Florence Travel Guide
Michelangelo here, Donatello there. As the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence was the city that brought you all those household names – and they're all still here. The famed Uffizi Galleries and the Accademia are just the start – this is a city stuffed to the gills with museums, galleries, and masterpieces aplenty. Churches are full of frescoed chapels and heavily pigmented crucifixes. Houses are hulking palaces, built with hand-hewn, human-sized stones. Even the stores come with ancient beams and painted ceilings. Sometimes, the beauty is overwhelming.
That's where the other Florence comes in. This is a city surrounded by nature like no other. Cross the Ponte Vecchio and the river Arno is the Oltrarno district, home to cobblestone piazzas, laidback cafes, and artisans plying centuries-old trades. You can stroll along the riverside, explore exquisite gardens laid out in the Renaissance, or wind around cypress-studded hills. At every turn, you'll get killer views of the city and its gargantuan terracotta dome, standing out against the mountains in the distance. In Florence, even the landscape is art.
Central European Standard Time
Best Time to Go
Summers are hot, sticky, and super busy, but other than that, any time is good to visit Florence — not least because you'll spend most of your time indoors in the museums. Florence's Easter celebration of the Scoppio del Carro, in which a team of cream-colored oxen tow a wagon into the Piazza del Duomo and then set off the fireworks inside it, is a huge event. In late June, Piazza Santa Croce is closed off to make the pitch for a game of Calcio Storico — or "historic football," a mix of soccer, rugby and wrestling in 16th-century dress. Festa di San Lorenzo takes place each August, where there are celebrations including free lasagne in Piazza San Lorenzo, in honor of former ruler Lorenzo de' Medici, the man who kicked off the Renaissance.
Things to Know
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I don't speak Italian: Non parlo italiano
I'm lost: Mi sono perso/a
I would like…: Vorrei…
How much is…?: Quanto costa…?
How do I get to…?: Per andare a…?
I don't understand: Non capisco
Calling Code: +39
Capital City: Rome
How to Get Around
Trains: High-speed trains stop at Florence Santa Maria Novella station.
Buses: The city center is largely pedestrianized, though there are trams from the train station that wrap around the center. Coaches arrive near Santa Maria Novella, too.
Taxis: There are taxi stands at main sites including the train station, Piazza del Duomo and Piazza San Marco. Or call +39 4242 or +39 4390.
Car service: Most hotels can arrange private transfers.
The Place Firenze
Address: P.za di Santa Maria Novella, 7, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 264 5181
With its rooftop terrace pointing plum at the Duomo, JK Place was long a lux pied-a-terre for those in the know. In 2021, after a light renovation, it became The Place Firenze – still offering a plush townhouse feel, but with a renewed focus on throwing visitors into Florentine life, hooking them up with the best artisans, artists and creatives in the city. Everything from breakfast to the minibar is included.
Address: Via Montebello, 86, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 274 1536
Veronica Grechi is the consummate host at this upscale B&B in her grandparents' former home. The theme – all lush leaves and wild beasts – is taken from the 1930s, and the place combines period antiques collected by her nonno, an antiques dealer, with loud Christian Lacroix wallpaper and the odd flash of animal print. Just four rooms on the main floor gives a home-from-home feel; in 2021, they added six rooms themed around wildlife on the floor below.
Address: Via Baccio Bandinelli, 98, 50142 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 713 0272
What do you get when one of Florence's top architects converts a former factory into his atelier and hotel? This urban retreat, where staircases seem to float midair, soothing creams pair with mid-century furniture, and antique travel trunks have been turned into wardrobes. The intimate garden and pool are a haven from the city, though note it's a 30-minute walk to the center, or easy five-minute tram to Santa Maria Novella.
Palazzo di Camugliano
Address: Via del Moro, 15, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 265 4578
Think this looks like an aristocrat's lair? You'd be right – the 16th-century palace belongs to the Marchese di Camugliano, who generously shares its grand coffered ceilings, elaborate stuccoes and multiple frescoes with guests. Four-poster beds, fireplaces, and heavy drapes amp up the luxury in the 11 rooms – one junior suite even has stucco putti beckoning you into the bathroom – but it's more elegant than over-the-top. There's a lovely, leafy roof garden, too.
