Florence Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated August 27, 2019

Florence, the capital of Tuscany in Italy, is the world’s #1 priceless city. According to UNESCO, you will find here a third of the world’s art treasures. Florence was the birthplace of Renaissance, and the center of finance and trade in medieval Europe. It was one of the wealthiest cities. Florence is often called the ‘Athens of the Middle Ages’. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

According to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) data, Florence received 4,878,500 tourists in 2016, an improvement of 1.5% over 2015. Just 282.9 kilometers from Rome or 3 hours and 20 minutes by the A1/E35, almost every tourist visiting Italy will come to the city. A flight will take a little more than an hour.

In Florence, you can see the masterpieces of Machiavelli, Francesco Guicciardini, Giovanni Boccaccio, Petrarch, and Dante Alighieri. Visit the Accademia, Bargello, and Uffizi, which are the main viewing galleries. There are galleries, museums and boutiques at virtually every corner. Visit Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, Giotto’s Campanile, Basilica of Santa Croce, Baptistery of St. John, Piazza della Signoria, Boboli Gardens, and the iconic landmark the Florence Cathedral.

Experience the romance of walking on cobblestoned streets where once walked the world’s most famous people. From Florence, you can also visit the wonderful Tuscany region, Cinque Terra, and the leaning tower at Pisa. Cinque Terra is just 183.6 kilometers from the city, and Pisa is only 85.6 kilometers away.

In 1339, Florence became the first city in Europe to have paved streets. The people of the city are called Florentines or Fiorentinos.

Florence Map

Florence – 10 Quick Facts

  1. Florence is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region.
  2. Currency – Euro
  3. Florence is spread over 102.4 square kilometers.
  4. Population – 380,000 as of 2017
  5. Time Zone – Central European Standard Time
  6. ISD Code – +39
  7. Main Language – Italian. Distinct Florentine dialect.
  8. 10.2 million tourists visited Florence in 2017.
  9. Peretola is the city’s only airport. It is 10 kilometers from the city center.
  10. Florence has buses, trams and commuter railway. The city center is best seen on foot.

How To Reach Florence

  • Flight – Amerigo Vespucci is the international airport. The locals call it ‘Peretola’. The city center is 15 minutes by bus or taxi. Many cheaper airlines like Easyjet, Wizzair, Thomsonfly, HLX, and Ryanair land at the Pisa airport. There is a bus and rail connection between the two airports.
  • Train – There are fast and modern trains from all main Italian cities. There are local trains and also express trains from several European destinations. There are overnight trains from Munich, Vienna and Paris. Firenze Santa Maria Novella is the main station. Many trains also stop at Firenze Rifredi and Firenze Campo Marte. Transfer between stations is usually included in the ticket price. Take a bus from the station to reach the city center.
  • Car – Good highways connect Florence to the other Italian cities. A-1 Autostrada connects the city to Milan, Bologna, and Rome. Those going to and arriving from Siena can also take this. Traffic violations are common, though.
  • Bus – There is a regular bus service to the city from all important Italian towns. The stops have clear labeling. Buy a ticket in advance.

Getting Around

  1. Walking – The city is best seen on foot. Most of the attractions are within an easy walking distance. You can walk from one side of the historic center to the other in about 30 minutes. In fact, many streets in central Florence don’t allow traffic. They are strictly for pedestrians.
  2. Bicycle – There are bike rental services. You can hire one in many places. Many hotels too provide free bicycles. The historic center is easy to bike as it is flat, but there are hills in the south and north. BikeCityGuide is a popular bike app in the city.
  3. Taxi – They are usually called by phone. The meter starts ticking as soon as the call is received. There are a few taxi stands too where you can get one. Remember, most taxis in Florence won’t accept a credit card. Also, taxis are more expensive here.
  4. Bus – ATAF runs public buses in the city. You can buy tickets at the bus or from ticket machines at important stops. Bus tickets are also available at train stations. 3-day ticket costs €12, while a day ticket is €5. Get a bus map before you plan to take this mode of transport.
  5. Tram – There is a single tram line connecting the Santa Maria Novella train station with the Scandicci suburb in the southwest. It runs for 7.4 kilometers. There are 14 stops. ATAF bus tickets can also be used on trams. The trams operate between 5 AM and 12.30 AM.
  6. Car – It is almost impossible to drive in the historic center. Only the locals who have a permit can drive here. Violators are tracked and fined. There are cameras everywhere. Florence also has some of Europe’s smallest streets, so you cannot enter them in a car. Also, only residents with a permit can park in the parking zones at the historic center. Some hotels, however, can issue a 30-minute exemption.

