City trip to Florence, Firenze in Italian, is a delightful city and the perfect destination for a city trip. No wonder that every year millions of tourists from all over the world visit Florence. The city is packed with history, art and culture. Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region and the birthplace of the Renaissance. The old city centre is compact and every street, square or alley shows the grandeur of the historic past. Florence is home to one-fifth of the Western art treasures. Many are on display in Uffizi Gallery, the top tourist attraction in Florence.
The eye-catcher of Florence is the Cathedral, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, with its impressive dome. The Piazza della Signoria is a large square and the meeting place of locals and tourists alike. The impressive Palazzo Vecchio overlooks the square where you can admire a copy of Michelangelo’s sculpture: ‘David’. The original is in the Accademia Gallery. Be sure to amble up and down famous Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone bridge spanning the River Arno. The Oltrarno district is a maze of narrow, quiet streets and alleys with an ancient Italian village atmosphere. When you have taken in enough culture and history during your city trip to Florence, relax in one of the shady parks or gardens such as the Giardino di Boboli, or indulge in shopping in one of the many shopping areas in the centre of Florence.
Florence City Passes
Purchase a city pass if you want to enjoy Florence without hassle. City passes are a relaxed way to see the city in a cost-effective way. They allow you free entry to the most important sights and museums in the city. This way you save time and money because the pass is often cheaper than a single ticket besides you can skip the lines at popular attractions such as the Duomo and the Galleria degli Uffizi. Many passes also include public transport or the hop-on hop-off bus. There are two city passes for Florence: Florence City Pass and the Firenze Card. Purchase them online in advance.
Compare City Passes:
- The Florence City Pass allows skip-the-line entry to the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery. If you are not interested in Galleria Dell’Accademia, you can opt instead for free entry to the cathedral and admire the beautiful dome. What’s more, a 24-hour ticket for the hop-on-hop-off bus and airport transfer (Pisa or Florence) to the city is included in this pass.
- The Firenze City Pass is perfect for a Florence City Trip. The card is available for 1, 2, or 3 days and makes sure your spot at the most popular museums is reserved. Dodge the long waiting queues this way. Also, the card hold great discounts at other attractions in Florence. And finally, it also offers access to the Shuttle Bus to go to Barberino Designer Outlet.
- The Tuscany Day Pass is a must-have if you want to go on a day trip to Florence, Siena or Pisa from your campsite, hotel or holiday home in Tuscany. This pass includes a train return ticket to Florence or a parking place for your car in the city centre as well as skip the line entry to the Uffizi Gallery and a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus in Florence. What’s more, this pass also allows discounts on other sights and museums in Florence.
Compare Florence City Passes and Day Cards:
Florence City Pass
Galleria degli Uffizi
OR Dome of the cathedral
Hop-on hop-off bus
No time pressure
Firenze City Pass
Reservation at the most popular museums
Discounts on al other major attractions
Shuttle bus to Barberino Designer Outlet
Transport by train
OR parking place for your car
Galleria degli Uffizi
Hop-on hop-off bus
To Florence by plane
Budget and other airlines that connect European cities to Florence Airport are Air France, Alitalia, British Airways, Eurowings, KLM, Lufthansa, Vueling and more. Florence Airport is 8 km from the city centre and travel time is 20 minutes. In 1990, the airport was renamed after Florence-born Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian merchant and cartographer. However, it is mostly referred to as Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola. Pisa Airport is another airport in the vicinity of Florence, 80 kilometers away, and connected to Florence by bus and train. Journey time to Florence is just over an hour.
From the airport to Florence city centre
Buses and taxis connect Florence Airport, Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola, to the city centre. Every 30 minutes, from 5.30 am to 8.30 pm buses depart from the airport to Santa Maria Novella central station in Florence. After 8.30 pm buses run every hour. Journey-time is about 20 minutes. A single ticket costs 6 euros. The price of a taxi is 20 to 30 euros. When you arrive at Pisa Airport, you take the Pisa Mover to Pisa Centrale station. The Pisa Mover is a fully automatic monorail that takes travellers from the airport to the centre of Pisa in 5 minutes. The train to Florence departs three times per hour from Pisa Station. A one-way ticket is about 9 euros. Airport Bus Express bus is a direct connection to Santa Maria Novella Station in Florence and takes 70 minutes. It is operated by the Autostradale bus company and the bus leaves the airport at least once per hour. A single ticket costs 12 euros.
Hotel or B&B in Florence
Finding accommodation in Florence is easy because the city has many hotels, B&B’s, hostels and apartments: from luxurious five-star boutique hotels to hostels in the suburbs and from campsite to villas with swimming pools. Be prepared to pay double the price during international fairs when many accommodations are fully booked.
