An astounding one-third of the world’s art treasures exist in this 40-square mile capital of Tuscany. Florence was the first city in Europe to have paved streets and they were walked by legends. Did we mention that Da Vinci, Amerigo Vespucci, Niccolo Machiavelli, Cavalli, and Florence Nightingale were all born here!? Let’s visit Florence!
Visiting Florence? Here’s What To Do
There’s really so much to do, this city could keep you busy for days. Here’s a list of our must-see’s when visiting Florence.
Visiting Florence? Don’t Miss:
AkA Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers, AKA Florence Cathedral, AKA the most popular tourist destination in Florence. This stunning complex is comprised of five amazing monuments, including the famous Cupola(dome). A climb to the top comes at a price, and not only in cash, but a good deal of time as well! While the entrance fee is about $16, be prepared to wait for about an hour before making it inside. Don’t have the patience? You’ll appreciate the lines(or lack thereof) at Palazzo Vecchio(for equally incredible views) and Basilica di Santa Croce(for fantastic religious architecture and relics).
This iconic, picturesque bridge is a can’t-miss when you’re in Florence. Spanning over the Arno River and dating back to 966, this pedestrian bridge is today filled with jewelry shops and goldsmiths. For a great photo, head to the St. Trinity Bridge at sunset and wait for Mother Nature to throw her beautiful colors upon the old bridge.
This famous art museum is home to some of the most important Italian artworks from the Renaissance period, including pieces from Botticelli, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and more.. Don’t miss the beautiful, statue-lined courtyard running through the center of the Gallery that is open to pedestrians.
This town hall or “old palace” dates back to 1299. Climb 416 steps to the top of Arnolfo’s tower for panoramic views of Florence and Piazza della Signoria below. **Bonus: At the entrance, check out the replica of Michelangelo’s David. To see the original, make sure to make reservations in advance at Accademia Gallery.
Visiting Florence? Check Out These Hidden Gems!
Basilica di Santa Croce
Located just ½ mile from the famous Duomo, the stunning Basilica of the Holy Cross isn’t nearly as crowed as it’s big sister, but is pretty amazing itself. The Basilica is also the eternal resting place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and others. At only $7 and no line, this place is a real gem.
Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte
Looking for that ‘postcard’ picture view of Florence? Most people head up to Piazzale Michelangelo on the southern, hill-side of the river. We say, “Keep going up!” Pass through the crowds and follow the path up to the Basilica San Miniato al Monte. This is the highest point in the city, and offers serene panoramic views, and beautiful gardens alongside a peaceful cemetery.
Somehow relatively unknown, this quiet and calm garden is a welcomed break from the stone buildings and full streets of Florence. Located on the south side of the river behind Palazzo Pitti, the entrance fee will also get you into Giardino di Boboli, home of the Buontalenti Grotto. Bonus!.
Visiting Florence? Book a Tour!
Visiting Florence? You Gotta Eat!
You literally have to eat to survive, right? That, along with the fact that Josh is 1/8th Italian makes us both experts on all things Italian food! 🙂
Home to the second best pizza in the whole world(first is from Da Pino in Traviso, Italy.. travel guide coming soon!). Choose from one of seven Neapolitan-style pizzas at an average cost of about $8. Take one to go and find a scenic perch by the St. Trinity Bridge for munching at sunset.
All’Antico Vinaio sandwich shop
Just thinking about this place has our mouths watering! Located on the north side of the river, just east of the Uffizi, this could be the line most worth waiting in.. every day! Established in 1991, All’Antico Vinaio is one of the most reviewed restaurants in the world. Expect seriously fresh bread, delicious local meats, and incredible ingredients.
Gelateria La Carraia
After all the pizza and sandwiches, you must eat the gelato. We’re pretty sure it’s a rule in this city. Claimed as the birthplace of gelato, there is no shortage of options for this sweet stuff in Florence. We loved Gelateria La Carraia, just south side of the Ponte alla Carraia Bridge. Mix it up with multiple flavors in one cone… So, so good! 🙂
Visiting Florence? Bonus!
We’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity and converted our Florence travel guide into a downloadable application that comes complete with a GPS map of our recommendations and operates offline without any need of data plan or Internet connection. You can check it out here.
