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5 days in Florence - how would you do it?

5 days in Florence - how would you do it?

Jul 28th, 2014, 03:24 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 369
5 days in Florence - how would you do it?

Hi all,

I'm visiting Florence for the first time, shortly. With so much to see and absorb, I hope I do justice to the destination!

Ideally, I'd like to take at least 1 day trip to see couple of Tuscan towns / villages, apart from spending time in Florence.

To all those who have gone to Florence, how would you advise a first timer along these ideas? Of course considering personal preferences is important, but then there are things which are universal must-see or unique to Florence!

I am told there's a LOT of walking involved while in Florence. I'm staying couple of km from the Duomo. Not exactly near, but not too far off either.

Secondly, if you think time slot / tickets for some of the sights 'must' be reserved or booked online in advance, please let me know. I'd do that while I'm still in Venice.

I'm trying to see all major sights in google maps to coordinate daily itinerary, but there are so many factors other than distance, to decide on the sequence of things to do. For instance, one might not want to stack all museum experiences on one day even if those buildings are next to each other as one might suffer from sensory overload. So your wise advice on how I should maximise these 5 days shall be very helpful!
rtwin80days is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 04:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Actually the tourist center of Florence is very small - but it sounds like you may not be staying in it.

Yes, you should get tickets for the David and the Uffizi in advance - or you risk long lines as well as big crowds.

To visit a couple of towns in tuscany I would get a bus tours that goes to 2 you really want to see. Otherwise you really need a car - since some ar eon train and some on bus and the schedules may not always mesh allowing you to see much of two different towns.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 04:35 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 184
We have been to Florence many times and agree that the historic center is quiet small; you may have a reason to stay 2km from the center, but that is a consideration. If you are staying at a hotel, they can make your reservations to the Ufizzi & Accademia (David); if not, you definitely need advance bookings. There is also a fee-based walking tour of Florence that we took one time that was informative.

With respect to seeing a couple of towns, if one would suit you, there is a regional bus from the bus station to Siena; you could easily do it as a day trip. If you want to add a couple of other cities/towns, I would get a driver for the day. Tuscany is rather compact and you can visit three easily in a day. There are many Fodorites who can made a recommendation, as many of us have our favorites that we have used over the years.
pctraveler is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 04:47 PM
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It really depends on your interests. I love art and architecture, spent 5 full (and VERY busy) days in Florence, and did not see everything I would have liked to see. (And I did not leave the city AT ALL during that time.) So you are wise to think in advance about your priorities. I recommend that you get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see, note their opening/closing times, and mark them on a calendar. Then see how things fit together. As others have said, the historic core is quite small, so you don't really need to worry about "grouping" things based on location.

It's a fabulous city - enjoy!
kja is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 06:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,117
It sounds like you're thinking of making entry reservations (Uffizi, Accademia, Brancacci, etc.) very shortly before you arrive in Florence. I've never tried that, but, if seeing these sights is important to you, then I would make reservations as soon as you know your dates in Florence and not wait until the week or days before arriving.

In your planning, keep in mind that many sights are not open on Sundays, or not every Sunday, and not every Monday. As kja mentioned, you need to create a day-by-day plan for your entire stay based on what's open when. You're not going to be able to see everything in 3-4 days, so you'll have to make some difficult sightseeing decisions.

http://www.polomuseale.firenze.it/en/orari/ [official]

http://www.museumsinflorence.com/ [unofficial but informative]
Jean is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 11:03 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
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I agree with jean re the bookings. The time slots you want can go quickly. I had booked my Accademia tickets booked from home and managed to get inside in minutes. But the line to buy the tickets was winding around the block. I also recommend going to the Duomo just before closing time not in morning.
I spent 3 days in Florence and could easily have spent a least 2 more with lots to see and do.
Ozgirl07 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2014, 03:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2014
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Do you have a guidebook for Florence specifically? Many of the questions you are asking are answered in guidebooks and more importantly, an up-to-date guidebook will give you maps plus information about making reservations, vegetarian restaurants, self-guided walking itineraries, what other tourists typically see if you want to see the typical tourist sights. You will indeed get overloaded if you try to do all this with separate Google searches. A book is easier to use.

The Feltrinelli bookstore is near the piazza della Liberta at Via Cavour, 12 and you should be able to get exactly the right kind of guidebook in English there. There are other English language bookstores in Florence and even kiosks where you can find these books. Even most regular Italian bookstores in Florence will include a section of guidebooks to the city in English.

sandralist is offline  
Jul 29th, 2014, 03:11 AM
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If you are still in Venice, you can usually buy guidebooks to Florence in Venice. But if you can't find one that is solely about Florence, then make a visit to a good bookstore your first stop in Florence.
sandralist is offline  
Jul 29th, 2014, 09:30 AM
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Sorry to announce that the Feltrinelli bookstore at via Cavour has just been closed. Other Feltrinelli shops are at Piazza della Repubblica and the main one is at via de' Cerretani. You could also consider the good old Paperback Exchange at via delle Oche.
asps is offline  
Jul 29th, 2014, 01:56 PM
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Posts: 369
Hi all,

Thanks for your responses.