If you want to splash out, stay in Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy (Piazza della Repubblica 7). This five-star hotel is located in the heart of Florence, close to the Duomo. Fitness centre, an excellent restaurant and complimentary transfer from and to the airport will make your stay here most pleasant. Less pricey but equally good is Golden Tower Hotel & Spa (Piazza Strozzi 11 / r). Stylishly furnished Hotel Guicciardini 24 (Via de ‘Guicciardini 24), is a comfortable mid-price hotel, located in the city centre. Hotel Perseo (via de’Cerretani 1) is another mid-price hotel. Hostel Plus Florence (Via Santa Caterina D’Alessandria 15) is an excellent choice for budget travellers. The roof terrace offers a wonderful view of the cathedral. This hostel also has a sauna and swimming pool.
Florence has numerous B&Bs, often with real Italian atmosphere. Many are located in old palaces and mansions decorated with frescoes, original walls or even a sketch that can be attributed to one of the great masters. B&B Le Stanze di Santa Croce (Via delle Pinzochere 6) is located in the heart of Florence, only a few meters away from the beautiful Santa Croce church and close to all major sights. Warm colours and beautiful, handmade cupboards, tables and beds ensure a special stay!
Things to see and do in Florence
The centre of Florence is like an open-air museum! The pink, green and marble of the cathedral sparkles in the sunlight. The imposing bronze doors of adjacent Battistero (Baptistry) are awe-inspiring. Palazzo Vecchio is the eye catcher on Piazza della Signoria. The Uffizi Gallery, on the same square is the museum where many works of Renaissance artists are on display: Michelangelo, Botticelli and Raphael and many more. Be sure to walk across picturesque Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone bridge spanning the River Arno and originally occupied by butchers’ shops but now art dealers, jewelers and souvenir sellers have taken their place. A rewarding walk, albeit quite a climb, leads to the church of San Miniato al Monte. The sweeping view is breathtaking. The church is the best preserved Renaissance church in Tuscany!
TIP: An excellent way to start your sightseeing tour in Florence during your city is a ride on a the Hop-on Hop-off bus. Relax and lean back while you pass iconic highlights of the Tuscan capital. You decide where to get off, which attraction or which museum you visit then you hop on again to see even more highlights.
Duomo and Campanile
How to get there
The Duomo and the bell tower are located in Piazza del Duomo, next to the Baptistry (Battistero). The square is an 11-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella Station.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as il Duomo, is the most impressive sights in Florence and one of the largest churches in the world. The cathedral with its impressive dome and slender bell tower dominates the skyline. The dome of the Duomo is one of the biggest attractions in Florence. It was designed by Brunelleschi and is a masterpiece of architecture. After climbing 463 steps, a glorious view of Florence opens in front of you. The spectacular fresco on the inside of the dome is named The Last Judgment and the artist is Giorgio Vasari.
The Campanile is the bell tower next to the Duomo. The tower is also named Giotto’s tower, after its designer: Giotto di Bondone. The bell tower is 85 meters high and you can climb all the way to the top. Because of the small and narrow stairs, the climb up seems steeper than it is. The view from the top is breathtaking.
TIP: The Florence City Pass and the Firenze Card include tickets for the Duomo and for the dome. Purchase one of these passes online in advance and save both time and money!
Churches in Florence
How to get there
The Basilica di Santa Maria Novella is located on Piazza Santa Maria Novella, near the central station of Florence of the same name. The Sante Croce is on Piazza di Santa Croce and the Basilica di San Lorenzo on Piazza di San Lorenzo. All are within walking distance of each other.
Besides the cathedral, Florence prides itself on a large number of churches, the one more beautiful than the other. Highlights in the centre of the city are the Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella and the Basilica di San Lorenzo. The Santa Croce is a magnificent Gothic basilica on the Piazza Santa Croce. This church is best known for the many famous citizens of Florence who were buried here: Galileo Galilei, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Niccolò Machiavelli, Giorgio Vasari, Gioacchino Rossini and Michelangelo. Poet and statesman Dante Alighieri is commemorated with a memorial plaque in the church. He died in exile and was buried in Ravenna. An imposing statue of Dante in front of the church embellishes Piazza Croce. Santa Maria Novella is one of the larger churches in Florence. The church has an elegant façade and a number of chapels inside are adorned with exquisite frescoes and paintings. Capella Strozzi, Capella Tornabuoni and especially ‘La Trinita’ fresco by Masaccio are other must-sees during a Florence city trip. Don’t be disappointed by the plain brick façade of the Basilica di San Lorenzo, the interior makes up for this and is extremely beautiful.
This church used to be the De Medici’s family church. Brunelleschi and Donatello were responsible for the design and decoration of the Sagrestia Vecchia, or the Old Sacristy, which served as the family chapel for the Medici family.
