It’s been described as Italy’s culture capital and the cradle of the renaissance. So how can you possibly do justice to Florence’s sights in just half a day? The answer is, you can’t!
But if you’re short on time – say you only have a matter of hours before your connecting flight or a business meeting – you can still sample some of this Tuscan city’s many charms. Or at least tuck into some gelato.
But what should you prioritise?
We put a shout out on our Facebook page to see what our community recommend travellers do with only four hours to spare. Here’s what you had to say:
We’re with you Denis, but if staying longer really isn’t an option…
A few centuries of art in a few hours
Time-short travellers could do worse than checking out some timeless masterpieces. As our Facebook follower Jimmy Hutton recommends above, you could head to the Uffizi Gallery. Trip Savvy describes it in a nutshell: “A monumental collection of works by Italian and international art masters, most from the 12th to the 17th centuries, such as Botticelli, Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael”.
Ice cream and a famous old bridge
Florence is the birthplace of gelato. Gelateria della Passera comes recommended by The Roman Guy: “At this gelato shop in Florence, instead of paying €5 for a small cup of frozen food colouring, pay €2 for a small cup of organic, handmade gelato. In addition, most of the selection they sell is naturally vegan. Big enough for just one group to go in and order at a time, enjoy your treat outside in the adorable piazza.”
Oh, and it’s right next to the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge.
Drink up the view
“A few hours in Florence is as overrated as buying gold on the Ponte Vecchio,” warns the popular Girl in Florence blogger. But even though time is limited, you can still take advantage of some of her tips. Such as her suggestion of visiting Florence’s rooftop terraces for a drink with a view. “Florence is beautiful on any angle, however for those who seek a more panoramic viewpoint, there are plenty of spots around town worth checking out for a curious intrepid”, the blogger writes. Her suggestions include Grand Hotel Cavour on Via del Proconsolo and Grand Hotel Minerva on Piazza di Santa Maria Novella.
A famous dome
Alternatively, you could head for a more famous rooftop: the Duomo, or Cathedral. Brace yourself for a bit of a climb. Time Out sums it up: “If you don’t mind 463 steps plus some tight spaces, clamber up inside for a great view of the city from the lantern at the very top: the highest point in central Florence”.
A renaissance palace
Palazzo Medici Riccardi is among less known places recommended by Florence’s Tourist Office. It says: “In the heart of Florence, a few steps from the Cathedral square, one of the most beautiful palaces of Florence bears witness to the city’s glorious past”. As well as many masterworks, it includes a “wondrous fifteenth-century courtyard” and “slinky spiral staircase”.
Take in ‘the essence of Florence’
Even with just four hours in Florence you might come across the famous statue of David more than once. But while replicas abound, nothing compares to the original in the city’s Accademia Gallery. The Visit Florence site says: “There are no words to describe admiring him up close from all angles,” adding: “David is the essence of Florence, it will remain in your memories of Florence until you return again.”
So much more
There’s plenty more to do and see in Florence and our tips hardly do it justice. If you know of a better way to spend a few hours in the city, we’d love to see your suggestions.