Four Seasons Florence
Address: Borgo Pinti, 99, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 26 261
Step into this living museum and you'll be met by 15th-century frescoes and bas reliefs in the courtyard of what was once a summer villa owned by the Medici family. It's made for good weather, with a sprawling 11-acre garden filled with art and shade-giving trees, plus an outdoor pool. Choose from rooms in the main building or La Villa, on the far side of the garden – the best bet for families.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 1/7, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 267 0004
You'll have unparalleled views of the Duomo from this 18th-century palazzo standing right opposite it. It's divided into six elegant, contemporary serviced apartments, each with jaw-dropping views – one even has Giotto's Bell Tower peeking over the part-glass roof.
Grand Amore Hotel & Spa
Address: Via dei Servi, 38/A, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 035 1500
This is Italian opulence at its best: bold, colorful rooms (think purple, black, or scarlet-themed) with sexy black and white photos behind the velvet-headboarded beds. Some rooms nab great views of the Duomo, peeking out at the end of the street, but the real reason to come here is for the "comfort crew," who customize your stay with everything from your favorite flowers to drinks, and note your in-stay preferences to provide a truly unique experience.
Boutique Hotel in Piazza della Signoria
Address: Via dei Magazzini, 2, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 239 9546
Locations don't get much more exciting than this, a 14th-century palazzo in Piazza della Signoria itself. The traditionally styled rooms have touches including 18th-century frescoes or beams, and, for groups, there are three apartments. It's a B&B, and breakfast is served at the communal table.
Address: Vicolo dell'Oro, 6r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 27 262
Part of the Ferragamo family's Lungarno Collection, the Continentale whisks you back to the 1950s with its low-slung chairs, monochrome portraits, and travel trunks as furniture, cocooned by white-on-white palettes, and gauzy drapes round the beds. Riverside rooms feel cantilevered over the Arno, while even city-view ones have glimpses of the Duomo. Spy on the Ponte Vecchio from the rooftop terrace, or have a treatment in the basement spa.
Address: Via de' Tornabuoni, 3, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 212 645
The latest five-star hotel in the city takes over a 12th-century palazzo, fitting it with 62 boldly colored rooms – think flaming reds, deep indigos, and blazing mustards – plus a rooftop terrace. Traveling with family? This is the one for you – most rooms have two double beds, with modern brass four-posters.
Address: Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli, 4, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 2726 8000
Overlooking the Arno in the shadow of the Ponte Vecchio, and owned by the Ferragamo family, this top-notch hotel combines location with style. The look is understated retro – all shades of grey paired with brass, mid-century furniture – while the ultra-bespoke service means arriving to see your favorite pillow or photo by the bed. Front-facing rooms have knockout views of the Ponte Vecchio and the cypress-spiked hills behind town.
Address: Via del Campuccio, 53, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 075 0602
Backed up against Europe's largest privately owned city garden with a yawning wraparound terrace, this bucolic retreat is only a 15-minute walk from the fray. Outside the modern rooms, it feels every bit a stately home – in fact, the Marchese Torrigiani, whose villa this is, has a family pad elsewhere in the building.
La Leggenda dei Frati
Address: Costa S. Giorgio, 6/a, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 068 0545
In the 17th-century Villa Bardini overlooking the city center, this Michelin-starred restaurant takes Tuscan cooking to new heights, with cinta senese pork and macaroni found in its up-to-nine-course tasting menus. Its Coach Kitchen workshops share the secrets. Reservations recommended.
La Carbonata del Porrati
Address: Borgo Pinti, 95R, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 234 3370
You might come here for the chichi pizza, made with top-end ingredients from the adjoining grocery store. You might come for the melt-in-the-mouth bistecca alla fiorentina, Florence's signature steak, its local Mugello meat grilled to utter perfection. Or you might come for the service – you won't find a friendlier family in Florence.
Trattoria Zà Zà
Address: Piazza del Mercato Centrale, 26r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 234 2836
It's at the busy San Lorenzo market but Trattoria Zà Zà isn't here for the tourists. This Florentine classic has been going strong since 1977 and showcases owner Stefano Bondi's mother's recipes, from Tuscan steak tartares to the dozens of pasta dishes and smorgasboard of meaty mains.
Address: Via Pisana, 2/R, 50143 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 225 955
You want: classic Italian nonna cooking. You need: to while away a couple of hours at this superb, casual trattoria, serving Tuscan classics from the retro-typed daily menu. The choice is limited but you can't go wrong, with normally two types of pasta, several meats, plus cheese and alcohol-stewed fruit for desserts.
