Brunelleschi's Done on top of the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence which is covered in unique patterns.

One day in Florence (incl. the best Florence photography spots)

If you’re anything like us, capturing those picture-perfect moments during your holiday is an absolute must. And what better place to unleash your photography skills than in the captivating city of Florence? Known for its rich history, breathtaking architecture, and charming landscapes, Florence is a photographer’s dream come true! We’ve put together the ultimate one-day itinerary that’ll take you on a whirlwind tour of the city’s most stunning photography spots. Let’s go on an adventure through Florence’s cobbled streets, across ancient bridges, and up panoramic viewpointsBecause trust us, the best snapshots are waiting for you around every corner.

Is one day in Florence enough?

If you only have one day in Florence, you have probably:

  • Arrived on a cruise ship to one of the nearby cruise ports, like La Spezia, or 
  • Took a day trip to Florence from another Italian city. 

Either way, you have a very limited time to get a taste of this beautiful Italian city, that has some of the most amazing architecture, museums and old cobbled streets in Europe. And if you decided against a guided tour, you are probably wondering how to efficiently see all of the main attractions.  

One day is not really enough to truly immerse yourself in this historical city. But even with a limited amount of time, Florence is worth seeing. And it’s going to be an action-packed day! 

We saw the best things that Florence has to offer within the 6 short hours that we had. It left us amazed at the rich culture and stunning architecture, and certainly wanting to come back in the future. But if you are a first-time visitor to Florence, we will walk you through how to make the most out of your time and absorb as much culture as possible by taking some amazing photographs along the way of Tuscany’s capital. 

Brunelleschi's dome as seen down a narrow street in Florence.

Itinerary snapshot

11:30 AM Basilica Di Santa Croce di Firenzi and Piazza di Santa Croce

12:00 PM Piazza Signoria & Palazzo Vecchio

12:45 PM Piazza Signoria & views of Ponte Vecchio from Arno River Bank

13:30 PM Lunch 

14:30 Piazza Del Duomo & Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral

15:30 Piazza della Reppublica

16:00 Cross The River for Elevated Views

16:15 Palazzo Pitti & The Boboli Gardens

 17:15 Piazalle Michelangelo 

18:45 End of Itinerary!

Here’s a link to our itinerary on Google Maps.

Places to visit in Florence in one day

Starting point

If you come to Florence from one of the cruise ports on the Western coast of Italy (like La Spezia), you are not likely to get to Florence before 11 am. It is a 2-hour drive (or a 2-hour train), so we start our itinerary at around 11:30. We think that the best way to explore all the best places in Florence is on foot. So we hope you have lots of energy!

Bus transfers typically drop you off at the Piazza dei Cavalleggeri (just opposite The Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale. If you take a train, you will most likely end up at the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station. Based on where you’re starting, we recommend reshuffling the itinerary to suit your needs. 

Basilica Di Santa Croce di Firenzi and Piazza di Santa Croce

Nestled in the historic center of Florence, the Basilica Di Santa Croce di Firenze and its adjoining Piazza di Santa Croce hold profound historical and cultural significance, making them a must-visit destination for travellers. The Basilica, often referred to as the “Temple of the Italian Glories,” is one of the most significant Franciscan churches in Italy. Its construction began in 1294 and it stands as a remarkable example of Italian Gothic architecture.

The Basilica Di Santa Croce serves as the final resting place for some of the most eminent figures in Italian history, including Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Machiavelli, and Rossini. As visitors venture inside the basilica, they will be captivated by the intricate frescoes and awe-inspiring sculptures that adorn its interiors, providing excellent photo opportunities. However, the true marvel lies in the Piazza di Santa Croce, which extends before the basilica’s facade.

The vast and elegant Piazza di Santa Croce presents a mesmerizing sight with its grand open space, featuring a central statue of Dante Alighieri and a beautiful 19th-century neo-Gothic façade. As the sunlight filters through the surrounding buildings, it creates a stunning play of shadows, offering photographers a chance to capture the unique blend of history and beauty that Florence is renowned for. Visitors can also seize picturesque shots of locals engaging in everyday activities, complementing the timeless charm of this iconic square. For a memorable experience and exceptional snapshots, the Basilica Di Santa Croce and Piazza di Santa Croce are quintessential stops on your one-day Florence itinerary.

