Florence is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and culturally important cities in Italy. Above all, it is home to impressive paintings, and sculptures and is also architecturally of the utmost importance. In Italy, you have to experience Venice, Florence, and Rome at least once. So why not take a stress-free day trip to Florence by train? The early bird is already on the train at half past seven and can have an espresso at Florence’s centrally located main station, Santa Maria Novella, as early as ten o’clock.
From 7:30 in the evening, it takes a little over two leisurely hours to arrive back in a surprisingly quiet and magical Venice. So eight hours in Florence, the city on the river Arno, will be quite something.
Location and route to Florence
Florence is located in the heart of Tuscany, about 260 km southwest of Venice, and can be reached by train at least once an hour during the day from the lagoon city on the Adriatic. There are regional trains, express trains, and high-speed trains, with the latter usually reaching Florence in just over two hours.
Prices depend on the type of train. It is best to book the right ticket with seat reservation in advance on the internet.
If you would like to book a day trip from Venice to Florence, you can do so directly here – Day trip to Florence by train and Uffizi ticket
A car journey is not advisable for reasons of time and cost. The nice thing about Florence is that all the highlights of the old town are quite close together and also near the train station. The streets are traffic-calmed and you can explore everything on foot.
If you want to see a lot very quickly, there is also the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Florence with two 60-minute buses and 44 stops.
Eight hours to fall in love with Florence
Florence is dominated by museums and sacred buildings, so you are spoilt for choice. Add to this a visit to the Old Bridge, the Ponte Vecchio (photo) in Florence, and a stroll through the historic old town, which is full of grandiose historical monuments and valuable art treasures. Everywhere you can sense the importance Florence gained under the Medici in the 15th century. We want to concentrate on the must-sees because there has to be time for a short lunch, an unusual snack, and a typical gelato to enjoy the flair of Florence.
So we stayed in the time-honored part of the city and decided to visit the Uffizi, one of the oldest and most famous museums in the world. We continue to the Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Brunelleschi’s dome. There may even be time to visit the Galleria dell’Accademia to catch a glimpse of Michelangelo’s David sculpture.
Everything is only a few hundred meters away from each other, but there is no waiting time for entry. So plan everything well, and if possible get tickets with fast entry online in advance.
✅ Savings tip in advance: Almost all visitors to Florence are extremely interested in culture and primarily in the exciting museums of this unique city. It’s definitely worth taking a look at the Florence Pass with free and preferential admission to the world’s most famous museums.
The Uffizi in Florence
The Uffizi was built between 1560 and 1580. The translation of Uffizi is “offices”, which already describes the actual purpose of the buildings. The building complex, which was constructed according to the plans of the architects Giorgio Vasari, Bernardo Buontalenti, and Alfonso Parigi the Younger, was actually built to house ministries and offices in the city. An entire city quarter had to be demolished for its new construction. However, parts of it were integrated into the complex, such as the Romanesque church of S. Piero Scheraggio and the Zecca minting workshop. The existing and new buildings were unified externally by means of front façades.
The Uffizi Gallery is home to several ancient sculptures from Rome, which were temporarily exhibited in the garden of the Villa Medici. The most famous exhibit is the “Medicean Venus”, which was discovered in 1618 in the villa of the former Roman emperor Hadrian. Meanwhile, the third floor houses the Galleria degli Uffizi painting collection. Its focus is on works of the Italian Renaissance, but paintings from the 13th to the 18th century as well as numerous other works by Flemish, Dutch, French, and German artists are also presented as part of the exhibition.
On the floor below the gallery is the extensive Leopold di Medici collection, which includes drawings and prints. On the ground floor, you can see some remains of the former Romanesque church. It is not without reason that the Uffizi is considered one of the most important art museums in the world. The number of visitors is enormous, so you should definitely opt for the tickets without queuing for fast admission.
|Uffizi Gallery: Priority Entrance
|Guided Tour in Englisch (2H)
|Various English guided tours
|approx € 45,00
It is possible to book an interesting combination ticket for two of Florence’s most important sights Uffizi + Accademia Pass. Details on the supplier’s page.
