How best to spend 48 hours in Florence

Yes, I know, you might already be thinking, “just 48 hours in Florence” !! How will you be able to do justice to a place that has perhaps the greatest collection of renaissance art & architecture and so much of natural beauty, in just around 2 days. Well, perhaps you are right. You can’t do full justice to it. If that means visiting each and every museum, cathedral or palace that the city has got to offer. But if you have got just 48 hours, well, you have got to make the most of these. And that is what we did. We spent close to 48 hours in Florence and we tried our best to make the most of these days. How did we do it? Here’s our itinerary on how best to spend 48 hours in Florence.

A refreshing self guided walking tour of Florence

A beautiful view during our walking tour along the banks of river Arno
A beautiful view during our walking tour along the banks of river Arno

To be in the renaissance capital of Europe and not to walk will be a sin. Most of the buildings of historical significance are located at walkable distance from each other. So, to make the most of our time in Florence, we decided to self design our walking tour of Florence. This seemed to be one of the best ways to spend our 48 hours in Florence. Since, we wanted to still take it leisurely. And also be able to grasp as much vibe of this wonderful place as possible. So, on our first day, after arriving at our accommodation and getting fresh, we headed on a walking tour around the river Arno.

As a part of this tour, we visited several spots like Uffizi gallery, Pitti Palace, Boboli Garden, Ponte Vecchio, Giardino Bardini and Piazzale Michelangelo etc. to name a few. You can find the details of our walking tour on our first day in Florence along with the google map that we created and followed here in this post. All you need to do is replace your accommodation as the starting point instead of ours. And you can start experiencing the beauty of your 48 hours in Florence, with this walking tour. We not only visited the different buildings of historical importance. But we also experienced the beautiful weather, the natural beauty along the river Arno, the gardens, the random sculptures and the food of Florence while walking around.

Our self planned walking tour of Florence – part 1

One more self guided walking tour of Florence

tour of florence

We started our second day in Florence with yet another self-guided and self-planned walking tour of Florence. You can find the details of this tour here in this post. Again, along with the corresponding google map and other details. However, on the 2nd day in Florence, we actually had our day trip to Pisa planned. So, we did this walking tour early in the morning. If you have got more time, you can actually get inside some of the historical buildings, museums, and cathedrals which we had to just visit from outside and then move on. Nevertheless, an early morning walking tour in Florence is one to remember. As you see the beautiful sun rising through the river Arno and in some time, shining on the domes of the beautiful cathedrals that are trademarks of Florence.

As a part of this trip, we covered some remarkable places like the duomo, the Accademia Gallery, the Saint Mark’s Square to name a few. We also explored some streets on this side of Florence randomly. And enjoyed seeing the businesses come into full swing in the early morning hours. You can as well including shopping into these lanes, if you are planning for the same.

Our self planned walking tour of Florence – part 2

A visit to Pisa

48 hours in Florence

On the second day of our stay in Florence, we went on to a half day tour of Pisa as well. We embarked on this tour in the noon, post our second walking tour of Florence. For this, we took a bus to Pisa and back. But we will advice you against it. Better take a train to Pisa. As the journey is not long. However, roads do get clogged with traffic at times. Like when we went to Pisa, it was a long weekend and as a result, there was a huge traffic on our way back. The journey took us 4 hours, which should have been otherwise over in 1.5 hours. However, the experience at Pisa was one of a lifetime.

When you are in Florence, you must not miss a visit to Pisa. Who won’t want to have a look at the leaning tower of Pisa and go through it’s history of how it came to be leaning in the first place. The added advantage is that the ride from Florence to Pisa is one of the most beautiful ones that you will do in Europe. The beautiful Tuscany countryside seems like a fairytale world that you pass by to head to the white world of the leaning tower.  So, when you have 48 hours in Florence, plan a half day tour to Pisa. And it will be totally worth it.

If you take a morning train to arrive at the Leaning tower of Pisa just when it opens up to public, you can spend a leisurely 3-4 hours at the spot. And then catch another train back to Florence. You will have additional half a day at Florence this way. And for that, we will recommend you can do a walking tour like we did in the morning before heading to Pisa.

Our half day tour from Florence to Pisa

Tips on experiencing Florence the most in these 48 hours

tour of florence

Apart from seeing places, buildings and gardens, there are many other ways in which we can soak ourselves in the beauty of Florence and experience the most of it. I guess these were the small things that made our 48 hours in Florence one of the most remembered part of our whole trip of Europe. I will like to share some of these tips with you.

