Together with Rome and Venice, Florence is hands down one of the most popular tourist hubs in Italy. Whether you are designing your first Italy itinerary or you have been already, planning a trip to Florence might take some time and thoughts.
How to plan a perfect trip to Florence
From deciding when is the perfect time to travel to what hotels to book, to where to eat and what to do, there sure are many things to considering when planning a trip to Florence.
I’m not saying that organizing a holiday in Florence will take you months, but do consider a couple of weeks to make sure you will have the trip of a lifetime.
After visiting several times, we’ll give you a few tips we wished we knew when we planned our trip: we would have been able to save more time, visit more places, rush less from a place to the other and probably try more restaurants, coffee shops or gelaterias. With our tips, you can even plan a great Rome to Florence day trip.
- Find the best time to visit Florence
- How to get to Florence
- Luggage deposit in Florence’s train station
- Booking your hotel in advance
- Pick the right hotel for you
- Design a perfect itinerary
- Know where to eat
- How to get around
Find the best time to visit Florence
If you are wondering when is the best time to visit Florence, you need to consider that although always a popular tourist destination, spring, and summer are the highest seasons, landmarks can get super packed and prices soar.
From June to August it gets very crowded, and unless you have everything very well organized either by yourself or with tour agencies, you risk wasting a lot of time. Therefore, if you can choose your vacation time, any season of the year but from summer is the best time to visit Florence, Rome, and Venice.
How to get to Florence
Florence has an international airport 30 minutes drive from the city center and it’s very well connected through public transport.
Depending on where you are, how you get to Florence varies. For us, it was less than 90 minutes of a high-speed train from Rome to Firenze Santa Maria Novella station.
The tickets can vary between 15-45 € per person depending on how long in advance you book or if it’s high or low season. If you go with regional trains it’s cheaper, some 20-25 €, but it takes around 4 hours to arrive in Florence as they stop at every small station. To book your ticket or find out about the offers check out the official websites of Trenitalia.com or Italotreno.it.
Luggage deposit in Florence’s train station
If you arrive in Florence early and can’t check into the hotel yet, or you are leaving late and don’t want to carry your luggage around, you can leave it at the Santa Maria Novella Station luggage deposit (FedEx).
It is on platform 16, they charge 6€ for the first 5 hours and after that 1€ each hour. They also provide the service to bring your luggage to your platform (12€) or ship it abroad.
Book your hotel in advance
There’s no way around here. Florence hotels are expensive, especially those in and around the historic center. What can we do to find cheaper rates?
First of all, choose the time wisely. If you are traveling in July or August, don’t expect much discounts. In the low season, you are more likely to find offers and promotions also in the accommodations. For example, April and May are lovely months weather-wise, the extreme cold is gone and the crazy heat is not there yet, and they are also less crowded and cheaper.
Another way to save some money and find more accommodation options is to book in advance. We started looking for a hotel quite in advance but booked too close to our arrival and didn’t really find our ideal place.
Pick the right hotel for you
The accommodation we managed to find within our budget was a guesthouse featuring the very basic facilities but without kitchen use, which was a bit of a surprise as this was the reason we chose it. We did like the area as it was quieter than the city center and there was a bank, a supermarket and a fantastic, Michelin-starred pizza place.
Florence really has plenty of accommodation types to choose from. But again, since it gets very crowded in the high season, if this is the only time you can travel, do book in advance to have more chances to find your ideal type of hotel.
We always use the Booking website when we plan our trips because they have several types of accommodations such as hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, and apartments. If you are traveling on a shoestring, on Booking, you can find also hostels.
Design your perfect itinerary
Whether you are two days in Florence, one day or a week, you will always find plenty to see and do. Our suggestion is to tailor your itinerary beforehand so depending on how long you are staying, you decide what to do and how many places to visit.
In Florence, there are landmarks that take longer than others. For example, visiting the Uffizi will take much longer than entering the Accademia where Michelangelo’s David is kept. Some activities require a previous booking, such as climbing Santa Maria del Fiore’s dome, and many have a long queue such as Palazzo Pitti. Make sure you keep all this in mind when you plan your trip to Florence.
Know where to eat
The risk that comes when a place is very popular with tourists is that you will likely find the notorious tourist menus. Once we stopped at a restaurant by the river for a pizza and it was dreadful. Sadly, I don’t remember the name.
Florence is famous for its Fiorentina steak, so if you are a meat-eater, chances are you will want to try it at least once. One of the best traditional trattorias in the historic center where to try the famous steak is “Sergio Gozzi”, right in front of San Lorenzo Basilica. They are open only for lunch and you are likely to find a bit of queue.
How to get around
Getting around Florence is pretty straightforward: on foot. Within the city center, the best way to get from a landmark to the other is by walking.
The local public transport company is Ataf. Their single ticket lasts 90 minutes and costs 1.50 euros. You can also purchase a carnet with 10 90-minute tickets for 14 euros.
You can buy the tickets from newsagents and “tabacchi” shops as well as the train stations. We bought a 10-ticket carnet in Santa Maria Novella train station as soon as we arrived so we were covered during all our stay.
In Florence, they organize also segway tours. This way, you will get much faster to go from a landmark to another, making it easier to visit more places.
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