Continue down the Via Dei Gondi towards the Piazza Della Signoria. It’s just a short walk away. 

Piazza Signoria: Florence’s Outdoor Sculpture Gallery

As the bustling heart of Florence’s historic centre, Piazza della Signoria holds immense historical and artistic significance, drawing both locals and tourists alike to its enchanting allure. This magnificent square has served as the political hub of the city for centuries and continues to be a centre of public life today.

One of the most captivating features of the square is the impressive display of statues that adorn its open expanse. Among the remarkable sculptures, you will find the famed replica of Michelangelo’s Statue of David. This life-size replica provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to admire the awe-inspiring artistry of the original masterpiece without the need to queue in the long lines for the Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia), where the real Michelangelo’s David stands.

The iconic (replica) of the statue David by Michelangelo within the Piazza dellla signoria.

Piazza della Signoria’s timeless charm also lies in its diverse collection of statues and sculptures that encompass various artistic styles and historical periods. The prominent equestrian statue of Cosimo I, the Fountain of Neptune, and the imposing sculptures outside the Palazzo Vecchio are just a few of the many captivating subjects awaiting your lens. The interplay of these sculptures with the surrounding grand architecture, including the majestic Palazzo Vecchio, presents a plethora of photography opportunities, especially during the golden hour when the warm sunlight bathes the square in a golden glow.

For photographers seeking unique vantage points, climbing the Palazzo Vecchio’s tower (Alforno Tower) offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Piazza della Signoria and the Florence skyline beyond. Alternatively, exploring the Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air gallery featuring classical sculptures, provides a closer look at the art while allowing you to capture engaging shots of fellow visitors interacting with the sculptures.

Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio, a symbol of Florence’s political and civic power, stands proudly at the heart of Piazza della Signoria. This medieval fortress-palace, originally known as the Palazzo della Signoria, was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and completed in the early 14th century. 

Narrow street in Florence leading to an old bell tower of Palazzo vecchio.

Its commanding presence and striking blend of Romanesque and Gothic architectural elements make it a captivating sight for history enthusiasts and architecture aficionados. Once the residence of the ruling Medici family, Palazzo Vecchio now serves as Florence’s town hall, preserving its legacy as a centre of political significance through the ages. Visitors can explore its opulent chambers adorned with ornate frescoes, grand halls, and elegant courtyards, offering a glimpse into the opulence and power of Renaissance Florence.

Stroll down the Piazzale degli Uffizi

As you venture further into the heart of Florence, your next stop on this one-day exploration is the picturesque Piazzale degli Uffizi. This elegant square, flanked by the iconic Uffizi Gallery on one side, offers a delightful promenade that allows you to soak in the beauty of Florence’s artistic heritage while relishing the tranquil ambience.

As you leisurely stroll down the Piazzale degli Uffizi, you’ll be surrounded by the city’s artistic legacy. The square’s strategic location along the banks of the Arno River provides an enchanting backdrop, with views of the river’s shimmering waters and the Ponte Vecchio in the distance. 

On sunny days, the soft golden light casts a magical glow on the square, making it an ideal spot for capturing stunning photographs of both the Uffizi Gallery’s (Galleria Degli Uffizi) magnificent façade and the Arno River’s reflections. 

Along the Piazzale, you’ll also encounter captivating street performers and local artisans, adding a touch of vibrancy and charm to your experience.

Galileo statue in piazza degli uffizi, looking up to the stars.

Stop by the Arno River for views of Ponte Vecchio

Take a moment to pause by the tranquil waters of the Arno River, just outside the grand Uffizi Gallery. This vantage point provides a breathtaking view of one of the city’s most iconic landmarks – the Ponte Vecchio. This ancient bridge, renowned for its distinctive architecture and storied history, stands majestically over the Arno, connecting the vibrant neighbourhoods on either side.

The bridge, adorned with a myriad of charming shops and art boutiques that stretch across its length, has served as a vital crossing point and a symbol of Florence’s commercial and artistic prowess for generations. The sight of the Ponte Vecchio, juxtaposed against the scenic backdrop of Florence’s skyline, presents an unforgettable spectacle, making it an absolute must-capture scene for photography enthusiasts.