Top Reasons To Visit Florence

Art and Culture Florence was the center of creativity in Europe. The art galleries and museums are packed with masterpieces. See the work of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Titian, Da Vinci, Giotto.
Renaissance The birthplace of Renaissance. Every city corner has a story. There are beautiful art and buildings you cannot miss.
Uffizi Gallery The world’s most famous art gallery housing Renaissance masterpieces.
The Duomo The iconic landmark. Ancient, ornate church can be seen from almost everywhere. Panoramic views from the top.
Architecture See the many beautiful buildings and cathedrals, some dating back hundreds of years. Florence can compete with any city in architecture.
Gorgeous Tuscany Visit the rolling hills and small villages of the Tuscan countryside. The medieval towns are Siena, Lucca, and Bologna is close. Visit the vineyards. Go on a wine tour.
Food and Drink Foodies love Florence. The Florentine Steak is delicious and takes its name from the city. Try pastas cooked with mushrooms also.
Fashion Famous fashion houses came from Florence. There is Prada, Gucci, and Salvatore Ferragamo. Tuscany region is famous for its leather.
Red lily is the emblem of Florence. It derives from the white iris called ‘Florentine Iris’ common to the region.

How To Visit Florence On A Budget

  • Florence is cheaper than other Italian cities like Rome and Milan.
  • You will get discounts in the spring and fall. The queues will be less too. The summer time is very popular. Expect everything to be costlier then. There will also be a lot more tourists.
  • Go for a picnic lunch or have a local ‘pizza by the slice’ to save money on food. There are ‘modest kitchens’ serving home cooked meals at a lower price.
  • There are budget hotels and home-stay options in Florence that will help you stay comfortable for less. Avoid the city center. It is a small city, so transit time will be less even if you are staying in the outskirt to save money.

Weather in Florence

Months Max Temp °C Min Temp °C Rainfall Days
January 11 2 11
February 12 3 8
March 16 5 9
April 19 8 13
May 24 12 9
june 28 16 8
July 32 18 9
August 32 18 6
September 27 15 5
October 21 11 12
November 15 6 14
December 11 3 13

 

Best Time To Visit Florence

The best time to visit Florence is between September and October, and again between April and May. You will have comfortable in these times. There will be fewer tourists as well. Summer months attract a lot more tourists. It can also be hot.

  • Spring – Mild weather with warm days and cool nights. Good time to explore the beautiful Tuscan countryside that explodes with flowers. You will also enjoy the gardens and open spaces within the city. Grab a cone of gelato and walk around the city for a rewarding experience. Fashion houses bring out their spring collections.
  • Summer – Most tourist time. Make sure to buy your ticket for major attractions like churches, museums, galleries and gardens in advance. Expect many more tourists in the streets and alleys. Waiting at cafes, restaurants.
  • Fall – Summer crowds thin out. Hotels offer discounts. With the leaves turning, the city dresses in red and gold colors. Fall is wine season in Tuscany. There are wine festivals and tastings in the vineyards.
  • Winter – Winter provides an authentic experience, without the crowds. Enjoy the charming Christmas markets, festive cheer and the decorations.

Best Neighborhoods For Tourists

Piazza Della Signoria – The main plaza where the city’s most famous church and the Duomo is located. It is always buzzing with activity. There are many souvenir shops, restaurants and stalls selling food, clothes and jewelry. You can walk to the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, Brunelleschi, and Palzzo Vecchio.

Santa Croce – Santa Croce Piazza is in eastern Florence. It is a large open space surrounded by shops, stalls and eateries. Just a few minutes’ walk away is the Sant Ambrogio market, one of the biggest in Florence. This neighborhood gives you a feel of being in the heart of an Italian city, but is walking distance from the main attractions. There are many places to party and go clubbing.

Santa Maria Novella and San Lorenzo – These neighborhoods are west of the city center. There are many historical churches, piazzas and museums. The market area has a mix of locals and tourists. It is lively with affordable clothing shops, boutiques, leather goods stores and places to eat. Do not forget to see the Medici chapels, Church of Ognissanti and Chapel of the Magi.