Top Things to Do in Florence, Italy on a Mediterranean Cruise (2023)

Every moment and every door into onemediterranean cruiseit's incredibly special. In my opinion, and it's not easy to decide, some Mediterranean ports are a must.

If your cruise includes a stop in Livorno, Italy, don't miss a shore excursion to Florence. The tour may even include a short stop in Pisa.

Here are my suggestions for the best things to do in Florence in one day on a Mediterranean cruise.

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In this post...

What to do in Florence in a single day

Italy's west coast glitters with steep viewpoints, flats perched precariously atop a cliff, and hair-raising hairpin turns as your coach travels inches along the cliff-hanging road. The sleepy fishing villages contrast with the busy seaports. But a Mediterranean cruise that includes Livorno makes getting to the heart of this medieval city easy.

With very limited time to spend in Florence, here are my four suggestions you shouldn't miss. But first you need to get to Florence from the cruise port.

How to get to Florence from the port of Livorno

existthree easy waysvisit beautiful Florence; by shore excursion, train from Livorno or rental car.

  • For those new to Florence, your ship's shore excursion is the best and easiest option. It's a 1.5-hour bus ride into the city, but along the way your guide will tell you all about the surrounding countryside, show you where to look for the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the distance, and share fun facts about shopping and food. . Get ready for a full-day tour, spending a total of around three hours on the bus.
  • The second option is to board the train in Livorno, about a 15-minute taxi ride from the port. This is a relatively inexpensive option compared to a shore excursion. Keep in mind, though, that Italy is known for unexpected rail strikes, and while it's wonderful to spend more time in Florence, it would be irritating if your ship sailed on without you.
  • The third option is to rent a car. Book your rental car before leaving home to ensure availability. Major car rental companies have a check-in station next to your ship, so you can easily get started. Again, remember the ship's departure time and leave enough room to return the car and be taken back to the ship.

KEEP READING:The 9 Best Things to Do in Rome in One Day on a Cruise

What you must see in Florence

There is so much to see and do in Florence that a visitor could easily spend several days exploring and still not see nearly everything. However, there are four must-sees that you shouldn't miss on your first visit: Ponte Vecchio, Accademia Galleria, Santa Croce and the Duomo.

Stroll across the Ponte Vecchio

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It is the oldest bridge in Florence and a favorite of photographers and artists around the world. Once home to butcher shops and the resulting smell of Florence, the bridge has long become a haven for goldsmiths and jewelers. Cross the bridge, look both ways, and take a scenic drive along the narrow causeway that runs parallel to the Arno River. Watch out for the traffic!

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Plan a visit to the Accademia Gallery

A western Mediterranean cruise to Florence would not be complete without a visit to Michelangelo's world famous Statue of David. The tip is to buy tickets for the Academy and the Statue before leaving home. It's the best way to avoid the incredibly long queue of unsuspecting tourists and students.

If your shore excursion includes a visit to the Academy and the opportunity to skip the lines, great! Check the cruise line website for shore excursions and what is included in the tour.

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Go to Santa Croce Basilica

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Diebasilica of holy crossIt is a Florentine Gothic style building located in the homonymous square. It contains the intricately carved tombs of some of Italy's most famous artists, scientists, writers and composers. The large tombs, adorned with incredibly lifelike carvings and detailed engravings, make them works of art in their own right. Among those buried at Santa Croce are Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and Gioachino Rossini.

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Florence Cathedral

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This cathedral, one of the largest in the world, is not to be missed. Formally called the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, it is more commonly known as the Duomo. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the soaring dome is taller than those of the Pantheon and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. As with other attractions in Florence, it's a good idea to buy tickets online before leaving home.

If dizzying heights aren't an issue, climb the 463 steps to reach the top of the dome. Step outside and walk the sheltered path along the railing for panoramic views of Florence. If you look closely, you can see the people at the top. And then look at the next photo.

Feeling more adventurous? The same ticket (currently €10) covers entry to the entire cathedral, so keep walking and you can climb the 414 steps to the top of the bell tower. The ascent is not recommended for people with heart problems, dizziness or claustrophobia.

Take some time to shop and dine.

Even if you're exhausted after a mad dash around Florence, save some energy for leather shopping. In addition to the kiosks in the square, small shops line the narrow streets of the old town, while some famous Tuscan fabric makers have large stores near Santa Croce.

Although leather goods are one of the most purchased souvenirs, gold and expensive jewelry are still a close second. Many jewelers have their shops along Ponte Vecchio.

When eating out in Florence you may need to hurry if you want to see as much as possible. But if you have time, a Tuscan specialty is bistecca alla fiorentina, a grilled steak marinated in olive oil and black pepper. There are some very nice, if touristy, cafes in Piazza Santa Croce if you're short on time.

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With careful planning, you can visit almost all of these Florence attractions, grab a quick lunch and grab a nice leather jacket before meeting your group to head back to the bus.

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The best photography advice for Florence

I found out after my third bus trip between Livorno and Florence. For the best overall photo of the impressive Duomo, sit on the right side of the bus as you exit Florence (to the right if you're looking straight ahead, or to the left if you're boarding the bus).

This is because the route out of Florence takes a scenic drive through the city with the spectacular view of the Duomo on your right.

Have your camera handy in case the bus has to stop due to traffic jams and this often happens, as it did for me. I had about 10 seconds to take this photo before the bus started to move.

ed. Note: While one day is not enough to explore any city in Europe, Florence has more to offer in one day than Rome. The port of Rome (Civitavecchia) can take longer to reach Rome than from Livorno to Florence.

What to See on Your Next Florence Cruise

These are just a few of the dozens of places to visit on a Mediterranean cruise to Florence. Other ideas, weather permitting or on your next trip, are a visit to the Pitti Palace, climbing the 414 steps of the belfry near the Duomo (see photo above), a tour of the art collection of the Uffizi Gallery, which houses important works by Botticelli , Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rubens.

You'll have to make another trip to Florence... nobody can visit it once.


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I'm the editor and creator of, a solo traveler traveling the world on waves and wheels collecting recipes along the way. I hope that my articles and photos will entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flies. Take a deep breath... Stop for a local meal and glass of wine along the way.

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