Burro e Acciughe
Address: Via dell'Orto, 35/R, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 045 7286
When all that hearty Tuscan cooking gets too much, you need this taste of the seaside in San Frediano. The chichi seafood, from grilled shellfish to fusilloni pasta with octopus ragu, is the perfect palate-cleanser.
Osteria Mescita San Niccolò
Address: Via di S. Niccolò, 60 r, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 234 2836
Excellent traditional trattoria and wine shop, with well priced Tuscan classics such as pappa al pomodoro, chickpea soup and rabbit with beans and potato. Choose from the old-style tiled dining room or the ancient church crypt, uncovered after the 1966 floods.
Address: Piazza San Marco, 7r, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 214 412
It's steps from the Accademia but this is no tourist trap – it's a classic Florentine restaurant, serving fantastic, hearty Tuscan food, as well as dishes from Southern Italy's Abruzzo. All the pasta is made inhouse. Reservations recommended.
Address: Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Via dell'Ariento, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 239 9798
Try the best Tuscan (and beyond) street food on the mezzanine floor of the city's San Lorenzo food market. Stalls include Roman trapizzino (filled pizza pockets), Tuscan-Chinese dumplings, and homegrown lampredotto – essentially tripe sandwiches.
Trattoria 4 Leoni
Address: Via dei Vellutini, 1r, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 218 562
A laid back but top notch trattoria amid the artisans of Oltrarno. Sit outside in the square and feast on Tuscan specialities – the veggie dishes are superb, from pumpkin flans to artichokes smothered in lardo (a super-fatty salume) and pecorino.
Address: Via della Spada, 62/R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 218 757
You'll need to sleep off the carbs after a meal at this excellent restaurant which specialises in roasted and grilled meats from their rosticceria. Try anything from pork to rabbit on a spit, or go all out with a steak. Don't miss the grilled sausages or the juicy roast potatoes.
Berberè San Frediano
Address: Piazza dei Nerli, 1, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 238 2946
Hands down the best pizza in Florence is from this cult little Italian chain. Eat with the locals in the Borgo San Frediano location – you'll find all kinds of dough, and imaginative toppings, including spicy Calabrian 'nduja with salami.
Address: Borgo Pinti, 99, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 262 6450
Summer's the time to visit this Michelin-starred restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel – it's when tables are laid outside in the garden. Book a romantic dinner in a nook overlooking the grounds or under the 'weeping' beech.
Address: Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 294 883
While away a day in the Uffizi Galleries, breaking in the café for lunch. It's a cut above museum restaurants, with one of the best views in the city from its panoramic terrace pointed straight at the Duomo.
Things to Do
Piazza della Signoria
Address: P.za della Signoria, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Kick back at one of the ringside restaurants (we like Rivoire) to take in the scene at Florence's main square. The seat of power, with the Palazzo Vecchio and Uffizi at its heart, it's a cobbled, open-air gallery of grand statues, a gushing fountain, and locals cycling through.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 230 2885
Florence's brick-domed cathedral, known simply as the Duomo ("the dome" – still the largest masonry cupola on the planet) is the city's icon. Climb the 463, narrow-threaded steps (not for the faint-hearted or claustrophobic) to the top for unparalleled views of the city, plus close-ups of Vasari's famous murals inside the dome. Wander the square but don't miss the sister museum, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, home to Michelangelo's Pietà and beautifully modernized in 2015.
Museo di San Marco
Address: Piazza San Marco, 3, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 088 2000
You'll get a taste of Renaissance Florence at this still-functioning monastery. The 15th-century painter Fra Angelico lived here – you'll find his meditative frescoes in the monks' cells, as well as a newly renovated room displaying some of his best work on the ground floor.
Address: Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 294 883
It's one of the world's most famous museums for good reason: there are over 3,000 works of art on display here, including iconic paintings like Botticelli's Birth of Venus and Michelangelo's Doni Tondo. The second floor, containing 16th-century paintings, was refurbished for 2021.
Address: P.za della Signoria, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 276 8325
The castle-like building dominating Piazza della Signoria (and the one which took center stage in "Hannibal") is this, the seat of power of the Florentine republic. It's studded with works by the likes of Donatello, Michelangelo, and Bronzino, but it's the ruling Medici family's private rooms, frescoed by Giorgio Vasari, that really spin back the centuries.
