Florence Travel Guide
In this Florence travel guide, I will share the details about what we did, where we ate, things to know about Florence, where to stay, and a day-by-day itinerary. Our Italian trip first started in Rome, then Florence and ended in Venice.
We went to Florence in mid-October for 5 days. Prior to arriving, the weather was forecasted to be rainy the entire time. We got lucky and it only rained when we were on the train from Rome, and the evening of our first night there. The rest of the week, the weather was comfortable. It was in the mid 70’s. It was chilly in the morning and then warmed up during the day. So definitely bring layers. If you’re curious what to wear, I gave tips to on how to pack for Florence in October.
Getting Around Italy
As I mentioned above, we started our trip in Rome. The best way to get to Florence from Rome is using the high-speed trains. It took about an hour and a half. You can fly from Rome to Florence, but the thought of getting to the airport seemed a waste of time. When taking the train, you just have to make sure you get to your assigned train before it departs. Plus, they are way nicer than the city trains in Chicago or New York. They’re cleaner, roomy, comfortable and relatively affordable. If you buy your train tickets ahead of time you have more options regarding the type of seat.
Overall, using trains to get around Italian cities is the best way. We bought our train tickets through here. The main train station in Florence is Firenze Santa Maria Novella.
Things to Know about Florence
Florence is very touristy and definitely gets crowded, but it doesn’t compare to Rome. However, if there is a tourist site you really want to see I do recommend buying tickets in advance. That avoids waiting in a long line. Just like any city, be aware of pick-pocketers. For the most part we felt safe and I made sure my crossbody bag was always in front of me.
Getting Around Florence
It is a walkable city. You can pretty much get to anywhere by foot. We averaged 15,000-20,000 steps a day! It is a more compact city and all the main sites are relatively close by. However, if you are tired from walking there are taxis. Florence does not use Uber. So when we couldn’t conveniently spot a taxi, we would use the MyTaxi app. It’s like the Uber app, but for taxis only. All you have to do is input your current location and your destination. You also have the option to put in your credit card information for payment.
Florence Travel Guide
Now it is time for the Florence travel guide!
Places to Stay
WOW! We LOVED Hotel Perseo and our room. We stayed in the Junior Suite and had no idea the type of room we got because the price was relatively affordable. So we thought it was just a nice room. It was not just a nice room. It was an amazing room! For what we got, it should have been at least double the rate. We even had a private terrace with a gorgeous view of the Duomo! Which also means that the Duomo is just steps away from the hotel. Great location!
It’s also only a few blocks away from the Santa Maria Novella train station. So it was easy to get to. It came with free breakfast. There was a great spread and the cafe is available all day. Perfect if you need an afternoon cafe! The staff was also very friendly and the rooms were really clean. 100% recommend this hotel and if we ever go back to Florence, we only want to stay in this hotel (and exact room haha).
Here are other hotels we considered staying at:
Places to See
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
This is another church that has an almost similar facade as the Duomo. Not as large but still very impressive. To check it out, it costs 10 Euros. You also have access to its courtyard. We were also able to see Leonardo Da Vinci botanic gardens. It’s a bunch of installations about the science behind his thoughts. I’m not quite sure if this was a temporary set up, but it was a cool bonus.
Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella
This is known to be the oldest Farmacia in the world. They create the famous Santa Maria Novella beauty products. You’ll find skincare, body care, home fragrance, etc here. I heard they recently opened a store in NYC, but with limited products. The store itself is worth checking out because it is set up like a museum and it was cool seeing everything. All their products use safe ingredients. And if you know me, you know I love safe beauty!
Florence’s Duomo is the most well-known and prominent cathedral in Florence. The moment you set foot in Florence, you will see the Duomo. Not hard to miss at all! It is so grand and beautiful and took 140 years to build (originally the largest cathedral until Saint Peter’s Basilica was built). It is free to enter. But beware of the long line! So if you want to go inside, I recommend going in early. There’s the Duomo museum directly across from the Cathedral. We didn’t go in, but it was recommended to buy tickets ahead of time. The exterior of the museum is just as beautiful and it is known for its famous intricate doors.