  1. Try the local cuisines as you go through your tours. No need to buy anything expensive. It can be a slice of pizza from a nearby pizzeria or an ice cream from a parlor. We had a takeaway meal on our first day in Florence from a nearby vegan shop while our friends had ice cream from the parlor opposite it. We sat on the steps near our apartment to finish this meal, sharing bytes of it with the pigeons that were dominating the area. And it remains as one of the most beautiful meals that we had during our trip.
  2. Grocery shop and cook some meals like we did, just as the locals would do. On our way back from our self guided walking tours, we grocery shopped from the stores on the way. And then used the stuff to invent new meals for ourselves everyday. We also bought some wholesome milk for the little one.
  3. Rent an apartment, and cook your meals. No stay could perhaps be better than this one. We had a wonderful time sharing an apartment with our friends. And also preparing our meals. And having wonderful breakfast in nearby cafe. More on it on our post on our apartment, Palazzo Dei Ciompi.
  4. Interact with locals. We did interact with locals where ever we got a chance. Like with the cafe owner where we had our breakfast. Or some of the people who passed by while we had our breakfast in the open sitting. And also while seeking for directions. Or, while looking for particular items in the grocery store. And each of these conversations brought us a bit closer to the culture of Florence.

What else to do during your 48 hours in Florence

Here we have something more for you. Some insider tips to make the most of your 48 hours in Florence:

  1. Take away or pack your food and have it on your way during your walking tours. That will save a lot of time for you.
  2. Start your day early. However, take rest at regular intervals. So, you will remain energized through a day to make the most of it.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking around to be done.
  4. Stay closer to the heart of Florence, so that will save you considerable travel time to the city center or to the river Arno and places around it.
  5. Don’t be in a rush to hop from one place to another. It’s ok if you are not able to step foot inside all the possible buildings that florence has to offer. You will still enjoy your walks, getting lost in the streets of Florence, interacting with people or having an ice cream by the side of river Arno. Making memories is more important.
  6. If you have a small kid with you like we had with us, do carry a stroller on your walking tours.

In Summary, for us, it was more important to get a hang of the place and soak into the beauty around, than to be able to see every single master piece in every single museum or gallery. If you are of a similar opinion, don’t worry, you will be able to experience the magic of the city, during your 48 hours in Florence, like we discovered our magic. It still remains with us, and it is going to remain with us for our lifetime.

Summary of our 48 hours in Florence

Day1

12:30pm : Arrival into Florence

1:30pm : Checkin into our accommodation

2:30pm : Lunch just besides our accommodation, from a vegan cafe

3:30pm – 8:30pm : Self planned and self guided walking tour of Florence along the banks of Arno covering Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Viccho, Pitti Palace, Boboli Garden and several other spots before returning back to our accommodation in Florence. Grocery shopping on our way back to the apartment.

Day2

7:30am – 10:30am : Another self planned and self guided walking tour of Florence around the duomo. Today, we had our second walking tour of Florence, this time in the morning hours.

12:30pm – 9:00pm : A tour to the leaning tour of Pisa through mesmerizing Tuscany countryside.  At the end of the tour, we walked back to our accommodation, again, doing some grocery shopping on the way.

Day3

We had our train back to Venice, so, we didn’t do much today except for a hearty breakfast. However, you could squeeze in another walking tour. I will highly recommend walking up to the river Arno well before sunrise and then watching the sun rise over the city. It will be an experience to behold forever.

Best way to spend 48 hours in Florence including walking tours covering prominent structures, a half day tour to Pisa, lots of ways to soak into the culture and much more

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69 Responses

  1. I love Florence. For such a busy place all the tips are very helpful. Your detailed itinerary is inspiring. I liked your advice to rent apartment and interact with locals.

    • Thanks Anita. Florence is very beautiful. A must visit when you head to this part of the world

  2. I’m sure there is so much to see in Florence and surrounding areas. I would love to go there someday and I would definitely want to visit Pisa as well. Good tips for people who are only staying for short time. Looks like a beautiful place!

    • It is a very beautiful place Paula. Florence, the Tuscany countryside, Pisa are all so beautiful

  3. I’ll be visiting Florence this winter for 48 hours so it’s perfect I found your article, fortunately I don’t want to see every piece of art and visit every museum! I will check out your walking guides for when I visit as I love to explore a city by walking. Definitely pinning this!

