I love Florence. It’s an incredibly city with rich history, amazing museums, great food, and beautiful surroundings. Here’s how to have the perfect weekend trip to Florence (including the best pistachio gelato I’ve ever had) and a Florence hidden gem.
Florence is a perfect city for a weekend trip. Whilst you could spend weeks soaking up all of the incredible Renaissance history in Florence, a weekend is the perfect amount of time to spend getting to know this pretty city. Here’s how to have the perfect Florence weekend trip.
How to get to Florence
Your best bet is by train! If you’re in Italy, it doesn’t really make sense to take a plane (expensive and time-consuming) or bus (takes ages). The Frecciarosa trains are high speed and we were able to get from Rome to Florence in just an hour and a half!
You’ll take the train into Firenze Santa Maria Novella, sometimes abbreviated as Firenze S.M.N. This train station is right in the heart of the city and is super convenient to get to.
How to spend your Florence Weekend Trip
Day 1: Sightseeing
Your first day in Florence should be jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring. Florence is the heart of the Renaissance and the history grounded in the city is absolutely breathtaking. This day is designed to show you some of Florence’s main sights.
Start out your day as the Italians start theirs: with a cappucino e cornetto. This has become one of my favourite ways to start the day since moving to Rome. Something so simple, but so GOOD, is a fantastic way to start the day.
Helpful Tips: You can find a simple breakfast like this at any bar. If you want an espresso, simply order a caffe. Don’t order a latte or you will get milk. If you want an American latte, order a caffe latte.
After getting your morning coffee, head into one of Florence’s world-renowned museums. My personal favourite is the Uffizi Gallery (so much art and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus), but the Academia Gallery is where you’ll find Da Vinci’s David.
If art isn’t your thing, the Museo Leonardo da Vinci is a really neat museum that shows how incredible and innovative da Vinci was. It has prototypes explaining his drawings and models, and an interactive area – I think that’s meant for kids but all of the adults were having a blast, too. Entry costs 7 euros.
Practical Tip: If you’re planning on going to a high profile museum, such as the Uffizi or Academia Gallery, book ahead of time and splurge on the skip-the-line tickets. You’ll wait for hours and waste precious time in Florence otherwise!
Lunch: Quick & Cheap Eats in Florence
After you’ve seen a museum, you’ll probably be looking for a bite to eat! Lunch is a great time for takeaway cheap eats. Florence has some famous ones!
- Osteria All’antico Vinaio – the lines are pretty long at around 2pm; this is a great place for an earlier lunch. If you are arriving at peak time, there are three locations all in a triangle (all right in front of the other), so pick and choose from the shortest line. Expect to pay around 5 euros for your panino.
- Raviolo e Raviolo – this is a sit-down place, but it’s very casual and affordable. I really enjoyed the potato ravioli with ragu, and Phil’s eggplant (melenzane) ravioli was amazing.
- Gusta Pizza was recommended to me by a very dear friend who lived in Florence for a little while. 5 euros for a personal pizza! Sounds fabulous and we were gutted we didn’t get to try this recommendation out.
- San Lorenzo Market – this has so many stalls with food, and is great if you’re also planning on going leather shopping. Kill two birds with one stone.
You can’t visit Florence without seeing the Duomo (and it’s nearly impossible to miss anyway!). I recommend walking up to the top of the Duomo or the Bell Tower. The views are absolutely breathtaking (as are the stairs up to the top), and it’s an experience I really enjoyed.
ALSO writing now because the photo is right above – great gelato recommendation: La Strega Nocciola. My friend said this was the best pistachio gelato she’s ever had and I fully support that statement- this place has the best pistachio gelato I have ever eaten and their lavender is also amazing. You can’t have a Florence weekend trip (or a Florence trip of any length) without stopping here.
I know, I know… history CAN be really boring. BUT Florence has soooo much history and it’s worth knowing a little bit about what you’re seeing. I highly recommend Rick Steve’s Renaissance Walk, which you can download to your phone and listen to on your own. A free walking tour! His humour is incredibly cheesy at some points, and I hate to admit that I laughed at some of the jokes, but he makes history really interesting and you get to know the history of some sights you’d normally just walk right past.
The tour ends at the Ponte Vecchio. From there, it’s a short walk to my favourite viewpoint in Florence: Piazzale Michelangelo. This is the GREATEST golden hour view.
From there, I like walking back down the winding roads down to Porta San Niccolò, where there are good views the whole way down. From there, back over a bridge to the other side of Florence.
If you’re feeling peckish, but it’s still a bit too early to eat by Italian standards (7:30 is when many restaurants open), go for an aperitivo! Typically, you buy a cocktail, glass of wine, or beer, and you get some food that goes along with it. Sometimes, it’s a full buffet. I recommend outdoor seating with a good view. What a way to end a full day in Florence.
After dinner, you’ll be exhausted! Get a good night’s sleep because the next day has lots of walking!
Food Recommendations (both recommended to me by another friend that spent months in Florence)
- Vini a Vechi
Day 2: Florence’s Surroundings
Florence is a relatively compact city, so you probably got a good feel for it the first day. What I love about Florence is that there is so much in its immediate surroundings worth exploring.
We visited a hidden gem, the town of Fiesole. While you can take the bus (#7) up, we decided to walk. It took us a little over an hour and it was quite a bit uphill, but we really enjoyed the walk. There are amazing views from this town, as it’s located on a hillside.
Fiesole has loads of Etruscan ruins. You can visit the ruins for a small fee, as well as the museum, which is loaded with history.
We really enjoyed walking further uphill to Convento San Francesco. Wow – this place is beautiful. First, the view. Second, the library! It is more like a museum! It has 2000-year-old Chinese coins, loads of old artefacts, and A MUMMY.
We really liked Fiesole because we were still so close to Florence. It’s easy to hop back on the bus back into town and to finish up some sightseeing, souvenir shopping, or museum-hopping.
Alternatively, if you feel like you’ve seen enough of Florence and are looking to go a bit further away, there are heaps of cities easily accessible by train or bus. We took a day trip to Pisa and Lucca, which I highly recommend. They’re full of classic Tuscan charm and are worth a trip. If shopping is more your thing, there are some amazing fashion outlets outside of the city. Alternatively, San Gimignano and Siena are also options.
And there you have it! A perfect Florence weekend trip. Have more recommendations to add to this post? Send them my way!
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