Florence Travel Guide

Why Go to Florence

This little city, tucked amid the Tuscan hills, casts a long shadow through history. The wellspring of the Renaissance, Firenze (or Florence) sheltered the powerful Medici family and inspired artists like Michelangelo (David) and Brunelleschi (the Duomo).

If it weren't for the fashionable Italians and chic shops lining Via Tornabuoni, you might think you had traveled back in time to the 14th century. But Renaissance art is not the only reason to come: You also visit Florence for its gorgeous sunsets, its Italian cooking and its unbeatable romantic charm.


How to Save Money in Florence

  • Book a hotel on the outskirts For a somewhat more authentic (not to mention, cost-efficient) experience, book a hotel on the outskirts. You’ll get to wake up to the glory of the Tuscan hills, and you’re simply a quick train ride from Renaissance central.
  • One or the other For that postcard view, pay the admittedly high fee to climb to the top of the Duomo. The nearby Baptistryoffers just about the same view for a price, but we're partial to the Duomo. Do one or the other and save a few euro.
  • Dine smart Stay away from the tourist attractions when you’re hungry – restaurants are generally overpriced here. In and around Mercato Centrale is a good place to find cheaper Italian food.


What You Need to Know

  • Say no to knockoffsIn Florence, it's illegal to buy knockoff designer bags. If the cops catch you purchasing a fake item, you can be fined thousands of dollars.
  • Reserve ahead The lines outside the Uffizi and the Galleria dell’Accademia are almost always tortuously long. Spend a few extra euro, and make your museum reservation in advance or sign up for a tour to skip the bulk of the line.
  • Eat late Do as the Italians do and eat late – lunch at about 1:30 or 2 p.m. and dinner around 9 p.m.

What to Eat

Florence is known not only for its famous art, but also for its simple yet delicious cuisine, as well as its wine from neighboring towns in Tuscany. While restaurants tend to be overpriced, you can do as the Italians do and head to Mercato Centrale for fresh produce, bread, cheese and meat and create your own meal.

If you'd rather eat out, recent travelers praised the delectable Italian food and warm ambiance of Pitti Gola e Cantina and the Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco, near the Boboli Gardens. For a romantic dinner, make a reservation at Ristorante La Giostra, an intimate restaurant known for its gourmet cuisine, extensive wine list (bottles fill every nook and cranny of the restaurant) and as being the former resting place of the Salvemini Square carousel.

Tuscan cuisine is all about simplicity. Hearty pastas flavored only with a few ingredients are still somehow rich and multi-faceted. Fish and meats are also well-represented in the Tuscan repertoire. Like most of the Mediterranean, olive oil is an important ingredient in almost every dish.

Florence is also filled with a multitude of gelato stands. The pistachio flavor is the key to differentiating between the good ones from the not-so-great ones (the darker the color, the better). You'll find authentic gelaterias with pistachio gelato around the Piazza di Santa Croce and in Oltrarno.



While in Florence, your greatest safety concern will be pickpockets. The Santa Maria Novella train station tends to see a lot of pickpocket action, as do the city's buses. Exercising caution and keeping an eye on your purse or wallet will help keep pickpockets at bay.


Getting Around Florence

The best way to get around Florence is by foot. In fact, you can walk from one end of the city to the other in about 30 minutes, passing many recognizable sites along the way. Hopping aboard an ATAF bus is another option. To get into the city, many travelers fly into Galileo Galilei Airport (PSA) in Pisa, making a pit stop at its Leaning Tower before taking the train to the main station, Stazione di Firenze Santa Maria Novella.

You can also fly into the small Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR) in Florence and take a bus or taxi to the city center. Renting a car is not recommended because skinny, one-way streets make driving a hassle and many areas are relegated pedestrians or authorized traffic only.

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