I'm staying at piazza vittorio veneto. Does that count as part of the 'historic centre'? Would I need to use the public transportation often?

I checked the official websites to reserve slots. For the most popular Uffizi and Accademia, it shows slots available for the next ten days but when I click on 'buy' for any of the days to get reservations, each of the slots is shown as sold out. Sigh!

I guess I just have to get the Firenze card so that I can avoid the queues at most of the places I should see! As it is valid only for 72 hours and I'm in Florence for 5 days wanting to not rush it, I'd just see the most crowded and expensive places within the 3 days and then buy individual tickets for the remaining places, on my last 2 days!

I'd get the guidebook ASAP! Thanks for the simple yet completely forgotten idea!! This last minute trip is such a whirlwind even though I think I am giving enough time to each destination. I am spending considerable time in planning the next leg of trip. And it takes time and induces stress! Again, not complaining. I'm thankful I have the opportunity!
rtwin80days is offline  
Jul 29th, 2014, 05:46 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 821
Spent a month there and loved it. Totally agree with all comments above. Would add my favorite trick is list all I want to do, open and close times especially checking on the site's website and put it on a map. This way I try to stay in one section of the city. So if you want to go to Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, to on the day you are taking the bus/train. Fisole is very nice and the bus reide and view of Florence spectacular.

Also if facing the train station, around the corner is a grocery or was when we were there.
jan47ete is offline  
Jul 29th, 2014, 06:50 PM
Join Date: May 2011
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I would like to second Fie'sole (village above Florence). Take the public bus. Go just before sunset.
330east is offline  
Jul 30th, 2014, 12:13 AM
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We just came from a 19 day trip to Italy and LOVED it We spent 5 days in Florence and 5 days in Tuscany/Umbria. IMHO, I would spend two busy day in Florence (book tickets to Uffizi and Accademia), see the Duomo, walk to the Boboli Gardens. The Firenze card is worth it, made us save a lot of hours lining up for the Uffizi and most especially with David's!

From Florence, we also did a day trip to Cinque Terre(worth it!!!). You should also do a day trip to Tuscany(Chianti, San Gimignano, etc). There's a LOT of hill towns that are SO worthy of an overnight or a daytrip at least like Siena, Assisi, etc.

jing7600 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 12:41 AM
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From Piazza Vittorio Veneto you can walk along the tram tracks to the stop of C2 and C3 minibuses (in front of the Sherazade carpet store) that will bring you to most interest places. Just note that minibuses stop running around 8pm (but tram and big buses go on) and that their routes are designed to serve most of the centre area so stops for going back are in different places.
asps is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 01:44 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I've never used the Firenze card, and I don't think that anyone would describe it as a bargain, but if you are prepared to use your first 3 days in Florence seeing as many museums as possible, then it may work out for you, especially if you cannot obtain reservations for the Uffizi etc. Some places open late, which may help you to get full value from it, for example the Palazzo Vecchio opens until midnight every day except Thursdays:


the transport aspect of it may also prove useful so that you get the best value out of it; for example getting the bus up to the Piazzale Michelangelo [or even up to San Miniato which is lovely with wonderful mosaics] and then walking back down into town through Oltrarno. As well as the Boboli gardens [overrated IMHO] you should see the nearby Giardini Bardini which has been newly restored and has lovely views over the city from its cafe terrace; if you are interested in gardens, this website may be useful:


for tours of tuscany this company gets consistently good reviews. not just on TA but here as well:


hope you have a great trip!
annhig is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 03:43 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
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A few ideas:

Don't use the website to book the Ufizzi and Acaddemia; use the international phone service. It's very good and efficient, there's no charge, and you don't get charged for your tix until you show up. The website charges a fee.

If you're going to climb the Duomo, try to plan your day so that you get there first thing in the a.m. to avoid the lines.

Good advice from annhig about taking the bus up to Piazzale Michelangelo and walking back down (PM is best appreciated when thun is setting over the city) and about using hillsandroads. Done both, and highly recommend.
vincenzo32951 is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 12:14 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 369
Hi all,

Thanks for your replies and tips!

As an update - I'm in Florence. Ended up taking the Firenze card to eliminate any stress if booking in advance and crowds, etc. I'm glad I bought the card, although I must highlight I really did not find much crowds anywhere I went past 3 days! And I covered all major highlights (Uffizi, Accademia, Palazzo Vecchio, Pitti Palace with its museums and boboli gardens, duomo cathedral with its climb up the dome and campanile and baptistery, Santa Croce church, Bargello museum, San Lorenzo church, Medici chapel, Medici Riccardi Palace, San Marco museum....phew!!!). My days have been morning 8 till late!

