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.
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.
Read next: 10 Important Things to Know Before Visiting Florence
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!)
Read next: Smart Things to Pack When Visiting Florence, Italy
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.
Read next: 10 Important Things to Know Before Visiting Florence
Great advice! The only thing I’d comment on is the leather market isn’t always trustworthy….and my Roman friends say the same knock off bags there cost much less. They’ve gotten into some heated arguments with the mercato zone vendors. I’d stick to your Massimo shop recommendation or go to the Leather school in santa croce (pricey, but for sure legit).
Yeah it depends really.. the thing is that you can get the cheap prices in Florence too, that’s where haggling comes in. I once got a guy to give me a bag for 22 euros, it was listed at 120!
Thank you, great tips!
You’re welcome Leanne, thanks for reading. Will you be visiting Florence soon?
I am planning on doing a road trip around Tuscany and am apprehensive about parking in the bigger cities along the way (do not want to have to spend an arm and a leg on parking!). What do you recommend doing?
Hi Kristen, I don’t have direct experience with parking or driving in the cities but I know that Florence has a zone in the city centre that you won’t be able to drive in because you need a special permit to do so. Sorry, I wish I could be of more help!
Visited your friends at Massimo leather today and purchased a jacket I couldn’t live without! Thanks so much for the advice! Navigating the city can be overwhelming!
Ah I’m so jealous! I hope you told him I said hello 🙂 If you post a picture of your photo, tag me in it so I can see! 🙂 @Jess_inLondon . Thanks for letting me know, you’ve made my day! Enjoy the rest of your time there!
Hi, im in Florence now. Will be staying until Thursday and yes thanks for the leather tip 😉
Enjoy!! 🙂 Tell Massimo I said hello!
Awesome list! I’m going next month and I will definitely follow some of these recommendations — especially hunting for a leather jacket!
Thanks Monica, have a great time!
Staying in Cortona next week and will be taking the train to Florence, so thanks for the tips!
Hi Jess! Many thanks for your tips! I am visiting Florence end of this month…really looking forward to it now!
Hope you had a great time Trupti, let me know how it went.
we had a apartment just near Mercato Centrale so followed your advice and not only did lunch one day but did dinner. It was amazing such a great atmosphere and food and drinks were fantastic. We also went to a restaurant in the square called Za Za which I would highly recommend. Thanks for your advice on Florence
I’m so glad you liked the Mercato! Yes I’ve been to Za Za before, it has SUCH a huge menu doesn’t it 😉 You’re very welcome Sue, glad you enjoyed yourself.
Favorite place to stay in Florence (Not a hostel)?
Hotel Rosso 23: http://fave.co/2eiig8z
Hello!! Great article!! I will visit florence next week and i would ask if you know how much is the ticket of train from bologna!! Thank you 🙂
Hi! If you take the fast train it’s usually around 35 euros.
Thank you for your helpful article! I will be going to Rome for a few days and then over to Florence for a few and then back home to NY. Do you have anymore restaurant reccomendations-Rome or Florence?
I will be sharing some more recommendation on my Youtube channel in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out Anna 🙂
Do u recommend to go tothe suburbs of florence if we are staying for 2 days and a half?! And which area is the best to visit! Also can u recommend more restaurants tontry?! Thank u about the advice above! Will definitly do them!
Hi Maria, which area do you mean by the suburbs?