Mark these top sites to see when you only have 2 days to visit the city
Florence is, unarguably, Tuscany's most famous city. Every year, millions of people visit the Cradle of the Renaissance, visiting its main museums and strolling through its streets to gaze and admire its monuments, churches, palazzos and more. The city has so much to offer, so it is difficult to select and offer an opinion on what you should absolutely see in JUST 2 DAYS!
We'll give it a try by indicating a walking itinerary of the top sites and areas to visit. You can't visit the inside of all of these places in just two days, but even seeing them from the outside is a treat. These monuments are beautiful both architecturally and aesthetically. If you like what you see, or are intrgried to see more, then stop, go inside and enjoy! Even if you don't make it down this entire list, the important thing is to enjoy your time here and what you do see! If you miss something, just make a mental note to come back again to Florence ;-).
1. Piazza del Duomo
Start your visit in Piazza del Duomo in the heart of Florence. Here, the majestic Duomo, or Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, presides with its famous cupola or dome by Brunelleschi, but don't forget to also admire the Baptistery with its bronze Gates of Paradise and Giotto's very tall bell tower. If you want, you can climb to the very top and admire an incredible view of the city. All three can be visited with a single ticket that is valid for 72 hours, keeping in mind you need to book a time to climb up the dome (you can do that when you buy the pass and return later).
I would highly recommend spending an entire morning here to visit all of them but time is limited so just visit the cathedral (free entrance) and see the exquisite mosaic floors and stunning frescoes on the inside the dome over the main altar. Then just admire the beauty of the remaining monuments from the outside.
2. Piazza della Signoria
Continue your walk by taking via dei Calzaiuoli (the street by the bell tower) to reach the magnificent Piazza della Signoria, center of Florence's political power for centuries. Here is the grand Palazzo Vecchio, headquarters of the city government as well as a city museum.
To the right of Palazzo Vecchio, you can admire the beautiful Loggia dei Lanzi where wonderful statues such as the Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini and the Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna are on display, and in the piazza itself admire Neptune's Fountain by Ammannati and the equestrian statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna.
On your way along Via Calzaiuoli, you can admire the square architectural structure of the church of Orsanmichele and the many statues that adorn its sides by great artists such as Donatello, Ghiberti and Verrocchio.
3. The Uffizi Gallery
Head right in between Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi to arrive at the Uffizi Gallery, one of Italy's top museums and one of the most important in the world with its large collection of Renaissance masterpieces, with works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, to name just a few.
If you want to go into the Uffizi Gallery, we recommend you buy Uffizi tickets online ahead of time as there is often a long line outside. Plan to spend at least 2 hours inside the museum or better yet, visit with a guided tour to make sure you don't miss the top masterpieces.
4. Ponte Vecchio
Connected to the Uffizi Gallery by the famous Vasari Corridor, which links Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti, is Florence's most celebrated landmark, the Ponte Vecchio, literally, the "Old Bridge". The bridge has connected the river banks exactly at this point since the 12th century!
5. Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
Crossing Ponte Vecchio while admiring the spectacular goldsmith shops, you reach the Oltrarno area where the Pitti Palace stands magnificently, home today to several splendid museums such as the Palatine Gallery and the Modern Art Gallery, with the impressive Boboli Gardens as its backyard. While the museums take time to visit, if your time is limited and the day is shining, we recommend you visit the gardens.
6. Santo Spirito
If after the Boboli gardens you're not too tired, head to the nearby Piazza Santo Spirito with its Church of Santo Spirito. Built by Brunelleschi, the church stands tall over the square with its simple and yellow facade but hides many artistic treasures inside.
There are several restaurants and cafes around the square and in the streets nearby that offer excellent Tuscan dishes and wines for you to enjoy at the end of your long first day in Florence!
7. Piazza and Church of Santa Maria Novella
Starting back on the Arno's northern riverbank, start your second day in Piazza Santa Maria Novella where you can admire the recently renovated square with its beautiful Santa Maria Novella Church. The church's facade in white and green marble was designed by Leon Battista Alberti while the stunning Tornabuoni Chapel inside has frescoes by Ghirlandaio - a must see!
8. Piazza San Lorenzo, Church and Medici Chapels
In Piazza San Lorenzo, you can either do a quick visit into the San Lorenzo Church, the church with its unfinished facade where the Medici family worshipped, or into the quite majestic Medici Chapels, final resting place for the Medici dynasty where you'll find beautiful marble statues by Michelangelo in the New Sacristy.
8. Accademia Gallery
Often also on everyone's list, the Accademia Gallery houses Michelangelo's original marble statue called David, standing tall at its center. You'll have seen a copy of it in front of Palazzo Vecchio by now but seeing the original is a whole different ballgame. If you have at least an hour to spare, I would suggest visiting inside (pre-book tickets ahead of time).
9. Piazza Santa Croce and the Basilica of Santa Croce
Pass by the Duomo as you head to Piazza Santa Croce where you should visit the impressive Santa Croce Church where many great Florentines and Tuscans have their final resting place, including Michelangelo and Galileo. If you don't have time, at least admire the facade and the grand statue of Dante on the front left corner.
10. Piazzale Michelangelo for the best view of Florence
To end your second day, I recommend heading to Piazzale Michelangelo, a square overlooking the city from the first hill in the Oltrarno where you can enjoy a marvelous view of the city at sunset! You'll enjoy viewing and identifying all of the places you've visited all over Florence in the last 48 hours!
Remember, I said all of the above places can be "visited" in 2 days if you walk around and admire then from the outside. If you have an extra day or two, you can take more time and visit the inside of the churches and museums I've listed above as the main sights to see in Florence.
There is so much to see in Florence and no matter how limited your time is, I hope this 48 hour itinerary in Florence helps guide you during your time in Florence.