Rome vs Florence: Which City Should You Visit?

Some people might say that Rome is better because it’s the eternal city, while others may prefer Florence because it’s the birthplace of the Renaissance and thus they consider it the most beautiful city in Italy. But which one is really better to visit, Rome or Florence?

Both Rome and Florence have a lot to offer and it really depends on what you’re looking for. Thankfully, in most Italy classic itineraries, both cities are included. However, if you are planning a shorter trip, you might need to decide whether you want to visit Florence or Rome.

Here is a comparison of the two cities based on things like culture, food, and nightlife. So, you can make an informed decision when comparing Rome vs Florence. Let’s get started!

Make sure you read our tips to plan a perfect trip to Italy.

Choose Rome vs Florence if:

Large cities don’t scare you

There are many reasons to choose a large city over a smaller one. For example, Rome offers a wealth of historical and cultural sights that is simply not available in a smaller town like Florence.

Rome offers a huge variety of experiences and things to see. Apart from the Centro Storico teaming with tourists from the world over, there are also lesser-known neighborhoods but extremely fascinating to explore.

Districts such as Testaccio and Ostiense are not far from the city center and easy to reach to a pity to miss.

So, if large cities don’t scare you but appeal to you, you should definitely plan your holiday in Rome and enjoy all that the eternal city has to offer.

Rome Spanish Steps

You are a history buff

When it comes to historical cities, Rome and Florence are two of the most popular destinations in Europe. Both cities are filled with ancient ruins, world-famous museums, and an abundance of charm. So, which city should you visit if you’re a history buff?

If you’re looking for a truly immersive experience, Rome is a clear choice. The city has been home to some of the most important events in Western history, and it shows. From the Colosseum to the Pantheon, every step you take in Rome feels like a journey through time.

In Florence, you’ll also find plenty of incredible historical sites, but the city feels more modern than Rome. It’s also worth noting that Florence is significantly smaller than Rome, so it’s easier to see everything at a leisurely pace.

In the end, the choice between Rome and Florence depends on your personal preferences. If you want to immerse yourself in history, go to Rome.

Castel Sant Angelo

You want to discover a variety of hidden gems

Both Rome and Florence offer a wealth of historical and cultural attractions, but they have very different atmospheres.

Directly connected to our reason #1, going off the beaten path in the Italian capital is easier and offers a wider range of activities and experiences.

From world-renowned museums to underground tunnels, rest assured that you’ll never be bored in Rome, whether you’re exploring its ancient ruins or people-watching in one of the many outdoor cafes.

Choose Florence if you want a more relaxed vacation, where you can enjoy the city’s art and architecture at your own pace. But if you’re looking for a more offbeat city break, pick Rome.

Roman Forum Ruins

You want to visit ancient cities and villas

If you’re interested in visiting ancient cities and villas, Rome is the clear choice over Florence. In Rome, you can explore the ruins of Ostia Antica, the city’s ancient port, or take a day trip to Tivoli to see the magnificent Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este.

Being the capital of an ancient empire, it’s only normal that you can find plenty of archaeological ruins in the surroundings of Rome as well as cities that played a pivotal role during the Papal Kingdom such as Viterbo.

Make sure you check out our article on the best places to visit around Rome.

Image: Ostia Antica - to visit ancient cities choose Rome vs Florence

You want to visit the Vatican

There are many reasons to choose Rome over Florence as a travel destination, and wanting to visit the Vatican is a pretty obvious one.

While Florence is home to some beautiful churches and cathedrals, it doesn’t have anything that can compare to the majesty of the Vatican and its Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The Vatican is not only the seat of the Catholic Church, but it’s also home to one of the largest and most significant museums in the world.

With its countless works of art and incredible architecture, a visit to the Vatican is an unforgettable experience. So if you’re looking for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, make sure to add the Vatican to your list of places to see in Rome.

Vatican St Peter Basilica

You are a foodie

When it comes to food, there is no city in Italy that can compare to Rome. From world-renowned dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara and tonnarelli cacio e pepe to more humble fares like street food supplì and trippa alla romana, the Eternal City offers something for every taste.

And with so many great restaurants in Rome to choose from, you’ll never go hungry. Florence may have its share of good eats, but when it comes to dining, Rome is in a league of its own.

Don’t miss our article on the traditional dishes of every Italian region.

Italian style pasta

You want to head to southern Italy

If you’re looking to head to southern Italy and visit places like Naples, the Amalfi Coast or regions like Puglia, Basilicata or Sicily, it’s easier from Rome. Whether you rented a car or you want to use local public transport such as trains and coaches.