The well known Ponta Vecchio in Florence with the brown river flowing underneath and a rowing boat in the foreground.

During the day, the sunlight dances on the river’s surface, casting a mesmerizing play of reflections that add an ethereal quality to your photographs. In the evening, as the city lights illuminate the bridge and its surroundings, the scene transforms into a romantic panorama, painting the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio in a warm and inviting glow.

Piazza Del Duomo & Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Piazza del Duomo, the vibrant main square of Florence, is an awe-inspiring hub of artistic and architectural brilliance. Dominated by the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the square is a bustling centre of activity, drawing visitors from around the world to bask in the splendour of its historical significance. 

The Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, adorned with intricate marble facades and ornate details. Its stunning beauty is only matched by its immense size, as it remains the largest brick dome in the world. 

The square itself buzzes with the energy of locals and tourists alike, creating a lively atmosphere where one can find street performers, local vendors, and a constant stream of awe-struck visitors taking in the grandeur of the cathedral and its surrounding structures. Piazza del Duomo offers a captivating glimpse into the heart of Florence’s cultural heritage, inviting travellers to revel in the city’s artistic legacy.

Mosaic details on the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

The Florence Cathedral, with its majestic presence, stands as a symbol of Florence’s religious and architectural heritage. Construction on the cathedral began in the 13th century and continued for several centuries, culminating in the remarkable achievement we see today. The exterior of the cathedral features a mesmerizing blend of white, green, and pink marble, creating a stunning display of intricate patterns and designs. The elaborate bronze doors, including the famous Gates of Paradise, add an extra layer of artistic grandeur to the façade. Inside, the cavernous interior boasts soaring ceilings, intricate stained glass windows, and awe-inspiring frescoes, transporting visitors to an era of artistic opulence. The cathedral’s breathtaking beauty and spiritual significance make it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Florence, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural tapestry and artistic heritage.

Whilst you are at the Piazza del Duomo, make sure not to miss:

Brunelleschi Dome

The Brunelleschi’s Dome, crowning the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, is a marvel of engineering and an iconic symbol of Renaissance architecture. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, this masterpiece of ingenuity stands as a testament to human creativity and innovation. The interplay of light and shadows, coupled with the intricate architectural details of the dome itself, presents a captivating challenge for capturing stunning compositions and creating timeless images that showcase the architectural brilliance of this historic landmark.

Brunelleschi's Done on top of the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence which is covered in unique patterns.

Gioto’s Bell Tower 

Giotto’s Bell Tower, a magnificent Gothic structure standing adjacent to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, is a sublime subject for photography enthusiasts seeking to capture the essence of the city’s architectural heritage. To best capture it on camera, consider exploring vantage points that allow you to frame the Bell Tower against the backdrop of the cathedral’s intricate façade and the surrounding Piazza del Duomo. 

The vertical lines and elegant proportions of the bell tower make for compelling compositions, especially when juxtaposed with the vibrant hues of the Tuscan sky. Embrace different angles and perspectives, including close-ups of the intricate marble carvings, to highlight the intricate details of Giotto’s Campanile, and experiment with lighting conditions throughout the day to emphasize the interplay of light and shadows on its textured surfaces. 

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

Filippo Brunalleschi Statue

As a tribute to the genius behind the iconic Brunelleschi Dome, this statue commemorates the brilliant architect and his significant contribution to the city’s architectural legacy. Located in a prominent spot within the Piazza del Duomo, the statue stands tall and proud, capturing the essence of Brunelleschi’s remarkable achievements.

Mercato Centrale (a short detour)

If you have enough time (It’s a 5-minute walk from the Piazza Del Duomo), visit Mercato Centrale (also known as Mercato Di San Lorenzo). It is a great place to immerse yourself in the city’s culinary delights. Located on the ground floor of a historic building, this vibrant food market offers an array of local and artisanal products, making it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts and tourists alike. From fresh produce to mouthwatering delicacies, Central Market showcases the rich flavors of Tuscany, making it a true gastronomic haven.

Piazza della Reppublica

Piazza della Repubblica, located in the heart of Florence, is a lively and picturesque square that blends rich history and modernity. Once the site of the ancient Roman Forum, this bustling piazza today stands as a vibrant hub of activity, surrounded by charming cafes, elegant arcades, and historic buildings. 

