Thankfully, Florence is close enough to the Italian capital that you can quite easily go there on a day trip from Rome to Florence. Yes, there’s a lot to see in Florence – and a day is certainly not enough to see absolutely everything – but it is certainly enough for a taster.
So if that’s all the time you have, then embrace it: plan your day carefully, book all the attractions in advance, leave as early as possibly and make the most of this incredible city!
Looking for more places to visit near Rome? Check out my post The Best Day Trips From Rome, A Guide To Ostia Antica, A Guide To Tarquinia and The Best Things To Do In Viterbo. You may also want to read my post How To Get From Rome To Pisa.
What To See On A Day Trip From Rome To Florence
Without careful planning, a day trip from Rome to Florence may be wasted, and you’ll spend a lot of time wondering where you should be going. To help you out, I’ve created this easy-to-follow itinerary for the top sights in Florence. I have tested it myself and it works – as long as you make sure to book admission to all the sites mentioned and that you keep good timing.
You’ll be arriving at Santa Maria Novella Station, and from there, the best attractions of the city are within easy walking distance of each other. Just follow the itinerary and you’ll have no trouble navigating Florence.
You can view the itinerary on Google Maps here.
Basilica di Santa Maria Novella
This will be your first stop on your Rome to Florence day trip. It’s easy to get to as soon as you arrive, as it’s just a three-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella Station. This beautiful basilica is one of the most important buildings in Florence, and a wonderful way to be welcomed into the city.
Dating between the 13th and 15th century, the basilica’s eye-catching green-and-white facade is constructed from marble. Inside the ornate detailing continues, with an array of masterpieces to feast your eyes on – including frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Opening hours: from April to September, Monday to Thursday, 9:00 am – 5:30 pm; Friday, 11:00 am – 5:30 pm; Saturday, 9:00 am – 5:30 pm; Sunday; 1:00 – 5:30 pm (it opens at 12:00 from July to September; the rest of the year, closing time is 5:00 pm. Admission is €7.50 (adult) and €5 (reduced).
After you’ve spent some time admiring the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, it’s time for a stroll. Just a kilometer away, around a 13-minute walk, is the Accademia Gallery. This art museum is the place to come to see some world famous sculptures by Renaissance masters.
In particular, it is most well-known for housing Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David. This is an impressive creation carved from one single block of marble. Elsewhere, there are other Michelangelo pieces, such as the unfinished San Matteo, and Prigioni (prisoners or slaves in Italian).
The Galleria dell’Accademia is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:45 pm. Admission is €12 (adult) €6 (reduced). Make sure to book your tickets and time-slot for visiting in advance. You can do that here.
For a guided tour of the Accademia Gallery and the Duomo with access to the terrace of the Duomo, click here. The tour starts at 9:00 and lasts roughly 3.5 hours, so if you are keen on joining, you should head directly to the meeting point once you get to Florence and visit Santa Maria Novella Basilica after the tour.
Piazza del Duomo – Cathedral and Battistero
From the Accademia, it’s a five-minute walk to two more of Florence’s iconic sights – both located at the Piazza del Duomo.
Firstly, there’s the famous black-and-white Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Making up part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses the historical center of Florence, construction began on this landmark in 1296, but it wasn’t completed until 1436. Its dome – built by Brunelleschi – remains the largest brick-built dome ever constructed. And for many centuries, it was the largest dome in the world.
You can visit the Cathedral Monday to Saturday, from 10:15 am to 4:45 pm. The Dome is open from 8:15 am to 5:15 pm. Admission to the Cathedral is free but if you want you can get a skip-the-line ticket here. Admission to the Dome is included in the Brunelleschi Pass which also gives you access to Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistery and more. The pass costs €30 and you can get it here.
For a guided tour of the Accademia Gallery and the Duomo with access to the terrace of the Duomo and Dome climb, click here.
Secondly, and attached to the Cathedral, is the Battistero (Baptistry) di San Giovanni. It’s just to the west of the duomo itself, and is one of the oldest buildings in the city, having been constructed in the late 11th century. It’s believed to be located on an ancient Roman temple dedicated to Mars.
The Baptistery is open daily from 9:00 am to 7:45 pm. Admission is included in the Brunelleschi Pass which also gives you access to Giotto’s Bell Tower and Brunelleschi’s Dome. The pass costs €30 and you can get it here. Alternatively, you can get the Giotto Pass which gives you access to the Baptistery and the Bell Tower, and costs €20.
Piazza della Signoria
The main square in Florence, the Piazza della Signoria is the place to come to be wowed by the grand buildings surrounding its wide open space. This has been the center of politics and local life in the city since the 14th century.
Today, among its Renaissance statues and timeworn eateries, locals still congregate in this part of the city to enjoy aperitivo. While you may not be here for the evening, there’s still plenty of atmosphere to soak up.
Looking out over the proceedings is Florence’s City Hall and the 14th-century Loggia dei Lanzi – an open-air gallery with an array of Renaissance art pieces to admire.
This is also a place where many historic events have taken place, including the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities. Occurring in 1497, many of the city’s pieces of art, as well as books and musical instruments were burned by radical religious leader, Savonarola.
Another globally renowned venue for Renaissance art is the astounding Uffizi Gallery. Situated in the vast Palazzo degli Uffizi, the collection was donated to the city by the Medici family in 1743. The only condition being that the art on display could never leave Florence.
The collection contains a whole selection of art through the centuries: from ancient Greek sculpture to Baroque works from the 18th century. However, the heart of the Uffizi Gallery is its incredible Renaissance collection. Here you can see work from Italian masters such as Botticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
The Uffizi Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday, 8:15 am to 6:30 pm. Admission is €20 and you must reserve a time slot in advance. You can get your tickets here.