Rome is more central, so it’s easier to reach other destinations in the southern Italian regions. And it’s closer to the coast, so you can enjoy Mediterranean beaches as well as city sights.

Castello Aragonese d'Ischia

You are on a budget

Planning properly, even if you are traveling on a shoestring, you can make a trip to both Florence and Rome. But when it comes to more affordable budget travel, Rome has the edge. From accommodation to restaurants, there are more budget choices in Rome than in Florence.

And while Florence may be smaller, it can actually be more expensive to get around, with higher taxi fares and slightly more expensive public transport costs.

So if you’re looking to stretch your travel dollars further, Rome is the better choice. With its abundance of budget-friendly accommodation and restaurant options as well as plenty of free things to do, you can enjoy all the city has to offer without breaking the bank.

Roman Forum

Choose Florence vs Rome if:

You prefer smaller cities

If you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate city experience on your next Italian vacation, Florence is the perfect choice over Rome.

Not only is it less crowded, making it easier to navigate and enjoy the sights at your own pace, but it also has a more manageable size when it comes to exploring on foot.

You’ll find that you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time without feeling exhausted, leaving plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely lunch or an afternoon gelato. So if you can only stay one or two days in Florence, you can certainly manage to visit much of it.

And while Florence may not have as many world-famous sights as its larger counterpart, it more than makes up for it with its charming streets, beautiful churches, and incredible art museums. So if you’re looking for a city that feels like a home away from home, be sure to add Florence to your list.

Florence city

You are more into art

If you’re looking for a city that’s rich in art, you can’t go wrong with Florence. The city is home to some of the most famous art museums in the world, including the Uffizi and the Accademia.

You’ll also find plenty of incredible architecture, from the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore to the Ponte Vecchio. And of course, let’s not forget about the Renaissance.

Florence was at the heart of this incredible period of cultural and artistic achievement. In short, if you’re looking for a city that overflows with art, Florence is the place for you.

Florence Accademia Gallery

You prefer everything within walking reach

Are you the type of traveler who likes to be able to walk to everything rather than taking public transportation or driving? Then Florence is definitely the city for you.

Everything from the Duomo to Michelangelo’s David is located in the city center, and it’s easy to explore on foot. Rome, on the other hand, is a much larger city, and while there are plenty of things to see and do within walking distance of the historic center, you’ll likely have to use public transportation to get around.

So if you’re looking for a city where you can do a lot of walking and sightseeing without having to worry about getting around, Florence is the place for you.

Angela in Boboli Gardens Florence

You want to visit small medieval towns

If you’re looking for an authentic Italian experience with easy access to small medieval towns, then Florence is the better choice.

The city is located in the heart of Tuscany and fantastic cities such as Siena, Pisa and Lucca are an easy day trip to take by train.

Many day trips from Florence include quaint hill towns and villages such as San Gimignano and Volterra. Some are easy to book via train or coach while for others I would suggest joining a guided tour.

Angela Corrias at Duomo di Siena Cathedral

You want to explore the countryside

If you’re looking to explore the Italian countryside, you should definitely choose Florence over Rome. Not only is Florence surrounded by beautiful Tuscan hills, but it’s also home to some of the most famous wineries in the world.

The Tuscan countryside is possibly as famous as Florence itself and attracts thousands every year. Whether you want to enjoy an easy hike on a hilltop, a couple of days at a thermal spring, or explore the local vineyards, if you are a countryside lover, this time, Florence beats Rome.

Some places might be difficult to reach if you don’t have your own car. You can either rent one in Florence for the day or join a private tour such as this one or this one.

Neo-Gothic facade of Florence Cathedral

You are into wine

With its sprawling vineyards and picturesque villages, the Chianti region of Italy is a must-visit for any wine lover. And while both Florence and Rome have each their own wine regions (Rome with its famous Castelli), the world-famous Chianti wineries are a favorite day trip from Florence.

Whether you are driving your own car or joining a guided tour, the scenic Chianti region is easy to visit from Florence and an experience any wine lover would love to make.

Boasting a number of world-class wineries such as Antinori and Frescobaldi, if you are a fan of Italian wine, you definitely don’t want to miss going wine tasting in the Chianti region.

wine in Italy

You want to head to northern Italy

Florence is located in the northern part of Italy, while Rome is more central. This means that from Florence it’s easier to reach the northern regions of Italy such as Liguria for a hike in the Cinque Terre, the city of Bologna in Emilia Romagna, Milan, Turin and even Trentino Alto Adige to discover the gorgeous Dolomites.

