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25 Best Things To Do In Florence, Italy

From exploring renaissance art to gelato shops, here are some of the best things to do in florence, according to locals..

By: Lydia Mansel Published: Sep 19, 2023 03:00 PM UTC

25 Best Things To Do In Florence, Italy

If a European getaway — the type where you spend your days museum hopping, visiting historical sites, drinking wine, and doubling your usual daily step count — sounds like your ideal next adventure, it’s time to book a trip to Florence.

The capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, and it is still home to famous works by Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci, among many artists of the same era.

Sara Pallabazzar, a guide with ToursByLocals , describes Florence as an “open-air museum” where you can experience “the enchantment of past centuries portrayed by works of art” everywhere you go. Adriano Pecoraro, head concierge at Villa San Michele, A Belmond Hotel, Florence , echoes this sentiment, noting that Firenze should be “discovered on foot.” That means you’ll want to pack your best travel shoes to navigate the architectural treasures inside Palazzo Vecchio or to make your way up the 463 steps of the Duomo — an iconic symbol of Florence that Pallabazzar says is “visible from every point in the city.”

Florence is bursting with beauty in the form of frescoed chapels, cobblestoned piazzas, and both natural and manmade masterpieces. There are so many sights to see and things to do, in fact, that it can be difficult to decide what to add to your itinerary. To help narrow it down, we asked a few Florentines to share their recommendations in one of the top cities in the world, as voted by Travel + Leisure readers in this year’s World’s Best Awards.

And if you can’t fit everything into one trip, don’t worry. “Florence, to me, is like New York City ,” says Pallabazzar. “You always want to go back.” Read on to discover the 25 best things to do in Florence — whether you’re visiting for the very first time or returning for more Renaissance art, architecture, and unforgettable Italian dishes.

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The best things to do in florence, head to the city’s historic centre.

Best things to do in florence

Pallabazzar recommends seeing the historic centre of Florence at different times of the day. In the early morning, you’ll get to experience it “without noise and the pressing pace of crowds.” Midday brings droves of visitors, but the destination is “bathed in sunshine.” In the evening, “the lights of the street lamps stretch out over the Lungarni, creating a truly magical effect.”

Visit the Uffizi Gallery

travel and leisure florence italy

The Uffizi Gallery “is a great way to comprehend the genius and the importance of the Medici family, and why Florentines are so proud of their history,” says Pecoraro. “[It’s a] treasure chest of beauty that preserves works of art from the late 1200s to the Baroque, along with an amazing collection of marble groups from the classical period,” adds Pallabazzar. Famous works inside the Uffizi Gallery include Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” and Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera.”

Discover the work of Florentine artisans

“Florence is world-renowned for its high-end craftsmanship, manufacturing know-how, and creativity,” says Pecoraro. “The art of handcraft and the ability of creation is what made Florence shine in Europe during [the] Renaissance.” To provide travellers with a deeper understanding of these manual traditions, Villa San Michele offers an “Art of Making” tour , where guests uncover lesser-known Florentine creations, including jewellery, bow ties, eyewear, crystalware, hats, artisanal perfumery, and pottery.

Check into one of the city’s most opulent hotels

Best things to do in florence

After a long day exploring the city, you’ll want to return to a luxurious, comfortable, and far-from-minimalist room — you are in Florence, after all. In our annual “World’s Best Awards” survey for 2023, T+L readers voted The St. Regis Florence , Helvetia & Bristol Firenze , Hotel Savoy, a Rocco Forte Hotel , Four Seasons Hotel Firenze , and Brunelleschi Hotel as the top five properties in the city.

Book your stay at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze via

Book your stay at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze via

Enjoy a bistecca alla Fiorentina

Max Musto, general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Firenze , describes the bistecca alla Fiorentina as a “mouthwatering T-bone steak cooked over an open flame, seasoned with just a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper.” The dish was recommended by several of our experts; Pallabazzar suggests making a restaurant reservation in advance if you’re dreaming of eating a massive Florentine steak. “Real steak is not to be found in the city, or displayed in plain sight in the store window,” she says. “You need to go to the countryside, to Greve in Chianti, for example, or Lastra a Signa.”

Appreciate Michelangelo’s work inside the Medici Chapels

travel and leisure florence italy

The Medici Chapels are part of the San Lorenzo complex — where you’ll also find the Basilica of San Lorenzo — and the burial ground for the members of the Medici family. Michelangelo’s influence is ever-present, as he worked on the mausoleum, the New Sacristy , before leaving for Rome in 1534.

See the city from Piazzale Michelangelo

Best things to do in florence

“One of the best locations to watch Florence from the top hills is Piazzale Michelangelo,” says Ruggero Vannini, head concierge at Hotel Savoy . But, he warns, it can be crowded. As an alternative, he suggests heading to the town of Fiesole for a similar perspective.

Dine at a local trattoria

travel and leisure florence italy

“ Dining at one of the many Florentine trattorias is the best way to dive into a timeless local social experience,” says Pecoraro. To get you started, he recommends Buca Lapi , Trattoria Cammillo , and Trattoria 13 Gobbi.

Find all of the Davids

Best things to do in florence

Travellers interested in art should plan out what Pallabazzar calls “the David experience.” This begins with the Piazza della Signoria to see the replica of Michelangelo’s David, followed by The Bargello , where the bronze Davids by Verrocchio and Donatello are housed. Finally, she says, you’ll reach the Accademia Gallery and Michelangelo’s David, a figure “celebrated by Renaissance artists” and one “that reminds us of lost Florentine freedom.”

Cheers over Negronis

travel and leisure florence italy

Florence is the birthplace of the Negroni, so sipping one (or two) is a must. In fact, “[enjoying] aperitivo at sunset with a view” tops Percoraro’s list of the best things to do while in the city.

Visit Museo di San Marco

Best things to do in florence

This still-functioning monastery was designed by architect Michelozzo in the 15th century. Today, visitors come to Museo di San Marco for the frescoes and panels by Fra Angelico, as well as its courtyard, cloisters, palazzo, and garden .

Book your stay at The St. Regis Florence via

Book your stay at The St. Regis Florence via

Climb Brunelleschi’s dome

travel and leisure florence italy

The Florence Cathedral (or Duomo) is composed of six separate parts, two of which are the cathedral itself — which was formerly known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore — and Brunelleschi’s dome. “One cannot help but tackle the 463 steps to reach the lantern at the top of Brunelleschi’s dome,” says Pallabazzar. From here, climbers “enjoy a breathtaking view of Florence’s rooftops.”

See the Ponte Vecchio from the water

Best things to do in florence

Translated as “Old Bridge,” the Ponte Vecchio is one of the most well-known images associated with Florence. To get a picture-perfect moment, head out on the river Arno.  “A unique way to have a sense of the city as a whole is to navigate the Arno river in a typical wooden boat guided by the ‘Renaioli,’ romantically sliding their boats under the city’s most famous and ancient bridges,” says Musto.

Venture into the Oltrarno district

travel and leisure florence italy

“If you want to discover an alternative Florence, tour the Oltrarno district, the area on the left bank of the Arno River,” says Vannini. Here, he says, “an atmosphere of the old neighbourhood” is preserved. Two of the more famous sites within the district are Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, and Bardini Garden — more on that below.

Stroll through the Bardini and Boboli Gardens

travel and leisure florence italy

Florentine art and architecture also extend to the city’s green spaces and gardens. Behind the Pitti Palace sits Boboli Gardens , which Vannini describes as “one of the largest and most elegant Italian-style gardens.” Bardini Garden is Also on his must-do list. “The Bardini Garden offers wonderful views of Florence from its four hectares of parkland between the left bank of the Arno River, Montecuccoli Hill, and the medieval wall,” he says.

Make your own perfume at AquaFlor Firenze

If you want a special souvenir you can use and appreciate long after you’ve left Italy , register for a session at AquaFlor Firenze . Located in a historic Renaissance palace, the hour-long class allows guests to create their own signature scent and take it home in a 100-millilitre bottle.

Leave the city on a bicycle or Vespa

Best things to do in florence

At some point during your trip, Pecoraro suggests journeying to the outskirts of the city, either by bike or scooter. “From Fiesole to Settignano to Maiano, from Forte Belvedere to Poggio Imperiale to Castello — these areas hide incredible treasures, such as ancient charming villas, inspiring historical gardens, vineyard scenarios, and a profound sense of poetry and love,” he says.

Book your stay at Brunelleschi Hotel via

Book your stay at Brunelleschi Hotel via

Have a glass of Chianti Classico

According to Pallabazzar, there’s one red you absolutely need to try when in Florence. “Chianti Classico is different from regular Chianti, as it is made from grapes that grow in sandier soils, which makes it lighter than the regular,” she says. “The flavour is strong and robust, and the ruby colour [is] very well suited to meats and cured meats.”

Walk through Corridoio Vasariano

travel and leisure florence italy

“Imagine strolling above the bustling streets of Florence on a hidden passage that was built for royalty ,” says Musto. Referring to Corridoio Vasariano, he explains that the “architectural marvel” offers a “glimpse into the past as you tread the same path that once connected the Medici rulers to their offices and residence.” Though closed since 2016, the site is slated to reopen in late 2023.

Make a stop at Palazzo Vecchio

Best things to do in florence

The town hall of Florence, Palazzo Vecchio is an amazing example of Renaissance architecture. Statues by Donatello, Michelangelo, and Giorgio Vasari dot the exterior, and the interior is equally incredible. Inside, you’ll see the private studio of Francesco I de’ Medici and the largest room in Florence, the “Salone dei Cinquecento,” among other wonders.

Have a lampredotto for lunch

travel and leisure florence italy

Alongside the Florentine steak, Vannini says you can’t miss the panino al lampredotto . “The lampredotto panino is more than just a simple street food — it’s an institution,” he explains. “Eating a lampredotto panino means having a genuine experience with Florentine sauce (literally). It is a dish that embodies the spirit of the city — and more generally, that of Tuscany — in food form.”

Sign up for a pasta-making class

Best things to do in florence

When in Italy, right? Anyone fascinated by the culinary side of Florence will enjoy learning classic pasta recipes and pasta-making techniques in person. Check out Pasta Class Florence and Riva Lofts for hands-on courses.

Visit Basilica di Santa Croce

travel and leisure florence italy

Many famous names, including Michelangelo and Galileo, now rest in the Basilica di Santa Croce, which is also known as the “Pantheon of Florence.” There are 16 total chapels inside; the Capella de Pazzi, credited to Brunelleschi, is the most famous.

Taste dishes that combine bread and tomatoes

Pappa al pomodoro and panzanella are two tomato and bread-based Tuscan dishes to try during your trip. Pallabazzar calls the latter a “recovery salad,” one made with soaked (then squeezed) bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pappa al Pomodoro, on the other hand, is more of a tomato and bread soup. “Made with simple ingredients such as ripe tomatoes, stale bread, olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil, this dish beautifully captures the essence of Italian comfort food,” says Musto. “It’s a flavorful choice, especially on a cooler day.”

End your day with gelato

Best things to do in florence

There’s nothing better than a cold treat after a day exploring the streets, art, and buildings of Florence. Pallabazzar recommends Vivoli’s or Antica Gelateria Fiorentina in Via Faenza, “where you can still taste Buontalenti , a [flavour] invented for the Medici.”

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(Hero and feature image credit: Chelsea Exton/Travel + Leisure)

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Cradle of the Renaissance, romantic, enchanting and utterly irresistible, Florence (Firenze) is a place to feast on world-class art and gourmet Tuscan cuisine.

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Must-see attractions.

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travel and leisure florence italy

For first-time and repeat visitors to Italy, Florence is a must-see destination. The capital city of the Tuscany region is known for its Renaissance-era artistic treasures, world-class art museums, and the colorful history that unfolded here over the centuries. It's also a center for food and wine lovers with the culinary wealth of Tuscany in its backyard. A model Italian city and also a very popular one with tourists, Florence is a delight to visit.

Planning Your Trip

Best Time to Visit :  More than five million people visit Florence each year   and the city is at its most crowded and its hottest in June, July, and August, when family travelers, tour groups, and summer abroad students pack the city. Spring and fall are still very busy seasons, but offer breaks from the heat, but fall especially can be rainy. Winters in Florence range from mild to bitterly cold, though crowds are greatly diminished.

Language:  Italian is the first language in Florence and the city's dialect was the basis of standard Italian.   That said, shop owners and hotel and restaurant workers generally speak at least a little bit of English, and often French and German as well.

Currency:  Florence and all of Italy uses the euro, and other currencies are not accepted. Credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are accepted everywhere, with the exception of most street food stalls and smaller, independent merchants. It's always a good idea to have cash on hand when visiting Florence's many food and craft markets. Note that American Express and Diner's Club are less widely accepted in Italy. Be sure to confirm in advance with your hotel or restaurant if you intend to pay with these cards.

Getting Around:  The vast majority of Florence's attractions are in the flat, walkable centro storico (historic center), home to the Duomo and designated a UNESCO Heritage site in 1982  . So walking is the most practical means of getting around, with most points of interest being no more than 20 minutes from one another. If your feet need a break, small buses, run by ATAF, ply the centro storico , as do horse-drawn carriages, which gather near the Duomo to wait for passengers. Two tram lines connect to the airport and to points west of the city. We advise against renting a car or driving in Florence as parking is scarce and expensive, streets are difficult to navigate, and it's very easy to get a traffic ticket for inadvertently driving in a zone closed to traffic.

Travel Tip:  If you are set on visiting Florence's most popular museums (see below), you should absolutely reserve your tickets in advance, otherwise you could spend hours waiting in line. For visiting the Duomo, including climbing to the dome or up Giotto's Bell Tower, plan to arrive first thing in the morning to beat both the heat and crowds.

Things to Do

Visitors come to Florence for its high Renaissance art and architecture, including masterpieces of Italian painting and sculpture by artists such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Donatello, and Ghiberti. As a long-time artisanal center, Florence is also known for its leather goods, which can be purchased in open-air markets or small shops. Florence is also foodie heaven, with wine bars, trattorias, fine dining restaurants, and street food vendors tempting visitors with the bounty of the Tuscan countryside, including its hearty red wines.

  • Museums: Art lovers will not want to miss the Uffizi Gallery , home to Botticelli's "Birth of Venus," among thousands of other famous works. The Accademia Gallery is home to Michelangelo's sculpture of David, one of the most iconic in the world. The Bargello, Museo di San Marco and the Pitti Palace also contain famous, priceless collections.
  • Markets: For leather goods, the San Lorenzo Outdoor Market is the place to shop and haggle a bit, while the adjacent Mercato Centrale offers a dazzling array of shops selling produce, meats, cheeses, and everything edible. Mercato Nuovo, near Piazza della Signoria, also features leather goods, but prices are better at San Lorenzo.
  • Churches and Landmarks: Plan to visit Florence's massive Duomo , perhaps opting to climb either the dome or the neighboring Bell Tower. See the history-filled Piazza della Signoria and the Palazzo Vecchio before walking across Florence's oldest bridge, the Ponte Vecchio to explore the colorful neighborhoods of Oltrarno, "the other side of the Arno."
  • Explore more things to do with our full-length articles on the  top sights and attractions in Florence , the  best free things to do in Florence,  and our month-by-month guide to what's on in Florence .

What to Eat and Drink

As the capital of Tuscany, Florence benefits from the agricultural riches of the region, making it a great destination for excellent food and wine. Meals are typically meat-heavy, with Bistecca alla Fiorentina , a thick T-bone steak, occupying the top of the food chain. Cured meats like prosciutto and mortadella appear on platters of mixed appetizers, called tagliere , along with regional cheeses, olives, and breads. Courageous eaters might want to try lampredotto or trippa , made from offal, organ meats of cows. Popular sweets include cantucci, almond biscuits enjoyed with coffee or sweet vin santo wine, and of course, gelato.

Tuscany is famous for its red wines, which naturally make their way into Florence's wine bars, enotecas, and restaurants. Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are among the region's most famous varieties, and Brunello, along with hybrid Super Tuscans, can command high prices. But don't turn up your nose at a modest house wine or inexpensive bottle of red or white—these are often good quality and highly drinkable. Finish your meal with a small glass of vin santo , Tuscany's popular dessert wine.

For wine bars where you can sample different types of wine while snacking on local specialties, head to the Santo Spirito, San Niccolò, or San Frediano, the less touristy zones south of the Arno River.

Explore our articles on  the best restaurants in Florence, the best Tuscan wine tours , and the best gelato in Florence .

Where to Stay

Despite the glut of hotels, B&Bs, hostels, and Airbnb rentals in Florence, the city fills up in peak periods. So it's never a good idea to arrive in Florence without a room reserved. Budget hotels are clustered around the Santa Maria Novella train station , as well as into the adjacent San Lorenzo area. Prices, though not necessarily quality, go up the closer one gets to the Duomo. Luxury properties are all over the city, especially around Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza della Signoria. Visitors seeking a more locals' feel might want to head to Oltrarno, south of the Arno River, for apartment rentals and B&Bs.

Consider our recommendations for the best hotels in Florence, or for something farther afield, the best castle hotels in Tuscany .

Getting There

If your trip to Italy includes more than one city or region, chances are you'll arrive in Florence on a train . The majority of trains call at Santa Maria Novella station, abbreviated Firenze SMN, the main transport hub of the city. There are dozens of trains arriving and departing daily for Rome, Venice, Milan, and destinations across Italy. Flights to Florence arrive at Florence (Firenze) Peretola , a small airport just outside of town. Note that if your flight arrives at Pisa (sometimes referred to as Pisa/Florence airport), you'll have a 90-minute trip to get to Florence.

If you've rented a car in Italy and are driving to Florence, be sure to get very specific instructions from your hotel on how to reach the property and where to park your car. Florence is a minefield for traffic tickets, since so many of the streets in its centro are pedestrian-only, one-way, or open only to local traffic. Wherever you stay in the city, plan on parking your car when you arrive and leaving it there until the end of your stay.

For more on train travel in Italy, see our articles on getting around Italy by rail and what to know about traveling by train in Italy .

Culture and Customs

Because Florentines are so accustomed to tourists, there aren't any hard and fast customs that you need to adhere to while here, other than basic good conduct and respect for the city. As in the rest of Italy, that means no dipping your feet or other body parts in fountains, no matter how hot it is outside, dressing modestly in churches and other religious structures, avoiding public drunkenness, and generally, just behaving like a decent human being.

