Florence is a beauty that we explored at the beginning of our classic Rome Florence Venice itinerary! And I dare say, the city has enough museums and medieval buildings to keep the culture-vulture engaged for a week. But what if you had only one day in Florence with kids like we did? I give you a Florence one-day itinerary for families that we took to explore this enchanting city on foot.
Feast your eyes on extraordinary art and architecture from the Renaissance period.
Walk across lively piazzas and gawk at sculptures that are truly masterpieces.
Gorge on fresh food and wine.
And if you are considering day trips from Florence, do not miss out on a fabulous experience to the Tuscan countryside – exploring medieval towns and having an authentic wine tasting session.
Kids in Florence: Where to stay
If I can help it, I like staying in any city for a night or two, instead of day trips, even though this means checking in and out of more hotels/apartments during a trip. The real feel of a city comes alive in late evening or night when most of the day tourists have left. And so, it was with Florence.
We had taken a train from Rome the day earlier and settled in our apartment, bought basic groceries and strolled around the neighbourhood to get a feel of the place. We woke up fresh the next day to tackle strolling through narrow streets and gazing at the palaces, churches, and basilicas through the open-air museum that the city is.
Our apartment was across the Arno river. But you can choose to stay in the historic centre, especially if you want to maximise your time in the city. Check out the hotel options here:
What to do in Florence with kids
Florence is an open-air museum. Perfect for strolling around the narrow cobbled streets and taking in the stunning sights. Everywhere you look up, there would be history and architecture to ooh and aah at. It helps that the food and overall vibe just adds to a memorable city break, be it for a couple or a family. Here are 9 activities and sights to engage your kids, whatever be their age.
Crossing the Ponte Vecchio
Our apartment was across the Arno river and we crossed Ponte Vecchio. This being Florence, Ponte Vecchio is no ordinary bridge. Lined with jewelry and goldsmith shops from the 13th century, the Old Bridge itself is a historical marvel to walk across.
We spent more time here in the evening while walking back. The evening views of Arno river from Ponte Vecchio are truly memorable. And the music and the street bustle just adds to the vibe.
Strolling through Piazza Della Signoria
We first walked up to the Piazza Della Signoria, a large square with the imposing Palazzo Vecchio looming on one side. It is a great place for people-watching, for seeing beautiful sculptures under the open blue sky and to get a feel what a power center Florence would have been under the Medici rule. Palazzo Vecchio offers a Life at Court program which is a great tour for kids.
You can’t help but gawk at the marvelous David sculpture kept outside the Palazzo Vecchio.
Uffizi and Academia Galleries
The original of this masterpiece by Michelangelo is showcased safely in the Galleria Academia. Uffizi Gallery, Italy’s top art museum and a Mecca for art lovers is not too far away. We missed out on both of these in an otherwise packed day in Florence. Perhaps another trip! The one-day itinerary we followed for Florence suited us perfectly fine with a 4-year old kid.
Florence has one of the highest concentrations of museums and art galleries in any city. You could spend half a day admiring the largest painting collection in Uffizi, and the other half strolling past the masterpieces at Academia. With a 4-year old child in tow, we had shunned the world-famous Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria Academia, where fame brings long queues and requires significant pre-planning and booking of tickets.
If you are visiting either of these famous art galleries with your kids, make sure you have the tickets booked in advance –
Priority entry with a reserved entrance ticket to the Uffizi Gallery.
Guided tour of the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Duomo
If you ask me which is the one building you must visit during your one day in Florence, it has to be the imposing Cathedral. The earlier you go, the less crowded you would find the area in and around the Cathedral. Visiting the Cathedral is free and hence, a long queue is to be expected at all times. You can take a guided group tour with the audio facility to skip the line.
The Cathedral – a wonderful example of Gothic architecture – was built in the 13th century and looms above the tiny street that leads to it. The dome or the Duomo was added in the 15th century. While the interiors are quite plain, the exteriors are richly detailed and pleasing to the eye. The frescoes in the interiors of the dome would make you look up and gasp as the sheer detailing and richness of the colors that comes across vividly despite the distance.
