Are you thinking about taking a day trip from Venice to Florence by train?
Although this is a long excursion, it is easy to do. With a little forward planning, you can hit the highlights of Florence like a pro.
Get the lowdown in this guide to taking a day trip to Florence from Venice. Find out what to consider, how to get there and what to do. It also includes a map to help you find your way around and tips for a perfect Florence day trip.
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Day Trip from Venice to Florence by Train at a Glance
- Distance from Venice to Florence: 160 miles
- Journey time: 2 hours 13 minutes one-way
- Cost of train ticket: From €17 one-way
Is One Day Enough for Florence?
However long you spend in Florence it will not be enough. I have visited the Birthplace of the Renaissance many times and there are still parts of it I have yet to see.
That said, you will be able to tick off some of the items on your Florence bucket list in one memorable day. But you will need to manage your expectations.
There is no way that you uncover all of Florence’s treasures in a day. Therefore, it pays to have a cunning plan up your sleeve to prioritise what you would like to see.
To make the most of your Florence day trip from Venice, you will need to catch an early train from Venezia Santa Lucia station. Even using the fast trains, your return journey will take at least four hours.
Try not to visit Florence on Sundays or Mondays. Many of its main attractions are closed on Mondays and some places have reduced opening hours on Sundays.
And prepare yourself mentally for Florence’s crowds. Popular spots like the Duomo are likely to be rammed by late morning. Another reason set your alarm for the wee small hours.
But when you get your first glimpse of the Duomo, all this will be forgotten. If this is your one opportunity to visit Florence, don’t think twice.
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How to Get from Venice to Florence by Train
For your Venice to Florence day trip, you have the choice of two train operators: Trenitalia, the national rail company, and Italo.
Both of these companies have set allocations of seats in the lower fare classes. But I have found that unless you are travelling on a particularly busy service, you don’t need to buy your train ticket in advance.
Trains depart from Venezia Santa Lucia and arrive at Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station (Firenze S.M. Novella).
Don’t opt for indirect trains between Venice and Florence which take over four hours to make the journey. Instead, choose the high-speed direct train from Venice to Florence which takes 2 hours and 13 minutes.
At the time of writing, the first train of the day leaves Venice’s Santa Lucia station shortly before 5.30 am; the last direct train of the day leaves Florence at 9.20 pm. These fast trains run hourly.
One-way fares start from €21.
Italo runs up to eight services a day between Florence Santa Maria Novella and Venice. The journey time is 2 hours 16 minutes. As of November 2022, advance one-way fares start at €17
At the time of writing, the first departure for Florence is at 7.05 am; the last train returning to Venice is at 7.39 pm.
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Getting to Venice Santa Lucia Train Station
It’s a 30-minute walk from St. Mark’s Square to Venezia Santa Lucia train station. Alternatively, you can take an expensive vaporetto, alighting at Ferrovia.
If you are staying in the Cannaregio or Santa Croce districts of the city, the train station is closer.
Getting from Florence Santa Maria Novella Train Station
Santa Maria Novella is one of the most centrally-located train stations in Italy. From here, it is only a ten-minute walk to Florence’s Duomo
Getting Around Florence
The best way to get around Florence is on foot.
Most of the city’s historic attractions lie on the north bank of the River Arno, within easy walking distance of each other.
Inevitably, there is also a hop-on-hop-off bus which is of limited value if you are visiting Florence on a day trip from Venice
What to Do on Your Day Trip to Florence from Venice
First and foremost, don’t be over-ambitious. Florence is a busy city and trying to shoehorn too much into your day is likely to leave you feeling frazzled.
Choose a handful of attractions that interest you and stick with them. Book ahead for popular attractions like the Accademia and Uffizi Gallery, or if you want to climb Brunelleschi’s dome.
Here is my pick of things to do when you have limited time in Florence that you can use as a loose framework on which to hang your day.
If you like to map it out, here’s one that I prepared earlier. For an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.
You can save it to your Google Maps app by clicking on the star icon.
1. Visit David at The Accademia
Start your day in Florence by paying your respects to this instantly recognisable buff biblical shepherd.
Michelangelo’s David is one of the world’s best-known sculptures and is a symbol of the city of Florence and the Renaissance. He is a must-see even if you are only in Florence for a day.
Standing 17-feet-high, he was sculpted from the finest Carrara marble in 1501. Nearby is a collection of other Michelangelo sculptures, the Prisoners or Slaves, created for the tomb of Pope Julius II.
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2. Soak up the Renaissance splendour of the Duomo complex
Florence is known as the Cradle of the Renaissance, a movement that was characterised by a pursuit of knowledge stretching across painting, sculpture and architecture. Comprising the Duomo, Giotto’s bell tower and St. John’s Baptistery, the Duomo complex is ground zero of the Italian Renaissance.
Brunelleschi’s gravity-defying iconic terracotta dome is the Duomo’s architectural claim to fame. Giotto’s Tower, the cathedral’s campanile, pierces the sky 270 feet above Piazza de Duomo.
The Baptistery of St. John is famous for its bronze doors, especially Ghiberti’s famous golden “Gates of Paradise” on the eastern side of the building. Although this is a copy – the original is in the Duomo Museum – it’s a very good copy.
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3. Visit Piazza della Signoria
If being one of the most beautiful squares in Europe wasn’t enough, Piazza della Signoria is also where you will find Florence’s free open air art gallery.
A knock-off David guards the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio, the city’s town hall and former home of the Medici. The Loggia dei Lanzi is home to some of Florence’s most famous sculptures, including Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women.
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4. Take a journey through art history at the Uffizi Galleries
Even if you only have a passing interest in the birth of Renaissance art, don’t leave Florence without visiting the Uffizi Galleries.
Some of the dishes on this all-that-you-can-eat buffet of Renaissance art are the greatest works of art on the planet. Arrive armed with a shortlist of key paintings to make the most of your visit.
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5. Stroll over the Ponte Vecchio
Next to the Uffizi, the medieval Ponte Vecchio is the oldest and most beautiful of the bridges in Florence. There has been a bridge spanning this point of the River Arno since the 10th Century, and the current Ponte Vecchio is lined with goldsmiths and jewellery shops.
The Vasari Corridor, an elevated covered passageway above Ponte Vecchio, linked the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti. It has been closed for restoration since 2016 but is due to open to tourists again in 2022.
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6. Snap that classic postcard view of Florence from the Oltrarno
Cross over Ponte Vecchio and start the uphill climb to one of Florence’s best photography spots, Piazzale Michelangelo. From this vast vantage point, Florence is laid out before you like a model village.
Time permitting, take a stroll around the Rose Garden which is just below Piazzale Michelangelo. The views from here are just as good and it is a more tranquil – and fragrant – setting.
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