The enormous size of the gallery and the rest of the collection are impressive and of the greatest art-historical importance. Lovers and connoisseurs of Italian art, but also those interested, should therefore not miss out on a visit to the Uffizi.
From sculptures from the Greek and Roman periods to art for religious purposes, the Renaissance, and modern times, the Uffizi offers a fantastic overview of the history of art and the development of all painting and sculpture in Western Europe.
- Address: Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze
- Opening hours: Daily 8:30 am to 6:30 pm (last admission 5:30 pm); Mon, 25 Dec and 1 Jan closed.
- Duration: 1.0 to 2.0 hours with or without guided tour
✅ Tip: Next to the Uffizi is the Ponte Vecchio, this picturesque and distinctive bridge, one of Florence’s most photographed sights. It has retained its original 14th-century medieval form to this day. You should now take some time to browse around the small shops of goldsmiths and jewelers (photo). The place is teeming with tourists from all over the world who can’t get enough selfies, Instagram photos, or other snapshots from the two terraces in the middle of the picturesque bridge over the river Arno.
From the Uffizi to Palazzo Vecchio
The Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. Here, the former city-state shows its power at the time of the 14th century. It is like an open-air museum when you walk through the open-arched hall Loggia dei Lanzi, with the important statues of art history, such as the Perseo by Benvenuto Cellini or the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna. In the center of the square is the much-photographed Fountain of Neptune.
The most important and imposing building in the Piazza della Signoria is the Palazzo Vecchio or Old Palace. You can’t miss it thanks to its enormous tower. For centuries the seat of government for Florence and Tuscany, today it is the city’s town hall and a magnificent museum. Famous also for many of Dan Brown’s novels Inferno… Tickets are otherwise available, but be sure to get them in advance.
|Museum & Video Guide
|Tower, Museum & Video Guide
Many visitors are overwhelmed by the breathtaking splendor of the Palazzo Vecchio’s rooms. The visit takes about 1.0 to 1.5 hours. Continue, as always on foot, to the next world-famous highlight of the city tour. Alternatively, there is the option of a guided tour through the secret passages of Palazzo Vecchio, followed by lunch.
Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Brunelleschis Kuppel
Until the 13th century, the inhabitants of the city celebrated their religious services in the Babtisterium San Giovanni and several smaller churches. These were sufficient for their representation. In 1229, it was decided to build a cathedral. This building was to surpass all the previous constructions and have dimensions never seen before in Tuscany. The reasons for this decision were not least the desire for a visible monument, as was the case in Venice and Pisa. But the construction of the cathedral in Siena, which began in the same year, also had an influence on the decision-making process. The plans for the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore were penned by Arnolfo di Cambio.
However, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is much more than just a place of worship and an architectural masterpiece. Its interior is adorned with numerous artistic masterpieces. For example, there are numerous paintings with military references on the church walls, which express the great importance of the military in the 15th century. An absolute highlight is the dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. The dome model by the Italian architect Brunelleschi is considered a technical masterpiece of the early Renaissance.
Giorgio Vasari began painting the interior of the fresco on the imposing dome in 1572, which was completed by Federico Zuccari in 1579. In terms of its dimensions, it is considered the largest fresco cycle on a Christian theme. It is said that Vasari’s dream was to surpass Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement” in the Sistine Chapel with his painting. The number of visitors to the dome is limited, so book your tickets in advance.
|Santa Maria del Fiore
|Bruneleschi's Dome: Reserved Entrance
|Guided tour - Cathedral and Dome
Admission to the house of worship itself is free. Admission times are daily, except Sun + public holidays, from 10.15 a.m to 4.15 p.m.. For the visit to the famous dome, the opening hours listed below apply.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore should definitely be on the list of must-see sights in the city. This imposing structure makes the incredible feat of 13th-century laborers building it all the more clear. From the architecture to the murals and ornamentation, there is much to experience and marvel at there. The size of the murals is overwhelming, as is the almost 4,000 square meters of interior dome space.
