Did you know?
Florence in Italy was the first paved city in Europe, as all its streets were paved in 1339!
What if we told you that a holiday to Florence is much more than iconic architecture, Renaissance art, and fascinating history?
Well, it’s true that the car-free and museum-abundant capital of Tuscany is famous for all the above. HOWEVER, if you know where to go and how to get around, you’re going to discover a whole other side of Florence.
How are you going to do that? With a little help from us! Keep reading to discover all you need to know about planning a holiday to Florence, from where to stay and what to do to when to visit and what to eat. Scroll down!
Florence, the stunning capital of Tuscany, is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Its iconic architecture, Renaissance art, and enduring history are some of the reasons why Florence has emerged as a top holiday destination in Italy.
But there’s more to Florence than just history and art. Keep reading our Florence travel guide to get an insight into the best things to do in Florence, where to stay, where to eat, and many more!
Florence (or Firenze) is one of the most important Renaissance hubs in Italy and most artistic cities in Europe. Famous for attractions like the Duomo and the Baptistery, as well as museums like the Uffizi Gallery, the Palazzo Pitti, and the Accademia Gallery, this city has a unique cultural identity.
Florence is mainly famous for its iconic architecture, art scene, traditional Tuscan cuisine, and overall charm. It’s not a surprise that sightseeing in Florence is a delightful experience!
Florence, like most Italian cities, gets more crowded during the summer when people flock there to spend their summer holiday. However, the best season to visit Florence is spring, when the weather is not as hot as in summer and the city is not overflowing with tourists. Winter in Florence is pretty cold, so not many tourists visit the city during that time of the year.
Florence in Italy was the first paved city in Europe, as all its streets were paved in 1339!
Florence is a wonderful destination for solo travelers of all ages, as it is safe and full of amazing places to visit. If you’re planning to travel to Florence solo, you should visit the museums and cathedrals in Florence (including the super-famous Duomo), take a walk along the riverside of River Arno, head to Caffé Gilli for coffee and pastries, stop to enjoy the street performances, and go shopping at San Lorenzo Market & Mercato Centrale.
Florence is a popular destination for a family vacation in Italy. It’s very easy to find kid-friendly activities to enjoy, like a family picnic at the Boboli Gardens, a family tour at the Uffizi Gallery, a ride at Piazza Della Repubblica’s Antique Carousel, and a visit to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Florence.
Florence is an utterly romantic city, ideal for couples and honeymooners! Some of the best things to do in Florence for couples are a city ride on a horse-drawn carriage, a tour of the Arno river on a traditional boat, a couples’ massage, a walk around Boboli Gardens, a visit to the Accademia Gallery in Florence, a wine tour in Florence, and a dinner with a breathtaking view at BSJ (Borgo San Jacopo) restaurant.
Shops in Florence are open from 9.30 to 13.00 and from 15.30 to 19.30 and are closed from 13.00 to 15.30 for a lunch break. However, big department stores and supermarkets are usually open throughout the day and some of them are open on Sundays. Clothes shops are often closed on Monday mornings.
Florence has enduring history and rich culture! In the 1st century B.C., the city was a Roman military colony and later became a republic, the base of the duchy of Tuscany, and the capital of Italy from 1865 until 1870. From the 14th until the 16th century Florence thrived in the fields of commerce, finance, architecture, and arts.
The incredible architecture of Florence has put its city center in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1982. The masterpieces of Italian art like beautiful buildings, stunning statues, and imposing temples scattered throughout the city are a reason on their own to visit Florence! Some of Florence’s greats are Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, Dante, and Machiavelli.
Florence in Italy is easily accessible from most European countries. The main ways to reach Florence are by plane, by train, by car, and by bus. Check them all out below!
The easiest and fastest way to get to Florence is by air. The main airport of Florence is Peretola, also known as Amerigo Vespucci Airport, which is located about 20 minutes (10km) away from the city center. Although Florence has an airport, most people first arrive at the airports of Rome or Bologna and then get to Florence by other means of transportation. That’s why flights to Florence are usually more expensive than flights to other big Italian cities.
