Florence is an incredible city. A place that makes everyone who visits it fall in love. Its museums, churches and palaces, as well as its squares and streets make it a unique destination. Of course, if you are going to stay only one day you have to measure your time very well and stick to a very tight itinerary. My recommendation is that first thing in the morning you visit the Duomo and then, throughout the day, you walk around the city following the route detailed below. Get ready for a magical trip!
And if you want to go deeper into each of the proposals or even know other alternatives, visit the post what to see and do in Florence.
1. Start early in the morning in Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo is the nerve center of the city of Florence. In this enclave is located the Cathedral of Florence with the Dome of Brunelleschi, the Campanile of Giotto, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Battistero di San Giovanni and is undoubtedly the busiest place in the capital of Tuscany. It is worth sitting down and taking a closer look at this open-air museum. In addition, in this square you can also visit the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo and the Loggia del Bigallo. The offer of plans in the Duomo square in Florence is very numerous.
2. Enter the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Going only one day in Florence, I recommend you to walk around and let yourself be dazzled by each and every corner of the city of Florence. Of course, if you want to enter a monument, choose the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, popularly known as Duomo. Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful and impressive cathedrals in Europe, as well as the third in size after St. Peter's (Rome) and St. Paul's (London). From the early fifteenth century, was designed by the architect Arnolfo di Cambio and is characterized by its marble facade in white and green. Inside is the tomb of Filippo Brunelleschi, the architect of the dome.
If you go only one day in Florence, I recommend that you start the day early in the morning in Piazza del Duomo and stroll throughout the day by the main sites. Let yourself be dazzled by each of the palaces, churches, museums, as well as by all the corners of the city of Florence.
3. Climb Brunelleschi's dome
The climb to the dome of Brunelleschi, is one of the essential visits of the city of Florence. To do so, you will have to overcome a total of 463 steps, but, believe me, it is worth it. The dome of the Duomo is one of the most spectacular works of the Renaissance, it has a diameter of 46 meters and a height of 114 meters. Regarding the interior decoration, it is characterized by a representation of scenes of the Last Judgment, the work of Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari. In this visit you will also have one of the best views of the city of Florence.
4. Be dazzled by the Baptistery
In front of the Duomo is the Battistero di San Giovanni. Considered the oldest building in Piazza del Duomo, it is characterized by its white and green marble facade. If possible, because it is always crowded, do not hesitate to make time and take a picture in front of the Gate of Paradise, one of the three access doors, which is characterized by its ten bronze panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament. On your one-day visit to Florence, I don't recommend you go inside.
5. Take a picture next to Giotto's Campanile
If you go one day in Florence, you can do without going up to Giotto's Campanile, especially if you have climbed the dome of Brunelleschi. However, do not forget to take a selfie with the Campanile in the background, a work that Giotto started and Andrea Pisano finished in 1359. Of course, if you dare to go up you should know that you will have to overcome more than 400 steps. As well as from the dome you will have one of the best views of the city of Florence.
6. Take a break for lunch in the surroundings of the Central Market
After seeing the Duomo area in depth, I recommend that you go to the Central Market area, also known as San Lorenzo Market, and take a break to eat a lampredotto panino, a typical regional sandwich made from spiced cow intestines. Afterwards, take the opportunity to browse the market's many stalls and buy your souvenirs of the trip. This market is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am.
7. Marvel at the Basilica of San Lorenzo
Next to the market, in Piazza San Lorenzo, you will find another must-see of your trip, the Basilica of San Lorenzo, designed by Michelangelo and Brunelleschi, you can visit it from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Also, inside you will have the opportunity to visit the Medici Chapel, a crypt where the remains of Lorenzo the Magnificent and another fifty members of this popular Florentine family lie.
8. Visit the cloister of Santa Maria Nouvella Square
Continue your walking tour to the recently renovated Piazza Santa Maria Nouvella, home to the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, one of the most important basilicas in Florence. Its construction began in the mid-13th century and was completed a century later, and combines Gothic and Renaissance features.
I recommend that at this point you stop at the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella, which is located on Via della Scala, just two minutes walk from the square. It sells perfumes and remedies made from traditional formulas. This pharmacy is not in the guidebooks and is a real marvel. It won't take you more than half an hour to visit.
9. Visit the Palazzo Strozzi
Very close to the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, you can stop and take some pictures of the Palazzo Strozzi, one of the greatest exponents of Renaissance architecture in the city of Florence. Built by Filippo Strozzi, a member of one of the most influential Florentine families, it is an imposing stone building.