- Address: Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze
- Opening hours of the dome: Mon-Fri 8:15 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., Sat 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sun + public holidays 12.45 p.m. to 5.15 p.m., last admission approx. 60 minutes before closing time
- Duration: approx. 1.0 to 1.5 hours
One of the few institutions in Florence, the Galleria dell’Accademia was dedicated to art from the beginning. Under the patronage of Cosmo de Medici, it was built in 1563. It was the first academy of painting in Europe. A decree issued in 1784 by Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany stipulated that all the city’s painting schools should be brought together under the roof of the Galleria dell’Accademia.
It was also to contain a gallery of old master paintings to assist the young students in their studies. Today, the Accademia continues to fulfill this mission, now housed in a former convent and hospice in Via Ricasoli.
One of the most famous and well-known pieces on display in the Accademia is Michelangelo’s “David”. This was moved from its original location in Palazzo Vecchio to the Accademia in 1873 for its own protection. The “Prisoners”, which were originally intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II, and Giambologna’s original sculptures for the Rape of the Sabine Women are also on display in the Accademia.
In addition, the Galleria dell’Accademia includes outstanding paintings depicting the city in the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as 13th and 14th-century paintings. Here are some online tickets to visit the Galleria dell’Accademia to choose from.
|Ticket with priority entrance
|Galleria dell’Accademia - Ticket with Digital Booklet
|Accademia - Guided tour
Tip: The Uffizi + Accademia Pass. Further details of the pass can be found on the provider’s page.
Almost everyone comes into contact with Michelangelo’s David during their school years as part of their art lessons. Facing this masterpiece in person allows one’s admiration and respect for the artist to understand and grow. The other sculptures also leave a deep impression.
The Galleria dell’Accademia is one of the most important art collections in Florence. The atmosphere that prevails in the buildings quickly casts a spell over visitors. There is hardly any other place where you can walk in the footsteps of painters and sculptors of past centuries better than in the Galleria dell’Accademia.
- Address: Accademia di Belle Arti, Via Ricasoli, 66, 50122 Firenze.
- Opening hours: Tue – Sun 8:15 am – 6:50 pm, Mon closed 25 Dec and 1 Jan and 1 May.
- Duration: approx. 1 ho
Eating and drinking in Florence
✅ San Lorenzo market hall – Day trippers are often on foot and have little time for a long lunch or an extensive dinner. For a tasty snack, it’s best to visit the imposing San Lorenzo market hall (photo above), the largest and oldest in the city. Here you can find only fresh Italian specialties and at the same time take part in real Florentine life. The gastronomic scene here is definitely for gourmets.
- Address: Mercato di San Lorenzo, Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Via dell’Ariento.
- Opening hours: Daily from 8:00 a.m. to midnight.
✅ Eataly – The absolute hit for Italian specialties is the popular slow food chain Eataly, a pun on the English words Eat for food and Italy for Italy. The shop in Florence is located in the middle of the picturesque old town. Price-wise rather upmarket, but highly recommended.
- Address: Eataly Firence, Via de Martinelli, 22R – 50129 Firenze
- Opening hours: Daily from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
✅ Gelateria Santa Trinitá – No visit to Florence is complete without an Italian ice cream. Gelateria Santa Trinitá, right next to the Ponte Santa Trinitá is said to have not only the best ice cream in Florence but also the most spectacular opportunity for a selfie with the Ponte Vecchio in the background.
- Address: Piazza de’ Frescobaldi, 11/red, 50125 Firenze
- Opening hours: Daily from 12:00 to midnight.
If a burger with fries or salad is enough for you, there is also the Hard Rock Cafe Florence. As already mentioned, you can combine your lunch with a guided tour through the secret passages of Palazzo Vecchio.