However, it’s convenient to fly directly to Peretola airport from Italian and European towns. The main airline companies that offer flights to Florence are Alitalia, the Italian national airline, Swiss, Iberia, Lufthansa, AirFrance, TAP, and British Airways. You can fly directly to Florence from several European cities, like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Tel Aviv, and Munich and Italian cities like Rome, Catania, and Palermo.
The train is one of the best ways to get around Italy and travel between the Italian cities. Trains are convenient, fast, and affordable, especially if you book your tickets well in advance. The main rail companies that serve itineraries between Italian cities are Trenitalia, Italy’s state-run rail service and Italo, a privately-owned rail company. The main train station in Florence is located close to the city center, so you can get from the station to your hotel in Florence and the main points of interest in no time!
The most popular train route is from Rome to Florence. The train journey from Rome to Florence lasts from 1 hour and a half (with Trenitalia and Italo) to 2-4 hours (with other regional rail companies) and the train ticket costs as little as $30. Taking the train from Rome and Florence is one of the must things to do in Florence!
Getting to Florence by car is a good option for those who are planning on going on a road trip through Italy or Europe. The route from Rome to Florence is utterly idyllic, as it passes through the beautiful countrysides of Umbria and Tuscany.
Road trips from Florence to the rural villages of the Italian countryside will give you the unique opportunity to stop over for a traditional lunch accompanied by local Chianti wine and a chat with the locals. Other towns worth visiting by car from Florence are Pisa and Siena.
Getting to Florence by bus is cheap and convenient. FlixBus is one of the cheapest and most popular bus companies that serve itineraries to Florence, sometimes for as low as $10. Same as with train tickets, it’s better to book bus tickets in advance, as prices are higher for last-minute bookings. However, you can often find bus tickets for less than $20 even if you book them the day of your departure.
Buses from Rome to Florence depart from Tiburtina station and arrive at Villa Costanza station in Florence, which is located 25 minutes away from the city center and can be easily reached by the local tram. Keep in mind that the first tram leaves at 5:30 a.m. and the last at midnight.
The area around Duomo in Florence in the heart of the city center is the best place to stay if you’re visiting Florence for the first time, even if you’re planning to stay for just a couple of days. The Duomo area is close to the main points of interest in Florence and is very easily accessible!
Santa Maria Novella in Florence (especially the eastern side) is one of the most family-friendly neighborhoods in the historical city center. It is close to the train station, the museums, and churches and has a bustling market area with a variety of shops.
The best place to stay in Florence if you’re on a budget is San Marco, a residential area on the north side of Florence. San Marco is cheaper than the city center, but still close to popular attractions in Florence like the Duomo, as well as to several art galleries and museums in Florence.
The hippest place to stay in Florence is the Santa Croce neighborhood, close to the Duomo. This is a busy area with many cafes, shops, and excellent restaurants in Florence. What’s more, it has a unique atmosphere that will introduce you to the authentic Italian lifestyle. Some of the best places to visit in Santa Croce in Florence are the Piazza Santa Croce, the Museo dell’Opera, the tombs in Santa Croce, and La Scuola di Cuoio.
San Spirito and San Frediano districts are where the heart of the city’s nightlife beats. These two neighborhoods are packed with hip bars, night clubs and restaurants for every taste. They are particularly popular with students, who flock here to stroll through the piazzas and have fun all night long.
Florence is a small city, which means walking is the best way to get around. Besides, all the main attractions in Florence are located in the central area, so you can go everywhere on foot!
The main points of interest in Florence are concentrated in the historic center, the biggest part of which is walkable and pedestrian-only. Walking is the most practical way to get around, as the main attractions in Florence are very close to each other (about 20 minutes walking distance). However, if you need a break from walking, then buses/trams, taxis or even horse carriages are your best bets.
Small buses, run by ATAF, move throughout the historical center, connecting the main points of interest. A bus ticket in Florence costs 1.20 euros and is valid for 90 minutes.
Apart from buses, there is also the Florence tramway network (Rete tranviaria di Firenze), which consists of two tram lines that connect the airport with several points throughout the city. Trams run from 4.30 am until 12.30 am every day and until 1.40 am or 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays. A tram ticket in Florence costs 1.50 euros and is valid for 90 minutes.
You can purchase bus and tram tickets at ticket-dispensing machines at every tram/bus stop, at some coffee shops, kiosks, or directly from the driver.