I recommend joining a guided tour to make the most of the Uffizi Gallery. The museum is huge and you’ll need someone to help you get your bearings and explain the art you see. The semi-private tour by City Florence tours is the one I took and recommend. You can book it here. For a more budget friendly tour, click here.
Leaving the Uffizi Gallery behind, you’ll then amble along the banks of the River Arno for a couple of minutes before reaching the Ponte Vecchio. This arching medieval stone bridge is the oldest in the city; its name literally translates to “Old Bridge”. Dating from 1345, but with Roman origins, the bridge remarkably survived German bombing during World War II.
Incredible as its age is, it’s actually the nature of the bridge that draws visitors to this day. Here you’ll find numerous shops and buildings jostling for space on the old bridge. When it was first opened, the businesses on the bridge included all manner of shops and services: butchers, fishmongers and tanners among them.
By 1593, Ferdinand I of Florence ruled that only goldsmiths and jewelers should be allowed to sell their wares on the bridge – a step towards improving its sanitation. Today, you’ll still find generations-old jewelers on Ponte Vecchio.
After you’ve (very slowly) crossed over the Ponte Vecchio, it’s time to take a pleasant walk along the south bank of the Arno before meandering uphill to the Piazzale Michelangelo. This huge square is the perfect place to round up your trip of the city – that’s because of the awesome views you can get from up here of the city below.
And at the center of the square is a bronze replica of Michelangelo’s David.
It may be a popular stop on the regular tourist itinerary, but trust me: it never disappoints. If you’ve spent a long time exploring the sights on offer in Florence, then you may even get to see a sunset here, which is an even more beautiful way to lap up the view.
Don’t feel like walking anymore? You can join an e-bike tour of Florence that goes all the way to Piazzale Michelangelo. There are several departures throughout the day, including one at 6:00 pm. The tour I took can be viewed here.
How To Plan Your Day Trip From Rome To Florence
How to get to Florence
Travel by train
You can easily reach Florence from Rome via high speed rail. This takes around an hour and a half. Tickets can start as low as €30 (though you’ll have to book in advance for the cheapest prices). Trains run frequently throughout the day from around 5:30 am, leaving from Rome Termini Station and arriving at Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Station.
Make sure to read my post How Many Train Stations Are There In Rome?
Join a guided day trip from Rome to Florence
A guided day trip from Rome to Florence offers up a streamlined way to visit the storied city. Usually a tour will pick you up directly from your hotel and take you to the train station. After the journey, you’ll be picked up by a guide in Florence, who’ll then show you around the top sights of the city.
A small group tour of Florence can cost around €120 – it’s more expensive if you prefer a private tour. Though expensive, it takes the hassle away from organizing train travel yourself – plus you’ll get a knowledgeable guide to tell you more about the fascinating history of this famed Italian city.
For more information, check out my post How To Get From Rome To Florence.
Tips For A Fabulous Rome To Florence Day Trip
If you want to get the most out of your day trip from Rome to Florence, then I recommend that you leave as early in the morning as possible. That way you won’t have to rush around the world famous sights, and you’ll have more time to soak up the art museums and find a bite to eat.
Join a guided tour
This Rome to Florence day trip itinerary is very straightforward and easy to follow, but if you worry that you may be unable to keep good timing, you can actually join a full day guided tour of the city that takes you to all the highlights.
You can book your full day tour of Florence here.
Buy tickets to attractions in advance
Another way to save on time is to buy your tickets in advance. Most of the big attractions have websites where you can purchase tickets beforehand (I have pointed them out throughout this post), often allowing you to skip the line. Less hassle, more time enjoying the beautiful city.
Dress for success
Exploring Florence does mean walking a few kilometers. Wearing comfortable shoes, therefore, is really important. Shoes that are tried and tested and you know are comfy for you, or you could opt for walking sandals if that’s better for you.
If you visit in the summer months, remember that modest clothing is required when visiting churches.
Drink lots of water
It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re out and about, and that goes especially if you’re visiting Florence in the summer. The heat at this time of year can be fierce, and it’s all too easy to get heatstroke if you’re not careful. Drinking plenty of water is a good way to keep feeling ill at bay. You won’t find as many fountains in Florence as there are in Rome, but the city is packed with shops where you can get a bottle if you need it.
Check out my post Is Tap Water In Rome Safe To Drink?
Have lunch on the go
Florence has a wealth of street food to try out, meaning that you can see the sights and sample some culinary delights at the same time. Street food in the city is often served from (almost literal) holes in the wall.
A good spot for lunch may be the very central Mercato di San Lorenzo. It’s about half way between Santa Maria Novella church and the Accademia, and not far from Piazza del Duomo. There are places to eat on the ground floor (I like the Vinoteca Lombardi, which serves good salads and charcuterie boards and has lots of wine choices), but the best options are on the food hall on the top floor. My favorite by far is the pasta place. Next to it, you’ll find a wine bar.
One of the most popular street foods in Florence is lampredotto – tripe from the fourth stomach of a cow. It’s slow cooked in broth and served in a soft bread roll, and topped with a spicy sauce. For those who aren’t keen on tripe, you could order the bollito (boiled meat) instead.
Enjoy dinner before you head back
The best way to end your day trip from Rome to Florence is trying one of its local specialties – the famous bistecca alla Fiorentina – a massive steak of incredibly tender meat. All the best restaurants in town serve it. I recommend Trattoria dall’Oste. They have several locations in town including one near the Duomo and one close to the train station, which may be perfect if you need to catch the train back. You can book a table online via the app The Fork.