A day trip to Florence is a good idea to soak up the arts and culture. Enjoy a day in Florence and stroll through this rich city of commerce in central Italy, which has made a huge contribution to Europe’s cultural development. The journey only takes a few hours by high speed train or by car. An excursion that is really worth it.
The center of Tuscany
Tuscany stretches from the Apennine Mountains to the sea and includes many popular cities such as Pisa, Livorno, Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano and Grossetto. The island of Elba lies off the coast.
Many famous wines come from here, such as the Chianti, the Brunello di Montalcino and the Vin Santo. The juicy steaks of the Chianina cattle and the Fiorentine steaks are famous specialities.
A day in Florence: our suggestion for your excursion
A day trip to Florence is not only a good idea if you are on holiday in Tuscany, in the hills of the Chianti region around Siena or by the sea between Lucca, Pisa, Livorno and Grosseto.
From Bologna you also need less than an hour and with the Italian express trains Frecciarossa and Italo it is not far from Rome, Venice or Milan.
We start our tour at Santa Maria Novella Central Station. It is a listed building. From here you can walk to the center in a few minutes.
By car, parking in Florence is a bit complicated. The underground garage at the train station and also other garages in the center are located in the traffic-calmed zone ZTL. In the garages your license plate is registered, otherwise you would have to pay a fine for entering the ZTL.
The proposed tour has a length of around 6 km / 3.7 miles. On our route we skip the Galleria dell’Accademia, in which the original of Michelangelo’s David can be seen.
The Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral
You walk along Via degli Avelli past the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. The way is a little longer, but there is little traffic. Santa Maria Novella is open until 5 p.m. on some days and admission has to be paid.
In the center of the square, take Via dei Banchi on the left and follow the alleys Via delle Belle Donne, Via del Trebbio and Via degli Agli to the cathedral. The imposing structure was the largest church in the world when it was completed in 1436.
Opening times Florence Cathedral: Mon – Sat 10:15 am – 4:15 pm, closed on Sundays and public holidays. Admission is free, but there are long lines. With reservation it goes much faster.
Giotto’s bell tower
The Campanile di Giotto is the cathedral’s bell tower and houses seven bells. The tower is 84.7 m / 278 ft high and about 15 m / 49 ft wide. The ascent goes over 463 steps. Entry to the tower must be paid.
The origin of the Battistero di San Giovanni is obscure. There may have been a Temple of Mars here. During excavations, traces of Roman houses with mosaic floors have been found. Due to the way it was built, it is believed to have originated in the 4th-5th centuries. However, an inauguration is only notarized for the year 1059. Entry to the baptistery has to be paid.
The dome of the cathedral is the largest brick dome in the world. The inner dome has a maximum diameter of 45.5 m / 149.3 ft, the outer dome 54.8 m / 178.8 ft. It has a height of 116 m / 52.5 ft.
Entry to the dome has to be paid and you have to climb 463 steps. There is no elevator.
The market of St. Ambrose
Would you like to eat now? Then try our Florence tip, the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio.
It is 1.1 km / 0.7 miles from the cathedral . There is fresh food and you can eat delicious and cheap. You just walk on at the cathedral square, past the palace of the region Tuscany Palazzo Guadagni Strozzi Sacrati in the Via dell’Oriulo. At Via dei Pepi, keep slightly left and take Via Pietrapiana. At the church of Sant’Ambrogio, turn right and then find the market on the left.
You can eat very tasty in the market at the Trattoria da Rocco with typical Tuscan specialties. At Trippaio you get offal from typical Tuscan folk cuisine.
Opening hours Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio: Mon – Sat – 2 pm
Tickets at a glance
Book with our partner Getyourguide without any extra costs
One day in Florence: Piazza della Signoria
Well strengthened, it goes on to the central square Piazza della Signoria . The distance is 1.2 km / 0.75 miles. Take Via dell’Agnolo and then turn left onto Via Giuseppe Verdi. You come to the Franciscan church of Santa Croce di Firenze and follow the Borgo dei Greci to the right.
The square in front of the former government palace Palazzo Vecchio is the historical political center of the city. Various statues stand in the square, including a copy of Michelangelo’s David. On one side is the Loggia dei Lanzi. It was built to house the mercenaries. Later it became a kind of open museum for pieces from the Medici collection. Statues from the Villa Medici in Rome were later placed here.