You can also climb up to the Dome. If you do, you MUST buy tickets in advance. They will not allow any walk-ins. You can purchase your ticket(s) here. When you purchase your ticket, you select the date and time you want to climb the Dome. There are no elevators at all, and it is 463 steps. The view from there is incredible.
The Campanile in Florence (which is the bell tower directly next to the Duomo), is another spot to climb up and get an incredible view. There are 414 steps. Again, no elevators. You can purchase your ticket here.
Piazza della Republica
This is the plaza where the infamous carousel is located. The square is surrounded by cute restaurants. There are painters with their canvas and easel lined up around the square painting artwork of Florence. This is where the cafe Gilli (oldest cafe in Florence) is located.
Piazza del Mercato
This is the square known to have markets of unique goods. The primary stuff I noticed in each stand were leather goods, souvenirs and random knick knacks. We walked through it, but did not end up buying anything. From what I saw and heard, bartering is a thing. So definitely plan on negotiating if you find something you like!
This is the most famous bridge in Florence. Surrounding the bridge are several shops. You can find jewelry stores (ranging from affordable to high-end price tags) made in Italy, unique things that you can only find in Italy, and fashion brands. Some of the shops have been there since the 13th century! We checked out the bridge two different ways. One is directly on the bridge and you can overlook the river. But my favorite way to enjoy Ponte Vecchio is viewing it from the street on the west side. It is also gorgeous at night! The light illuminates the bridge and river and looks so magical.
It was a palace that now has turned into a museum institution. You will have to go through the palace to get to Boboli Gardens and Bardini Gardens.
In order to get to Boboli Gardens, you will have to go through Palazzo Pitti. It is a historic park and definitely has a ‘wow’ factor to it. You can spend hours there. The garden is very well manicured and picturesque. You can get an amazing view of Florence from there. Getting tickets to the Baboli Gardens can also get you in the Bardini Gardens and porcelain museum. I will warn you that the garden is very hilly. So definitely wear comfortable shoes.
Unfortunately, since we were so tired from Baboli Gardens we didn’t get to see the Bardini Gardens. But from what I hear, the most amazing view of Florence is from the Bardini Gardens.
This is the Gucci museum and where the Gucci restaurant (Gucci Osteria) is located. It was cool to see some of the vintage Gucci pieces. However, I was underwhelmed. I was also hoping the store attached to the museum would have traditional Gucci products, but they only had their special Gucci Garden edition. So I only recommend coming here if you have the time. Otherwise, not completely worth it. At least the cost of the ticket goes back to maintaining the city of Florence.
Piazza della Signoria
This is the plaza where the imitation of the Statue of David (also in 2 other places) is located. It’s still impressive. However, if you come across a plaza with the statue of David, it is not the real thing. The real thing is in the Accademia Gallery. There are restaurants and high end stores (like Chanel) that surround this plaza.
This plaza has THE BEST panoramic view of Florence. It is quite the hike! So be prepared! Honestly, we didn’t have this plaza high on our list especially since we saw so much of Florence and didn’t think we needed to see anymore views. We were wrong. We got lucky because after our Tuscany wine tour, our guide was kind enough to stop at the Piazzale Michelangelo before heading back to the city center. The panoramic view was unbelievable! A lot of people like to head there for the sunset and have a picnic. It also has a bronze replica of the Statue of David.
Statue of David
The original Statue of David is in Florence. There are two spots where you will spot the replica, the Piazza della Signoria and Piazzale Michelangelo. The actual (original) statue is in the Accademia Gallery.
This is the museum where they have the original Statue of David. If seeing the Statue of David is high on your list, then I recommend buying your tickets in advance. There was a long line to enter this museum. We bought our tickets here and we skipped the long line and easily walked into the museum. It’s a small art museum but so much history! However, if I waited in a long line for it, I think I would have been disappointed.
Piazza San Marco
This is right by the Accademia Gallery. This piazza is a central hub in Florence and it faces the San Marco church. It has a cute garden that surrounds the square and some benches to sit.