Angela Corrias and Sayed Hamed Lake Tovel North Italy

What you are going to find in both Rome AND Florence

Large crowds

Florence and Rome are known for their rich culture and history. Both Florence and Rome are very popular tourist destinations in Italy, so you can expect large crowds in both cities especially in the high season, usually July and August.

Great food

Florence and Rome are both renowned for their delicious food. From Florence’s mouthwatering Florentine steak to Rome’s iconic spaghetti carbonara, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Both cities offer a wide variety of traditional dishes that are sure to satisfy your hunger.

Florence is home to the world-famous bistecca alla fiorentina, a massive grilled steak that is sure to fill you up. Rome, on the other hand, is renowned for its offal-based dishes from its cucina povera (poor man’s cuisine) tradition and also for its Roman-style pizza featuring a thin crust and a variety of fresh toppings. No matter what you’re in the mood for, you’re sure to find great food in both Florence and Rome.

Artisan gelato

If there is one attraction that these cities have in common is definitely artisan gelato. Just like everything else in Italy, gelato is made with only the finest ingredients and craftsmanship.

Whether you want a traditional flavor like chocolate or pistachio, or something more adventurous like lavender or whiskey-infused gelato, you’re sure to find it in Florence or Rome. So don’t forget to save room for dessert on your next trip to Italy!

Plenty of art

There’s no denying that Florence and Rome are two of the most art-rich cities in the world. Whether you’re looking at Florence cathedral or a notable Roman building such as Palazzo Barberini, it’s impossible to miss the fact that both Florence and Rome are overflowing with artistic history.

Florence and Rome continue to be major centers for the arts with world-renowned museums like the Uffizi Gallery and the Vatican Museums. Apart from the museums, don’t forget that there is also plenty of open-air artwork such as gorgeous piazzas, palaces that are architectural jewels, and fabulous fountains.

If you’re looking for a dose of fine art and world-famous masterpieces on your next trip to Italy, you can’t go wrong with either Florence or Rome.

Rich culture

Florence and Rome are two of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, and it’s easy to see why. Both cities offer a rich and vibrant culture that is steeped in history.

Apart from some of the world’s most famous Renaissance art in Florence and majestic ancient ruins in Rome, both cities boast a vibrant culture where old and new blend perfectly.

So not only BC times but also great street art, the vestiges of a bygone industrial archaeology and more modern history make a trip to both Rome and Florence a fascinating experience.

Historical landmarks

Both Florence and Romes are home to a wealth of historical landmarks, from ancient ruins to Renaissance palaces.

Florence is perhaps best known for its art museums, which house some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures, but let’s not forget buildings such as Palazzo della Signoria or Palazzo Pitti, all precious sights if you want to dig into the local history.

Rome, on the other hand, is renowned for its ancient ruins, including the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. But the Italian capital is also packed with more modern palaces and buildings that testify of its long and continuously historical value.

Amazing architecture

Florence and Rome are two of the most influential cities in the world when it comes to art. They are home to the masterpieces of the most famous Italian artists, including Michelangelo, Bernini, Borromini, Caravaggio, Raphael, and Botticelli.

These artists have left an indelible mark on the world of arts, and their work can be found in both Florence and Rome.

Florence is particularly known for its magnificent Renaissance art, while Rome is home to some of the most iconic Baroque masterpieces. No matter what type of art you’re interested in, you’re sure to find it in Florence or Rome.

Nightlife

Florence and Rome have a vibrant nightlife scene. In Florence, visitors can enjoy live music in one of the many bars and clubs located in the city center.

For those who want to experience something truly unique, there is also the opportunity to enjoy the evenings in both cities with an aperitif.

While in Rome, do enjoy a delicious meal in one of the many restaurants located in the historic center. After dinner, take a stroll through the streets of Rome, taking in the sights and sounds of this vibrant city at night.

Whether you are looking for a clubby night out on the town or a quiet evening spent soaking up the atmosphere of these two amazing cities, you will find what you are looking for in Florence and Rome.

Florence Arno river

How to travel between Rome and Florence?

The best way to travel between Rome and Florence is by train. It’s the fastest, most efficient, and relatively easiest way.

It takes only about 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach Florence from Rome by the Frecciarossa train. Plus, it’ll get you where you need to go without any hassle and on time.