Some other tips to keep in mind in Florence:

  • Dinner is eaten later in Italy, especially in the summertime. Most restaurants won't start serving until 7:30 p.m. or so, and may not fill up until 9 p.m.
  • Your waiter won't bring you the check (" il conto ") unless you ask for it.
  • Tap water is not served in Italy, so bottled water it is.
  • If " servizi " or " pane e coperto " is listed on your restaurant bill, this counts as a tip. If your server has been particularly attentive or helpful, don't hesitate to leave a few euros on the table.
  • Keep an eye on your personal belongings at all times, especially on the crowded Ponte Vecchio, in busy markets and even in crowded museums. Don't leave your bags under your table or chair while dining or hanging off the back of your chair in a busy area.
  • While most everyone working in hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions and shops speaks some English, it's always polite and appreciated to offer a few basic niceties in Italian, such as buongiorno (good day), per favore (please) and grazie (thank you).
  • Read more about customs and culture in Italy with our list of 10 things not to do on your Italian vacation.

Money Saving Tips

Florence is not one of Italy's most expensive cities but it's certainly not its cheapest. Follow these tips for saving a few euros on your visit:

  • Travel in the off-season , when hotel prices are markedly lower.
  • Lunch on the go: A piece of focaccia or schiacciata , a crunchy pizza bread stuffed with Italian cold cuts, cheese, and vegetables makes for a cheap, filling lunch.
  • Hit the side streets: Dining or even getting gelato on Florence's main streets and piazzas is going to cost you, and your meal might be memorable only because of the price tag. Instead, explore the narrow side streets and hole-in-the-wall eateries and gelaterias, where you'll eat better and spend less.
  • Read more about how to visit Florence on a budget .

Statista. "Number of Tourist Arrivals in the Italian City of Florence From 2012 to 2019." May 27, 2020.

Encyclopedia Britannica. "Italian Language."

UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "Historic Centre of Florence."

Free Things to See and Do in Florence

Tuscany Guide: Planning Your Trip

20 Best Things to Do in Florence, Italy

Florence Italy Travel Guide

The Top Neighborhoods to Explore in Florence, Italy

Siena Guide: Planning Your Trip

48 Hours in Florence: The Ultimate Itinerary

The 15 Best Destinations in Italy

The 14 Best Day Trips from Rome

A Travel Guide for Italy's Forte dei Marmi

The Top 23 Things to Do in Italy

Learn to Cook on Your Italian Vacation

Your Trip to Milan: The Complete Guide

Pisa Guide: Planning Your Trip

Your Trip to Rome: The Complete Guide

Venice, Italy Guide: Planning Your Trip

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Home » Europe » Italy » Florence

An Honest Guide to Florence, Italy – From a True Fan of the City

Florence is one of the most popular cities to visit in Italy and for very good reasons: its Renaissance architecture, superlative art, and unwavering devotion to food have all made Florence an international sensation. People travel from all over the globe for a chance to experience Florentine culture, regardless of how much it may cost.

Yes, Florence can be pretty expensive these days, not to mention, very crowded. In the summer, the city is sometimes completely overrun by tourists and there are times where you’ll see more college students than actually Florentines.

BUT Florence is still worth visiting! You just have to know what to do, when to go, and what is really essential to the city.

This Florence travel guide is designed to help you get the most out of your trip and, at the same time, save a buck or two. We’ll cover an array of subjects from lodging to dining to what to see in Florence on any budget. It is my goal to show you a different side of this city and to give the means to really appreciate its splendor.

So let’s not waste time; this is the real way to experience Florence next time you visit!

How Much Does a Trip to Florence Cost? 

Backpacker accommodation in florence, what to do in florence, florence travel guide – a sample itinerary, florence travel guide – extra tips and tricks, eating and drinking in florence – the best food and restaurants, some final thoughts from this florence travel guide….

Visiting Florence on a budget is 100% possible. You just gotta know where to look for the best deals, how to spot a potential rip-off, and how to make your own pasta every now and then. Easy, right?

Florence, like the rest of Italy, can be expensive if you’re reckless with your money. Booking lavish hotel rooms, eating out every night, and buying expensive drinks at the bar will deplete your funds if you’re not careful enough.

travel and leisure florence italy

If you plan on visiting Florence on the cheap, you could probably do so for around $40-$60/day.  You will need to be a tough backpacker though. Here are some things to consider:

  • Lodging : Lodging in Florence can be pretty expensive, especially when it’s located in the historical center. Even hostels in Florence can be more than than $20/night, at least for the decent ones. Hotels and apartments will obviously be more ($60-$100/night).
  • Transportation : You can easily see Florence on foot so don’t worry much about transportation expenses. When you do use the bus, buy from a local tobacco shop instead of the driver – you’ll save a euro doing so.
  • Food : If you eat in restaurants near the city center, you will get overcharged. If you stick to the cozy, hidden osteria and trattoria, dishes can be as low as 8-9 euros. Also, groceries and produce are cheap in Italy. 
  • Drink : Beer, wine, and cocktails are about 5-8 euros when bought in the touristy neighborhoods of Florence. You can buy booze much cheaper in the local shops.
  • Attractions : It’s never cheap to visit the museums in Florence. If you want to see David at the Accademia Gallery or the Birth of Venus at Uffizi, both cost you 20+ euros each.

Average Costs of a Trip to Florence

Here’s a breakdown of individual costs when formulating a daily budget in Florence:

Hostel Dormitory: $20-$30

Basic hotel room for two: $60-$100

AirBnB/temp apartment: $60-$100

Average cost of public transport: $1.50-$2.50

City-Airport transfer: $6.50-$9

Sandwich: $5-$7

Beer at a bar: $4-$6

Coffee: $1.50-$3

Bottle of wine from the market: $6-$8

Dinner for two: $40-$50

Florence Budget Travel Tips

  • Buy cheap booze at the shops: Drinking in public is legal in Italy and everyone does it. You’ve never really been to Italy either until you’ve drank a Moretti on some church steps.
  • When eating out in Florence: Stick to local osterie (taverns) and trattorie (informal restaurants) where prices are usually more reasonable. Avoid eating in the center of Florence at all costs.
  • Find free walking tours in Florence : Or just make your own tour using this Florence travel guide!
  • Cook your own food sometimes: Hostels and some apartments come with kitchens; use them. Your own special spaghetti will be way cheaper than that mediocre one in a restaurant. (Just don’t leave the pasta sitting on the table without the sauce; rookie mistake!)
  • Buy a Firenze Pass : If you intend on visiting a lot of galleries and museums in Florence, you’re probably better off with one of these. It allows free entry to many of the best museums in Florence and you’ll save more money in the end. Note that you will still have to make reservations for the top sights in Florence, like Bruneleschi’s Dome.
  • Stay outside the historical center : It may seem inconvenient walking the extra 5-10 minutes, but it may be worth the extra money saved on hotels in Florence. The city isn’t that big either so you shouldn’t be too far away from the main attractions.
  • Take advantage of aperitivo: you can get some really good deals on wine and snacks with these. I myself have been known to make a dinner out of two or three.
  • Have a water bottle: Don’t waste money on plastic, bottled waters; carry your own and refill it in the fountains and the tap.

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Florence is not a big city. Most of the city’s top attractions are located within 15-minutes walk of one another. No matter which neighborhood in Florence you choose to stay in, you’ll never be too far away from the action. 

The central areas of Florence – San Marco, Duomo, and Santa Croce – are where the grand majority of tourists stay. Many of the best things to see in Florence are located in these districts as well. This means that prices will be highest in these areas. 

If you want to stay in Florence on a budget, try looking for accommodation in the outer districts. Santo Spirito, Santa Maria, Annuziato, and Sant’Ambrogio are all more affordable than staying in the centre. 

travel and leisure florence italy

Hotels in Florence will obviously be the most expensive choice. I don’t much care for hotels but, that being said, there are still some hidden gems in the city. 

I prefer staying in a local Airbnbs over hotels – they usually have more character and nicer hosts. Just remember to check the terms of the apartment and to see if you have to pay extra city taxes.

The cheapest places to stay in Florence are still hostels. There are several good ones in the city although most are located on the edges of the city center.

If you want to spend even less money, you may find success by staying at one of the campgrounds outside of Florence. Some, like the glamping site at Firenze Camping in Town, are easily accessible thanks to nearby bus lines. Others may be in the middle of nowhere, which means you’ll probably need a car (or be good at hitchhiking).

Refer below for some suggested places to stay in the city. If you need more information, then head over to Florence accommodation guide for more information!

The Best Places to Stay in Florence

Are you wondering  which is the best part of Florence to stay in?  Well, let me give you a few suggestions.


Home to the epic dome at Santa Maria del Fiore, which is the tourist center of the city. Lots of cafes, bars, and restaurants surround this landmark.

San Marco, Florence

A more residential area that is a bit farther away but is also cheaper. Still plenty of activities and restaurants around.

San Spirito San Frediano, Florence

San Spirito/San Frediano

Located on the other side of the Arno River, this neighborhood is full of cool bars and local haunts. Students and locals love to come here and sit in the piazzas.

Basilica of Santa Croce

Santa Croce

A tucked-away area very close to the Duomo but equally as interesting. Packed with activities, bars, and restaurants. Also, closer to the Arno.

Santa Maria Novella

Santa Maria Novella

A well-connected part of the city that is close to all of Florence’s main attractions. Busy and bustling.

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1. Find a calcio fiorentino match and brace yourself

I guarantee that you will not see one of these on ANY casual sightseeing tours of Florence. Calcio Fiorentina is the original sport in Florence and is very rough to watch. The game, which is a cross between rugby and football, involves a lot of hard physical contact and there is almost always blood. For a real Florentine experience, try and visit one of these in the summer.

2. Have a sundowner at Piazzale Michelangelo

This is my – and probably a lot of other people’s – favorite way to end their day in Florence. The Piazzale Michelangelo has, unquestionably, the best view in the city as the Duomo is literally smack dab in front of your face. Sitting on the steps and drinking a beer with friends makes the experience truly worthwhile and really puts the icing on your trip.

3. Eat some more at the Mercato di San Lorenzo

The Mercato di San Lorenzo is the largest market in Florence and probably the coolest as well. Inside this cavernous space, you will find all kinds of local products from fresh prosciutto to fruit to leather goods and more. Conveniently, there is a large, modern bar located inside as well; take a break from shopping with a glass of wine whenever. 

peppers lambs ear wooden boxes italy

4. Get in line early for All’antico Vinaio 

There are people that travel to Florence just for this establishment. The sandwiches at All’antico Vinaio are legendarily delicious. This place is so well-regarded that it was actually voted one of the most reviewed restaurants in the world . So it goes without saying that you’ll need to arrive early if want to eat here. 

5. See everything at the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

No Florentine travel guide would be complete without mentioning the all-mighty Doors to Paradise and the cathedral attached to them. The Cathedral of Santa Maria de Fiore hosts probably the most iconic dome in the world and experiencing it is practically a rite of passage for those backpacking in Italy . It would be a tragedy to miss visiting this landmark.

6. Yes, you have to walk across the Ponte Vecchio

Among the most iconic sites in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio ranks up there near the top. It is a symbol of the city, which means that it is very popular and very touristy. Whilst it is a really cool bridge, the crowds here can be horrible and the local shopkeepers can be overly adament.  You should still visit the Ponte Vecchio, but do so once and then move along to other things.

travel and leisure florence italy

7. Visit the Cappella Brancacci – one of the most underrated attractions in Florence

This chapel isn’t on most people’s must see in Florence, Italy list. Hell, I’m sure most people don’t even know what it is! The Cappella Brancacci is a hidden gem; one of the most underrated and unknown Renaissance masterpieces in the world. It’s half the price of most museums in Florence and attracts a fraction of the crowds. To me, both those qualities are winning. 

8. Have a drink in Santo Spirito 

By day, Spirito Santo is a calm area that is composed of little more than a church and a piazza. By night though, it’s a totally different scene. Santa Spirto is the place where all the locals go to drink late-night and is full of energy at this time. Even if I only have three days in Florence, I always make an effort to go here. 

9. Take a Medici tour

If you really want to understand Florence, then you need to understand its most important family: the Medici. As rulers of Renaissance Florence, the Medici were responsible for many of the city’s greatest achievements, including but not limited to Santa Maria de Fiore and the Palazzo Vecchio. See all the Medici sites in Florence and will become a master of the city yourself.

10. Visit at least one museum (just be careful of the prices)

Some of the most significant art in the Western World is housed in Florence. The Uffizi, Bargello, Palazzo Vecchio, San Marco, and Accademia all have excellent collections and all are worth visiting. But going to all of these institutions will also be expensive, especially for those backpacking in Florence.

I suggest doing some research and choosing one or two museums that you really want to see. For example, I find the Uffizi to be more worth the investment than the Accademia where the Statue of David is found. I figure that if I wanted to see a white dude with a small dick, I’ll just look in the mirror and save twenty euros. 

Editor’s Note: Yes, the author really did write this last part himself and, yes, I don’t think he gives a shit.

Day Trips from Florence 

One of the best parts about visiting Florence is the fact that you’re actually in Tuscany. Though it’s been the center of attention for a while and can seem overrun with wine snobs at times, Tuscany is totally worth the hype. It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in Italy and is totally worth exploring.

Tuscany Italy San Gimignano Historic Center

Here a couple of ideas for day trips from Florence :

  • Sienna: Former independent republic and everyone’s favorite Tuscan town. Sienna is most famous for its Paleo races in August, which put the Kentucky Derby to shame. If you visit during this time, get ready for a madhouse. You’ll also find plenty of Italian yoga retreats in this part of Italy.
  • Pisa : Famous for the Leaning Tower (partake in selfies at your own risk) but Pisa is so much more. The Duomo de Pisa, located literally next to the tower, is way cooler. May favorite panineria in Italy, Il Porci Comodi, is also here. Finally, being a student town, the nightlife ain’t too shabby either. 
  • Viareggio : If you’re visiting Florence in February, you HAVE to make a trip to Viareggio to see the local Carnival. The townsfolk make giant, intricately crafted floats for the festival and there is almost always a Donald Trump themed one.
  • Val d’Orcia : This is the place that everyone imagines Tuscany to look like. Winding roads, rolling hills, rows of trees; Val d’Orcia is the poster child for the region. Montepulciano is lauded for its brunello wine while Bagni San Filipo as some awesome travertine hot springs.
  • San Gimignano : Probably the prettiest village in Tuscany, thanks to its many delicate towers and crumbling medieval fortifications. San Gimignano also has its own local vernaccia grapes soooooo there’s a good excuse to get drunk at the wineries!

Need help deciding between Florence or Venice ? Check out our helpful guide.

Wondering how many days to spend in Florence? Three days should be more than enough! Refer below for our suggested itinerary on how to see this city in a reasonable amount of time.

Day 1: The First Things to See in Florence!

Most people will arrive in Florence around mid-day – either by train or by flight. This means that the mornings will be quick and that you’ll have to hit the ground running to see the top sights in Florence!

On the first day of this Florence travel guide, we’ll visit many important locations. Much of the day will be for wandering, which I believe is one of the best ways to see Florence!

Hermaphrodite in Florence

Morning: Check into your accommodation and drop of your bags. Pack a daypack and then head to the nearest cafe for a jolt of energy. Buy a cafe, a snack, and get ready; today is the first of three awesome days in Florence! 

Early-Afternoon: Start off by visiting one of the city’s many museums. There are a lot to choose from and, unless you have a Firenze Pass, I suggest you stick to one or two. The Uffizi and Academmia are good choices – the former has the Birth of Venus and the latter has the Statue of David. Don’t forget to make reservations for these though!

Late-Afternoon: Take a break and grab some Florentine street food. The local favorite is lampredotto – a sandwich stuffed with tripe (it’s better than it sounds.)

Evening: Spend the early-evening wandering amongst Florence’s many piazze . Visiting the Piazza della Signoria is an absolute must do in Florence as you’ll see many of the most iconic locations in the city, like the Palazzo Vecchio and Loggia dei Lanzi. Finish with an aperitivo .

Night: Head to a local Tuscan osteria for dinner. Order something hearty, like a bistecca fiorentina , because you’ll need a fortified stomach for the evening. After dinner, head to Santo Spirito for drinks and the chance to immerse yourself in Florence’s best nightlife!

Day 2: The Best of Florence!

The second of our three days in Florence is focused on one place: the glorious Duomo and Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. No trip to Florence is complete without seeing these religious and architectural wonders!

travel and leisure florence italy

Morning: There are tours of the Duomo in Florence throughout the day. If you’re feeling a little haggard, wake up at your leisure and then head out when ready. Note that on Sundays the church is only open after 15:00.

Early-Afternoon: Spend the whole afternoon exploring the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Gawk at the gilded frescoes in the baptistry; climb to the top of Brunelesci’s Dome (there are over 450 steps!); see former Florentine remains in the crypt; spend as much time as you want here! All of these places are accessible with a Cumulative Ticket.

Late-Afternoon: Take a leisurely walk south towards the Arno River. On the way, be sure to drop by the Fontana del Porcellino, home to the bronze statue of the Porcellino Little Boar). Rub its snout for good luck! Once you reach the river, head across the iconic Ponte Vecchio and window shop along the way – the hawkers will be in full force here. 

Evening: Make for the Giardino delle Rose and Piazzale Michelangelo. The former is a lovely rose garden while the latter offers the best views in Florence. Having a beer and watching the sun go down at the Piazzale Michelangelo is a must do in Florence! Be sure to get there early to grab a seat.

Night: Relax, have a nice meal in a quiet spot, and don’t go crazy. Tomorrow is a long day so it may not be a good idea to go out to the bars in Florence tonight.

Day 3 in Florence: Let’s make a daytrip!

Florence is not such a big place; by day three, you may have seen most of its biggest attractions. Granted, there is always something to do in Florence but I think it may be a better use of your time to explore the surrounding area.

Tuscany is a gorgeous region and there are lots of cool places to visit here. We’ve already broken down some of our favorite day trips from Florence; in this section, we’re going to stick to just two: Siena and the Val d’Orcia.

spiderman italy street sign

Morning: Pick up a rental car in Florence and get ready for a road trip. Whilst some backpackers may hesitate to spend money on a car, having one is really the best way to appreciate the Tuscan countryside.

Early-Afternoon: Make a b-line for Siena, which is located about 90 minutes south of Florence by car. Once you arrive in the city, be sure to visit the Duomo of Siena and the Piazza del Campo – both are close to one another. Have some lunch at a local osteria or eat a packed one before leaving town.

Late-Afternoon: Depart from Siena and continue south for another hour to reach the Val d’Orcia. This is quintessential Tuscan scenery, which means lots of rolling hills, tree-lined country roads, vineyards, and tourists. Just drive around and find your favorite spot. Here are some tips for taking photos in Tuscany .

Evening: After sunset, make your back to Florence. If you have the time, make a detour into the Monti del Chianti region, which is famous for the eponymous chianti wine. Drop by a local winery for some samples and dinner though please remember not to drink too much. Drinking and driving is frowned upon in Italy.

Night: Return to Florence, pack your bags, and reflect upon an amazing trip!

This is only one of many possible routes; read about some more by checking out our Florentine itinerary post!

Learn more about what to expect when visiting Florence by reading the following sections!

