and Hotel Lungarno. Each of them costs at least $500 per night or could go up to $800 during peak season, which is May and June in Florence.

For that money, you’ll enjoy the finest accommodations in the city. Plus, you’ll stay in the heart of Florence center. Still, you may feel like you’ve spent your vacation money better by picking a cheaper location and using the rest of your allowance on food and shopping.

Boboli gardens
Boboli Gardens.

Florence is a hotbed for hostel travelers. The city offers more than 100 options, many of which include free internet and cheap meal options onsite. The price for these hostels can match any budget. Cheap locations such as Hostel 7 Santi, a converted convent, are only $20 a night. One of the best-reviewed hostels on Hostel World, Academy Hostel, is $30 a night and includes free breakfast plus free WiFi. Best of all, it’s only a few steps away from the Duomo!

From there, hostel prices scale up depending on your needs. Hostel Archi Rossi is only 500 feet away from Santa Maria Novella Train Station. By staying here, you’ll have access to all of the city’s hot spots. It’s also one of the most popular hostels for American travelers, presumably due to its comfortable bunk bed dormitory design. Similarly, the International Student House Florence targets younger travelers. You can book either one for $55 or less on most nights.

Great Private Rentals

While you’re visiting Florence, you may need different accommodations. Few hotel rooms can host a large group of people. Even multi-room suites have strict laws about maximum occupancy. Alternately, you may want to stay for an extended period. A hotel room may feel too cramped over time. To avoid such problems, you should research private rentals instead.

Sites like Airbnb list many gorgeous residences available for flat nightly rates. Some of them also have weekly and monthly rates. You may even find a landlord willing to negotiate a better rate for a longer stay.

Do you feel ready to plan a trip to Florence? You can research and book a wonderful getaway to an idyllic Italian setting using this site! GoDoTrip is your best bet for all of your travel needs.