You can choose to leave Roma Termini and arrive at Firenze S. M. Novella as they are the main stations but you can also get off in smaller stations depending on where is your hotel. The price of the ticket from Rome to Florence with the fast depends on the season and also if you book it well in advance. So it can vary between 20 to 50€.

There are also other ways to travel between Rome and Florence. One option is to take a bus. Bus tickets cost between 7 and 32€ depending on the company and how many stops they make. In this case, the trip usually takes around three to four hours.

Finally, another option is to drive. Driving from Rome to Florence usually takes around three hours. However, keep in mind that driving and bus options can be quite congested during peak times. If you do drive, make sure you check the ZTL (limited traffic zones) in both Rome and Florence.

Is a day trip from Rome to Florence worth it?

A day trip from Rome to Florence is definitely worth it. Especially if you don’t have enough time to stay longer in Italy and can’t devote a few days to Florence, you can consider visiting it as a day trip.

The train takes only an hour and a half and Florence city center is pretty walkable. Even though with only one day in Florence you can’t really see everything, there are plenty of sights to squeeze in a few hours.

Of course, you will have to compromise and decide what are your priorities, but if you want to see as much as you can, probably a guided tour is a wise choice. In two to three hours, a local expert can take you to show the major highlights without wasting time in long lines and trying to find your way.

Florence to Rome travel time?

It depends on how you decide to travel to Florence from Rome. There are two main types of trains that operate between Florence and Rome – the direct fast Frecciarossa trains, and the “regionale veloce” trains.

The direct fast trains are the quickest option, with a journey time of just 1 hour and 20 minutes. These trains operate on a non-stop basis. So, you’ll be able to sit back and relax on your journey. However, unless you find a time-sensitive promotion, tickets for these trains are more expensive than regional trains.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, then the regional train is a good choice. These trains make several stops along the way, so the journey takes a bit longer (3-4 hours). But ticket prices are usually cheaper at about 10 to 15€.

How many days in Rome vs Florence?

There is no easy answer to this question as it depends on a number of factors, including your interests and what you want to see and do while in each city.

That said, as a general guide, we would recommend allowing at least 2-3 days for Florence and 4-7 days for Rome. Rome is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and there is simply so much to see and do.

Rome or Florence for Christmas?

If you’re looking for a traditional Italian Christmas, then you can’t go wrong with either Rome or Florence. Both cities offer a festive atmosphere and plenty of activities to enjoy during the holiday season.

In Rome, you can visit famous landmarks such as the Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, which are decked out in holiday decorations this time of year.

There are also plenty of Christmas markets to browse and lovely nativity scenes to admire in both cities.

Living in Rome vs Florence

If you’re looking for a bustling, cosmopolitan city with plenty of things to do, Rome is the place for you. It’s Italy’s capital and largest city, so you’ll find a greater variety of shops, restaurants, bars, and attractions than in Florence.

And because it’s such a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, you’ll have no trouble meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures living in Rome. There are also more options for nightlife and entertainment.

On the other hand, Florence may be smaller and more contained, but it packs a punch when it comes to culture and history. Florence also has a much more intimate feel to it, and it’s easier to get around on foot.

Best time to visit Rome vs Florence?

Springtime is one of the most popular times to visit Rome and Florence. The weather is pleasant, and the days are longer, which means you can pack more activities into your trip.

From March to May, the average high temperature in Rome is 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit), while in Florence it is 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit).

However, it is worth noting that these temperatures can vary widely from day to day, so be sure to pack a light jacket or sweater for cooler days.

Spring is also a great time to enjoy the city’s many outdoor attractions, from the gardens of the Villa Borghese to Florence’s Boboli Gardens because it’s not too hot yet nor too cold anymore.

Rome vs Florence souvenirs?

When deciding between Rome vs Florence souvenirs, it really depends on what kind of things you are interested in.

If you’re looking for leather goods, Florence is the place to go. The city is known for its high-quality leather products, and there are a number of shops that sell everything from wallets to belts to purses.

In terms of religious souvenirs, Rome is the obvious choice. The city is home to a large number of Catholic churches and other religious sites, and there are plenty of shops that sell items like rosaries and crucifixes.

So, Rome or Florence?

If you’re looking for a city break, both Rome and Florence are excellent choices. But which one should you visit? It really depends on what you want to see and do. If ancient history is your thing, then Rome is the obvious choice.

However, if art is more your thing, Florence is hard to beat. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the world’s most famous art museums, and it’s just one of many amazing art galleries in the city.

So what will it be – Roman ruins or Florentine masterpieces?

Rome vs Florence

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