Given that there are traffic restrictions throughout the historical center, driving in Florence is not the best idea. Besides, parking spots are almost impossible to find.
However, the car is useful for excursions or day trips from Florence to the quaint villages of Tuscany. If you don’t have a car, you can hire one from several car hire companies scattered throughout the city. To hire a car in Italy, you should own an international driver’s license and be at least 18 years old.
Florence might not be an ideal bike-friendly city, but cycling is still better than driving. The local council offers a bike hiring service (more info at www.bicifirenze.it). Finding a bike in Florence is easy, as there are bike hiring spots at various points throughout the city center.
How much you’re going to spend in Florence per day depends on many factors. However, you should expect to spend around 120 euros ($131) per day on average during your stay in Florence. Generally speaking, you’re going to spend 25 euros ($27) on food every day, about 20 euros ($21) on public transportation tickets, and around 135 euros ($151) for a double room in a hotel in Florence. Of course, you can opt for a guest house or Airbnb in Florence, which is generally much cheaper.
Lampredotto is one of the trademark traditional dishes in Florence as well as one of the most popular street foods. It is a sandwich filled with a slice of beef (cow’s stomach) slow-cooked with tomato, onion, parsley, and celery. You can have it with spicy red sauce, green sauce, Parmigiano cheese, and extra virgin olive oil.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina or Florentine Steak is one of the most famous meat dishes in Florence. It’s a large juicy t-bone steak well-done on the outside, but half-cooked on the inside. It is seasoned with salt and pepper, drizzled with lemon and served with a side of cannellini beans or salad.
Every city in Italy is a gelato heaven and Florence couldn’t be an exception! In Florence, you’ll find many amazing gelaterias that serve numerous flavors of fresh homemade gelato. Keep in mind that the best gelato shops in Florence are not the touristy ones that serve bright-colored low-quality gelato, but the little gelaterias hidden in the city’s narrow piazzas.
Pappardelle al Cinghiale is a traditional strong-flavored Tuscan specialty. This dish consists of flat and long (usually handmade) pasta topped with a heavy ragu sauce. This dish comes in a few variations, depending on the type of meat in the sauce. Cinghiale is wild boar, but the sauce can consist of other types of meat like goose or rabbit.
Tagliatelle Funghi Porcini e Tartufo is a delicious mushroom-based dish which consists of truffle mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, and tagliatelle, a type of long thin homemade pasta. You’ll find this simple yet delicious dish at almost every restaurant in Florence!
Florence is a safe place with an organized Health Care system. Emergency healthcare is available to students and tourists without any charge. There aren’t many health risks in Florence anyway, except for minor issues like fatigue, sunburn, or stomach ache from too much food. Keep in mind that some pharmacies are open 24/day, so you are covered in case of an emergency.
In case of emergency, you should go to the pronto soccorso (casualty section) of a public hospital, where you can receive treatment. Make sure you have your ID/passport and Health Care card with you.
Vaccinations for mumps, pertussis, measles, rubella, polio, pneumococcal, and hepatitis B are recommended by the World Health Organization.
Summer in Florence is hot, so light and breathable fabrics are the way to survive the heat! Make sure you pack cotton dresses, t-shirts, and a light scarf to cover your shoulders inside churches. Also, don’t forget to bring with you a pair of comfortable sandals or breathable sneakers for all the hours of sightseeing in Florence!
The weather in Florence during fall is often tricky and climate swings are frequent, so you need to be prepared for every scenario. A light coat, a raincoat, a pair of jeans, long sleeve shirts, and sweaters are musts!
Winters in Florence are usually cold and wet. Don’t forget to pack a warm coat, a pair of boots, sweaters, gloves, a hat, a warm scarf, and a raincoat.
Spring is probably the best season to visit Florence in terms of weather because it is neither too hot nor too cold. However, versatility is the key to packing for a spring trip to Florence. Make sure you’ll bring with you a light jacket, a raincoat, long-sleeve shirts, a couple of jeans, and a comfortable pair of sneakers.
Do you have any tips or recommendations about going on a holiday to Florence? Tell us in the comments! If you liked this article, don’t forget to share it on Social Media!
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