I’ve reached the final guide for my Italy series for now! Italy is just one of those destinations that I’m itching to get back to and explore more. It is only fitting that since Florence was my last stop on my first stop that it will be the last in this current series. Let’s get to my Italy Travel Guide for Florence!
How to Get There/Transportation Options
- The best way to arrive in Florence is by plane to Florence/Peretola Airport (FLR). Florence is the capital of Tuscany so this will be your best bet.
- If you are already in mainland Italy, take the Eurorail. I took this from the Naples train station which was about a 2.5 hour ride for 50 Euro. The Florence train station is called Fireneze Santa Maria Novella.
- Once you arrive you can either hire a car service, rent a car, grab a taxi or take the train. We simply got into the taxi line right outside of the train station. They have taxis of all sizes for different size groups.
- When you are in Florence, the best way to get around is by walking, taxi, or Uber. The prices between taxis and Uber were about the same. If you are looking for a taxi, you will need to go to a taxi stand. They are not allowed to pick up outside of a stand. You can find one on Google Maps or just by asking a store owner.
Florence Area Overview
- The biggest thing you need to consider in Florence is where to call home base. You need to figure out what attractions and goals are of your trip and pick lodging near there.
- We enjoyed being very close to the Duomo because we were there for Easter. Being as close to the Duomo for the Easter festivities is very important. Check out what Easter is like in Florence here!
- There are so many amazing attractions in Florence to see. I recommend buying your tickets ahead of time with a tour operator with “skip the line” access. Make sure you book your ticket times for early admission. This is the birthplace of the Renaissance! My favorite attractions are the Duomo and the Medici Riccardi Palace.
- Florence is a destination where you can just walk out of your hotel front door and be amazed. To get an overview check out this quick golf tour we did with our grandmother!
Dining Recommendations and Tips
- Each region of Italy has its own spin on Italian food. Tuscany is known for meats and simple fresh dishes.
- Get the Bistecca Florentine! You order this steak by the weight and it is hands down one of the best things I ate in Italy. Make sure you order it from a good place. We had it twice and there is a big difference between going to a place that is known for it and one that is not. Buca Lapi is my recommendation.
- Wine is cheaper than water sometimes! I had many glasses of wine for 2 euros while I was in Italy. They drink it like water so why not indulge. I loved every wine I tried in Florence.
- Tuscany/Florence is said to be the home of gelato. I will tell you I did have my favorite gelato order here. They had a unique flavor that I didn’t see elsewhere and that was a rice flavor that is similar to rice pudding. I recommend this and the dark chocolate from Rivareno Gelato.
- My favorite place for a quick little meal is under this cute bridge that was close to my Airbnb. It is a farm to table style restaurant. Everything from the plating to the food was phenomenal. Check out Ristorante San Michele All’Arco!
Currency and Money Tips
- Italy uses the Euro. You can purchase some ahead of time through your bank. Make sure you purchase at least 2 weeks prior to departure.
- ATMs are going to be your best exchange rate to pull out cash.
- Always have cash on you in Florence. Some of the little shops do not take cards. It is honestly easier to leave a few coins on the counter for your morning coffee versus waiting for your credit card to be run.
- Visa and Mastercard are the primary credit cards that are accepted. American Express was hit or miss here.
- Take a credit card that does not have foreign transaction fees. Not sure if your card has fees? Give them a call before you travel!
Hotels & Rentals
- If you have a big party, I recommend this AirBnb. I stayed in this one with a group of 6 adults and 1 child. The rooftop terrace with a view of the Duomo was amazing! We spent a lot of time up there.
- If you are going to stay in a hotel, book it ahead of time. Based on my recommendation of being near the Duomo, I would recommend the Grand Hotel Cavour Florence.
- Remember bed sizing in European hotels are typically smaller and more unique than in US-based hotels.
My Personal Recommendations:
- Consider going on the shoulder season which is Mid-April/May or September/October. The weather is still beautiful and there are fewer tourists.
- Get in moderate cardio shape prior to arriving. It is easy to do a lot of walking here.
- If you cannot decide which attractions to do, try a hop on/hop off bus to get your bearings of the land. This is also a great option if you have people in your party who struggle physically.
- Learn some Italian before you go. I recommend Rosetta Stone since they have a great Travel oriented program. It is Italy so be respectful and learn a few phrases.
- Florence is a great stop for 2-3 days. If I get back to Tuscany it would be a day visit for me with a stay somewhere else in Tuscany. It was beautiful and I loved the history/art. It was my least favorite of all the destinations.
- If you want the best photos, get up for sunrise and head to your favorite attractions. By getting up early I was able to get photos without people at the Duomo.
- For the best city view shot head up to the San Michelangelo Gardens. You won’t be disappointed!
Florence is one of those places that are very touristy that you are almost obligated to visit. I love renaissance history and this city is full of it. If you know anything about the Medici family and the Pazzi conspiracy, walking through these streets and Palazzo Signoria is humbling. Overall it wasn’t my favorite place out of all of Italy. It was worth the stop but it will be a while before I go back to Florence specifically.
Spending more time in Italy? Check out my Rome guide here.