Many travelers to Italy choose Florence, one of the most beautiful old towns in the region, as the location for their cultural and art trip up the boot. Not a bad decision, because there is more than enough to see outside the museums for four to five days. For example, the wonderful Boboli Gardens. So it won’t be boring! So if you’re staying a little longer in Florence, you should also check out the benefits of the Florence Pass.
✅ Every woman’s dream – here are the tickets for the Ferragamo Museum in Florence
Florence Hotel Tips
Visitors who are therefore staying a few days longer in the city on the Arno can find my hotel tips here for the old town or also for car drivers with free parking.
A very attractive accommodation in an excellent location in the old town and only a few minutes walk from Santa Maria Novella railway station. From here you can reach all the sights of Florence on foot. Elegant rooms with wooden floors and furniture. Bars, pubs, and restaurants in the side streets, have free Wi-Fi.
- Hotel Adriatico, Via Maso Finiguerra, 9, 50123 Firenze, room 129, double room from € 80,00
Hotel Monna Lisa
Quietly located in the historic center of Florence, the elegant Hotel Monna Lisa is housed in a very beautiful palace from the Renaissance period. Comfortable rooms in Florentine style. A gem with a beautiful garden and a special flair.
- Hotel Monna Lisa, Borgo Pinti 27, 50121 Florence, room 45, double room from 100,00 €
Hotel NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa
Conveniently located in the center of the city, this hotel is a little more expensive but the perfect base for exploring Florence’s old town and its unique sights. Quietly located in the alleys of old Florence only about 200 away from Palazzo Vecchio. Stylish rooms with free Wi-Fi and modern facilities.
- Hotel NH Porta Rossa, Via Porta Rossa 19, 50123 Florence, room 70, double room from € 175.00
On the banks of the Arno River, near the Ponte Santa Trinita, Hotel Berchielli offers an ideal city location for a stay in Florence. Guests can enjoy quiet and comfortable rooms. Free Wi-Fi and a rich breakfast are included in the price.
- Lungarno Acciaiuoli 14, 50123, Florence, room 76, double room from € 120.00
Art Hotel Villa Agape
Top hotel in the middle of a wonderful park with olive trees, just outside Florence. City centre is easily accessible with a free hotel shuttle service or public transport. Comfortable rooms with all amenities, and free wifi. Breakfast included and, most importantly, free parking!
- Art Hotel Villa Agape, Via Torre Del Gallo 8-10, 50125 Florence, room 31, double room from 95,00 €.
Day trip from Florence to Venice
If you decide to make a day trip to Venice from Florence, you will also find a large number of fast train connections to the world-famous lagoon city on the Adriatic. Here, too, time is pressing, especially for first-time visitors, so as not to miss the most important sights in the historic old town of Venice. There is also the possibility to book a trip to Venice as a package – Day trip to Venice by train & Museum & Vaparetto Ticket –
The must-see program naturally includes a visit to St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and the almost obligatory gondola ride. If you want to be on the safe side, you can book everything in advance with a combined ticket.
Uffizi:Petar Milošević (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uffizi_Gallery_hallway.JPG), “Uffizi Gallery hallway”, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode Palazzo Vecchio: Lorenzo Testa (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Palazzo_Vecchio_Cortile_interno.JPG), “Palazzo Vecchio Cortile interno”, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode Santa Maria del Fiore: Zolli (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chiesa_Santa_Maria_del_Fiore.jpg), “Chiesa Santa Maria del Fiore”, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode Michelangelo: Michelangelo artist QS: P170, Q5592 Clayton Tang (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:David_by_Michelangelo_in_The_Gallery_of_the_Accademia_di_Belle_Arti.jpg), “David by Michelangelo in The Gallery of the Accademia di Belle Arti”, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode Market Hall:Sailko (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mercato_centrale,_fi,_primo_piano_02.JPG), “Mercato centrale, fi, primo piano 02”, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode