A Complete Guide to Visiting Florence

visiting Florence
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Your ultimate guide to Florence – a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Italy.  With its picturesque orange-hued buildings, impressive churches, delectable food, and a vibrant nightlife, it’s no wonder that Florence is considered one of the most charming places in Italy.

Having visited Florence twice now, I’ve put together a complete guide for you with recommendations on where to stay, eat, and what to see and do when you visit Florence.  Thus – a complete guide to visiting Florence!

 

A Complete Guide to Visiting Florence

 


For more travel through Florence and Italy, don’t miss:

Visiting Rome, Florence, & Verona in 8 Days

How to Spend One Day in Florence


 

Where to Stay in Florence

When visiting Florence, finding a place to stay is easy as the city is compact and easily walkable.  There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from, but both times I’ve visited Florence I’ve stayed south of the Arno River between the Ponte Vecchio and Pitti Palace.  This is where all of the main tourist attractions are – and although it can be congested with tourists, the area is worth it for its convenience.

On my last visit to Florence, I rented an apartment from Genteel Home Apartments and was pleasantly surprised.  If you’re looking for a comfortable and memorable stay in Florence, consider renting an apartment from Genteel Home Apartments. Their exceptional service and beautiful apartments will make your stay a truly enjoyable experience.

 

Getting to/Around Florence

Getting to and around Florence is easy for its many different transportation options.  The city is well-connected by train, with direct services from other popular Italian cities such as Rome, Venice, and Milan.  There is also an airport in Florence, or you can arrive by car or bus.  Once you’re in the city, walking is the best way to get around as most attractions are within walking distance.

 


If you’re traveling to Florence from Rome, don’t miss:  A Complete Guide to Visiting Rome


 

BY PLANE

Florence has a small airport, Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR), located just 4 km from the city center. However, it has limited flight options and is mostly used for domestic flights within Italy or connecting flights from other European cities. If you’re coming from outside Europe, you may have to fly to Rome or Milan and take a train or drive to Florence.

If you arrive by plane, the cheapest option is to to take the T2 tram to the city center.  The T2 tram runs from early morning to late at night and runs every 5-10 minutes during peak hours, and every 15-20 minutes during off-peak hours.  The ride from the airport to the city center will take about 25 minutes.  You can purchase a ticket at the airport or any ATAF ticket office in Florence.  A single-use ticket costs €1.50 and is valid for 90 minutes from the time it is validated (something you do once you board the train).  You can also purchase a day pass for €5.00, which allows unlimited travel on all public transportation in Florence for 24 hours from the time it is validated.

Alternatively, if you want a private driver waiting for you upon arrival into Florence, you can book that here.

 

BY TRAIN

The main train station in Florence is Santa Maria Novella, which is located in the heart of the city. It is well-connected with other major Italian cities, such as Rome, Venice, and Milan, as well as international destinations like Paris, Munich, and Vienna. The train is a great option for traveling within Italy and provides a scenic journey through the countryside.

When traveling by train in Italy, I prefer to use Omio to search for ticket options and times.

 

BY CAR

Driving to Florence is also an option, especially if you plan to explore other parts of Tuscany during your trip. However, driving in Florence can be difficult due to the narrow streets and heavy traffic. If you do choose to drive, I recommended parking outside the city center and using public transportation or walking.

 

PLANNING TO RENT A CAR TO DRIVE THROUGH TUSCANY?

 

WALKING/TAXI

Getting around Florence itself is relatively easy, as the city is compact and most attractions are within walking distance of each other. However, if you prefer not to walk, there are several options for public transportation, including buses, trams, and taxis. The bus and tram system in Florence is efficient and affordable, with tickets available for purchase at newsstands or ticket machines. Taxis can also be hailed on the street or booked in advance.  To book a taxi in advance you can book on Talixo or use the app TaxiCaller.

 

The Best Restaurants in Florence

Pizza, pasta, gelato – oh my!  Florence is famous for its delicious cuisine, and no visit is complete without sampling some of the local delicacies.  Here are some must-visit restaurants for foodies visiting Florence…

 

ALL’ANTICO VINAIO – Sandwiches

This famous sandwich shop is a must-visit in Florence. They serve delicious sandwiches made with freshly baked bread, quality meats, and cheese.  The shop is always busy, but it’s worth the wait for a quick and casual lunch.

 

ATELIER DE’ NERLI – Italian

Atelier de’ Nerli is located in a historic building and offers traditional Tuscan cuisine.  The menu features dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, such as homemade pasta, grilled meats, and seafood.  It’s the perfect option for a more elegant night out.

 

GELATARIA LA CARRAIA – Gelato

Across from the Carraia bridge you’ll find this incredible gelato shop loved by the locals.   They serve creamy gelato in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, hazelnut, and pistachio.

 

GUSTAPIZZA – Pizza

Gustapizza serves some of the best pizza in Florence.  The pizza is made with high-quality ingredients, cooked in a wood-fired oven, the crust is thin and crispy, and the toppings are fresh and flavorful.  You can even ask for it to be made into a heart shape!

 

I FRATELLINI – Sandwiches

This charming sandwich shop is located near the Ponte Vecchio and is perfect for a quick bite.  They serve freshly made sandwiches with a variety of fillings, such as prosciutto, salami, and cheese.  The fillings are generous, the bread is freshly baked, and even with a long line, it’s worth the stop.  I highly recommend the porchetta with pecorino cream.

 

LA GIOSTRA – Italian

If you’re looking for a romantic dinner spot, La Giostra is the perfect choice.  The restaurant has an enchanting ambiance with twinkle lights adorning the ceiling, and the food is superb.  It’s a family-run restaurant known for its warm atmosphere and traditional Tuscan cuisine.

 

LA MENAGERE – Italian

La Menagerie is a unique concept store and restaurant, and is an excellent choice for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or cocktails.  The decor is stylish and chic, and it’s a fun spot to stop in whether you’re shopping, dining, or drinking.

 

LA PROSCIUTTERIA – Charcuterie

For an authentic charcuterie experience, head to La Prosciutteria (that is, if you’re a meat lover).  They offer an impressive selection of cured meats, cheeses, and wines, and their platters are perfect for sharing.

 

OSTERIA DELL’ENOTECA – Italian

This charming restaurant serves traditional Tuscan dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.  I was highly impressed with the quality of food, not to mention their wine list is extensive, featuring some of the best local wines.  It’s the perfect place for traditional food and wine.

 

OSTERIA VECCHIO CANCELLO – Italian

This family-run restaurant is located in the Oltrarno district and serves traditional Tuscan cuisine.  I loved this restaurant because it felt more off the beaten path and had a true, warm, Italian feel to it.  While most reviews raved about the steak, I would steer clear and stick to the pastas and other dishes on the menu instead.

 

 

The Best Bars in Florence

Florence has a lively nightlife scene, with plenty of bars and pubs to choose from (something that surprised me!).  Here are some of the best bars to visit when in Florence…

 

ENOTECA BELLINI – Wine

Located near the historic center of Florence, Enoteca Bellini is a wine bar that offers a wide selection of Italian wines, as well as some international options.  The bar is named after the famous Venetian painter, Giovanni Bellini, and features beautiful murals of his work on the walls.  The atmosphere is cozy and intimate, making it the perfect spot for a romantic evening out.

 

IL SANTINO – Wine

This wine bar is located in the hip Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood and is known for its extensive wine list and delicious small bites.  The bar is small and intimate, with a rustic and cozy ambiance.  The owners are passionate about wine and are always happy to make recommendations based on your taste preferences.

 

MANIFATTURA – Cocktails

This cocktail bar is located in the Oltrarno neighborhood and is known for its creative and innovative drinks.  The bar has a sleek and modern interior and features a rotating menu of cocktails that incorporate unique ingredients and flavors.  The bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly, and are happy to create a custom cocktail based on your preferences.

 

RASPUTIN – Speakeasy

This speakeasy-style bar is located in the historic center of Florence and is known for its unique and whimsical decor.  The bar is hidden behind an unmarked door, adding to the speakeasy vibe.  The drinks are expertly crafted and feature a mix of classic and modern cocktails.  This was my favorite bar in Florence.

 

The Best Things to See and Do in Florence

 

ACADEMIA GALLERY

The Academia Gallery is one of Florence’s most famous museums, and is home to some of the city’s most famous works of art.  The museum is best known for its collection of Renaissance art, including Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, David.  I recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time so that you don’t have to wait in line.

 

DAY TRIP TO THE TUSCANY WINE REGION

Tuscany is one of Italy’s most famous wine regions, and is known for producing some of the world’s best wines.  Visitors can take a day trip from Florence to explore the rolling hills and picturesque vineyards of the region, and sample some of the famous Chianti and Brunello wines.  There are many tour companies that offer day trips to the region, or visitors can rent a car and explore on their own.

I joined a tour and wouldn’t recommend it to others.  Instead, I’d suggest renting a car and going at it on your own.  If you do decide to do a tour, here are some recommended tours through Viator…

 

PIAZZALE MICHELANGELO (at sunset)

The Piazzale Michelangelo is a famous square in Florence that offers panoramic views of the city.  The square is particularly beautiful at sunset, when the sky turns shades of pink and orange and the city lights up.  I suggest going up early to grab a spot, bringing a bottle of wine, and enjoying as the sunsets.

 

PITTI PALACE & BOBOLI GARDEN

The Pitti Palace is a large Renaissance palace located on the south side of the Arno River.  The palace was originally built for the Pitti family, and later became the residence of the Medici family.  Today, the palace houses several museums and galleries, including the Palatine Gallery and the Museum of Costume and Fashion.  The Boboli Garden is a large park behind the palace that features beautiful sculptures, fountains, and green spaces.

I highly recommend doing both the Pitti Palace and Bobble Gardens, which you can purchase a combined ticket for.  I also suggest purchasing ahead of time so that you can skip the line.

 

PONTE VECCHIO

The Ponte Vecchio is one of Florence’s most famous landmarks, and is the oldest bridge in the city.  The bridge is known for its iconic design and is lined with shops selling gold and jewelry.  Visitors can walk across the bridge and enjoy views of the Arno River and the city but I think the most charming part of the Ponte Vecchio is viewing it from the Ponte Santa Trinita bridge.

 

WALK AROUND THE PIAZZA DEL DUOMO

The Piazza del Duomo is the central square in Florence, and is home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the Duomo, the Baptistery, and the Campanile.  Visitors can walk around the square and admire the beautiful architecture, or climb to the top of the Duomo or Campanile for stunning views of the city.  There are also several cafes and restaurants in the square where visitors can stop for a drink or a bite to eat – just know these places generally aren’t as good and prices are much higher.

 

Misc Information About Visiting Florence

Below you’ll find other simple facts about traveling to Italy, plus what I would recommend packing with you!

  • Language:  Italian (although almost everyone speaks English making it very easy to get around)
  • Currency:  Euro (€) – everywhere I went took credit/debit card and I did not have to have cash on hand
  • Power Adapter:  The Italian plugs are different than American, so I would recommend bringing a power adapter with you.  I also noticed that some places only took a three-prong adapter, while others took the typical European, two-prong adapter.  I would recommend bringing an adapter that can switch between two and three prong (like this one).
  • Travel Insurance:  When traveling abroad, I like to purchase travel insurance for peace of mind and coverage if anything were to go wrong.  I use and recommend SafetyWing.
  • Luggage:  My favorite backpack to travel with is the Nordace Siena Smart Backpack.  It’s so spacious and I never leave home without it.

 

All in all, Florence is a must-visit destination that won’t disappoint.  Follow this guide for an unforgettable experience when you visit Florence.

 


For a more visual look at Florence, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlights reel by searching “#ppinitaly” and “Italy” highlights


 

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Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no cost to you.

 


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Kylee is a NICU nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee has been a NICU nurse for 9 years and a travel nurse for 7 years. Since starting her career in travel nursing, she’s worked in six different states, 10 different hospitals, volunteered as a nurse in North Macedonia, worked as a nurse in Saudi Arabia, and has traveled to 45+ countries. Her favorite travel nurse assignment was in Seattle and her favorite destination is Georgia (the country). Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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