10. Let yourself be impressed by Piazza della Repubblica
Continue your walk until you reach Piazza della Repubblica, which you will access through a large arch. In this square, imposing for its size, is the Column of Plenty where two of the main roads of the ancient Roman city crossed. In addition, there is a merry-go-round that is the sensation of the smallest of the house.
You can take a break and have a coffee in one of the elegant cafes located in the arcades of the square, and if you are passionate about fashion you have to know that here are the stores of top brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Dolce & Gabbana.
11. Entertain yourself with every detail of the Plaza de la Señoría
And from square to square: your next stop will be Piazza della Signoria, located between Piazza del Duomo and the Arno River. An enclave that has always been linked to the civil power of the city. In fact, it became the site of trials and executions.
The most characteristic building in the square is the Palazzo Vecchio, dating from the fourteenth century. On one side of the door you can see a replica of Michelangelo's statue of David, and on the other the statue of Hercules and Cacus. And inside you can see works by artists such as Giorgio Vasari, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Bronzino. My favorite rooms are the Sala dei Cinquecento and the Sala delle Mappe Geografiche, where you can look up your city through the different centuries.
In the square you will also find the Loggia della Signoria, a 14th century arcaded gallery that combines Gothic and classical elements and the Neptune Fountain, which dates back to the 16th century and was the first public fountain in the city of Florence. In addition, you can see other statues such as the statue of Perseus with the head of Medusa, the statue of Cosimo I de Medici.....
12. Search for the main works of the Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is a must-see in Florence, but if you go only one day it is not recommended to enter because the estimated duration is a minimum of three hours. Of course, you can always make a quick visit in search of the best works of the Uffizi Gallery as 'Madonna and Child with two Angels' by Filippo Lippi, 'Spring' by Botticelli, etc.. To do this, it is advisable that you have studied the route. On the official website you can plan it in advance. Also, do not hesitate to buy tickets to the Uffizi Gallery.
13. Touch the nose of the porcellino at the New Market
A must if you want to return to Florence, and considering that your visit is only one day, I recommend you to go and touch the nose of the porcellino. Tradition says that if you touch it, you will come back to Florence and it is also good luck, so don't hesitate! Besides, the porcellino is located next to the New Market, so you can take the opportunity to take some local handicraft gifts such as leather goods or souvenirs.
14. Cross the Ponte Vecchio
And after touching the snout of the porcellino, your next stop will be one of the most emblematic places in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio. Dating back to the mid-14th century, it is the most historic and oldest stone bridge in Europe. Its houses and hanging stores have had different uses over the years: in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were occupied by butchers and later by jewelers and goldsmiths who have remained until today.
15. Stroll in front of the Pitti Palace
Crossing the Ponte Vecchio you will arrive in front of the Pitti Palace, of Renaissance style and large dimensions, which dates from the mid-fifteenth century and is located south of the Arno River.
Since its construction it has been the place of residence of several families of great influence in Florentine life such as the Pitti, the Medici or grand dukes of the Tuscan region. Today, it houses an important collection of works of art, as well as porcelain, period costumes, etc.... In fact, it comprises a series of museums: the Palatine Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Museum of Costumes, the Silver Museum and the Museum of Porcelain. In addition, inside is the Boboli garden which is a delight to stroll through.
If you were going for more than a day I would recommend that you enjoy each of the collections it houses, but with so little time I advise you to limit yourself to contemplate the architecture of the building.
16. Go up to Piazzale Michelangelo
And as a finishing touch to a spectacular day, go up to the Piazzale Michelangelo and enjoy spectacular views of the city of Florence. If you look closely it is the image of many of the postcards of the city of Florence and the panoramic view is really impressive. This square is located on a hill south of the Arno River and also houses a replica of Michelangelo's David in bronze.
Recommendations to visit Florence in one day
If you are only going to spend one day in the city of Florence, you have to be prepared for a day against the clock. Here are some tips that you can take into account for this express trip:
- Don't obsess about getting into the sites: If you are only going to be in Florence for one day, it is more convenient to walk around as much as possible and soak up the city: its streets, its architecture, its people, its atmosphere....
- Take advantage of any break to have an ice cream: they are a delight for the palate.
- Wear comfortable shoes like booties.
- Don't forget your camera.
- At noon do not sit down to eat in a restaurant: The ideal is to eat something fast, as we have detailed in this guide of a day, so as not to waste time and thus take advantage of the day as much as possible.