Ponte Vecchio and River Walk
Address: Ponte Vecchio, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Cross the Ponte Vecchio – that famous covered bridge with houses dangling off the side – for great views of the River Arno from the open-arched middle. Then cross back to the Uffizi side for a riverside walk west – in 10 minutes, and crossing the river once more, you'll be in Piazza Santo Spirito, or continue up to Borgo San Frediano and the old city walls.
Piazza Santo Spirito
Address: 50125 Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
The city center can get uncomfortably busy but this square typifies the laidback Oltrarno ("across the Arno river") district. Go on the second Sunday of the month for its famous antiques market, or pick a trendy bar and drink in the scene.
Address: Piazza del Carmine, 14, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 238 2195
Up a little from Piazza Santo Spirito, this unassuming little chapel in the Santa Maria del Carmine church is where the Renaissance is said to have begun. It's frescoed wall-to-wall by Masolino and Masaccio, the pupil who would come to outshine him, with later additions by Filippino Lippi. Masaccio's startlingly modern Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden changed the course of art history.
Address: Piazzale Michelangelo, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
You'll get the best views of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo, halfway up the hill on the other side of the Arno, with a panoramic terrace pointing straight at the Duomo. If you've got the stamina, carry on up to San Miniato al Monte, the marble-clad, Romanesque church which overlooks the city.
Address: Piazza di Santa Croce, 16, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 246 6105
Another monastery stuffed to the gills with great art and great Italians. Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Galileo are amongst the people buried here, while there are works by Cimabue, Canova, and the della Robbia brothers, as well as frescoes by Giotto.
Boboli and Bardini Gardens
One ticket gets you into both Florence's superstar gardens. Behind Palazzo Pitti, the Giardini di Boboli are an Instagram heaven, their grottos and fountains planned by the Medici, but the garden at Villa Bardini has the best views of the city, plus wisteria-wreathed pergolas and a seemingly never-ending staircase cleaving through the hill.
Address: Via Ricasoli, 58/60, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 098 7100
Come for the "David" – Michelangelo's colossal icon, carved from a single slab of marble – but stay for his unfinished male nudes ("The Prisoners") and Giambologna's mesmerizing "Rape of the Sabine Women".
Address: Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, 6, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 064 9430
Michelangelo's most mournful works are these intimate tombs of the Medici family, topped with colossal figures of Night, Day, Dusk and Dawn, with a Madonna and Child between them. They're in the Sagrestia Nuova; on the way, don't miss the high-domed, marble-clad Cappella dei Principi, or Chapel of the Princes – one fancy wedding cake of a building.
Address: Piazza degli Strozzi, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 264 5155
When you've had your fill of the Renaissance, amble over to this immense palazzo which hosts some of Europe's best temporary exhibitions, many of them modern. Afterwards, grab coffee in the 'Courtyard of Wonders,' home to rotating contemporary art installations.
Officina Creativa at Il Vecchio Conventino
Address: Via Giano della Bella, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 570 627
This one-stop shop for Tuscan artisans brings together 25 workshops in an atmospheric former convent-turned cultural center in San Frediano. There's something for everyone here, from ceramics to weaving, and jewelry to shoes.
Address: Via Santa Margherita, 11/R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 239 8960
Simone is an extraordinary artisan, practising a craft that goes back centuries. He creates handmade leather boxes, from tiny cufflink and jewelry holders to the kind of grand creations you'd see in a stately home. The most special souvenir you could take from Florence.
Address: Via dei Macci, 25/r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 347 258 0357
Cecilia is a master of mosaics and scagliola – the Florentine technique of inlaid stone that resembles marble. She takes commissions, but pop into her workshop for an array of ready-to-go works, from framed modern pictures of iconic Florence buildings, etched on slate and hand-filled with pigment-rich plaster, to color-popping jewelry.
Address: Via Giano della Bella, 20, 50100 Firenze FI, Italy
Florence has been known for its leather workers for centuries, and Barbara Dall'Acqua, an artisan at Il Vecchio Conventino, keeps the tradition going, with handmade bags in contemporary styles (think bold prints and clashing linings), using a mix of Tuscan leather and textiles.
Address: Via dei Fossi, 31, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 287 069
Florence's antique traders are among the best in the world. This family business (relatives of Veronica from Velona's Jungle B&B) has everything you might want, from 18th-century furniture to paintings, lamps, and coffee pots.
Address: Piazza de' Pitti, 37R, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 212 621
Maria Giannini is the sixth generation of her family to make marbled paper, hand-bound leather notebooks, and signet rings. But she's modernized the business, too, offering marbled water bottles, cellphone cases, and face masks.