How to get there
The Battistero is on Piazza del Duomo, next to the Duomo and the bell tower. Piazza del Duomo is an 11-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella Station.
The Florence Baptistery also known as Baptistery of Saint John (Battistero di San Giovanni) is one of the oldest buildings in Florence. It was built between 1059 and 1128 in Romanesque style and octagonal in shape. The eight sides are clad in white and green marble. The baptistery is dedicated to John the Baptist (San Giovanni), who is the patron saint of the city. Up to the twelfth century the building served not only as a baptistery, but also as a cathedral. After the construction of the Duomo, which is right next to it, its function was only baptisms. Until the nineteenth century, most children born in Florence and the surrounding area were baptized here, including well-known citizens such as Dante and Michelangelo. The ceiling of the chapel is worth a closer look. The sparkling mosaics and the bronze entrance doors designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti are true masterpieces. The doors are replicas as the originals are too precious. If you want to see the original doors, visit Museo dell’Opera del Duomo behind Florence Cathedral.
How to get there
Ponte Vecchio is a 2-minute walk from Piazza della Signoria. Uffizi Gallery is in between this bridge and the square. It is a 12-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella Station.
Ponte Vecchio, or the Old Bridge, is one of the most photographed spots in Florence. This arched bridge spans the River Arno and dates back to 1345, however, the Etruscans had here already a place to cross the river. Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence that was spared during floods in the city neither was it damaged in World War II. The foundation of the bridge has not been changed since the fourteenth century. Walking across it, takes you back to the Middle Ages. The bridge has always hosted shops and merchants and today you will find here mostly jewellery and souvenir shops. In the Middle Ages the bridge was the domain of the tanner’s guild and later of butchers and fish farmers. The offal was dumpedrown directly into the river which caused an unbearable stink. That’s why in the sixteenth century the butchers and fish farmers had to leave the bridge. Ferdinand I de’Medici, who lived in nearby Palazzo Pitti, decided that from then on only goldsmiths and silversmiths were allowed to do business on the bridge.
Piazza della Signoria
How to get there
The Piazza della Signoria is next to the Uffizi Gallery, near the Arno River. The square is a 7-minute walk from the Duomo or an 11-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella Station.
Undisputed highlights in Florence are Piazza della Signoria with the Palazzo Vecchio, Michelangelo’s statue of David, the Neptune fountain and the Loggia dei Lanzi. Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence but also houses some museums and halls, with beautiful frescoes, carvings and paintings. Well worth a visit! Climb the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Torre di Arnolfo, for s sweeping view of the city. In front of the Palazzo Vecchio is a copy of the world famous statue ‘David’ by Michelangelo, probably the best known and most photographed sculpture in the world. The original is in the Galleria dell’Accademia. Fine sculptures such as Perseus and Medusa by Cellini and the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna are in the covered sculpture gallery Loggia dei Lanzi.
Tip: The terrace on the roof of the Loggia dei Lanzi belongs to the café of the Uffizi Gallery and offers a wonderful view over the Piazza della Signoria.
How to get there
The Palazzo degli Uffizi is located between the River Arno and Piazza della Signoria. It is a 12-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella Station.
Uffizi Gallery in Florence, located in the Uffizi Palace, is one of the most famous museums in the world. This museum, often referred to simply as the Uffizi, contains the largest art collection in the world. The Gallery has a long history, which is closely linked to the history of the De ‘Medici family. Every grand duke made a contribution to the collection which became more and more extensive and includes many of renowned artists. When Anna Maria Luisa De’Medici died in 1743, the entire collection of the Uffizi was handed over to the city of Florence, on condition that the works would never leave the city permanently. The museum owns masterpieces of world-famous artists such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian and Raphael.
Tip: Uffizi is extremely popular and that is why there are often long queues at the entrance. Get your tickets in advance online or purchase a Florence City Pass or Firenze Card.
How to get there
Accademia Gallery is in Via Ricasoli, a 6-minute walk from the Duomo. From Santa Maria Novella station it is best to walk first to the Duomo and then take Via Ricasoli to the Accademia Gallery. This walk takes approximately 12 minutes.
The Galleria dell’Accademia, originally founded as an art academy, opened in 1563 and expanded in 1784 with a large art collection. Most visitors come to see the original sculpture of ‘David’ by Michelangelo, yet the museum has much more to offer. Michelangelo was only 26 years old when he presented the first models and drawings to his commissioners in September 1501. Early 1504, he finished ‘David’, which is probably the famous sculpture in the world. In 1873, the statue was moved from its place on the Piazza della Signoria to the Accademia Gallery.
Tip: Galleria dell’Accademia is very popular and there are often long queues at the entrance. Get your tickets in advance online or purchase a Florence City Pass or Firenze Card.