You can even climb to the top of the dome or the cupola. Experience a breathtaking panoramic view from the very top of Brunelleschi’s Dome but it is advisable to book tickets in advance for that. The route, up more than 400 steps takes you much closer to the frescoes. But it is the same way up and down, and not advisable if you are not fit or may feel claustrophobic.
Kids tickets to the Duomo: Tickets for kids under 6 are not available online. You have to collect them from the ticket office at the back of the cathedral. Kids aged 6 to 11 are eligible for reduced price tickets which can be purchased online.
Climbing Giotto’s Bell Tower
We didn’t climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome, instead we took another path to the top of Florence. This is the Giotto’s bell tower next to the Cathedral and the effort to climb 414 steps would give you fabulous views of the Duomo and sweeping views of the city at all four sides. This bell tower is another eloquent example of 14th-century Gothic architecture in Florence.
My daughter loved the huge bell kept on the top floor of the bell tower. The bell rings with a thunderous sound 6 times during the day. If your kid will likely get startled, it is best to avoid climbing at that time.
Piazza Della Repubblica
Instead, we spent the day in Florence roaming around the historic streets and catching marvels in stone and marble wherever we looked up. Another great feature to be admired in Florence is the large squares where people have congregated since medieval times. We had started the day strolling through the impressive Piazza Della Signoria and the afternoon saw us at the Piazza Della Republica.
This Piazza doesn’t look like anywhere its original version. It was cleaned up and expanded in modern times and most of the original shops removed. The modern square is lined with old cafes and hotels on one side. Many of the restaurants and cafes would be expensive, but the expense is worth the food and the view.
There was a charming carousel with richly detailed horses that young kids would absolutely love. At just 1 Euro a ride, enjoying on one of the carousel’s horses is a must do when exploring Florence with kids.
Piazza Michelangelo for the best views
Staying in the city meant that we could go back to the apartment and rest ourselves for a bit. But we were cognizant of the time. For the one full day we had in Florence, we were not going to miss the best sunset view I had been promised. Florence in one day itinerary has to include Piazza Michelangelo in the evening.
Piazza Michelangelo offers a stupendous view of the Florence skyline, whatever be the time of the day. But it turns magical and wondrous when the sun sets over the Arno river and fires up the sky and the water beneath. Despite the name, it is not designed by Michelangelo. Rather this square is a modern addition to the city, built in the 19th century.
We walked up to Piazza Michelangelo with our daughter. This is a pleasing walk where tackled many steps. We got in time to enjoy strolling through the large piazza. As sunset neared, the crowds swelled.
But the sun going down brought about a hush and sense of wonder amidst the crows. I was lost in the view as the sun glowed and turned the city into a charming painting and could easily ignore a large number of people around me. The view reminded me a bit of the one we saw of the walled city of Dubrovnik, from a viewpoint we reached via cable car.
Enjoy Italian food and gelato
Besides sightseeing during the 1 day in Florence, we used the 3 evenings in the city to enjoy the beautiful cafes and restaurants, and eat fresh produce. Florence offers some traditional Italian food like wild boar ragu, and some of the best gelato in Italy. And arguably some of the best gelato! Kids in Florence will love the gelato and the pasta.
Other Museums in Florence with kids
If you have more time than just a day in Florence with kids, there are some other museums that will be of interest. Leonardo Da Vinci Museum is dedicated to his inventions. Kids will love exploring the 4 sections in this museum: earth, water, fire and air. Galileo Museum is a nice detour from the regular Florence sights and kids will enjoy seeing the scientific items on display here.
If time permits, you can also indulge in a bit of shopping. The city is also known for high-end boutiques for Italian fashion and leather items, not really for bargain hunters.
[This post was originally published in 2019, and later updated in 2023.]
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Have you visited Florence? Which is your favorite site or experience in this romantic city? Share with us in the comments below.
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