Best Time of Year to Visit Florence

Florence has a very ideal climate, even by Itailian standards. Winters are short, summers are long, and spring and autumn are absolutely perfect. Rain comes and goes but is never around for too long. Those planning a trip to Florence will have a very large window to visit the city so don’t feel pressured!

Summer is the most popular time to visit Florence. Lots of people imagine Florence to be in top form during this time; with long days and balmy evenings, the mood in Florence should be heightened. In reality, summers in Florence are horrible. The crowds are massive, prices are high, and the temperature is sometimes unbearable. Florence is actually one of the hottest Italian cities and temperatures regularly go above 100 degree F in July and August. 

The absolute best time to visit Florence is in the spring . During this time, the temperature is mild and the city is bursting with bloomage. The hills of Tuscany are lush as well and during this time they take on their quintessential green color. Prices are also reasonable up until late-May. 

travel and leisure florence italy

Autumn is also a great time to travel to Florence . September is the month of the harvest, which means there will be lots of wine and food festivals both in and outside the city. Temperatures are still mildly warm as well and stay so until around November.

Florence in the winter can also be fun! This is a great time to bury yourself in the local osterie and to keep yourself warm with a good glass of chianti or some porchetta . The museums will also be less crowded although they’re never really quiet in Florence.

For information on what to bring, be sure to refer to our Italian packing list guide.  

Want to Study Something in Florence?

Studying can be expensive, but with Global Work and Travel , you can pay in instalments and it’ll fit nicely into any itinerary. You can study either coffee making or cooking in Florence for a week or two weeks. Then, take this new skill home with you to impress the neighbours or woo your future spouse.

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Getting In and Out of Florence

There are several ways to travel to Florence:

  • By plane – Florence has one major airport (Peretola) located about 20 minutes outside of the city center. Regular buses connect the airport with the city. Note that not many people actually use Florence’s airport – most fly into more well-connected ones like Rome and Bologna and then transfer to Florence. As such, airline tickets for Florence may be more expensive than necessary.
  • By train – Train travel is, hands-down, the best way to get around Italy. Florence’s primary train station is conveniently located close to the historical center as well so you can start exploring the city in no time. Just be sure to buy your train ticket ahead of time – prices go up quickly as the departure date approaches.
  • By car – We’ll go into this in more detail in the next section, but if you’re driving to Florence then you’ll need to leave your car in the outer areas of town. Driving is restricted in the historical center so there’s no point in trying to park there. The best parking in Florence can be found near the outer metro stations, like Scandicci.
  • By bus – Traveling to Florence by bus is cheaper than trains and is pretty similar in comfort. Italian buses are modern, comfortable, and convenient. Taking a bus to Florence is ultimately very convenient and highly recommended. Check out prices on Flixbus using the link below.

How to Get Around Florence

Much to its credit, Florence is one of the few European cities to ban motorized traffic in the city center. The no-car zone is called the ZTL Zone in Florence . In these areas ( refer to this Google map for more info) cars will either not be allowed to drive or will be fined heavily for doing so. For those drivers who think they can sneak by: there are cameras everywhere so don’t think you’re  not being watched. Touristy areas also mean more cops that can spot you. 

If you have a car and are wondering then where to park in Florence, you have two options:

  • Stay closer to the city center but pay to park.
  • On the outskirts of the city near the tram lines where parking is usually free.

The metro station at Scandicci has a large parking lot where you can leave your car overnight. If you’re spending three or so days in Florence, park your car here and then take the tram into the city. Trust me, you won’t need a car in Florence, ever.

Once you’ve actually made it to the center, the best way to see Florence is just by walking. The city center is pretty small and all of Florence’s must-see attractions are fairly close to one another. You could maybe even walk across the entire center if you make a b-line. 

travel and leisure florence italy

The only kind of vehicles that are allowed in the heart of Florence are taxis and hotel transports. Most of the drivers have an annoying habit of sneaking up and then scaring the shit out of you with the horn. To avoid the ire of the dickish drivers, try not to stand in the middle of roads aimlessly while taking photos and just be aware of any subtle beeping sounds behind you.

Safety in Florence

Florence is not a dangerous city by any means. Violence rarely, if ever, happens here and if it does it’s completely removed from tourists. Not having to worry about traffic makes Florence doubly safe and frankly I can’t think of any situation where your life would be in danger (besides drunkenly jumping from the Ponte Vecchio). 

That being said, the pickpockets in Florence are particularly talented. A good thief will be able to open your backpack, grab your wallet, and get away without you even noticing. All of Italy suffers from this problem unfortunately so don’t feel like you’re putting yourself at any more risk than usual.

Pickpockets prey upon stupid and unsuspecting tourists. The key to beating them is to a) not look a victim and b) have a backup plan just in case. If you look confident and like you have your shit straight, a lot of thieves will leave you alone and look for easier targets. Some might still go for you, in which case having a money belt would be the ultimate deterrent. 

Not all cons come from crooks either – a lot of reputable businesses may also try to rob you and by that I mean overcharge for something as basic as a coffee or bread bowl. Shady taxi drivers, dickish restaurant owners, souvenir hawkers; not all of these people live to make sure you have the best trip in Florence. 

Not everyone in Florence is necessarily out to get you though! The grand majority are lovely! The key to avoiding the bad ones is simply doing a little online research and checking your bill before you pay.

Travel Insurance for Florence

Traveling without insurance would be risky so do consider getting good backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure.

I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.

If there’s one insurance company I trust, it’s World Nomads.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

travel and leisure florence italy

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Tips for Saving Money on Accommodation in Florence

Sometimes you need your own roof above your head – we know the feeling. Other times, you’re doing everything you can save a nickel and dime.

If you’re trying to the cut the costs of travel to Florence, then maybe it’s time to stay somewhere besides a hostel or apartment. If you need to save money, try one of these:

Couchsurf! – Couchsurfing is the best way to save on cash when it comes to accommodation since most of the time you’re crashing for free. Staying with a local host is also a great chance to experience a more authentic side of the city and to visit hidden Florence.

Problem is couchsurfing is really popular (duh, it’s free) and demand often outstrips supply. Hosts are picky as well so you’ll need to impress them with an eye-catching message. Definitely try couchsurfing but be ready to be rejected.

Tap into your backpacker network – You never know when you have a friend in a foreign city! If you’ve traveled a lot, you may have met someone from Florence or know someone who knows someone.

Reach out to people! Ask to stay with people for a night or two in exchange for cooking dinner or a bottle of wine. If you don’t know anyone in the city, ask your friends if they do – travelers understand the struggle and are usually more helpful than you think.

backpacking with dogs in tents

Camping – Urban camping is a growing trend in many cities. These campsites are comfortable, sociable, safe, and cheap. They are often located on the outskirts of town, which means they are quieter too. Research to see if Florence as any and be sure to bring your own tent too !

Some Extra Free Things to Do in Florence

travel and leisure florence italy

If you intend on visiting Florence on a budget, you will need several tools at your disposal. Taking advantage of the many free activities around the city is one such method that will you help you save lots of cash. Here are some potential free things to do in Florence:

  • Go on a free walking tour in Florence: Whilst technically you could do this yourself if armed with the proper guidebook or travel guide for Florence (nudge, nudge), reaching out to a local expert would also be good. The people at Florence Free Tour offer four walks per day in both English and Spanish.Go on a free walking tour in Florence: Whilst technically you could do this yourself if armed with the proper guidebook or travel guide for Florence (nudge, nudge), reaching out to a local expert would also be good. The people at Florence Free Tour offer four walks per day in both English and Spanish.
  • First Sundays: Many museums have free entry on the first Sunday of every month between October and March. Check out the list here!
  • Visit the original Last Supper(s) : Few people know that Da Vinci wasn’t the first to paint the legendary scene depicting Jesus and his acolytes. There were several Florentine painters who attempted this first. Refer to VisitFlorence’s page to see them all. (Kudos to them for bringing this to my attention.)
  • See the chapel of Santa Maria de Firenze: Whilst many of the facilities at Santa Maria de Firenze require paid-entry, the main chapel is still free to enter. From the inside, you will be able to see the marvelous fresco of the dome still.
  • Admire the statues at Loggia dei Lanzi: It’s not the Uffizi, but the selection of sculptures at the outdoor gallery of Loggia dei Lanzi is still impressive. The statues are reproductions but damn good ones at that.
  • The sweet smells of Santa Maria Novella’s pharmacy: Pop in for a moment to get a whiff of the tonics and tinctures at the church’s private pharmacy. This place has been creating remedies for over 400 years!

Books to Read Before Visiting Florence

If you need a little extra info to supplement our Florence travel guide, try reading one of these books on the city!

  • The Prince : The groundbreaking essay about socio-political dynamics as outlined by the original master manipulator, Niccolo Machiavelli. To this day, The Prince is still one of the most relevant pieces of literature concerning politics and how to take advantage of them. Machiavelli was born and died in Florence during the era of the Florentine Republic. 
  • The Divine Comedy : One of the most important pieces of literature ever written in the Western World. The Divine Comedy was the first to ever describe in detail in the supposed levels of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. It’s author, Dante Alighieri, is perhaps the greatest Italian writer in history and lived in Florence most of his life.
  • Under the Tuscan Sun: A travel novel that is partly responsible for Tuscany’s massive tourist appeal. Concerns a couple who spend a summer renovating a villa in the countryside.
  • The History of the Renaissance World: Florence helped give birth to the period of the Italian Renaissance – a period of history that served as a pivot from the Medieval era to the Modern one. Though there are lots of books about the Renaissance, this one comes highly recommended. 
  • The House of Medici : The Medici Family and the city of Florence are practically synonymous – you cannot understand one without knowing the other. This book does a good job explaining the Medici’s role in Renaissance Florence.

As the capital of Tuscany, Florence takes gastronomy very, very seriously. Pork is treated with the utmost respect and wine is as revered like a holy saint. Those looking to go on a food tour in Florence should have no problems finding their way. 

Breakfast in Florence usually starts with a caffe normale (espresso) and a cornetto (croissant). Most Italians eat and drink whilst standing at the bar and you should do the same – some cafes in Florence may charge extra if you sit down at a table and order there.

Lunch is usually heavy on the carbs e.g. pasta, bread, and other things that keep people’s energy up. Following a big meal though, many Italians will take a 1-hour sonnellino (nap/break), especially on a hot day. Be prepared for shops to remain closed until 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

travel and leisure florence italy

Early evening is the time for the aperitivo . An aperitivo is a light snack usually accompanied by a glass of wine or spritz. Aperitivo prices are usually lower than normal; the best comparison I can make is that they are like the Italian version of happy hour. 

Dinner in Florence is late, usually around 9 in the evening. This is when you start to see many of the staples of Florentine cooking. Bistecca alla fiorentina , which is essentially a giant steak, is widely advertised on most menus in restaurants. Florence is also known for lampredotto or tripe. Though it may sound gross at first, it’s better than you think when served in a sandwich. 

Desert is, of course, the most important part of the meal for Italians and in Florence, it usually comes in the form of pastries or biscuits. Schiacciata fiorentina is a particularly beloved treat in Florence.

Nightlife in Florence

When I last visited Florence in summer, my girlfriend and I used to play a little game: every time we heard a foregin accent, we would pop into a cafe and take a shot. To this day, that is probably still the stupidest game we ever invented – within an hour we were wasted.

Now, that game was not much a testament to how many foreigners there are in Florence (there are a lot) but more to how easy it is to drink in Florence. There are little cafes and bars in every corner of the city; having a drinking is just a matter of popping into one for a moment! The fact that you can take your beer or negroni to-go in Florence is also really awesome.

Church Florence

The biggest nightlife in Florence is generally found in the city center. Much talked-about joints like Moyo, YAB , and The Blob are all found around Santa Croce and the Piazza del Republica. Whilst I personally don’t go for clubs myself, I can recommend visiting local-legend Lion’s Fountain . This is one of the most notorious college bars I’ve ever been to and is, for me, like a blast from my very hazily-remembered college past.

If you want to be with locals, then the best place to drink in Florence is Santo Spirito. During the day, this Florentine neighborhood is a quiet, unassuming area. At night though, the piazza erupts with natives and the mood becomes quite rowdy. Bars emerge from cracks in the walls and table magically appear in the square, although a lot of people choose to sit on the church steps instead. 

If you’ve reached this point and are still wondering whether or not Florence is worth visiting, then I can only say at this point: “GO!” Florence is totally worth the hype. Yes, it is crowded with tourists and, yes, almost every single corner of this city requires a ticket to see. That being said, none of these things should deter you. 

Boboli gardens

Florence is one of my favorite cities in Italy. It is gorgeous, hopelessly romantic, and imbued with an energy that you can’t really find anywhere else. I often remark that the feeling I get from Florence is what I expected from Paris in that this is one of the most culturally unmatched cities in the world. 

It doesn’t matter how many days you plan to spend in Florence – one, two, seven, twenty, whatever – just make sure you visit at least once in your life. You won’t regret it.

Before signing off, I wanted to share some last bits of information regarding responsible travel in Florence and how to possibly stay here for longer periods of time. Take a moment to consider the following… 

Volunteering in Florence

Long term travel is awesome. Giving back is awesome too. For backpackers looking to travel long-term on a budget in  Florence whilst making a real impact on local communities look no further than  Worldpackers . Worldpackers is an excellent platform  connecting travelers with meaningful volunteer positions throughout the world .

In exchange for a few hours of work each day, your room and board are covered.

wwoofing italy donkeys

Backpackers can spend long periods of time volunteering in an awesome place without spending any money. Meaningful life and travel experiences are rooted in stepping out of your comfort zone and into the world of a purposeful project.

Worldpackers opens the doors for work opportunities in hostels, homestays, NGOs, and eco-projects around the world. We’ve tried and approved them ourselves – check out our Worldpackers in-depth review here.

If you’re ready to create a life-changing travel experience and give back to the community, join the Worldpacker community now. As a Broke Backpacker reader, you’ll get a special discount of $10. Just use the discount code BROKEBACKPACKER and your membership is discounted from $49 a year to only $39.

travel and leisure florence italy

Worldpackers: connecting travellers with  meaningful travel experiences.

Make Money Online While Backpacking in Florence

Traveling in Italy long-term? Keen to make some cash when you are not exploring the country?

Teaching English online is a great way to earn a consistent income—from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection.

Depending on your qualifications (or your motivation to obtain qualifications like a TEFL certificate) you can teach English remotely from your laptop, save some cash for your next adventure, and make a positive impact on the world by improving another person’s language skills!

It’s a win-win! Check out this detailed article for everything you need to know to start  teaching English online .

Boboli gardens statue

In addition to giving you the qualifications to teach English online,  TEFL courses open up a huge range of opportunities and you can find teaching work all over the world. To find out more about TEFL courses and how you can teach English around the world, read my in-depth report on  teaching English abroad.

Broke Backpacker readers get a 50% discount on TEFL courses with  MyTEFL (simply enter the code PACK50), to find out more, please read my in-depth report on teaching English abroad.

Whether you are keen to teach English online or looking to take your teaching game a step further by finding a job teaching English in a foreign country, getting your TEFL certificate is absolutely a step in the right direction.

Being a Responsible Traveler in Florence

Reduce your plastic footprint:  Perhaps the best thing you can do for our planet is to make sure you do NOT add to the plastic problem all over the world. Don’t buy one-use water bottles, the plastic ends up in landfill or in the ocean. Instead, pack a  tough travel water bottle .

Go and watch A Plastic Ocean on Netflix – it’ll change how you view the plastic problem in the world; you need to understand what we are up against. If you think it doesn’t matter, get off my fucking site.

Don’t pick up single use plastic bags, you’re a backpacker – take your daypack if you need to go to the shop or run errands.

art Florence

Bear in mind, that many animal products in countries you travel through will not be ethically farmed and won’t be of the highest quality. I’m a carnivore but when I’m on the road, I only eat chicken. Mass-farming of cows etc leads to the rainforest being cut down – which is obviously a huge problem.

Need more guidance? – Check out our post on  how to be a responsible backpacker.

Visiting Florence, Italy will bring you ample opportunities to participate in debauchery, and it is very important to have fun, let loose, and get a bit wild at times. Most trips I have been on across the world have included at least a few mornings where I wake up knowing I went too far.

But there are some things that will put you in the category of a straight up jackass if you do them. Being super loud and obnoxious in a tiny hostel at 3 AM is a classic rookie mistake. Everyone in the hostel will hate you when you wake them up. Show your fellow travelers respect whilst traveling in Florence and anywhere else for that matter!

Florence is a beautiful place that has touched countless people, so let’s not mistreat it. It clearly inspired the makers of this video, which, not gonna lie, has made me cry (only) a few times.

travel and leisure florence italy

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Ralph Cope

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23 Best Hotels in Florence

By Nicky Swallow and Erica Firpo

Image may contain Restaurant Interior Design Indoors Building Architecture Cafeteria Window Furniture and Chair

For a small city, Florence has an astonishing variety of places in which to lay your sightseeing-weary head. Established international brands such as Belmond, St. Regis, and Four Seasons guarantee luxury, immaculate service, and a plethora of facilities. Stylish boutique hotels offer very personalized service and a discreet atmosphere, and charming, sometimes quirky B&Bs, often housed in lovely old palazzi, have bags of character and competitive prices. And while the pandemic put the brakes on tourism for a couple of years, there has since been a flurry of activity with new openings around every corner, and the visitor numbers to fill them .

It pays to do your research ahead of time and decide what you want, and where you want to be: Florence’s main sights are largely clustered in the compact Centro Storico, where the narrow cobbled lanes and pretty piazzas are awash with tourists most of the year. Choose a hotel in the center of the city if you want everything on your doorstep, but not if you are averse to crowds. Hotels on the banks of the Arno have rooms with wonderful river views, but they come with a hefty price tag. There are funkier places to stay in the uber-hip Oltrarno neighborhood, which is south of the river and home to a slew of interesting restaurants , independent boutiques, and a vibrant nightlife scene. Or head for the hills surrounding the city, where you’ll find some fabulous villa hotels—most with lovely gardens and pools—which offer the best of both worlds, especially in high season; you are within easy reach of the sights, yet removed from the worst of the crowds, heat and humidity. Here are our picks for the best hotels in Florence.

Read our complete Florence travel guide here .

Every hotel review on this list has been written by a Condé Nast Traveler journalist who knows the destination and has visited that property. When choosing hotels, our editors consider properties across price points that offer an authentic and insider experience of a destination, keeping design, location, service, and sustainability credentials top of mind. This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Italy Florence Hotel Hotel Savory

Hotel Savoy, A Rocco Forte Hotel Arrow

A drink on the terrace of the Hotel Savoy, overlooking the promenading crowds and vintage carousel in the Piazza della Repubblica, has long been a signature Florence experience. And it still is—though the setting is now new and improved. The iconic Rocco Forte property, first opened in 1893, re-opened in April 2018 after a six-month renovation with interiors re-imagined by Olga Polizzi (Director of Design for Rocco Forte Hotels, and sister of hotelier Sir Rocco Forte) and Laudomia Pucci (Image Director of the Emilio Pucci fashion house, and daughter of its founder.) With the renovation, the hotel reduced its number of rooms from 102 to 80; suites also come with upgraded amenities (like Illy espresso machines and, in some cases, balconies) and prime views (though most rooms look out onto the Duomo, the Piazza, or a charming side street), while all accommodations have a residential-style feel, shelves lined with books and flea market-sourced objets, interactive TVs, and top-of-the-line bedding.

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Hotel Palazzo Guadagni Arrow

This is one of Florence’s most charming three-stars. Renaissance-era Palazzo Guadagni stands on buzzing Piazza Santo Spirito, the focal point of life in this authentic Florentine neighborhood. Formerly the quirky Pensione Bandini (where E. M. Forster’s Lucy Honeychurch would have been quite at home), it has legions of long-standing fans, the sort of independent travelers who enjoy the echoes of old Florence and opt for timeless atmosphere over five star services. The lack of restaurants isn’t a problem as there is a wide choice of eating options in the immediate neighborhood. The breakfast buffet is laid out in a powder blue dining room with background classical music; it adds to the feel that you are part of an Edwardian novel. The loggia bar has a menu of cocktails, wines, and snacks in the evenings.

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25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino Arrow

The multi-million euro restoration of this monastery complex (and erstwhile bank headquarters) that concluded in 2021 gave a much-needed facelift to the central yet rather scruffy muddle of narrow streets around the church of San Paolino and its eponymous piazza. The café, retro Companion bar, and San Paolino restaurant have become popular hangouts with a mixed Florentine crowd, the Cinema Paradiso (brick vaulted ceiling, fireplace, and vintage sofas), holds regular screenings, the Sala delle Celeste Armonie with billiard table and selection of vinyl albums is a regular venue for meetings, and the Stanza di Bacco and adjacent wine cellar hosts private dinners.

A hotel room.

Hotel La Gemma Arrow

If you want to know what happens when a high-style Italian family puts their heads together on a hospitality project—in this case, four siblings and their mother; one with a background in fashion and another an expert in real estate—Hotel La Gemma is the result. It is a serene, design-minded oasis—for a town known for its ancient history, this is no dusty relic. Much like the rest of the hotel, the rooms feel like velvet-padded jewel boxes. The family loves the decadence of the Art Deco period—minimalism is not in their vocabulary—and the plush, willowy bends of everything in the room speak to that. Take advantage of the supremely convenient location to beat the hordes to the Duomo or Uffizi in the morning, if those are on your list. —Megan Spurrell

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Portrait Firenze

Portrait Firenze Arrow

On the Ponte Vecchio on the water, so not quite in the throes of the tourist crowds, Portrait Firenze is slick and stylish, modern with a twist of Florentine style. Inside are luxurious, contemporary designed suites that feel like you have stepped into a movie set where you are the fabulous protagonist in an equally fabulous film about being gorgeous and Italian. Design is modern Italian: think high quality materials, dark woods, light metals, all by Italy's top design firms—as well as hand-crafted pieces from Ferragamo. It's also super high-tech, but with white glove service. Everything is seamless, easily explained, and catered to you. You feel like you have your own personal concierge. Between that standard of attention and the view, it's worth it.

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The St. Regis Florence Arrow

There’s no shortage of elegant hotels in Florence , but something about The St. Regis keeps it a perennial favorite. It might be that, for a palazzo of 15th-century frescoes and crystal chandeliers, it is just so cozy, full of stained-glass-lit nooks in which to disappear for hours with a copy of La Repubblica . Of course, the Renaissance never feels far away. Filippo Brunelleschi, the brains behind the Duomo , designed the original palazzo in the early 1400s, and it became a hotel in 1866. If the exquisitely detailed cherubs on the ceiling of the Salone delle Feste ballroom could talk, they might tell tales that the wonderful staff here are mostly too tactful to divulge: of Botticelli and Amerigo Vespucci (the explorer who gave America its name), but also of Madonna and Keith Richards. Still, it’s not just the great and the good who are treated exquisitely: Clothes are magically unpacked and ironed, tickets awarded to skip the queues for the Diocesan Museum or Santa Maria del Fiore’s dome. Rooms, all brocades and canopied beds, mostly have views of the River Arno, while the Winter Garden restaurant is at the reverential end of Italian cooking, with dishes served under a great glass ceiling. Still, this is also a hotel that can let its hair down. Last Christmas, during the nightly Champagne ritual that kicks off with a waiter popping a bottle with a saber, a giant teddy bear was given pride of place by the fire. This is a hotel where the royal treatment is for everyone. —Sara Magro

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Il Tornabuoni Arrow

Located on Florence’s most elegant thoroughfare, Il Tornabuoni is a magnet for fashion mavens and travel types looking for a quieter address. Crisp and stylish interiors by Milanese Andrea Auletta give the property’s original bones new life without making the place feel cookie-cutter. The lovely frescoes in the Il Magnifico suite, for example, are delightful in their whimsy. The Lucie Gourmet restaurant feels like eating inside an Art Deco jewelry box, with its gilded mirrors and gemlike pinks and teals, while the Butterfly Terrace gives great views over the city—don’t miss an Aperol following sightseeing or a shopping spree. —Ondine Cohane

Italy Florence Hotel Four Seasons Hotel Firenze

Four Seasons Hotel Firenze Arrow

Unlike most other Four Seasons, the Firenze property stands out for its amazing, historic location. Set on 11 acres in a lush garden, it has a two-level, free-standing building on site that houses the spa, as well as a state-of-the-art gym and yoga studio. On the grounds is a lovely outdoor pool, and families should know that the Four Seasons children's program is robust and well-prepared. Slightly off the tourist trail in the Gherardesca gardens, rooms reside in two buildings: The Palazzo della Gherardesca, a converted 15th-century palace; and the Villa, a former 16th-century convent, now a 37-room hotel-within-a-hotel, with its own concierge. It's timeless and impeccable.

Italy Florence Hotel Antica Torre di via Tornabuoni 1

Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni 1 Arrow

Tornabuoni is a medieval tower in the very heart of Florence, within five minutes' walking distance of the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, and Ponte Vecchio. Renovated rooms give classical Tuscan design an update without abandonining tradition. You'll find hand-painted walls, restored parquet floors, rich pops of color, lovely brocades, modern four-poster beds, and, perhaps best of all, great views over one of Italy's most picturesque cities. Buffet breakfast is served on the sixth-floor terrace, which has a gorgeous view, and includes the usual—cereal, yogurt, fruit, pastries—plus grilled vegetables, quiches, eggs, and bruschetta. The Tower, the hotel's restaurant, is a popular spot for destination weddings. The view alone is worth it, but the top-quality service and style are an added bonus.

Italy Florence Hotel SoprArno

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The Oltrarno's boho, artisanal vibe makes it Florence's hottest neighborhood, and the SoprArno—occupying the top three floors of a townhouse—fits right into the hipster landscape. Rooms are filled with fabulous vintage finds, retro furniture, and original artwork that play off the townhouse's original architectural elements, including exposed wooden beams. All rooms are individually themed; for example, Viaggiatore, which means traveler, has gorgeous framed maps alongside well-designed furniture and huge beds. More guest house than hotel, don't miss breakfast—an excellent buffet with fresh pastries, fruit, and expert coffee—which is served in the ground-level Sott’Arno café, which is owned by SoprArno team Betty Soldi and Matteo Perduca. A local favorite, it's known for its great panini and gets busy in the afternoons and evenings.

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The Social Hub Florence Arrow

Offering great facilities, a young vibe, and a location that is in easy reach of the central sights, the well-priced Social Hub (formerly The Student Hotel) is not just for students. Occupying an entire corner block on the ring road that circles the west of the city center, the spot burst onto the scene in 2018. The 19 th -century building (20,000 square meters of ex-office space incorporating a spacious courtyard garden ) houses both long-term student accommodation and hotel rooms whose keen prices attract a real mix of savvy backpackers, older independent travelers, families, and hip young business folk. The bars and restaurants also attract locals who don’t want to battle with the traffic and parking problems in the centro storico. The neighborhood sits northwest of the city center, an area of imposing 19 th century palazzi (mostly converted into business premises), swirling traffic, and few residents, but it’s only two tram stops from Santa Maria Novella train station from where there is easy access to everything you will want to see and do.

Grand Hotel Minerva

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A rooftop heated pool with 360-degree views of Florence’s Duomo and other city icons? Sign us up. But there’s more: Art Deco-appointed rooms in a stately but welcoming 13th-century palazzo that was designed by modern genius Carlo Scarpa in the 1950s and given a light but essential spruce up by Piera Tempesti Benelli, and a perfect address on the pedestrian-only Piazza Santa Maria Novella with its magnificent white-fronted church.

Yes, it’s close to the city’s main train station—but even more importantly, in our opinion, it’s only a couple of minutes walk to lotion and potion superstar Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella for presents to take home and goodies for our own boudoir. — Ondine Cohane


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Artsy old Villa Azalea had sat empty and neglected for years before the present owners swept away the dated frills and chintzes in favor of the cool, sophisticated look that is Dimora Palanca today. They restored the overgrown garden and converted the ex-lemon house into 18 bedrooms. Outside, the lovely garden with tables, loungers and big white umbrellas, is a world away from the trafficked road on the other side of the high wall, and at the end of a long days’ sightseeing, an aperitivo or dinner here is a treat.

Italy Florence Hotel Milu Hotel

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Milu is a capsule design hotel made up of two 15th-century palazzos with a sleek, contemporary aesthetic in an ideal spot on Via Tornabuoni. The Superior Double room is quite intimate—small but breathable—with minimalist decor and colorful accents. Bathrooms are state of the art. Rooms have an espresso machine and a minibar filled with beer, soft drinks, water, and snacks. The common room, which has a gorgeous view of the neighborhood, hosts a complimentary breakfast buffet. A favorite among fashion editors, this place has a cool factor that's unmatched elsewhere in Florence. Israeli owner Carmen Ilan is an established artist and the hotel is filled with her site-specific pieces and installations plus works by other artists which are all for sale.

Villa Cora Florence Italy Hotel

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Old-world opulence is ingrained in this restored 19th-century mansion overlooking the Boboli Gardens. Built in 1868, the villa has been home to aristocrats from Napoleon III’s widow, Eugenie, to an Egyptian pasha, and the remarkable staff sustain this noble aura with warmth and professionalism. The 46 rooms and suites fill three buildings on the estate, with the most lavish on the piano nobile of the main villa. Though a chauffeured car is at guests’ disposal for the short ride to Florence’s center, you may never feel the need to leave Villa Cora. It has two terrific restaurants—the elegant gourmet Il Pasha and a luminous garden restaurant next to the heated white-stone pool—as well as two bars, one with an impressive selection of cigars, and a full-service spa with a sauna, steam room, and massive whirlpool bath.

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Erstwhile JK Place and Italy’s original townhouse hotel, this stylish and cultivated urban bolthole—now The Place—lies a stone's throw away from the train station and shares piazza space with the glorious church of Santa Maria Novella. A stay here feels like being the guest of an extremely cultured collector friend. The hotel was redone under local architect Luigi Fragola in 2021, but long-standing fans will be pleased to hear that the clean, contemporary aesthetic hasn’t essentially changed too much although Fragola has added pops of color (forest green, regal purple) and flashes of brass and velvet to the neutral background palette. Minibars are stocked with complimentary soft drinks and room service will deliver tea and coffee at no extra charge.

Italy Florence Hotel Riva Lofts Florence

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Riva Lofts is an early 20th-century stone building that's been converted into urban retreat in Isolotto, a suburban neighborhood on the outskirts of the city center. This is an architect's fantasy loft; it's a minimalist space that highlights the building's original architecture (exposed brickwork, arches). Design elements include midcentury furniture, gorgeous built-ins, and fireplaces. There's also a gorgeous pool, complete with contemporary art sculptures amid the surrounding greenery, and a well-stocked honesty bar. This is a great retreat from hot, crowded Florence. The pool alone is worth it.

Italy Florence Hotel Belmond Villa San Michele

Villa San Michele, a Belmond Hotel Arrow

Located in the hills outside of Florence (in Fiesole), Villa San Michele is another of one of those fairytale properties, this time in the form of a 15th century monastery-turned-villa. Everything about it feels like a dream, from the drive to the property, to standing on its grounds and admiring the architecture. Rooms are monastery chic: understated luxury with beautiful architecture. There are vaulted ceilings, beautiful glass window panes, period furniture. Less is absolutely more here. Bathrooms are beautiful marble with separate showers and large sunken tubs. The view is the wow factor, though—along with the superb staff. There is a lovely pool where you can get a massage, and a 24/7 gym kitted out with TechnoGym machines, and cooking classes also are on offer. You'll want for nothing here.

Helvetia  Bristol Firenze  Starhotels Collezione

Helvetia & Bristol Firenze – Starhotels Collezione Arrow

Facing Piazza degli Strozzi and steps from Pizza della Repubblica, you'll find traditional Florentine charm with a location in the heart of the city's action. Shoppers, take note: you're by Via Tornabuoni, not to mention some of the city's most popular sites. As for your stay, rooms feel traditional without being dated, with crisp bed linens next to covered headboards and brocaded window treatments. Rooms are spacious, especially for this part of the city; and the on-site dining includes a bar with street-side seating, for taking a break with coffee and watching the local foot traffic. You won't get a ton of bells and whistles beyond the quiet elegance and location—but in Florence, what more do you need?

Italy Florence Hotel Ottantotto Firenze

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This renovated historic "palazzetto" in Florence's less touristy Oltrarno neighborhood has just seven rooms, each decorated with different floral and botanical printed fabrics, antique decor, and funky-cool furniture. Our favorite rooms overlook the shady, stone-paved garden. They've got all the basics: free Wi-Fi, satellite TV, air conditioning (not always a given in Europe), and laundry service. There's an honesty bar in the living room stocked with drinks and snacks, and having breakfast in that garden is just dreamy. This is an elegant, unfussy hotel for people who want to see the cooler side of Florence.

Villa La Massa

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The hotel and its extensive grounds—comprising a 12 th century Medici villa, its outbuildings and 62 acres of parkland—stand on a quiet bend in the river Arno, four miles east of Florence. There’s nothing to see or do in this semi-rural, under-the-radar neighborhood aside from admiring the gentle countryside, so guests tend to hop on the complimentary shuttle bus into Florence for entertainment or to stay put and enjoy the pool, spa and lovely gardens. On warm summer evenings, a regular program of events and live music at the pool bar and restaurants draws in the locals. Riverside restaurant Il Verrocchio is a lovely spot for dinner, especially on a warm summer evening, and the chef makes good use of produce from the kitchen garden and the estate’s own olive in his menus of creative Tuscan and pan-Italian dishes.

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Hotel Lungarno Arrow

Hotel Lungarno is on prime real estate—steps away from the River Arno. No, really: You can literally step into it from the hotel entryway. Each room comes with its own unique art, and many have views of the water; downstairs, restaurant Borgo San Jacopo has one Michelin star. You book this hotel for the location, but you leave feeling like you've discovered a hidden gem, one where the typical Florence tourists aren't as likely to be found and where you can escape the hectic life of the city.

Italy Florence Hotel AdAstra

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Ad Astra feels like a little-known Florentine secret: a gorgeous private apartment on the first floor of an aristocratic urban villa just 10 minutes from the Ponte Vecchio. Expect lavish flourishes and 21st-century design. Individually decorated rooms feature classic elements with contemporary touches: original molding with rich accent colors, Italian furniture (midcentury to the '70s), artisanal lighting and woodwork, and framed art hand picked by the owners (from Pucci scarves to original prints). A breakfast buffet includes local products; enjoy it in the luminous salon or out on the terrace, which offers views of the delightful Torrigiani gardens. The lounge has complimentary coffee and tea throughout the day; there's also an honesty bar with wines and spirits. This oasis in the middle of Florence is a worthy stay, especially in the hotter months when hordes of tourists clutter the streets.


The Social Hub Florence

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27 Florence Tips: DON’T Make These Mistakes When Visiting Florence, Italy

From when to visit, and how to avoid crowds, to the one thing you must do when eating out, don't miss these essential florence tips.

Florence tips - Don't make these mistakes

So, you’ve decided it’s time to turn that Florence travel fantasy into an actual adventure. Feeling a bit lost with all the planning? Worry not! These Florence tips will help you experience the best this beautiful Italian city has to offer.

Florence is undoubtedly one of Italy’s most iconic cities, a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces, stunning architecture and rich history. But with so much to see and do, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, particularly if you’re a first-time visitor. When is the best time to visit Florence? How many days do you need to explore? And what about free things to do in Florence? These are all legitimate questions when embarking on a new adventure, we’ve all been there!

So, here are some practical Florence travel tips that will help you simplify the planning process and ensure you get the most out of your trip. They cover all the essentials and some things you may not have considered but need to know.

When is the best time to visit Florence?

Florence tips - Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral at sunset

For more, check out my guide to the best time to visit Italy throughout the year.

How many days should you stay in Florence?

Florence tips - Ponte Vecchio

If you only have one day in Florence, be sure to plan your itinerary, book tickets for the main attractions in advance, and arrive well-energized. Also, keep in mind that Sundays and Mondays may not be the best days to sightsee, as many places may be closed including the all-important Duomo.

Where to stay in Florence

Where to Stay in Florence - Terrazza sul Duomo B&B - Rooftop terrace

Terrazza sul Duomo B&B – Terrace

If you’re only in town for a quick tour, it’s best to stick to central accommodations to minimize your commute time. The historical center is a no-brainer if you’re looking to cram in all the museums and monuments the city has to offer. And bonus – it’s super close to the train station. But if you’re planning a longer stay in Florence and want to immerse yourself in the local culture, consider the charming Oltrarno neighborhood south of the river, brimming with quaint artisan shops. Alternatively, sacrifice some convenience for romance and opt for a room with a view in the districts of San Niccolò or San Miniato al Monte. No matter which neighbourhood, choosing where to stay in Florence is actually fairly easy since the city offers plenty of beautiful B&Bs and boutique hotels tucked away in historic buildings as well as lovely rental apartments. Just make sure to book early, especially if you’re visiting during peak season – you don’t want to miss out on the best deals.

Where to Stay in Florence - Terrazza sul Duomo B&B - Bedroom

Terrazza sul Duomo B&B – Bedroom

How to get to Florence

Florence tips - Santa Maria Novella Train Station

Santa Maria Novella Train Station

Now that you know when to go and where to stay , let’s take a look at how to get to Florence.

First off, traveling by train is a breeze with high-speed options that connect Florence to popular tourist destinations like Rome, Milan, and Venice. Plus, the Santa Maria Novella train station is within walking distance of the historical center.

You can also fly directly into Florence Airport, where trams and shuttle buses conveniently connect the airport to the Santa Maria Novella station. And if you’re flying into Pisa Airport, you’re only an hour away from Florence by bus.

Finally, although driving might seem like a tempting option, navigating the city’s restricted traffic areas can be rather challenging. The historical center is closely monitored by a network of video cameras, and parking can be a hassle. So it might be best to leave the driving to the locals and opt for other modes of transportation – your stress levels will thank you.

Impress the locals with some basic Italian

Communicating with locals in their native language can make all the difference between a standard trip and an authentic cultural experience. While Florentines are well-versed in welcoming visitors from all corners of the globe and are proficient in English to some extent, taking the time to learn some words and key phrases will undoubtedly enhance your trip. After all, the beauty of languages is that they allow us to connect with others on a deeper level, so by speaking even a few words of Italian, you’ll demonstrate your genuine appreciation for the local community and its people, and that, in turn, will lead to a more positive and welcoming response. So, make sure to pack a few essential Italian phrases in your Florence travel toolkit. Download my free guide to basic Italian phrases here .

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Read a bit about the city’s history before your trip

Florence tips - Cosimo I de' Medici statue at Bargello Museum

Cosimo I de’ Medici (Bargello Museum)

Similarly, knowing a little about the history of Florence and its grand characters will help you contextualize your experience, especially if you are not planning on joining a guided tour. Most of the art you’ll see during your trips was commissioned by the Medici family, but did you know that they weren’t actually born into nobility and still managed to become one of the most influential dynasties of all time? Or that Florence was the capital of Italy before Rome took the crown in 1871? Armed with a little bit of background knowledge, you will gain a deeper appreciation for Florence’s unique character and its people, which will make your visit all the more memorable. Alternatively, join this amazing Florence walking.

Florence tips - Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Exploring Florence on foot is the way to go

Florence tips - Walking tour

Book a table for dinner

Florence tips - Osteria

Get up early to avoid the crowds

Florence tips - Ponte Vecchio - No Crowds

There’s no magic formula to avoid large crowds and tour groups in Florence. It’s really just a matter of getting up early and beating them on timing. So, set your alarm early, grab a cup of coffee, and hit the streets before the city fully awakens. Sunrise hours provide the perfect opportunity to appreciate its famous sights, like the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge, in all their glory without elbowing your way through the crowds. You’ll be amazed at the charming details and hidden gems you’ll discover when you have the city all to yourself. Plus, don’t forget your camera – sunrise provides the perfect lighting for capturing beautiful, crowd-free photos.

Pre-book tickets to major museums

Florence tips - Galleria dell'Accademia

Florence is home to some of the most visited museums in the world, and simply turning up without prior arrangements can easily result in spending several hours standing in line. Not to mention that these museums often have limited capacity, and once they reach their daily limit, no more visitors are allowed in. But there’s a solution: book your museum tickets in advance! Not only will this guarantee your entry, but you’ll also be able to choose the perfect time for your visit without any delays. Sure, it may cost a little extra, but just picture yourself with your skip-the-line ticket to the Uffizi or this Accademia Gallery ticket in hand, confidently strolling past the crowds and entering in a matter of minutes – priceless! Just remember that when booking advance tickets online, you must go to the ticket desk to collect the actual tickets before accessing the museum.

Consider buying a museum pass

Florence tips - Palazzo Vecchio - Great Hall of the Five Hundred

Great Hall of the Five Hundred (Palazzo Vecchio)

Planning to explore a lot of attractions during your stay in Florence? Be prepared for the final bill to add up quickly. However, there’s a clever money-saving solution: the Florence Museum Pass . This handy card provides access to some 58 sites across the city, including renowned landmarks like the Uffizi, Pitti Palace, and the museum of Palazzo Vecchio. The pass costs €85 for 72 hours and offers free entry for children under 18 who are part of the cardholder’s immediate family. Before making your purchase, take the time to calculate the combined cost of all the attractions you hope to visit. Depending on your itinerary, it may be more cost-effective to opt for the pass rather than pay for individual tickets.

Florence tips - Palazzo Vecchio courtyard

Palazzo Vecchio courtyard

Take a walking tour

Florence tips - Fotoautomatica

Understanding how to visit Florence’s Duomo complex

Florence tips - Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

  • The Ghiberti Pass includes access to the Baptistery, the Opera del Duomo Museum, and Santa Reparata. It is the perfect choice for those who want to soak up the rich history and culture of the complex without having to climb to the top of the dome or the bell tower.
  • The Giotto Pass gives access to all of the attractions included in the Ghiberti Pass, plus the chance to climb Giotto’s Bell Tower, perfect for those seeking some stunning panoramic views.
  • The Brunelleschi Pass is for those who want to explore all the sites, including the climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome.

Bonus tip: What most people don’t know is that you can also visit the private terraces of the Duomo rooftop (before heading to the top of the dome), but only by joining a private skywalk guided tour here.

Embrace the unavoidable truth: you won’t see everything at the Uffizi

Florence tips - Uffizi Gallery - statues

Don’t forget that museums are free on the first Sunday of every month

Florence tips - Giardino di Boboli - Palazzo Pitti

Giardino di Boboli (Palazzo Pitti)

Florence tips - Galleria dell'Accademia - David's hand

Galleria dell’Accademia – Michelangelo’s David

Like in any other Italian city, Florence’s state-run museums and cultural sites offer free admission on the first Sunday of each month. This fantastic initiative, known as Domenica al Museo (Sunday at the museum), was launched by the Italian government in 2014 to encourage the public to immerse themselves in art and culture. And who doesn’t love saving a few bucks while doing so? On this day, you can explore top attractions like the Uffizi, Accademia Gallery, Pitti Palace, and Medici Chapels, among others (the complete list of participating locations can be found on the government website ). Just be aware that lines can get quite long, so plan to arrive early to make the most of your day.

Florence tips - Cappelle Medicee and Michele

Cappelle Medicee

Florence tips - Cappelle Medicee - New Sacristy

New Sacristy (Cappelle Medicee)

Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path

Florence tips - English Cemetery

English Cemetery

While Florence is one of the most touristed cities in the world, it’s also packed with secret spots and hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered. So, after you’ve checked all of the major attractions off your bucket list, make sure to set aside some time to explore Florence off the beaten path. You could visit the studio of a local street artist or go to the Galileo Museum, where the scientist’s relics are displayed like those of a saint. You could also see the first Last Supper painted by a woman at the Santa Maria Novella complex, or pay your respects at Shakespeare’s last descendants’ graves in the English Cemetery. As you can see, whether you’re an art enthusiast, a passionate photographer, or a history buff, there’s no shortage of unique things to do in Florence !

Florence tips - Galileo Museum

Galileo Museum

Embrace the city’s wine culture

Florence tips - Book a table - Fiaschetteria Nuvoli

Make time for watching the sunset 

Florence tips - Sunset Ponte Vecchio

Venture to the other side of the river

Florence tips - Palazzo Pitti

Palazzo Pitti

While many tend to stick around the northern side of the Arno, where most of the best things to do in Florence are located, there’s a whole part of Florence to discover on the other side of the river. So, cross the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge and venture through the Oltrarno, as the southern side of the river is called. There, you’ll find three neighborhoods – Santo Spirito, San Frediano, and San Niccolò – each with its own unique character and distinctive local feel. You’ll find an abundance of cute cafés, delicious restaurants, and pretty churches worth exploring, as well as the famous Pitti Palace with its beautiful Bobbli Gardens. And if you’re planning to bring home some authentic Italian souvenirs, you’re in luck – the Oltrarno is home to countless artisans who have made this area their creative hub.

Take your sips to new heights

Florence tips - Drinking Aperol Spritz at Se·Sto on Arno - Westin Excelsior Hotel

Skip Piazzale Michelangelo and head to San Miniato al Monte instead

Florence tips - View from San Miniato al Monte

View from San Miniato al Monte

Overlooking the city from up the hill in the Oltrarno district, Piazzale Michelangelo is undoubtedly one of Florence’s go-to spots for panoramic views. But with its postcard-perfect views and a towering replica of Michelangelo’s David, this iconic square can get really crowded. However, if you venture slightly further up, a little gem awaits. The church of San Miniato al Monte, is one of the finest Romanesque churches in the region. Less crowded but no less spectacular, this viewing spot offers beautiful views over the city. And if you plan to visit around 6 pm, you’ll be treated to the beautiful Gregorian chants performed by the resident monks, making your experience all the more fascinating.

Indulge in some shopping, but know where to go

Florence tips - Scuola del Cuoio

Scuola del Cuoio (Leather School)

As you plan your trip to Florence, it’s likely you’re eagerly anticipating the beautiful sights, the delicious food, and, naturally, some essential shopping. But if you’re going to shop in Florence, you’ll want to do it right to avoid wasting money on overpriced tourist traps. One of the city’s most beloved shopping experiences is the hunt for the perfect leather product.

Florence is renowned for its high-quality leather goods, and for a good reason. To ensure you’re getting the real deal, head straight to one of the city’s top spots, Scuola del Cuoio , where they also organize courses and workshops to create your very own one-of-a-kind piece.

Florence tips - Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella - Fragrances - Acqua della Regina

Acqua della Regina

Florence tips - Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella - Inside

If you’re looking for something truly unique, head to the Oltrarno district, a treasure trove of independent boutiques and workshops, each offering pieces that have a story to tell. And for the ultimate souvenir, make your way to Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella and buy a bottle of Acqua della Regina (Queen’s Water) , a fragrance specially designed for Caterina de’ Medici in the 16th century.

Go out in the evening!

Florence tips - Florentine Steak

Florentine steak

You might think that with so many stunning sights to see during the day, there are not many things to do in Florence at night. But nighttime brings a unique charm that’s worth exploring. You can treat yourself to a special night of food and entertainment at Teatro del Sale or take a tour of Tuscan cuisine that includes wine tasting and Fiorentina steak , two of the region’s signature specialties. This time of the day is also perfect for strolling through the historic city center with a delicious gelato and taking in the details you may have missed during the hustle and bustle of the day.

There’s no denying that seeing the city’s landmarks under the moonlight adds a new dimension to their beauty. Plus, for a splurge, a night photo tour of Florence with a local photographer promises stunning shots to bring home. Finally, if you need an excuse to get someone to hold your hand, consider joining this top-rated Mysteries and Legends tour of Florence and embark on an adventure into the city’s mysteries!

Taking a cooking class is the perfect activity for a rainy day

While the city’s renowned museums provide a cozy shelter from bad weather, nothing beats the joy of cooking to lift your spirits. You can immerse yourself in Tuscan cuisine by spending quality time with a local chef, who can not only teach you the art of Italian cooking but also share some insider tips on the best restaurants in town. There are some great cooking classes in Florence to choose from, ranging from pasta-making workshops with dinner and wine-tasting to pizza and gelato-making lessons . Not only will you return home with newfound culinary skills, but you’ll also be able to host fantastic Italy-inspired parties. Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Florence when it rains.

Keep an eye out for the secret urban art

Florence tips - Street art - Caravaggio

Discover Tuscany beyond Florence

Florence tips - Day trip to San Gimignano

San Gimignano

One of the top travel tips for Florence is to venture beyond the city limits at least once, provided you have enough time and budget for it. From quaint villages to fabulous wineries and UNESCO treasures, there’s a whole load of Tuscany to explore within a short distance from the city. The region’s excellent road and train network makes day trips from Florence easy.

If you’re not feeling up to planning, there are some great guided tours available. While many choose Pisa and Lucca  for a side trip from Florence, there are plenty of other options to consider, such as the famous vineyards of Chianti , the beautiful Siena and San Gimignano , the Val d’Orcia (where those stunning views you’ve seen in pictures come to life), and the Cinque Terre (Liguria’s iconic pastel-colored villages) or this tour of both the Cinque Terre and Portovenere .

You can also opt for a day trip from Florence that covers different locations, like this excellent Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa and winery lunch tour.

Don’t miss my guide to the BEST things to do in San Gimignano

Florence tips - Day trip to Pisa - Campo dei Miracoli - Baptistery

Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa

Florence tips - Day trip to Pisa - Campo dei Miracoli

Leaning Power of Pisa

It doesn’t have to be expensive

Florence tips - Loggia dei Lanzi

Loggia dei Lanzi

Florence is often seen as a high-end destination, but honestly, the idea that you have to shell out big bucks to enjoy all that the city has to offer is a myth. Sure, accommodation prices might not be the lowest and the museums can be a bit pricey. Still, for budget-conscious travelers there’s a surprising number of free things to do in Florence . Take, for instance, Loggia dei Lazi, the breathtaking sculpture gallery in Piazza della Signoria. This cultural gem won’t cost you a cent. Plus, there are numerous beautiful churches that welcome visitors free of charge. And let’s not forget about the stunning gardens that dot the city. You can easily while away an afternoon taking in the sights and smells of these natural wonders without spending a single euro. So go ahead and book your trip, knowing there are also plenty of opportunities to relax and soak up the charm of Florence without breaking the bank.

Florence tips - Loggia dei Lanzi - Piazza della Signoria

Let go of FOMO

Florence tips - Fountain of Neptune

Don’t miss my guide to the TOP Things to do in Florence

Don’t be treated like a tourist. Learn Italian with my 80/20 method

How to Learn Italian for Travel FAST!

Travelling to Italy? Don’t be treated like a tourist! Live your best travel experiences and learn Italian for less than the cost of eating at a tourist trap restaurant or a taxi driver who has “taken you for a ride”. I’ve made it easy for you to master the Italian language so you can create lifelong memories as you mingle with locals , get local tips , avoid tourist traps , and make new friends . Who knows, you might even be invited over for afternoon tea by a lovely Sicilian family like I was! Read all about how speaking Italian changed my life  and check out my online Italian video course here.

Here’s what my students are saying: 

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I really enjoyed the Intrepid Italian course, it certainly exceeded my expectations. The learning methodology is great,  and easy to follow and found that I  progressed much faster in the last 4 weeks than I ever did on my own or using other language apps. Grazie mille Michele, I can’t wait until I can put my new skills into action! – Roma Small

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Don’t miss these guides to Florence and Tuscany

  • 20+ Fabulous Free Things to do in Florence
  • 21 Unique Things to Do in Florence: Hidden Gems, Unusual Attractions & Quirky Tours
  • 33 BEST Things to do in Florence: Top Museums, Experiences & Eateries
  • Where to Stay in Florence: Best Areas, Hotels, and Apartments
  • Where to Find the Best Gelato in Florence: 16 Top Gelaterie (Map Included)
  • Where to Have the Best Aperitivo in Florence
  • 9 Beautiful Wine Windows in Florence and Where to Find Them (Map Included)
  • 19 BEST Things to do in Pisa, Italy (Includes Map and 1-DAY Itinerary)
  • 13 BEST Things to do in San Gimignano, Italy // The Manhattan of the 14th-Century

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27 Florence tips - AVOID These Mistakes

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20+ Fabulous Free Things to do in Florence (Cool Markets, Top Museums, & Walking Tours)

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Best things to do in Florence - Piazzle Michelangelo

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22 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Florence, Italy

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers Updated Dec 27, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Ponte Vecchio

It would take weeks to see everything Florence has to offer. Almost any one of its dozens of churches would be the prize tourist attraction of a smaller city. Some of its sights are among Italy's best-known icons — Ponte Vecchio, Michelangelo's David , Brunelleschi's Dome — and the entire city is a showcase of the Italian Renaissance, the humanist artistic movement that broke Europe out of the Dark Ages.

But even among such an illustrious collection of palaces , churches , museums , and landmarks, some stand head and shoulders above the rest. As you consider all the things to see and do in Florence and plan your days of sightseeing, you won't want to miss the highlights that have made Florence one of Europe's most popular cities.

You'll be sure to find the best places to visit by using this handy list of the top attractions and things to do in Florence.

1. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Piazza Duomo

2. battistero di san giovanni (baptistery of st. john), 3. see florence from piazzale michelangiolo, 4. uffizi palace and gallery, 5. piazza della signoria and the loggia dei lanzi, 6. galleria dell'accademia (academy gallery), 7. san lorenzo and michelangelo's medici tombs, 8. palazzo vecchio (palazzo della signoria), 9. santa croce, 10. ponte vecchio, 11. palazzo pitti (pitti palace), 12. santa maria novella, 13. san miniato al monte, 14. bargello palace national museum, 15. stroll through boboli gardens, 16. explore the oltrarno and take a break in piazza santo spirito, 17. palazzo medici-riccardi, 18. mercato centrale: florence's food market, 19. bardini museum and gardens, 20. brancacci chapel, 21. museo galileo, 22. shop for leather at piazza santa croce, where to stay in florence for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to florence, map of tourist attractions in florence, italy, florence, italy - climate chart, more things to see and do.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Piazza Duomo

Piazza Duomo and the group of buildings that form its cathedral complex gather some of Italy's greatest artistic treasures into one relatively small area. As you tour the baptistery, the bell tower, the cathedral, and its museum, you'll see some of the best-known masterpieces of art and architecture by the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance -- Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Giotto, and Michelangelo.

Begin by walking around the square to admire the intricate inlaid marble exteriors, then step inside each one to look more closely at the stained-glass works of art that greet you wherever you look.

If waiting in long lines to buy a ticket is not your idea of fun - especially on a hot day - consider the Skip the Line: Florence Duomo with Brunelleschi's Dome Climb tour. This 2.5-hour guided tour includes the cathedral, the dome, the baptistery, entrance fees, and the option to visit the Opera del Duomo Museum on your own.

  • Read More: Exploring Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral: A Visitor's Guide

Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of St. John)

From any angle, inside or out, the 12th-century octagonal baptistery is a consummate work of art. Its marble façade, the intricate mosaics of its interior, and the art works it holds all merit a place high on your list.

But the magnificent bronze panels that Ghiberti created for the doors facing the cathedral trump them all. Nowhere has bronze been worked with such exquisite expression as in these Gates of Paradise . For a closer look, and to see some of the treasures that have been made for the baptistery, visit the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo , the cathedral's museum.

Florence - Battistero San Giovanni Baptistry - Floor plan map

So often misspelled as Piazzale Michelangelo that even city tourism material occasionally slips up, this terrace above the city is an obligatory stop for tour buses, and the spot from which all those postcard shots of the cathedral are taken. During busy tourist seasons, the best time to enjoy it in relative peace is late afternoon or early evening; it's especially lovely at sunset.

Although you can get a 360-degree panorama of Florence from the dome of the cathedral, only from this terrace can you fully appreciate how Brunelleschi's dome dominates the city center. Nor can any other height give you this sweeping city view that encompasses the Ponte Vecchio , Palazzo Vecchio, Santa Croce, and other landmarks.