    • Great to know that. I am sure Florence will be gorgeously beautiful in the winters. And I am glad my posts will help you plan your perfect 48 hours there. All the very best for your journey

  4. Florence is my favourite Tuscan city – the Duomo is just incredible, and I loved the view over the city from Piazza Michaelangelo. I also visited Pisa but on a separate visit – love this area of Italy!

    • Totally fell in love with the Tuscany … I guess there is something magical about this place. Isn’t it?

  5. Fab guide! The photos of Florence look stunning. I love doing walking tours around cities 🙂

  6. Very nice guide to Florence. We really enjoyed our time in Florence as well. We spent 1.5 days there really. We loved Boboli Gardens, the Duomo, the train station, and the famous bridge. We even saw people swimming in the river when we were there. Who could forget of course the famous bronze statue on the hill.

    • You spent almost same amount of time in Florence that we did. It indeed is a very beautiful city

  7. Wonderful itinerary created for Florence. But I wouldn’t want to include Pisa in this. 2 complete dedicated days for Florence will b e worth the time there. Great pictures Neha.

    • Thanks Indrani. Yes, it depends on what you prefer. We didn’t want to miss Pisa while being so close to it , so, we included it.

  8. Florence and Pisa are both incredible cities that you need to visit at least once in your lifetime. I only got to experience Florence in less than a day and sadly all the museums were closed, but I loved visiting the duomo and exploring the streets of Florence. It’s definitely best to explore it by foot.

    • I found the streets of Florence more beautiful than anything else. Sure there are masterpieces to be admired and lots of history inside those museums. But the best of culture, people and colors of Florence is out there on the streets. That’s why we had included so many walking tours in it

  9. A well spread itinerary. I sure would want more than 48 hours here. These would not be enough. Great was a quick snapshot of the place but knowing me….I would be frenzied. Don’t you agree?

    • Totally agree Ami. I myself left from here wanting for more. Will sure return one day..lets plan a trip soon 🙂 what say ?

  10. […] So, we were really satisfied with our roaming around Rome in a day . Later when we went on to Florence and took a walking tour around the Duomo, and one around river Arno, we found great architectural […]

  11. I am impressed that you were able to do a lot of things within 48 hours. I could probably just visit a few tourist spots only. I like your tips too. I like cheap eats so I will definitely try looking for those in Florence. I would probably choose an apartment or hostel that has a great location. It will be easier to navigate Florence.

    • Our apartment did have a perfect location Iza. You can check it out. And there are many others in the surroundings I guess.

  12. chikonahoka

    It’s been such a long time since I’ve done a walking tour in Europe. I skipped Florence – maybe I can come back someday. The ambience feels bella vita.

    • The ambiance in Florence is definitely great..beautiful..all the time

  13. Florence is such a special city. I love the old town and exploring along the gorgeous river. Also great gelato!!
    Kristie

  14. Florence is one of my most favourite cities in Italy. It is not modern, has stunning architecture, great gelato and wonderful boutiques! <3 I agree on the self guided tours. They are the best way to explore the city. Indulging in a cooking class and visiting local markets is a must. They have quite some classes there 🙂 And then if there is time, the visit to Tuscany countryside…..BLISS!

    • So true. Trying out a cooking class is something I wish I could have done. Since my little one is a fan of Italian food. Next time for sure!!

  15. I’m always so sad when I have such a short amount of time in a city. But it also makes me get super organized. I love all of your tips like taking a packed lunch on the walking tours. I must admit a walking tour is always the first thing I do in a new city, just so I can orientate myself. thanks so much for this great guide!

    • Thanks Claire. Same with us. We work, so, we get only limited holidays. Trying to make the most of these means we have to be super organized and our plans set in advance to explore the new places!!

  16. This looks like a lovely destination and you managed to fit so much in. It’s always difficult deciding what to do when you have limited time. Thanks for the informative post, if I visit I’ll be sure to reference it!

    • It’s indeed difficult to decide and every destination in the world has so much to offer that it is impossible for anyone to cover every nook and corner. So, we must decide based on our interests

  17. I like insider tips. You can actually enjoy a particular place in a short period of time. Florence must be a lovely city. Never been here but it surely is one of the most wonderful cities in the planet. Your photos are truly stunning, It captured my eyes on the spot!