Getting to Florence
Getting to Florence: FLY
If planned in advance you can find reasonable direct flights to Florence from most major cities in Europe for under $50. Affordable international flights like Amsterdam for $38, Brussels for $23, London for $49, and Paris for $28 can be found with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.
Florence Flight Deals
Getting to Florence: TRAIN
Trains throughout Europe are a great option. You’ll avoid lines at the airport, enjoy beautiful scenery, and the trains are typically very comfortable. We recommend trains if traveling within Italy. However, in our experience, international flights within Europe will save you time and money. Fares & Schedules
Getting to Florence: BUS
Buses are not our favorite mode of travel.. The seats are generally cramped, the ride is bumpy, and departure/arrival times can be unpredictable. That said, bus travel is generally less expensive. In particular, the one hour, 35 minute route from Bologna is just $5.
Airport to Florence City Center
Florence Airport (aka Amerigo Vespucci Airport) is located about 5 miles from the city center. How will you get there?
Airport Shuttle Bus
Called VolaInBus, take this 25 minute shuttle to Santa Maria Novella train station in the center of the city for just $5. From here, you can easily connect to your final destination by taxi or city bus.
For roughly $25, take a taxi into the city center in about 20 minutes. Find the taxi stand just outside of the terminal.
Getting around in Florence
Taxis are available throughout the city, just note that they are not permitted to pull over when hailed. Find one of the city’s many taxi stands and wait in line.
Walkscore.com gives Florence a score of 100, calling it a “Walker’s Paradise”. We also found this to be true. Walking around Florence is highly recommended.
Florence has an extensive bus network throughout the city. With 4 lines running from one end of town to the other, you should be very well connected. Purchase tickets at newspaper stands or bars for about $1.30, just look for a sticker in the window labled “ATAF”. If you’re planning on multiple bus trips, look into purchasing the ‘Carta Agile’, which allows you to buy multiple-ride tickets.
Where To Stay in Florence:
Where To Stay in Florence: HOTELS
From luxury to budget, with prices ranging from $80-$700/night, you’re sure to find the right hotel in Florence. We’ve found some great hotel deals using Priceline’s sister site, Agoda.com.
Florence Hotel Deals
Where To Stay in Florence: HOSTELS
With over 140 hostels available in Florence, you will likely find one that suits your needs, although it’s always a good idea to plan in advance. Prices generally range from $16-$24 a night for a dorm room, while private rooms cost a bit more at about $37-$62 per night. Hostelworld is our recommended resource when searching for hostels in Florence.
Florence Hostel Deals
Where To Stay in Florence: AIRBNB
We love using Airbnb. From private rooms to entire homes, Airbnb is represented in all neighborhoods of Florence at an average price of only $60 per night. If you’re a first timer to Airbnb use this coupon to enjoy $35 off of your first stay.
Where To Stay in Florence: NEIGHBORHOODS
Choosing a neighborhood is an important part of trip planning that should not be overlooked! Florence is a small city with only 5 districts divided into unique neighborhoods. While our general recommendation is to stay closer to the city center, here are some of the best areas worth considering in Florence.
This centrally located neighborhood is home to the magnificent Duomo Cathedral, Palazzo Vecchio, and the Uffizi Gallery. As expected, this part of Florence is packed with tourists, expensive hotels, and many restaurants.
Offering up the best views of Florence below, this neighborhood is perched above the city from the southeast.
Located on the southern banks of the River Arno, this is considered Florence’s “hipster” neighborhood. Home to the Santo Spirito flea market, trendy restaurants, and a lively nightlife, stay in this neighborhood for an offbeat, less-touristy vibe.
Packed with Universities and students, this neighborhood is northeast of the Duomo. Just far enough from the city center, with budget hotels and quiet streets, this is where the Statue of David lives inside the Galleria dell’Accademia.
Florence Travel Tips:
Florence Travel Tips: Tipping
Tipping in Italy is not customary although tipping for good service is always appreciated. At restaurants, check your bill, there is usually 10%-15% service charge added, and some will even charge extra for things like plates and silverware. Round up for taxi drivers.
Florence travel tips: Money
Italy’s national currency is the Euro, and is currently exchanging at 0.95EUR to $1USD. Credit cards are accepted at most places and ATM machines are readily available.
Florence travel tips: Insurance
Traveling to Florence is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.