The day I arrived, I just walked around the whole city and saw many of the sights from outside, went up to Piazza Michelangelo for views of the city.

I listened to the advice of those who replied to my post and noted the time table of all places I wanted to visit. As timings change daily, it is prudent to check on the PDF file uploaded on firenze card website. In my opinion, it's the most valuable document for planning visits in Florence as you get correct information in one page!! I planned as per geographical proximity, timings as well as tried to keep different kind of things for each day lest I have overload of similar things.

First day started with Uffizi where I spent good 6 hours, then very quickly Bargello museum, Santa Croce church, gelato at vivoli, baptistery and climb on top of the duomo. Second day, started with Accademia where I spent 4.5 hours followed with quick look at Angelico's frescos at San Marco museum, then Medici chapel, San Lorenzo church, Medici Riccardi palace, climbing on top of the campanile at duomo cathedral and late evening visit to palazzo vecchio (open till midnight).

It seems like a lot daily but I had researched each place's must-see / highlights and went straight on for those.

Today, had an easy breezy day. Went to Pitti palace, visited the museums as well as boboli gardens. Then walked to the Ponte vecchio and then cross over again to Oltarno side to cool off with the gelato at Gelataria Carraia.

Arranging a day trip to couple of Tuscan towns through the hotel for tomo.

Now the only 2 things I still need to do for this trip in Florence are visit to mercato centrale and climb on top of the tower of palazzo vecchio.

I want to genuinely thank each one of you who's been helping me so much. I think my Florence trip has been so efficient because of a lot of pointers you gave which led me to a lot of resources and I planned it well. For such a last minute trip to a city with one of the most complicated schedules, entry mode, ticketing mode, weekly offs, etc, I ended up really seeing everything I wanted to see in peace as well as saw everything a first timer should see.
rtwin80days is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 12:23 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
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Forgot to add, gelato at Riccardini (win some sort of gelato championship) near S M N church on the day I arrived. And gelato at Grom yesterday as a reward for climbing the campanile

I'm detailing gelato places because..well..I love it, especially I'm am passionate about pistachios and its gelato as well. I had read and made a note of best places of gelato a based on each day of my itinerary. I may sound like a planning maniac but it was more because of the con of commercial 'gelato' experienced in Venice everywhere.

Secondly, by crowds, I meant the queues outside for sights entrance. Didn't see long queues. Worst was for duomo top climbing at 5/530. There I did feel like a bond, just swooshing by all of them, flashing my Firenze card to the guard and sauntering in max people in the queue were at Uffizi and Accademia (maybe 20 people?!)

Didn't have the time to research restaurants and have been having ok meals plus being a solo traveller, I don't think I'm the best guest for many restaurants even though I do order well, as I am having one big meal a day and the second one is usually on the go, because of my long hours and busy schedule.
rtwin80days is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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glad that your trip is being such a success, rtwin.

incidentally, when I was in Florence by myself a few years ago, I found a few restaurants that were not welcoming; whether it was because they were always like that, or because I was by myself I will never know but my solution was to walk out and find somewhere else. There are plenty of places that will welcome you, believe me.

I'm fascinated by the length of time you spent in the Uffizi and Accademia - you must be a real museum buff to spend 4 1/2 hours in the Accademia; what on earth did you find to look at in that time?
annhig is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2014, 01:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 49
Your trip sounds wonderful! And brings back such nice memories of my 8 days in Florence a year ago. In addition to the major sites also really enjoyed Palazzo Strozzi which combines historic sculpture with some modern art. And Gelataria Carraia was my favorite gelato place

2 restaurants I can recommend:
Trattoria La Casalinga (family owned, in the Oltarno section across the Ponte Vecchio bridge), the zucchini pasta was one of the best pasta dishes I've ever had, Via MIchelozzi 9r, +39 055 21 86 24

Dei Frescobaldi Wine Bar (down a side street near Piazza Signoria), good food/service, charming place, Via dei Magazzini 2-4, +39 055 284 724

And, if you have time, my 2 favorite "off the beaten path" Florence activities:
1. Call or stop by Conti (a food kiosk) in the Centrale Market to schedule a balsamic vinegar tasting which includes wine/olive oil tasting and small appetizers, very friendly staff, a lot of fun, takes about 45 minutes, not expensive, +39 55 2398501
2. Go up to the rooftop terrace at Hotel Torre Guelfa, Borgo SS Apostali 8 (close to Piazza Signoria) for incredible views. Take an elevator to the top floor then wind your way through a common living room area until you see a set of stairs to the terrace (there may also be a sign.) At the first level there is a waitress for drinks but climb up to the second level for the best views. Terrace is not open after dark so it's best to go in the late afternoon/early evening. If the hotel's front doors are locked, just ask for entrance to go up to the terrace.
NomadLass is offline  

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