How to Explore Florence

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For many years, my answer to how many days in Florence you should spend was “zero.” Visiting Florence during my first trip to Italy, nearly 15 years ago, left me with a very bad taste in my mouth.

Subsequent trips didn’t do much to change that. While I was impressed by Florence’s architecture, art and of course its food, I found its oppressive crowds (which rivaled those in Venice, both in terms of size and the sorts of tourists they comprised) to basically cancel out any charm I might otherwise have felt.

My perspective changed in 2021, when I visited as the coronavirus pandemic was wrapping up in the developed world—I was so happy to see other maskless people that all my other concerns evaporated. Even if you’re reading this long after Covid has been vanquished from the earth, I think you’ll find my perspective on Florence valuable.

Where to Stay in Florence

No matter how many days in Florence you end up spending, you’ll want to find a centrally-located and comfortable place to stay. As is the case in many other Italian cities, I find that Airbnb has a better selections of modestly-priced properties for travelers who aren’t looking to spend a ton. While staying as close as possible to Ponte Vecchio bridge is most convenient, setting a larger radius will give you more options at better rates.

However, if you aren’t budget-constrained and want to enjoy an opulent stay in a luxury hotel housed in a former palazzo, Florence offer plenty of options for you. Restored frescoes adorn the walls of Palazzo Niccolini, which sits right near the Duomo, while five-star San Firenze Suites & Spa is just steps from Galleria Uffizi, and offers stunning panoramic views from its rooftop restaurant and bar.

Florence Trip Ideas

A weekend in Florence

Whether as a weekend trip from elsewhere in Europe, or nestled within a larger Italy itinerary, two days in Florence is a great starting point. Spend your first day outdoors, strolling around the Duomo plaza before crossing the Arno River over Ponte Vecchio to Piazzale Michaelangelo, the best place to watch the sunset in Florence. Focus on galleries and museums in day two, namely Uffizi Gallery and the Medici Chapels.

3 days in Florence

If you have the time at your disposal, I’d say that three is a good minimum amount for how many days in Florence you should spend. This allows you to execute my two-day plan as stated above, and expand it in one of two ways. One option is to dig deeper into Florence proper, such as adding in a visit to lush Boboli Gardens. Alternatively, take a day trip to nearby Pisa, or into the Tuscan Wine Country.

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