Address: Via Ser Lapo Mazzei, 16, 50126 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 342 377 9676
Sofia Ricceri's retro handmade hats and hairbands whisk you back to a pre-tourism time when Florence was the epitome of chic. Contact her for a made-to-measure look, or find her pret-a-porter collection amongst other artisans at Florence's Rinascente department store, or at Boutique Nadine.
Address: Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli, 22/red, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Classic Florence is the muse at this lovely womenswear shop on the banks of the Arno. Vintage silks, cashmere, and lingerie alongside modern designers add a little romantic oomph.
Address: Via del Parione, 35 A/R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 799 6188
Florentines have been marbling paper for the insides of book covers since the 16th century, and Riccardo has inherited his father's trade. Want to learn? He does paper-marbling workshops. He also makes personalized books, stamped in gold leaf with tools used by no fewer than three generations of his family.
Address: Via Ferdinando Zannetti, 14/red, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 205 2577
Paolo is a master goldsmith producing intricate, outré jewels studded with precious stones, and wedding rings inspired by real Renaissance museum pieces. His signature piece? Gold (and bronze and silver florins), gifted on important occasions since the 15th century.
Address: Via Porta Rossa, 42r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 311 974
Bold prints are on the rails at this cute womenswear shop by local designers. Whether it's a maxidress in a Gucci-esque stamp, a skirt with bright green apples, or tigers prancing all over a shirt, they're full of outré pieces. They discount heavily come sales time.
Address: Via del Moro, 92r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 349 422 0269
The Guscelli family have been master silversmiths since 1955. Today, they make everything from wine decanters and tasting glasses to picture frames and even Bluetooth loudspeakers. Plus, of course, classic jewelry – the hammered silver collection is especially striking.
Address: Via Romana 151rosso, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 229 288
Make room in your suitcase for something – even a coathook – from this Oltrarno workshop making lighting and furnishings from bronze and brass. From super chic chandeliers to sleek stools, umbrella stands, and door handles, everything is worked with care by their artisans.
Address: Via de' Guicciardini, 16/R, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 282 895
Master shoemaker Calogero Mannina opened his workshop near the Ponte Vecchio in 1953. Today, his son Antonio has joined the business, hand-stitching exquisite made-to-measure shoes for men and women.
Address: Via di Santa Lucia, 24R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 293 291
High-end, hand-made men's shoes from this German cobbler who's refined her art in Florence. Everything's in the detail, here – like the half leather, half suede ankle boots studded with mother of pearl buttons.
Neighborhoods to Know
Centro Storico/District 1: Florence's city center, also known as District 1, is remarkably compact. Running roughly from the Ponte Santa Trinità to the Ponte alle Grazie bridges, the area north of the Arno contains most of the tourist sites. There are two focal points: Piazza del Duomo, where the gargantuan cathedral swaggers over the city, and Piazza della Signoria, the political heart of the city, where you'll find museums such as the Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio gathered around one of Italy's most spectacular squares. The Uffizi ends at the River Arno.
Santo Spirito: Oltrarno — the name means "across the Arno" — covers the city on the other side of the river, but in visitor terms Oltrarno usually refers to the area around Santo Spirito. It's a neighborhood of artisans, small cafes, and grand historic monuments including the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens.
San Frediano: Part of Oltrarno but slightly further west than Santo Spirito, away from the center, laidback San Frediano includes gems such as the Brancacci Chapel, plus traditional restaurants and trattorie with olive-slicked hills rising at the back.
In a basin surrounded by mountains and hills, Florence is humid. Spring is warm — temperatures are in the mid 50s to 60s, feeling hotter when the sun is out — but summer can be sweltering, with an average temperature of 77°F feeling hotter thanks to the humidity. Fall tends to be sunny, with temperatures averaging low-to-mid 60°F in October. Winters are ostensibly mild, with temperatures in the mid 40s, though the humidity gives them an extra bite.
January : 36°F to 52°F
February : 36°F to 55°F
March: 41°F to 61°F
April: 45°F to 66°F
May: 54°F to 75°F
June: 59°F to 82°F
July: 64°F to 88°F
August: 64°F to 90°F
September: 57°F to 81°F
October: 50°F to 70°F
November: 41°F to 59°F
December: 37°F to 52°F
Apps to Download
Firenze the Walking City: Best hiking routes around the sites and hills. iPhone only.