How to Explore Florence
For many years, my answer to the number of days in Florence you should spend was “zero”. Visiting Florence during my first trip to Italy almost 15 years ago left me with a very bad taste in my mouth.
Subsequent trips didn’t change that much. While I was impressed with the architecture, the art and of course its cuisine in Florence, I found its crowds oppressive (which rivaled those of Venice, both in terms of size and the types of tourists they understood) to basically negate any charm I might have felt otherwise.
My perspective changed in 2021, when I visited as the coronavirus pandemic ended in the developed world – I was so happy to see other people without a mask that all my other concerns evaporated. Even if you are reading this long after Covid was defeated from Earth, I think you will find my take on Florence valuable.
Where to stay in Florence
No matter how many days you spend in Florence, you’ll want to find a central and comfortable place to stay. As is the case in many other Italian cities, I find Airbnb has a better selection of moderately priced properties for travelers who aren’t looking to spend a ton. While it’s more convenient to stay as close to the Ponte Vecchio as possible, setting a wider radius will give you more options at better rates.
However, if you are not limited by your budget and want to enjoy a plush stay in a luxury hotel housed in a former palace, Florence offers many options for you. Restored frescoes adorn the walls of Palazzo Niccolini, which sits right next to the Duomo, while five-star San Firenze Suites & Spa is a short walk from Galleria Uffizi and offers great panoramic views from its rooftop bar and restaurant.
Ideas for a trip to Florence
A weekend in Florence
Whether it’s like a weekend elsewhere in Europe, or tucked away in a wider Italian itinerary, two days in Florence is a great place to start. Spend your first day outdoors, strolling through the Duomo place before crossing the Arno river more Vecchio Bridge To Piazzale Michelangelo, the best place to watch the sunset in Florence. Focus on galleries and museums on the second day i.e. Uffizi Gallery and the Medici Chapels.
3 days in Florence
If you have the time to spare, I would say three is a good minimum for the number of days you should be spending in Florence. This allows you to execute my two day plan as shown above and extend it in one of two ways. One option is to dig deeper into Florence proper, for example adding a visit to the lush Boboli Gardens. Otherwise, take a day trip nearby Pisa, or in the Tuscan wine country.