For photography enthusiasts, Piazza della Repubblica offers a treasure trove of stunning photo opportunities. The prominent Arcone, a triumphal arch, serves as a captivating centrepiece and creates a perfect frame for capturing the essence of the square. The elegant carousel that often graces the piazza adds a touch of whimsy and nostalgia, providing charming compositions for playful and dynamic shots.

Ponte Santa Trinita for more views of Ponte Vecchio

For even more enchanting views of the iconic Ponte Vecchio, venture to the Ponte Santa Trinita, a charming bridge located just a stone’s throw away. Spanning the River Arno with elegance and grace, Ponte Santa Trinita offers an ideal vantage point to admire and photograph the Ponte Vecchio in all its glory.

Or walk across Ponte Vecchio Bridge itself

To truly immerse yourself in the magic of Florence’s history and architecture, take a leisurely stroll across the most famous bridge itself. This one-of-a-kind bridge, dating back to medieval times, holds centuries of stories within its enchanting arches. 

As you walk across this historic gem, you’ll be captivated by the bustling atmosphere, with its rows of quaint jewellery shops and art boutiques lining the bridge’s sides. The Arno River flowing beneath adds a serene touch to the scene, while the views of Florence’s captivating skyline are simply breathtaking. Whether you’re drawn to the bridge’s architectural charm, the bustling commerce, or the romantic allure of the setting, walking across Ponte Vecchio is an unforgettable experience that captures the spirit of Florence’s timeless charm and leaves you with memories to cherish and photographs to treasure.

Pitti Palace and The Boboli Gardens

For travellers seeking elevated views and a different perspective of Florence, crossing over to the other side of the river is a must-do experience. The first stop on this enchanting journey is the majestic Pitti Palace, an opulent Renaissance residence that once belonged to the influential Medici family. As you ascend to the palace’s elevated terraces, be prepared to photograph the sweeping panoramas of Florence’s historic city center and the surrounding Tuscan hills. The stunning vistas offered by Pitti Palace provide an ideal opportunity for keen photographers to capture the city’s architectural splendour and the timeless beauty of its surroundings.

Continuing your ascent, you will reach the Boboli Gardens. These meticulously designed gardens showcase a harmonious blend of Renaissance landscaping and stunning sculptures, creating a scenic haven for both nature lovers and photography enthusiasts. As you wander through the greenery and find your way to higher viewpoints, you’ll be rewarded with exquisite sights of Florence’s iconic landmarks, including the red-tiled roofs, the graceful dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, and the picturesque Arno River snaking through the city.

Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo, perched atop a hill on the south bank of the Arno River, is a photography paradise that offers unparalleled views of Florence. This iconic square is renowned for its panoramic vistas that encompass the entire city. From this elevated vantage point, photographers are treated to a breathtaking sight of the majestic Brunelleschi Dome, the graceful Ponte Vecchio, and the winding Arno River, all framed against the backdrop of the surrounding Tuscan hills. Whether capturing the cityscape during the golden hour when the sun bathes Florence in warm hues or witnessing the magical transformation of the city under the twinkling night lights, Piazzale Michelangelo provides a kaleidoscope of photographic opportunities that truly showcases the timeless beauty and architectural splendour of Florence.

End of the one-day Florence itinerary 

At the end of this action-packed one-day Florence itinerary, you are sure to be left with a whirlwind of emotions. From awe-inspiring architecture to mesmerizing artworks, Florence has a way of captivating hearts like no other city. You’ll feel enriched with knowledge about the city’s rich history and cultural heritage, having experienced some of its most iconic landmarks and hidden treasures. The abundance of stunning photographs taken throughout the day will serve as cherished mementoes of this unforgettable adventure. While it may have been an intense walking tour, we guarantee that the memories created will leave you yearning to visit Florence again in the future. 

Details of 4 sculptures seen on Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.

So, now it’s time to head back to your hotel or cruise ship, kick back, and relish in the joy of reminiscing through the countless amazing photographs you’ve captured. Florence has a way of leaving an indelible mark on the soul, and we hope this photo-filled journey has left you with a desire to return and discover even more of the city’s magic in the days to come. 

Until next time, Florence!

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