Incidentally, right behind the square there is the statue of a wild boar, la Fontana del Porcellino, in the Piazza del mercato nuovo . It is said that if you stroke the wild boar’s snout, you’ll be in luck and come back to Florence.
The Palazzo Vecchio
The old government palace is now the town hall and museum. However, the opening hours are complicated and it is difficult to visit this museum on a day trip.
The most imposing room is the Salone dei Cinquecento. It was built in 1495 by the Dominican friar Savonarola.
Here, a council of 500 citizens should decide the fate of the city. Perhaps Savonarola was too fanatical and unwilling to compromise. In February 1497 he staged a purgatory of the vanities in which he burned works of art, jewelry and valuable clothes, and with which he inflicted immeasurable damage on the Florentine art of the Renaissance. A year later, he was convicted and executed. The puller is said to have been Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI.
The Uffizi Gallery is located just below the Palazzo Vecchio. It is one of the most important museums in Italy. You shouldn’t miss the Uffizi Gallery! You will find important collections by Raffaello and Botticelli as well as works by Giotto, Tizian, Dürer, Rubens, Caravaggio and others. You need two hours to visit the Uffizi Gallery.
For the Uffizi, you have to reserve the tickets in advance on the Internet.
The Ponte Vecchio
You should stroll across the bridge and take a look at the displays of the jewelry stores. If you want to take photos of the Ponte Vecchio, go back over another bridge.
In 1442 the butchers had to move to the bridge. They could then dispose of their waste straight away in the Arno. In 1565 the architect Vasari built a secret passage from the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti, the new residence outside the then stinking city, on behalf of Cosimo I de’ Medici. The secret passage led over the old bridge. Since the rulers did not want to run above the butcher’s shops, Ferdinando I de’ Medici ordered in 1593 that the goldsmiths should settle here.
Il giardino di Boboli
Behind the Palazzo Pitti is a large Italian garden, the Giardino di Boboli. The garden is practically an open-air museum and was the model for many gardens in Europe.
Way back to the train station
From Palazzo Pitti, the distance to the train station is 1.5 km. So you need around 20 minutes on foot. You should be at the station 15 minutes before the train departs. But maybe you want to take a little more time. After the bridge Ponte Santa Trinità you come to a pedestrian zone with many nice shops. At Palazzo Strozzi, turn into Via della Spada and then turn right onto Via delle belle Donne, which will take you to the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and the train station.
If you want to eat, there is the Mercato Centrale 600 m / a 3rd mile from the train station with a large selection of stalls from pizza to sushi and Sicilian specialties. Just beyond there are some nice restaurants serving Tuscan cuisine in the Piazza del Mercato Centrale.Piazza del Mercato Centrale 10:00 – 0:00
How to get to Florence
We have compiled various Italian cities for you in the attached table. You will find the distances and approximate travel times by car and high speed train. For the trains you see the approximate departure time of the first train to Florence and the departure time of the last train for the return journey. The trains of Trenitalia leave every hour on most routes, on the main routes more often. The trains of Italo drive infrequent but are usually less expensive. Reservations are required for all high speed trains in Italy. The ticket cannot be rebooked with the saver tariffs.
|Connections to Florence||from Rome||from Milan||from Turin|
|Kilometers / miles of road||274km / 170 miles||302km / 188 miles||420km / 261 miles|
|Travel time by car (h:min)||3:00||3:15||4:15|
|Travel time by high speed train (h:min) (h:min)||1:40||2:00||3:05|
|First train to Florence (hh:min)||~ 06:00||~ 05:00||~ 06:00|
|Last train from Florence (hh:min)||~ 22:00||~ 22:00||~ 19:00|
|Connections to Florence||from Rimini||from Venice||from Verona|
|Kilometers / miles of road||223km / 139 miles||256km / 159 miles||232km / 144 miles|
|Travel time by car (h:min)||2:40||2:45||2:30|
|Travel time by high speed train (h:min)||2:30||2:13||1:32|
|First train to Florence (hh:min)||~ 05:30||~ 05:30||~ 06:50|
|Last train from Florence (hh:min)||~ 22:00||~ 21:20||~ 20:30|