Because I lived in Florence for a year (yes, a dream indeed) friends and family always reach out to me for suggestions for what to do when they visit the city that I used to call home. I don’t think that 48 hours in Florence is anywhere near enough, so these recommendations can easily be spread into a week if you take my advice to stay longer. Check out these seven things to do in Florence in two days.
*August 2017 update– I’ll be creating a free course for people visiting Florence soon, keep reading to find out how to get on the waitlist for it.
1. See Florence from above
I’m a sucker for a good view (I mean, who isn’t?) and Florence has three spots I’d recommend visiting if you want a good look at the city from high up. Pay to climb to the top of either the Duomo of Florence’s Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore or Giotto’s Bell Tower, which both have over 400 steps to climb that are so worth it if you don’t have a heart condition. A free option is to visit Piazzale Michelangelo, which is now really popular with tourists but on a cool night, you might be able to grab a spot on the steps and watch the sun setting over the city— bottle of wine is recommended.
2. Shop for leather goods
Florence is known for its leather products, which make great souvenirs that will actually be used and will last you a long time… hellooooo leather jacket. Pop over to the outdoor leather market in San Lorenzo for plenty of options, just be sure to haggle for the lowest price possible. Or you can visit my friend at Massimo Leather, a shop nearby the market. Massimo has tons of options for leather jackets and I prefer the bags he sells as they’re unique and different from the ones in the outdoor market. Tell him I sent you and said hello!
3. Taste Bistecca Fiorentina
Meat lovers have to try Bistecca Fiorentina, a traditional Florentine dish. You’ll see offers for this dish at every tourist trap restaurant, so important to go to a restaurant that actually does it well (it may be more expensive but it’s worth it) Try Perseus Fiesolano or Trattoria Mario which has been recommended to me by local friends, as I don’t eat steak!
4. Enjoy gelato with a view of the Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio is one of the most famous sites in Italy, but it’s almost always packed with people and it’s hard to admire it when you’re actually ON it. Instead visit Ponte Santa Trinita, the bridge next to the Ponte Vecchio, to see it in all its glory. While you’re at it, grab some gelato at one of my favourite gelato spots Gelateria Santa Trinita (on the corner, just over the bridge) and let your eyes and tastebuds take it all in.
5. Rent a bike and ride to the Cascine
Florence is a fairly bike-friendly city, so much so that when I started biking in London I completely forgot that bikers have to follow rules and make an effort to avoid getting run over. Anyways, anyone can rent bikes for pretty cheap in Florence, I usually grab mine from Tuscany Cycle on Via Ghibellina. Once you have your bici (bike in Italian) head over to the Arno river and ride towards and then past the station, and within a few minutes you’ll be at the Cascine, a big green park with plenty of space for riding.
6. Grab an aperitivo
One of my favorite things about Italy is aperitivo. Bars around the city offer it just before dinner, and if you purchase a drink you get to help yourself to a buffet of nibbles. Some are really lame while others have a plentiful and yummy selection for you to feast on. You could make a dinner out of it, but it’s not really meant for that, more like a pre-dinner drink and snack, so keep that in mind. My favorites are Colle Bereto (it’s quite posh and young, so dress well), Oibo (if you eat outside it’s lovely), Moyo (sometimes it’s themed so check beforehand if you can) and Kitch (the spread is MASSIVE!)
7. Visit the upper floor of the Mercato Centrale
I used to do my food shopping on the ground floor of the Mercato Centrale (so fresh and so cheap!) but little did I know that while I was doing that there was a Florentine food Mecca being built above me. The recently reopened first floor of the market is a foodie heaven– go for lunch and you’ll have so many options that you won’t know what to do with your salivating self. Read more about it on Girl in Florence.
August 2017 Update– I’ll be creating a free course to help first-time visitors to Florence to navigate the city. Sign up with the form below to get on the waitlist, and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.