Giardino di Boboli
How to get there
Boboli Gardens are behind Palazzo Pitti in the Oltrarno district. Arriving from Piazza della Signoria, you cross the Ponte Vecchio. It is a 10 minute walk to the gardens. Arriving from Santa Maria Novella station, it is a 15-minute walk to the gardens.
Giardino di Boboli, Boboli Garden, stretches behind the imposing Palazzo Pitti, in the Oltrarno district on the other side of the Arno River. Palazzo Pitti was built for banker Luca Pitti, and subsequently inhabited by six generations of the rich De’Medici families. The palace is now home to a number of museums, including the famous Galleria Palatina, the Galleria del Costume, the Museo degli Argenti, the Museo delle Carozze and the Galleria dell’Arte Moderna. The Galleria Palatina, like the Uffizi Gallery, is home to a large part of the De Medici art collection, and includes works by Botticelli, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens and Raphael. The park is a large open-air museum and home to a collection of sculptures, fountains, ponds and an amphitheater. Be sure to visit La Grotta Grande built by Buontalenti and decorated with sculptures, and frescoes.
Restaurants and bars in Florence
Finding a restaurant in Florence is easy, deciding where to have your lunch or dinner is difficult because all restaurants offer delicious food. Whether you like pasta or pizza or more traditional Tuscan dishes like ribollita and bistecca alla fiorentina, there is always a restaurant that suits you perfectly. Osterias, pizzerias, bars, coffee bars, there is no shortage of places to eat in Florence. Ice-cream-lovers will soon find their favourite ice-cream parlour. Meat-lovers order bistecca alla fiorentina: the best T-bone steak of the Chianina cattle. Be prepared! Your portion weighs between 600 and 800 grams and is two fingers thick. One of the best restaurants for this specialty is Trattoria dall’Oste (Borgo San Lorenzo 31 and Via dei Cherchi 40R). Il Santo Bevitore (Via di Santo Spirito 64) and Finisterrae, a Mediterranean restaurant on Piazza Sante Croce 12 are both recommended!
Aperitivo, a pre-dinner drink and titbits, is sometimes a meal in itself! When you order a drink at about 6 pm, tasty snacks accompany it. Go to ‘Dorsoduro 3821’ (Via San Gallo 41), in the historic centre, for an unforgettable ‘aperitivo’. For 10 euros you get a drink of your choice and as many snacks from the buffet as you like. Gallery (via dei Benci 30) is also highly recommended. Here you pay 12 euros. An ‘aperitivo’ will not leave you hungry!
Shopping in Florence
Florence is more than culture and history! The city is a true shopping paradise: fashion, shoes, bags and accessories, luxury stationery and unusual souvenirs. Florence has no shopping precincts, most shops and boutiques are in the little streets near the cathedral and Ponte Vecchio. Up-market fashion brands are located in and near fashionable Via de’Tornabuoni. Famous fashion houses such as Armani, Bulgari, Cavalli, Ferragamo, Gucci, Patrizia Pepe, Prada, Cartier and Valentino and others have their shops in this part of the city.
Via dei Calzaiuoli, a street which runs from the Duomo to the Piazza della Signoria, used to be the shoe stores street but nowadays there are many boutiques and national and international chain stores. The side streets are also interesting for shopping. Here you will find all kind of stores from leather goods shops to souvenir shops and also bars and restaurants. In via Calimala you stock up on affordable trendy fashion at Lui Jo, Massimo Duti, Sisley and Zara. The large Rinascente department store is also in this street. Be sure to step inside not only for shopping but also to enjoy the view of Florence from the rooftop terrace. Art and antiques lovers can indulge in Via Maggio.
Markets in Florence
The largest covered market in Florence is the Mercato Centrale in the San Lorenzo district. The market halls of this popular market date back to 1874. This is still the place where many locals (and many restaurants) do their daily shopping. Not surprisingly, when you see all the fresh products on display! This is a popular place to buy the best fish in Florence, but not only fish also meat, cheese, fresh pasta, fruit, vegetables, oil, truffles and bread are products you buy in this covered market. The streets around Mercato Centrale and the Basilica di San Lorenzo are brimming with market stalls, mainly selling leather coats, bags, shoes, ties, suitcases and souvenirs. They focus mainly on tourists, so practice your negotiation skills. The Mercato Nuovo is an open-air market and also aims at tourists. Rummage through boxes and crates stuffed with Pinocchio, football shirts, bags and reproductions of David and Il Porcellino, the small bronze pig that you see at the side of the market. The Sant’Ambrogio market, Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, is a neighbourhood market. This daily market (except on Sunday) is packed with stalls selling fruit, fresh vegetables and all sorts of fish and meat.