You can walk here, climbing from the riverbank through the gardens, or take bus 12 or 13. While you're here, continue up to the church of San Miniato al Monte or stay on the bus to the church and walk back down.

Uffizi Palace and Gallery

Few would argue the Uffizi's place among the handful of world's top art museums. Its collections are simply staggering in their diversity and quality, and even if art is not your main interest, you should see the highlights of the paintings here.

You'll come away understanding a lot more of how Florence's 14th- to 16th-century painters changed the face of western art, as you see the transition from the stilted Byzantine images to the life-like figures and landscapes of the Renaissance artists.

The vast building stretching along the river was one more of the Medici palaces but was intended not as a residence, but to house governmental offices, scientific studies, and part of their growing art collection. One of its loveliest spaces, the octagonal Tribuna , was commissioned especially to display the most prized paintings and jewels of Francesco I de' Medici.

You can bypass the long wait for admission and go straight to the entrance with a Skip the Line: Florence Accademia and Uffizi Gallery Tour that gives you priority access as well as a guided tour.

  • Visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence: 12 Top Highlights, Tips & Tours

Neptune Fountain, Piazza della Signoria

This broad square has been the center of power in Florence since its 14th-century origins - and perhaps even before, as Etruscan and Roman remains have been found below its pavement. Today, it is the social center as well, a favorite meeting place filled with tourists and locals. At its center is the Neptune Fountain , at one side the Palazzo Vecchio , still housing the city's government.

Against the wall of the Uffizi, which forms one end of the piazza, is the Loggia dei Lanzi , an outdoor sculpture gallery with several notable pieces. Most widely recognized of these is Benvenuto Cellini's best-known work, Perseus with the Head of Medusa . In front of the Palazzo Vecchio is a copy of Michelangelo's David .

  • Read More: Exploring Piazza della Signoria in Florence: A Visitor's Guide

Michelangelo's David, Galleria dell'Accademia (Academy Gallery)

Michelangelo's best-known work, David , is copied all over Florence, but inside this art museum, you'll find the original. Unfortunately, as a result of an attack on the sculpture, it is now behind glass, but it still never fails to inspire.

The David isn't the only Michelangelo here, nor is it the only important masterpiece. In the sculptures shown in the same gallery, you can almost watch Michelangelo at work as you see the four unfinished slaves, meant for a tomb in Rome, seemingly in the process of being released from the marble.

Here, also, is his St. Matthew for Florence cathedral, also unfinished. You'll want to look in the other galleries to see highlights by 13th- to 16th-century Florentine artists, especially if you do not plan to see the Uffizi Gallery collections. Sandro Botticelli's Madonna is a highlight.

You can save time waiting in the long lines at both these outstanding art museums with a Skip the Line: Florence Accademia and Uffizi Gallery Tour that takes you straight to the entrance, as well as a guided tour.

San Lorenzo and Michelangelo's Medici Tombs

The Medici commissioned the best talent for the family church and burial chapels: Brunelleschi for the church and Michelangelo for the chapel intended to memorialize their most illustrious princes. Both artists died before finishing the work, but Brunelleschi's church was completed according to his plans.

Michelangelo's chapel, called the New Sacristy, was not; in fact, it was never completed at all. But what he did finish is considered one of the world's crowning achievements in marble sculpture. As you tour the church, the Old Sacristy , the New Sacristy , the Princes' Chapel and the Laurenziana Library, you'll find the works of other Renaissance masters, including Donatello and Lippi.

  • Read More: Exploring San Lorenzo in Florence: A Visitor's Guide

Palazzo Vecchio (Palazzo della Signoria)

History, art, and power echo in the opulent rooms and grand galleries of this fortress-like palace in the center of Florence. From here, the city/republic was ruled, and its powerful Medici family commissioned the leading artists and architects of the day to design and decorate their offices and apartments.

Be sure to sign up early for one of the free tours, so you'll get to see some of the secret passages the Medici used to move among the rooms; return in the evening (save your ticket) to climb to the roof for sunset views of the city.

  • Read More: Exploring Palazzo Vecchio (Palazzo della Signoria) in Florence: A Visitor's Guide

Santa Croce

Behind the geometric marble inlay of its typical Tuscan façade, Santa Croce is both art-filled church and mausoleum for some of Florence's greatest names. Among its treasures are several landmarks of Renaissance art.

You will want to look especially for Cappella Bardi with some of Giotto's major frescoes, and in the adjacent Cappella Peruzzi, for more of them, which inspired Masaccio and Michelangelo. Donatello's Christ Crucified is considered one of the finest examples of Florentine Renaissance humanism. The frescoes in Cappella Baroncelli are the greatest work of Taddeo Gaddi.

But the most famous is Cimabue's magnificent Crucifix, one of the first to move from stiff Byzantine to naturalistic Renaissance styles, influencing the greatest artists that followed. In the nave, you'll find the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Ghiberti, the composer Gioacchino Rossini, even Machiavelli.

Santa Croce - Floor plan map

The Ponte Vecchio may well be the most widely recognized icon of Florence, and its graceful arches topped by a jumble of shops is most certainly one of the city's prettiest scenes. The bridge has traditionally been the home for the shops of Florence's talented goldsmiths, and a stroll across it still shows a dazzling array of fine jewelry.

But most tourists don't realize that another set of treasures hides above their heads. The purpose of the bridge, of course, was to link the two sides of the Arno, and the Medici needed to cross frequently between their offices in the Palazzo Vecchio and their apartments in the Pitti Palace . So they commissioned the architect Vasari to build a passageway, officially called the Percorso del Principe (Passageway of the Prince), but now more often known as the Corridoio Vasariano, Vasari Corridor .

You can see its line of evenly matched windows above the shops. It's not just a hallway; lining its walls is a priceless collection of portraits, mostly self-portraits, by artists that include Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Velásquez.

Pitti Palace

A day at the Pitti Palace complex (and you could spend a day seeing it all) gives you a little taste of the many things Florence has to offer: an outstanding art gallery, a Medici palace, Florentine craftsmanship, museums, history, royal apartments, and one of Italy's premier gardens.

If a day isn't quite what you had in mind, at least tour the palace to see the Royal Apartments and the sumptuous rooms, where you'll find paintings by Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Tintoretto, and other masters - a collection almost rivaling the Uffizi - hanging not in gallery style, but as decoration for rooms designed for entertaining and show.

  • Read More: Exploring the Pitti Palace & Boboli Gardens in Florence: A Visitor's Guide

Santa Maria Novella

Although this Dominican church has the familiar striped façade of inlaid marble worn by several other churches in Florence , here it has been interpreted quite differently, tracing graceful curving designs, imitating windows, and highlighting rows of arches in the lower story.

The artistry continues inside, with some of the city's finest frescoes, by such masters as Masaccio, Giotto, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Lippi, Paolo Uccello. As if that weren't enough, an entire chapel is lined with Andrea di Bonaiuto's frescoes, some of the greatest artworks of 14th-century Italy.

In addition to the frescoes are a marble pulpit designed by Brunelleschi, his wooden crucifix, Vasari's Rosary Madonna, and a bronze by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Stop in at the convent's historic pharmacy, where they sell herbal balms and floral lotions.

Florence - Santa Maria Novella - Floor plan map

The sight of San Miniato al Monte's inlaid green-and-white marble façade is worth the short climb beyond the favorite viewpoint of Florence, Piazzale Michelangiolo (or you can stay on the bus to ride here).

This was the first time this dramatic effect was used in Florence, where it soon became the most popular façade decoration. But unlike the later facades, this one rises to a large gold mosaic. The portico effect looks back to Classical Roman architecture, and the mosaics are distinctly Byzantine inspired, both influences that blend into the new Tuscan Romanesque architectural style.

Inside, there's a spacious open nave, with a mosaic floor and painted wooden ceiling, ending at a magnificent Renaissance chapel under a glazed blue-and-white terracotta ceiling. More Byzantine-style mosaics, a 12th-century marble pulpit, and the decorated choir screen are all highlights,

Even more outstanding is the sacristy. Its walls are lined by the vibrant panels of Spinello Aretino's 14th-century masterpiece, Life of St. Benedict . It is among the most splendid rooms in Florence, and equal to those in any palace.

Address: Via delle Porte Sante, 34, Florence

Bargello Palace National Museum

The four Michelangelo masterpieces alone are reason enough to put the Bargello Palace on your list of things to do in Florence. Works by Donatello, the della Robbias, Cellini, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, and 14th- to 16th-century Tuscan artists fill the palace, along with a room of ivory carvings and a collection of majolica.

An entire room is filled with enamels and gold work, a Florentine specialty during the Renaissance. This emphasis on decorative arts and sculpture sets the Bargello apart from the rest of Florence's art museums .

Address: Via del Proconsolo 4, Florence

Boboli Gardens

Behind the Pitti Palace, the Medicis' Boboli Gardens rise up the hillside in 111 acres of green terraces. Grand Duke Cosimo I spared no expense in their building, between 1550 and 1560, and the result became the model for royal gardens all over Europe (including Versailles ). Still beautifully manicured, the gardens climb to overlooks that reveal increasingly sweeping views over the city.

Throughout are fountains, statuary, and a faux cave complete with stalactites and stalagmites carved into the hillside, the Grotta del Buontalenti .

Other things to see include a maze, formal beds, even an amphitheater in the quarry hole left from removing stone to build the palace. At the highest point is the terrace of the Kaffeehaus, and at the top of the hill overlooking Boboli Gardens, Casino del Cavaliere houses a rich collection of porcelains owned by ruling families, including the Medici and the Savoy.

Piazza Santo Spirito

The Oltrarno is worth exploring for its atmospheric lanes and the workshops and studios of Florence's famous artists in wood, silver, and gold work; gilding; miniature mosaics; decorative papers; and leather bookbinding. You're sure to be tempted by the works for sale in the small shops, and there is no better souvenir or gift than a beautifully bound journal or a gilded wooden box.

Make your way to Piazza Santo Spirito, a lively square that's more intimate than the grander, busier ones across the river. Find an outdoor table at a café or restaurant and watch shoppers at the morning market or children playing ball after school.

Although it's not one of the best-known churches in Florence, the Basilica of Santo Spirito is one of the purest Renaissance churches and is filled with notable paintings and sculpture, especially in the transept chapels

Inner courtyard of Medici-Riccardi Palace

More restrained in its furnishing and décor than the showy palaces of later members of the Medici family, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi is more in line with the earlier dukes, who governed a more democratic society. Completed in 1464, it was the home of the Medicis for nearly a century until Cosimo I moved to the Palazzo Vecchio.

A staircase leads from the courtyard to the Palace Chapel, decorated with well-preserved frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli that give a good sense of court life in 15 th -century Florence.

Although the Riccardi family, which owned the house after the Medicis, made alterations, the Medici Museum on the ground floor retains the original Medici interior. Here, also, is one of Filippo Lippi's most important works, Madonna and Child, painted in1442.

Address: Via Cavour 1 & 3, Florence

Official site:

Mercato Centrale: Florence's Food Market

If you have begun to worry that Florence is just one giant open-air museum, it's time to meet some Florentines as they go about their daily routines. There's no better place to find them than in the enormous food market, Mercato Centrale.

To get here, you may have to run a gauntlet of street stalls selling everything from cheap plastics to "authentic Italian crafts" that are mass-produced, mostly in Asia. But once inside and immersed in the fragrance of fresh herbs, flowers, and garden produce, you'll rub elbows with women shopping for ingredients for today's dinner.

Don't overlook this as a source of welcome gifts to take home, including fine Tuscan olive oils, olives, candied fruits, and luscious nougat. On the upper floor, you'll find food courts, a good place to visit for a quick lunch.

Address: Piazza del Mercato, Florence

Wisteria tunnels at Bardini Gardens

In the late 19 th century, artist and collector Stefano Bardini bought a group of buildings on a hillside in the Oltrarno, overlooking Florence. From these, which included a chapel and a former palazzo dating from the 14 th century, he created a setting for his collections of art and priceless antiquities.

To create this museum, he used architectural features salvaged from demolished medieval and Renaissance buildings. Monumental fireplaces, doors and windows, columns, carved stonework, entire staircases, paneling, carved Venetian woodwork, even entire ceilings have been retrofitted into a highly eccentric home for his equally eccentric collections.

But the resulting palazzo and its magnificent artworks are not the only attraction for tourists. After completing his museum, Bardini bought a neighboring garden overlooking the river and transformed it into an outdoor gallery to display some of his sculpture collections.

The Bardini Gardens overlook Florence, a lovely place to get away from the crowds and rest your eyes amid the greenery and flowers. The best time is in April, when brilliant purple wisteria covers the pergola and fills the air with fragrance. A long staircase, mosaic fountains, an English garden, and a terrace with a café make it a pleasant place to relax. Entrance to the garden is separate from the museum.

Bardini Gardens

  • Costa San Giorgio 2, Florence

Bardini Museum

  • Via dei Renai 37, Florence

Santa Maria del Carmine

You would never guess by looking at the plain façade of Santa Maria del Carmine church that inside holds one of the great masterpieces of the 15 th century . Frescoes on the walls and ceilings of the chapel depict the life of St. Peter and Old Testament scenes by Masaccio and Masolino, who were well-known artists in the early 1400s, friends of Brunelleschi and Donatello.

The works, especially those of Masaccio, are remarkable for their vivid color and vitality, demonstrating some of the first use of perspective, and showing facial expressions that give life and energy to his figures.

Masaccio is considered the first great Italian painter of the Quattrocento period (15 th century) of the Italian Renaissance and the founder of the Early Italian Renaissance . The chapel was left unfinished by the two painters and was completed later in the 1400s by Filippino Lippi. Although the chapel is an important landmark, and a magnificent work of art, it is one of the least known treasures of Florence.

Address: Piazza del Carmine 14, Florence

Museo Galileo and the Uffizi

With the abundance of Renaissance painting, sculpture, architecture, and other masterpieces in Florence, it's easy to forget that the Renaissance was about more than art. Science was a major concern of the Humanists as they broke away from the confines of religion to explore their universe. And they saw art and science as connected and inseparable.

The Museo Galileo proves this, with tools of astronomy, navigation, surveying, and exploring that are priceless works of art. You'll see Galileo's own instruments, and the work of some of Florence's foremost artists in metal, wood, gold, and other arts in the collections of compasses, tools, and magnificent world globes.

Address: Piazza dei Giudici 1, Florence

Official site:

Piazza Santa Croce

Fine leatherwork has been a tradition in Florence at least since Renaissance times, when leatherworkers had their workshops around Santa Croce, close to the tanneries along the river. That neighborhood is still the best place to shop for Florentine leather goods. To find the best quality, and at fair prices, shop at the leatherwork school or at an artisan's studio shop; some of the other shops, like the street market vendors, sell imported and imitation leather goods.

Inside the cloister of Santa Croce, the Scuola di Cuoio leatherworking school produces fine handmade leather goods, and you can watch the students fashion wallets, boxes, handbags, and leather jackets. There you'll find Francesca Gori's one-off handbags in rare and exotic leathers, designed especially for the school. You'll also find luggage, bound books, belts, jewelry boxes, and leather clothing.

Also on Piazza Santa Croce is Misuri, in a former palazzo covered in frescoes, with equally fine traditional craftsmanship and designs.

Address: Piazza Santa Croce, Florence

Official site:

From the UNESCO-acclaimed complex of the cathedral, baptistery, and Giotto's Campanile to the museums and gardens of the Pitti Palace, on the opposite side of the Arno River, Florence's main tourist attractions lie within easy walking distance. And surprisingly, there are plenty of places to stay in the centro storico (historic center). Here are some highly rated hotels in Florence:

Luxury Hotels :

  • Adjacent to the cathedral and some of the best shopping streets, Brunelleschi Hotel has recently renovated guest rooms in a historic building with a medieval tower. Superb service, views of the Duomo, and complimentary breakfast add to its appeal.
  • Close to attractions but just beyond the crowded streets of the main tourist area, Four Seasons Hotel Firenze rooms have views over Florence and the gardens.
  • Famed for its exceptional guest services, Portrait Firenze is on the Arno River overlooking Ponte Vecchio, a block from the Uffizi Gallery.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • Family-run Hotel Davanzati , in the historic center near Piazza della Signoria and the cathedral, offers free breakfast and a relaxing patio but no elevator.
  • In the historic center, but a short walk from the busiest streets, Hotel Orto De Medici has individually decorated, soundproof rooms, some with private balconies.
  • The highly popular Hotel David , on the Oltrano side of the Arno on the way to Piazzale Michelangelo, includes free breakfast and is especially handy for those driving to Florence, offering free parking.

Budget Hotels:

  • In a historic home halfway between Santa Croce and Piazza della Signoria, Hotel Santa Croce has free breakfasts that include cappuccino; there's no elevator, but the staff helps with luggage.
  • Free buffet breakfast and Wi-Fi, a short walk from Santa Maria Novella rail station and the major attractions, make Hotel Fiorita a good choice for budget travelers.
  • In a quiet residential neighborhood a few streets from Santa Croce, Hotel Orcagna is an inviting budget option, with attractive rooms (some with balconies) and free breakfast.
  • Getting Around : You can save both time and energy with a Florence City Hop-on Hop-off Tour that stops at 18 of the top attractions in the city, including the must-see view from high above the city at Piazzale Michelangiolo. You can choose a 1-, 2-, or 3-day pass for unlimited rides and 360-degree views from the open-air bus.
  • Tuscany Day Trip: Rolling hills bathed in golden light and quaint hilltop villages surround the city of Florence, and the Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour is a great way to see the highlights. An experienced guide will you in a luxury air-conditioned coach to Siena, San Gimignano, and Pisa. The tour includes a three-course lunch, entrance fees to Siena Cathedral, and a detailed map of all the destinations.
  • Cinque Terre Semi-Private Day Trip: If you want to add another of Italy's famous attractions to your itinerary, the Cinque Terre Semi-Private Day Trip from Florence is an excellent option. See the colorful, cliff-hugging villages of this stunning stretch of coast and cruise across the water between Manarola and Vernazza. This full-day tour allows time for you to explore the villages and includes entrance fees to the coastal walking path, round-trip transportation in an air-conditioned minivan, the boat ride, and a snack. To ensure personalized service, the tour is only for small groups, with a maximum of eight people.
  • Cinque Terre Day Trip with Optional Hiking : For incomparable views and one of the top experiences in Italy, hike a 5.5-kilometer stretch of the famed Cinque Terre walking path between towns on a Cinque Terre Day Trip from Florence with Optional Hiking . The tour includes time for a swim, and transport from Florence on an air-conditioned coach.


Places to Visit near Florence: Several of the best places to visit in Italy are close to the city. The beautiful medieval city of Siena to the south is crowned by one of Italy's most magnificent - and largest - cathedrals, filled with more art masterpieces than some major museums. This and a string of Medici villas are all easy day trips from Florence .


