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Florence Italy Travel Guide: Essential Information for Visiting Firenze

Discover Renaissance Italy in Everyone's Favorite Tuscan City


location map florence italy

Map of Italy showing the Location of Florence.

James Martin
florence piazza signoria picture

Florence - Piazza Signoria

James Martin
florence santa maria del fiore

Florence - Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

James Martin

Location and Population of Florence:

Florence is in the heart of Italy's Tuscany Region in western Italy along the Arno river. It is 172 miles north of Rome and 185 miles south of Milan. Florence is the capital of the region of Tuscany, and has a population of around 400,000 people, with around 200,000 more in suburban areas.

When to Go to Florence:

The narrow lanes of Renaissance Firenze are clogged with sweating tourists in July and August. Spring (April and May) or Autumn (September and October) are much better, although it's still tourist season. Tourists flock to Florence at Easter as well. November can be ok if you bring warm clothes and expect some rain.

To check on historic climate conditions for the time you're planning to spend in Florence, see: Florence Travel Weather.

Florence Airport:

The Aeroporto di Firenze, commonly referred to as Aeroporto Amerigo Vespucci or simply Peretola, is located 4 km from the center of Florence. A taxi can make the trip in 15 minutes, and the Sita/Ataf "Fly by Bus" between the airport and Santa Maria Novella railway station takes 20 minutes. If you are coming into Florence from an international destination, you are probably using Galileo Galilei airport, closer to Pisa.

Florence: Transportation Options

Florence's central station is called Santa Maria Novella. It is located in the northwest corner of central Florence. Many services, including stores and internet points, are located within the station. Find out more about Firenze SMN

If you're looking to use Florence as a base for travel to other Tuscany or Umbria hill-town destinations, often the best public transportation option is the extensive Bus service. For a full overview, see our Florence Transportation Options.

There is a small tourist information office (Uffizio Informazioni Turistiche) inside the train station. Otherwise try the Azienda Promozione Turistica offices on Via A. Manzoni or Via Cavour.

Where to Stay in Florence

Most folks would rather stay in the historic center to marvel at Florence's Renaissance architecture. Italy Travel has recommendations for the Top Rated Hotels in the Historic Center of Florence. A stay in the hills outside of Florence is also rewarding. We enjoyed our stay at Villa Le Piazzole, where a short and pleasant downhill walk into Florence takes you right to the Ponte Vecchio.

Italy is one of the top places to rent a vacation property and enjoy either a city or the countryside. If you wish to escape from the heat of the city and the hordes of tourists cramming into Florence's narrow streets at night, perhaps a little cottage in the countryside is in order. In any case, HomeAway lists over 350 vacation rentals in Florence and almost 1,500 vacation rentals in the Florence Area (book direct).

Food and Drink

Tuscan cuisine is world renowned for simple combinations of absolutely fresh ingredients. Try the Florentine T-Bone bistecca alla fiorentina (but beware that it's listed on the menu priced per 100 grams--and this bistecca is usually huge). Tripe is also a specialty, as is the bread soup called ribollita. Tuscan starters include crostini and bruschetta, toasted bread with various toppings.

To learn more about Tuscan cuisine and get some typical recipes you can try at home (or in your vacation rental), see: Tuscan Cooking.

Eating in restaurants can be a bit tricky in tourist-packed Florence. We've called upon a local to give you advice on where to eat and drink--see: Where to Eat and Drink Like a Local in Florence: Piero's Firenze.

Museums and Tours:

During the summer season Florence is jammed with tourists and many spend much of their vacation standing in ticket lines. For a price you can get tickets in advance, saving you time. Select Italy offers a highly-rated ticket service for Florence Museums and Museum Tours (book direct).

Foodies might also check out the Food and Wine opportunities in Florence and the Chianti region. Free for foodies is an excursion to San Lorenzo Market in the heart of Florence.

Free Wi-Fi in Florence

Florence's free wifi hotspot network is in continuous expansion, and is now available to travelers. See more: Where to get free wifi in Florence.

Florence Top Attractions

  • Florence's Archaeological Museum - housed in a palace with great Egyptian and Etruscan collections. Via della Colonna, Admission less than 5 Euros.
  • Baptistry of John the Baptist - dates from the 11th century, with three sets of amazing bronze doors.
  • Il Duomo (Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore) - The Florentine Gothic duomo was begun in 1296 and consecrated in 1436. Brunelleschi's Dome is a masterpiece of construction and you can climb the 463 stairs for great views of Florence. Here's how to go about it. Piazza del Duomo. Entrance is free, but in summer you may have to wait in line to get in. Fees to see the excavations or go up into the cupola.
  • Uffizi Gallery - housed in a 1560 Medici palazzo, the recent renovations have meant that visitors don't have to wait outside and the galleries have expanded. There's a good view of Florence from the upper floors. Piazzale degli Uffizi 6, 8 Euros to enter. [Special note: If you're planning a trip to Florence between May and October, the Uffizi is the one attraction you should buy a ticket in advance for. Select Italy offers: Skip the Line: Uffizi Gallery Tickets (book direct).]
  • The Palazzo Vecchio or "Old Palace" is Florence's Romanesque town hall. A copy of Michelangelo's David attracts gawkers out front. This is another place where you'll want to book a tour in advance. Select Italy offers three very interesting tours: "the general Guided Tour offers an overview of the palace's most important rooms; the Secret Itineraries Tour opens doors that are usually closed to the public; and the Paint a Fresco Workshop teaches you how to make your very own fresco using techniques from the Middle Ages and Renaissance." See: Palazzo Vecchio Tours, Florence (book direct).
  • The Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. The palace encompasses several museums and holds paintings from some of Italy's most celebrated masters. The Renaissance gardens are a delight. Piazza Pitti, south of the Arno. Various entry fees.
  • Dante's House (Casa di Dante) - ok, it's a little offbeat, but I liked the medieval section of the city and visiting a house of the famous Dante. Via S. Margherita, 1, 3 Euros, closed Tuesday.
  • The Ponte Vecchio - The Old Bridge looks from the outside as if it were still crowded with the crammed blacksmith and butcher shops of the medieval period, but it's all glittery gold and tourist baubles today. Spared from bombing in WWII, it used to be built of wood but a rebuild in the 1300's made it mostly stone. Free, unless you run afoul of a jewelry or porcelain statue salesman.
  • The Church of San Lorenzo - It's not impressive from the outside, but it's probably the oldest religious structure in Florence. They say it was probably founded before year 400 and its art holdings include stuff by Donatello and Bronzino.

For more things to do in Florence, see the Top 10 Things to do in Florence, from Italy for Visitors.

For a map of the main attractions in Florence, see the interactive Florence Map.

Beyond Florence

To the west of Florence are two compelling cities to visit: Pistoia, which is like a smaller version of Florence, and Lucca, a city girded by Baroque walls you can walk or cycle around.

Florence is an end point of our Provence to Tuscany Suggested Itinerary.

If you are a fan of coach tours, Viator offers a Siena and San Gimignano Day Trip from Florence as well as a Pisa half-day trip.

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