Florence travel guide
Florence is an essential city for any art follower, but its pleasures reach far beyond the museums and galleries. The quirkiest of characters will tell you even the city itself is a piece of art. From my experience, you’re just as likely to see drunk tourists stumbling through the city on a stag do as you are tourists taken aback by the volume of art Florence holds, but both sides of the city can be fun, and whichever side draws you more, Florence is a great place for a weekend away or a great stop on tour of Italy or Europe.
Money Saving Tips
Eat cheap – Eating close to Piazza della Signoria can be very pricey. Remember – as a rule of thumb wherever you are, the further you are off of the beaten path, the cheaper it will be!
Watch for free – Florence is awesome for people watching. Grab a coffee drink on a patio and take in the flare and interesting people from all walks of life walking through the town. Avoid the very costly museums.
Travel on foot – Most things are within walking distance. It’s much better and cheaper to walk.
Things to do
An essential for every tourist in Florence! There is often a colossal queue to visit the top of the Duomo, but the view is definitely worth it (climbing if elderly or disabled may be tough). The vast artwork and the architecture are stunning. As superb the exterior of the building, the interior is possibly even more so. You can also visit the area beneath the Duomo, where the original structure was discovered, along with the ruins of the temple left by the Romans.
An absolutely gorgeous part of the city blended with statues and history. The actual bridge is crowded (from May – September) but well worth a visit. Pessimists will say the area is overpriced, but you don’t have to spend a penny here to have a great time. Be a window shopper in the jewelry stores, and visit around sunset to enjoy some of Florence’s best buskers.
Visit the Piazzale Michelangelo
Head to the Piazzale Michelangelo for a great view of the city. It’s a good hike up a hill but the view of the city is absolutely stunning and you don’t need to pay for it like you do by climbing up the Duomo.
Piazza della Signoria
This is a fine-looking square. Head here in the evening and enjoy lovely music alongside cooler air. If have a phobia of large crowds, discover a snug spot on a step wherever, and simply watch the people of Florence go by. The nearby statues will remind you of the special nature of this place, just remember to get back up and keep exploring!
Baptistery of San Giovanni (Battistero)
If you purchase a ticket for the Duomo, include the Baptistry (combo ticket), or you will miss out on one of Florence’s charming attractions. Prepare to be amazed at the interior of this place. Unquestionably stunning inside, with a 360 degree view.
Where to stay? (The more $, the more luxurious!)
BASSETTO GUESTHOUSE Hostel – $
A stunning hostel, and unbelievable retreat from city to city travelling. Close to town and perfectly quaint. Truly all you need in a budget with some great characters for staff who will keep you entertained with stories!
Hotel Crocini – $
Only a 10 minute walk from the train station, this hotel is clean, basic yet charming. Close to the Ponte Vecchio, and a breakfast option available for a good price, perfect to fuel you to explore the city.
Hotel David – $$
A hotel which makes you feel at home the second you arrive. The staff welcomes you with a warm smile and first class service. The hotel is on the river and 15-minute walk to all the best sights Florence has to offer (See above). The room was charming, clean and airy. This is the go-to mid-range hotel in Florence.
Portrait Firenze – $$$
This chic Italian boutique hotel is tremendous, in every way possible. The attention to detail was something I gaped at, continually. The staff will ask very particular details such as ‘what temperature exactly would you like the room?’ and ‘do you have a preference of this selection of face products?’ I mean, how many hotels ask these questions. For these reasons amongst many others, Portrait Firenze is one step ahead of the other hotels in Florence.
Where to eat?
Sandwichic – $
My initial thoughts were ‘how can a sandwich shop be number 1 rated on TripAdvisor?’ Then I visited and it all started to make sense. The menu is in Italian, however the recommendations of the friendly staff are all I need for my menu! A cheap eat well worth a quick lunch stop.
Ristorante Dino – $
A family run business that is hard to find a fault with. A warm welcome, exceptional food, and sound prices. This place is my cheap eat selection for dinner.
CUCO Cucina Contemporanea – $$
I ate dinner here and it was absolutely a superb experience. A cute father and son run restaurant with hand written menus and other quirky features. Enjoy complimentary appetizers and fantastic mains. This place is hotly tipped to gain a Michelin star in coming years, so get there before it hits the big stage!
Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina – $$$
If you love wine, this is the best place in Florence (and possibly the world) for you. The owners literally know EVERYTHING about the wines of Italy and I feel their expertise would be impossible to match. The crazy thing is the food is almost on par with the wine. If you are in Florence and willing to spend a few quid on a special dinner, then this should be your first choice.