Most travellers arrive at the main train station of Santa Maria Novella, which is a great place to start your tour. Please note this one little tip for those arriving by train: Florence has a few train stations including Rifredi and Campo di Marte which are peripheral – you’ll want to arrive at Santa Maria Novella because it’s very central. Start out by crossing the street and heading to Piazza Santa Maria Novella, then walk to the city centre following Via dei Cerretani.
Piazza del Duomo in Florence can be considered the heart of the city and it has a high concentration of beauty. You’ll want to start off your two days with this location since it remains a point of reference for your stay. Piazza del Duomo is a complex that includes five places you should visit: the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo), the Baptistery, Giotto's Bell Tower, the Church of Santa Reparata and the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. There is a single ticket to visit all the monuments of Piazza Duomo. For details and opening hours, visit the official website.
It can be pretty tiring to see all the monuments in this piazza (especially if you want to climb on the top of the Duomo!) so after this you’ll need something to eat. The options are truly endless, but if you want to try something really traditional you can choose a “vinaino” (a sort of chip and cheerful wine bar) or a stall selling lampredotto and tripe. There are also historical markets like Mercato Centrale where you can find all sorts of food, both local and international. The less economical but still traditional alternative is to lunch in one of the historic restaurants of Florence.
The next stop in the centre of Florence is Via dei Calzaiuoli, where there are numerous shops and a very beautiful church that is worth a visit: the Church of Orsanmichele (with free entrace). Head over to the Loggia del Porcellino, sometimes called the “New Market” (though it’s been here for over a century), with many stalls and souvenir stands. Reach the Porcellino (a bronze boar shaped fountain): it is said to bring good luck if you insert a coin in its mouth and it falls into the grate at the foot of the fountain.
You are just a few steps from Piazza della Signoria, the civic centre of the city. It is dominated by Palazzo della Signoria, also called Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of government that was built between 1290-1300. Today it is home to the Florence City Council and much of it is visitable as a museum. You can also climb the Tower of Arnolfo (the tallest tower in the city of Florence, 94 meters high) and stroll along the walkway of the “ronda” or rounds, where soldiers kept watching over the city. Palazzo Vecchio is not the only point of interest of Piazza della Signoria: here you can admire real works of art in the open air Loggia dei Lanzi.
It’s dinner time. Visit Ponte Vecchio to admire a beautiful sunset and then find a place to relax and eat some food, like one of the main historic cafés.