    • Florence is one of the most beautiful cities that I have visited so far. Definitely a must visit

  18. Arnav Mathur

    Haven’t yet got the opportunity of visiting Florence, but am soon going to. And when I do, I am definitely keeping your helpful tips in mind. I liked your tip about opting for takeaway food and munching while on the move, it helps save time.

    • It does, particularly in Europe where there is so much to explore. And at most of the places, taking a seat and eating costs more too 🙂

  19. raginipuri

    Gosh, what overwhelming beauty, Neha! No wonder Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Your thorough compilation of pointers on getting around in Florence and the top things to do while one is there will definitely be of great help to future travellers to the city.

  20. That’s a very useful post! Technically, I’d stay in Italy for months together, coz its so so beautiful and all the places need to be seen properly! But for practical reason, this 48 hr itinerary sounds perfect!

    • You are right Bhusavali. Even months spent in Italy will feel like short , it is so beautiful

  21. I had absolutely no idea that Florence has so much to offer. Thanks for writing this one, will surely refer this one while planning Florence.

  22. Florence is my dream! The architecture is stunning and I’d love to see all the art and culture and history in person.

    • For sure! It is one of the most beautiful cities that I have visited so far

  23. Hello Neha amazing write up by you about Florence. Florence is very nice city of Italy for the tourist there so lots of place to watch this post is very useful

    • Thanks Petar!! Although we do wish we had spent more time in Florence and explored more of the tuscany countryside as well

  24. Florence is a beautiful city and this right here is a beautiful guide to it. Bookmarking it for reference!

  25. It does look total fun. and brings back so much memories. Worth Sharing! I am going to share it now! 🙂

  26. A place with so much artistic influence. The architecture is just wonderful. I could easily lose track of time exploring those streets.

    • You are right. The architectural details in the renaissance construction are mindblowing

  27. Florence seems like a spectacular destination and definitely worth visiting place! Excellent ideas for a short stay, Neha!

    • Thanks Agness. Florence definitely is one of the most beautiful cities that we have visited so far

  28. Florence is really beautiful and your this series of Florence has made me more curious to visit it. I must say Neha; you guys really managed to cover a lot with a kid in such a short span. Your guide on 48 hrs is going to be really helpful, once i will be planning a trip to Florence.

    • Thanks Suruchi. I guess the long days helped us travel more. Plus if you have a stroller it really gets convenient with the kid. Since they can easily rest and nap in it.

  29. I have read your earlier posts on Florence and you have not disappointed me this time as well. I guess you have spent quality time in Florence by picking up the way locals work, eat and spend their routine. Brilliant read!

    • Thank you so much Ambuj 🙂 we did have a very wonderful time in Florence

  30. This is a really informative guide.Florence is such a beautiful place .I would definitely like to visit some day!

    • Florence is one of the most beautiful cities that I have visited so far

  31. Florence is such a lovely city, that we would like to spend a lot of time there. We regret that we could not spend a longer time when we were there. Still cannot forget the thrill of standing near the masterpieces of Michael Angelo at the Accademia.

    • Even we felt the amount of time we spent there was not enough. We left carving for more. Will plan to return again

  32. What a ltot crammed into such a short period of time! I cant believe you managed to squeeze in two destinations, both Florence and Pisa. One day I want to head to Italy, it just looks amazing!

    • I guess the days being really long helped. Sunrise happened as early as 6 in the morning and sunset happened by 9pm. So, we had really long days at our disposal

  33. Omg amazing that you could fit so much into 48 hours in Florence!! Your walking tour sounds fantastic and it’s great you could see a lot. I think hiring an apartment is the way to go. Great you could cook which helps the budget!

    • Right. Apartment helps with the budget as well as gives you freedom to live the way you want. Although we did a lot in Florence, still I feel we should have stayed there longer. Will plan for one more trip

  34. Funny that you mentioned how to do a place justice in such a short a time. I just finished writing an article about not being able to slow travel and I said there that it’s not how time you got but how you make use of that time that matters. Having said that I think you have made a pretty informative and useful guide for touring Florence for 2 days. You’ve done so much in so little time.

    • Absolutely my thoughts. It’s important that you go as per your liking. And then, however much time you have, you will feel like having done justice to the place.

  35. I have been to Florence a couple of times and loved it (especially a cooking lesson I had there), but I have yet to squeeze in Pisa. Thanks for mapping out how both can be done in 48 hours.

    • Thanks Tanya. We loved the architecture of the leaning tower of Pisa

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