Tuscany Wine Tour
Highly recommend a day trip to the Tuscany countryside and do a wine tour! Chianti is my all time favorite red wine and that is what Tuscany specializes in. Wow, we had an incredible time. It is a full day and we booked it through Grape Tours. We did the Chianti & Cheese tour. AMAZING! The group tour is not more than 8 people. In my opinion, that’s the perfect size. We visited 3 wineries and had a farm-to-table lunch included. Wine, cheese and fresh Italian food is seriously my perfect day! Each winery, you have the opportunity to try at least 4 wines. I say at least 4 because there were definitely opportunities to have more haha. The last winery was also known for their cheeses.
Places to Eat/Drink/Snack
Ristorante Pizzeria i’Daviddino
This is a restaurant right by the Duomo. We were so hungry (since we didn’t have time to have lunch when we took the train from Rome), that we picked whatever we saw. This place was good but not amazing. Basically, the food did not blow us away but it was not bad either.
A good friend of mine recommended this gelato place. It is known to have the best gelato in Florence. The gelato was amazing!
One of the best places to get gelato!
If there is any place to have pizza in Italy, it is Gustapizza. Everyone I know that has been to Florence has raved about this place and it totally was worth the hype. There are only about 8 pizzas to choose from. I got the Calabrese (spicy salami) and Tre got Margherita and it was incredible! For about 8 euros, you get an entire pizza.
It is the oldest cafe in Florence. It faces the Piazza della Republic. It’s so cute in there and you can feel the history. You can dine there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. However, we stopped there for espresso and desserts in the middle of the day. They have a large selection of sweets & pastries to choose from!
Definitely make a reservation or plan to get there right when it opens (7:30 pm). We arrived right at 7:30 and there was a line. A friend of mine recommended this place and it was so good! However, if you are a vegetarian, this place is not for you. They specialized in meats and that is what you will primarily see on the menu. Everyone raves about their steak, but I wanted to try their stewed beef in tomato sauce. OMG it was amazing!
Caffe Fiorenza Gelateria
It is a cafe where you can get sandwiches, pastries, and gelato.
Mangia e Beve
It is a small coffee shop right by Accademia Gallery. It’s cute and the only place I’ve encountered that had iced caffe and to go cups.
Another popular spot for pizza! I really enjoyed their pizza! I got the Mister Pizza and loved that the sauce had a kick to it!
This place is known to have the best paninis. Celebrities would occassioanly stop by. Unfortunately we didn’t spot any. Their sandwiches are AMAZING! The lines are long, however, they go by fast. If you like spicy food, I recommend the Inferno. I got it and it was so delicious!
Trattoria 4 Leoni
We really enjoyed our meal here. You can dine outdoors in the square. Loved the burrata e prosciutto. So simple and so delicious!
This place was top of our list. However, it is reservations only and unfortunately the only available reservations when we were there were late dinner times. So we never ended up going. But everyone I know who has been to Florence has raved about it.
This is another old cafe. It has a similar feel as Gilli. The location of Caffe Scudieri faces the Duomo. So their outdoor seating is prime! They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, and pastries.
Quick Recap of Our Florence Itinerary
- Walked around the Duomo
- Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
- Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella
- Dinner at Ristorante Pizzeria i’Daviddino
- Walked around
- Piazza della Republica
- Piazza Del Mercato
- Ponte Vecchio
- Palazzo Pitti
- Boboli Garden
- Lunch at Gustapizza
- Ponte Vecchio (opposite to view the bridge)
- Snacked & Coffee at Gilli
- Gucci Garden
- Piazzale Michelangelo
- Gucci store
- Dinner at Il Latini
- Tuscany Wine Tour with Grape Tours (ate lunch there too)
- Pizzale Michelangelo
- Dinner at All’Antico Vinaio (got the Inferno)
- Accademia Gallery
- Coffee at Mangia e Bevi
- Piazza de San Marco
- Lunch at Mister Pizza
- Gelato at Caffe Fiorenza Gelateria
- Walked around
- Dinner at Trattoria 4 Leoni
- Gelato at Santa Trinita Gelateria
- Walked on Ponte Vecchio
- Walked and Shopping
- Lunch at Caffe Scudieri
- Train Station
Hope you all enjoyed this Florence travel guide!