Where to Go from Florence: Pisa's famous Leaning Tower is one of the top tourist attractions in Italy , and only the beginning of beautiful Renaissance monuments and artworks to see there. Less well-known - and less crowded- is the charming, small city of Lucca , surrounded by walls so thick, there's a popular promenade along their tops. Beyond, the Tuscan coast leads into Liguria, with the five villages and magnificent scenery of the Cinque Terre .

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Florence Travel Guide

Last Updated: August 23, 2023

City skyline with red rooftops and the Duomo in Florence, Italy

Florence is one of the most famous cities in Italy and a hotspot on the country’s tourist trail. Few people miss it, especially if they are visiting Italy for the first time.

With stunning Renaissance architecture, winding streets, and picturesque white buildings capped with red roofs, Florence is one of my favorite spots in Italy.

If you love art, the number of galleries here will keep you busy for weeks. There are also beautiful Renaissance churches to be explored and you could easily spend hours on foot wandering the manicured pathways at the Boboli Gardens.

The city is also a great jumping-off point for Tuscan winery and food tours. Moreover, Florence is a popular study abroad location so the city also boasts incredible nightlife.

This Florence travel guide can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your time in this classic Italian city.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Florence

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Florence

Bright yellow Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge in Florence, Italy.

1. Spend a day in the Galleria de Uffizi

The Uffizi holds the world’s most important collection of Renaissance art (including the The Birth of Venus and La Primavera by Botticelli, Bacchus by Caravaggio, and Doni Tondo by Michelangelo). Towards the end of the gallery, there are some portraits and Dutch works that are beautiful too. Be sure to buy tickets in advance to avoid long lines. If you go later in the day, there are fewer crowds. Tickets are 20 EUR (plus a 4 EUR online booking fee).

2. Climb Il Duomo

One of Florence’s most popular sites is the Duomo (the cathedral). This huge Gothic building was started in 1296 and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers Florence’s historic center. Filippo Brunelleschi, known as the father of Renaissance architecture, engineered the famous dome, which is still the largest brick dome ever constructed. The real highlight is the view from the top where you get a panoramic look at Florence and its iconic red roofs (time slot reservation required). The cathedral itself is free to visit, but if you want to visit anything else in the complex (such as the dome, bell tower, or museum), you’ll need to purchase one of three passes, with prices ranging from 15-30 EUR. The passes are good for three days. You can also get a skip-the-line ticket with exclusive access .

3. Walk along Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval bridge, built in 1345 as the city’s first bridge across the Arno River. Today, it’s the only surviving historic bridge in Florence, as all the others were destroyed in World War II. The bridge is lined with shops selling gold and silver jewelry. It’s closed to vehicular traffic, making it a fun place to stroll around.

4. See David

Housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia, Michelangelo’s 16th-century David is one of the most impressive sculptures in the world. At 5.17 meters (17 feet) tall, it’s a lot bigger and more detailed than you think it would be. This is the one piece of art in the city that is a must-see. Admission is 12 EUR and skip-the-line tickets (with a guide) cost 74 EUR.

5. Wander the Giardino di Boboli

Commonly known as the Boboli Gardens, the Medicis (an Italian banking family and powerful dynasty; four popes were Medici family members) designed the landscape and architecture here in the Tuscan Renaissance style that later influenced aristocratic and royal gardens throughout Europe. The gardens are absolutely gorgeous, with ancient marble statues and large fountains everywhere, and the scent from the citrus trees completely flooding your senses. It costs 10 EUR to visit (there’s also a combined ticket for the gardens and Pitti Palace for 22 EUR).

Other Things to See and Do in Florence

1. take a walking tour.

Walking tours are a wonderful way to learn about Florence and there are a handful of excellent free tours in the city. They cover all the highlights and are the perfect introduction to the city. Florence Free Walking Tours runs daily free tours in English. Just be sure to tip!

If you’re looking for a high-quality and detailed tour focusing on the city’s art or history, try Walks of Italy . They’re my favorite walking tour company because their tours offer behind-the-scenes access and are led by informative guides. Tours start at 69 EUR for a 3-hour tour with skip-the-line access to the Duomo and Accademia Gallery.

2. Visit the baptistery

Consecrated in 1059, the baptistery of John the Baptist is one of Florence’s oldest buildings. The octagonal baptistery that you see today was rebuilt from an earlier building dating back to the 4th-5th century CE. It was here where famous Renaissance figures, including poet Dante Alighieri and members of the Medici family, were baptized. Standout features include the three sets of huge bronze doors and the interior of the dome, which is covered in golden mosaics. Admission is part of one of the Duomo passes, which range from 15-30 EUR depending on which group of monuments you want to see.

3. Visit the Piazzale Michelangelo

Head to the Piazzale Michelangelo on the south side of the Arno River for a great cityscape view. It requires a good hike up a hill but it’s a great way to see the stunning view of the city without paying to climb the Duomo. Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi designed the space in 1869 specifically to showcase Michaelangelo’s works. There’s a bronze cast of David here, along with bronze casts of some of the artist’s other works. If you aren’t able to or can’t walk up the hill, you can take city buses 12 or 13 to reach the top.

4. Lounge in Liberia Café la Cité

This is a combination bookstore, café, and cultural center. It’s a great spot for some in-depth conversation with locals and a prime atmosphere for getting some work done. They host a lot of weekly events too, such as readings and writing workshops. It’s open late (until midnight most days), when the atmosphere changes into a trendy, book-filled bar with great cocktails.

5. Admire Palazzo Pitti

Palazzo Pitti was built in 1457 for the Pitti family and was later sold to the Medici family in 1549. As major patrons of the arts, this palace serves as a beautiful ode to the Medici family’s contribution to the cultural advancement of Florence. It hosts an impressive collection of paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries, including works by Filippo Lippi and Botticelli. Admission is 16 EUR (combined admission for Pitti and the Boboli Gardens is 22 EUR).

6. Explore the National Museum of Bargello

The museum, which originally dates to the 13th century, is home to original works by Bandinelli, Donatello, Antonio Rossellino, and other Renaissance masters. It has the largest Italian collection of Renaissance and Gothic sculptures in the country and is just a short walk from the Piazza della Signoria. Admission to the museum is 11 EUR.

7. Visit the Sant’Ambrogio Market

Sant’Ambrogio is one of the oldest districts in the city, and in fact is the oldest market in Florence, having been around since 1873. Although it’s just a 10-minute walk from the Duomo, the market here is completely underrated. It’s not as famous as the Central Market, and so its atmosphere is much more laidback. While you’re here, try some traditional foods like lampredotto (made from cow’s stomach), cured meats like finocchiona (fennel salami), pecorino sheep’s cheese, and local wines. You’ll find some excellent Tuscan food at the Trattoria Da Rocco restaurant. The market is open 7am-2pm from Monday-Saturday.

8. Hang out in Piazza Santo Spirito

Piazza Santo Spirito is a public square located in the quiet district of the Oltrarno. In the mornings, the place is bustling with market stalls. Once the sun goes down, locals flock to the bars and restaurants. There’s a nice church to admire at the center of it all as well.

9. Visit the Stibbert Museum

This is one of Florence’s most interesting and unique museums, though it doesn’t get the same attention as the city’s other museums since it’s tucked away on the outskirts of town. This is the private collection of Frederick Stibbert, who also donated his villa and gardens to the city. There’s some fascinating stuff amongst the collection of 36,000 artifacts, including historic armor from the Middle East and a completely reconstructed army of medieval knights sitting on their horses in the great hall. The main attraction: Napoleon Bonaparte’s cloak from when he was coronated. Admission is 8 EUR.

10. SUP on the Arno River

If you want a unique way to see the Arno River, head out for a stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) session with Toscana SUP. You’ll paddle your way underneath the Ponte Vecchio and then take a break for a glass of Chianti (you’re in Italy, after all!). Tours start from 60 EUR and last two hours.

11. Check out the Biblioteca delle Oblate

This public library is housed in the former Convent of the Oblate and is a popular study spot for students. It’s an important cultural center too, with an entire section dedicated to local history on the first floor. When you’re done browsing, go to the rooftop terrace for a coffee at the Caffetteria delle Oblate. There’s a great view of the Duomo from here and it’s never crowded with tourists. Note: the cafe is temporarily closed.

12. Admire Santa Croce

Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan church in Italy and holds the tomb of Michelangelo (there are also funerary monuments to Dante and Leonardo da Vinci here too). It’s an interesting place to explore if you have already covered the highlights and have extra time in town. There are usually rotating exhibitions here as well. Admission is 8 EUR.

13. Take a vineyard tour

Florence is surrounded by vineyards, many of which can be accessed via day tours. Most tours visit a couple of vineyards and include some samples. Expect to pay at least 50 EUR per person for a half-day trip. If you have your own vehicle, you can arrange your own tour (but you won’t be able to drink). Many vineyards also operate B&Bs or Airbnbs, which makes for a nice getaway if you want to splash out for a night.

14. Take a food tour

To learn more about the history and culture behind Florence’s cuisine, take a food tour. It’s the best way to eat your way around the city sampling the best eats Florence has to offer while learning what makes the cuisine unique. Devour Tours runs in-depth food tours led by expert local guides that will introduce you to the food culture and its history. If you’re a foodie like me who wants to learn more about the history and culture behind each dish, this tour is for you! Tours from 89 EUR.

For more information on other cities in Italy, check out these guides:

  • Cinque Terre Travel Guide
  • Milan Travel Guide
  • Naples Travel Guide
  • Pisa Travel Guide
  • Rome Travel Guide
  • Sorrento Travel Guide
  • Venice Travel Guide

Florence Travel Costs

Piazza del Duomo filled with tourists in Florence, Italy.

Hostel prices – In peak season, a bed in a hostel dorm with 4-6 beds costs 30-55 EUR per night, while a bed in a dorm with 8-10 beds costs 27-40 EUR.Private rooms cost 85-150 EUR per night during peak season.

In off-peak season, 4-6-bed dorms are 27-33 EUR while 8-10-bed dorms are 25-30 EUR. Private rooms are 70-100 EUR in off-peak season.

Free Wi-Fi is standard and a couple of hostels also have self-catering facilities and offer free breakfast.

Budget hotel prices – During peak season, budget two-star hotels start at 80-90 EUR per night. During off-peak season, rooms start at 60 EUR. Free Wi-Fi and free breakfast are usually included.

On Airbnb, you can find private rooms for as little as 40-75 EUR per night (though prices are usually double that). You can rent entire homes (usually studio apartments) for closer to 100-125 EUR per night if you book early.

Average cost of food – Italian cuisine is beloved around the world, though every region in Italy offers its own distinct flavor. Tomatoes, pasta, and olives and olive oil form the backbone of most meals, with meat and fish and various cheeses rounding out the menu. In Florence, popular dishes include bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine steak), lampredotto (tripe sandwich), tagliatelle funghi porcini e tartufo (pasta with mushrooms and truffles), and of course gelato.

While eating out in the city is expensive, the good thing about Italy is that you can get pizza and pasta for reasonable prices. A filling meal at a casual Italian restaurant won’t cost more than 15 EUR. You can get a small personal pizza for about 10 EUR or less.

If you want to splash out, a mid-range meal with drinks and an appetizer costs around 35 EUR.

You can find cheap sandwich shops all over the city for 4-6 EUR. A fast-food combo (think McDonald’s) costs around 8 EUR.

Chinese takeout is around 6-10 EUR for a noodle or rice dish, while a meal at a Thai restaurant is around 10-15 EUR.

Beer is around 4-5 EUR while a latte/cappuccino costs 1.50 EUR. Bottled water is around 1 EUR.

If you plan on cooking your own food, a week’s worth of groceries costs around 45-55 EUR. This gets you basic staples like pasta, seasonal produce, rice, and some meat.

Backpacking Florence Suggested Budgets

If you’re backpacking Florence, my suggested budget is 65 EUR per day. This assumes you’re staying in a hostel, cooking all of your meals, limiting your drinking, taking public transportation to get around, and doing mostly free activities like walking tours and enjoying the parks and plazas. If you plan on drinking, add 5-10 EUR to your daily budget.

On a mid-range budget of 135 EUR per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb, eat out for a few meals, enjoy a couple of drinks, take the occasional taxi to get around, and do more paid activities like visiting the museums and doing a vineyard tour.

On a “luxury” budget of 250 EUR or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out for all your meals, drink as much as you want, rent a car or take more taxis, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get an idea of how much you need per day. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day, who knows!). We just want to give you a general idea of how to budget your money. Prices are in EUR.

Florence Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Florence is one of the most expensive cities in Italy. A visit here can really set you back, mainly due to all the museum tickets you’ll buy (as well as all the delicious food you’ll eat). Fortunately, there are some ways to save money in Florence. Here are my top tips:

  • Eat cheap – Eating near Piazza della Signoria or in the square can be very expensive. If you move further away from the busy tourist hubs, you’ll find cheaper places to eat.
  • Travel on foot – Public transportation in Florence isn’t quite as necessary as in other European cities because most attractions are within walking distance. Skip the bus and walk if you can. You’ll save a few euros.
  • Get the Firenze Card – If you are going to do lots of sightseeing, this card provides free entry to the top museums, tours, and attractions. It costs 85 EUR and is good for three days. Note: The Firenze Card is currently unavailable.
  • Get a Duomo Pass – If you don’t want to get a Firenze Card but still want to visit the monuments of Piazza del Duomo, you’ll want to get one of the three passes: Brunelleschi, Giotto, or Ghiberti. These range in price from 15-30 EUR depending on which monuments you want to see and are valid for 3 days.
  • Pass on the bread – Some restaurants charge extra for bread or breadsticks set on the table — but they won’t tell you until the bill comes. Decline the bread to save money.
  • Buy wine at the store – You can buy a great bottle of wine at the store for just a few euros. It’s a lot cheaper than drinking at the bar.
  • Stay with a local – Accommodation is expensive in Florence so use Couchsurfing to find free accommodation. It’s the best way to save money and connect with a local who can share their insider tips and advice.
  • Take a free walking tour – This is a great way to learn the history of the city, see the main attractions, and fill in your day without spending a lot of money. Just be sure to tip your guide at the end!
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Florence

There are several budget-friendly hostels in Florence. My favorite places to stay in the city are:

  • Plus Florence
  • Archi Rossi Hostel
  • Ostello Bello Firenze (15% off and a free welcome drink if you’re a member of HostelPass )
  • YellowSquare Florence

How to Get Around Florence

Many bicycles parked in foreground of Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, Italy

Public transportation – Florence, especially the city center, is very walkable. You can get between all the top sights (like the Duomo and the Uffizi) in just a 5-10 minute walk. The furthest you will walk to see just about any attraction is 30 minutes.

That said, if you need public transportation to get around, Florence’s Autolinee Toscane bus system is efficient and reliable. A bus ticket that’s valid for 90 minutes costs 1.50 EUR (or 2.50 EUR if purchased on the bus, though drivers often run out of tickets). You can get tickets at just about any newsstand or kiosk. You can also buy ten 90-minute tickets for 14 EUR.

Bicycle – Florence is mostly flat and ideal for cycling. Rentals start around 10-15 EUR per day. E-bikes cost 30-45 EUR per day.

Taxi – Taxis aren’t cheap here, so I don’t recommend taking them. The base rate is 4 EUR, and then it’s an additional 1 EUR per kilometer. Skip the taxis if you’re on a budget!

When to Go to Florence

Florence is a year-round destination. The warmest months are July and August, which is also peak season. The average high throughout July and August is 31°C (88°F). Temperatures are slightly cooler in June and September, but these months are also very busy.

December and January are the coolest months, with an average high of 11°C (52°F). From March-May and October-November, temperatures average 7-13°C (46-55°F). It gets a bit rainy during this time, especially in November. Make sure you have a few layers with you.

My favorite months to visit are during the spring and fall when the weather is still nice but the crowds have thinned out.

How to Stay Safe in Florence

Florence is a very safe place to backpack and travel – even if you’re traveling solo or even as a solo female traveler. While violent crime is rare, scams and pick-pocketing are common, especially at major tourist sites. Be vigilant around Piazza del Duomo and Ponte Vecchio and always keep your valuables secure and out of sight.

Don’t buy “skip-the-line” tickets from people on the street as they are usually scamming you and selling you fake tickets. To learn more about scams, you can read my post on common travel scams to avoid here.

It’s also a good idea to avoid wandering around the city alone at night, especially in Santa Maria Novella.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe, however, the standard precautions apply (when out at the bar, always keep an eye on your drink, avoid walking home alone at night if you’ve been drinking, etc.).

If you experience an emergency, dial 113 for assistance.

Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Florence Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
  • Take Walks – This walking tour company provides inside access to attractions and places you can’t get elsewhere. Their guides rock and they have some of the best and most insightful tours in all of Italy.
  • BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!

Florence Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Italy and continue planning your trip:

The 6 Best Hotels in Florence

The 6 Best Hotels in Florence

Where to Stay in Florence: The Best Neighborhoods For Your Visit

Where to Stay in Florence: The Best Neighborhoods For Your Visit

Where to Stay in Milan: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Where to Stay in Milan: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

The 6 Best Hotels in Milan

The 6 Best Hotels in Milan

The Best Walking Tours in Florence

The Best Walking Tours in Florence

The 8 Best Hotels in Rome

The 8 Best Hotels in Rome

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  • Where To Stay
  • Transportation
  • Booking Resources
  • Related Blogs
  • Weekend Guide

A Luxury Guide to a Long Weekend in Florence

The capital of Tuscany is awash with bountiful culture, boutique shopping and high-end cuisine.

By Sophie Killip

view of florence from hotel savoy

Once the center of the Roman empire and forever intriguing visitors with its history and culture, when it comes to visiting Europe, Italy is often first on the list of countries to explore. Several of its cities are renowned for their fashion, food or historical interest – but one of the best locations for a weekend break where all of these things harmoniously come together is Florence .

Thanks to its superb architecture and the expansive collections of Renaissance artworks found here, Florence city center was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Nowadays, the Tuscan capital offers visitors everything from culture and history to Michelin-starred dining and high-end, designer fashion. No matter your reason for travel, there is something to fall in love with in Florence.

Here at Elite Traveler , we’ve scoured the city to find the best hotels, eateries and activities for you to enjoy while spending a long weekend in Florence. Whether you want to be living and breathing the city, soaking up the Tuscan sun at a vineyard in the nearby hills or tasting one of the region’s traditional dishes, we’ve got you covered. For the best experience in Florence, choose to avoid the peak summer season – late spring or early fall offer fewer crowds and a more comfortable temperature.

[See also: The Most Beautiful Wineries to Visit in Italy]

Where to Stay

Villa La Massa

villa massa florence tuscany

©Villa Massa

Situated four miles east of Florence’s city center, Villa La Massa is the ideal hotel for those looking to make the most of a long weekend in Tuscany. Set across extensive grounds and giving the feeling of a country estate, the hotel offers the best of both worlds; guests can spend the day exploring the city before escaping to the countryside to lounge by the pool or enjoy an alfresco dinner beside the Arno River.

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Villa La Massa’s country estate feeling is intensified by the fact the hotel occupies a 16 th -century Medici villa and its various outbuildings, including The Mill and La Limonata (where lemons were stored for winter). Each of the 51 rooms and suites are individually styled, with its own character and original features including frescoes on many of the ceilings. The interiors work in harmony with the hotel’s heritage, exuding classic Florentine luxury combined with 21st-century amenities.

The hotel has a range of five-star facilities including a riverside restaurant, Il Verrocchio, which changes throughout the day to offer everything from light lunches to a six-course dinner tasting menu. There is also a second pool-side restaurant for outdoor dining, a charming bar in the main house, a basement gym and an indulgent spa. With everything Villa La Massa has to offer, it would be easy to forgo visiting Florence entirely – but the hotel offers regular shuttles and private transfers, making the 15-minute trip into town a breeze.

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Hotel Savoy

presidential suite at hotel savoy

The Presidential Suite suites has its own sitting room and panoramic views across the city / ©Hotel Savoy

If you’re looking for the heart of the action, the Hotel Savoy is the place to stay during a long weekend in Florence. The city-center hotel overlooks the famous Piazza della Repubblica and is only moments away from other attractions, including Florence’s prime retail street – Via Tornabuoni – which is lined with designer stores. As a Rocco Forte Hotel, Hotel Savoy has a natural grandeur to it; its interiors are a collaboration between Laudemia Pucci (daughter of Emilio Pucci) and Rocco Forte Hotel’s director of design, Olga Polizzi.

Hotel Savoy features a delightful restaurant and a large underground gym for guests to use although it lacks a spa or any kind of communal guest lounge. Instead, the designers have opted to put more space into the 60 guest rooms, which – even at entry-level – have room for at least a sofa or armchair. Opt for the enormous Presidential Suite or choose one of the Grand View suites for your stay. Situated on the fourth floor, these suites have their own sitting rooms and panoramic views across the city with the Duomo as a neighbor.

[See also: Gucci Opens Stylish Cocktail Bar in Florence]

Belmond Villa San Michele

belmond villa san michelle

Belmond Villa San Michele can be found nestled on a wooded hillside five miles north of central Florence / ©Belmond

Offering sweeping views of Florence and the surrounding countryside, Belmond Villa San Michele can be found nestled on a wooded hillside five miles north of central Florence. Despite being further away from the main sights of the city (it’s a 20-minute drive) the hotel’s location means that the summer temperatures are more palatable than in Florence itself. The main hotel building was formerly a monastery originally dating from the 1500s and many of the original features have been preserved, becoming part of the hotel’s charm.

Villa San Michele features a total of 45 guest rooms split between the main house and the garden annexes, each with its own character and charm. Other facilities at the hotel include the pool and immaculate gardens, a small gym, a wellness suite for spa treatments, an elegant bar and two restaurants. Guests are also able to enjoy a range of experiences at Villa San Michele including cocktail making and wine tastings, rafting down the Arno River or private visits to the city’s museums.

Portrait Firenze

portrait hotel florence

The majority of the hotel’s 37 guest suites have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river / ©Portrait Firenze

Set in a prime location on the north bank of the Arno River, the five-star Portrait Firenze is only moments away from the Ponte Vecchio and several of Florence’s other iconic buildings and galleries. A member of the Lungarno Collection of luxury Italian hotels, Portrait Firenze exudes a feeling of modest sophistication; its modern-classic interiors were designed by local Florentine designer Michele Bonan and inspired by the city’s fashionable 50s and 60s.

Despite its city center location, Portrait Firenze offers guests a private, boutique experience that ensures comfort at every step – from the discreet entrance and the sitting-room reception area to the pre-arrival form enquiring about guests’ preferred flowers, newspapers, breakfasts and pillows. The majority of the hotel’s 37 guest suites have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river and are generously sized, which makes up for the fact that the Portrait Firenze’s public areas are limited to the reception room and restaurant.

[See also: Irene Forte Launches Eco-Friendly Spas in Italy]

Safari Wine Tour and Wine Tasting

The rolling hills of Tuscany are renowned for their wines, with perfect conditions for endless vineyards of both red and white grape varieties. As the capital city of the region, whether you’re after a Chianti or a Chardonnay, Florence is a perfect base from which to explore the variety of wineries that the surrounding countryside has to offer. For something a little different to the usual wine tour and tasting, opt for a visit to Valle Picciola.

vallepicciola safari wine tasting

Step aboard the estate’s open-top Jeep for a 30-minute tour of the Vallepicciola vineyards / ©Valle Picciola

A working winery set within the Chianti Classico region, Valle Picciola is an hour’s drive from Florence or ten minutes from the smaller city of Siena. The modern winery estate has taken tours to the next level with its option of a Wine Safari Experience. Step aboard the estate’s open-top Jeep for a 30-minute tour of the Vallepicciola vineyards with your own personal driver and guide. The experience also includes a tour of the winery’s cellars and a private tasting of seven estate red wines, coupled with local cheeses and charcuterie.

If staying at Villa La Massa, this trip can be organized by the concierge team.

Art Experiences with Studio Iguarnieri

Said to have been the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence has had a major influence on the art world for centuries with countless artists having called the city home – including the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello and Michelangelo.

There is a plethora of art galleries across Florence that are worth a visit on your next weekend break, including the Uffizi Gallery (home to a vast collection of Renaissance pieces such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus ) and Academia Gallery (where you can find Michelangelo’s David ).

If pursuing the city’s art galleries sparks your imagination, head over to Studio Iguarnieri to find a creative outlet. Situated moments away from the city center in a beautiful townhouse beside the Arno River, Studio Iguarnieri is one of the best spots for discovering local Florentine art and also offers a range of Art Experiences.

These include lessons on alfresco painting, working with watercolors to one-hour taster sessions at a location of your choice (our session took place in the beautiful gardens at Villa la Massa). True art lovers will enjoy ‘A Day with the Master’, which includes lessons, lunch and visits to the city’s galleries guided by one of the studio’s resident artists.

If staying at Villa La Massa, these art experiences can be organized by the concierge team and the taster session can take place on-site at the hotel.

Sightseeing in Florence

bardini gardens florence

The Bardini Gardens or the Iris Gardens feature an abundance of beautiful plants / ©Getty

As one of the world’s centers of art and culture, it’s impossible to visit Florence without making time to discover the sights the city has to offer. We have already mentioned two of the major art galleries but other landmarks worth visiting on a weekend trip include Florence’s famous cathedral, the Duomo, the Piazza della Signoria, the beautiful Boboli Gardens and the Ponte Vecchio, the city’s legendary old bridge that connects the Uffizi to Palazzo Pitti. Florence also provides a wealth of alternative sights to visit if you prefer to avoid the crowds that can always be found at these top attractions.

Though the Duomo features the iconic dome that can be seen across the city, the smaller Cappelle Medicee – Medici Chapel – features a similar structure and is a celebration of the Medici family, who were once Grand Dukes of Tuscany. The Bardini Gardens or the Iris Gardens feature an abundance of beautiful plants without the heavy footfall that the Boboli Gardens is accustomed to.

Or if it’s views over the city you’re looking for, ignore the guides that suggest Piazzale Michaelangelo. Instead, head slightly further up the hill to Dan Miniato Church for better views and the chance to explore the church itself.

If staying at the hotel, the concierge team at Villa La Massa can arrange any private tours of Florence’s attractions, including travel to and from the city.

What to Eat

Whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience at one of Florence’s seven Michelin-starred restaurants or in the mood for an authentic or traditional Florentine dish, dining in the city has never been better than it is now. With a varied, dynamic food scene thanks to an influx of international chefs and restaurateurs, Florence has become a hub for foodies as well as those interested in history and culture.

For Florence’s signature meat dish, Bistecca al Fiorentina , head to Regina Bistecca. Set to the north of the Duomo, the restaurant features high ceilings and modern finishes – and offers T-bone steak priced by weight. At the understated, elegant Michelin-starred La Bottega del Buon Caffè, expect seasonal farm-to-table dishes paired with a curated wine list and views from the floor-to-ceiling windows out towards the Arno. For other traditional Tuscan fare with views across the river, we love Trattoria Cammillo, which has been owned and run by the same family since 1945.,

[See also: Inside the New Hotel Castello di Reschio]

Sophie Killip

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travel and leisure florence italy

A weekend in Florence: travel guide, attractions and things to do

Everything you need to know for a city break in the beautiful capital of italy’s tuscany region, why you should visit florence.

F lorence, or Firenze, is “always at the top of the most beautiful places in Italy list”, said Rough Guides . This city in Tuscany “has it all”, from world famous museums and glorious architecture to the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio. It’s also home to “historic” markets, “magnificent” gardens and some of the world’s top art collections. If you want to see “probably the finest collection in the entire city”, book an immersive private tour of the Uffizi Gallery. 

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The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is “nothing if not historic”, said Condé Nast Traveler . It attracts around 10 million visitors each year who visit for the city’s “frozen-in-time” palaces, “legendary” attractions, and tourist-friendly Tuscan cuisine and gelato stands. “Ever up for reinvention”, Florence is “modernising” and behind those “classic façades” you’ll find “smart design and influential spaces”. If you’re “still dreaming of your last visit there 20 years ago”, then it’s “time to go back”. There’s plenty more to see.

Top attractions and things to do

When in Florence, of course you must visit the Duomo – one of the “most impressive pieces of architecture in the world” – and Michelangelo’s statue of “David” in the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze, said Sofia Gymer on . You should also visit the Piazza Santa Croce, where the stunning Basilica of Santa Croce resides. With a “striking façade” of coloured marble and an interior “brimming with religious artistic masterpieces”, it’s known for housing the tombs of some of the most famous Italians – the real titans of history. Step inside its cool interior to escape the midday sun and visit the resting places of Galileo Galilei, Michelangelo and Macchiavelli, just to name a few. Do make sure you have a scarf or jacket to cover your shoulders though – this is a requirement for most churches in Florence.

Florence Cathedral 

The Duomo complex incorporating the Baptistery and Giotto’s Bell Tower dominates Florence’s skyline in all its pastel glory. Elaborately decorated in white, pink and green marble, the Duomo took its time to become the iconic structure it is today. Started in 1296, its striking dome – the world’s largest brick dome – was added in 1436 by celebrated architect Filippo Brunelleschi. The striking Gothic Revival façade for which the cathedral is known was only finished in the 19th century. The cathedral and its buildings occupy a large pedestrian piazza, so that visitors have room in which to walk around and admire its splendour. Inside, the décor is fairly stark, and its main appeal are a mosaic floor and the underground remains of a 7th century cathedral.

Giotto’s Bell Tower

The pastel Gothic bell tower next to the cathedral juts nearly 85m into the sky and it’s just 15 square metres at its base. Its pastel marble encrustations match those of the duomo. If your knees are up to it, you can book a ticket to climb its 414 steps. On the way up, pause to catch your breath and admire some of 16 statues situated in various niches along the way – they’re copies of the originals by Italian Renaissance masters such as Donatello and Pisano. The view from the top makes the climb worth it – you’re rewarded with one of the best views of Florence’s red roofs, narrow streets and the Tuscan hills beyond.

Uffizi Gallery

This world-class art museum on the banks of the Arno is an attraction that every visitor must carve out time for. Its collection boasts sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages to the Modern period, but it’s best known for its Italian Renaissance works. For a close-up glimpse of Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” (1482-85) and Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Annunciation” (c. 1472–75), arrive early to avoid the throngs of art lovers. The 16th century horseshoe-shaped building is itself a work of art, with wide, airy halls perfectly designed to showcase its treasures. The place with the most wow-factor is the Tribuna, an octagonal room of scarlet whose dome is decorated with thousands of shells.

Hotel Savoy/Rocco Forte Hotels

Ponte Vecchio

The world-famous symbol of Florence is its oldest bridge, dating from 1345, which crosses the Arno at its narrowest point of 84m. The bridge was always home to shops, but the stench that arose from the butchers, fishmongers and tanneries that originally traded on the edifice prompted Duke Ferdinand de Medici to evict them in 1593 in favour of jewellers and goldsmiths. The situation remains the same today, so it’s the place to head for if you’re looking for a sparkly souvenir. Plus, its central piazza affords guests great views of the river. The bridge’s “back shops”, visible from the east, were added in the 17th century.

Boboli Gardens

Stroll in one of the finest Italianate gardens in the world in the 111-acre grounds of the Pitti Palace, home of the Medici grand dukes of Tuscany. On a peaceful walk among cypress, evergreen oak trees and box hedges you’ll come across garden sculptures that encompasses Roman antiquities as well as works by 16th and 17th century artists. Its pièce de resistance is the awe-inspiring Buontalenti Grotto, a cave-like structure of three rooms featuring fantastical statues, zodiac signs and sculptures. At the gardens’ highest point, it provides a stunning vista of Florence.

Rocco Forte Hotels

Best hotels in Florence 

There are 11 hotels which have been given 9/10 ratings by the experts in The Telegraph . Topping the list is Portrait Firenze, an “exceptional” hotel with a “centralissima” location and a “discreetly luxurious atmosphere”. The hotel’s “sleek and sophisticated” design will “appeal to style hounds”, but the space in the suites and the in-room kitchens make it “an attractive choice for families too”.

Iconic cities “attract travellers with high expectations”, said Travel + Leisure . And the best hotels in Florence “don’t disappoint”. The five best hotels in Florence, according to Travel + Leisure readers, are Portrait Firenze, Hotel Savoy, Helvetia & Bristol Firenze, Hotel Lungarno, and Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. 

Baglioni Hotels & Resorts

The Relais Santa Croce by Baglioni is “a palazzo fit for a Florentine noble”, said Sofia Gymer on . Located in the heart of the ancient Santa Croce district, the hotel’s 24 luxurious rooms and suites are “spacious and thoughtful”, with the “sumptuous” signature suites – Da Verrazzano and De Pepi – each adorned with “magnificent fully frescoed ceilings”. 

Hotel Savoy, part of the Rocco Forte Hotels collection, is a “haven” of Italian style that makes the “perfect base to explore the city from”, said Vicki Power on . Sipping a Campari on the terrace of Hotel Savoy is “a rite of passage for any Italophile”. But don’t make an aperitivo at the Savoy’s Irene Bar “your only acquaintance with this grande dame of Florence hotels”. It’s a “historic” five-star establishment “steeped in history and oozing class”. 

Enoteca Pinchiorri/Facebook

Best restaurants and bars in Florence

Eating, drinking and “embracing la dolce vita” in Florence has “honestly never been so tantalising or diverse”, said Nicola Williams on Lonely Planet . Amid the “breathtaking kaleidoscope” of street tripe carts, wine bars, historical cafes and old-school eateries, there are “spectacular” openings and a “new generation of bold women chefs” reinterpreting culinary traditions. 

Florence has 11 Michelin-starred restaurants – one three-star, one two-star and nine one-star – and nine restaurants that have been awarded a Bib Gourmand . The cuisine at three-star Enoteca Pinchiorri, located in the Baglioni Relais Santa Croce, is “striking for its opulent and grandiose style”, said the Michelin Guide , which “impresses without becoming overly fussy or excessive”. The two-star Santa Elisabetta is “one of the most interesting gourmet restaurants in Florence”, said the Guide . There are just a few tables here, so guests are “advised to book well in advance”.

Ranked at No.39, Locale Firenze is a new entry on The World’s 50 Best Bars list. Hosted in the “historical” Palazzo Concini, this bar is “like a time machine taking guests on a journey through centuries across its two floors”, each a nod to Florentine culture. And the drinks list is “as distinctive as the venue and its atmosphere”. 

Florence’s “rapidly expanding” bar and cocktail scene gives visitors the chance to enjoy happy hours, traditional Italian aperitivo or late-night drinks, said Lauren Caramico on Romeing Firenze . Atrium Bar at the Four Seasons is where “chic meets old-world charm” while Rasputin, a “secret bar located somewhere in Florence”, offers a “speakeasy-style concept, space, and attitude”.

How to get to Florence

Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola, formally known as the “Amerigo Vespucci” airport, is the main aviation gateway in Florence and located just a few miles from the city centre. This makes it “easy to arrange your own transport if needs be”, said The Getaway Lounge . And in terms of public transport, you can take a bus or a tram. There are direct flights to Florence from London Gatwick, London City and Edinburgh airports in the UK. 

The Italian city of Florence Hotel Savoy/Rocco Forte Hotels

2024 Best Hotels in Florence

Hotels ranked on industry awards, guest reviews and hotel class ratings

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Travel Guide

  • # 2 in Best Places to Visit in Italy

This little city, tucked amid the Tuscan hills, casts a long shadow through history. The wellspring of the Renaissance,  Firenze  (or Florence) sheltered the powerful Medici family and inspired artists like Michelangelo (David )  and Brunelleschi (the  Duomo ). If it weren't for the fashionable Italians and chic shops lining   Via Tornabuoni, you might think you had traveled back in time to the 14th century. But Renaissance art is not the only reason to come: You also visit Florence for its gorgeous sunsets, its Italian cooking and its romantic charm. Make the most of your time in the city by letting a local show you around on one of Florence's best tours .

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I Wore This Viral Lululemon Belt Bag Across Italy for 10 Days, and Now I'll Never Vacation Without It

It has so much space that I could easily fit my passport, wallet, sunglasses, and more.

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Travel + Leisure / Reese Herrington

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Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag

This versatile bag is everything you could possibly need in a functional travel pack: At 7.5 inches by 2 inches by 5 inches and with a capacity of 1L, it’s spacious enough for my sunglasses, wallet, passport, keys, and phone, and is easily adjustable to fit across my body when wearing just a tank top and even when I'm tucked away in my winter coat. The primary pocket features mesh pouches on either side, which I usually pack my keys and a lip balm into, and an additional slim pocket on the back of the pouch is my favorite way to ensure my passport stays safe and protected.

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Travel + Leisure / Merrell Readman

I can get overwhelmed if I have too much to carry while I’m traveling, and this bag has shown me the joys of a hands-free vacation experience. It made it much easier to get through TSA and boarding my flight because my passport was always just a short reach away, and even on outings in Florence and Rome, I was happy to not worry about my purse getting snatched off my shoulder if I were to let my guard down. 

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It’s very rare that an item is actually worth the hype that it has garnered, but in this case the Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag has earned every ounce of praise it has received. Not only can it fit a frankly impressive amount of essentials (I’m an overpacker), but it’s also comfortable to wear, sleek, and has quickly become one of the most-used bags in my collection. 

Right now, the shopper-loved belt bag is available at Lululemon starting at $38, and is currently in stock in 14 stylish shades. Just don’t wait too long — it’s notorious for selling out quickly.

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